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AUS Tertiary Update Vol 5 No 35 3 October 2002

AUS Tertiary Update Vol. 5 No. 36, 3 October 2002
In our lead story this week…..
Otago University has applied to the Employment Court for an interim injunction to prevent members of the Association of University Staff (AUS) taking part in what is described as "secret strike action". The university has also begun docking the pay of staff on strike and suspending those taking part in rolling stoppages for the duration of the action. AUS Branch Organiser at Otago, Shaun Scott ,says the injunction hearing will take place tomorrow (Friday) in Christchurch. He says it is disappointing the university was choosing litigation to try to solve the dispute: "It won't get settled through litigation. It will get settled through a better offer," he says. Otago's latest offer to staff is a 3% increase, plus a $200 lump-sum for general staff, as against the union demand for 8%.
Reported comments from Otago University’s Chancellor and local politicians include concern at the impact of strike action on the university and on Dunedin’s economy. Chancellor Eion Edgar said, “I can’t say what Council will do, but we are keen to get the parties talking”. Dunedin North Labour MP, Pete Hodgson, in answer to university concerns that it needed more Government funding, stated that the Government offer of a 4.5% increase in funding in exchange for a fee freeze was generous and more than compensated for inflation. As reported in last week’s Tertiary Update, however, the Government increase actually represents only 3% when taken across the total of fees and funding – and when inflation is taken into account, it leaves university funding standing still.
Ross Wilson, President of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, in a message of support faxed to Otago University staff, stated: “It is a matter of increasing concern that although there are fine words about the crucial role of the tertiary education sector in the country’s sustainable development, it is rare to see that sentiment reflected in the pay offers to staff during collective bargaining. I wish you all the best for an early, and fair, resolution of your dispute.”

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Knowledge Wave Trust call for more money for R&D
2. Minister lauds new VUW/College of Education joint degree
3. Massey Vice-Chancellor candidates – names leaked
4. Web site removes 'dossiers' under pressure of criticism
5. Maths tests at British universities
6. Big investment in Californian faculty staff
7. Academics speak out against attack on Iraq
8. Big debts from private college collapse

The Knowledge Wave Trust says that if New Zealand is to keep up with other developed nations it will need to spend NZ1.9m. a year more on research and development between now and 2010. In a report on R & D funding in New Zealand, the Trust says the gap could be closed by a boost of 30% in Government's contribution while public-private partnerships and the private sector on its own could share the rest of the load. The Trust report adds that the innovation policy devised by Government to close the growing gap between this country and other developed nations does not at present have the research and development needed to support it. As well as a boost in funding, the Trust also suggests a innovative leadership committee be set up to co-ordinate a focused research and development policy for the country. The Knowledge Wave Trust is an independent body set up to build on ideas from last year's "Catching the Knowledge Wave" Conference.

The Minister of Education, Trevor Mallard is welcoming a new Victoria University/Wellington College of Education joint teaching degree, saying it meets the Government's plans for a "much more flexible portable profession". In a speech at the launch of the degree, Mr Mallard said the new qualification would allow graduates to move with ease between primary and secondary teaching, enhancing teacher supply. The fact that student teachers would also be obtaining a BSc, a BCA or a BA as well as a BTeach meant that the graduates would have in-depth knowledge of content in at least one area of the curriculum as well as the pedagogical content

The Manawatu Evening Standard yesterday revealed the names of the four candidates shortlisted for the position of Massey Vice-Chancellor. The reported names are: Dr James Buwalda, current Chief Executive of the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology; Dr Alastair Summerlee, Provost and Vice-President [academic] University of Guelph Ontario, Canada; Professor Judith Kinnear, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Sydney University; and Brian Stoddart, Pro Vice-Chancellor [research and international], University of New England, Australia. The selection process includes a focus group stage, in which candidates are interviewed by staff, student and university management groups. Focus group recommendations then go to the Massey Council.

A US-based pro-Israel website has bowed to pressure from critics and dropped from its site a series of critiques of individual professors whose students have ‘dobbed them in’ for allegedly spreading misinformation about Israel and the Middle East. Many of the academics listed on the site say the information is inaccurate and the site has been criticised as ‘smacking of McCarthyism’. Its owners, the Middle East Forum, say they have removed the dossiers as an expression of goodwill. However, critics say the material is still available elsewhere on the site.

Maths, science and engineering departments in UK universities are bringing in maths tests for all their new students after concerns that A-level mathematics in secondary schools is not providing them with the necessary skills. Many universities are also setting up campus-based mathematics support centres to tackle the problem. The universities introducing the tests include Warwick University, which takes only students with top grades.

The University of Southern California's College of Letters, Arts and Sciences has announced it will spend US$100m. over the next three years hiring 100 world class faculty members. It is aiming to attract top professors in life sciences, urban studies and globalisation, and language and culture. The investment will see the university's faculty increase by 25%.

A group of 33 foreign policy academics have taken out an advertisement in "The New York Times" saying a military attack on Iraq would be "a profound and costly mistake". The statement says the Iraqi regime can be contained through traditional means of deterrence and adds that war with Iraq will endanger the campaign against Al Qaeda by diverting resources and attention away from that campaign and increase anti-Americanism world-wide.

A major private vocational college in Sydney has collapsed, leaving AUS$1M. in debts. The Australian College of Technology has been under a cloud for offering US masters degrees without authorisation and went into liquidation after the Department of Education, Science and Training last month cancelled its registration for teaching overseas students. The former college's landlord is refusing the receivers access to the building, saying he is owed AUS$200,000 and is planning to open a college there himself. Former employees are believed to be owed AUS$5M. Students are believed to have transferred to other colleges.
AUS Tertiary Update is produced weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the union and others. Back issues are archived on the AUS website:

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