AUS Tertiary Update Vol. 5 No. 37, 10 October
In our lead story this week…..
OTAGO ACTION SUSPENDED ON HOPES OF BETTER OFFER
Academic and General Staff at Otago are to suspend rolling stoppages and work-to-rule in view of Tuesday's meeting of the University Council. The meeting – -held behind closed doors - agreed to try to finalise a three-year agreement with staff unions to avoid the disruption of yearly negotiations. Otago Chancellor Eion Edgar also said that there would have to be cuts in capital spending to direct money towards staff. Combined unions' spokesperson, Dr Shef Rogers said the unions would have no objections to a longer-term settlement, but said the amount of money the university offered was the real issue. He hoped the Council and the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Graeme Fogelberg had been able to agree on a new offer that would see the union and management negotiators quickly back in discussions. "We think that both sides understand the issues and recognise that this dispute needs to move toward settlement," he said. "We have no desire to harm the university’s reputation or its functions, and wish to return to meaningful discussions as soon as possible."
Also in Tertiary Update this
1. Fees-freeze deal accepted
2. AUS call for open V-C appointments
3. 'The Press' analyses Le Grew years
4. Call for action on Indonesian detainees
5. Police tear gas protestors
6. Mixed messages at senate hearing
FEES-FREEZE DEAL ACCEPTED
Four university councils -– Massey, Canterbury, Victoria and Otago – have voted to accept the governments offer of an addition 4.5% funding in return for holding student fees at present levels for 2003. The decision has been welcomed by student leaders who say that, with their vote, the universities are doing their bit to see that student debt does not "balloon out of control". But the President of Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association (VUWSA), Fleur Fitzsimons said the government should not interpret acceptance as approval of the level of funding.
The Association of University Staff (AUS) has also welcomed the news, but warns that the 4.5% in public funding is inadequate. National president, Dr Grant Duncan says the extra money barely keeps up with inflation. "There will be no highly-skilled, knowledge-based economy for the future, unless this Government is prepared to tackle the fundamental problem faced by New Zealand’s university system – which in terms of real Government funding, experienced, on average, annual reductions of 2.8% each year during the 1990s," he said. Dr Duncan says AUS is all for reducing the personal cost of study at university, but this must not be at the expense of university staff and the quality of university education.
AUS CALL FOR OPEN V-C APPOINTMENTS
The Association of University Staff wants university councils to allow greater scrutiny of candidates in line for the position of Vice-Chancellor. AUS says that, in future, the selection process for the top job should be conducted in an open manner so that all university staff, students and the public can have their say. AUS national president, Dr Grant Duncan says such an approach would be in line with the unique character of our universities and their idea of "an open, unconditional and contestable pursuit of knowledge, based up free collegial investigation, debate and inquiry". Dr Duncan says any applicant insisting on absolute confidentiality during the selection process or refusing to be presented to the university community as a candidate would in effect be declaring themselves unworthy of the job.
CALL FOR ACTION ON INDONESIAN
An Auckland-based organisation, Indonesia Human Rights Committee (IHRC) is calling on the New Zealand government to step in and pressure Indonesia to release two women held by police in Aceh since mid-September (see "Tertiary Update" Vol. 5 No.36). The women are Australian journalist and academic, Lesley McCullock and American nurse, Joy-Lee Sadler. They have been charged with abusing their visa conditions under Indonesia's immigration law. Marie Leadbetter of IHRC suggests the women have been detained because they will publicise Indonesian military actions in South Aceh, including looting and the blocking of food and medical supplies by the military.
Police in Pakistan used tear gas to break up demonstrations by students and teachers at Karachi University. Sixty-five people were arrested. The protest was against new legislation – the Model University Act. Those arrested were released about three hours later. Police accused the demonstrators of "running riots", saying they had to use force to disperse them, but the protestors said the protest had been peaceful. Academic staff associations have announced a complete boycott on teaching throughout Pakistan for one day this week in protest at the police violence against the protestors. A student organisation has also announced a boycott of classes in Karachi and several other parts of the country in protest at the police handling of the demonstration.
MIXED MESSAGES AT SENATE
A senate hearing in the United States has heard differing views on the progress of women in the fields of science, mathematics and engineering 30 years after the passage of laws to close the gender gap. One witness gave statistics showing a doubling in the proportion of women among computer science graduates from 14% when the law was introduced in 1972 to 27% in 1997. But another witness said the figures were incomplete and that the number of women receiving bachelor's degrees in computing and information sciences had dropped from a high of 37% in 1987 to 28% in 1999-2000. Others said women professors in the field faced barriers to tenure because of time off to raise families, and that women had less access to important resources than men.
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: