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AUS Tertiary Update

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In our lead story this week…..
University union urges support for four weeks' holiday
The AUS has urged all members of the Government to support the call for increased annual holidays for all workers. AUS President, Dr Grant Duncan, said today that the Association believed it timely that Progressive Coalition MP, Matt Robson's, private member's Bill which seeks to increase the minimum annual holiday entitlement from three weeks to four is to be considered by Parliament.
"While many university employees presently have four weeks annual leave, there are still some university and many private sector employees who only have the current statutory minimum of three weeks", said Dr Duncan. "At a time when workloads and productivity are increasing, three weeks is no longer a sufficient holiday entitlement. An average academic staff member now works 53 hours per week, a level which is not sustainable without additional leave."
Dr Duncan said the Association was concerned by statements attributed to the Associate Minister of Education, Steve Maharey, prior to the general election, that Labour did not want to see holidays increased. In calling on Labour and United Future MPs to support Matt Robson's bill, Dr Duncan said that employers had shown they could not be relied upon to increase leave entitlements, and it was up to Government to provide that leadership.

Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. 3.5% Salary offer at Waikato
2. Fogelberg attacks fee setting legislation
3. Academics call on SIS to open archives
4. AUS calls for stop to attacks on Asian immigrants
5. Wellington College of Education ASTE members suspended
6. Questions in the House on tertiary education
7. Foreign students set to increase
8. U. of California Will Ask Some Students to Verify Information on Their Applications

3.5% Salary offer at Waikato
Protest action proposed for Waikato University has been held off while staff consider fresh offers to settle the academic and general staff collective employment agreement negotiations. Following a further two days negotiation at Waikato this week, the salary offer for both groups of staff has been increased to 3.5%, complimented by a restructuring of salary scales. While AUS negotiators are recommending that the offers, which will be put to ratification within a fortnight, are accepted, concern has been expressed that the increased salary offer will come at the expense of cuts to operating budgets.
A 3.5% salary offer made to staff at Victoria University will be put to a ratification ballot early next week.

Fogelberg attacks fee setting legislation
Otago vice chancellor, Dr Graeme Fogelberg, launched a stinging attack on the Tertiary Education Reform Bill at that University’s Council meeting earlier this week. Dr Fogelberg described Government plans to set tuition fee maximums for tertiary institutions as “the worst kind of interfering by Government in university affairs” and said the legislation, which would allow the Government to set maximum fee levels for academic courses, was the “worst piece of legislation” that he had seen in New Zealand. Continuing his attack, Dr Fogelberg compared the Government’s proposal to the Muldoon era and said it was price fixing of the “worst kind”.

Academics call on SIS to open archives
Some of the country’s top academics are calling for the Government to open up the archives on the SIS.
Senior political science staff from the country’s top tertiary institutions have signed an open letter to Prime Minister Helen Clark calling for New Zealand to follow the norm of its allies and open up security service archives older than 30 years 'in the interest of a more democratic and open society’.

AUS calls for stop to attacks on Asian immigrants
AUS President, Grant Duncan, said that he deplores the continuing attacks made by Winston Peters on our Asian community. "Many valuable members of our universities, and of New Zealand society as a whole, are recent immigrants”, he said. "Xenophobic attitudes are completely contrary to the inclusive and multicultural values of a modern education system. NZ First's policies will now be coloured by their leader's attacks and one, therefore, has to question the credibility of any statements that NZ First make on tertiary education”.

Wellington College of Education ASTE members suspended
Wellington College of Education ASTE members have been suspended because they have been taking low level industrial action including withholding grades, and not attending college meetings for moderation and planning for 2003. This follows unsuccessful negotiations to renew the collective agreement at the college. Crunch issues for the union for settlement include workload and salary, with the employer refusing to move from its 2.5% offer. ASTE members are seeking 3.25%. Messages of support for ASTE members can be emailed to: Richard.Manning@wce.ac.nz

Questions in the House on Tertiary Education
A number of questions about tertiary education were asked in Parliament this week including one on measures taken by the Government to ensure tertiary education remains affordable to students. Associate Minister of Education, Steve Maharey, explained the fees freeze initiatives over the last three years including the increases in EFTs funding that accompanied these deals.
National spokesperson Simon Power asked how the Minister could honestly believe that the Government's efforts to make tertiary education more affordable have worked, when under its stewardship, overall levels of student debt have risen from $2.9 billion to $4.7 billion, and 33,000 more students took out loans last year than they did in 1999. The Minister responded saying that that for the first time this year student debt levelled off, because of the policies of the Government.

World Watch
Foreign students set to multiply
A prediction that Australia's international student market could be worth more than $10 billion a year by 2010, and $38 billion by 2025, has been made by promoter IDP Education Australia. That compares with an estimated education export income of $4.15 billion for the 2001-02 financial year. Queensland Education Minister Anna Bligh recently left for a 10-day visit with chancellors and vice-chancellors, saying China was the sixth biggest source of full-fee-paying students in Queensland, with a 25 per cent annual growth. South Australian Premier Mike Rann, told an education industry dinner in Shanghai that enticing more Chinese to study at South Australian universities was crucial. He said the number of students coming from China had trebled during the past two years.

U. of California Will Ask Some Students to Verify Information on Their Applications
To discourage applicants from embellishing their admissions applications, the University of California system will begin spot-checking the veracity of students' statements about their personal achievements and experiences. The university will ask an unspecified number of applicants to provide evidence to support the claims in their admissions essays and lists of activities. The university's "systemwide verification process" is believed to be the first such program in the nation.
A faculty report was issued by a committee that has studied the overhaul of the admissions process. The new policy, which took effect for students applying for this fall's freshman class at the system's six most competitive campuses, broadens the criteria for evaluating students: While 50 to 75 percent of applicants had been admitted solely on 10 academic criteria, like grades and standardized test scores, the university now takes into account factors such as special talents and overcoming adversity for all applicants.
Although the faculty group concluded that the new policy, known as "comprehensive review," had maintained the academic quality of admitted students, the report noted that questions about the reliability of information on which admissions decisions are based "have intensified because of the perception that greater weight ... is being placed on information contained in the personal statement and list of supplemental honours and activities that students provide."

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AUS Tertiary Update is compiled weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the union and others. Back issues are archived on the AUS website: http://www.aus.ac.nz. Direct enquires to Marty Braithwaite, AUS Communications Officer, email: marty.braithwaite@aus.ac.nz

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