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AUS Tertiary Update

AUS WEB SITEIn our lead story this week…..
Lincoln University denies partnership claim
Lincoln Vice Chancellor, Frank Wood, has hit back at media claims that Christchurch Mayor, Garry Moore, is seeking urgent ministerial intervention to halt a proposed partnership between Lincoln and Massey Universities. Ministerial intervention was reported as being sought by the Mayor after it was claimed that a high-level report recommending a merger between Canterbury and Lincoln had been axed in favour of a partnership between Massey and Lincoln’s science faculties.
Frank Wood described the media reports as misleading to the point of mischief-making, and based on incorrect presumptions, out of context quotes and an “outburst” from the Mayor. “None of this”, he wrote to staff, “was a fair or well informed representation of Lincoln’s position or policies.” He says while alliances and cooperation are being actively pursued, in line with Government tertiary policy, it is certain that the University will not be pushed into any arrangements that do not preserve what is special about Lincoln. Working relationships already exist with a number of universities, including Massey, Canterbury, and Auckland, and with Crop and Food research, Agresearch and WRONZ.
AUS Lincoln Branch President, Walt Abell, said however that the recent media statements could suggest that planning for a possible merger or alliance may be far more advanced than staff have been led to believe. He says that while most staff are aware that Lincoln has had discussions with a number of institutions about possible alliances, there has been no consultation with unions on any specific proposal. He says that while AUS has made several requests for open discussions with management, little information has been forthcoming.
Associate Education Minister, Steve Maharey, has declined to comment on the issue, saying that any formal partnership would require a statutory consultation process.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Government to review tertiary institution governance
2. Universities get research funding boost
3. Victoria, Otago medics pay claim settled
4. Tertiary Reform Bill on track
5. Injunction stops Canadian Middle East debate
6. AUT strike closes London universities

Government to review tertiary institution governance
The Government’s independent review of the governance of tertiary education institutions comes closer with the announcement yesterday that it will be conducted by Professor Meredith Edwards, Director of the National Institute for Governance at the University of Canberra. The Government has asked Professor Edwards to advise it on good governance practice for the tertiary education sector, optimal ways to develop overall governance capability; and a preferred option for governance in tertiary institutions. The review will look at how modes of governance can be developed that best reflect the character and contribution of tertiary institutions, while ensuring that governance and management still conform to best practice.
Professor Edwards will be assisted by a reference group made up of key stakeholders, including representatives of tertiary institutions, business, unions, and Maori. She will visit New Zealand this week to meet with sector group and other representatives and hopes to complete her report by March 2003.
AUS National President, Dr Grant Duncan, welcomed the opportunity for union involvement in the review but said it was insufficient to expect one union representative to represent all tertiary unions and the Council of Trade Unions. He noted that there are four employer representatives and called on the Government to increase the number of union participants.

Universities get research funding boost
A further two Centres of Research Excellence, announced on Tuesday by the Associate Minister of Education, Steve Maharey, will pump a further $21 million into the University sector.
The National Centre for Advanced Bio-Protection Technologies, based at Lincoln University, was given $8.12 million to develop new ways of meeting New Zealand’s pest management control and biosecurity needs over the next three years. Included in the research will be the development of new generation superior crops with enhanced pesticide resistance.
The National Centre for Growth and Development, based at the University of Auckland received $12.5m to develop new preventative and therapeutic approaches to maintain human health and improve animal productivity in agriculture.
In announcing the funding Steve Maharey said that the Centres had been chosen because they demonstrated their excellence in international terms

Victoria, Otago medics pay claim settled
Staff at Victoria University voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to settle their collective agreements after a month of negotiations. The settlement covers four collective agreements and will see about 690 academic and general staff receive a 3.5% salary increase from I December. AUS Victoria Branch President Robyn May said the settlement was welcomed by members who believed it was the best deal they could get in the circumstances.
A similar message was echoed as medical and dental academic staff employed at Otago University’s three Schools of Medicine accepted a 4% salary offer this week. AUS Branch Organiser Shaun Scott said that although settlement had been reached, the salary offer did not begin to address the serious salary anomalies faced by medical and dental academic staff. “The differential between hospital and university salaries is now more than $15,000 per annum”, said Shaun Scott, “but we predict that under the current government funding arrangement that differential will increase to around $40,000 within the next eight years”. The new salary rates will take effect from 1 February next year.
Cash strapped Canterbury University has increased its salary offer to staff, from 1% to 2%, during further negotiations earlier this week. The increased offer came after report-back meetings of staff rejected the offer and threatened strike action.

Tertiary Reform Bill on track
The Tertiary Education Reform Bill is most of the way through its Committee Stages (the clause-by-clause debate) and it is now planned to complete the remaining stages of the debate in the last sitting period of Parliament for the year, beginning on 3 December. A spokesman for the Government said he was confident the second and third readings of the Bill would be completed prior to Christmas in time for the new law to take effect from 1 January 2003.

Worldwatch
Injunction stops Canadian Middle East debate
A judge in Quebec granted an injunction to Concordia University, in Montreal, last week, allowing it to prohibit two members of the Canadian Parliament and a professor from speaking on the campus at a "Peace and Justice in the Middle East" event. The event was organized by the Concordia Student Union in defiance of a university ban on public events related to the Middle East. The university imposed the three-month moratorium after violent protests in September forced the cancellation of a speech by Benjamin Netanyahu, the former prime minister of Israel.
Justice Jean Guilbault, of the Quebec Superior Court, granted a 10-day injunction, saying freedom of speech is not without limits. The three who were scheduled to speak at Concordia maintain that the campus moratorium violates Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees freedom of opinion and expression. The Canadian Association of University Teachers is awaiting legal opinion as to the next legal step. "We're upset by what Concordia has done and by the court ruling," said James Turk, executive director of the association. "We share the outrage. A university should protect free speech."

AUT strike closes London universities
University staff across London forced a virtual shutdown of the capital’s higher education institutions last Thursday in a one-day strike against the low level of their London allowance. The day of action hit more than 40 institutions across London, resulting in closure for some, and severe disruption for others. It was the first ever strike over “London Weighting”, involving university staff at every level, from porters to professors. Up to 120,000 students were affected by the dispute, called by the unions after their claim for an increase to £4,000 was rejected by employers. There has been no increase in London allowance payments for staff at the University of London for ten years, while staff at other institutions have been offered a maximum increase of £90.

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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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