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AUS Tertiary Update

AUS WEB SITEIn our lead story this week…..
AUS conference supports move to national bargaining
The annual conference of the Association of University Staff (AUS) has unanimously endorsed a new national approach to industrial bargaining and salary-setting for more than 6,000 staff at New Zealand’s universities.
The conference, held in Wellington this week, gave the green light for the Association to pursue a new national bargaining strategy in 2003 centered on negotiating national collective employment agreements. They will replace the current enterprise-based agreements negotiated separately at each university. Two new agreements are proposed, one for academic staff and another for general staff.
AUS National President, Dr Grant Duncan, said that the two national collective agreements for university staff would bring greater consistency, collaboration and efficiency to industrial matters within the sector. “Furthermore, it is perfectly in tune with the changes being made to the Government’s tertiary funding formula. We trust that employers will also see the advantages of national bargaining and will cooperate with the process”, he said.
Addressing the AUS conference Associate Education Minister, Steve Maharey, said that the Government was comfortable with multi-employer bargaining within the university sector as it is consistent with the collaborative intent of the tertiary education reforms.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Tertiary Reform Bill to be passed today?
2. PBRF details emerge
3. Students gain roles on TEC
4. Merger talks shift behind closed doors
5. No performance pay for UK teaching
6. Web Site Lists Professors Who 'Indoctrinate' Students

Tertiary Reform Bill to be passed today?
The Tertiary Education Reform Bill passed through its second reading in parliament on Tuesday this week, and is expected to be passed into law later today. The Bill establishes the Tertiary Education Commission and introduces new policy instruments that take effect from 1 January 2003. These include the Tertiary Education Strategy (TES), the Statement of Tertiary Education Priorities (STEP), policies for new funding mechanisms, stronger quality assurance, industry training review changes, and the export education levy. Some of the reforms, such as charters and profiles and new funding mechanisms, will take effect from 1 January 2004.

PBRF details emerge
Details on tertiary funding changes, proposed under the Tertiary Reform Bill, have begun to emerge with the release of the report from the Performance Based-Research Fund Working Group, set up in June to advise the Government on how the PBRF will work in practice. The recommendations in the report, Investing in Excellence, have been accepted by the Government and will see research in tertiary education funded from 2004 on the basis of quality rather than enrolments. Excellence will be measured by peer review, the number of advanced research degrees completed, and the amount of external research income earned.
Government has said that over the next 4 years more than an additional $200 million will be injected into research funding, including $130.2 million into capital and operating funding through the seven centres of research excellence, $56.3 million into the PBRF itself, $25.2 million to support the development of collaborative research with the private sector, and continuing (but unspecified) increases to Vote:Research, Science and Technology (such as the Marsden Fund and FoRST).
AUS National President, Dr Grant Duncan, said that while welcoming the new funding New Zealand’s investment in research is still nowhere near even 1980 levels. “Our investment in research during the 1980s decreased from 0.8% of GDP to around 0.6% and has not increased significantly since then. Our level of investment in research will still fall well short of that of our nearest neighbour, Australia.”

Students gain roles on TEC
The Government has announced that a learner (student) advisory committee will be established to assist the Tertiary Education Commission, and that a non-voting student will be appointed to the TEC Board. The announcement was made on Tuesday during the debate on the second reading of the Tertiary Reform Bill.
AUS National President, Dr Grant Duncan, welcomed the appointment of a non-voting student representative to the Board but said that similar representation needs to be established for staff. “Staff and students form the basis of our tertiary education sector. It is appropriate that both groups are at the table when decisions about the sector are being made”, said Dr Duncan. “While Mr. Maharey had initially said that the Tertiary Education Commission was not to be a representative group, the appointment of a student representative now signals this is no longer the case”.
Dr Duncan said that the Association has been promoting the concept of a university reference group, but the need for a staff advisory committee was also vitally important. Fundamental issues such as workforce planning, funding, terms and conditions of employment, and overall resources for teaching and research require specific staff input. He said that the Commission is a high level policy group with a broad strategic responsibility, but needs specific staff input to provide guidance on the operational implications of its decisions. Today’s announcement paves the way for such a group to be established.
“The proposed tertiary education reforms will have a significant effect on staff and the establishment of a staff advisory committee, and having a staff position on the Board, would provide a greater basis of support for the reform programme”, said Dr Duncan

Merger talks shift behind closed doors
Discussion over possible mergers between Lincoln and other universities has shifted behind closed doors following recent media reports that Lincoln had axed merger proposals with Canterbury and may be considering a partnership deal between Science Facultys with Massey.
The public part of Lincoln University’s Council meeting on Tuesday lasted only 33 minutes, during which there was only scant mention of any proposed partnership. Chancellor Margaret Austin told the meeting that Lincoln is in command of its own destiny and is “working assiduously” to ensure that everything is being done to make the university attractive to students and to research endeavour.
Discussion about the relationship between Canterbury and Lincoln was confined to the private section of Canterbury University’s Council meeting on Wednesday. After the meeting a statement was released reaffirming the University’s willingness to discuss collaboration and possible partnership with Lincoln at any time and expressed a hope of pursuing a growing relationship. It also stated a commitment to a regional partnership with Christchurch’s four publicly funded institutions through the Canterbury Tertiary Alliance.

No performance pay for UK teaching
Following British Government hints that performance-related pay for academic staff may be introduced, the Association of University Teachers (AUT) has secured an agreement that this will not happen. Margaret Hodge, Minister for Higher Education, told AUT in a recent meeting that her proposed national student feedback scheme would not be linked to pay.
Ministers had earlier told journalists that the new student feedback scheme would require undergraduates to fill in forms and other detailed paperwork assessing and grading the standard of their teachers' work on an annual basis. The AUT had attacked the plan to link this with pay saying it would be divisive, unpopular and unworkable. The union has also pointed out that research consistently shows that performance-related pay discriminates against female and non-white staff.
AUT general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Performance-related pay would be the single most divisive policy this government could introduce. It would set colleague against colleague and would benefit those lecturers who happen to be popular with their students. Popularity and ability are by no means one and the same thing.
Instead of tinkering at the edges, what is needed is a substantial pay rise for all university staff.'

Web Site Lists Professors Who 'Indoctrinate' Students
A new American Web site allows students to anonymously accuse their professors of political bias.
The site,, which was launched recently, was started by a parent who labelled as objectionable a writing course taken by her son at the University of California at San Diego.
The Web site allows students to name the professor concerned and to rate the perceived level of bias in a lecture, reading list, and class discussions as "noticeable," "objectionable," or "extreme." It also permits students to post accusations anonymously, a practice defended because it says identifying students would invite retaliation from professors. Professors can write rebuttals to students' accusations, though so far only one has been posted.

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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: Direct enquires to Marty Braithwaite, AUS Communications Officer, email:

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