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AUS Tertiary Update

AUS WEB SITEIn our lead story this week…..
Lincoln negotiations continue, Canterbury falters
Collective employment agreement negotiations continued at Lincoln University this week and saw the University lift its salary offer from 2% and 1.5% for general and academic staff respectively to 3% for both groups. The offer for academic staff, which would take effect from 1 April next year, comes on top of a previously negotiated salary increase of 2%, effective from 2 January. The offer to general staff will, if accepted, take effect from 1 March. A number of other issues, including retirement, study leave, job evaluation and promotion, have been referred to working groups. The university has agreed it will not automatically pass on the results of bargaining to non-union members. Ratification ballots will be held on Tuesday next week with AUS negotiators confident that agreement will be reached.
Meanwhile, cleaners, maintenance, general and academic staff at Canterbury have all strongly rejected a 2% salary offer at ratification meetings held over the last week. University and AUS representatives are currently considering their options, but it is unlikely that negotiations will resume before Christmas.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Tertiary Reform Bill passed
2. Auckland University, College of Education consider merger
3. NZ and Australian unions meet on trade issues
4. Otago case delayed
5. Imposters used to take English exam
6. Australian College's collapse prompts crackdown
7. UK Universities to target low-income students

Tertiary Reform Bill passed
The Education (Tertiary Reform) Amendment Bill and the Industry Training Amendment Bill (originally introduced to Parliament as the Tertiary Education Reform Bill) were passed into legislation last week and will reshape New Zealand’s entire post-school education system.
The Association of University Staff [AUS] welcomed the passing of legislation which puts into place a range of policy changes and finally establishes the Tertiary Education Commission [TEC]. “The Education (Tertiary Reform) Amendment Bill has had a long and rocky road,” said AUS National President, Dr Grant Duncan. “While we are not happy with a number of the Bill’s provisions, we support this Government’s intention to end an era of destructive competition in the tertiary education sector. We also believe that the TEC needs to get on with its work and with the implementation of new funding frameworks”.
“University staff will be working to ensure that, within the new policy framework which the TEC will administer, the distinctive nature of university education is recognised and protected,” said Dr Duncan. “University staff aspire to a collaborative and collegial culture. We will need to continually reassert the status of the university as an open community that values unfettered inquiry, dialogue and principled dissent.”

Auckland University, College of Education consider merger
The Councils of Auckland’s College of Education and the University of Auckland are considering a merger and, if approved by Government, expect it to be in place for the beginning of 2004. It is understood that the College, with 550 staff and over 7000 full and part-time students, would become a faculty within the university under the proposal. It would remain at its present site in Epsom, but some education-related programmes may be offered at other Auckland University sites.
The College and the University ended a partnership in the late 1990’s over what the college perceived to be a lack of control over the conjoint Bachelor of Education degree offered to trainee teachers. Spokespeople for both institutions are saying it is time for “sensible” decisions to be made and that they are putting aside previous differences.
Associate Education Minister, Steve Maharey said he would have to follow a consultation process before making a decision to approve or decline the merger proposal and will be keeping an "open mind" on the issue. The Education (Tertiary Reform) Amendment Bill passed last week means he must now not only be satisfied that the proposal is academically robust, but also that it is in the best interests of the tertiary education system and the nation as a whole.

NZ and Australian Unions meet on trade issues
New Zealand and Australian unions, including AUS representatives Jane Kelsey, Bill Rosenberg, Lee Cooper and Margaret Ledgerton, met in Sydney earlier this week to discuss the implications for workers of the GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services) negotiations in the World Trade Organisation.
Council of Trade Unions Secretary Paul Goulter, who led the New Zealand union delegation, said that union concerns about Government negotiations liberalising trade in public services are shared on both sides of the Tasman. “GATS negotiations pose a number of problems, particularly in education, health and other public services”, he said.
New Zealand and Australian unions are now planning a Trans-Tasman Day of Action over the GATS, to be held in March 2003. The Day of Action will highlight the need for certain areas, including tertiary education, to be ring-fenced and also for a greater transparency in the Government’s negotiating position. Paul Goulter said that “unions will be calling on the Government to back-off the deadline of 31 March 2003 to forward New Zealand’s response on the issue to the WTO.”

Otago case delayed
The Employment Court has delayed hearing a case brought against AUS by the University of Otago. Otago is asking the Court to determine several issues, including whether a union has to notify whether a strike will be “intermittent or continuous”. The case arose after an interim injunction application failed to stop a series of rolling strikes during the breakdown in collective agreement negotiations in September. Originally scheduled for 12 and 13 December, the hearing has been delayed until the New Year.

Imposters used to take English exam
Two candidates sitting English language exams at the privately owned International Pacific College near Palmerston North have been caught using imposters to cheat. One was a migrant trying to pass the language component of the citizenship application, the other was trying to pass University Entrance English. IPC International English Language Training System (IELTS) administrator Marion Hilder said the imposters were caught by photo identification mismatch.
Massey University is the only other IELTS examination provider in Palmerston North. English Language Centre administrator Helen Thomson said she hadn't heard of any cheating there. "We are very much aware of the problems throughout the country but we haven't had any impersonations ourselves." The IELTS tests are run under guidelines set by Education Australia, also known as IDP. Spokesmen for Education Australia said despite its rigorous testing process some “substitute candidates” were likely to get through. "Nothing is 100 percent. We are forever reviewing security."

Worldwatch
Australian College's collapse prompts crackdown
Colleges and training groups in New South Wales face tougher rules next year to discourage rorts after the $1 million-plus collapse of a 400-student private tertiary provider, Australian College of Technology, in August. The collapse prompted allegations that some overseas and publicly-funded local students had not met minimum attendance requirements, that fees were discounted and that spending was out of control.
The NSW Department of Education and Training says tighter accountability will upgrade its monitoring of registered training organisations, including student attendance records. The new DET measures will apply to registered training organisations that receive government money to deliver training in NSW under the Apprenticeship and Traineeship Training Program. The reforms also seek to reduce excessive competition by requiring new Registered Training Organisations seeking ATTP contracts to show there is unmet demand.

UK Universities to target low-income students
UK Universities will target students from low-income backgrounds under new guidelines being developed by the government. They will be set "benchmark" targets for increasing recruitment of teenagers from low-income homes and where neither parent went to university. Admissions officers will also be expected to give special consideration to applicants from schools with a history of poor examination results. Extra funding could be available to provide incentives for universities to meet the benchmarks, being drawn up by Margaret Hodge, the higher education minister. The Independent Schools Council accused her of social engineering on "questionable evidence". The benchmarks will replace existing goals for raising the proportion of state school students at leading universities. Fee-paying schools have expressed concern that these targets already lead some universities to discriminate against their students.

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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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