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AUS Tertiary Update

AUS WEB SITEIn our lead story this week…..
AUS supports CTU resolution against Iraq war
The AUS Council has endorsed a call by the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU) for union members to oppose any unilateral declaration of war on Iraq, and to support and participate in rallies and community activities against the possibility of war.
The NZCTU has supported the resolution of the United Nations (UN) Security Council which calls on Iraq to surrender all of its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and their delivery systems, and to allow UN inspectors unfettered access to any locations inside and outside Iraq to search for and destroy such weapons. In the event that Iraq fails to comply with the terms of the UN resolution, the issue must be referred to the UN for further deliberation.
Responding to concerns about US pressure on the UN, NZCTU President, Ross Wilson, said the NZCTU called on all countries to ensure that the deliberations and decisions of the UN in relations to any matter are free from threats of unilateral action or other undue social, political or economic pressure from any country.
Ross Wilson added that the NZCTU unequivocally condemned terrorism saying that brutal acts of terror against civilians, and aimed at maximum loss of lives, cannot be excused, rationalised, justified or defended under any circumstances.

Also in Tertiary Update this week . . . . . .
1. PBRF peer review panel chairs named
2. Student Loan Interest Rate to Remain at 7%
3. Otago numbers up by 1400
4. UK Poll shows public heavily opposed to top-up fees for students
5. Australian unions label reforms elitist and unsustainable

PBRF peer review panel chairs named
Dr Andrew West, Chair of the Tertiary Education Commission has announced the chairs of the 12 peer review panels for the Performance Based Research Fund. The panels will evaluate the quality of the research contributions of those involved in teaching degree-level programmes and/or undertaking research in tertiary education organisations. The peer review process will assess quality based on a variety of measures including research outputs, peer esteem factors and contribution to the development of new researchers and a vital high-quality research environment. The panels and their chairs are:
• Maori knowledge and development - Professor Mason Durie, Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Maori), Massey University;
• Humanities and law - Professor Erik Olssen, James Cook Research Fellow and Emeritus Professor, University of Otago;
• Social sciences and other cultural/social studies - Professor Dame Anne Salmond, Professor in social anthropology and Maori studies and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Equal Opportunities), University of Auckland;
• Education - Professor John Hattie, Professor of Education, University of Auckland;
• Physical sciences - Professor Richard Walcott, Emeritus Professor, Victoria University of Wellington;
• Biological sciences, agriculture and environment - Professor Carolyn Burns, Professor and Head of Zoology Department, University of Otago;
• Mathematical and information technology and sciences - Professor Vernon Squire, Chair of Applied Mathematics and Head of Mathematics and Statistics Department, University of Otago,;
• Engineering, technology and architecture panel - Professor Robert Park, Emeritus Professor, University of Canterbury;
• Medicine and public health - Professor Patrick Sullivan, Professor of biochemistry and Head of the Institute of Molecular BioSciences, Massey University;
• Health - Professor Peter Joyce, Professor and Head of Department of Psychological Medicine, Christchurch School of Medicine & Health Sciences;
• Management, economics, commerce, business administration and marketing - Professor Kerr Inkson, Professor of Management, Massey University; and
• Creative and performing arts - Professor Peter Walls, Chief Executive of the NZ Symphony Orchestra (on leave from Victoria University).

Student Loan Interest Rate to Remain at 7%
Revenue Minister Michael Cullen and Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary) Steve Maharey announced this week that the headline student loan interest rate will remain at 7 per cent for the year beginning 1 April 2003. Dr Cullen and Mr Maharey have said there will be a review of student support during the year which will look at ways to make student allowances available to a greater number of students, and set out rules for determining the contribution students make to the cost of their study.
The New Zealand University Students’ Association (NZUSA) has been quick to point out that the interest rates remain higher than some commercial interest rates for home loans. "A quick look on the Bank of New Zealand website shows mortgage interest rates of 5.99% - a full 1% lower than what the Government is charging its own citizens for getting an education,” said NZUSA Co-President, Roz Connelly.
"Cullen and Maharey's promises of a review into student loan policy are little comfort for graduates who see that their repayments are barely covering interest," said Connelly. "Student loan borrowers are cynical about whether government cares about them when private businesses are offering their clients more favourable terms."

Otago numbers up by 1400
Otago University has reported that student numbers have increased by 1400 students, or 10%, over the same time last year. By Wednesday this week, 15,913 students had enrolled compared with 14,500 last year, and the numbers are expected to increase further with late and second semester enrolments.
Otago AUS Branch President, Mark Peters, said the increase would lead to Otago’s highest roll ever and showed that the public had confidence in the staff at Otago. He said that the University would need to ensure there are enough staff to cope and that they were properly resourced and well remunerated. “The increase in staff numbers should mean that the University is able to continue the recent trend of above-inflation salary increases for staff”, he said.

UK Poll shows public heavily opposed to top-up fees for students
Nearly 80 per cent of the public oppose the British Government plans to introduce top-up fees for university students, according to a poll by the Association of University Teachers (AUT). Under the Government proposals, students would be liable for fees of up to £3,000 per year, bringing the cost of a three year course to £9,000. Added to accommodation and living expenses, the Government admits that a graduate may well be leaving university with debts of £21,000 or more.
The top-up fees are one of the most controversial of the new proposals for universities, revealed last month in the Government’s white paper on the future of higher education. They were met by a chorus of disapproval from most of the key players in the sector, particularly as it is thought they will act as a deterrent for young people from poorer backgrounds entering tertiary education.

Australian unions label reforms elitist and unsustainable
Education unions and students have labeled the Australian Government’s proposed higher education package as elitist, inequitable and unsustainable.
The proposed package, leaked to the media earlier this week, indicates the Government will allow universities to raise more income by deregulating student fees and to cut costs by putting students through university faster. The Government plan, thought to have been approved by Federal cabinet, includes lifting the number of full fee-paying students from 25% to 50%, and requiring academic staff to face performance tests for salary increases.
National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) President, Carolyn Allport said that the reforms indicate a retreat by Government of its responsibility to fund universities effectively. The sentiment was echoed by the head of the G8 universities, University of Queensland Vice Chancellor John Hay, who said the report failed to address key issues. The Australian Vice Chancellor’s committee estimates the purchasing power of Australian universities base funding has fallen by about $500 million a year since 1995.

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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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