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AUS Tertiary Update

AUS WEB SITEIn our lead story this week…..
National bargaining for universities
University staff representatives met in Wellington for two days this week to develop a strategy to pursue national collective employment agreement bargaining in the University sector.
AUS General Secretary, Helen Kelly, told the meeting of more than 50 university staff that unless the unions can break though the government funding barrier, they will always be bargaining for short term outcomes or getting what they can within current levels of government funding. She said that enterprise bargaining had not made sufficient inroads into the salary deficiencies in the sector and that current university salaries would not sustain an internationally recognized workforce.
Helen Kelly said that AUS had written to the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary), Steve Maharey, seeking a tripartite approach to the funding and bargaining issues, and are due to meet with the Minister later in March. She said that Mr. Maharey is due to announce triennial funding for universities on May 15, making this a critical time for the AUS to engage with the universities and government over the issue.
Meanwhile in what appears to be a very positive step towards national bargaining in the tertiary sector, seven polytechnic employers have agreed the meet ASTE, the main union representing polytech staff, to discuss multi-employer bargaining.

Also in Tertiary Update this week . . . . .
1. Otago Polytechnic cutbacks spark redundancy concerns
2. Waikato poised to set up in Manukau
3. Credit transfer and recognition easier
4. Third of Britain’s academics want to quit
5. Thousands on strike at Yale

Otago Polytechnic cutbacks spark redundancy concerns
Despite fears of redundancies, staff and students at the troubled Otago Polytechnic have pledged support to management as it looks set to cut as much as $2.7 million from its budget over the next 21 months. Fewer students than expected have enrolled at Otago Polytechnic this year, adding to financial difficulties following the botched campus redevelopment programme and the resignation of chief executive Dr Wanda Korndoffer late last year.
Acting chief executive, Dr Robin Day said that unless action is taken the lower than expected enrolments are expected to result in a deficit of between $600,000 and $900,000, potentially compounding an estimated loss of $280,000 in 2002. The polytechnic council has asked management to come up with a financial recovery plan, sparking the concerns about the possibility of redundancies.
Staff unions, ASTE and TIASA, have expressed support for the acting chief executive saying that he seems committed to dealing with the financial problems and to working openly with the unions. TIASA spokeswoman Mona Cromb said that union members welcomed the increased communication with polytech management, saying it was a marked change from last year when staff and students voted no confidence in the then chief executive, Dr Korndoffer.

Waikato poised to set up in Manukau
Waikato University appears poised to establish a campus in Manukau City following a request from the Manukau City Council for a “leading” university campus to be established in the area. Waikato Vice Chancellor, Professor Bryan Gould, said Waikato was Manukau’s “preferred provider” and was confident the development would go ahead. Professor Gould said that they were currently meeting with the Council and are engaged in negotiation over facilities for the campus.
Waikato already has a campus in Tauranga and has been in discussions about establishing a campus in Taupo. Professor Gould said that the new developments would not occur at the expense of Hamilton, and would give the University a “very powerful triangle in the North Island”.

Credit transfer and recognition easier
Students changing tertiary courses or training institutions will find it easier to transfer credits for courses they have already passed under a new policy announced last week.
Tertiary Education Minister Steve Maharey said tertiary providers had agreed to implement the Supporting Learning Pathways Credit Recognition and Transfer Policy. "We want to make sure that students who change the direction of their learning from one education provider to another or towards a different qualification, have every opportunity to have their previous achievements recognised.”
He said that while credit recognition and credit transfer are not new concepts, they are increasingly important in a coherent tertiary education sector. A common set of principles, agreed to by all providers, will provide consistency and surety for students. Providers have agreed to have consistent credit recognition and credit transfer process in place from January 2004.
The policy is supported by the New Zealand Register of Quality Assured Qualifications, which will be online in July this year and will enable the public to view and compare all qualifications that have been quality assured in New Zealand. It was developed by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, working with a group from across the tertiary sector, including universities, polytechnics, wananga, student associations, and private training establishments and will be implemented by the relevant quality assurance bodies as part of their approval, accreditation and quality assurance roles.

One third of Britain’s academics want to quit
Nearly one in three of Britain's university academic and teaching staff is seriously considering quitting the profession, because of a growing workload and poor pay, according to a new survey out this week. Nearly half the academics said morale had worsened in the past two years, while an overwhelming majority complained that they suffered from work-related stress. The survey is the first snapshot of the views of academics since the government published its long-delayed white paper on higher education in January.
The survey, conducted by ERS market research for the Association of University Teachers (AUT), involved 1,817 union members, who were both academic and academic-related and work at ‘old’ and ‘new’ universities.
Among the key survey findings, 72% are dissatisfied with their pay, 62% suffer from ‘excessive’ workplace stress, and 81.7% said work impaired their quality of life. Perhaps not surprisingly, 46% said morale had worsened over the last two years, while 26.9% said they were ‘fairly seriously’ contemplating leaving higher education.
Despite Government assurances that breaking the link between research and teaching would let universities excel in areas at which they are best, an overwhelming 85.9% of those surveyed believed the link between research and teaching should be retained.
The AUT's general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: "This survey should start a few alarm bells ringing in government circles. It clearly shows that university staff are feeling underpaid, stressed and demotivated. The government wants the UK's academic and academic-related staff to implement its reform agenda, and yet most of them feel ignored and under-valued.

Thousands on strike at Yale
Thousands of staff went on strike at Yale University last week forcing the cancellation of many classes and the closure of services. It was one of the broadest walkouts ever on an American university campus, and the eighth at Yale since 1968, reinforcing Yale's reputation as having by far the worst record of labour tension of any university in the nation.
Four different union locals walked off the job at the same time - one representing Yale's 2,900 clerical workers, one representing its 1,200 cleaning, dining hall and maintenance workers, one representing more than 1,000 graduate teaching and research assistants, and one representing 150 food workers at Yale-New Haven Hospital.
More than 2,000 strikers, students and New Haven residents rallied at Woolsey Hall, where they heard the Rev. Jesse Jackson call on Yale to be more generous.
Professors, students, strikers and administrators gave various theories to explain Yale's extraordinary string of strikes, including longstanding distrust between Yale's administration and the unions, militant labour leadership, a long line of university administrators who looked down on the workers and bitter town-gown relations that have taught workers to resent Yale, the biggest employer in town.

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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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