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AUS Tertiary Update

AUS WEB SITEIn our lead story this week…..
GATS concerns remain for tertiary education
The AUS has expressed concern that the New Zealand Government has failed to withdraw education entirely from the General Agreement of Trades in Services (GATS). AUS National President, Dr Bill Rosenberg, said that while AUS welcomed assurances that no further commitments will be made on education in the GATS round, it was disappointing that New Zealand did not take the high ground by joining with other countries to withdraw education entirely from GATS.
“A first step would have been to withdraw the reckless education commitment made in 1994, yet the government has not made any moves to withdraw this or other commitments that conflict with its own policies.
“There were a number of issues related to tertiary education which AUS submitted should be excluded from the offer. We are pleased that those submissions have been reflected in the initial offer but we remain concerned at what may happen during the negotiations”, said Dr Rosenberg.
“Despite public assurances that the Treaty of Waitangi would be protected, the government is still relying on the current inadequate commitment which provides protection only to commercial and industrial activities of Maori.
“The Government’s move to clarify the protection of public services from the GATS is non-binding. It does not reclaim the right to regulate important services which are not in public ownership. The clarification should be widened and entered into New Zealand's schedule of commitments. Otherwise it has no legal standing before a WTO Disputes Tribunal”, he said.
Dr Rosenberg said that assurances the initial GATS offer was likely to be a minimal one have not proved to be correct. “There are significant commitments offered. This does not bode well for the final outcome after the enormous pressures of these negotiations have been brought to bear.
“We continue to be disappointed that the government has rushed through this offer and call on it to release any requests and offer documents in a timely manner as negotiations continue.”

In other stories this week . . . . . . .
1. National bargaining on agenda
2. Lincoln numbers trend up
3. Manukau Council meets TEC
4. Moratorium on PTE Foundation courses
5. Killing academics popular pastime
6. Breakthrough in GATS campaign
7. Indian academics bar visits by U.S. and British officials

National bargaining on agenda
Academic and general staff members of AUS will be balloted in June to determine whether or not AUS will initiate bargaining with university employers in an attempt to move from negotiating collective employment agreements separately at each of the universities to negotiating on a national basis. Proposed is a single national collective employment agreement for academic staff and another for general staff.
AUS national industrial staff completed a round of meetings this week to train branch committee and other members on the bargaining options available under the Employment Relations Act, and to prepare for bargaining later in the year.
The AUS annual conference, held last December, endorsed the shift to national bargaining as a means to break through the constraints which have confined recent salary settlements to the ability of individual university employers to pay and/or on the industrial strength of each AUS branch.
National bargaining is intended to place additional pressure on universities collectively to give a greater priority to staff salaries and on government to increase funding into the university sector.
The national bargaining proposal is supported by the other tertiary sector unions, PSA and ASTE, the latter of which intends to negotiate multi-employer employment agreements in the polytechnic sector.

Lincoln numbers trend up
Reports at the end of March indicate that Lincoln University enrolment figures are significantly up on those at the same time last year. Although Lincoln has not responded to requests for information, it is understood that actual enrolment numbers are up by as much as 22%. While it is not known how the increase in enrolments translates into EFTS, Lincoln management is confident that final numbers will exceed targets.
Significant growth in international students and steady domestic numbers have combined to provide a healthy growth pattern overall. Figures show domestic PhD and Masters enrolments are up by 30%.

Manukau Council meets TEC
Manukau City Council heads have met with the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) chair, Dr Andrew West, after delaying a decision on developing a Waikato University campus in the city. An earlier announcement by Waikato University that it was Manukau’s “preferred provider” provoked a debate about who should provide public tertiary education in the area. Options from other tertiary providers were to have been heard by the Council last week, but that meeting was replaced by a meeting with Dr West.
Manukau Mayor, Barry Curtis, said the meeting with Dr West was to ascertain the vision of TEC for the Auckland region in order ensure that whatever Maukau does fits comfortably within the regional vision. Mr Curtis said that he hoped a proposal would be selected within the next few months.

Moratorium on PTE Foundation courses
A one-year moratorium has been placed on considering private sector applications for recognition of their foundation studies programmes for entry into New Zealand universities after the New Zealand Vice Chancellors’ Committee (NZVCC) were inundated by applications. A number of private education providers have approached the universities, through the NZVCC, to have their foundation studies programmes recognised for entrance purposes, utilising the same route as students who apply for entrance with overseas secondary qualifications.
Professor Luanna Meyer, Chair of the NZVCC Sub-Committee on University Entrance, says that the moratorium has been put in place to allow for the full effect of the NCEA to take effect, consultation with the secondary school sector and for possible evaluation of the university performance of the first cohort of students who had completed foundation studies programmes run by a private provider in Australia.
Professor Meyer said that students could be tempted into a foundation programme based on a view that it was a softer option than NCEA level three.

Worldwatch
Killing academics popular pastime
It appears that killing academics is a popular pastime in Colombia, though not as popular as killing trade unionists. Human Rights Watch, an independent, nongovernmental, international Human Rights organization, estimates that army-backed Colombian paramilitaries have murdered 15,000 trade unionists, peasants and local leaders, including academics, in the last ten years. The teaching union, FECODE, lost 70 members to assassins last year.
A delegation of British university staff is to be taken to Colombia later this month to witness the scale of violence. A spokesperson said that there is an atmosphere of violence in universities, and they’re frequently invaded by the armed forces. University protests are frequently against privatisation and, more often than not, are brutally suppressed.

Breakthrough in GATS campaign
The Association of University Teachers (AUT) in the United Kingdom has succeeded in its campaign to prevent British universities from being opened up to the global market under the current world trade talks. The European Commission announced last month that education would not be included in the current round of negotiations in the current round of GATS negotiations.
The AUT has been at the forefront of the campaign to ensure higher education is not included in GATS, and has produced an analysis showing the dangers of locking higher education into an international trade agreement.

Indian academics bar visits by U.S. and British officials
Angered by the U.S.-led war in Iraq, faculty members of one of India's most prominent universities have agreed to ban American and British government officials from entering the campus. More than 100 professors of Jamie Millia Islamia, located in New Delhi, signed a petition on Friday barring the government representatives from the university. Those who signed the document also agreed not to attend any official functions organized by the American Center, the cultural wing of the U.S. Embassy. The ban does not extend to American and British students or professors.

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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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