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AUS Tertiary Update

AUS WEB SITEIn our lead story this week…..
Pre-Budget announcements offer little for varsities
Pre-Budget announcements for education have given little confidence that funding woes in the university sector will be significantly eased in this year’s Budget, to be presented on 15 May.
Education Minister, Trevor Mallard, announced this week that additional funding of nearly $167 million over four years would be given to fund 774 new teaching positions in primary and secondary schools and funding in the early childhood sector would be increased to “recognise that salaries are going up” - and to save parents from having to “fork out” for those additional salary costs.
No such commitment has been given for universities. While the pre-budget announcement said that a cash injection for universities will be announced in the Budget it is understood it will only be sufficient to cushion the need for significant increases in student tuition fees.
AUS General Secretary, Helen Kelly, said today that in order to ensure that New Zealand universities retain world class staff the Minister must ensure, as he has done in the early childhood sector, that funding is not only increased, but that the increases are earmarked for salaries and improved working conditions. She noted the national bargaining of kindergarten teacher’s collective agreements as the driver behind these increases and said this confirmed the AUS decision to bargain nationally.
The Budget will contain details of the fee maxima, fund some specific “research initiatives”, spell out the student component of tertiary funding for the next three years, and provide money for the first stages of a strategic workforce review.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Postgrads likely to be excluded from fee maxima
2. $85m Industry Training Package revealed
3. Social science research funding announced
4. Car parking saga heads to court
5. Rejected ideology finds way to UK
6. Thumbs down to recruitment inducements

Postgrads likely to be excluded from fee maxima
The Association of University Staff (AUS) has expressed concern that postgraduate students may be excluded from new tertiary fee maxima regulations, due to be announced in the Budget. It means that tuition fees for students studying at advanced levels will be exempt from regulation, and institutions will be free to set fees at whatever level they determine.
AUS National President, Dr Bill Rosenberg, said today that the latest OECD data indicates that New Zealand’s graduation rate for advanced research programmes, PhD or equivalent, is low by comparison to other OECD nations.
A 1991 Ministry of Education report cited cost as a factor in the low recruitment of postgraduate students after figures showed that undergraduate numbers were increasing while postgraduate enrollments were static.
Dr Rosenberg said that allowing any increase in postgraduate fees would threaten prospective growth. “Given the economic and social importance of these students to New Zealand’s research base, incentives are needed to encourage more students to complete postgraduate work. Increasing costs for postgraduate students is unacceptable and not in the national interest,” he said.
Dr Rosenberg also pointed to the need to ensure our academic workforce is replenished, noting that a PhD is generally required as the base qualification for university academic positions.
Calling on the Government to include postgraduate students in the fees maxima regulations, Dr Rosenberg said that it is not a matter which should be left to individual institutions to decide

$85m Industry Training Package revealed
An industry training package was announced by government today as a part of the pre-Budget releases. $84.3 million in additional funding will be invested in the Industry Training Fund in an attempt to increase the number of workers participating in workplace learning to 150,000 by 2005.
As a part of the package, the government is to join forces with Business New Zealand and the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions to promote the benefits of workplace learning in what has been described by the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary), Steve Maharey, as “future proofing our economy against debilitating skill shortages and international uncompetitiveness.”
Also included in the package is funding of $50,000 to develop a proposal for a national centre for vocational education and training research.

Social science research funding announced
A project to network New Zealand’s leading tertiary sector social scientists and to share their expertise with policy makers heads up an $8.6 million funding package announced this week. $5.208 million of the funding will be for a project to link researchers in the tertiary sector to “build up critical mass in priority areas in the social sciences aligned with the government’s goals”. It includes a range of disciplines which can make a significant contribution to New Zealand’s social, economic and environmental goals.
On-going operational funding of $1.5 million annually will be provided to support the project and a one-off capital grant of $500,000 will be available in 2004. Additional funding will also be invested through the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology in the Budget to support social science research.
Several other specific research initiatives are also being funded in the Budget to give the government better information on which to make policy decisions. These include a new national clearing house for information on family violence, additional questions being added to Statistics New Zealand’s Household Labour Force Survey to show the extent to which New Zealander’s are participating in education and training, and a research project to examine sickness and invalids benefit dynamics to inform the government’s welfare reform programme.
AUS National President, Dr Bill Rosenberg, said it was encouraging to see the importance of social science research being recognised by the government.

Car parking saga heads to court
Canterbury University staff are to ask the Employment Authority to determine whether free car parking at that university is a condition of employment. The move comes after the University of Canterbury implemented an annual parking charge this month after having previously provided free parking. Mediation between AUS and the university failed to resolve the matter and an application to the Employment Authority to have the charges held off until the matter was resolved was unsuccessful. The case is expected to be heard in July.

Rejected ideology finds way to UK
Former New Zealand politicians, Sir Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson, are proposing a radical overhaul of British Education. In a report from UK think-tank Reform’s Commission on the Reform of Public Services, they propose that parents are given purchasing power to educate their children by means of a voucher system or tax credit, heads and teachers are given the right to buy their schools, and that education regulations are cut to a minimum. The report says the objectives of a reformed system would be to transfer the purchasing power from government providers to individual parents and to deregulate the supply of education so that new providers can enter the sector. Pay and conditions, they say, should be determined on a school by school basis. Richardson and Douglas make up two of the three people on the Reform’s Commission.

Thumbs down to recruitment inducements
Proposals by the Higher Education Funding Council for England to allocate £20 million over three years so that universities can boost recruitment have been criticised by vice-chancellors and teachers unions. Recruitment supplements of up to £9,000 will be available only to those who have never taught in higher education before and who will do at least ten hours a week of teaching.
Lecturers' union Natfhe said the scheme would be divisive and damaging, and would create ill feeling between existing and new staff. Natfhe said the supplements would mean new lecturers with no experience could earn £26,000 - more than lecturers who started on the basic £22,000 would earn after three or four years. The new recruits could be on £33,000 in their third year if they receive both their supplement and annual pay increment.
Ivor Crewe, president elect of the Vice Chancellor’s body, UUK, said: "While we are pleased the government has recognised the size of the recruitment problem and would welcome any additional money to help, we must be clear that this is just a short-term palliative when what is really required are sufficient resources to address the pay problem." (THES)

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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