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AUS Tertiary Update

AUS WEB SITE Green light for national bargaining
AUS members have voted overwhelmingly to support the negotiation of national collective employment agreements in the 2003 bargaining round. The ballot, conducted on a university-by-university basis, endorsed a recommendation to move from enterprise based bargaining at each university campus to the negotiation of one national agreement for academic staff and one national agreement for general staff.
1216 (86.8%) of the 1402 academic staff who participated in the ballot voted in support of the proposal, and 1165 (85.5%) of the 1362 general staff who participated also voted to support national bargaining.
It means that bargaining with the universities will be initiated by mid-August and it is anticipated that negotiations will commence shortly after then.
AUS National President, Dr Bill Rosenberg, said he was delighted at the result. “The high number of those voting and the high level of support for the proposal give AUS a very clear mandate to enter national bargaining with university employers, and we look forward to engaging in constructive dialogue with them.”
“It also shows that university staff appreciate the very clear link between funding and salary levels, and support the view that the government has a responsibility to significantly increase funding into the sector.”
Dr Rosenberg said he expected university employers to respect the strong wish of staff to bargain on a national basis.
ASTE members within universities have also voted in support of national bargaining. Results from the PSA ballot will be advised once received.
Full ballot results are available on the AUS website at www.aus.ac.nz/tertiaryupdate.pdf

Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. Universities affected by draft Crown entities legislation
2. Government to increase focus on teaching
3. Otago boosts financial forecast
4. Exam botch-up under review
5. New report critical of performance related pay

Universities affected by draft Crown entities legislation
The Minister of Education has written to university chancellors advising that that Government will introduce an omnibus Public Management Bill later this year, the most substantive part of which will become the Crown Entities Act. The letter says universities will continue to be Crown entities and part of the Crown financial reporting entity, but will be a separate category within the Crown Entities Bill. Classification of tertiary education institutions (TEIs) in this way will enable their distinctive characteristics and the special nature of their relationship with the Crown to continue to be recognised within the overall Crown entities framework.
The Crown Entities Bill will repeal the relevant sections of the Public Finance Act 1989 that apply to TEIs. It means the existing Public Finance Act provisions that currently apply to TEIs will be transferred into the Crown Entities Bill. TEIs will be consulted on the application of appropriate provisions of the Crown entities legislation before any final decisions are made. It will be done in two stages with the first involving those provisions required to maintain the status quo for TEIs and other technical changes to be included within the Crown Entities Bill this year. The second stage concerns other provisions that require further work, or are addressed in whole or in part through the current governance review, and will be considered as part of an Education Amendment Bill in 2004.

Government to increase focus on teaching
The government is to increase its focus on supporting teaching in the tertiary sector, according to Associate Education Minister, Steve Maharey.
Speaking at the launch of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA) Fellowship Professional Recognition and Development Scheme, Mr. Maharey said the next priority in the tertiary reforms was ensuring there were effective measures in place to ensure excellence in tertiary teaching.
“We have already set in place annual Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards, which recognise excellence in tertiary teachers and inspire others to lift their own teaching practice.”
“Our next move will be the introduction of a performance element to the tuition subsidies paid to tertiary education organisations. This will provide incentives, through marginal changes in funding, to bring about a systematic focus on improving educational gain by learners. We will need to work closely with the sector in the design of the performance element. We are setting up a small technical working party to begin this work, and a proposed approach will be put to a wider sector representative group and be published before the end of the year.”

Otago boosts financial forecast
The University of Otago is in a better financial position than expected as a result of increased student enrolments. The university, including consolidated companies, expected to finish this year with an operating surplus of $1.79 million, but has revised its expectations to $10.27 million after a 6.6 per cent increase in student enrolment this year, a revised budget approved by the university council this week shows. Income for the university group was expected to be $322.46 million - $12.19 million over the original budget - while budgeted expenditure increased $3.72 million to $312.2 million.
"The major impact on the revised 2003 budget has been the timely increase in enrolments and the extra income that has been generated. This has allowed an increase in funding allocations to the academic divisions and has provided a welcome lift in the operating surplus and cashflow," Mr Patrick says in the conclusion to the revised budget.
The number of equivalent full-time students (efts) has risen from 14,981 in 1998, to a budgeted 16,653 this year. The only year to show a year-on-year decrease was 2000, when numbers dropped 1.2 per cent on the previous year.
A report comparing the 2002 annual reports of all eight New Zealand universities, presented to the university council this week, shows Otago had the second highest operating surplus ($13.04 million) last year, behind Massey ($16.44 million).
Otago also had the second greatest value of assets ($742.51 million, behind Auckland with $849.51 million).
(ODT)

Exam botch-up under review
An internal review is underway at Massey University after examination questions were given to a class and ended up on a Chinese language website before students sat the exam. Parts of a business studies exam, along with answers, were posted on the internet site, www.skykiwi.com, allowing students from all three Massey campuses access to the answers.
It follows an incident a week earlier when a different examination paper was rewritten after rumours had circulated that students were cheating in an examination.
The most recent action was described as unwise by Massey Assistant Vice-Chancellor, Professor Luanna Meyer. “While it is normal practice for lecturers to assist students by providing sample questions to guide discussion of key material in the lead-in to exams, it is unacceptable for the actual questions to be given,” she said.
Professor Meyer said that an investigation has been launched as soon as the University became aware that the material had been posted on the internet. The investigation was intended to determine how and why it occurred, and what remedial actions were warrantable and practical. She said that the investigation was on-going but the University would be issuing guidelines to prevent such incidents occurring in the future.
The results of the examination will stand.

Worldwatch
New report critical of performance related pay
Performance related pay schemes in higher education in Britain would be discriminatory, divisive and demoralising for staff according to a new report from the Association of University Teachers (AUT).
The Government has floated the idea of using performance related pay schemes as a means of incentivising teaching in universities.
The AUT report, 'Performance related pay and higher education staff', looks at evidence from such schemes in place across the public sector, and lays this against official statistics which show how women, contract research and part-time staff are already less likely to be rewarded when 'discretionary' salary points are used.
The AUT believes that universities should be encouraged to use proper and transparent reward systems related to promotion and tenure in order to recognise and reward good teaching.

*******************************************************************************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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