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AUS Tertiary Update

AUS WEB SITE Vice-chancellors figures panned
Figures used by the New Zealand Vice Chancellors’ Committee (NZVCC) to subdue salary claims made by the AUS have been removed from the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) website after questions were raised about their accuracy.
The ACU survey of academic staff salaries and benefits in seven commonwealth countries for the period 2001-02 claimed that New Zealand academic salaries are on a par with those offered in five of the six other countries surveyed. In turn, the vice-chancellors have asserted that the figures show enterprise bargaining has enabled universities in New Zealand to remain competitive with the major commonwealth countries. They said that the purchasing power parity of New Zealand salaries, based on the Big Mac Index used by ACU, compare favourably against Australia, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Only against Singapore did New Zealand not fare well.
However, after questions about the accuracy of the data were raised by AUS National President, Dr Bill Rosenberg, the ACU immediately pulled the report from the public domain and have apologised for their lack of accuracy.
Dr Rosenberg says that the Australian purchasing power parity salaries in the report were calculated using an incorrect index which reduced them by 29%. In addition the use of the Big Mac index is difficult to accept. “To give some examples,” he said “changing from the World Bank‘s purchasing power parity index (which itself has problems) to the Big Mac index makes the purchasing power of a New Zealand professorial salary appear to have improved by $US13,128 against an Australian professorial salary between 2000-01 and 2001-02. Similarly, lecturers appear to have improved their relative position by $US6,928 and senior lecturers by $US7,262 over the same one-year period. This is obviously nonsense.”
Dr Rosenberg said that other figures used by ACU threw up “mathematical impossibilities”. “For example,” he said, “the average salary at the bottom of the Australian professorial salary scale was calculated to be the equivalent of $US54,068. The figures used to calculate the average, however, ranged between $US59,035 and $US68,893, making their average of $US 54,068 somewhat perplexing”.
Similar errors were reported with the New Zealand data. The published averages for New Zealand are in all cases lower than the corresponding salary scale points and bear little resemblance to the averages calculated from the scales. The Canadian averages also appear to differ but the differences are smaller than those for New Zealand and Australia.
Dr Rosenberg said that AUS will rely on more substantial research than the Big Mac Index during collective agreement negotiations and will highlight the responsibility of government to increase funding into the sector and engage in workforce planning.

Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. Education providers join forces over e-learning
2. University lecturers on “priority occupations list”
3. Submissions sought on Victoria University charter
4. Professional practice for tertiary professionals
5. Select committee backs union stance, but ducks fees issue
6. Iranian students held after calling off rally

University lecturers on “priority occupations list”
The New Zealand Immigration Service (NZIS) has added university lecturers to its priority occupations list. Inclusion on this list means that, in the view of the NZIS, which conducts occupational surveys every six months, there is a shortage of academic staff both nationally and internationally. It also means that the occupation is linked to the government's priorities for economic development.
The NZIS consulted the New Zealand Vice Chancellors Committee (NZVCC) and human resources staff within universities in gathering its data - an update of which is due in December.
Being on the priority occupation list means that there is a better chance of foreign academic staff being guaranteed residence in New Zealand, and it is seen as a significant incentive in attracting migrants/job applicants.
The addition of university lecturers to the priority occupations list contradicts reports from the most recent newsletter from the NZVCC which claims that despite immigration difficulties significant numbers of academic appointments are still being made from offshore.

Education providers join forces over e-learning
Tertiary education providers are joining forces to boost e-learning, a move the group hopes will make New Zealand providers more competitive against their international counterparts. The e-Learnz consortium of universities, polytechnics and related organisations are to develop a centre of excellence in e-learning.
Foundation members of the consortium include the Eastern Institute of Technology, Learning Media Ltd, Southern Institute of Technology, Unitec, University of Otago, Victoria University of Wellington, Waikato Institute of Technology, Wellington Institute of Technology and Whitireia Community Polytechnic.
Laurence Zwimpfer, an education technology consultant who was recently appointed chairperson of e-Learnz said the move was in line with Government direction. He said the 2003 budget confirmed support for a tertiary e-learning Internet portal and an e-learning collaborative development fund.

Submissions sought on Victoria University charter
Victoria University is seeking public submissions on its draft Charter which will outlines the University's purpose, distinctive character, governance and management, mission, values, major goals and the composition and responsibilities of its Council.
The University, along with all other tertiary education organisations, is required to develop a new Charter in order to remain eligible for Government funding in 2004 and must be submitted to the Tertiary Education Commission by September 30, 2003.
The proposed Charter is based on the University's existing Charter, approved by Council and the Minister of Education in 2001, which in turn informs the University's 10 year Strategic Plan. The University has identified a list of more than 60,000 stakeholders in its community to assist in the Charter consultation process from alumni through to state sector organisations.
A public meeting to discuss the proposed Charter will take place on Tuesday July 29 at 12.30pm in the University's Hunter Council Chamber, Hunter Building, Kelburn Parade.

Professional practice for tertiary professionals
A conference focusing on enhancing professionalism in tertiary education will be convened by tertiary union, ASTE in Wellington on Wednesday 1 October. Keynote speakers will include Ivan Snook and Rex Hewitt. Abstracts for a range of workshops, paper presentations and seminars are currently being sought and should be sent to conference organiser, Jo Scott ( by Friday 15 August. She can be contacted for further information on (04) 801 15098.

Select committee backs union stance, but ducks fees issue
British university unions have given a broad welcome to a higher education select committee report into the Government's higher education white paper saying it injects a “desperately needed dose of common sense into the debate as to which direction higher education should head in over the next decade.”
The report criticised the government's plans to further concentrate research funding in top-rated departments and universities, leaving weaker research institutions to focus on teaching and building links with local employers. It also suggests fees should be raised from the £3,000 a-year proposed by government, to £5,000 in order to create a genuine market differentiation between courses.
The unions say the report backs their campaign for pay increases to make up for 20 years of massive decline; and savages ministers’ plans to endanger hundreds of research departments and 8,000 jobs by concentrating funding on elite departments.
“The report is also excellent in that it backs the crucial drive to widen participation at university; and calls for the Government to stop using smoke and mirrors as it tries to reach its target to increase participation at university to 50% by expanding the provision of foundation degrees, which are vitally important qualifications, but are not full degrees.,” said Association of University Teachers (AUT) General Secretary, Sally Hunt.
Other recommendations include full fee remission for poor students, the abandonment of plans for an Office for Fair Access, doubts on plans to award university titles to institutions with no research degree-awarding powers and a higher education levy on business.
The government is due to publish its full response later this month. A spokesman said that a full Commons' debate on the report and the white paper might be arranged for September.

Iranian students held after calling off rally
Hundreds of Iranian hardline Islamic vigilantes, police and pro-democracy youths fought running street battles near Tehran University on the anniversary of the 1999 student unrest. Trouble erupted when three Iranian student activists were abducted by armed vigilantes after announcing that they were calling off rallies to mark the anniversary of democracy protests. Dozens of student leaders have been detained recently and their whereabouts remain unknown.

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