AUS Tertiary Update
Academic freedom storm at
The storm over academic freedom, which blew up at the University of Canterbury earlier this week, remains unresolved with allegations and counter-allegations following a decision by the University to destroy 500 copies of the History Department journal History Now. The controversy follows publication of an article by lecturer, Dr Thomas Fudge, on a controversial Canterbury holocaust scholar, entitled “The fate of Joel Hayward in New Zealand Hands: from holocaust historian to holocaust?” The article revisited the controversy that surrounded Hayward’s 1993 thesis which questioned the validity of holocaust history.
The decision to recall and destroy the May edition of History Now led to the resignation of Dr Fudge and the effective dumping of the journal editor, Professor Ian Campbell.
Dr Fudge, has labeled the decision as unconscionable and has told students that suppressing the article contravened the Education Act which upholds the academic freedom of university staff. The Act prescribes the freedom of academic staff and students, within the law, to question and test received wisdom, to put forward new ideas and to state controversial or unpopular opinions.
The University has defended the decision to dump the journal saying that the overwhelming majority of the academic staff in the History Department had agreed the article, in its then form, should not be published in the May issue of History Now. A statement from the University says that other staff were concerned about possible inaccuracies and misleading statements in the article, use of internal documents without authorisation, and the naming of specific individuals and businesses which could expose the University to legal action including defamation.
Adding to the intrigue, the Press ran an abridged version of Dr Fudge’s article during the week. While Tertiary Update was told that the editing was purely on the basis of the article’s length, the University is claiming the edited version omitted the specific material that led to the concerns.
Dr Fudge declined to provide AUS with an unabridged copy of the article.
AUS National President, Dr Bill Rosenberg said the association strongly defended the right to academic freedom and was closely monitoring the affair to establish whether it was breached in this case.
Also in Tertiary Update this
1. Governance review submissions due
2. Kiwis get richer, students get poorer.
3. International enrolments underpin Victoria enrolment growth
4. Academics in degrees-for-cash inquiry
5. Pay deal offered by UK employers
6. Chinese students test Blair over Iraq and Kelly
Governance review submissions due
Discussion within the AUS regarding the Association's response to the recently released Report of the Review of NZ Tertiary Education Institutional Governance continues. While AUS has welcomed some aspects of the Report, significant issues remain of concern. These include the Report's general approach to the tertiary education sector which, despite statements to the contrary, is seen as one homogeneous entity. This continues what has been official practice in recent years. As in earlier submissions on such issues, AUS will be emphasising the need for differentiation. The universities, in terms of their role, large size, statutory obligations and culture often require a different approach. AUS also believes that the Report does not uphold the Associate Minister of Education's key parameter which was to: “guarantee continued stakeholder representation on governance bodies and democratic processes”. The TEC deadline for submissions to the Report is 30 July.
get richer, students get poorer.
“The Social Report 2003, released late last week by the Ministry of Social Development, paints a rosy picture for most New Zealanders, yet students are still the only group in society that must borrow to meet their costs of living,” says Lincoln University Students’ Association President Andrew Kirton.
“Fewer and fewer students are eligible for living assistance from the student allowance scheme because the parental income threshold is still only $50,752 combined,” Kirton said. “As a result, only approximately 1/3 of students are eligible for the student allowance”.
“The income threshold is not adjusted for inflation, so actually decreases in real terms every year, meaning fewer students will get an allowance,” Kirton said. “The average income, as stated in the report, was $27,095, yet parent who earn $25,376 will be over the threshold”.
“It just makes me sick how the government will not assist people who are actually educating themselves and will be able to make a significant contribution to the nation,” said Andrew Kirton.
International enrolments underpin Victoria
Victoria University continues to experience strong growth in enrolments, with an increasing number of international students in Trimester 2. At the end of last week, the University had enrolled 1,931 international students for Trimester 2 compared with a total of 1,446 for the whole of Trimester 2 last year. Enrolments for Trimester 2 close at the end of this week.
With more than 17,108 students so far enrolled at the University this year, Victoria has already broken the record of 16,624 students it enrolled for the whole of 2002. Enrolments will get a further boost in November when students enrol for Summer Trimester courses.
New international enrolments for Trimester 2 have increased by 39 percent compared to the same time last year. In the year-to-date, the University has enrolled about 1,900 international students in undergraduate and graduate programmes and a further 234 in English Proficiency courses.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon said the number of students from China remains steady and that Victoria had seen no obvious evidence of the SARS driven downturn that had affected other parts of the industry. He said that Trimester 2 enrolments have also seen increased student numbers from the United States and Germany, and enrolments from these two countries now account for almost 300 students.
Professor McCutcheon said “Victoria was increasingly seen as the destination of choice for international students by providing quality education in a supportive environment”.
Pay deal offered by UK employers
The Association of University Teachers (AUT) and other UK higher education unions have received a salary offer from university employers after lengthy negotiations which ran into last weekend. The two-year offer for academic and related staff equates to an increase of 3.5% for year one, followed by 3% in year two, and is linked to a complex package of conditions.
It falls well short of the AUT claim which was for 14% over three years plus indexing to movements in average earnings.
If agreed it would mean that the current salary scales would be increased by 3.44% from 1 August 2003 and a further increase of 3% from 1 August 2004. A new single salary scale of 51 points which would come into effect in 2004, and to which universities would gradually be expected to move, has been proposed as part of the package. Movement to that new scale would be dependent upon the introduction of new pay arrangements including the conclusion of a role analysis/job evaluation exercise. The employers estimate the average increases in salary arising from transfers to the new scale would be 1.1%, and are therefore stating that the overall value of the deal is 7.6% over two years. The London weighting would go up 4 per cent.
The AUT is currently analysing the offer and its national executive will be considering it at a special meeting on Monday 28 July.
Eighteen people including students, university administrators, lecturers and professors were confined by judicial order to their homes in and around Rome late last week as police continued an investigation into what they said was a huge degree-trading racket at Europe's biggest university. Investigators said they had secretly recorded conversations worthy of a Mafia thriller, in which law students at La Sapienza University bought exam results using a code based on the names of flowers.
Chinese students test
Blair over Iraq and Kelly
Chinese students gave Tony Blair a public mauling this week over the war in Iraq and the death of David Kelly as controversy continued to dog the prime minister during his Far East tour. Despite being 5,500 miles from home, Mr Blair found himself repeatedly put on the spot and unable to escape the political crisis that has raged in Westminster in his absence. He was ambushed by students during a question and answer session at a Beijing university over how he felt when he heard about Mr Kelly's death on the flight to Tokyo, whether he had lied about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and how he planned to regain trust at home.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org