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AUS Tertiary Update

AUS WEB SITE Figures confirm salary erosion
Discredited figures used by the New Zealand Vice Chancellors’ Committee to subdue salary claims made by the AUS have been replaced after a complaint about their accuracy by the AUS. The new figures show that the purchasing power of New Zealand academic salaries has deteriorated significantly against Australian salaries since a previous survey in 2001, but has improved slightly against salaries in Canada and the UK.
Following a complaint by AUS, the Association of Commonwealth Universities’ (ACU) withdrew a survey of academic staff salaries and benefits in 7 commonwealth countries from their website and aplogised for their lack of accuracy. In an email to AUS they say that the original report did not go through the proper quality assurance process, resulting in a serious oversight on their part.
Figures, converted to $US, from 45 universities in the 7 countries compared have now been recalculated and posted on the ACU website using Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) conversion factor. They show a lecturer at the top of the scale in New Zealand in 2002 having the purchasing power of $US40,962 ($US38,720 in 2001) while an Australian has $US52,446 ($US45,488). A Professor at the bottom of the New Zealand salary range has the purchasing power equivalent of $US63,610 ($US60,220) while an Australian counterpart would have $US83,463 ($US72,441).
Previous ACU surveys have utilized PPP factors published by the OECD, however the latest OECD PPP factors were not available for all commonwealth countries in this survey. Instead, the ACU have used the Economist Big Mac Currency Index for the current survey.
The revised report concludes that while the difference between salaries in the 7 countries is most pronounced at professorial level, the overall difference between the top and bottom has reduced, indicating a growing awareness of competition and of developing salary standardization for institutions that draw on the same academic pool for their teaching staff.
AUS National President. Dr Bill Rosenberg, said that while AUS has reservations about using either the OECD or Big Mac purchasing power parity models, both show that the disparity between conditions of employment between New Zealand and Australian had reached a significant and unacceptable level. He said measures to address the salary gap would be strongly promoted in the salary claim advanced by AUS during national negotiations.

Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. Questions over academic freedom claim
2. Student debt passes $6 billion
3. More funding for tertiary strategy initiatives
4. Funding review to look at anomalies in tertiary course costs
5. AUS publications on line
6. UK pay offer rejected
7. Top 19 may set own pay agenda

Questions over academic freedom claim
Questions have been raised over allegations made by Canterbury lecturer, Dr Thomas Fudge, that his academic freedom has been suppressed with the decision of the University to withdraw 500 copies of the History Department journal, History Now.
The allegations were made last week after the journal, containing an article by Dr Fudge about the fate of a former Canterbury student who had published a Masters thesis questioning the validity of holocaust history, was withdrawn from publication. Dr Fudge labeled the action as breaching academic freedom and has told Tertiary Update he has resigned from the University in protest.
Responding to the allegations, the Head of History at Canterbury, Professor Peter Hempenstall, said the issue was not one of academic freedom but of a basic failure of respect for colleagues’ views, and a failure to give them a reasonable opportunity to defend themselves at the proper moment.
Possible inaccuracies and misleading statements, the use of internal documents without clearance, and the naming of specific individuals and businesses, which could expose the University to legal action, were cited as principal reasons for the withdrawal.
He said there was “overwhelming agreement within the Department” that an article of such a sensitive nature should have been run past the Editorial Board before publication in a house journal. “This is the kind of professional and collegial responsibility on which academic culture and its conventions are built. Without them there is no academic freedom, responsibly exercised”.
Professor Hempenstall said that academic freedom goes hand-in-hand with ethical responsibility. “In this case the censorship occurred right at the beginning, when people were named and whose behaviour was being commented upon were king-hit from behind without being given a chance to face the author,” he said.
He said the staff were currently looking at ways in which the issue could be discussed further and resolved within the department.

Student debt passes $6 billion
Student debt is now past the $6 billion mark according to the government response to an official information request from the New Zealand University Students' Association (NZUSA). Students are calling on the government to ease the debt burden by immediately introducing a living allowance for all students.
"Six billion dollars of debt is a disgrace to a government that say they want a knowledge economy and society," said Fleur Fitzsimons, Co-President of NZUSA. "Urgent action is required, the government must use the long awaited student support review to deliver on their promises."
"The best way to ensure that student debt does not continue increasing dramatically every year is to introduce a living allowance for all students to ensure that students do not have to rely on the harsh and unfair student loan scheme to survive"
Student debt will reach $20 billion by 2020. One in ten New Zealanders now has a student loan.

Funding review to look at anomalies in tertiary course costs
A review of the costs involved of running some tertiary education courses has been announced by Steve Maharey, Minister responsible for the Tertiary Education Commission. The Funding Category Review will concentrate on areas of high strategic relevance where significant funding and cost anomalies are believed to exist.
The review follows a scoping study by sector experts into the relativity of funding of different areas in the tertiary sector which identified that some courses were potentially under funded relative to others.
The review will be a joint project between the Ministry of Education and the Tertiary Education Commission and will begin shortly. Any changes resulting from the review will be announced as part of the 2004 Budget and implemented from the 2005 academic year.

More funding for tertiary strategy initiatives
The Government has announced it is making $77.8 million additional funding available to tertiary education organisations for special initiatives to help fulfil aspects of the Tertiary Education Strategy.
$20 million will be available through an Innovation and Development Fund (IDF) which has been set up as part of a push to develop better capability within tertiary education organisations, and $14 million will be available through the e-Learning Collaborative Development Fund (eCDF). A further $9.8 million will support the development of e-learning and tertiary education portals, and the remaining $34 million will be available for future projects.
The eCDF and IDF are contestable funds with clear parameters and specific eligibility criteria, including alignment to the Tertiary Education Strategy. The funds will be open to application between 4 August and 26 September 2003, and decisions will be made by the end of the year.
Background information is currently available on the Tertiary Education Commission website, . Application forms will be available on the site from Monday.

AUS publications on line
The latest issues of AUS publications are now available on-line. The Bulletin can be found at ; and He Paku Korero can be found at .

UK pay offer rejected
The Association of University Teachers (AUT) has rejected the pay deal offered by UK higher education employers, reported in Tertiary Update last week. AUT’s Executive Committee has sent negotiators back to the table in an attempt to secure a better deal.
AUT General Secretary, Sally Hunt, said the two year pay deal (6.44%) would have been only slightly ahead of inflation and would have made only a “tiny dint” in the estimated 28% required to make up salary erosion over the last decade.
Sally Hunt said that under the banner of modernisation the employers were seeking to make fundamental changes to salary structures which would not be in the interests of staff. She said that while the AUT supported a modernisation agenda it must be based around better managed resources, greater transparency and equality of pay and opportunity for all.
Details of the offer and unions’ position can be found on the AUT website,

Top 19 may set own pay agenda
Top British universities may break ranks with the rest of the nation's higher education institutions by setting their own policy on issues such as academic pay and student tuition fees. The move could see the Russell Group, representing the vice-chancellors and principals of 19 of the country's biggest and best research and teaching institutions, introduce policies on preferential pay to attract top academics. It would also campaign for higher student fees to reflect the quality of learning at member institutions.
The move has angered other vice-chancellors, but the group is worried that its concerns over issues such as pay, fees and research funding are not best served by continuing to abide by policy set by Universities UK, which represents all UK universities and some other higher education institutions.
Most Russell Group members would like to have seen the cap for top-up fees, to be introduced in 2006, set at £5,000 not the government-imposed £3,000. They said the higher figure could help create a genuine market where universities, including many in the Russell Group, felt able to discount their courses.

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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