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AUS Tertiary Update

Jobs to be cut at Otago Polytechnic
As many as 60 jobs may be lost in an attempt by Otago Polytechnic to turn around a projected $2.28 million deficit for the year. It comes hard on the heels of the resignation, late last year, of former chief executive Dr Wanda Korndorffer after an Audit New Zealand investigation into what was described as a “botched” redevelopment of the Polytechnic’s campus, and which resulted in a $2.5 million budget blow-out.
The Polytechnic’s business recovery plan, released late last week, proposes to turn its current operational deficit into a targeted surplus of $2.51 million by the end of 2005, but at the expense of front-line staff positions.
The recovery plan has been released for consultation and a final decision on the positions to be cut is expected to be made by mid-November. Acting chief executive, Dr. Robin Day, has said that non-salary costs will be reduced by 4% and many courses, particularly those with low numbers, will be reviewed. The Polytechnic will also be calling for voluntary redundancies.
Academic staff will be hardest hit, with 44.8 full-time equivalent positions expected to go. Worst affected will be the health and community services courses which will lose 20.5 out of 101.9 FTE positions. A further 14.1 support positions, including 3 from senior management, are also expected to be cut.
National President of the Association of Staff in Tertiary Education (ASTE), Lloyd Woods said he believed that the majority of the problems were directly attributable to previous poor management and that staff and the unions had been working constructively with new management and chief executive to address them.
Mr. Woods said the target to achieve a surplus of $2.51 million by 2005 was driven by the Polytechnic’s desire to satisfy the Tertiary Advisory Monitoring Unit’s (TAMU) guideline that tertiary education institutions generate an operational surplus of between 3% and 5% each year. Mr. Woods said the figure of $2.51 million represented a 5% surplus which was as the top end of the guideline, and said the Polytechnic could save as many as 20 jobs by moderating its target to a 3% surplus.
Mr. Woods said staff were shocked that up to 13% of the Polytechnic’s 454 full-time equivalent staff were likely to go. “This is not just a body blow to the staff and polytechnic, but to Dunedin itself. The loss of so many jobs will have a ripple effect right through the community and we will be working to minimise that impact”.

Also in Tertiary Update this week . . . .
1. University superannuation scheme trustees’ election result
2. Polytechnics rebrand, launch charter
3. Strengthened code of practice for international students
4. UK Plans to adjust definition of a university?
5. EO Commission investigates Imperial College
6. Take an arts degree and you could be history

University superannuation scheme trustees’ election result
University of Canterbury history senior lecturer, and long-time AUS member, Neville Bennett, has just been re-elected as a member trustee of the board of New Zealand Universities Superannuation Scheme. Dr Bennett was the highest polling candidate (475 votes) and will be joined on the board by Delwyn Arthur (367 votes) who works for property services at the University of Auckland. They took office on Friday 1 August for a three year term.

Polytechnics rebrand, launch charter
Associate Education Minister (Tertiary), Steve Maharey, addressed the launch of a sector charter and brand for New Zealand’s twenty polytechnics and institutes of technology in Wellington last evening. Mr. Maharey described the newly branded New Zealand Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITP) sector as the “engine rooms of the knowledge society and the powerhouse of skills development”.
The new ITP charter spells out the mission and role of the sector, and includes six key strategies described as cooperation, accessibility, relevance, assurance, innovation and global relevance. It says the sector is committed to working together to develop, promote and nurture learning opportunities which prepare people for achievement in their vocation of choice and promote access to life-long learning. Successful collaborations are based on clear goals, mutual benefits, openness, trust and accountability where the individual role, identity and autonomy of each party are respected.
Mr. Maharey said the institutions have a clear niche in the new tertiary sector landscape. “At the centre of partnerships between business, regional economies and iwi, they are focusing on ensuring New Zealanders have the skills industry needs to create a value-added economy”.
“The sector charter emphasizes this role and marks it out as what makes polytechnics and institutes of technology distinctive from other parts of the sector,” he said.

Strengthened code of practice for international students
A strengthened Code of Practice for International Students was released this week by Tertiary Education Minister, Trevor Mallard. It sets a baseline for the pastoral care of international students and includes a framework for minimum standards, good practice procedures and a complaints procedure for providers enrolling international students
The recent revision extends the Code to short-term students and includes the need for international students to have current medical and travel insurance while studying in New Zealand. It gives greater protections against significant harm or exploitation, tightens some definitions, and introduces a requirement to report concerns about accommodation to the Ministry.
The strengthened Code follows a thorough consultation process which saw a draft and then a revised draft Code circulated in the industry before being finalised. Mr. Mallard said the Ministry of Education had also worked closely with the Human Rights Commission to ensure better protection for international students, and it better targeted those at risk.
Mr Mallard said the revised code puts New Zealand at the forefront of best practice in the cars and well-being of international students.

UK Plans to adjust definition of a university?
Plans to scrap the traditional, internationally recognised definition of a university and grant the title to at least seven more institutions have been announced by Margaret Hodge, the higher education minister in the UK. She said the title of university would no longer be confined to academic communities that conduct scholarly research across a range of disciplines. "The most important requirement for the university title should be the quality of an institution's teaching and the number of students enrolled," Mrs Hodge said. The first seven colleges to benefit will be the Bolton Institute, Buckinghamshire Chilterns, Canterbury Christ Church, Liverpool Hope, the London Institute, Northampton and Worcester. The announcement represents an even more fundamental change to higher education than the Conservative government's decision in 1992 to allow polytechnics to call themselves universities, which ushered in the era of mass higher education.

EO Commission investigates Imperial College
The Imperial College London is being investigated by the Equal Opportunities Commission amid claims of widespread discrimination. The EOC has confirmed that it had called a meeting with Imperial's rector after receiving a number of complaints against the college from current and former staff.
The confirmation came as an investigation by The Times Higher Education Supplement found that a female veterinary surgeon responsible for animal welfare at the college was dismissed after complaining that her advice on animal welfare was routinely ignored by her superior.
Last week a scientist at Lord Robert Winston's fertility unit at Imperial won a tribunal case against the college after she was dismissed days after suffering a fourth miscarriage.
A spokeswoman for the EOC said: "The EOC is aware of complaints against the college. We have statutory duties to eliminate sex discrimination and promote equality of opportunity. We are looking into the background of the complaints."
A consultants' report into equality issues at Imperial in May found that 32.9 per cent of female academics reported discrimination at work, and 30.6 per cent agreed that bullying or undermining behaviour by managers was a barrier to their career progression. Only 7.5 per cent of Imperial professors are female, compared with 12 per cent nationally, although the sciences are generally more male-dominated than other subjects.

Take an arts degree and you could be history
A report published last week in the UK shows that arts and law graduates tend to die younger than those who take science degrees. Medical students were least likely to die young, the study found, but most likely to die for alcohol-related reasons. Arts students were half as likely as medical students to die by suicide or accident. Divinity students had the lowest blood pressure, and were least likely to drink alcohol. The report, published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, was compiled by researchers in Glasgow and Belfast, who followed up health records from 8,367 male students at Glasgow University between 1948 and 1968.

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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