AUS Tertiary Update
Major salary boost sought
for university staff
University unions are preparing to file a claim on university employers to increase salaries for academic staff by 10% per annum over the next three years. A similar claim, to increase general staff salaries by 10% in 2004 followed by inflation adjusted increases for the following two years will also be made. The claim for general staff will be supplemented by a proposal to increase job evaluation alignments to the higher quartiles of the salary market and for the investigation of a national university-based job evaluation scheme.
With a final meeting yet to occur, the claims have been endorsed by union members at a number of meetings over the last week in the seven universities to be covered by proposed new national collective agreements for both academic and general staff. Negotiations are expected to commence in September.
The salary claim builds on similar claims over the past two years, and is based around gaining parity with the major Australian universities and addressing recruitment and retention problems forecasted to beset universities internationally by the end of the decade. It has been estimated that by then more than 230,000 new academic staff will needed in the 5 countries (including New Zealand) from which local universities recruit most of their academic staff.
AUS National President, Dr Bill Rosenberg, says analysis shows that New Zealand salaries lag significantly behind those in Australia. “On a straight conversion basis, New Zealand salaries are as much as 22% behind those in Australia, and even when using OECD Comparative Price Level data, it is apparent that purchasing power value is up to 13% behind. Higher superannuation and leave benefits give the Australians a further margin of at least 11% on their New Zealand counterparts,” he said.
The Australian tertiary education unions have filed a 24% salary claim for the next three years, and the first settlements have provided salary increases of between 15% and 18% over the three year period.
Dr Rosenberg said pushing general staff salaries into the higher quartiles of the salary market could result in sizeable increases for those staff, and said the importance of investigating a national job evaluation scheme, based around university values, had the potential of bringing a consistent and equitable approach to salary setting for general staff across the whole university sector.
A claim will also be made to develop mechanisms at each university to assess and control workloads, and to establish a high-level committee of union and staff representatives at each university with the intention of both increasing staff involvement in strategic decision-making and in the democratic management of faculties, schools and departments.
Also in Tertiary
Update this week
1. Minister’s funding claim questioned
2. Complaint against Vice-Chancellor dismissed
3. Waikato numbers up – just.
4. New wananga for Auckland
5. US universities in decline
6. More women given university places than men
AUS has questioned the accuracy of a claim made in the NZ Herald by the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary), Steve Maharey, that only the United States spends more than New Zealand on tertiary education, as a percentage of gross domestic product.
The most recent information available from the OECD (OECD Education at a Glance -2001) does not support that view. It shows that many countries spend more than New Zealand. At university level, New Zealand spends 0.8% of GDP falling behind Australia at 1.3% and Canada with 1.4%. Similarly, spending on all tertiary education in New Zealand is given as 0.9% of GDP, while Australia invests 1.5%, Canada 2.5%, the United Kingdom 1.1% and the United States 2.3%.
Research shows that between 1980 and 1999 real government funding of New Zealand universities per equivalent full-time student fell at an annual average rate of 2.3% or by $3,821 (36%) overall. Relative to its level of GDP, New Zealand significantly reduced its investment in universities over those two decades. Since then, Government investment in the sector has barely kept pace with inflation and has not yet addressed the major losses reported above.
against Vice-Chancellor dismissed
A complaint brought by University of Canterbury lecturer, Dr Thomas Fudge, against Vice-Chancellor, Professor Roy Sharp, over his handling of an alleged academic freedom dispute has been dismissed by unanimous resolution of the University Council.
A statement from the University Council, which includes a number of staff representatives, says an investigation of the complaint by the Vice-Chancellor Employment Committee found that there were no actions or omissions by the Vice Chancellor “which failed to protect, promote or enhance academic freedom.” The Council statement went on to confirm its full and continuing confidence in the Vice-Chancellor.
The University Council made a further statement deploring the premature release of Fudge’s letter of complaint to the media, saying it was “most improper”, and that the “process whereby the Council might first consider the matters raised by Dr Fudge was completely abrogated”.
In a release to all University of Canterbury staff, Chancellor Dr Robin Mann has provided the text of the Vice-Chancellor’s letter to Dr Fudge, around which the suppression claim was made. It includes: "The events of the past few weeks in the Department of History have caused considerable concern within the University and in the wider community.
The commitment of this University and mine as its Vice-Chancellor to academic freedom should not be doubted. That commitment is one of the defining characteristics of universities and I will always fight to preserve it.
I fully defend your right to freedom of speech, subject to this being exercised within the law and ethically defensible. I consider formal lectures and classes in the courses HIST 130 and HIST 365 to be inappropriate University fora for the defence of your personal position with regard to the actions taken with History Now and the expression of your opinions of staff on the Editorial Board. Without in any way determining matters, which may become the subject of a formal investigation, I direct you not to use such lectures and classes for those purposes."
AUS National President, Dr Bill Rosenberg, said he welcomed the release of the letter as it clarifies some of the issues which concerned academic staff, and said there was fine balance between academic freedom and the inherent responsibility which the use of that freedom carried.
Waikato numbers up –
Enrolment figures just released at Waikato University show that student numbers have increased by 1% this year. Second semester figures show that international student numbers have increased by 490 while domestic numbers have dropped by 186. The University has 10,958 equivalent full-time students, down on its target of 11,830.
That increase in international numbers will be coupled by an increase in international students’ tuition fees for 2004. The University Council has decided to increase fees by between 5 and 8%, after increasing them by 10% last year. The fee rises will add about $1,000 to the average course cost of about $15,000.
New wananga for Auckland
Plans are underway for a Maori university (wananga) in Auckland following confirmation from Te Whanau o Waiperiria Trust chief executive, Reg Ratahi, that negotiations are progressing with the Minister of Education. Mr Ratahi said that the government contributed $600,000 to planning last year, including work on a business case and curriculum development.
It is understood that Hoani Waititi Marae chairman, Dr Peter Sharples has been working on the curriculum since last year when he said that the wananga would be an obvious extension to the Marae’s existing education facilities. Initial plans are to provide courses in Maori language, carving and weaving and to develop a research unit.
US universities in Decline
Public colleges and universities, which grant more than three-quarters of degrees in the United States, have been steadily undermined by state budget cuts and a mood of legislative indifference according to the New York Times. Many have responded by raising tuition beyond the reach of many poor and working-class families. Now, faced with less and less state support, some universities have begun to cannibalize themselves by increasing class size and cutting course offerings, making it difficult for students to find the courses they need to graduate.
NY Times education reporter, Greg Winter, recently described an alarming trend in which some of the country's best public universities are actually unable to provide students with the required courses they need to finish their degrees. The institutions that have cut back on research assistants and other basic support services have grown fearful of losing high-profile professors, along with the hundreds of millions of dollars the professors bring in with their research grants. Such an exodus would actually leave some schools or departments insolvent.
More women given university places
21,000 more women than men have been accepted for university degree courses starting this year in the UK, according to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. The number of women accepted to full-time education stands at 172,000 compared with 147,000 men. These figures represent rises of 2.7 per cent and 1.7 per cent respectively.
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