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AUS Tertiary Update

AUS WEB SITEVice Chancellors seek action on fees
The New Zealand Vice Chancellors’ Committee (NZVCC) has asked Government to convene a working group to consider “a more appropriate escalator for fee maxima” following the recent decision to limit increases in student tuition fees to a maximum of 5% in any year, and within the confines of the fee maxima framework. The NZVCC has described the fee maxima policy as being in tatters with the three-year freeze in tuition fees being turned into a further squeeze on institutions.
In addition to limiting tuition fee increases to a maximum of 5%, the Government has reduced the maximum fees for engineering, agriculture, architecture, audiology and specialist large animal science, and has limited the maximum increase in postgraduate tuition fees to $500 in any one year.
NZVCC Chair, Dr John Hood, said that the changes had broken previous commitments by the Government and were not in the best interests of students, universities and the wider community. Waikato University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bryan Gould, said universities were being encouraged to run like businesses but it was a highly rigged market when prices were fixed.
Similarly, University of Otago Vice-Chancellor Dr Graeme Fogelberg said his institution would pay a heavy price, having kept fees down, and then being “clobbered” by both the freeze and the fee maxima policy change.
The NZVCC has also taken issue with Government’s intention to adjust the fee maxima in future years using the Consumer Price Index, saying that over the last five years the CPI has risen by 9.9% while Statistics New Zealand’s earning and employment survey has recorded a 19.4% increase in average earnings over that period.
Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary), Steve Maharey, has said he will raise this issue of indexation of tuition subsidies, but not tuition fees, with the Minister of Finance.

Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. Bargaining teams named
2. Pay equity for university women
3. Bids open for new tertiary funding allocations
4. Quality Public Education Coalition
5. MPs and unions join in top-up fee fight
6. Saudi to allow foreign private universities
7. Nepalese students burn exam papers

Bargaining teams named
The Association of University Staff (AUS) has announced its negotiating team following the initiation of national collective agreement bargaining with the universities. The AUS team will be led by advocate Jeff Rowe along with Nigel Haworth (Auckland), David Neilson (Waikato), Robyn May (Victoria), Mike Shurety (Canterbury), George Hill (Lincoln), Sandy Graham (Otago), and Adrianne Paranihi (representing the Status of Women Committee and Te Kahurangi Whaiti). A Massey representative is expected to be confirmed before negotiations commence
The University employers will be represented by Doug Northey (Auckland), Carole Gunn (Waikato), Annemarie de Castro and Fiona Stenhouse (Massey), Geoff Summers (Victoria), Bruce Jamieson (Canterbury), Raewyn Gibson and Kiri McAlister (Lincoln), and Stephen Gray (Otago). It is not known whether the New Zealand Vice Chancellors’ Committee will play a role in negotiations or who will be the employers’ advocate.
The Association of Staff in Tertiary Education (ASTE) will be represented by Cheri Waititi (Waikato), Harold Shepherd (Massey) and Jenny Chapman (co-advocate), and the Public Service Association (PSA) by Pam Jemett (Otago), Thelma Fisher Te-Wake (Waikato) and Mark Ryan (co-advocate).
It is expected that union and employer representatives will meet in Wellington on 10 September to agree on a number of bargaining arrangements, including setting dates for negotiations and establishing bargaining protocols and good faith agreements.

Pay equity for university women
Achieving pay equity for university women will be the theme of the Association of University Staff Women’s Biennial Conference to be held in Wellington next Thursday. The conference theme is timely given the recent establishment of the Government's Pay Equity Taskforce which is developing a five year action plan to achieve pay equity in the public sector. That Taskforce is now undertaking a range of relevant research and development projects necessary for finalising the plan.
The conference will be opened by Margaret Wilson, Minister of Labour, who will discuss the political agenda for pay equity. Other speakers and workshop presenters include experts in the field from Australia and New Zealand.
The conference will deal with pay equity issues within universities and workshops will look at mechanisms to achieve pay equity in the sector. Information from the workshops will inform the Association's strategy on the issue, to be developed the following day.
For further information and/or registrations please contact AUS Policy Analyst, Margaret Ledgerton; or Liz Poole, Women's Vice-President,

Bids open for new tertiary funding allocations
Tertiary education organisations have four weeks to bid for $34 million of new funding for innovation and e-learning projects. Applications for the new funds close on 26 September with the Tertiary Education Commission.
The e-Learning Collaborative Development Fund and the Innovation and Development Fund make $34 million available for projects that build capacity within the tertiary education sector. Tertiary Education Commissioner Shona Butterfield said that E-learning needs to move from being the domain of innovators alone, to being embedded in the way an organization works.
For further information on the e-Learning Collaborative Development and the Innovation and Development funds, email: or

Quality Public Education Coalition
A special general meeting of the Quality Public Education Coalition (QPEC) will be held on Saturday 13 September to follow up themes explored at the recent QPEC conference, “Reclaiming Public Education”. The meeting will develop a plan of action to put key public issues at the centre of community and government attention in the coming years.
The conference will be held at Education House, 178 Willis Street, Wellington, commencing at 10.00am.
For further information please contact:

MPs and unions join in top-up fee fight
The British Association of University Teachers (AUT) has proposed a motion for next week's Trade Union Congress annual conference slating the Government's £3,000-a-year tuition fees plan. Even though the Prime Minister has said university lecturers stand to gain big salary rises if the fees are brought in, the teachers came out against the policy with all guns blazing. Last night, ministers were privately predicting that the charges would bite the dust in the first stage of a massive Labour backlash against Mr Blair's "presidential" leadership style.
Education secretary Charles Clarke has begun a campaign, however, to persuade Labour MPs to support university top-up fees by declaring that there was "no alternative" to higher charges for students. He told the Association of Commonwealth Universities meeting in Belfast this week that the days when higher education could be funded entirely from the public purse were gone. He said plans to allow universities to charge up to £3,000 a year from 2006 were "actually rather conservative" by international standards.

Saudi to allow foreign private universities
Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Higher Education has announced plans to allow foreign universities to establish a presence in the kingdom for the first time.
Khaled al-Angari, Saudi Arabia's minister of higher education, told a news conference last week that foreign investment in the private higher-education sector was open and the opening of foreign universities in Saudi Arabia would be welcomed.
Saudi Arabia has one of the world's fastest growing populations and only nine universities for a country of 23 million people. According to the Ministry of Higher Education, Saudi colleges and universities have almost reached their capacity. Saudi universities accepted 178,500 first year students this year.

Nepalese students burn exam papers
Students in Nepal set fire to test papers and buildings this week to halt examinations in a protest against King Gyanendra's dissolution of the government last year.

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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