AUS Tertiary Update
Otago polytechnic council
The Otago Polytechnic council has prohibited all members, including staff and student representatives, from publicly speaking out against decisions made by the council. It has also ruled that no member, apart from the chairman, can speak to the media.
The council voted by nine votes to four to adopt the new rules which are part of a code of conduct governing the conduct of council members. A proposed amendment to allow divergent views to be expressed was defeated. The new code stipulates that the chairman may take “whatever action he regards as appropriate” if council members are found to have breached the code of conduct.
Association of Staff in Tertiary Education (ASTE) National President, Lloyd Woods, said the decision flew in the face of common sense and risked denying staff representatives their right to academic freedom. He said he believed the “rather unfortunate” performance of the council in recent years had resulted in critical media scrutiny and may have led to the ban. It showed the council was shy of its performance being open to full scrutiny.
“A statement by the polytechnic council chairman, Graeme Crombie, that the code is a voluntary guideline and ‘had no teeth’ to gag council members is at odds with the powers of censure it gives him,” said Mr. Woods. “ASTE will be challenging the decision”.
Mr. Woods said the recent review of tertiary institution governance has suggested the Education Act be amended to include measures to deal with clear breaches of duty by council members and that should be all that was required.
Also in Tertiary Update this
1. University negotiations begin
2. Waikato fees to increase
3. Nominations open for 2004 teaching awards
4. Princeton may spend millions to improve gender equity
5. Australian staff endorse national strike
6. King's College members accept London offer
University negotiations begin
University unions and employers will meet in Wellington on Monday and Tuesday next week to commence collective bargaining for the university sector.
The unions are seeking new national collective employment agreements for academic and general staff, as part of an effort to ensure the long term sustainability of high-quality university education in New Zealand. The new agreements are proposed to replace the 13 current collective agreements negotiated separately at each of the universities.
Central to negotiation is a claim for a salary increase of 10% per annum over the next three years for academic staff and 10% in 2004 for general staff plus increases in job evaluation alignments to the higher quartiles of the salary market.
The unions will also be seeking to increase staff involvement in strategic decision-making within the universities and introducing measures for protection against increasing workloads.
Association of University Staff National President, Dr Bill Rosenberg, said that staff have been caught in a pincer between eroding levels of funding and constraints on increasing tuition fees which had led to low salaries, increased workloads and administration, and a deteriorating university infrastructure. “During the last decade most universities have been constantly restructured resulting, almost without exception, in the loss of frontline staff. Morale is at an all-time low,” he said
Dr Rosenberg said that vice-chancellors and university councils had lacked the courage or the collective will, particularly through the 1990s, to seriously challenge government on funding. He said that unless the universities and unions break through funding barriers, bargaining would continue to have limited outcomes and would neither deliver the increases needed to neither restore salary levels to acceptable levels nor be sufficient to maintain the quality and reputation of academic programmes.
Dr Rosenberg said this was no longer acceptable to staff and that national bargaining would provide a means by which all parties, including government, could work together to address the issues of funding, salaries and quality.
Waikato fees to
Waikato University is proposing to increase student tuition fees overall by 3.78% for 2004 in a move that will increase revenue by around $1 million.
Waikato Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bryan Gould, said that the university had suffered financially as a consequence of the fee stabilisation scheme in place between 2001 and 2003, and that this was the first opportunity since 2001 to address tuition fee levels. “With the continued demand on resources from both the internal and external drivers, including the university’s fiscal targets, there is no option but to generally increase most fees for 2004 to the levels permitted by the Fee Maxima policy,” he said.
The increases, which were approved by council this week, will see fees for most undergraduate and taught postgraduate courses increase by 5% or by a lesser percentage where 5% would go above the allowable fee maxima. Fees for undergraduate teaching courses, doctoral, research masters degrees and executive education fees will not increase.
Last month the university announced a scholarship scheme which would see every Year 13 A bursary student enrolling in a full-time bachelor’s degree programme receiving $3,000 and B bursary students receiving $2,000.
Meanwhile, the Northland Polytechnic has voted to keep tuition fees for 2004 at the same levels as 2003. The polytechnic has 1800 full time equivalent students.
Nominations open for 2004 teaching
Nominations have opened for the 2004 Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards. The awards, which were established in 2002, recognise excellence in tertiary teaching, promote good teaching practice and enhance career development for tertiary teachers. There are three categories of awards; sustained excellence, excellence in innovation and excellence in collaboration. The winner of the Prime Minister’s supreme award receives $30,000 and recipients of the excellence awards will each get $20,000 to be spent enhancing their teaching career and promoting best practice.
Copies of the 2003 Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards publication, along with details of the 2004 awards, have been sent to tertiary education providers. Nominations for the 2004 awards close on 31 March 2004 with winners announced midway through the year.
Further details are available from the NZQA website: www.nzqa.govt.nz
Princeton may spend millions to improve gender equity
Princeton University in the US has announced the appointment of a new administrator to oversee gender-equity issues, following the recommendations of a group of professors that spent more than a year studying the status of female faculty members on the campus.
In a report issued on Monday, the panel said that the proportion of female professors in the sciences and engineering at Princeton remains small, and that female faculty members in the fields are not as happy as their male counterparts.
The panel recommended that Princeton establish a $10-million fund to "promote the recruitment, hiring, and retention of women faculty" in the sciences and engineering.
The Princeton panel surveyed professors in the sciences and engineering, and analysed hiring records, salaries, and the rates at which men and women are granted tenure. Over all, the percentage of female faculty members in the natural sciences and engineering at Princeton increased from 8.4 percent to 13.9 percent between 1992 and 2002. Four departments saw no increase in the proportion of women during that period and one declined from 30 percent to 19 percent. Women make up more than 20 percent of the faculty in only 2 of Princeton's 14 science and engineering departments.
The report says that women are also "underrepresented" in leadership positions. Only two science and engineering departments have had a female head, and women held only 5.7 percent of endowed chairs in 2002.
Australian staff endorse national strike
University staff have voted to take a nationwide 24 hour strike at all 38 of Australia’s public universities on October 16, in pursuit of their bargaining claims. The decision was carried overwhelmingly by delegates at the National Tertiary Education Union’s (NTEU) conference in Melbourne this week.
“This vote is a direct response to the Government’s announcement last week to deny universities up to $404 million in public funding unless they adopt a range of hardline workplace requirements, including placing staff on Australian Workplace Agreements and lifting limits on casual employment,” said Grahame McCulloch, NTEU General Secretary.
The vote followed a decision by University of Sydney management not to sign an enterprise bargaining agreement with the NTEU because it did not include the requirements set down by the Government.
“The Government’s latest proposals will do nothing to deal with the real workplace issues staff face. Indeed the proposals will only make the situation even worse. They are a direct attack on the collective bargaining process, the right of staff to be represented by the NTEU, and an unnecessary interference in university affairs,” said Mr McCullough
King's College members accept London
Staff at King's College in London have voted to accept an offer to increase their regional allowance by 8.9%. The offer was made by King's management in the face of a renewed commitment to industrial action by Association of University Teachers (AUT) members over the lack of progress in resolving the London Allowance dispute.
The £2,323 allowance falls short of the £4,000 called for by the AUT and other higher education unions, but means that staff at King's will get an increase in their allowance for the first time in 11 years.
The offer from King's has started to have an impact elsewhere in London. Planned strike action at five other institutions has been suspended while members are balloted on offers similar to that accepted at King's, or because the management is now holding serious talks.
Strikes are taking place at most other pre-1992 London institutions where the freeze on the capital's allowance continues.
The AUT has also called a special meeting of its policy-making council after rejecting a pay offer (detailed in earlier issues of Tertiary Update) made by higher education employers during lengthy negotiations in July.
AUT's Executive Committee sent its negotiators back to the table in order to try and secure a satisfactory offer and the Executive Committee warns that industrial action will be considered if any new offer falls short of AUT's objectives. The Council meeting on 16 October will discuss the latest developments and next steps.
Tertiary Update is compiled weekly on Thursdays by the Association of University Staff
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