AUS Tertiary Update
Student leader banned from
New Zealand University Students’ Association (NZUSA) co-president Fleur Fitzsimons has been banned from Massey University for 2 years following student protests over tuition fee increases earlier in October. Twelve students, including Ms Fitzsimons, were arrested by police and face charges related to trespass, resisting arrest and obstruction.
Ms Fitzsimons was served with the trespass order by police last Friday during a court appearance at which she and the other students arrested during the protest were remanded without plea until later in November. She said the trespass order came “out of the blue” and understood that she was the only protester to be treated in such a way.
Ms Fitzsimons said that she had not been spoken to by university authorities about the matter and would be seeking to get the trespass order lifted. “As the co-president of the national student representative body, it is important that I be able to visit students and student leaders at each university,” she said. “The trespass order compromises national representation for Massey students and NZUSA cannot function properly without access to the campus”.
AUS National President, Dr Bill Rosenberg said he believed that Massey University had over-reacted and it was unprecedented for a university to take such action. He said it would worsen relationships with students and it set a poor example to the community when a university could not be more tolerant of protest. “It is particularly significant when the target is the co-president of NZUSA,” he said
It is understood that since the fees protest at least one further person had been arrested and that the offices of the extra-mural students’ association had been searched by police with a warrant.
A Massey spokesperson said the university had not sought that charges be laid against the students, but failed to respond to questions about the issuing of the trespass order.
Also in Tertiary Update
1. TEC blamed by Carich for receivership
2. Tuition fee-setting well underway
3. NZ-Chinese education relationship cemented
4. Student loans responsible for falling birth rates
5. NZ forests sold to Harvard University fund
6. Oxford professor suspended for rejecting Israeli
TEC blamed by Carich for receivership
The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) is being blamed by one of New Zealand’s major private training establishments, Carich, for financial woes causing it to go into receivership. Announcing the receivership late yesterday, Carich chief executive Carin Taurima accused the TEC of obstruction and providing the Minister of Education with incorrect information about Carich. She says that the TEC owes Carich in excess of $1 million.
In a 14 page briefing on Carich’s demise, Ms Taurima, outlined a series of complaints to the Minister of Education about the TEC and its general manager for breaching several principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and for recently commenting about Carich to the media.
The general manager of the TEC, Ann Clark, said last night that Carich had forecast and claimed government funding for teaching 3,651 equivalent full time students in 2002 whereas it had only taught 3,007. She said that Carich had been required to pay back $3.266 million through deductions from current funding. This repayment and a dispute over the actual numbers of students taught has been at the heart of the dispute.
Ann Clark said the TEC had a responsibility to act carefully in providing funds and had been working with Carich since May to recover the debt. She said the TEC had no role in the appointment of a receiver.
AUS National President, Dr Bill Rosenberg said that while AUS has considerable sympathy for the staff and students hit by this development, the AUS has “been concerned at the large sums of money being siphoned off the underfunded public sector into the private sector since funding was handed to them in the late 1990s. The private tertiary education sector had frequently cherry picked the most profitable and easily offered courses, making it difficult for the public sector to maintain its much broader offerings. We have yet to see evidence that firms like Carich provided educational opportunities that the public sector could not provide at least as well,” he said.
The TEC is now working with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and coordinating arrangements with other providers to ensure that Carich students are protected.
fee-setting well underway
The University of Canterbury last night set tuition fees for 2004, lifting fees by 1.4% for all courses but speech and language therapy. It gives Canterbury students the lowest increase of any New Zealand university so far, with only the University of Otago yet to set fees. Tuition fees for speech and language therapy will increase by 5%.
University of Canterbury vice-chancellor Professor Roy Sharp said the increase had been set at the consumer price index to allow the university to maintain the quality of its courses in the face of increased costs, while taking into consideration the desire to keep fees as low as possible.
Canterbury student president Richard Neal said that while the 1.4% increase was a “small victory” for students, the decision of the university council to increase fees marked the end of the fees-freeze era and students would once again bear the brunt of government under-funding and lack of commitment to education.
Last week Lincoln University lifted tuition fees by an average of 3.4% prompting its student president, Andrew Kirton, to call on the university to “give something back to students in the form of new facilities, new services or an increase in academic quality. Otherwise,” he said, “the fee increase becomes yet another revenue-generating exercise to impress Wellington at the expense of students”.
Earlier this week the Auckland University of Technology increased its fees for 2004 by 4.96% or an average of $171 per student. AUT student president Elliot Roberts described the increase as another financial burden that students will have to shoulder. “The actions of the government and the institution have ensured students face increasing pressure and financial burdens when studying,” he said.
The University of Auckland has increased fees for 2004 by an average of 4.1%, Waikato by 3.78%, Massey by 3.5% and Victoria by 3%.
Figures released to date show that a number of polytechnics, including Northland and Tairawhiti, have decided not to increase fees for 2004, while other have leveled increases of between 1% and 3%.
NZ-Chinese education relationship
New Zealand and China officials signed an Arrangement on Mutual Recognition of Academic Degrees in Higher Education during the recent visit of Chinese President, Hu Jintao. The purpose of the Arrangement is to facilitate the mutual recognition of degrees awarded to students by higher education institutions in New Zealand and China, and to make it easier for students with qualifications from one country to pursue further academic studies in the other.
Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary), Steve Maharey, said the Arrangement will encourage New Zealand students and scholars to spend time in China, and vice versa. “To support this, co-operation between tertiary education organisations in relation to the transfer of academic credits will occur,” he said.
Mr. Maharey said the mutual recognition of academic degrees at tertiary level would further cement the strong academic ties New Zealand has with China and confirms that the two countries are committed to a joint education relationship.
The Arrangement sits under the framework for education co-operation created by a 2002 Memorandum of Understanding between the Chinese and New Zealand Ministries of Education.
Student loans responsible for falling birth
One of New Zealand’s leading demographers is convinced that student debt is having an effect on birth rates. University of Waikato demographer, Professor Ian Pool, has labelled the student loan scheme as “punitive” and “probably the most anti-natalist measure ever put into place by a New Zealand government”.
Professor Pool’s comments form part of the New Zealand University Students’ Association’s (NZUSA) Alternative Discussion Document on Student Support, released in Wellington today in response to the government’s recently released Discussion Document on Student Support.
The Alternative Discussion Document, which calls on the government to deliver meaningful changes to address the current $6 billion student debt, can be found on the NZUSA website: www.students.org.nz
NZ forests sold to Harvard University fund
Harvard University's endowment fund has purchased a 162,000ha central North Island forestry estate, believed to be worth around $NZ1 billion. The estate had been on the market for $US650 million ($NZ1.08 billion) but the sale price was not disclosed.
Harvard is also believed to be behind The Campbell Group, a United States timber management company that last month signed a letter of intent to buy Fletcher Challenge Forests’ estate for $NZ685 million. Although that bid was beaten by a local consortium, Kiwi Forests Group, it is understood that Harvard and Campbell may yet return with a higher bid.
Oxford professor suspended for rejecting
A professor of pathology at Oxford University and fellow of Pembroke College, has been suspended for two months for rejecting an Israeli PhD student on the grounds of his nationality. The student’s CV mentioned his mandatory national service in the Israeli Army. An Oxford University spokesperson said that a disciplinary panel had concluded that the professor should be suspended without pay and be required to undergo equal opportunities training.
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