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AUS Tertiary Update

AUS WEB SITEStudents support staff as polytechnic strike continues
Students joined the picket lines yesterday as more than 800 staff at 6 of the country’s polytechnics went on strike in protest at an impasse over the negotiation of a multi-employer collective employment agreement in the sector, and over the level of pay increases offered. Strike action continues at Northland Polytechnic and Taranaki’s Western Institute of Technology today.
Staff at Unitec, the Waikato Institute of Technology, Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and Whitireia returned to work today, but say they will take further action next week if there is no movement in the employer’s position. Salary offers at the affected polytechnics have been limited to between zero and 2.5%. The Association of Staff in Tertiary Education (ASTE) which represents the striking staff said that union members had also voted to work within the workload parameters of their collective agreements until the dispute was resolved.
New Zealand University Students’ Association (NZUSA) co-president, Fleur Fitzsimons said that staff and students had been squeezed by government underfunding of tertiary education “The same spirit which bought tertiary fee increases this year is now bringing miserly pay offers for staff,” she said.
Aotearoa Tertiary Students’ Association (ATSA) vice-president Waireka Crawford has also pointed the finger at inadequate funding. “This time it manifests itself in strike action,” she said. “This supports the notion that the government pays little more than lip service to their promises of supporting tertiary education.”
Association of University Staff (AUS) National President, Dr Bill Rosenberg said that polytechnic employers, like their university counterparts, were failing to grasp the significance of the new environment which clearly called for cooperation and collaboration across the whole tertiary sector.
“Tertiary sector employers are carrying on in the competitive model of the 1990s,” said Dr Rosenberg. “The government supports multi-employer bargaining and it is extraordinary that polytechnic employers are wasting new opportunities, time and public money by carrying on in a highly competitive mode”.
Dr Rosenberg said he believed the inadequate levels of funding in the tertiary sector were major factors that were exacerbated by the lack of cooperation between employers and called on the government to address long term systemic funding problems.

Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. University bargaining yields 171 employer claims
2. VC’s appointment sends encouraging message
3. New support for emerging industries
4. Carich collapse raises questions about PTEs
5. American Professor Is Freed From Iranian Prison
6. US salaries closing in on $ million

University bargaining yields 171 employer claims
National negotiation between university unions and employers for new employment agreements commenced in Wellington on Thursday last week with the employers tabling 171 proposals (claims) for negotiation.
In response to the unions’ proposals for significant pay rises and new national collective agreements for both academic and general staff, most employers have stated a preference for local enterprise bargaining and have sought concessions on a wide ranging number of employment conditions.
Lead advocate, AUS Industrial Officer Jeff Rowe, said that the employers’ representatives are acting quite separately from each other with each presenting their own separate proposals, and have not responded yet to any of the issues raised by the unions. “It is clear at this stage there will be little, if any, cooperation or liaison between the various employer parties as most have strongly asserted their independence,” he said. “They say that they are in fierce competition with one another and are unable to act as a unified bargaining entity”.
A full record of the bargaining, including the employers’ proposals will be on the AUS website,, later this week.
Negotiations will resume in Christchurch on 26 and 27 November.

VC’s appointment sends encouraging message
Internationally renowned cancer specialist Professor David Skegg has been appointed to take over as vice-chancellor of the University of Otago from 1 August next year. He will replace Dr Graeme Fogelberg who will retire. Professor Skegg, who heads the Otago School of Medicine’s Department of Preventative and Social Medicine, has an outstanding academic record and is well known as a leading expert on breast and cervical cancer, contraceptive and drug safety, and on reproductive health.
In an editorial, the Otago Daily Times described the appointment as inspired. “Not only does he have the personal skills, personality and experience for the tasks ahead, his appointment sends out a clear message about the university’s future,” it said. “Here is no management expert, marketing whiz or accounting boffin. Professor Skegg is steeped in academia and international medical research, and is acclaimed for it. What this says to the world is that the University of Otago will, indeed, be a place of higher learning. It will focus on excellence, on research and on high standards”.

New support for emerging industries
The government has announced new funding to ensure that tertiary education organisations are effectively meeting the training needs of the biotechnology, information and communications technology (ICT) and design industries.
Speaking at the Association of Polytechnics’ of New Zealand conference last week, Associate Education Minister (Tertiary) Steve Maharey said that $21.55 million over four years has been set aside for two tertiary education pilot initiatives of which $11 million is expected to be invested in projects to identify and meet the future skills and talent needs of the biotechnology, ICT and design industries.
The remaining $10 million will be used to increase entrepreneurship and commercial skills through a Knowledge Sharing and Entrepreneurship fund which will support a number of pilot projects intended to help the tertiary education sector to provide greater commercial and entrepreneurial skills in those areas.
The three emerging industries were identified as priority sectors in the government’s Growth and Innovation Framework. Industry-led taskforces for each sector have since identified a common need for better linkages with tertiary education organisations to ensure that qualifications respond to industry needs and sufficient numbers of graduates are trained.
Mr Maharey said that the TEC will be talking to tertiary education organisations and the taskforces about the best way make use of the funding. “They intend floating two models of application for discussion: Learning Consortia, which would bring together a number of companies across a particular sector with appropriate tertiary education organisations to identify common future skill needs; and Enterprise Outreach, which would incentivise tertiary education organisations to connect with sector companies and develop appropriate educational delivery approaches”.
Responding to the announcement, AUS National President Dr Bill Rosenberg said that while additional funding was always welcome it would be difficult to judge how useful this particular fund would be in practice.
“The number of different funds the government has set up is becoming confusing and may exacerbate rather than solve tertiary sector problems,” he said. “Many require competitive bidding, which is at odds with the collaborative approach that the government (and we) support. Most are limited-term funds which encourage institutions to extend their offerings rather than do existing things better. In the long run, that stretches resources rather than resolves the financial problems institutions face in maintaining and developing facilities and in addressing the recognised problems of staff salaries and staffing levels”.

Carich collapse raises questions about PTEs
The recent collapse of private training establishment (PTE) Carich Computer Training has raised questions about completion and pass rates for students enrolled in PTEs. Figures recently released by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) show that at 34 of the 232 PTEs receiving government funding in 2001, fewer than half of the students passed their courses. At 9 of those establishments fewer than half of the students completed their courses.
By contrast, at 35 of the 36 publicly funded tertiary education institutions, more than half of the students passed their courses and the course completion rate at all public institutions was over 50%. More than 80% of students at 32 of the public institutions completed their courses.
The effect of the Carich collapse continues to cause disruption to students. They are currently being offered placement with other providers and meetings were held yesterday in Auckland, Otahuhu, Wellington and Christchurch to manage the process. A further meeting is being held in Auckland on Friday to tell students which providers are offering courses without charging further fees, and what will happen with student’s records and results. Further information is available on the NZQA website:
Carich went into receivership owing about $5 million, affecting about 3,000 students.

American Professor Is Freed From Iranian Prison
An Iranian-American lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley who had been detained in Iran for nearly four months on charges of spying for the United States was released on Sunday on bail of approximately $250,000.
Dariush Zahedi, an adjunct faculty member who was to have taught a course in the peace-and-conflict-studies program soon, was arrested in July during an annual visit to Tehran. Mr. Zahedi, who is a naturalized American and a dual citizen, is free to leave Iran but must return for an eventual court hearing, pending the completion of an investigation.
Although Mr. Zahedi is now free to travel outside Iran, he may stay until the charges against him are formalized and he learns whether or not he will have to face trial.

US salaries closing in on $ million
Four private university presidents in the United States earned more than $800,000 in 2002 and if their pay for serving on corporate boards is added to their university salaries, three of those leaders earned more than $1 million. Heading the field was the president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute who received $891,400 in pay and benefits, and another $591,000 for serving on the boards of eight corporations.
Remuneration for the highest-paid leader of a public college is the president of the University of Michigan, who will, in 2003-4, earn $677,500 in pay and benefits, and at least $100,000 for membership on two corporate boards. The number of public university presidents earning $500,000 or more has doubled this year from six to twelve.
Among the private universities, 27 presidents earned a half-million dollars or more in 2002, up by 15 on the 12 who earned that much in 2000. At both public and private institutions, most of the highest-paid presidents lead doctoral universities, where consultants say the competition for qualified leaders is fierce.

In last week’s Tertiary Update it was reported that Mr Graeme McNally, Dean of the Commerce Faculty at the University of Canterbury, has been appointed to the board of the NZ Qualifications Authority. Mr McNally is in fact a former Dean.

Tertiary Update is compiled weekly on Thursdays by
The Association of University Staff
PO Box 11 767 Wellington, New Zealand.
Phone (+64 4) 915 6690, Fax (+64 4) 915 6699
Back issues are archived on the AUS website:
Direct enquiries to Marty Braithwaite,
AUS Communications Officer,

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