AUS Tertiary Update
funding a step closer
The introduction of performance-based teaching funding has moved a step closer with the release of a report from the Technical Working Group on the Introduction of a Performance Element to Tertiary Education Funding to Government. It recommends a package of performance indicators and measures which are intended to be used to allocate up to 5% of tuition funding according to provider performance, with a view to enhancing quality in terms of educational gains by learners.
The Technical Working Group has developed a set of indicators which it says provide an “acceptable proxy for educational gain by learners”. This includes: course retention rates above 75%; successful courses completion rate above 60%; and scores from Graduate Experience Questionnaire showing at least 90% of programmes with positive mean score on all scales. All graduates will be surveyed to measure their experience in their particular programme of learning, with factors to include clarity of teaching, clarity of goals and standard, assessment of generic skills, and overall satisfaction.
The Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary), Steve Maharey, has said he intends to expose the proposal to scrutiny across the sector and for there to be a full consultation process. “That will involve a sector representative group whose job it will be to validate the proposal and to provide advice on other aspects of the performance component,” he said. “There will be a parallel process of full consultation by officials from the Ministry and the TEC, before the proposal is put to ministers”.
Mr Maharey said that it is intended to trial the performance indicators in 2004, but that the first full year of data collection will be in 2005. “It may be possible to tie in a small element of funding in 2006 to the information gathered in 2004, provided it is sufficiently robust,” he said.
AUS National President Dr Bill Rosenberg said that while the matter was yet to be discussed by the AUS Council, he believed there should be outright opposition to performance-based funding being derived from the existing funding which was, in itself, already inadequate. He described it as a punitive approach.
Dr Rosenberg noted that a wide range of relevant literature indicates the use of such funding in the education sector is problematic. He said that the performance indicators recommended by the Taskforce were open to manipulation, and that a more positive approach would be to reward developments that contribute to better student learning such as good staff development, sufficient tutorials and labs, and good quality facilities.
The full report and other information can be found at: www.minedu.govt.nz/goto/performanceelement
in Tertiary Update this week
1. Wananga to be sued
2. Students: staff voice concern to Minister
3. National bargaining to resume
4. Polytechnic union looks to settle national deal
5. UK higher education shutdown looms
6. American teachers back Kerry for Democratic selection
It is understood that a claim will be filed later this week by Carich receivers, KPMG, against Te Wananga o Aotearoa over an alleged breach of a joint venture agreement under which Carich was to train 2500 Wananga students. Carich Computer Training was one of two private training establishments which collapsed late last year, owing around $5 million and leaving thousands of students stranded.
A KMPG report says that the Wananga pulled out of a deal leaving Carich short of an expected income of about $1.2 million. Carich receiver, Kerryn Downey is reported by the Dominion Post saying that the contract was a significant factor in Carich’s collapse.
Te Wananga o Aotearoa failed to return a call from Tertiary Update.
The receiver has also met with the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) to discuss outstanding funding, argued by Carich to be worth more than $1 million. A claim of around $750,000 is reported to have been lodged.
Students: staff voice concern to
The New Zealand University Students’ Association (NZUSA) has joined with AUS to write to the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary), Steve Maharey, expressing concerns about comments made by Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) Chair, Dr Andrew West. His comments, reported in Tertiary Update last week, encouraged students to carefully consider a path which would lead them to vocational rather than academic study.
NZUSA Co-Presidents Fleur Fitzsimons and Andrew Kirton and AUS National President Dr Bill Rosenberg said that they were concerned that Dr West’s statement was ill conceived and fell outside the brief of the TEC. “We believe that the role of the TEC should be encouraging people into tertiary education (in all its forms), not discouraging them from certain aspects of it,” they wrote.
“Despite following the work of the TEC, none of us have seen evidence of any discussion or research which shows that there are too many people with degrees in New Zealand or that increased enrolments at degree level are responsible for skill shortages in any other areas”.
Ms Fitzsimons said that while there has been exhaustive analysis of the tertiary sector in recent years, none of it points to students foregoing degree study to enter trades training as the solution to any skill shortages. “This certainly does nothing to address shortages in professions where degrees are a pre-requisite,” she said.
Dr Rosenberg said NZUSA and AUS were seeking clarification from the Minister whether Dr West’s statement reflected government policies, and whether he saw such statements as being part of the brief of the TEC.
National bargaining to resume
National employment agreement negotiations between university unions and employers will resume in Wellington on Wednesday next week. Negotiations were adjourned late last year after the parties failed to find sufficient common ground on an employers’ proposal to renew enterprise agreements on an interim basis to allow for the development of a joint “white paper” on university funding.
University employers made salary offers of between around 2% and 2.8% for between 12 and 15 months during which time independent research on university funding would be carried out. Most then stipulated that the research project was contingent on enterprise bargaining, requiring the unions to back away from national bargaining for 2004 employment agreements.
AUS advocate Jeff Rowe said that while union members had authorised the bargaining team to explore the possibility of an interim deal, the proposed increases were insufficient to persuade university staff that their employers were genuine in trying to resolve long-term salary concerns. “There is no logical reason why research on university funding is dependent on site-bargaining. We cannot see any logical reason that the research cannot proceed, and we remain willing to work on a collaborative basis to address funding issues,” he said.
University employers have advised that their initial proposals for negotiation, totalling more than 171 claims, are now subject to negotiation.
Polytechnic union looks to settle national
Union members in six polytechnics will vote next week on a new multi-employer collective employment agreement in what has been described by Association of Staff in Tertiary Education (ASTE) National President, Lloyd Woods, as a significant settlement for the sector.
The proposed agreement will cover staff at six polytechnics, UNITEC, Waikato Institute of Technology, Northland Polytechnic, Whitireia Community Polytechnic, the Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki, and Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, and comes after sixteen months of planning and negotiation.
Mr. Woods said that the negotiation process had been long and complex with twenty-three days face-to-face negotiation and several days of strike action, and involving the assistance of an industrial mediator. He said the new agreement would provide standardised conditions of employment, and would set benchmarks for the sector.
If settled, staff covered by the new agreement will receive pay increases of between 3% and 5.5% over two years from 2 March 2003.
Higher education shutdown looms
Leaders of the Association of University Teachers (AUT) and National Union of Students (NUS) are planning a week of strike action in the United Kingdom later this month in protest at top-up fees and plans to modernise lecturers' pay. The campaign will include a shutdown of all UK campuses on 25 February, with lecturers and students mounting pickets to stop colleagues taking or going into lectures. The AUT will make a final decision over the strikes next week, when it receives results of a nationwide ballot.
The NUS announced its plans on Tuesday this week. They include demonstrations in support of the lecturers' pay dispute in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, as well as walkouts over top-up fees, which will only affect English universities.
More than 50,000 university staff are currently being balloted on action over the pay and salary grading offer made by university employers in negotiations which broke down before Christmas. AUT Deputy General Secretary Malcolm Keight said that the current offer would lead to many lecturers losing £6,000 over eight years, researchers losing £17,000 over nine years, and senior support staff losing £47,000 over 21 years. “The package would also lead to localised pay bargaining, which would result in unequal pay for similar work and have a detrimental effect on recruitment and staff retention across the country,” he said.
Figures published this week showed that 65% of students nationwide say they support the staff action.
American teachers back Kerry for Democratic
The Executive Council of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which represents 1.3 million US teachers including higher education and academic staff, yesterday endorsed Senator John Kerry for the Democratic nomination for President, saying that his vision and record offer leadership that will enable all citizens to achieve the American dream and keep the nation strong and secure.
“Senator John Kerry has demonstrated through a long and distinguished career of public service that he will be a strong voice for all Americans, and that he has the knowledge, background and ability to move this nation forward,” said AFT President Sandra Feldman.
In endorsing Senator Kerry, the union concluded that he is best equipped to develop and defend policies that are priorities for its members and the nation, from better healthcare to increased investment in public services and the workers who provide them, and to champion the right of employees to form unions and bargain collectively.
Feldman said that Senator Kerry would fight to maintain equal opportunities in higher education and to make college more affordable for all.
The AFT endorsement comes after a vote by its Executive Council and follows a deliberative process that included responses from the candidates to an AFT questionnaire on the issues, an analysis of the candidates’ records and positions, extensive discussions with state and local leaders, and a number of surveys of the AFT membership.
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