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AUS Tertiary Update

AUS WEB SITESigns of progress avert first strike day
Planned strike action in universities, scheduled for next Wednesday, has been called off after further negotiations between university and union representatives in Wellington on Tuesday.
AUS General Secretary Helen Kelly, speaking on behalf of the combined university unions, said that while she was unable to release details of the progress, sufficient ground had been made to avert the first of five days of strike action planned over the next five weeks to enable the parties to do some further work.
Ms Kelly said that the employers were now considering a new proposal to make progress in the dispute, and they would be responding to the unions by Friday this week. She said, however, that at this stage the planned strike action on Thursday 6 May is still set to occur, and the employers’ response to the new proposals was crucial if this day was also to be avoided.
Meetings will be held late next week with union members at the seven universities involved in the negotiations to consider the employers’ response to the new proposal.

Also in Tertiary Update this week . . . .
1. Government to pick up tab for PTE collapses
2. Dates for PBRF results released
3. Otago EMBA in Auckland scrapped
4. Student prison at Massey
5. Salaries increase in US
6. Nottingham opens campus in China
7. Northern Ireland staff oppose top-up fees
8. UK universities predict rush to beat fees

Government to pick up tab for PTE collapses
The Government has announced it will pick up the cost of reimbursing international students for financial losses following the collapse in 2003 of two large private training establishments (PTEs), Carich and Modern Age. It had been proposed in a Bill currently before Parliament that those costs would be recovered through an increase in the export education levy placed on PTEs.
Announcing the change, Education Minister Trevor Mallard said that the Government had taken this stance to protect the $2 billion export education industry, but he warned that the cost of any future failures would be met by the sector and not by taxpayers. “We are taking steps to ensure these situations are covered in the future so our international students are not disadvantaged if a PTE fails,” he said.
Proposed changes to the Education (Export Education Levy) Amendment Bill will enable levy funds to be used to reimburse international students who face financial losses following the failure of a PTE.
Earlier, private providers had fought against the changes saying it was unfair that they should be penalised for the failure of their competitors, and had asked for more time to adjust to levy increases to ensure their viability during a time of market downturn.
AUS National President Dr Bill Rosenberg said it was entirely appropriate that PTEs faced a higher levy than public providers given their performance in the sector. “The failure rate of PTEs risks damaging the entire sector, and this is not a cost which should be picked up by the taxpayer or public institutions,” he said. "We find it astonishing that the Government can find money to bail out the reputation of the private sector when the public sector has well-documented funding problems that desperately need addressing."
The export education levy currently supports a range of industry-wide development and risk-management activities, including professional development, research, quality assurance and promotional activities.

Dates for PBRF results released
The Performance-Based Research Fund report by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) was sent on CD to participating tertiary education organisations (TEOs) on Tuesday and would have been received on Wednesday.
The participating TEOs will have received the password which allows them to access the results on the CD today.
The material is strictly confidential to the participating TEOs and embargoed until the public release of the report, scheduled for Wednesday 28 April.
The rewritten report contains no reference to an international comparison of New Zealand universities with British universities made by the TEC. A consultation process to obtain feedback about the international comparison is currently being considered by the TEC.

Otago EMBA in Auckland scrapped
Otago University’s $43,500 fee Executive Master of Business Administration June intake has been cancelled as a result of its 55% fee increase, a lack of students meeting entry standards and the loss of its Director.
According to the Otago Daily Times, the course, reputedly Auckland’s most expensive, suffered from apparent ill feeling over the Director’s departure. In addition, the unlikelihood of attracting twenty five suitable students meant that the course, in spite of the fee increase, was likely to lose even more than its existing, loss-leader deficit.
The Otago Daily Times quotes the Otago School of Business acting Director of Graduate Programmes as saying that “the school was not prepared to lower entry standards to maintain the course,” but that its future would be subject to the results of a marketing exercise intended to ensure its viability.
Otago University Students’ Association President, Andrew Cushen, indicated that the Association had accepted the fee rise to avoid undergraduates subsidising an employer-paid option, but that the course had been expected to continue in spite of the increase

Student prison at Massey
Members of the Albany Students’ Association are today setting up a mock prison at the Massey Albany campus to illustrate the fact that the student loan scheme sentences students to a lifetime of debt by forcing them to borrow to pay for such basics as food and rent.
“Student debt is imprisoning students and a whole generation of young people in a lifetime of debt,” said Association President Nick Mayne. “It is time the Government released students and their families from the debt burden by introducing a living allowance for all students so that no student is forced to borrow to live.”
“Student debt is not only imprisoning young people, it is having a devastating impact on the New Zealand economy and the whole community by putting people off having children and forcing graduates overseas,” he added.

Worldwatch
Salaries increase in US
Average salaries of full-time faculty members in public universities in the US rose by up to 3.3% in the last year, according to the Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession 2003-2004, released this week by the American Association of University Professors.
The data are based on a survey of 1,343 colleges and universities in the US. It shows that the average base salary for a full professor in a public university is now $US94,606 with the average overall remuneration package now worth $US118,047. The average academic remuneration package in the public universities is $US95,741, up 3.1% on the 2002-03 year.
Staff in the public universities are the lowest paid in the sector, with base salaries around $US5,000 behind the sector average. Other universities surveyed are either private or church-related.

Nottingham opens campus in China
The University of Nottingham has become the first British university to announce the establishment of a campus on the Chinese mainland, taking advantage of legislation passed by the Chinese Government that allows foreign education enterprises to be set up in that country. The campus will be set up at Ningbo, an historic city on China’s eastern coast. The first students will be recruited later this year and, by the end of the first phase of the development in 2008, university officials expect to have enrolled about 4,000 students.

Northern Ireland staff oppose top-up fees
Staff in Northern Ireland universities have criticised the Department for Employment and Learning over a recent announcement on a consultation exercise regarding the introduction of top-up (tuition) fees. The proposals under consideration would allow institutions such as Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ulster to charge students up to £3,000 per year from 2006-07.
University staff, who have recently been in dispute with employers regarding pay and conditions, believe the introduction of fees is a fundamentally flawed policy and is unfair. Dr Terry McKnight, Association of University Teachers (AUT) National President, who is from the University of Ulster, said that access to university should be based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay.
“Higher education has a special role to play in Northern Ireland, a society that too often is divided, debt adverse and economically disadvantaged,” Dr McNight said. “This policy will certainly discourage the poorest of talented students from experiencing third level education.”

UK universities predict rush to beat fees
UK universities are bracing themselves for the biggest intake ever as students attempt to get places in universities before top-up fees are introduced in 2006. They are predicting that, in order to avoid paying top up fees, thousands of students sitting A-levels this year will skip a traditional “gap year” between school and university and enrol in university study. It is estimated that up to 100,000 students defer entry to university each year.
A spokesperson for Cambridge University said that usually about 20% of applicants who get a place take a gap year, but the university is dealing with a 10% increase in applications this year. The spokesperson said that fewer people opt to take a “gap year” it would result in a significant increase in competition for 2004-05. Inevitably it would mean that some people won’t get in.

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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: marty.braithwaite@aus.ac.nz

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