AUS Tertiary Update
Education levels rising in OECD countries
More people around the world are completing university courses and other forms of tertiary education than ever before, according to the 2004 edition of Education at a Glance, an annual compendium of education statistics compiled by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The 456 page report, which was released this week, shows that, on average across all OECD countries, half of today’s young adults now enter universities or other institutions offering similar qualifications at some stage of their life. New Zealand ranks amongst the highest with 66 percent of young adults entering tertiary education.
Almost all OECD countries have seen a rise in education participation levels over the past decade, and in some cases the increase has been reported as spectacular. Between 1995 and 2002, enrolment in tertiary education increased by more than 50 percent in the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Korea and Poland, and by more than 20 percent in Australia, Finland, Ireland, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Figures for New Zealand were not provided.
The report also showed that, in general, people with tertiary qualifications earned significantly higher salaries than those with only secondary education. Earnings for tertiary graduates in the United States are 86 percent higher, while New Zealand is amongst the lowest with only a 28 percent differential. Those people with tertiary qualifications also stand a higher chance of gaining employment. On average in OECD countries, around 89 percent of men and 78 percent of women are employed, compared to around 84 percent of men and 63 percent of women who ended their education at secondary level.
The report also reveals that tertiary education is rapidly becoming more international, with 1.9 million students enrolled in study outside their country of origin in 2002. On average, foreign enrolment increased by 34 percent between 1995 and 2002, with international enrolments in New Zealand well above the average with more than a 60 percent increase reported.
Significant progress has been made in reducing the gender gap in educational qualifications, with women now far more likely to have completed a tertiary qualification than in the past. What remains largely unchanged, however, is the earning power of women, irrespective of their level of qualification. Women with tertiary qualifications still earn on average only 65 percent of equivalent male earnings.
A summary of the report is available at:
in Tertiary Update this week
1. Students’ anger at fee increases
2. NZ universities in top 500
3. Massey head resigns after no-confidence vote
4. Radical shake-up for UK entry system
5. Head of Japanese university charged with fraud
Students’ anger at fee increases
Students have reacted angrily to Victoria University’s decision to increase tuition fees for 2005 by an average of 4.5 percent, and have called on the Minister of Education, Trevor Mallard, to sack the University Council. Victoria University Students’ Association President, Amanda Hill, said that the Council had made the decision to raise the fees without reference to the 2005 Budget, the Education Act or to any other legislation that guides them. “In any other organisation this would be considered incompetence and gross negligence,” she said. “Mallard has sacked school boards for incompetence and he should influence the Tertiary Education Minister, Steve Maharey, to take similar action against the Victoria Council.”
For the second year running, the Council debate on fees was disrupted by protesting students, further fueled this year by a decision to restrict numbers able to enter the Council chamber to forty. Some of those outside tried to force their way past security guards while, inside, chanting drowned out attempts to start the meeting. Like last year, it forced a change of venue before the meeting was able to proceed.
The debate on fees lasted for three hours before the Council reached its final decision to increase the fees by an average of $144. Chancellor Rosemary Barrington said the decision was reached reluctantly, but was necessary to ensure the future quality of teaching and research at the University. “The Council is concerned about the low level of public investment in New Zealand universities and urges the Government to increase its investment,” she said. “The current level of public investment per student is about half of that in Australia and a third of that in the United States on an equivalent purchasing basis.”
The Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary), Steve Maharey, said that the Government had increased funding at a rate above the level of inflation for each of the last five years and was “disappointed” with Victoria’s decision. In response, the New Zealand University Students’ Association (NZUSA) has called on him to enter urgent mediation with students and tertiary institutions to stop further increases. NZUSA Co-President, Fleur Fitzsimons, said that it was not too late for the Government to intervene to prevent more increases for 2005. “The protests at Victoria are just the beginning if fees continue to rise, and Labour can expect to see more students on the streets in the lead-up to the 2005 election as long as it continues with the policy on increasing student-loan debt,” she said.
Victoria is the first of the country’s universities to set fees for 2005.
NZ universities in top
Three New Zealand universities have made it into the annual Shanghai Jiao Tong University ranking of the top five-hundred universities in the world. The Universities of Otago and Auckland are ranked between twenty-second and thirty-third in the Asia-Pacific region and between 202 and 301 in the world, while Massey University is ranked between sixty-seventh and eighty-ninth in the Asia-Pacific region and between 404 and 502 in the world.
The Shanghai Jiao Tong ranking measures universities by several indicators of academic or research performance, including articles published in journals such as Nature and Science, staff and alumni winning Nobel or other prestigious prizes, and on academic performance with respect to the size of the institution.
The original purpose of the ranking was to measure the gap between Chinese universities and world-class universities, particularly in aspects of academic or research performance. The current ranking is intended to help compare and identify universities wordwide. Shanghai Jiao Tong says, however, that the quality of universities cannot be precisely measured by “mere numbers”, and that no ranking is absolutely objective. It cautions against reliance on such rankings, including its own.
American universities, headed by Harvard and Stanford, comprise eight of the top ten universities internationally, with Cambridge and Oxford at numbers three and eight respectively. Japanese universities occupy four of the top five places in the Asia-Pacific region, with the Australian National University ranked third after Tokyo and Kyoto Universities.
head resigns after no-confidence vote
Just weeks after staff passed a vote of no confidence in his performance, Massey University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor of its College of Business, Professor Keith White-Hunt, has resigned and will leave his employment at the end of the year. He has cited international and business opportunities, and being more conveniently located to members of his family still in the United Kingdom, as the reasons for his departure.
The AUS initially raised concerns about Professor White-Hunt’s performance when he failed to meet staff after taking up his appointment. Staff then learned he had plans to restructure their College, but only when a proposal was presented to the University Council. Despite repeated requests to meet with AUS and staff over the restructuring plans, he failed to do so.
Later, in July, it became apparent that Professor White-Hunt had entered an arrangement with Hong Kong Polytechnic University that would allow some Massey Bachelor of Business Studies degrees to be awarded after one year’s “Massey” course study, with two years’ “local” study cross-credited. He proposed that the degrees would be taught by Hong Kong staff using Massey materials.
This action triggered a petition and the vote of no confidence in Professor Keith-White by staff. It was carried by eighty-four votes to none, with seven abstentions
Since the announcement of his resignation, Professor White-Hunt has been on sick leave and, in an email to staff, Massey Vice-Chancellor Professor Judith Kinnear said that due to the nature of his illness he would not be returning to work. It is understood he has already left the country but, when contacted, his office said it had no idea of his whereabouts.
Requests by the AUS to the University Council and the Vice-Chancellor for a full investigation into the matters have not been responded to.
Radical shake-up for UK entry system
Prospective students will not be able to apply to enter British universities until they have received their A-Level examination results, if recommendations released this week by the Education Secretary, Charles Clark, are accepted. In what is described by the Daily Telegraph as the most radical change to university admissions in fifty years, the current system of offering university places on the basis of an applicant’s predicted grades will be scrapped.
According to a committee examining admissions to higher education institutions, half of the predictions made by teachers on likely A-level results were “highly unreliable”, thus depriving other students of a place at the university to which they may be best suited. Instead, the committee has recommended developing a universal aptitude test which would be taken by all university applicants, revamping the existing application form and urging universities to provide better feedback to unsuccessful applicants about the reasons for their rejection. In that way, it says, the admissions process will be fairer and more transparent. It has also recommended that A-Level examinations be taken one month earlier.
The committee has also cleared the way for universities to choose students from ethnic minorities over other applicants in order to increase diversity in universities, but has ruled out blanket discrimination.
Head of Japanese university charged with
The owner of a private Japanese university has been charged with defrauding the Government out of around $NZ10 million in subsidies over a five year period, while his institution ran up huge debts and became close to insolvency.
Ichiro Hotta, Chairman of Tohoku Bunka Gakuen University, was arrested after complaints were filed by the Education Ministry and the Municipal Government of Sendai. It is alleged that Mr Hotta kept a false set of accounts which reported donations against which the Ministry and City Government provided subsidies. It is not unusual for private universities in smaller cities in Japan to be offered subsidies to make them more attractive to local students who might otherwise leave for major cities like Tokyo and Osaka.
The Municipal Government of Sendai said it also planned to file criminal charges against Mr Hotta for misappropriating City funds after it was also alleged he submitted a false claim for construction work already completed and paid for three years earlier.
The University has incurred debts of more than $300 million under Mr Hotta’s leadership.
AUS Tertiary Update is compiled weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the Association of University Staff and others. Back issues are available on the AUS website: www.aus.ac.nz . Direct enquires should be made to Marty Braithwaite, AUS Communications Officer, email: firstname.lastname@example.org