AUS Tertiary Update
Report shows university academics significantly
The Association of University Staff (AUS) is calling on the Government to increase funding significantly to universities after a report was released today showing that Massey academic staff are paid on average up to $11,000 less than their counterparts in Australian universities.
The “Academic Salaries Taskforce Report”, undertaken jointly between Massey University, the AUS and the Association of Staff in Tertiary Education (ASTE), benchmarked Massey academic staff salaries to those of academics in comparable Australian universities.
The report concluded that Massey lecturers are paid, on average, $5000 less than their Australian counterparts, senior lecturers $11,000 less and associate professors $6000 less. It also shows that Australian university staff have significantly better superannuation provisions than and superior employment benefits to those provided in New Zealand.
Speaking on behalf of the combined unions, AUS Industrial Officer, Jeff Rowe, said the report highlighted the need for the Government to increase its levels of funding substantially for universities. “If we want a first-rate, high-quality university system, we need to be able to pay salaries that are competitive with Australia. Current funding levels do not allow us to do that.”
Mr Rowe said that the report confirmed what Massey academic staff have known for a long time, that they are grossly underpaid compared to their Australian counterparts. He said that problems associated with salary levels are not isolated to Massey, but are evident across the entire New Zealand university sector. “The staff unions are currently working with the universities to put a case to the Government for better levels of funding linked to salaries. This report strongly supports that case.”
“The responsibility for ensuring that New Zealand has a high-quality university system rests with government,” said Mr Rowe. “This report shows that it must meet that responsibility urgently and fund universities at a level which allows them to recruit and retain staff of the highest academic calibre.”
The report and recommendations of the Taskforce can be found on the AUS website: www.aus.ac.nz
Also in Tertiary Update
1. Waikato fees rise in face of opposition
2. Golden handshake for former Lincoln boss
3. Tertiary e-Learning projects underway
4. Nottingham feels impact of boycott
5. Election victory a sign of further reform
Waikato fees rise in face of opposition
The Waikato University Council voted yesterday to increase student tuition fees by between 3.39 and 3.48 percent for next year. The Council supported a recommendation from the University’s Finance Committee to increase the fees after Chief Operating Officer, Geoff Balme, told it that the University needed to increase fees “simply” to keep its income rising at the same pace as its costs, and to generate surpluses required to fund expenditure “that will enable the University to develop”.
Yesterday’s Council meeting was adjourned several times because of repeated interjections from students, with their President Sandy Pushpamangalam, saying that the decision was short-sighted and failed to take into account the terrible consequences of more student debt. During one adjournment the students held their own “Council” meeting at which it was unanimously decided to abolish student fees and introduce free education for all New Zealanders.
Waikato’s decision to increase fees came despite a call from the AUS, earlier in the week, for those universities which had not yet set fees to follow Massey University’s lead. Last week, its Council voted by seven votes to six, to reject recommendations by University management to increase tuition fees by 5 percent.
AUS General Secretary Helen Kelly said that increasing student fees would add to existing student debt, which had already reached an intolerable level, or would further limit the participation of students in university education. She said that further public investment was needed in the university sector, and this was well illustrated by a claim by Waikato University that it needs an additional $4.5 million next year to keep pace with rising costs.
“Rather than increasing fees, universities need to pressure government to increase funding to meet these costs,” said Ms Kelly. “Placing more debt on students will not solve the long-term problem of underfunding.”
Government funding of universities per student has declined by 21 percent in real (inflation-adjusted) terms over the decade to 2002, and New Zealand's public investment in tertiary education is now lower than the average for other OECD countries as a proportion of GDP. It is significantly lower than in Australia and the United States.
“It is clear that the Government needs to boost funding rather than leaving tertiary institutions to increase student tuition fees,” said Ms Kelly. “Fees must be kept as low as possible but in order for that to happen, funding needs to be seriously addressed. The Government can well afford this with a $7 billion budget surplus, and the spending would fit in well with its economic and social strategies.”
Auckland, Canterbury, Lincoln and Otago Universities and the Auckland University of Technology are due to set their 2005 fees over the next two months.
Golden handshake for former Lincoln
Former Vice-Chancellor Frank Wood received between $340,000 and $349,000 in remuneration payments from Lincoln University between 1 January and 6 October last year, around $100,000 more than his remuneration package for the whole of 2002. Details of the payout to Dr Wood were revealed yesterday in the release of the State Services Commission’s Annual Report, which lists payments made to top public-sector personnel.
Much of Dr Wood’s payment is thought to have been a “golden handshake” following his sudden resignation from the University last year citing ill health. His departure followed admission of a sexual relationship with an international student and his lobbying the Government to get her residency.
The Press reports today that Dr Wood has defended the payment, saying he was entitled to it. “I simply got what I was entitled to. It was all done properly,” he said. The University’s Chancellor, Margaret Austin, could not be contacted by The Press, and current Vice-Chancellor Roger Field declined to comment.
Wood is understood to have been working recently on contract to Waikato University.
A full analysis of the remuneration packages for chief executives in the tertiary sector will be included in next week’s Tertiary Update.
Tertiary e-Learning projects underway
The first of four projects funded by the Ministry of Education’s new Tertiary e-Learning Research Fund are now underway, according to the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary), Steve Maharey. The projects are focused on learners, teaching, staff development and organisational issues.
Mr Maharey said that researchers have been asked to identify and analyse major trends affecting e-learning, and the broader factors that might impact on future tertiary e-learning in New Zealand. “The Ministry of Education expects the projects will help meet the tertiary sector’s need for robust, up-to-date research on e-learning in New Zealand,” he said. “The four projects selected complement the research being supported by the Tertiary Education Commission’s e-Learning Collaborative Development Fund. The collaboration being demonstrated by some of these projects suggests a more positive move towards active partnership and cooperation among tertiary institutions.”
The projects, selected by a panel of tertiary sector e-learning experts, are: an investigation into factors that influence New Zealand polytechnics/institutes of technology tutors’ uptake of e-learning; determination of New Zealand tertiary institution e-learning capability; approaches and implications of e-learning adoption of academic staff efficacy and working practice; and measuring the worth of e-learner support systems.
The four projects, with total funding of $300,000, will be completed by 30 April 2005. The Ministry of Education will soon be calling for proposals for the second round of funding.
Nottingham feels impact of boycott
An academic boycott of Nottingham University, now in its fourth week, is starting to bite, according to Britain’s Association of University Teachers (AUT). The boycott is having what has been described as a discernable impact on the University’s activities, with lectures being cancelled and delegates withdrawing from conferences. Conferences are also being relocated away from Nottingham’s campus.
The boycott, or “greylisting”, has been called by the AUT because the University has refused to negotiate new salary rates and grading arrangements in line with a national agreement reached earlier in the year. Instead, it wants to introduce performance-based pay which would lead to reductions in career earnings of nearly £9,000 over six years for some, and remove the entitlement to belong to the national university pension scheme for others.
AUS National President, Dr Bill Rosenberg has written to the AUT saying that attacks on conditions of employment are unacceptable anywhere, and the attempted imposition of performance-pay as proposed by Nottingham management reflects an approach which defies the collegial and collaborative culture of universities.
More than 3,000 people, including a number of New Zealand university staff, have signed an on-line petition supporting the Nottingham campaign. It can be found at: www.aut.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=880
Election victory a
sign of further reform
John Howard’s election victory in Australia has set the scene for further reforms in higher education, including voluntary student unionism, performance-based pay and changes to weaken the power of education unions, according to The Australian.
Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews held talks with vice-chancellors before the elections to discuss access to funding specifically tied to industrial relations reform. Earlier, the Government had failed to secure Senate support to introduce university funding tied to the introduction of Australian workplace agreements, the equivalent of New Zealand’s individual employment contracts, into the sector, and to ban industrial action which delayed students’ examination results.
Unions, for their part, have already threatened to fight any proposals by the Government to revisit workplace relations reforms in universities. The National Tertiary Education Union’s Senior Industrial Officer, Ken McAlpine, is reported as saying that university staff are concerned about proposed legislation dealing with industrial action. “Obviously, if [the Government] decides to pick a fight with the higher education sector, we are confident we will secure strong support from our members. I think there will be a big fight over their attempt to link pay and promotion to student evaluations. We think that’s extremely bad on educational grounds as well as industrial and professional grounds.”
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