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AUS Tertiary Update

AUS WEB SITEFormer Auckland VC highest paid public servant
Former University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor, Dr John Hood, was one of the two highest-paid public sector employees in the country last year, with a remuneration package valued at between $410,000 and $419,999. It was worth $40,000 more than he received in 2002 and, alongside the Commissioner of Police, put him a clear $20,000 ahead of the Chief Executives of the Department of Courts, Ministry of Health, Inland Revenue Department and Ministry of Justice.
The figures were released last week in the State Services Commission’s 2004 Annual Report, which provides details of remuneration paid to senior personnel in the public service and state sector for the year to 31 December 2003. Remuneration, the value of which is reported in $10,000 bands, is defined as comprising salaries, the value of motor vehicles, the employers’ contributions to superannuation and any performance-related payments.
The biggest mover in the university sector was Lincoln’s former Vice-Chancellor, Frank Wood, who, between 1 January and 6 October, received a package worth between $340,000 and $349,999. It was up by almost $100,000 from his $250,000 package for the whole of 2002.
Following recent reports that last year’s figure included a “golden handshake”, Lincoln University issued a denial, saying that Dr Wood received only his salary and “contractual entitlements”. It did not elaborate on what those contractual entitlements were.
Next on the universities’ remuneration pecking order were Otago, where the Vice-Chancellor’s remuneration increased from $320,000 to $330,000, Victoria and Auckland University of Technology where it went from $260,000 to $280,000 and Waikato, which moved from $260,000 to $270,000.
The Vice-Chancellor of Massey University received $240,000 for the period between 3 March and 31 December, an annualised figure of $320,000. Similarly, the new Vice-Chancellor at the University of Canterbury received $240,000 for the period between 1 March and 31 December, an annualised amount of $293,000.
Other remuneration packages in the tertiary education sector ranged from $260,000 for the Chief Executive of the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology to less than $100,000, for a ten-month period, for the Chief Executive of the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand.
Aside from chief executives, just over 1,000 staff in the tertiary education sector received remuneration of $100,000 or more. One received a package worth between $300,000 and $309,999, while 357 received between $100,000 and $109,999.

Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. Auckland students stunned at fee increase
2. Mixed reaction to student loan report
3. Partial PBRF round on cards for 2006
4. Polytechs want better national representation
5. Middlesex drops first-year exams
6. Sacked professor invited back

Auckland students stunned at fee increase
Students say they are stunned by the University of Auckland Council’s decision, on Monday this week, to increase domestic undergraduate student tuition fees by an average of 4.28 percent for 2005. The biggest increases will apply to arts and science degrees, where they will rise by 5 percent. Business and economics will increase by 3.4 percent and law by 2.3 percent. Fine arts and optometry fees will remain at current levels. Postgraduate fees will increase by 7.6 percent.
The New Zealand Herald reports Students’ Association President, Kate Sutton, saying that the University Council had ignored the welfare of students and raised fees as high as the Government’s fee maxima policy would allow. “They took advantage of that and did it,” she said.
The University is also seeking a 10 percent increase in fees for medicine and health sciences, but will have to apply to the Government for an exemption from the fee maxima policy, which restricts increases to 5 percent or less. Ms Sutton said the Students’ Association would ask the Government to reject the University’s application.
Acting Vice-Chancellor, Raewyn Dalziel, said the increases were based on cost increases of between 4.5 and 4.7 percent, or $19.1 million, that the University faces in 20005. “After taking into account the additional 3.2 percent in government funding for 2005, and the fee increases already agreed for international students, the University faces a $9.7 million shortfall,” she wrote in a memo to staff and students.
Ms Dalziel said the University would continue to seek funding increases from government that are based on real university costs. “Staff and students are urged to join this campaign,” she wrote. “Unless we can achieve more rational government funding policies, increases in student fees will continue to be inevitable.”
Although the Massey University Council recently rejected a management recommendation to increase its fees by 5 percent for 2005, fees have been increased by an average of 4.5 percent at Victoria University and 3.4 percent at the University of Waikato A number of polytechnics have now also set their 2005 fees, with average increases so far of between 2.8 percent and 5 percent.

Mixed reaction to student loan report
Reaction has been predictably mixed to the release of the annual report on the student loan scheme, tabled in Parliament this week. While the Government is claiming success, with loan repayments up and repayment times down, students are saying the report shows that student debt is increasing.
In one corner, the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary), Steve Maharey, says the results show that the Government’s moves to cut students’ costs are working. He says that one third of all debt incurred since the scheme began has been repaid or written off, and that figure is forecast to rise over the next ten years. “The total debt is now expected to rise more slowly as repayments increase. By the middle of the next decade it is estimated that the amount repaid each year will be greater than the amount borrowed,” he said.
Mr Maharey’s statement is cold comfort, however, to students and their families who faced fee hikes in 2004 and will be paying even higher fees in 2005, according to New Zealand University Students’ Association Co-President, Fleur Fitzsimons. “Labour should stop defending the loan scheme and get real about the problems. Student debt is wreaking havoc with our society and economy and no amount of government spin will make the problem go away,” she said. “The report shows that more students now have debts above $20,000 compared with the same time last year.”
Other key findings in the report reveal that the total level of student loan debt, at 30 June 2004, was almost $6 billion, up by more than $600 million at the same time in 2003; the projected level of debt is expected to reach $13 billion by 2014-15, up by $500 million on the forecast a year ago; there were 156,250 borrowers in the 2003 academic year, up 3.8 percent from 150,575 in 2002; and the total amount borrowed in 2003 was $987 million compared with $934 million in 2002.
The report shows the average student loan balance had increased to $14,242 by 30 June 2004, an increase of 4.1 percent on the 2002-03 average of $13,680, and the median student loan balance was just under $10,000. Of the 419,000 people with a current loan balance, 345 have a debt of $100,000 or more.

Partial PBRF round on cards for 2006
A range of options for the next Performance-Based Research Fund assessment round were released this week by the PBRF Sector Reference Group (SRG). One option suggests that the next quality-evaluation assessments could be partial or semi-voluntary. It comes after criticism about the negative effects of PBRF on individual staff, and calls from AUS to move from an individual to a group-based assessment.
The SRG Chair, Professor Paul Callaghan, said he believes there is a way forward that will make the conduct of a second quality-evaluation in 2006 more efficient and acceptable to everyone. “A partial round would result in substantially lower costs for all the participants, while giving new and emerging researchers a chance to seek a higher quality category earlier than would be possible if a later date, such as 2007 or 2009, was chosen for the second quality evaluation,” he said.
Under the proposed partial round, it would be optional for PBRF-eligible staff who were assessed in 2003 to complete an evidence portfolio. Only eligible staff who were not assessed in 2003, and possibly some researchers in special circumstances, would be required to participate in 2006.
The other PBRF papers propose options for the subject areas and peer review panels and, on the eligibility of tertiary education organisations and staff to participate in quality-evaluations. A technical paper, discussing IT issues, is also available.

Polytechs want better national representation
Polytechnic heads are understood to be calling for the reform of their national body, the Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics of New Zealand (ITPNZ), following recent public criticism of the way in which a number of polytechnics had obtained community education funding. One, the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT), has been the subject of intense negative publicity over its obtaining more than $15 million public funding from its Cool It enrolments, while others have been targeted for what have been described by National MP Bill English as “funding scams”.
Education Review reports that the call for change comes particularly from those institutions where managers have felt that ITPNZ did not defend them adequately from the public criticism over the use of community education funding. They say that the body needs restructuring in order to better deal with issues confronting the sector.
According to Education Review, CPIT Chief Executive John Scott asked his Council to tell ITPNZ to restructure or it would reconsider its membership. Mr Scott said there had been growing disquiet about the effectiveness of the leadership provided by ITPNZ, and that the organisation has not addressed critical issues in a proactive manner.
ITPNZ Executive Director Jim Doyle is reported saying changing the structure would be difficult and that he doubted whether the current structure of the organisation was relevant to the current debate on community education funding.

Worldwatch
Middlesex drops first-year exams
England’s Middlesex University has scrapped exams for first-year students and is implementing a policy of “100 percent coursework” for first-year modules. The University has confirmed that traditional exams have been dropped for all first-year courses, except where an exceptional case has been made to its Academic Board.
The Times Higher reports that critics are claiming it is an unprecedented move to make it easier for students to pass courses. An unnamed source at Middlesex said that if student numbers were down, the University could ensure good retention rates by ensuring that students pass in any course. “It’s good for business and good for ratings.”
The Times Higher says Middlesex was embroiled in a controversy earlier this year when it was reported the University had set a “de facto” maximum failure rate, when it demanded a report from staff on any module where 15 percent or more students failed.
Defending its position, Middlesex’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Ken Goulding, said that is was strongly held in the University that learning is what matters most at level one and that demanding coursework was the best way to facilitate learning.”

Sacked professor invited back
A disabled seventy-year-old emeritus professor is back on the job at the Manchester Metropolitan University, after earlier having been sacked and escorted from his office by police. After being told he would no longer be given any part-time teaching the Professor, who had been at the University for forty years, demanded an explanation for the decision and refused to leave his office. Unable to move him, the Dean called the police for assistance.
After the Professor had enlisted the support of colleagues, contacted his solicitor and called the Times Higher, the University advised he would be kept on in an, as yet, unspecified, role.

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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: marty.braithwaite@aus.ac.nz

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