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AUS Tertiary Update

AUS WEB SITECPIT boss must be sacked, says English
The National Party spokesman on Education, Bill English, has called for the sacking of the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology CEO, John Scott, following the release of an Auditor-General’s report into possible conflicts of interest in CPIT’s Cool-IT community education computing programme. He has also called on former Christchurch Mayor Vicki Buck, who has been at the centre of the controversy, to disclose how much money she has received from her association with a private company involved with the programme.
The Auditor-General was asked to investigate the management of conflicts of interest at CPIT after allegations that Vicki Buck, CPIT’s Development Manager, was also a director and shareholder of Brylton Software, CPIT’s joint-venture partner in running the Cool IT programme. CPIT had drawn more than $13.8 million in public funding for running the courses, of which more than $6 million went to Brylton Software.
Mr English has called for action after the Auditor-General’s report showed that, while there was no evidence that Ms Buck had acted to misuse her position, the CPIT allowed her to be put in a position which gave her the opportunity to use her CPIT-funded time, resources and position to enhance the value of her private financial interests in Brylton Software. The Auditor-General’s report found that the existence of this conflict of interest raised a serious management issue for CPIT which had not been dealt with properly. It said that the CPIT should have excluded Ms Buck from anything other than the most peripheral involvement in the Cool-IT programme, and declined to consent to her appointment to the joint-venture committee as a representative of Brylton Software.
CPIT management told the Auditor-General that Ms Buck’s conflict of interest was “adjudged not to be material or problematic”, and had subsequently failed to adequately inform its Council about it. It went on to say that John Scott believed it was up to him to manage the conflicts, and there was nothing wrong with the situation.
Mr English said that Mr Scott had grossly mismanaged the conflict of interest at the heart of the Cool-IT scandal. “If the Council doesn’t sack him, Minister Steve Maharey should sack his appointments to Council,” he said. They wasted $15 million of public money on a bogus course, and $6 million of that ended up in a company in which a senior staff member had a “keen awareness and involvement” according to the report. If the CPIT Council won’t bring John Scott to account, Maharey must hold the Council itself accountable and sent them packing.”
In response to a statement from Ms Buck saying she had made no money from the Cool-IT programme, Mr English has called on her to disclose Brylton’s profits and dividend policy, and to declare she will not share in those profits.
The Auditor-General’s report can be found at http://www.oag.govt.nz/HomePageFolders/Publications/cpit-cool/default.htm

Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. New initiative to support tertiary teaching excellence
2. Massey jobs may be axed
3. New V-C for Victoria
4. Fear of a return to Soviet taboos
5. LMU staff “demoralised"

New initiative to support tertiary teaching excellence
A major new initiative to support excellence in tertiary teaching was announced earlier this week by the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary), Steve Maharey. Speaking to the Association of University Staff conference in Wellington, Mr Maharey said a National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence will be established next year to build on the work already undertaken to acknowledge and reward excellence in tertiary teaching. The Government has agreed to provide up to $4 million a year for the Centre’s operating costs.
“The standard of tertiary teaching is already high,” said Mr Maharey. “Like governments around the world, we are keen to support tertiary teachers in areas like curriculum development, methods of assessment and good teaching practices.”
The National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence will promote effective teaching and learning through describing the components of effective teaching and learning, documenting systems and practices (with examples and case studies) required for effective teaching and learning, providing a clearing house for research on teaching and learning, networking educators at local and regional levels, and undertaking research into teaching and learning.
“The National Centre will also explore the need for tertiary teaching qualifications and support the development and availability of quality professional development options for tertiary teachers,” said Mr Maharey. “A Teaching Matters Forum will be set up to provide advice on the establishment of the National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence and other issues like the annual Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards.”
Mr Maharey said that the “innovative approach” of the Teaching Matters Forum will ensure that effective teaching and learning is seen as the cornerstone of a high-performing and effective tertiary education system. “We’ll use the feedback we receive from tertiary staff to develop our efforts to pursue excellence in teaching and learning,” he said.

Massey jobs may be axed
More than sixty jobs may be axed from Massey University’s College of Sciences following an emailed announcement that current spending is “untenable”, and that changes have to be made so that Massey can concentrate on areas of expertise it wants to specialise in.
Of the sixty jobs under threat, forty will go to save money and a further twenty positions will be replaced by people who have the qualifications to match the University’s future strategic direction, according to a report in the Manawatu Standard. It is proposed that the cuts will be achieved through a targeted voluntary resignation/retirement programme, initially aimed at those who have expressed an interest in leaving, part-time staff already engaged in outside interests and academic staff who have relatively small student numbers, who work in areas of declining strategic importance or who are not significantly involved in either research or College management and administration.
In a paper to staff, Massey’s College of Sciences Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Robert Anderson, wrote that the two critical issues are that staffing costs are too high when compared with revenue, and staff have an unsustainable teaching portfolio involving too many papers with too few students. His paper said that agriculture, veterinary sciences, life sciences, land, water and the environment and industrial innovation via engineering were general areas that the College’s “distinctive character” would need in the future.
AUS Massey Branch President Harvey Jones said he believed that the Palmerston North campus would bear the brunt of the cuts because the newer science-teaching programmes at Albany and Wellington focus on more popular papers. He told the Manawatu Standard that it could “suck” a minimum of $3.5 million in wages out of the local economy from 2006. “That’s going to have a major effect on this city,” he said. “And it’s not just those wages, it’s the spouses’ wages as well, as families shift away to get work”.
Mr Jones said that the parlous state of science-research funding in New Zealand meant it was unlikely that those people who lost their jobs would get other similar ones in Palmerston North.
Forums will be held at Massey’s three campuses this week for staff feedback and questions.

New V-C for Victoria
Victoria University has announced the appointment of Professor Pat Walsh as its new Vice-Chancellor. From 1 January 2005, he will replace Professor Stuart McCutcheon, who will take over as the Vice-Chancellor at the University of Auckland. Professor Walsh was selected for the position ahead of two other candidates, one from Australia and the other from the United Kingdom.
Professor Walsh, an industrial relations expert, is currently Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Commerce and Administration at Victoria. Previously he was Head of the School of Business and Public Management, now the Victoria Management School, and the Director of the Industrial Relations Centre.
The University’s Chancellor, Rosemary Barrington, said she was delighted to have appointed a person of the calibre and scholarly stature of Professor Walsh. “With his strong commitment to academic values, together with the forward momentum of the University, Professor Walsh will strengthen Victoria’s extensive relationships with the many communities it serves,” she said.
Professor Walsh said he was excited about the new challenges presented by the role. “Victoria University is an outstanding university with a vibrant and stimulating community of scholars and students, supported by able and committed general staff,” he said. I look forward to taking the Capital City University forward as a pre-eminent provider of quality, research-led university education.”
AUS Victoria Branch President David Weatherburn said that, while Professor Walsh was perhaps the least experienced of the three candidates, he had a strong and proven commitment to Victoria and was familiar with the New Zealand university system. He said that Professor Walsh had previously been active within AUS and had promised to engage with AUS on matters of interest.

Worldwatch
Fear of a return to Soviet taboos
Belarusian authorities are clamping down on the scope of higher-degrees dissertations in a move believed to be politically motivated, according to a reprt in the Chronicle of Higher Education. It reports that the Higher Attestation Commission has refused to confer qualifications and has banned individuals from teaching on the basis of the content of their work. The move has alarmed some Belarusian scholars who fear a return to the Soviet practice of forbidden themes and persons.
Dissertations for candidates’ and doctoral degrees are defended before a panel of experts appointed by individual universities, but a degree cannot be conferred without the Commission’s approval.
In one example of change, a History lecturer at Brest University has been refused a candidate’s degree and banned from teaching because her dissertation was on the life and work of Kastus Yezavitau, a military leader in Belarus’s struggle for independence in 1918-20. The Commission Chairman said the lecturer was unfit to have contact with young people.
The Chronicle says the lecturer’s supervisor was drawn into the dispute after lodging an appeal against the decision. The day after the appeal was lodged, the supervisor’s contract to take over a new prestigious job as the Director of the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences was cancelled.
It is reported that he died a short time later, as have several academics who have clashed with the state in recent years.

LMU staff “demoralised”
A detailed survey of academic staff at London Metropolitan University has revealed a bleak picture of a thoroughly demoralised workforce who feel undervalued, ignored and poorly led by their senior management. The survey, organised by UK lecturers union, Nafthe, was sent to almost 1100 staff in all categories of academic ranking.
Of the four hundred staff who responded, 72 percent said they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the support they get from the University, 65 percent were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied about the amount of influence they have over decisions, and 67 percent were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied about the extent to which the institution values their work.
Most staff reported dissatisfaction with the way the University has handled changes since its creation in 2002. When asked how they would rate the relationship between senior management and staff, not one respondent rated the relationship as very good, while 85 percent rated it as poor or very poor.
Roger Kline, head of Nafthe’s universities department, said that the most stunning revelation in the survey was that so few staff think that anything has been managed well at senior levels. “There clearly appears to have been a serious failure of leadership at London Metropolitan that requires fundamental change,” he said.
The results come nearly eight months into a dispute over the University management’s attempt to impose a new, inferior employment agreement on academic staff from the former Guildhall site of the new University.

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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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