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AUS Tertiary Update

AUS WEB SITENew Zealand academic salaries slip further behind
New Zealand academic salaries may be worth as much as 40 percent less, in real terms, than those in Australia, according to the 2004-05 Academics Staff Salary Survey just released by the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU). The survey describes the salary discrepancy between New Zealand and Australia as “striking” and notes that the issue of staff mobility is pressing, particularly given that immigration into Australia has increased significantly over the last decade.
The ACU salary survey examines academic salaries and associated benefits from fifty institutions across Australia, Canada, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Then, using two methods of conversion, it attempts to equalise the purchasing power parity (PPP) of the different currencies, and expresses the results (ironically for a Commonwealth survey) in US dollars. It reveals that in each of the academic categories, New Zealand ranked below average and has fallen, in comparative terms, since the last survey in 2001-02. Of the six countries, New Zealand has slipped from third to fourth in its overall rankings, and is now firmly fourth in each of the academic classifications. It also reports that New Zealand salaries have experienced little growth in terms of purchasing power, and have fallen away from the higher-ranked countries at the top of the scale.
Overall, the average salary for academic staff below the rank of professor, and adjusted for PPP, in the six countries was $US48,338. The Zealand average was $US44,600, while Australia topped the league at $US62,113. Only South Africa and Malaysia fared worse than New Zealand.
Despite its relatively low international rank, the survey reports that New Zealand still fares well in relation to per capita GDP. Academic salaries average 2.3 times the country’s average income and, even at the bottom of the assistant lecturer level, the salary is worth $US4,538 more than the average per capita income in terms of purchasing power.
Association of University Staff National President, Professor Nigel Haworth, said the survey’s release was timely with the next bargaining round scheduled to get under way next month. “The survey reports that in the United Kingdom, which is ranked ahead of New Zealand in the current survey, £330 million has been specifically allocated in the last few years to reward and develop staff salaries, and to address the ‘brain drain’,” he said. “The Government here needs to take note and invest similarly to ensure that New Zealand universities improve their relative international position.”
The full report can be viewed at:

Also in Tertiary Update this week . . .
1. TEC scraps publication of international PBRF comparisons
2. Minister takes action on improper use of university title
3. High Court gives Unitec urgent hearing
4. Bush seeks bigger grants but cuts loans for students and funding for research
5. Autonomy promised in the Ukraine
6. Part-time lecturer an employee

TEC scraps publication of international PBRF comparisons
The Tertiary Education Commission has scrapped plans to publish international comparisons of the 2003 Performance-Based Research Fund results, saying that the information would now add little to the discourse on the future of research in New Zealand. A report commissioned by the TEC has also recommended that it should not develop or release international institutional ranking tables in the future, irrespective of whether or not PBRF data is used to compile rankings.
The international comparisons were removed from the initial PBRF report after legal action in 2004 by Victoria and Auckland Universities. The Court, at the time, prohibited the release of comparisons between the PBRF and British universities in the Research Assessment Exercise until consultation between the TEC and the tertiary sector had taken place over the form any comparisons might take.
Following that decision, TEC commissioned the Allen Consulting Group to assist in determining how to proceed in relation to the 2003 international comparisons analysis and how to re-examine the entire issue of international comparisons.
As well as questioning the use of international rankings, the Allen Group has also recommended that TEC should conduct international benchmarking only on an “as-needed” basis in response to specific problems; that where targeted benchmarking is undertaken, there should be consultation with relevant stakeholders; information obtained through the first PBRF assessment process should only be used in conducting targeted international benchmarking if it is essential to resolving a specific problem; and that if the TEC wishes to use data from future PBRF rounds more generally in conducting international performance comparisons, the matter should be canvassed with the sector during the development of guidelines for the next round.
The Acting Chair of TEC, Kaye Turner, said that the Allen report confirmed TEC’s own inclinations, and that it would consult with the sector about the potential uses to which it will put data collected in the 2006 Quality Evaluation.
Meanwhile, the TEC has called for nominations for the twelve peer review panels for the 2006 PBRF Quality Evaluation exercise. The peer review panels will be established early this year to allow panel input into the revision of the guidelines for the next round. Nominations close on 4 March 2005, with full information available on the TEC website:

Minister takes action on improper use of university title
Education Minister Trevor Mallard has written to Te Wananga o Aotearoa saying that it is not advancing its reputation by calling itself the University of New Zealand, and telling it to stop using the name. This follows a complaint to both the Minister and the Advertising Standards Complaints Board from the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee (NZVCC) alleging that the description is misleading and deceptive.
The Minister has told the Wananga that the prominence of the term “university” in the Wananga’s logo, publicity and overseas promotion is now a matter of public concern. He goes on to state that the term “university” is protected under the Education Act; that only the eight established universities are permitted to use the term; and he notes that the Wananga has not sought to become a university.
“I am advised that the Wananga is promoting the name “University of New Zealand” in Asia,” wrote Mr Mallard. “I believe this to be inappropriate and misleading as there is no national university of New Zealand. The University of New Zealand was disestablished in 1962 when each of the provincial universities was formally established under their own statutes.”
“This matter has now become a significant issue when the title is causing confusion among the public. The perception overseas is also creating difficulty and could be commercially damaging to both your institution and the entire international education market.”
“I believe that the interests of the public, the sector, and New Zealand’s export education could be seriously damaged by the continued inappropriate use of the protected term University.”
Mr Mallard has said that he also intends to write to the Registrar of Companies asking that action be taken to remove the term “university” from the thirteen or more private companies which use the word in their titles, but which are not associated with universities.

High Court gives Unitec urgent hearing
The High Court is to treat with urgency a case being brought against the Government by Unitec, with a two-day hearing scheduled to begin on 2 June. Unitec lodged papers in the High Court at Wellington on 21 January seeking $3.5 million in damages against the Minister of Education and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) over a five-year delay in determining its application for university status. The Court will also be asked to determine whether its application for university status has been unlawfully suspended, and whether there has been a breach of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act
Unitec Chief Executive, Dr John Webster, said the institution would ask the Court for an order compelling the Minister “to perform his statutory duty” and make a decision on Unitec’s university status by 1 July 2003. “Hopefully this can provide us with certainty,” he said.
Dr Webster said he hoped that the Government would not rush through the Education (Establishment of Universities) Amendment Act before 1 July, which would then give the Minister the retrospective power to determine whether Unitec’s application for university status could be considered by NZQA at all.
A spokesperson for Mr Mallard said the Act is expected to be reported back to Parliament on 13 April.

Bush seeks bigger grants, but cuts loans for students and funding for research
President Bush has called on the American Congress to increase the maximum student grant (Pell Grant) by $US500, to $US4,550, over the next five years as part of his 2006 Budget request, released earlier this week. At the same time, however, he has proposed to eliminate the Perkins Loan programme, a low-interest government student loan scheme, and several other programmes that help prepare low-income students for college.
The Chronicle for Higher Education reports that President Bush’s budget for sciences would provide slight increases to the National Institute of Health and the National Science Foundation, but would cut funding to the other agencies which provide most of the federal funds for research in the physical sciences and engineering. Spending for basic research would fall by 1 percent overall.
President Bush has announced a cut of $104 million, or 12 percent, in the National Science Foundation’s Education and Human Resources Directorate, a major source of science scholarships and research grants for universities. The cut will mean that 6,140 fewer students will be able to participate in the Foundation’s programmes.
The President has proposed that spending on the arts and humanities remain largely unchanged.

Autonomy promised in the Ukraine
New President, Viktor Yushenko, has told Ukrainian universities that they will be able to bestow their own higher degrees and academic titles, and that the “over-bureaucrastised” Higher Education Commission would no longer certify and approve top academic jobs.
According to The Times Higher, President Yushenko has criticized the “corruption, extortion and protectionism that has become almost a legalised phenomenon in the scholarly/education sphere”, and says he will raise the status and improve the pay of teachers, introduce more transparent funding arrangements and increase the financial autonomy of universities. The Government has also pledged to boost investment in universities, address equality of access issues and improve tuition and quality standards.

Part-time lecturer an employee
An industrial tribunal has ruled that the University of Ulster acted unlawfully in claiming that a lecturer who had worked for thirteen years at the University was never actually an employee. Douglas Walker had been employed as a part-time lecturer between October 1990 and May 2003 but, after the University relocated his course to another campus, was not allocated any further work. Mr Walker, not unnaturally, claimed redundancy compensation but was told by the University he was, in effect, a subcontractor and not entitled to compensation.
Lecturers’ union NATFHE took his case to the Tribunal late last year and, in a decision released last week, it has held that there was a “mutuality of obligation” between Mr Walker and the University, and that he was an employee. The Tribunal went on to find that he was dismissed upon the non-renewal of his employment contract due to redundancy. He was awarded compensation based on his thirteen years’ service.

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: . Direct enquires should be made to Marty Braithwaite, AUS Communications Officer, email:

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