AUS Tertiary Update
Student debt driving students overseas
Two new reports from the Ministry of Education show reduced repayment times for student loans and a decrease in the growth rate of student debt, but they also show that many of the highest-qualified graduates were the most likely to leave the country. The reports give new, more-detailed data about loans, with information derived from an integrated dataset that links information from all of the agencies involved with the loan scheme. They also compare the loan balances of different groups, examine repayment times and look at how much people earn when they leave study. It is the most comprehensive analysis of student loans and debt since comparable data-collection began in 2002.
The key findings from the first report, Living with a student loan, show that the higher the level of qualification studied, the higher the leaving debt, and the higher the post-study income, the faster the progress towards repayment. Students studying Health leave with more debt, and graduates in Medicine are more likely to be overseas than graduates with other bachelor-degrees. The report also shows that the median level of debt of those studying in health-related fields was 1.5 times higher than the overall figure.
Among the main findings in the second report, Income of student loan borrowers, was that the level of qualification studied, and whether it was successfully completed, makes a large difference to the person’s income once study is complete. It also showed that, while most people’s income increased in the first few years after study, there is a large proportion which receives a benefit in the first few years following study. Women earn more than men while studying, but less than men after study, and completing a tertiary qualification tends to reduce the gap between men and women.
Education Minister Trevor Mallard said that the reports give much better information than before and expose some of the myths surrounding loans and debt. “Student loan balances are lower than many people believe and repayment times are reducing,” he said. “In mid 2004 most borrowers owed less than $10,000. The June estimate of the average repayment time was 9.3 years, compared with 9.6 years a year earlier and 10.3 years in June 2002.”
New Zealand Students’ Association Co-President Camilla Belich said, however, that the report proved that graduates with higher student debt are more likely to go overseas. “The Government’s own research confirms student debt is forcing our best and brightest overseas,” she said. “By burdening students with unbelievable levels of debt, the Government is dislocating a generation and leaving New Zealand with chronic skills shortages in certain areas.”
Also in Tertiary Update this
1. Individual PBRF scores must be protected
2. PBRF moderators appointed
3. Otago University, College to merge
4. 2005 enrolment figures begin to emerge
5. Wira Gardiner appointed to Wananga Council
6. Kiwi VC stamps mark on Oxford
7. UPNG staff to strike over salary dispute
8. UK universities to go for maximum £3000 fees
Individual PBRF scores must be
Individual scores from the next round of the Performance-Based Research Fund must not be returned to institutions, according to Association of University Staff (AUS) National President, Professor Nigel Haworth. His comment comes in response to the release of a consultation paper by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) on the use of data by tertiary education organisations in the 2006 PBRF Quality Evaluation.
Professor Haworth said that, following the last round, individual scores had been used inappropriately by some universities, such as in performance reviews or in the annual promotion exercise. “These scores were not intended, nor were they fit, for such purposes and, while universities were advised of this, a number persisted anyway,” he said. “As the results were not supposed to be used without the prior permission of the individual researcher, universities have shown they cannot be relied upon to act with integrity on this issue. Individual Quality Evaluation results must, therefore, remain confidential.”
The TEC’s consultation paper includes questions about what information should be given to tertiary institutions, discusses the misuse of PBRF data and gives options around guidelines for the use of PBRF data for institutions.
The TEC has also released for consultation its Draft Strategic Plan for the period between 2005/6 and 2010/11. The draft plan sets out what the TEC proposes to do to achieve the goals of the Tertiary Education Strategy and the Statement of Education Priorities.
Submissions on both papers are due on 23 March, and the consultation documents can be found on the TEC website: www.tec.govt.nz
PBRF moderators appointed
TEC has appointed three top academics to act as moderators of the 2006 PBRF Quality Evaluation. They are John Hattie, Professor of Education at the University of Auckland, who will be the Principal Moderator, and Professors Carolyn Burns from the University of Otago and Mason Durie from Massey University.
Acting Chair Kaye Turner said that TEC was delighted to announce the appointment of such distinguished academics to these key positions. “All three of the new moderators were Peer Review Panel chairs in 2003, and I see their acceptance of these appointments as a further vote of confidence in the PBRF,” she said.
TEC says the moderators will work with the twelve Peer Review Panels to ensure a “transparent, credible and consistent” moderation process throughout the 2006 Quality Evaluation.
Otago University, College to merge
The University of Otago and Dunedin College of Education have agreed to discuss a possible merger, and will set up a small working party to look its feasibility. This follows the announcement last week that the University of Canterbury and Christchurch College of Education will work towards a merger at the end of this year.
Otago University Chancellor Lindsay Brown said that while the College and University each currently provides its own teacher education, they also cooperate in a number of areas under an existing Memorandum of Agreement. For the last twenty-five years the two institutions have delivered a joint four-year Bachelor of Education degree. “Competition [between the two institutions] has been the exception rather than the rule,” he said.
“Even during the recent period of strong competition [in the tertiary education sector] professional collegiality among University and College staff has been maintained, and we have had some shared teaching and provision of some joint services,” said Kathy Grant, College Council Chair.
A joint press release advised that “the two institutions recognise that the benefits of a merger are many, including enhanced teacher education practice, and further developing educational research, scholarship, and postgraduate programmes; increasing professional development opportunities for teachers and other educators; extending the work in international education projects; and contributing to educational policy and philosophy.”
A preliminary report on a merger will be presented to the two Councils “as soon as possible”.
2005 enrolment figures
begin to emerge
Victoria University of Wellington has reported that its student enrolments are holding steady this year, while the University of Otago says its numbers have increased at a higher level than forecast. Preliminary figures provided to the University of Otago Council on Tuesday suggested an overall increase of 2.9 percent, higher than the 2.4 percent for which the University budgeted.
Otago Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Skegg, said that while there had been overall growth, there was a slight decline in first-year numbers, due mainly to the fall-off in international first-year enrolments. “Strong growth in first-year numbers over the last two years has contributed to overall gains in both domestic and international enrolments. The 2.9 percent growth represents an increase of 470 equivalent full-time students,” he said.
By the end of the first week of lectures, just under 16,000 students had enrolled at Victoria, a similar number to last year. By the end of the year, the number is forecast to increase to around 20,0000.
Victoria’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Pat Walsh, says the levelling-off has come after four years of very rapid growth, and that the national trend of static or declining domestic university enrolments was starting to influence the Wellington market.
“We are also now experiencing the planned effect of Victoria’s self-imposed limit on international students which last year led to the imposition of higher entry standards for international students,” said Professor Walsh.
The University has a cap of 16 percent international students.
appointed to Wananga Council
Education Minister Trevor Mallard announced yesterday that he is appointing Wira Gardiner as the fourth ministerial appointment to the Council of Te Wananga o Aotearoa. This follows the appointment last week of a Crown Manager, Brian Roche, to the beleaguered institution.
Trevor Mallard said he was pleased that Wira Gardiner had joined the Council. “He will bring to it his extensive experience and expertise in governance and management, both in the private and public sectors. He has considerable mana in Maoridom,” he said.
“While Mr Gardiner will have the same role … as other council members, I have no doubt that he will bring immense governance experience and guidance to the council as it moves into a new era,” Trevor Mallard said.
Kiwi VC stamps mark on Oxford
Oxford’s new Kiwi Vice-Chancellor wants to drag the ancient University into the modern age, but he’ll have a fight on his hands with the traditionalists, according to British newspaper The Independent. Dr John Hood has published a green paper on governance, arguing that if Oxford wants to remain a leading global university it needs to streamline its 800-year-old decision-making structures. His message is that the University must reform or become mediocre.
Dr Hood is proposing a new 150 member academic council drawn from Oxford’s faculties and colleges to replace the current two-tier decision-making process. He also proposes a new thirteen-member Board of Trustees to oversee the finances and investment policy of the University, a job currently undertaken by the governing Council.
Critics say that the proposals will destroy the character of Oxford, eating into the freedom of its colleges in a dramatic way. They say it seems to be the beginning of a process through which the central university administration will try and take control of all aspects of college self-management, particularly to eliminate their financial freedom.
Dr Hood has “put up backs by moving at such breakneck speed,” says The Independent. “Stories have spread about his lack of schmoozing skill compared to his predecessor .... They also suspect he finds Oxford’s traditions ridiculous, particularly the proctors who are in charge of discipline and wear white bow ties and special gowns.”
Meanwhile, former University of Canterbury head, Professor Daryl Le Grew, recently backed away from an industrial scrap with cleaners at the University of Tasmania where he is now Vice-Chancellor. Professor Le Grew has promised continuing employment to about fifty cleaners after a month-long community campaign opposing his plans to contract-out the cleaning.
UPNG staff to strike over
More then 300 staff at the University of Papua New Guinea have threatened to go on strike unless its Australian Vice-Chancellor and three other senior administrators resign immediately. They blame the four for not implementing an approved wage increase, despite advice to do so from the country’s Industrial Registrar.
The National Academic and Non-Academic Staff Associations both said they had lost confidence in the four after they failed to implement a 4 percent salary increase and an additional one-off payment awarded by the Government to public servants last year.
More than 290 staff have signed a letter to the University’s Chancellor saying that the University’s management is incompetent and that, even if they were paid tomorrow, they will still stop work until the four resign.
UK Universities to go for maximum £3,000
Universities across the United Kingdom are set to charge students the maximum £3,000 a year in tuition fees. Details will be announced next week of the first wave of charges under the controversial new system, which comes into force in autumn 2006. Universities, including Oxford and Bristol, have gained permission from the education watchdog, the Office for Fair Access, to raise their fees to the maximum amount. This means that universities will charge £3,000 a year, and £9,000 for a three-year course, for popular degree courses such as English, Medicine, Law, Mathematics and Economics.
The Evening Standard
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