AUS Tertiary Update
Auckland rift deepens, parties sent to mediation
The Association of University Staff (AUS) and the University of Auckland will head to mediation next week while the Employment Authority considers whether a deepening dispute over bargaining should be referred to the Employment Court for a decision. The AUS commenced legal action last week after Auckland’s Vice-Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon failed to show up at a preliminary national employment agreement negotiation meeting in Wellington, and then added fuel to the fire by offering non-union staff a 4.5 percent salary increase. McCutcheon advised the Union that the University would not enter multi-employer university bargaining but would, instead, only bargain at a local enterprise level.
Tension between the parties escalated further when the University implied that it would cut off access to the University’s email system after the AUS wrote to non-union staff encouraging them to join the union. The University’s Human Resources Manager, Kath Clarke, wrote to AUS saying that the emailed letter was in breach of its duty of good faith towards the University. “We also note that providing access to the University’s email system is a privilege that has been extended to AUS to allow you to communicate with your members,” wrote Ms Clarke. “We are thereby writing to seek your undertaking that the AUS will ensure that any further communications issued by it comply with its duty of good faith. If the AUS continues to act in breach of its duty of good faith, we confirm that this will be treated very seriously by the University.”
AUS General Secretary Helen Kelly said the University’s letter clearly implied that email access would be stopped if the union again wrote to non-union staff. She said it was extraordinary that it would attempt to restrict freedom of speech and association, particularly given the statutory responsibility universities have towards academic freedom. “We have a lawful right to encourage non-union staff to join the Union, and the use of email or of visiting them at their workplace is perfectly legitimate,” she said. “AUS will not be intimidated by threats from the University of Auckland, and we will continue to communicate with union and non-union staff in any manner we believe appropriate.”
AUS National President Professor Nigel Haworth said it was particularly concerning that the University of Auckland was attempting to disengage from the national bargaining process. “It has long been accepted that under-funding of universities and consequent inadequate salaries are national issues which require national solutions,” he said. “We are urging Stuart McCutcheon to participate in the national bargaining and work towards building a cohesive national solution. As Chair of the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee, he has a major opportunity to show leadership in the university sector. Turning his back on that, by disrupting the current bargaining process, threatens the interests of all parties.”
Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. TEC appoints first Chief Executive
2. Changing face of graduate population
3. Establishment of Universities Bill to proceed, but without controversial provision?
4. Auditor-General defines scope of Wananga inquiry
5. LMU academic boycott resumes
6. Harvard boss stays put despite no-confidence vote
7. Mob rule defied by Rector
TEC appoints first Chief Executive
The Tertiary Education Commission has appointed Janice Shiner as its first Chief Executive. She is currently Director General of the Lifelong Learning Directorate in England, and will take up the new appointment on 11 July.
Announcing the appointment, the Acting Chair of TEC, Dr Kaye Turner, said that Janice Shiner has the mix of high-level strategic and management experience the Commission was looking for, having headed one of England’s largest tertiary colleges and working at the highest level on policy advice and funding implementation. “She has a rare combination of top-level strategic leadership in both tertiary institutions and government agencies,” she said.
The role of Chief Executive is a new one, with the TEC having previously been led by two full-time Commissioners and a General Manager. “Under our new governance arrangements, the Chief Executive not only leads the organisation internally, but also takes the lead in relationships with the tertiary sector and public,” said Kaye Turner. “We have every confidence that New Zealand will benefit from Janice Shiner’s insights into how to develop and implement funding models for tertiary education and to monitor their impact.”
New TEC Chair Russell Marshall will take up his position from 4 April.
Changing face of graduate population
The make-up of New Zealand’s university graduate population is changing, with more international graduates and greater ethnic diversity, according to the latest University Graduate Destinations publication, released this week by the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee.
The report is based on a questionnaire response from 10,884 people who were eligible to graduate from one of the country’s eight universities in 2003. It showed that, approximately six months after graduation, 62.4 percent of New Zealand respondents were in full-time employment, with 19.6 percent undertaking further full-time study. A total of 586 New Zealand respondents were recorded as being overseas.
The ethnic make-up of the graduate population is changing, with 60.8 percent identifying as European/Pakeha, down from 64.6 percent in 2002, and the proportion of graduates identifying as Asian rising to 19.4 percent, up 2.4 percent from 2002. The proportion of other ethnicities remains relatively stable, with New Zealand Maori at 5.6 percent, Pacific at 2.4 percent and Indian at 2.1 percent.
Of the 708 international respondents, 347 were working full-time with more than half of them (59.1 percent) still in New Zealand, 18.1 percent were employed part-time and 29.8 percent stated they were not working.
New Zealand respondents in full-time employment who supplied details had average salaries of $50,388 for males and $42,112 for females, up $1,172 and $472 respectively from the previous survey.
The New Zealand University Students’ Association (NZUSA) says the survey shows that women face an unfair return from tertiary education. “This report proves that female graduates are not reaping the same financial benefits as their male counterparts with the same qualifications,” said Karen Price, NZUSA’s National Women’s Rights Officer. “This is despite female students graduating in greater numbers than males at all levels of tertiary study.”
Establishment of Universities Bill to proceed, but
without controversial provision?
Parliament’s Education and Science Select Committee recommended this week that the Education (Establishment of Universities) Amendment Bill be passed, but without the controversial provision which would have meant that its new provisions would be applied to a current application by Unitec for university status.
The Bill contains what the Government describes as better provisions for determining whether an organisation can be established as a university and, if passed, will give the Minister the sole authority to make a decision on whether any application for university status will be considered by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA).
The Bill initially required that any current applications would be subject to the new provisions, something which infuriated Unitec as it considered the retrospective nature of the legislation was solely intended to stop its long-standing application for university status being considered.
In turn, Unitec announced that it intended to sue the Minister of Education and NZQA for more than $3.5 million compensation for losses incurred as a result of what it described as multiple breaches of its constitutional right to be considered for university status.
Unitec’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr John Webster, said he was pleased but not surprised by the recommendation of the Select Committee. “All we have ever asked for is the opportunity to have our application assessed fairly and on its merits against the statutory standards, and the removal of the retrospective clause from the Bill makes that outcome at least possible.”
Unitec’s case against the Minister and NZQA is set down to be heard in the High Court on 2-3 June.
Auditor-General defines scope of Wananga
The terms of reference for the Auditor-General’s inquiry into Te Wananga o Aotearoa have been released as a result of widespread public interest following recent allegations of nepotism and financial mismanagement at the Te Awamutu-based institution.
The inquiry will examine selected practices at the Wananga involving councillors, employees and/or their families; the international travel policies and practices, with a particular focus on selected transactions; selected payments made to councillors and/or employees in relation to their involvement with entities controlled by the Wananga; the identification and management of conflicts of interest in relation to the Mahi Ora, Kiwi Ora and Greenlight programmes; the relationship and transactions between the Wananga and the Aotearoa Institute Te Kuratini o Nga Waka Trust; the implementation of the Wananga’s capital acquisition strategy in relation to selected recent capital purchases; the processes used by the Wananga when it employed close relatives of the Chief Executive/Tumuaki; and any other issues which relate to or arise out of those matters.
The Auditor-General will not examine the appropriateness of the type and funding levels of courses offered by the Wananga; concerns about the quality of certain courses; and enrolment practices, including the use of inducements.
The Auditor-General will report the findings of his inquiry to Parliament when complete.
LMU academic boycott resumes
Lecturers at London Metropolitan University have voted unanimously to reinstate an academic boycott, and their union, NATFHE, will soon ballot members on industrial action, including strike action. This follows the breakdown of negotiations between University management and the Union over the imposition of a new employment agreement for some staff.
Last year, the University threatened to sack 387 academic staff if they refused to accept the new, inferior employment agreements following the merger of the University of North London and London Guildhall University to create LMU. The resultant industrial tension, including the imposition of an academic boycott, eased earlier this year when the University agreed to enter talks with NATFHE, and not to sack any staff while discussions took place.
NATFHE spokesperson Roger Kline said that the University has subsequently rejected the Union’s efforts to engage in negotiations on the employment agreement. “The University management made a mockery of our efforts to find a conciliated solution. They seem set on conflict,” he said. “Publicly-funded assets like universities should not be managed in this provocative and self damaging way.”
Mr Kline said that, in order to aid a swift resolution to the dispute, NATFHE is asking academic staff in the United Kingdom and internationally to support an effective and comprehensive academic boycott of the University.
Further details on the dispute can be located at www.natfhe.org.uk/says/lonmetun.html
Harvard boss stays
put despite no-confidence vote
Harvard University President Lawrence Summers says he will not step down, despite a no-confidence vote in him following recent remarks questioning women’s aptitude for science. The 210 to 185 vote is unprecedented in Harvard’s history, and comes after nearly two months of frustration within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences over Dr Summers’s leadership. Professors have criticised him for his aggressive and alienating style of leadership. The vote represents the views of only one of Harvard’s ten faculties and is not binding.
Dr Summers said after the meeting that he planned to continue in his post and work with the Faculty to move forward strongly and in a united way.
Harvard’s seven-member governing corporation has stood by Dr Summers since tensions escalated, saying that, while they take the views of faculty seriously, they have confidence in him to move forward to advance the University’s vital academic aims.
The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Australian
defied by Rector
The Rector of the University of Palermo in Sicily has announced plans to abolish tuition fees for students whose families have to pay protection to the Costa Nostra in a move which is seen as a public challenge to omerta, the Mafia’s law of silence.
Guiseppe Silvestra made his announcement at a conference of judges discussing Mafia extortion. “Family members of victims of extortion rackets must be exempted from paying fees,” he said.
His proposal has been approved in principle by the University’s governing board, but it is not yet clear how it will be implemented. A University representative said the Rector believed “that the University is not an academic abstraction, a place isolated from the city and its problems.”
The proposal could encourage extortion victims, usually those who run small businesses, to tell the authorities. It also issues a challenge to the Mafia’s omerta, the breaking of which is usually punished by death.
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