AUS Tertiary Update
Staff, students march in pre-Budget rally
More than 500 staff and students marched from Victoria University to Parliament on Tuesday this week in a pre-Budget protest over the level of government funding to the tertiary education sector. Giving perhaps some clue about the direction of the Budget, the Minister of Education, Trevor Mallard, told the crowd that the focus of the Government over the next period had to be on lifting the relevance and the excellence of the system, and ensuring that funding was going to the right places. “There has to be a shift from low-quality to high-quality courses, and there has to be a focus on attracting and retaining the best lecturers,” he said.
Trevor Mallard said that, while there were some ongoing issues around debt, the Government had already increased its investment in education and had done an enormous amount of work on student debt, fees and allowances.
The Association of University Staff (AUS) Victoria Branch President, Dr David Weatherburn, said that salaries in the sector were too low, and universities needed increased funding from government to ensure that current salary claims could be met. “The under-funding of universities has reached crisis point,” he said. “With demand growing internationally for qualified staff, and big increases in academic salaries continuing to flow through in Australia, we will steadily become unable to deliver the standard of university education that New Zealanders want and need, both as individuals and to build a knowledge-based economy.”
Dr Weatherburn said that the Minister’s comments indicated that the Government acknowledged the need to ensure high-quality staff, and that he hoped that funding would be moved into universities to ensure this was achieved.
Trevor Mallard’s comments follow a letter to the AUS and the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee in which he said that the Government supported multi-employer bargaining in the tertiary education sector.
Information on tertiary education funding announcements will be placed on the AUS website following the release of the Budget later today. It can be found at: www.aus.ac.nz
Also in Tertiary
Update this week
1. Unions, Auckland reach bargaining process agreement
2. University women still face barriers
3. Waiariki pays out in copyright case
4. College, University merger gains momentum
5. No need to dissolve Council, says Wananga
6. NZQA Chief Executive stands down
7. Oxford: round one to dons
8. Australian unions protest at Government interference in universities
9. Thailand orders crackdown on fighting students
reach bargaining process agreement
University of Auckland management and the unions representing university staff concluded a bargaining process agreement last Friday with the assistance of an industrial mediator. It will allow the parties to engage fully in multi-employer negotiations currently underway for new national collective agreements in the university sector.
Further discussions will be held with University of Auckland management today to allow for the employer’s bargaining proposals to be given to the unions.
National negotiations resume in Wellington on 25 and 26 May.
Separate negotiations for medical and dental academic staff at the Universities of Otago and Auckland will commence in June.
University women still face
Academic women are five times more likely than men to believe that having time away from the workforce is a barrier to promotion, and three times as likely to mention the lack of affordable childcare, according to research commissioned by the Association of University Staff. The research, undertaken by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research, examined gender and promotion at Massey University as a case study of practices within New Zealand universities.
Amongst the main findings was that the women who participated in the survey were only half as likely as men to feel they had reached the academic level to which they had aspired. Not only did fewer women than men express overall satisfaction with the promotion processes, they also reported less satisfaction with their opportunities for promotion. More women than men identified barriers to promotion such as high teaching loads and a lack of time for research.
AUS spokesperson, Associate Professor Maureen Montgomery, said the research showed that while women may have an equal chance for promotion, they were less likely to apply, particularly those in the lower academic grades. “This points to the need for universities to develop mechanisms to ensure that women, particularly those at lecturer and senior lecturer levels, have teaching loads which allow time for designated research and the development of publications records,” she said. “It also highlights the need for universities to look at the broader issues which inhibit career development, in particular the obstacles for women to make the transition from fixed-term appointments to continuing positions, and the effect of time away from the workforce to tend to family responsibilities.”
Associate Professor Montgomery thanked Massey for allowing the research to be conducted at the University. The study looked at the experiences of 619 academic staff.
The research and analysis can be found on the AUS website: www.aus.ac.nz
Waiariki pays out in
In what has been described as a groundbreaking case, the Waiariki Institute of Technology has reached an out-of-court settlement with copyright agency, Copyright Licensing Limited (CLL), after being taken to the High Court for infringing copyright.
Investigations showed that Waiariki was involved in significant copying of textbooks and articles, but had not complied with licensing requirements. “We knew substantial breaches of copyright would be taking place at Waiariki, when the Institute decided not to renew its copyright license for 2004,” said CLL Chief Executive, Kathy Sheat. “We found that in one instance, 40 percent of a textbook had been reproduced as part of a book of readings.”
Further investigation showed that copyright in works written by New Zealand authors Michael King, Claudia Orange and Ranginui Walker had also been infringed, and that Waiariki was making no payment to the authors
New Zealand copyright laws only provide for educational institutions to make multiple copies of up to 3 percent or three pages of a work for students without a license. A license enables an institution to copy from a wide repertoire of published work.
The High Court action and settlement sends a clear warning to educational institutions which infringe copyright obligations. “Unlicensed institutions often show a flagrant disregard for copyright and copy,” said Ms Sheat. “For this reason, [CCL] will take legal action against copyright infringement where necessary.”
It has been reported that Waiariki has agreed to pay two years of licensing fees, worth about $48,000, plus costs, and will take up a copyright license.
University merger gains momentum
The proposed merger between the Dunedin College of Education and University of Otago in 2007 has been given a further boost with the announcement this week that the Councils of both institutions have accepted the positive recommendation of a working group comprising senior staff at the University and College looking at the merger.
Both institutions will now work towards completing due diligence and preparation of a full business case and implementation plan to be considered by both Councils at the end of this year. A merger would also require the approval of the Minister of Education and Cabinet.
The next step is to begin consultation with key people, including students and staff of both institutions, and government agencies.
No need to dissolve Council, says
The Council of Te Wananga o Aotearoa has told the Minister of Education, Trevor Mallard that, although it has financial, operational and reputational risks that it must manage, it firmly believes that the risks are not of sufficient magnitude to require the Minister to proceed with the dissolution of the Council.
In a written statement, Wananga Chair Craig Coxhead said that, in conjunction with the Crown Manager appointed earlier this year, the Council has worked extremely hard to put in place measures it believes would return the Wananga to a healthy financial position. “The Council is also proposing a series of changes to governance arrangements of the Wananga that will include structural changes and the recruitment of new Council members whose skills will assist the Wananga to better confront the issues it must manage to ensure a healthy future,” he wrote. “As well, the Council is conducting a structural review of the organisation that will provide more effective and efficient management for an educational institution of this scale.”
Mr Coxhead warned that dissolution of the Council would harm and not assist the change process. “It will also sever the current strong links with stakeholders, including iwi, which he described as having been essential to the development of the Wananga.
Trevor Mallard is currently going through a two-stage consultation process before deciding whether or not to dissolve the Wananga’s Council and appoint a commissioner. He has not, as was reported in Tertiary Update last week, made a decision.
NZQA Chief Executive stands
The Chief Executive of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, Karen Van Rooyen, announced her resignation on Monday this week as the fallout continues over a damning report into the organisation’s handling of 2004 scholarship examinations. The resignations comes only a week after that of the Authority Chair, Graeme Fraser.
Ms Van Rooyen said she accepted that, as Chief Executive, she was accountable, and hoped that her stepping aside would be the catalyst for “issues” to be resolved.
Oxford: round one to dons
Oxford’s new Kiwi Vice-Chancellor, Dr John Hood, has been comprehensively defeated in the first of his attempts at corporate-style governance reforms for the University. The University’s Congregation, the dons’ parliament, voted down, by 351 votes to 153, the first of Dr Hood’s plans, which included a move to assess the individual performance of academic staff, introduce performance pay and “address under-performance”. They supported a resolution which read: “In order to ensure the paramount principle of academic freedom, congregation rejects any mandatory system of regular, joint university-college review of individual contributions, with scope to enhance financial rewards, rebalance academic duties and address under-performance.”
Those opposing Dr Hood’s proposals say the plan is a direct attack on academic freedom, and they have rejected attempts by the University’s Council at a compromise which would have mandated them to further consultation.
A separate proposal on governance, put forward in a green paper by Dr Hood, is currently being consulted on. It proposes that the 800-year-old system of running the University should be reformed to include individuals on a board of trustees from outside the University. The discussion on governance was expected in June but following an outcry of opposition within the University it has now been postponed until November.
Australian unions protest
at government interference in universities
Higher education unions in Australia will take to the streets on 1 June in protest at the Federal Government’s plan to cut university budgets by $A280 million unless they sign up to harsh new industrial reforms. The reforms, announced as part of the Australian Budget, are spearheaded by the systematic breakdown of collective bargaining, starting with a requirement that all new university employees be offered individual Australian Workplace Agreements, the implementation of a performance management scheme which rewards high-performing individual staff and a process for managing poorly performing staff.
The reforms also provide that there must be no limitations on the “form of and mix of employment arrangements”, opening the way for unrestricted use of casual, part-time and fixed-term labour.
National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) General Secretary Grahame McCulloch said that the Federal Government was seeking to directly dictate the form of industrial agreements that could be offered to staff, and to micro-manage conditions of employment. “The NTEU believes these proposed changes also threaten the quality of teaching and research carried out at our universities, and could undermine the international reputation of our university system, making it harder to attract high-quality teaching and research staff.
In addition to protest activity and community meetings at campuses across the country, it is likely that there will be strike action at a number of institutions yet to settle current negotiations.
orders crackdown on fighting students
Thailand’s Ministry of Education has ordered that anyone caught brawling is to be fingerprinted and photographed, in an effort to stamp out fighting at Bangkok’s vocational institutions. Gang-style fighting among students in the city’s 117 technical colleges has grown in recent years, resulting in turf wars which have spread beyond the confines of the colleges. At least four people have been killed and hundreds injured.
In an effort to reduce the number of clashes among students, the Government has also announced the banning of freshman initiation ceremonies conducted at the beginning of each semester.
Chronicle of Higher Education
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