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AUS Tertiary Update

Major changes signaled for PBRF
A major review of the Performance-Based Research Fund’s Quality Evaluation process has resulted in the recommendation of one hundred and twenty-one changes for the 2006 assessment round. The Quality Evaluation process measures the individual research performance of eligible university staff, with PBRF funding to individual institutions dependent on the results. Amongst the recommendations for change is that the next round be a partial one with voluntary participation, that there be new categories for new and emerging researchers and that the unit of assessment be reviewed after 2006.
A Sector Reference Group (SRG), comprising a diverse group of people with experience across the tertiary education sector, and including an Association of University Staff (AUS) representative, was asked to analyse all aspects of the PBRF taking into account prior reports, identify problems and suggest improvements. As part of that process the SRG was required to consult widely and seek feedback from the sector. This included considering two hundred and twenty-two submissions that were received.
AUS National President, Professor Nigel Haworth welcomed the proposed changes, describing them as sensible improvements. “The SRG recommendations will make the next Quality Evaluation simpler and fairer,” he said. “However, some significant issues still need to be addressed. We are disappointed, for example, that individual scores will continue to be released to institutions when it has been accepted that the use of personal scores as a measure of individual achievement is inappropriate. The potential for individual scores to be misused remains a significant concern.”
According to Professor Haworth, AUS will work hard to ensure that the forthcoming review of the unit of assessment will result in academic units, rather than individuals, being the focus of the PBRF, and that individual staff are not disadvantaged by future Quality Evaluations.
Professor Haworth also said was pleased that the union had been actively involved in the redesign process.
A total of $163.5 million (GST exclusive), almost $9 million of which is new money, will be allocated in PBRF funding in 2005/06, increasing to a total of $194 million in 2008/09.
The Tertiary Education Commission is currently finalising the appointment of panelists for the twelve Peer Review Panels for the 2006 Quality Evaluation. They are expected to be announced later this month.
The full report and recommendations can be found at:
http://www.tec.govt.nz/downloads/a2z_publications/pbrf-sector-reference-group-report.pdf

Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. Court reserves decision in Unitec case
2. TEC announces new PTE-funding regime
3. National teaching centre moves closer
4. Academics honoured
5. Polytech MECA for ratification
6. Urgent investment needed in clinical academia
7. CIA sends spies to UK universities
8. Trumped, a university without degrees

Court reserves decision in Unitec case
The High Court has reserved its decision in a case brought by the West-Auckland tertiary education institution, Unitec, against the Minister of Education and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). The Court was asked, in the hearing last week, to determine whether Unitec’s application for university status had been unlawfully suspended and, if so, whether there had been a breach of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. If the judge decides that a breach has taken place, Unitec will seek damages of $3.5 million relating to the five-year delay in determining its application for university status.
Unitec first applied for university status in 1996; consideration of a renewed application, made in 1999, was postponed in 2000. The institution tried to have processing restarted in 2001 and then, in May last year, formally requested NZQA to resume consideration of its application.
In September 2004, new legislation, the Education (Establishment of Universities) Amendment Bill, was introduced. This would have required that the Minister of Education make a decision on the strategic implications of establishing a new university before an application could be considered by NZQA. The legislation was designed to be retrospective, infuriating Unitec, which believed that it had been deliberately introduced to block its application. However, the Select Committee on Education and Science recommended unanimously that the retrospective clauses be deleted, and the revised Bill has yet to be passed. In March 2005, an international-expert panel appointed by NZQA visited Unitec, and TEC has since sought public submissions on whether establishing Unitec as a university would be in the national interest.
Unitec Chief Executive Dr John Webster told the Court that some Labour ministers had advised him that senior government ministers had a fixed view on the issues, and that no matter how well Unitec performed it would not get university status during the lifetime of the current Government.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Education has said that he intends to make a decision by 1 July on whether Unitec should be established as a university.
The Court is expected to release its decision later in June.

TEC announces new PTE-funding regime
The Tertiary Education Commission has announced a new integrated system for the student component of funding for private training establishments which, it says, will make sure that government money is being used to deliver relevant and high-quality education and training. Under the new system, PTEs will receive a baseline funding allocation and an opportunity to apply for additional funding.
The new baseline allocations were sent to PTEs last week, and included some significant reductions for a number of providers. The TEC Acting General Manager, Colin Webb, said that it is important to realise that the reductions are being made because some providers were not using their allocations, but the change would mean that high-performing PTEs would have the opportunity to increase the number of programmes they offer, or the number of students they have in proven areas of relevance and need.
There are about two hundred private tertiary education providers receiving approximately $150 million in public funding from TEC through student-component funding.
TEC is also to review the student component of funding in sub-degree arts, social sciences, general education, business and law education, including subcontracting to PTEs. The review has been initiated because of high growth in some areas of the low relevance and low quality of some courses, and will focus on the large areas of funding and high growth.

National teaching centre moves closer
Consultation between the Tertiary Education Commission and the tertiary education sector on the establishment of a National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence recently concluded following a series of Teaching Matters Forum meetings held around the country. The Forum, which includes an AUS representative, was appointed by the Minister of Education to provide advice on the setting up of the National Centre, expected to be established later this year. It will engage with the sector to support effective teaching and learning and is also intended to promote effective teaching practice.
In a written submission to TEC, the AUS has expressed broad support for the establishment of a national centre focused on tertiary teaching, but has expressed caution about any regulatory function that may be proposed and on the possible introduction of compulsory tertiary-teaching qualifications.
AUS National Academic Vice-President, Dr Tom Ryan, said that the Forum needs to recognise differentiation in the tertiary sector, and the positive teaching and learning initiatives already in place within New Zealand universities. Dr Ryan said that it was vital that the teaching/research nexus be considered as part of the Teaching Matters Forum, as the link between research and teaching is an important measure of quality of teaching in universities. “This is particularly important with regard to postgraduate education, and the teaching of research,” said Dr Ryan. “A national centre must have different approaches for different institutional types and different levels of study if it is to be successful.”
Dr Ryan also said the Centre should not be expected to cover shortfalls of funding in, or concern for, staff teaching development by any institutions or institutional types. “The Centre’s role can only be complementary to and supportive of what should be a basic aspect of all tertiary institutions’ professional operations.”
It is expected that the Teaching Matters Forum will report to the Minister of Education by the end of June.
The Teaching Matters Forum Discussion Document can be found at:
http://cms.steo.govt.nz/NR/rdonlyres/763073FC-D1EB-4511-8956 9CBBADB4A096/0/DiscussionDocumentApril2005.doc

Academics honoured
University of Otago Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of Health Sciences, Professor Linda Holloway, was among the recipients of the country’s top awards in the Queen’s Birthday honours released on Monday. She received a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to medicine.
Professor Holloway became to first woman Dean of the Wellington School of Medicine before moving to Dunedin to head Health Sciences. In 1997 she was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Former Waikato University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bryan Gould, was also amongst those who were made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for his services to education. Professor Gould is reported in the Waikato Times as saying that his honour was recognition of the progress made by Waikato University, and the importance of tertiary education to New Zealand’s future. He is currently at Oxford University in Britain where he is writing a book on the global economy.
Also awarded the CNZM were Professors Peter Innes (Dunedin), John Hunt (Auckland), Bill Manhire (Wellington) and Morris Brookfield (Emeritus, Auckland) for services to dentistry, architecture, literature and education and law respectively.
Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit awards went to Professors Richard Faull (Auckland), Anne Hughes (Wellington) and Robert Jolly (emeritus, Palmerston North) and Dr Alex Sutherland (Christchurch) for services for services to medical research, the mental health profession, veterinary science and tertiary education and engineering respectively.
Professor Noeline Alcorn of Hamilton was made a Companion of the Order (QSO) for public services.

Polytech MECA for ratification
Union members at six polytechnics and institutes of technology are voting over the next week on the proposed settlement of a multi-employer collective employment agreement which covers staff at Unitec, the Western and Waikato Institutes of Technology and Northland, Bay of Plenty and Whitereia Polytechnics. The deal includes pay offers of between 4 percent and 6.25 percent over a two-year period.
Association of Staff in Tertiary Education National President, Lloyd Woods, said that the deal, which had been subject to mediation between the parties, was in some cases less than the rate of inflation. The decision to send it to ratification was “not without considerable debate and discussion amongst members”. He said that if the agreement was not ratified union members would take industrial action.

Worldwatch
Urgent investment needed in clinical academia
The heads of United Kingdom’s medical and dental schools are calling for urgent investment in the sector to stem the decline in clinical academia, according to a report in the Education Guardian. A survey conducted by the Councils of the Heads of Medical and Dental Schools found that the number of clinical academics fell from 3,617 in 2003 to 3,555 in 2004. The number of clinical academic dentists fell by 6 percent and there was a 14 percent decline in the number of junior-level clinical lecturers.
The survey reported a decline in the number of academics now teaching specialties such as pathology, psychiatry, anaesthesia and surgery, which the medical bodies say are now under threat. Figures relating to age and gender showed that more than 50 percent are over the age of 45, and fewer than 12 percent are women.
The Councils backed recommendations which outline specific training pathways for medical academics and parity of pay between academics and their National Health colleagues. They said, however, that any new structures needed to be fully funded if they were to succeed.

CIA sends spies to UK universities
A move by the United States Central Intelligence Agency to secretly place trainee spies in UK university anthropology departments have sparked an international outcry in the discipline, according to Phil Baty writing in the Times Higher.
As part of the actions taken by the US to improve intelligence gathering after the 9/11 attacks, a $US4 million pilot programme was launched last year to fund students at up to $US50,000 each through undergraduate courses if they agreed to work for the US intelligence services when they graduate. The students, who must not reveal their funding sources, are required to attend military intelligence summer camps while studying.
John Gledhill, President of Britain’s Association of Social Anthropologists, told the Times Higher that the scheme not only threatened the personal safety of all anthropologists conducting fieldwork in more turbulent parts of the world, but would also diminish the contribution that anthropological research could make to the solution of global problems.

Trumped, a university without degrees
Establishing a university without degrees, traditional classes, textbooks, lectures, grades or even teachers may seem inconceivable to the purist, but Donald Trump of The Apprentice fame has done just that! Trump University, the latest in a fast-growing field of on-line “education” providers, has hit the cyberwaves. Instead of offering degrees, it provides short, focused lessons in specific subjects. Courses in real estate, entrepreneurship and marketing are offered at $US300 a pop, while the Wealth Builders Handbook, a “home study” course, retails at $US396. Courses offered by “The Don” can be completed in one to two weeks, and self-assessment tools are available at $US29 each.
Donald Trump is apparently even available on line to answer questions as you trundle your e-shopping cart through the electronic aisles of the University’s website, purchasing courses and other merchandise as you go.

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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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