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AUS Tertiary Update

Vice-chancellors have opportunity to resolve pay dispute say staff unions
Vice-chancellors have been urged by university unions to show leadership in an effort to avoid strike action planned by staff during the fortnight between 20 July and 4 August. Speaking on behalf of the combined university staff unions, Association of University Staff National President, Professor Nigel Haworth, said that the unions remained open to finding solutions to the current impasse if vice-chancellors were prepared to show a commitment to national collective employment settlements and to improving inadequate salary levels throughout the sector.
Negotiations between the vice-chancellors and unions recently broke down following the refusal of all vice-chancellors to agree to national collective employment settlements, or to make acceptable salary offers. Their offers ranged between 2 and 4.5 percent on the basis of single-employer collective agreements.
Professor Haworth said that the vice-chancellors should be encouraged to find creative solutions to the long-accepted problem of low salary levels and the consequent threats to the recruitment and retention of high-quality staff. “The unions have consistently initiated means to find solutions to these problems, but the vice-chancellors seem not prepared to budge,” he said. “They refuse to deal with salary problems on a national basis and they continue to offer pay increases which are below the going-rate. They appear to be unable to make even a symbolic effort to resolve matters.”
A series of meetings with union members round the country, which concluded on Tuesday this week, reaffirmed a strong commitment to industrial action if a satisfactory resolution to the current impasse could not be found. “If vice-chancellors are not prepared to move, it is inevitable that the industrial action will proceed,” said Professor Haworth. “The ball is now clearly in their court.”

Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. Universities Tripartite Forum underway
2. Global demand for tertiary education workforce predicted
3. High Court rules against Associate Minister
4. How long do people spend in tertiary education?
5. Future of CPIT boss under cloud
6. Wananga given extension to present case
7. Polytech MECA ratified
8. Lecturers’ union warns against backlash
9. Elite university partnership formed

Universities Tripartite Forum underway
The Government, the New Zealand Vice Chancellors' Committee (NZVCC) and the combined tertiary unions met yesterday to confirm the establishment of a Universities’ Tripartite Forum. The Forum will address salaries, staffing and other resourcing issues.
In a statement issued after the meeting, the parties said they welcomed the opportunity to engage in constructive discussion on the issues and agreed that the Forum would provide an opportunity for ongoing constructive dialogue.
It was decided that an independent facilitator would lead a small working group of representatives from NZVCC, unions and government, which would draft a work plan for the Forum.
The Forum will meet again in September to consider the initial outcomes arising from the work plan and again in November to consider a further progress report and action required.
The meeting was attended by the Minister of Education, Trevor Mallard, the New Zealand Vice Chancellors Committee (NZVCC), and representatives from the combined tertiary unions including the Association of University Staff (AUS), Association of Staff in Tertiary Education (ASTE) and the Public Service Association (PSA). Howard Fancy, Secretary for Education, and Russell Marshall and Janice Shiner from the Tertiary Education Commission also attended on behalf of the Government.
AUS National President Professor Nigel Haworth said the unions were committed to making the process work to resolve salary problems, and welcomed the potential for on-going tripartite discussions to deal with wider matters in the sector.

Global demand for tertiary education workforce predicted
Global demand for skilled staff, skill shortages and higher participation in the labour market by women are included amongst the key issues facing the tertiary education workforce over the next twenty years, according to the first report from the Sector Working Group (SWG) of the Strategic Review of the Tertiary Education Workforce. Other key issues include rising community expectations for teaching and research quality, high social and economic rewards for tertiary education qualifications, New Zealand’s changing ethnic mix and continued immigration to New Zealand of skilled people, balanced by skilled New Zealanders heading overseas. Membership of the SWG includes AUS General Secretary, Helen Kelly.
The scoping report, released by the Tertiary Education Commission, is the first phase of a two-stage project to “stocktake” the tertiary education workforce, advise on major workforce supply and demand trends over the next twenty years, and any mismatch, and advise on a framework for describing and understanding future workforce requirements. It is also designed to analyse issues relating to the tertiary education workforce so that a more comprehensive and strategic approach can be taken to them.
The first phase was asked to advise on the scope and objectives for the second stage of the review, including proposals for the on-going involvement of stakeholders and the need for in-depth research. The report says the main research project should be a comprehensive survey of tertiary education staff and stakeholders designed to provide information in a wide number of areas, including key issues in recruitment and retention (salaries, career structures and working environments), workloads, the role of casual and part-time staff, skill shortages, barriers to workforce diversity, links with employers and the community and the effectiveness and availability of professional development.
It also suggests that other research could cover the aging of the workforce, the collection of qualitative data, improving annual staff-data collection and the sharing of best practice.
The second stage of the review should be completed between March and June 2006, following which practical steps towards implementation will need to be identified and put in place across the tertiary education sector.
The full report can be found at:
http://www.tec.govt.nz/downloads/a2z_publications/tert-workforce-report.pdf

High Court rules against Associate Minister
The High Court has ruled that the former Associate Minister of Education, Steve Maharey, breached the rules of natural justice by delaying determining an application by Auckland institute of technology, Unitec, to be considered for university status. The delay ocurred between the end of 2000 and 1 January 2003. It has also held that the Associate Minister breached the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act by his delay in determining Unitec’s application and that he unlawfully suspended section 162 of the Education Act over the same period of time. The Court found that the Government should have made a decision in 2000.
A similar action brought by Unitec against the New Zealand Qualifications Authority failed.
Unitec applied for university status in 1999 and filed legal papers in January this year after what is described as losing patience with the Government over continued delays in processing its application.
Chief Executive, Dr John Webster, said the Court’s decision showed that the Government had deliberately blocked Unitec’s application to be established as a university, despite the strength of its case. He said there was now concern that the Minister of Education’s final decision on Unitec’s application, currently pending, would not be fair and even-handed. “The High Court agrees that the Government acted illegally when they first received our application,” he said. “And I wonder if the Minister can now make his final decision of our case without being influenced by his own central role in the events covered in this judgement.”
The Minister of Education, Trevor Mallard, said that a process was currently under way to deal with Unitec’s application. “I started the process for consideration of their application and asked for advice from
NZQA on whether the institution met the required academic criteria, and I also asked the Tertiary Education Commission for advice on whether Unitec met the national-interest criteria in order to become a university,” he said. “I have yet to make a final decision.”
Unitec’s lawyer, Mai Chen, said that Unitec would now determine whether it would pursue the $3.5 million in damages it sought in bringing the case.
The High Court decision can be viewed at: http://www.aus.ac.nz/news/2005/UnitecDecision.pdf

How long do people spend in tertiary education?
The average bachelors graduate took 3.1 years of equivalent full-time (EFT) study, and was enrolled over 3.6 calendar years, while the average doctoral graduate took 3.5 years of EFT study, enrolled over 4.2 calendar years, according to a recent Ministry of Education study.
The study, entitled How Long do People Spend in Tertiary Education?, takes a cohort of 134,800 domestic students starting at any public tertiary-education provider in 1998, and tracks their equivalent full-time enrolment, retention and completion over a six-year period until the end of 2003.
The result shows that 4 percent of all those enrolled in 1998 were still studying in 2003, 38 percent had completed their qualification and 57 percent had left without completing. More than three-quarters of those who left without completing a qualification did so after one year or less of full-time study. Highest amongst them were those studying towards a certificate or diploma.
The study shows that doctoral students persist longer with their studies than students at other levels. More than one in five of the 750 students who started a doctorate in 1998 were still studying in 2003. At the same time, only 41 percent of certificate students were enrolled for more than one calendar year.
The full report can by viewed at:
http://www.minedu.govt.nz/web/downloadable/dl10561_v1/equivalent-full-time-study-report.pdf

Future of CPIT boss under cloud
The Council of the Christchurch Polytechnic and Institute of Technology (CPIT) has been meeting to discuss the future of its Chief Executive, John Scott, according to reports in the Christchurch Press. It says that Scott’s performance has been under a cloud since the Cool IT debacle last year which resulted in negative reports about CPIT management and an agreement that CPIT would repay the Tertiary Education Commission $3.5 million in public funding.
The Press understands that the CPIT Council has carried out an annual review of the Chief Executive’s performance and, as a result, a range of issues would be discussed. It is also understood that the relationship between John Scott and senior managers has become “untenable”.
The Council met on Tuesday night to discuss Scott’s position following which Council Chair Hec Matthews declined to comment, other than that the Council had resolved to discuss the matter further. Earlier, when asked by The Press to confirm rumours that John Scott had been told not to return to work following a period of leave, he said there would be more to report in a few days
When contacted John Scott said he was unaware of any conjecture about his departure, and that suggestions he would be forced to resign were speculative.

Wananga given extension to present case
Te Wananga o Aotearoa (TWOA) has been given a further week, until 19 July, to convince the Minister of Education that a preliminary decision to dissolve its Council and appoint a commissioner should not be confirmed.
Earlier in the year, Trevor Mallard implemented a package of actions and interventions in response to concerns and allegations about TWOA. The measures included the immediate appointment of a Crown Observer to the Council, broadening the terms of an Auditor-General’s inquiry into a range of allegations made against the institution, changing the Wananga’s borrowing conditions and withholding a $20 million suspensory loan.
TWOA’s Council has told the Minister that, although there are 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. It also recently approved a resolution to cut its Council from thirteen members to five, a move which would give effective control of the institution to government appointees.
The Minister, Trevor Mallard, is currently going through a two-stage consultation process before deciding whether or not to confirm his preliminary decision. “The Wananga requested an extension to the deadline by which they have to respond to my proposal and I agreed,” he said. “Once I receive their response, I will be taking advice on it before I make a decision.”

Polytech MECA ratified
Union members at six polytechnics and institutes of technology have ratified a new, two-year, multi-employer collective employment agreement. It follows protracted negotiations which involved mediation and threats of strike action in the first half of the year.
The new pay deal, which will be backdated to 2 March, reflects what are described as the differing financial positions of each institution. They range from a 4.5 percent increase over two years at the Western Institute of Technology to 6.25 percent at Whitireia, Wintec and Bay of Plenty Polytechnic.
The new agreement will expire on 1 March 2007.

Worldwatch
Lecturers’ union warns against backlash
UK lecturers’ union NAFTHE has warned of the dangers of an Islamophobic backlash, particularly on campuses, following the London bombings. It comes amidst allegations that al-Qaeda is recruiting affluent, middle-class Muslims in universities and colleges to carry out terrorist attacks. This follows reports that leaked Whitehall documents show that a network of “extremist recruiters” is circulating on campuses targeting people with “technical and professional qualifications”, particularly those with engineering and IT backgrounds.
A campaign has also been mounted by The Sun newspaper to have a leading Muslim scholar, Professor Tareq Ramadan, banned from entering Britain, alleging that he justifies suicide bombing and terrorism. Professor Ramadan says he means to attend the London conference, sponsored by the police, to speak on the need for Britons of all races to promote a common understanding.
Paul Mackney, NAFTHE General Secretary, said care is needed to ensure that the backlash does not turn on all Muslims. “We know our colleges and universities are a key site where values of friendship or solidarity can be forged, or unmade,” he said. “Only last week, the Jewish-Muslim organisation Alif-Aleph published a major study showing that colleges and universities are the main site of Jewish-Muslim cooperation in Britain.”

Elite university partnership formed
A number of the world’s leading universities have joined forces to create a new global partnership that will allow students to pursue joint degrees at an international level. The powerful new university partnership, which will also promote international staff exchanges and research collaboration between up to ten universities, was announced this week by the Australian National University (ANU) Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian Chubb.
The partnership comprises a selected group of research universities that are said to share similar values, a global vision and a commitment to educating future world leaders. They are ANU, ETH Zurich, National University of Singapore, Peking University, University of California - Berkeley, University of Copenhagen, University of Tokyo and Yale. It is expected that Oxford University may also join.
Professor Chubb, the Chairman of the partnership, said that the level of trust, understanding and compatibility between the partners would allow for a substantial and meaningful engagement to occur. “At the same time, the partnership will be broad: a wide range of teaching and research possibilities are now open to us that will be better than any single one of us could provide on our own,” he said. “Finally, the partnership will be influential: the quality of the universities involved is beyond dispute, as is their commitment to benefit humankind through the education of leaders with the global vision, tolerance and empathy with different cultures so necessary in the world today.”
The membership of the group will be limited to ten universities in the first three years, after which additional members may be added.
The Australian


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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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