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Universities Under-Funded, Salaries Inadequate

New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee
Association of University Staff

9 March 2006

Report: Universities Under-Funded, Salaries Inadequate

Representatives from the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee (NZVCC) and Association of University Staff (AUS) have presented the Minister for Tertiary Education, Dr Michael Cullen, with a report showing that universities are under-funded, and that salaries are at an inadequate level as a consequence.

Key facts from the report, prepared by major accountancy firm Deloitte, reveal that while New Zealand university academic staff salaries are low by international and domestic standards, universities here do not have the internal capacity to increase salaries to the required level. Salaries are 36 per cent higher in Australia than New Zealand, adjusted for purchasing power.

Government funding makes up 38 per cent of New Zealand university income, compared to 46 per cent in comparable Australian universities. This, combined with significantly lower tuition fees in this country, means that Australian universities receive 40 per cent more per student, when adjusted for purchasing power parity, from government than their New Zealand counterparts.

Looking ahead, the report shows that New Zealand university enrolment numbers are expected to increase by up to 14,000 full-time equivalent students by 2010-11, requiring a further 700 to 800 academic staff. This development is expected to be compounded by an international shortage of university academic staff.

NZVCC Chair Professor Roy Sharp said the report provided a relevant analysis from which to work with the Government and unions to develop strategies to address funding and salary problems facing the university sector.

“Despite the overall income of New Zealand universities being 40 per cent less per student than that of our Australian counterparts, we have to this point been able to maintain comparable staff to student ratios and high standards of quality. But that cannot go on indefinitely.”

Association of University Staff General Secretary Helen Kelly said it was clear from the report that this Government’s involvement was needed to provide both immediate and long-term solutions, and that the Universities Tripartite Forum, established last year, is the ideal mechanism for this to occur.

“Not only do we face international competition for high calibre university staff, we also now have to contend with increasing competition from other sectors of the New Zealand employment market.”


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