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AUS Tertiary Update

Multinational forum to help tertiary-policy debate, for some
Leading tertiary-education experts from six countries are in Wellington this week for a three-day Forum to discuss current trends and issues in the tertiary-education sector. Student and staff representatives, including the New Zealand University Students’ Association (NZUSA) and the Association of University Staff (AUS), have been excluded from the first two days of the Forum, and have only been invited to attend on the final day, which is an “open day” to “enable a wider range of New Zealanders with an interest in tertiary education to interact with the overseas visitors.”
The Multilateral Tertiary Education Forum, which is being hosted by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), is considering issues such as how to promote life-long learning, and what the balance between government, learner and employer funding for tertiary education should be.
Participants include senior managers from public funding agencies, government policy departments and educational institutions from the USA, England, Ireland, Scotland, Australia and Canada, as well as New Zealand. Speakers will include Steve Egan, Acting Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, Roger McClure, Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council, David Ward, President of the American Council on Education, Paul E Lingenfelter, President of the American National Organisation of State Higher Education Executive Officers and Tom Boland, Chief Executive Officer of the Higher Education Authority in Ireland.
Tomorrow’s final sessions of the Forum, which are open to media and the public, will have sessions on future funding models, monitoring performance including quality, approaches to student contribution, student support, loans and allowances, and addressing equity of access.
AUS General Secretary, Helen Kelly, said that the failure by TEC to invite student and staff representatives to participate in the forum clearly showed that the Commission didn’t consider people who study or work within the tertiary-education system had a useful contribution to make, or are stakeholders worth listening to.
NZUSA Co-President, Joey Randall, said it was unusual that a forum discussing tertiary education policy excluded students. “Given that one of the important issues being debated is the balance between public good and private benefit, including the level to which students should contribute to the cost of tertiary education, I would have thought it imperative we were able to participate,” he said.

Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. Further signs of new funding model
2. CPIT yet to pay up for Cool-IT rort
3. Waikato turns $6.1 million surplus
4. NZUSA call for review of age test for allowance
5. Otago to develop code of conduct
6. Students, staff to fight attack on academic freedom
7. Europe falling behind in higher education
8. Big pay increases for UK VCs as staff denied
9. Turkey’s VCs risk gaol

Further signs of new funding model
The Minister for Tertiary Education, Dr Michael Cullen, has continued to signal major changes to the system for funding tertiary education, this time in speeches to the Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) and the Multilateral Tertiary Education Forum. Dr Cullen said the changes are intended to get a better focus on achieving the outcomes that learners want, and meeting the skills needs of the economy.
Dr Cullen told the EIT graduation ceremony last Friday that making tertiary education more learner-focused is an important step towards increasing the quality and relevance of our tertiary system. “There is often a tension between being learner-focused and the incentives provided by aspects of the current funding system,” he said. “The funding system needs to take into account not just how many students enrol in a course, but how many complete it. We need also to reduce the number of students who begin tertiary education but lose their way, through lack of planning or because of barriers such as a lack of flexible study options.”
Opening the Multilateral Forum on Wednesday, Dr Cullen told delegates that it is misguided to posit public interest and private interest as two opposing forces to be somehow balanced against each other. “I think it is more helpful to see the public interest in higher education as the sum of all the private interests, plus all of the ways, tangible and intangible, that the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts,” he said. “By this I mean all of the benefits that arise from a ‘knowledge society’: a vibrant and resilient economy, and an innovative culture that fosters entrepreneurialism in both business and social development.”
Dr Cullen said the options for reshaping the funding system would focus less on the question of who should pay, but more on how resources should be provided to institutions. “What proportion should be allocated purely on the basis of enrolments, as opposed to more meaningful measures of outcomes, such as course completions? How should the funding system reflect economic priorities in terms of forecast skills shortages or the need to promote industry clusters in which New Zealand has a proven competitive advantage? What signals should the funding system give around the balance between technical training, undergraduate education and postgraduate study?” he said.
It is expected that the new funding arrangements will be announced later this month.

CPIT yet to pay up for Cool-IT rort
Students at Christchurch Polytechnic (CPIT) will pay the price of the institution’s Cool-IT scam for the next three years, according to National Party Education spokesperson, Bill English. Last year, CPIT agreed to repay around $3.5 million of the nearly $13 million it received in government funding after a review of the controversial computer-learning programme found it did little more than hand out CD-roms to members of the public.
Mr English said that the Tertiary Education Commission Chief Executive, Janice Shiner, told a Select Committee last week that CPIT has not returned a single cent of the $3.5 million it was ordered to repay following an independent evaluation of the Cool-IT course in late 2004.
In response to questions in Parliament yesterday, the Minister for Tertiary Education, Dr Michael Cullen, said CPIT would not be making repayments as such, but would instead receive reduced funding for the next three years. The first deduction, due to have been made in 2005, has not occurred as the level of deduction has not yet been calculated.
Mr English says this is the equivalent of a slap with a wet bus ticket for CPIT’s management, which ruthlessly exploited the funding system, and the government officials who let it happen. “No one has been held to account. The only people who will pay the price for this scam will be current and future CPIT students, through reduced services,” he said. “In August 2004, the then Tertiary Education Minister Steve Maharey said ‘where people have misused or inappropriately used the government funding, that money should be paid back.’ Today the new Minister has confirmed that not one cent will be repaid, instead funding will be cut.”
“Michael Cullen should make an example of CPIT and show that organisations that cannot be trusted to make sensible decisions with taxpayers’ money will not get away with it,” Mr English said.
CPIT Chief Executive, John Scott, is due to step down next month.

Waikato turns $6.1 million surplus
The University of Waikato generated an operational surplus of $6.1 million last year, signaling that the institution is coming out of a difficult time of change, according to its Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Doug Sutton. The unexpected level of surplus was revealed in the institution’s 2005 Annual Accounts, which were presented to the University Council’s March meeting.
“We believe this positive result is evidence that the University has turned the corner and is emerging out of a challenging transition period,” Professor Sutton said. He added that a number of “one-off” events had impacted on the financial surplus, including a significant gain from an accounting adjustment for depreciation, a rise in research income, an increase in interest revenue, a reduction in salary expenses due to delayed appointments, the non-replacement of some staff who resigned or retired, some redundancies and miscellaneous expenditure savings.
In addition to the $6.1 million surplus, the University also received income of $2.4 million from its wholly-owned subsidiary, WaikatoLink, which is the University’s commercialisation arm.
Professor Sutton said that University staff were to be commended for their role in helping the University achieve this result. “The University of Waikato has been through a difficult year of change, which has been especially demanding for many of our staff. This positive financial result is due to the efforts of all staff right across the University who did the hard, day-to-day work that helped achieve this positive outcome,” he said.

NZUSA call for review of age test for allowance
New Zealand University Students’ Association representatives appeared in front of the Regulations Review Select Committee of Parliament yesterday to argue that changes to the student-allowance regulations breached parliamentary standing orders.
Last year, changes to the allowance regulations removed the independent circumstances allowance for working and married students aged under twenty-five because it was were considered discriminatory under an interpretation of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.
“Right now the student allowance scheme says that all students are dependent on their parents until they turn twenty-five. We know this is not the case as our research shows that only 28 percent of students receive any financial support from their parents,” said NZUSA Co-President, Joey Randall. “This simply compounds another existing form of discrimination by testing students’ eligibility for an allowance on their parent’s income until they turn twenty-five.”
Conor Roberts, the other NZUSA Co-President, told the Select Committee that the Government should not be using the Bill of Rights to remove existing entitlements on the basis of discrimination, but then cementing in another form of discrimination on the basis of age.
Mr Roberts said that the solution was for all students to receive a living allowance. “Only one-third of students currently receive a student allowance, and the numbers getting one have decreased since the policy change to make it harder to get the independent circumstances allowance,” he said. “We asked the Select Committee to review the regulations because it is not fair that adults over the age of eighteen are tested on their parents’ income to see whether they can get help while they study.”

Otago to develop code of conduct
The University of Otago will develop a code of conduct in a move to “guide” students on the standard of behaviour expected at Otago. It comes in response to concerns about the disruptive behaviour of some students, particularly in the North Dunedin area, and the effect such behaviour has on other students, residents and staff.
The recommendation is one of seven contained in a report prepared by the Working Party on Student Behaviour in North Dunedin, and endorsed by the University Council on Tuesday this week.
Otago Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Skegg, said the Committee’s recommendations were a positive response to a situation that was viewed seriously by the University. “However, there is no doubt that further action needs to be taken to curb the excesses of a small group of students who mistakenly think that indulging in anti-social behaviour is somehow a part of the Otago ‘culture’,” Professor Skegg said. “Council’s unanimous approval of the report’s recommendations should send a clear signal that such behaviour cannot be accepted.
“This is not to say that students coming to Dunedin can’t have fun, or that somehow the Otago spirit is being dampened. As a graduate myself, who has visited many other universities around the world, I know what an exceptional University this is, and how much of that special character is derived from the campus experience. That traditional spirit will not change because of a Code of Conduct, but such a Code will, I hope, help ensure that the extreme behaviour of a few will not tarnish the experience of the many,” said Professor Skegg.

Worldwatch
Students, staff to fight attack on academic freedom
A broad coalition of student, faculty and civil liberty groups in the United States are launching a campaign today to fight legislative attempts to limit academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas on campus. Twenty-four states have introduced legislation, under the umbrella of a “so-called” Academic Bill of Rights (ABOR), that would limit speech by faculty members on a wide range of topics.
Last month, author David Horowitz, the major proponent of the proposed limits, also published a blacklist of those he refers to as the “101 most dangerous academics in America.”
The ABOR is a manifesto that takes the form not just of proposed legislation, but also a series of student resolutions or university-council agreements which purport to protect the academic-freedom rights of students in college to learn in an atmosphere free from political, religious and ideological interference.
According to its opponents, including the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers, ABOR more accurately should be called a Bill of Restrictions. They say it is a political tool to deny the academic-freedom and free-speech rights of faculty and students. “ABOR cleverly uses language that implies it will protect free speech, while the reality is that it discriminates against the ability of faculty members and students to discuss new, political or controversial ideas,” they say.
At a news conference to be held later today, coalition members will outline plans to expose and fight these attacks on academia and related efforts to place government control over campus speech.

Europe falling behind in higher education
A new report warns that Europe is quickly losing ground to the United States and Asia in several key higher-education indicators, including the quality and quantity of the university graduates it produces. The report, The Economics of Knowledge: Why Education Is Key for Europe's Success, was commissioned by the Lisbon Council, a Brussels-based think-tank that was established to help achieve the target set by European Union leaders at a 2000 summit in Lisbon, where they pledged to make Europe “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world” by 2010.
Per student, the United States outspends Europe on higher education by more than 50 percent, according to the report, which notes that much of that difference is due to larger US contributions from tuition-paying students and the private sector. “Europe invests as much public resource as the United States, but the United States is able to mobilize a significantly higher share of private financing,” the report said.
From the Chronicle of Higher Education

Big pay increases for UK VCs as staff denied
University lecturers in the United Kingdom say they will happily end their pay dispute for a pay rise equivalent to that of vice-chancellors who, it was revealed this week, have had a 25 percent pay increase over the three year period from 2001/02 to 2004/05. The annual Times Higher pay survey shows that the average vice-chancellor now earns £154,060 a year, more than four times the average lecturer’s salary.
University staff in the UK are currently embroiled in an industrial dispute, claiming a pay increase of 23 percent over the next three years.
The Times Higher pay survey shows that pay increases for some vice-chancellors topped 50 percent, the highest of which were to the Vice-Chancellors of Cardiff and Surrey universities whose salaries increased by 61 percent over the three years, and at Oxford University, where the Vice-Chancellor’s salary rose by 58 per cent in the same period.
Eighteen vice-chancellors now earn more than £200,000, while the top earner is Laura Tyson, Dean of the London Business School, on £310,000.
Sally Hunt, General Secretary of the Association of University Teachers, said the union would be happy to accept a salary offer of 25 percent over three years for members, and would call off the current industrial action immediately if it was granted.
Higher-education income in the UK will increase by 25 percent this year, when £3.5 billion of extra cash enters universities from top-up fees and other sources.
The table of vice-chancellors’ salaries can be found at:
http://www.thes.co.uk/upload/2028465/vcpay.pdf

Turkey’s VCs risk gaol
All of Turkey’s seventy-seven university rectors are under investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office after they criticised the arrest and prosecution of a colleague. They are being investigated to determine whether they were seeking to influence the judiciary, an offence which carries a penalty of up to four years in gaol. The Rector of Yüzüncü Yil University is also being prosecuted for fraud amid accusations that the charges are politically motivated because of his stand against radical Islamists organising in his University.
It is the latest chapter in an escalating conflict between the Islamic-oriented Government and university rectors. There is also anxiety over deteriorating academic freedom triggered by the trial of two academics over a report compiled for the Government that questions the State’s definition of minorities. The two are accused of “insulting Turkishness” and “inciting racial hatred”. If convicted they face up to eight years in gaol.
From The Times Higher Education Supplement

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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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