AUS Tertiary Update
New funding system on the way
Multi-year funding and a move away from “bums-on-seats” are the key features of proposals for a new system of resourcing tertiary education, announced on Tuesday by the Minister for Tertiary Education Dr Michael Cullen. It will be the most significant change to the funding model since the introduction of the current system in 1991.
The central elements of a new model are likely to include a base-funding component for agreed types and quantities of teaching, complemented by a more sophisticated range of weightings and more refined measures to reward participation and achievement than exist in the current system. According to Dr Cullen, such a formula may well include elements related to student achievement and participation, as well other elements related to the distinctive contributions appropriate to different types of organisation. While most funding is likely to be provided through such a formula, a small proportion would also be held back to address unforeseen need, and the need to reward and support innovation.
The multi-year funding system, likely to be on a three-year basis, will be introduced to avoid income fluctuation caused by changing student numbers.
Announcing the new model, Dr Cullen said that the Government wants to put in place new incentives and mechanisms so that tertiary institutions are driven to improve the quality of courses, and to ensure they have greater relevance to the needs of the economy.
Over the next three months, the Tertiary Education Commission, New Zealand Qualifications Authority and Ministry of Education will consult with organisations and other key stakeholders. “We expect to make decisions by the middle of the year, with the aim of rolling out the new arrangements from 2008,” said Dr Cullen.
Association of University Staff (AUS) National President, Professor Nigel Haworth, said it is heartening to see a government thinking beyond the simple demand-driven models of tertiary funding that have dominated the sector for so long. “Equally, the importance placed by the Minister on wide and effective consultation in the development of an alternative funding model is welcome,” he said. “We recognise that there is much work to be done to turn the broad principles laid out by the Minister into a practical funding scheme that will meet New Zealand’s tertiary education needs for a generation or more. The AUS is looking forward to making a major contribution to this work.”
More details of Dr Cullen’s announcement can be found at:
in Tertiary Update this week
1. Women still hold few senior positions in academia
2. Canterbury called on to suspend staff cuts
3. Allegations continue to dog Massey
4. Wananga faces tough year, Vic enrolments up
5. Otago Polytech looks for bailout
6. New ACE funding model announced
7. Legislation threatens research independence
8. Non-academic unions reject pay offer
9. Pay not part of academe’s cost crisis
still hold few senior positions in academia
Women hold only 16.91 percent of senior academic positions within New Zealand’s eight universities, up slightly from 15.82 percent in 2003, according to The New Zealand Census of Women’s Participation 2006, released this week by the Human Rights Commission.
The census reports the progress that women are making in joining men at the top of corporate governance and public life in New Zealand, and provides detailed figures and comparisons of women’s representation in different sectors of the labour market, including universities.
While the number of women in senior university positions may have increased slightly, the proportion of women professors has dropped from 15.65 percent in 2003 to 13.77 percent in 2005. The proportion of women associate professors increased from 15.95 percent in 2003 to 19.87 percent in 2005.
Four universities, Massey, Victoria, Canterbury and AUT all increased their overall proportion of women in senior positions, while Auckland, Lincoln, Otago and Waikato all lost ground.
The North Island universities have consistently recorded better statistics than their South Island counterparts. AUT tops the rankings with a women-to-men ratio of 1 to 4.6 for professors and 1 to 1.3 for associate professors. Canterbury has the lowest ratio for professors, at 1 to 20, and Lincoln for associate professors at 1 to 19. Overall, Canterbury has the lowest overall proportion of senior women staff, at 6.29 percent.
International comparisons show that, while academic women in overseas universities are clustered in lower positions, they are still doing better than their New Zealand counterparts. The American Association of University Professors, for example, reports that 23 percent of full professors are women.
The under-representation of women in senior university positions is not as apparent on university councils where, at four universities, government appointments have resulted in a proportion of at least 50 percent women. Only the Universities of Auckland and Waikato lack any women among their government appointees. Only one of the country’s eight vice-chancellors is a woman.
The New Zealand Census of Women’s Participation 2006 can be found at:
called on to suspend staff cuts
Union members at the University of Canterbury have called for the institution to suspend its plans to make redundant eight staff members in its College of Arts following Tuesday’s announcement by the Government that a new funding structure would be developed for the tertiary-education sector. Association of University Staff Branch President, Dr David Small said that, in light of the statements by Dr Cullen, there should be a complete reassessment by the University of its plans.
The University of Canterbury has proposed that eight staff from American Studies, English, Education, History, Chinese, Russian, Music and Religious Studies be axed, as it moves to cut its budget by $2 million.
Dr Small said that there is widespread support for Dr Cullen’s view that universities are more effective in their basic mission of serving the public when they organise their research and teaching around a plan that is responsive to the economic and social needs of their community and the country. He said that the University’s plan to cut eight positions in Arts was being implemented without any consideration of factors that the Minister identified as essential for a university.
Dr Small said that Dr Cullen’s statement reinforces AUS argument that it is simply unacceptable for a New Zealand university today to be using such a blunt financial instrument to make cuts with profound academic, social and economic costs, and to remain completely unmoved by such widespread opposition from within the university and the wider community.
Meanwhile, the student group, Save Our Staff (SOS), plans a twenty-four hour teach-in from noon today in continuing protest at the cuts. “We are showing that we do want to learn, that we do care, and that there is more to a university than money flowing one way and bits of paper with degree marked on them flowing in the other,” says SOS member Alexandra McKubre.
Another SOS representative, Daria Wadsworth, said that the teach-in would show that staff and students are united in opposition to the general disregard for academic values and freedom being displayed by the Vice-Chancellor and other senior-management staff.
Allegations continue to dog
Following revelations last week of a stand-off between Massey University’s Vice-Chancellor and Council, the University’s student newspaper, Chaff, has made further allegations this week that a high turnover of key senior-management staff points to an increasing level of dysfunction within the University’s power structures.
Chaff reports growing controversy about the failure to find a Pro Vice-Chancellor for the College of Business, which has been without a permanent head for the last eighteen months. Its former chief, Keith White-Hunt, left in September 2004 after less than a year in the position. Despite statements that his departure was “in order to allow him to become more personally involved in international business and academic opportunities and at the same time, to be more conveniently located for increased access to those members of his family still in the United Kingdom,” Chaff reports that it has since become widely known that White-Hunt left in the shadow of an unprecedented 84-0 vote of no confidence in him by College of Business staff.
According to senior College academics approached by Chaff, White-Hunt had attempted to secretly negotiate a controversial teaching deal with a Hong Kong polytechnic without informing either his staff, the College or Academic Board. At the same time, White-Hunt was developing a plan for a major restructuring of the College, also without consulting staff.
Another unfilled position reported to be causing considerable concern among academic staff is that of Assistant Vice-Chancellor Academic, which has been vacant since December 2004, and filled, since then, on a part-time basis by the Assistant Vice-Chancellor Research, Professor Nigel Long.
Concerns about weakening leadership have been compounded by the failure to act quickly to appoint a new University Registrar, a position which became vacant in late December last year. Although an Acting Registrar has been appointed, the position has yet to be advertised.
Chaff reports that current Director of Human Resources, Sheryl Bryant, is also to quit the University after only a year in that job.
Wananga faces tough year, Vic enrolments
Te Wananga o Aotearoa is expecting its number of student enrolments to drop by as much as a half this year, with significant job losses likely as a consequence. Council Chair, Craig Coxhead, told Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report that negative publicity suffered by the Wananga was one of the reasons for the slump in enrolments. While 34,000 students enrolled at the Wananga last year, it is predicted that the number may drop by more than 15,000 this year.
The New Zealand Herald also reports that as many as 300 of the Wananga’s 1265 staff could lose their jobs as a consequence, and that hui are likely to be held at the institution’s eleven campuses this month to discuss the issue. Sixty staff were already made redundant earlier this year.
Meanwhile, Victoria University reports that domestic-student numbers have increased by 4 percent on the same time last year, giving the University a net student gain of 2 percent after taking into account a 9 percent decline in international numbers.
The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Pat Walsh, said that the high quality of Victoria University’s programmes and the appeal of Wellington as a student-focused city were an attractive package for students, particularly for those enrolling from the Auckland region.
Professor Walsh said that the University would focus on encouraging the Government to increase its level of direct investment in New Zealand universities to enable them to continue to provide the quality higher education that New Zealanders deserve.
Otago Polytech looks for
Otago Polytechnic is hoping that the Government will help it out of a financial crisis in the face of a deficit of more than $1 million. It is also preparing to lay off staff, according to a lead story in today’s Otago Daily Times. In a briefing paper sent to staff, the Polytechnic’s Chief Executive, Phil Ker, describes the situation as very serious, with particular concerns about cash flow and the institution’s ability to actually pay its bills as they fall due.
In an interview yesterday with the Otago Daily Times, Mr Ker said the Polytechnic was hopeful that government money from a special fund could cover the shortfall, giving the institution time to revamp its operations.
Student enrolments at the Polytechnic are down by around 230 full-time equivalent students on last year, the third successive year that numbers have declined. The institution also faces significant increases in property costs.
Mr Ker told the Otago Daily Times that two redundancies in the Polytechnic’s English language programme for international students are likely, and a review of the School of Tourism and Travel, which has also been hit hard by falling numbers, is near completion.
New ACE funding
A new funding model for adult and community education (ACE), which was released this week, will help ensure learners and communities have access to high-quality community education that works for them, according to the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC).
From January 2007, total funding for each ACE provider will be made up of a base rate that will fund providers to assess the learning needs of their communities and design a programme of ACE activities that will meet those needs, a single flat rate per learner hour and a payment for brokerage services that will be paid to providers whose main role is to help learners find an ACE activity that meets their needs.
TEC Acting Steering and Investment Group Manager, Pauline Barnes, said that the funding model is transparent and responsive to the needs of ACE providers. It will bring more certainty and stability to the sector, and ensure that government gets value for the money it invests in ACE.
The new three-part funding model will start in 2007, and will be fully in place by 2009. During the settling-in period, the TEC will work with individual providers to finalise how the new funding model will operate for them.
Legislation threatens research independence
New legislation, introduced late last week by the Australian Government, will threaten the independence and transparency of the Australian Research Council (ARC), according to the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU). The Australian Research Council Amendment Bill 2006, which has drawn widespread opposition from throughout the higher-education sector, is primarily aimed at abolishing the ARC Board and transferring most of its functions to its Chief Executive Officer.
The legislation means that the Education Minister will control all appointments to a new advisory committee within the ARC, raising the possibility of political intervention in the peak research-funding agency's independent peer review process.
Andrew Nette, NTEU Policy and Research Coordinator, said that the ARC Board, which is currently responsible for making recommendations to the Minister on the approval of peer-reviewed research-grant applications and deciding on the priorities, goals and strategies of the ARC, ensured that there was a level of independent oversight and transparency in the allocation of research funding. “Peer review and research independence are internationally recognised and valued. Without processes that assure these values, Australia’s international research reputation could be jeopardised,” he said. “While under the proposed Bill the ARC will remain accountable to the Minister, the abolition of the Board means that their decisions will no longer be transparent and nor will they be accountable to the academic or broader community.”
Non-academic unions reject pay
Unison, the United Kingdom’s largest union, announced yesterday that the unions representing professional, technical administrative and ancillary staff in universities have joined their academic colleagues by rejecting an offer by university employers to increase salaries by 6 percent over the next two years.
The non-academic unions are seeking a substantial pay increase for all staff, including a minimum starting salary of £6.50 per hour, a maximum of thirty-five working hours per week and a minimum of twenty-five days’ leave per year. They also want a £4,000 flat-rate London Weighting Allowance, as well as a joint statement clarifying and confirming the principles of equality and equal pay underpinning a recent re-grading agreement.
Academic staff are seeking a salary increase of 23 percent over three years.
Unison spokesperson, Christina McAnea, said that pay levels for non-academic staff start at just £11,060 and the union did not believe that 6 percent over two years is enough to address the serious problems of the low pay throughout the sector.
Pay not part of academe’s cost crisis
Rising operating costs are creating a crisis for higher-education colleges, according to several speakers at the annual meeting of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, held this week in the United States. Pay is not to blame, however, according to one of the main speakers.
Michael F. Middaugh, Assistant Vice-President for Institutional Research and Planning at the University of Delaware, said that, while faculties have been managed well, increased costs health care, energy and compliance are “killing us”. By contrast, teaching costs, which account for about 40 percent of total expenditure, have remained relatively stable for the past fourteen years, he said.
Dr Middaugh’s research shows that teaching costs at research universities, in terms of money spent to teach one student-credit hour, rose by 5.2 percent between 2000 and 2003, while the Consumer Price Index climbed 6.8 percent over the same period. Teaching costs rose by even smaller amounts at doctoral and comprehensive colleges and universities.
From the 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: email@example.com