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AUS Tertiary Update

Minister acknowledges salaries need to improve
The Minister for Tertiary Education, Dr Michael Cullen, has sent the strongest signal yet that the Government intends to make funding available to start the process of addressing salary problems in the university sector. In an exclusive interview for the AUS Bulletin, Dr Cullen acknowledged that university salaries had moved ‘less quickly” than other comparable salaries in New Zealand, and needed to be addressed over a period of time.
Dr Cullen said that, while he did not have the resources to resolve the problems in “one burst”, he recognised that adjustments to salary levels needed to be made. In a very clear statement, he indicated that Government has a part to play in addressing salary problems. “Universities can come to the party with a certain amount, and the Government perhaps needs to come to the party with some this year, and then try to continue to move over a period of time so that we see university salaries, at the academic level particularly, moving a little faster than some comparable salaries so there’s a period of catch-up. And maybe that catch-up is a bit faster at the front end,” he said.
He said that, while it was hard to define a time-period in which salaries could be expected to catch-up to other comparable salary levels, the process could not be indefinite and he hoped that funding could be agreed this year as a part of the current salary round.
Consistent with the tenor of other recent policy announcements, Dr Cullen also raised the issue of increased differentiation within the tertiary-education sector during the interview. “The Government and the Tertiary Education Commission have been working with the vice-chancellors on the development of the proposed funding formula, and of opportunities both for more differentiation between the university sector and other sectors within tertiary education and between universities individually in terms of more specific identification of where they see their key roles and their key strengths moving forwards,” he said. “If I see a trend, I’d prefer to see more differentiation than less. I think that provides the opportunity to provide more excellence around the place.”
The full interview with Dr Cullen can be found in the May issue of the AUS Bulletin, due out next week.

Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. University of Auckland makes major economic contribution
2. Student-allowance numbers going down
3. Asia Foundation voices concern at Canterbury cuts
4. Deed signals new way forward for University and Polytechnic
5. Canadian academic-freedom ruling upheld
6. Talks fail to break UK deadlock
7. US academic salaries falter for second year
8. RQF trial under fire at Monash
9. Driven to dishonour

University of Auckland makes major economic contribution
University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon says that an economic study released yesterday places a conservative value on the University’s annual contribution to the Auckland region. The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) study, The University of Auckland: Economic Contribution to the Auckland Region, estimated the regional economic impacts arising from the expenditure of the University and its students at almost $4.4 billion.
The study, which focuses on the immediate flow-on effects of spending at the University and by its students, measured net economic benefits the region would miss out on if the University did not exist. NZIER estimated the University and its students’ spending resulted in $4.39 billion of “output” being added to the Auckland region during 2005.
Professor McCutcheon says the study highlights the University’s significance to the Auckland region. “The University is renowned as a long-established Auckland institution and a centre for educational excellence,” he said. “The NZIER’s research adds to this, giving us a useful sense of the University’s economic contribution.”
Professor McCutcheon said, however, that the research didn’t measure long-term effects, like the impact of future income streams from University graduates who stay in Auckland, and does not seek to quantify the University’s role in generating knowledge spillovers to other sections of society. “It does not account for the other consequences of the University's research efforts,” he said. “These are becoming increasingly important to us. Our research makes for more innovative and relevant teaching, strengthening our institutional capacity.”
Other key findings from the study include that the total direct expenditure impact of the University, its staff and students in 2005 was $1.34 billion; that the University provided 4,332 full-time equivalent jobs and that the University contributed $2.43 billion worth of output to the Auckland regional economy.
The study drew on data from numerous sources including Statistics New Zealand, the New Zealand University Students’ Association (NZUSA) and the University’s financial records.
A full copy of the report can be found at:
http://www.auckland.ac.nz/uoa/about/uoa/plans/plans.cfm

Student-allowance numbers going down
The number of students in the public tertiary-education sector receiving a living allowance has dropped significantly in the last four years, according to information provided to the New Zealand University Students’ Association (NZUSA) by the Ministry of Education. The figures, released under the Official Information Act, reveal that the total number of students receiving a living allowance dropped from more than 57,000 in 2001 to 47,500 in 2005. In the university sector alone, the numbers decreased from 34,290 in 2002 to 30,373 in 2005, a drop of more than 11 percent.
The largest single drop in the university sector was at Massey, where 4,610 students received a living allowance in 2005, compared to 5,599 in 2002. “That is 989 (or 17.6 percent) fewer students being supported while they study,” said NZUSA Co-President Conor Roberts.
Other significant decreases occurred at the University of Waikato, where 2,672 students received a living allowance last year, compared to 3,541 in 2002 (a drop of 24.2 percent), and at the University of Canterbury, where 3,645 students received the allowance last year, compared with 2,903 in 2002 (a drop of 16.2 percent).
Of the universities, only Victoria has had an increase, up by 4.2 percent from 3,525 in 2002 to 3,676 in 2005.
Mr Roberts said that one-third of the total student debt is owed by current students, who are forced to borrow to live, pay the bills, rent and food. “Students under twenty-five years of age have faced tough parental means testing to determine their eligibility for a student living allowance since 1992,” he said. “The parental-means-test is unjust and we call upon the Government to increase access to allowances in next month’s Budget by dropping the unfair age test. This Government needs to introduce policy so that all students receive a living allowance and are supported while they study.”

Asia Foundation voices concern at Canterbury cuts
The Asia New Zealand Foundation has added its concern to the decision made by the University of Canterbury to axe three staff involved in Asian-related studies. Its Education Director, Pamela Barton, is reported in the Foundation’s latest newsletter as noting that Asian experience nationally is very thin, with the proposed cuts at Canterbury continuing a trend which has been felt at other universities.
“While the importance of Asia to New Zealand is increasing, the expert knowledge we need to underpin our engagement is being hollowed out,” said Ms Barton. “Asia needs to be a national priority that rises above short-term funding decisions.”
The three academic staff members, in Asian History, Chinese and Islamic Studies, are among eight identified for redundancy as the University’s College of Arts aims to cut $2 million from its operational budget.
Also reported is the President of the New Zealand Asian Studies Society, Dr Brian Moloughney,
who says the Government has indicated that it wants universities to place more importance on areas of strategic importance to New Zealand, and that Canterbury could position itself better in this new environment if it retained its “Asianists”.
The newsletter reports that one of the academics whose position faces disestablishment is Professor Ghazala Anwar, a Pakistan-born Islamic Studies lecturer at the University who was scheduled to leave the position this year. Professor Anwar says that, when she realised that her departure would mean the disestablishment of Islamic Studies, she felt duty bound to stay and fight for the position. “The loss of this position will be a loss not only to the students but to the wider community which has very often invited me for talks and the media which has drawn on my expertise,” she said.
Dr Anwar says there is a real need to resist “a virtual iron curtain” that is descending between the Muslim world and the West because more and more venues for dialogue and understanding are being closed.

Deed signals new way forward for University and Polytechnic
On Friday last week, the University of Waikato and Bay of Plenty Polytechnic signed a deed of co-operation which is designed to strengthen their commitment to work together to provide high-quality tertiary education and research in the Bay of Plenty. The deed commits both institutions to joint strategic planning for the development of tertiary education in the Bay of Plenty region, as well as joint delivery, support and promotion of academic provision.
The University and Polytechnic also announced that they are currently working through the process of introducing the first new degree to Tauranga under this agreement. The Bachelor of Tourism is expected to be on offer to Bay of Plenty students by 2007, offered jointly through the University and Polytechnic.
University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor, Professor Roy Crawford, said the signing of the deed of co-operation was an historic moment in the relationship between the University and the Polytechnic, and an extremely positive step for tertiary education in the Bay of Plenty region.

Worldwatch
Canadian academic-freedom ruling upheld
The Labour Relations Board has upheld a ruling that the University of British Columbia (UBC) cannot require a professor to relinquish copyright ownership of her course material. In February 2004, an arbitrator found in favour of the UBC Faculty Association, which challenged the right of the University to demand that the staff member, Mary Bryson, sign away copyright in a distance-education course she was helping to develop.
The original arbitrator’s decision, which identified copyright ownership as an inherent right of faculty and a matter of academic freedom, was appealed by the University’s management.
UBC Faculty Association President, Elliott Burnell, said that the arbitrator’s original decision was a landmark victory for academic freedom and faculty rights. “When the administration appealed the ruling to the provincial Labour Relations Board, we were determined to see the arbitrator’s decision upheld,” he said. “The Faculty Association’s persistence was vindicated on all counts by the Labour Board, which rejected each of the University’s five grounds of appeal.”
The President of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, Loretta Czernis, applauded the decision, saying that academic staff across Canada owed a debt of gratitude to UBC’s Faculty Association and Professor Bryson. “The decision strengthens everyone’s academic freedom and intellectual property rights,” she said.

Talks fail to break UK deadlock
Talks between union and employer representatives yesterday failed to break the impasse in the pay dispute which has caused significant industrial disruption throughout universities in the United Kingdom.
The unions have claimed a 23 percent pay increase over the next three years, while the employers have offered 6 percent over two years. Union members have been engaged in strike and other protest action over the last month, the latter including a refusal by AUT members to set and mark examination papers.
In a joint statement issued last night, the university unions, AUT and Natfhe, said they were disappointed that the talks, facilitated by Britain’s industrial arbitration service, had not resulted in the commencement of formal pay negotiations due to the refusal of the employers’ body to meet and make a pay offer until industrial action is suspended.
The unions say, however, that the employers conceded yesterday that an improved pay offer will be necessary to end the dispute.

US academic salaries falter for second year
For the second year running, the increase in overall salary rates for college and university professors in the United States failed to keep pace with the rate of inflation, according to figures released this week by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). The Devaluing of Higher Education: The Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2005-06 shows that overall salaries for all ranks of full-time faculty members across all types of institutions rose 3.1 percent over the last year, 0.3 percent less than the rate of inflation. This follows a 0.5 percent slip against the rate of inflation in 2004-05.
The report also reveals that the salary gap between full-time faculty members at public colleges and universities and their counterparts at private (non-church-related) institutions continues to widen. It says the disparity makes it harder to attract and retain the most qualified academic staff, or to recruit the best students into academic careers.
Between 1995 and 2005, the median salaries for university presidents increased by 29 percent, while salaries for full-time faculty members increased by 9 percent.
The AAUP’s annual report is recognised as the most authoritative sources of data on university salaries and compensation in the United States, and can be found at:
http://www.aaup.org/surveys/06z/zrep.htm

RQF trial under fire at Monash
Under-performing academics at Australia’s Monash University are being pressured to leave as a precursor to the Research Quality Framework, according to the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU).
As universities wait for a definitive model of the RQF to be unveiled, Monash is reported to have started its own research assessment trial at a cost of $A700,000 to run. The trial is expected to be completed later this year, and is one of several RQF test runs completed by various institutions, including the University of Tasmania and members of the Australian Technology Network of Universities.
The National Tertiary Education Union has demanded that a code of conduct be developed to protect staff, saying it feared the trial was being used to axe so-called “dead wood” from faculties rather than retrain and support academics to fit in with new research requirements.
Dr Carol Williams, Monash Branch President of the NTEU, said that University management was going from faculty to faculty and school to school advising staff that the institution’s research picture was “awful”, and that staff wanting voluntary severance packages could get out “while the going was good”.
While refusing to comment directly on any discussions with staff about redundancy, Professor Max King, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Research Training), said such talks were a standard affair. “I think heads of departments, heads of schools are looking to improve the quality of their staff and those things naturally happen,” he said.
From The Australian

Driven to dishonour
The Deputy Mayor of a Romanian town is facing the sack and a jail term after sending his driver to take a university exam in his place. Florin Oancea, from the town of Deva, claims he did nothing wrong, but was simply checking the rigour of Vasile Goldis University’s examination system.
“I sent my driver to the exam because I wanted to test the University,” he said. “No identification check was made of those sitting the exam, and the swap was noticed only afterwards.”
“The standard of the test was also questionable as my driver, who only has his high-school leaving certificate, managed to get 90 percent, the same level of marks that I, who have been studying the subject, managed to achieve in previous tests,” said Mr Oancea.
But the University declined to accept the Deputy Mayor’s claims and expelled him from the masters-level public administration course. Mr Oancea and his driver, Ion Ognean, are also being investigated by local authorities and could face up to three years in gaol for fraud.
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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