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AUS Tertiary Update

Former AUS President appointed to TEC
A former Association of University Staff National President, Dr Bill Rosenberg, has been appointed a commissioner to the Tertiary Education Commission for a two-year term. Dr Rosenberg has been employed in tertiary education since 1983, at both Canterbury and Lincoln Universities, in the information technology field. He is currently Educational Technology Services Manager at the University of Canterbury, responsible for technology used in teaching and learning.
Dr Rosenberg has an active and well-respected interest in policy issues, both sector-wide and within the institutions in which he has worked in. As well as his long involvement with the AUS, including three terms as National President, Dr Rosenberg has been involved in a number of collaborative initiatives among tertiary institutions relating to information technology and flexible learning. He is also a member of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions’ International Committee and the Ministry of Education’s Tertiary e-learning Reference Group. He is also well known for his expertise on the relationship to, and effect of, trade agreements on education.
Dr Rosenberg says that he is very pleased to accept his appointment to TEC, coming as it does at a challenging and interesting time for the tertiary sector. “I see the direction of the recently announced reforms to the sector as very positive, but we should not underestimate the size and complexity of the effort to put them into place,” he said.
AUS National President, Professor Nigel Haworth, said he was pleased that someone with such a breadth of interest in tertiary-education-sector provision had been appointed to the Commission. “Dr Rosenberg has a profound grasp of the policy questions that need to be addressed in the sector and is an excellent appointment,” he said.
Brian Rhoades, Chair of the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, and Edna Tait, an education consultant, have also been appointed to TEC as commissioners.

Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. TEC to “look into” claim of funding rort
2. AUS calls for a national university plan to guide funding
3. Tertiary EFTS fall in 2005
4. More older students in tertiary education
5. Deal reached in UK university pay talks
6. New UK university union launched
7. RQF deadline hampers projects
8. Abandoned students fork out for hired help

TEC to “look into” claim of funding rort
The Tertiary Education Commission says it will look into community computing courses offered by Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT), following claims last week by National Party Education spokesperson, Bill English, of another funding rort in the tertiary-education sector.
In shades of the Christchurch Polytechnic Cool-IT funding debacle, Mr English says that NMIT has received $4.985 million in government funding over the past three years for running DIY computer courses in which there is no tuition, no assessment and no qualification. “Furthermore,” said Mr English. “A postcard distributed to all households in Nelson offering a free ‘draw to win your own computer’ is in breach of section 4.9 of the 2006 Tertiary Funding Guide, which specifically prohibits the opportunity to win items like computers.”
Mr English said that the taxpayer is continuing to be ripped off by millions of dollars through the “dodgy” tertiary-education courses at NMIT in which some 11,077 people have enrolled. “The polytechnic is being paid for courses that simply cannot be done. There would need to be more than double the number of computers available for every enrolled student to complete the hours being funded by the taxpayer,” he said.
The Minister for Tertiary Education, Dr Michael Cullen, has asked for further information and a report from TEC in relation to the claims made by Mr English. “These kinds of issues are precisely why the funding system of bums on seats, which was put in place by National, will be changed to a greater emphasis on outcomes by this Government” Dr Cullen said.
In a written statement, TEC said that the course in question is funded from a capped pool and that the learning takes place in a classroom with a tutor available to guide students. “The tutors monitor student progress via a register contained within the computer programme,” the statement read. “The TEC sees computing skills as an important foundation for further learning and employment; there is a need in every community for such skills. These courses often provide an entry point into tertiary education and further learning.”

AUS calls for a national university plan to guide funding
In a submission to the Tertiary Education Commission, the Association of University Staff has called for a national plan to be developed for universities as part of the new funding arrangements proposed for the tertiary education sector. The Government is currently considering new funding mechanisms to replace the existing student component funding model, with papers on a new model expected to be considered by Cabinet this month.
Under current government proposals, individual institutions will be required to develop plans around which funding decisions will be informed, but there does not appear to be any national plan or overview for the university sector.
AUS National President, Professor Nigel Haworth, said that a sub-sector or national approach for the development of university plans would ensure greater openness and accountability, and would provide a more strategic or national-interest approach to funding arrangements. “A forum of university managers, staff and students could work with the TEC to ensure that the best interests of our national network of universities could be achieved,” said Professor Haworth “Such an approach would ensure collaboration among universities. At present, charters and profiles are negotiated between managers of each university and the TEC, with staff, students and other universities excluded from what is such a crucial part of the process.”
Professor Haworth said that national salary bargaining had renewed interest in a national collaborative approach to university workforce issues, and that the Universities Tripartite Forum had shown that the Government, staff unions and the vice-chancellors could work together effectively to make decisions in the interests of the entire university sector. “We strongly support the development of a national tripartite approach, and suggest this could be broadened to include funding and other areas of strategic importance,” he said. “The university sector has shown that it is responsible, capable and accountable, and has a clear and unique identity and role. The proposed planning model should recognise this by encouraging a sector approach to university funding arrangements.”
The AUS submission on future funding can be found at:
http://www.aus.ac.nz/policy_professional/Funding/FutureTEODirections.pdf

Tertiary EFTS fall in 2005
In 2005, there were 504,000 students enrolled in formal study programmes at New Zealand tertiary-education providers, according to figures released in a Ministry of Education publication, 2005 Tertiary Education Enrolments. When converted to full-time equivalents, however, the numbers declined by 1.2 percent on 2004 figures, from 287,433 to 283,986.
The report provides information on where students are studying, what qualifications they are taking, their field of study, their ages and ethnicity and other important characteristics of people undertaking tertiary education study programmes.
From 1990 to 2004, the increase in enrolments at tertiary-education institutions averaged 8.4 percent per year, one major factor being the increase in international numbers, which trebled from 16,600 in 2000 to 50,500 in 2004. In 2005, the number of international students fell by 3,060, down 6.1 percent to 47,400, while domestic numbers increased by 4.7 percent, to 457,000. Non-formal tertiary education attracted 189,000 learners in 2005, 34 percent fewer than in 2004, due to the progressive shift of adult and community education out of student-component funding and into a new funding pool.
More students enrolled in 2005 at all levels of study, except for bachelors and masters degrees which were down by 0.4 percent and 3.0 percent respectively. Enrolments for doctoral degrees were up by 6.0 percent and honours degrees and postgraduate certificates or diplomas by 5 percent.
Enrolment by male students increased by 6.1 percent, largely due to a sharp increase in the number of men enrolling in short, certificate-level qualifications in agriculture.
Of the fall in international students, the numbers of Asian students fell most dramatically. Public tertiary-education institutions enrolled 2,010 fewer Asian students in 2005 than in 2004, while private training establishments enrolled 1,010 fewer. Public providers also enrolled fewer from Pacific countries, down 3.8 percent, while the number of international students originating from Europe enrolling in public institutions increased by 4.9 percent.
The full report can be found at:
http://educationcounts.edcentre.govt.nz/publications/tertiary/2005-tertiary-education-enrolments.html

More older students in tertiary education
Figures also published this week by the Ministry of Education reveal that the number of New Zealanders aged forty years and over in tertiary education has grown by 27 percent over the last decade as the wave of baby boomers have entered their forties and fifties. A fact sheet, titled Older Students, reports that New Zealand’s relatively open tertiary-education system, and diverse range of flexible learning options have resulted in tertiary education becoming an increasingly popular option for many older people, whether for vocational or non-vocational reasons.
According to the fact sheet, New Zealanders aged forty or over make up half of the population aged fifteen or over, compared to 45 percent ten years ago. It is a trend not unique to New Zealand, with many other countries having increasing proportions of older people, many of whom are more educationally active than in the past.
The main trends reported are that 30 percent of students are aged forty or over (a figure twice as high as that ten years ago), older Maori are taking up study, women are returning to study later in life and older students tend to study part-time, with many are taking a second opportunity to participate in tertiary education.
Interestingly, qualification completion rates are lower for older students, with an estimated 32 percent of students aged forty and over who started a sub-degree level qualification in 2000 having completed after five years, compared with 39 percent for students aged under twenty-five, At bachelors degree level, the completion rate for those over forty was 31 percent compared to 50 percent for those aged under twenty-five.
The fact sheet on older students can be found at:
http://educationcounts.edcentre.govt.nz/publications/tertiary/older-students.html

Worldwatch
Deal reached in UK university pay talks
A deal is reported to have been reached between the trade unions representing university staff and the university employers in the United Kingdom in their long-running pay dispute. A new pay offer will be put to members of the newly formed University and College Union (UCU) for a ballot on whether or not to accept the proposed deal. Industrial action currently being taken by the union’s members was suspended from midnight Tuesday.
The proposed settlement includes a minimum increase in salaries of 10.37 percent over twenty-two months from August 2006, as well as a minimum of 2.5 percent the following year. An independent review into the finances available in the higher-education sector to pay staff will be commissioned and if more money is available to increase salaries, it will be taken into account in future negotiations. UCU has insisted that the deal has to include the repayment of all monies deducted from staff taking part in recent protest action, which included the boycott of examinations and marking.
UCU joint General Secretaries, Sally Hunt and Paul Mackney, said that they believed the deal is the best that could be achieved within the current national negotiating environment. “Union members will see significant increases in their salaries over the next two years, but we are acutely aware that this will still not make up the ground lost over the past decades,” they said. “We will continue to make the case for higher staff pay in the future, including to the independent review, and would like to express our sincere thanks to all UCU members for their support during this difficult dispute.”

New UK university union launched
The new University and College Union, referred to in the story above, was created in the United Kingdom last Thursday through the amalgamation of the Association of University Teachers and Natfhe, the university and college lecturers’ union. The new union represents almost 120,000 staff working in further and higher education and is the UK’s largest and most effective voice in post-school education.
The newly created union brings together academics, lecturers, trainers, instructors, researchers, administrators, managers, computer staff, librarians and postgraduates from universities, colleges, prisons, adult education and training organisations.
The UCU will be run by a transitional-arrangement committee made up of members and officials from both unions. Former AUT and Natfhe General Secretaries, Sally Hunt and Paul Mackney, will be joint General Secretaries during the transitional year, following which a single new general secretary and officials will be elected. This will occur at the first UCU annual conference, due to be held early in 2007.

RQF deadline hampers projects
Confusion over the Research Quality Framework is forcing Australian universities to put research plans on hold as the deadline for the national assessment project looks set to be pushed back to 2008. Although the Education Minister, Julie Bishop, has vowed to press ahead with the RQF, it is reported to have been sent back to the “drawing board” for further development.
A new RQF development advisory group, which replaces the now-defunct expert advisory group, held its first meeting in Canberra last week, but its Chair and Chief Scientist, Dr Jim Peacock, has refused to talk about the meeting. It is understood discussion was mostly on the timeframe for the project that will seek to measure the quality and impact of publicly funded research.
Some universities have been conducting RQF trials, despite not knowing which model will be adopted, while others have had special RQF officers in place for more than twelve months and have been running seminars and workshops to prepare staff.
The Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee estimates the administrative preparation for the RQF will cost universities up to $50 million. Some universities are spending millions to beef up their research capabilities in preparation, while others have been “beefing up” their research staff.
From The Australian

Abandoned students fork out for hired help
Students at a German university are tackling under-staffing by paying for a lecturer themselves. With just five professors for 3,000 students in the Language and Literature Department, a group of undergraduates at the University of Paderborn have scraped together enough money to employ a Linguistics lecturer for the current semester.
A student spokesperson, Thomas Lange, said that one professor had been ill for a long time, a second has been exempted from teaching in order to carry out research work and another did not have his contract extended. “This doesn't leave many professors, so we decided it was time to protest,” he said. “Demonstrations and handing out leaflets have had little effect in the past, so we decided to use different means to grab attention.”
A staff member at a nearby university travels to Paderborn once a week and is paid with money raised from the student representatives’ council and profits from sales of student calendars.
The Administration Manager of the Cultural Sciences Faculty admitted it was overburdened, adding that the introduction of student fees and limiting student intake should ease the situation from next year.
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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