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AUS Tertiary Update

Union members consider pay deal
Union members are being balloted over the next fortnight to determine whether or not to commence bargaining to renew enterprise-based collective employment agreements. If a proposed pay deal is accepted, staff at the seven universities involved in the national bargaining process will receive salary increases of between 4 and 7.5 percent this year. The meetings, which started on Tuesday this week, will run until Friday 14 July.
The balloting follows last week’s announcement by the Minister for Tertiary Education, Dr Michael Cullen, that universities will receive an additional $26 million funding this year to ensure their long-term sustainability. Union members will vote on a recommendation from their bargaining team, that local negotiations take place as soon as possible to secure local pay deals which incorporate the new government funding. That new funding will provide for a salary increase of approximately 3 percent for academic staff and 1 percent for general staff and; as their contribution, vice-chancellors have agreed to add a minimum of 3 percent when increases fall due under the current collective agreements. This means that total salary increases of between 4 and 5.5 percent will be offered to general staff and between 6 and 7.5 percent to academic staff.
Association of University Staff General Secretary, Helen Kelly, said that the proposed salary increases were the result of the unions’ national approach to bargaining, which had successfully created a forum in which national issues facing all universities, such as funding and salaries, could be dealt with on a national basis. “Our intention was to involve government, as the primary funder of the sector, in the resolution of those problems, and one of the real achievements of the tripartite process is the Minister’s statement that this year’s funding boost is an initial contribution,” she said. “The parties have agreed to continue working in the tripartite process on funding and salary issues, and we are also recommending that the formal agreement between the unions and vice-chancellors, committing them to work constructively in this process, be renewed.”
Ms Kelly said that, if the combined unions’ national bargaining team recommendations were accepted, local bargaining teams would be established to conclude salary negotiations and then deal with a number of non-salary issues on a problem-solving basis.
The new university funding follows tripartite discussions involving the Government, vice-chancellors and unions over the past year and a report prepared earlier this year by the accountancy firm Deloitte, which showed that New Zealand universities are under-funded and that salaries are inadequate as a result. The report also indicated that universities in New Zealand do not have the internal capacity to increase salaries to the required level.

Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. Advertising spend typifies stupidity of funding system
2. Back to the future for NZUSA
3. AUT VC reappointed
4. Academic links agreement signed
5. Draft report slams US higher education
6. MPs to investigate loss of Chinese courses
7. Iraqi academics targeted for death
8. Date set for election of lecturers’ union leader
9. Connolly laughs his way to top of the class

Advertising spend typifies stupidity of funding system
The Minister for Tertiary Education, Dr Michael Cullen, has told Parliament that he is concerned at the level of spending by public tertiary-education institutions on advertising and marketing, saying it typifies the stupidity of a funding system based on “bums on seats” and needing “advertising to attract those bums”. In response to questions from Green Party spokesperson on Education, Metiria Turei, Dr Cullen also told the House that he finds it frustrating that he has to fund universities which say that they cannot afford to pay staff a fair wage while, at the same time, public tertiary-education institutions spent more than the $26 million of new funding on advertising and marketing.
Last week, the New Zealand University Students’ Association released research conducted by AC Neilson which showed that public tertiary-education institutions spent an estimated $28 million on advertising and marketing in 2005, a 6 percent increase on the 2004 figure of $26.6 million.
During question time last Thursday, Dr Cullen told Parliament that Cabinet is currently considering a review of the funding system, which will ensure that, in the future, institutions will focus on improving the quality and relevance of tertiary education rather than on chasing student numbers. He said that the new funding formula would also be related, in part, to the outcomes rather than the inputs.
In response to a question about whether the increase in university funding would be applied to wananga, Dr Cullen said that it would apply only to universities. “Only one of the wananga has postgraduate qualifications of a standard that might be considered comparable with those of the universities,” he said. “In any case, I repeat that this decision is a result of tripartite discussions between the universities, the Association of University Staff and the Government. The problem here, of course, is attracting staff comparable with those overseas; that is not such a big issue in relation to the wananga, it has to be said.”

Back to the future for NZUSA
The New Zealand University Students’ Association has changed its name to the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations, reflecting the fact that the Association has broadened its membership to include polytechnic and college of education students’ associations, as well as those in universities. The new name almost replicates the original name of the Association, which was established in 1929 as the New Zealand National Union of Students.
NZUSA Co-President, Joey Randall, said that, while the name of the organisation had changed, the acronym and the goals would remain the same. “We have changed our name to reflect the fact that NZUSA is made up of polytechnic and college of education students’ associations, as well as university members,” he said. “NZUSA has a real commitment to represent the needs and aspirations of all students involved in public tertiary education in New Zealand. We want to involve other associations in our organisation and this change reflects how NZUSA is evolving.”
Mr Randall said that NZUSA would remain committed to working for a better public tertiary-education system. “We will continue to campaign against fees, for a universal living allowance, greater public funding of tertiary education and a quality education for New Zealand students,” he said.
The decision to change its name was made at the NZUSA mid-year conference held in Hamilton this week and attended by around 120 delegates.

AUT VC reappointed
The Vice-Chancellor of the Auckland University of Technology, Derek McCormack, has been reappointed for another five year term, starting in April 2007. In a media statement, AUT Chancellor Sir Paul Reeves said that the University’s Council congratulates the Vice-Chancellor on his able leadership, and looks forward to working with him in the challenging future that lies ahead.
Mr McCormack became AUT Vice-Chancellor in April 2004, replacing Dr John Hinchcliff. In his previous role as Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Mr McCormack played a central role in managing the transition of AUT to university status, in development of the University’s strategic plan and in the review of the Council, Charter and Constitution.
Mr McCormack is also a former National President of a predecessor of ASTE, the union for staff members in polytechnics and institutes of technology.

Academic links agreement signed
An “academic links” agreement was signed late last week between the Hochschulrektorenkonferenz (HRK - German Rectors’ Conference) and the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee (NZVCC). The agreement is essentially a framework which provides for and encourages greater bilateral co-operation between universities in each country, and promotes exchange in research, scholarship and teaching.
HRK President, Professor Margret Wintermantel, and Professor Roger Field, Lincoln University Vice-Chancellor and Chair of the NZVCC Committee on University Academic Programmes, formalised the agreement at the HRK offices in Berlin.
Under the agreement, undergraduate student exchange and graduate placement are furthered by a set of recognition standards. Primarily, research collaboration, research staff exchange, symposia participation and co-operation in electronic networks, publications and teaching materials will be facilitated by the agreement.
Professor Field said that all eight New Zealand universities had maintained links with German institutions and there was a long history of academic co-operation between the two countries. Close to a thousand German students are currently studying in New Zealand universities, about half of them at postgraduate level. “This new agreement should further serve to raise the quality of scholarship in universities in each country. Research collaboration will be mutually beneficial to the economies involved,” he said.
Professor Wintermantel emphasised that German and New Zealand university rectors and vice-chancellors shared many common concerns. These include enlarging institutional capacities to accommodate a broader participation in higher education; pursuing consistent strategies to ensure quality in higher education; linking both study and research to the needs of the knowledge society and generating pertinent knowledge by research; ensuring sustainable financing for higher education and institutional autonomy; and meeting the imperatives of globalisation.

Draft report slams US higher education
A draft report by the United States Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education is harshly critical of higher education in that country, and squarely blames the rising cost of higher education on an “abdication of responsibility” by colleges and universities. The report, which was released late last week, singles out a “failure to seek institutional efficiencies”, “disregard for improving productivity” and “dysfunctional, inefficient and inadequate” financial systems as the main contributing factors. It says that too much emphasis is placed on research, and institutions fail to “substitute capital for labour by using technology to lower their instructional costs”.
The draft claims that “undergraduates are being shortchanged” because the quality of student learning is inadequate and asserts that “university standards have become diluted and teaching methods outdated”. “Lack of coherence and lax standards ... often characterise the undergraduate curriculum,” the report says, while “many professors are excessively preoccupied with research [and] pay too little attention to innovative teaching techniques”.
The draft floats a number of proposals to solve higher education’s woes, emphasising standardisation of curriculum and credit transferability, testing and assessment, distance learning and support for “non-traditional” education providers such as for-profit colleges.
The report has caused an outcry among both some commission members, who said it was drafted without their input and was unnecessarily hostile to higher education, and many members of the higher-education community.
After further consultation, the final report will be submitted to US Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings, in September.

MPs to investigate loss of Chinese courses
British members of parliament are to investigate plans by Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) to drop Chinese courses as part of a reorganisation of one of its faculties. The Financial Times reports today that, despite growing public awareness of China’s future economic clout, university managers have decided to drop the courses to concentrate on those with higher demand and greater growth prospects. German courses will also be abandoned as part of the restructuring of the Faculty of Business and Law. French, Spanish and Japanese will remain only as an element of other courses, such as tourism and business studies.
University management recently told staff that German and Chinese would no longer be offered and that the BSc in e-business would also be axed. At least forty-one academic and administrative jobs will be lost.
The investigation into the dropping of Chinese courses is something from which New Zealand politicians and vice-chancellors could well learn, after a decision, earlier this year, by the University of Canterbury to cut staff numbers in its College of Arts. Despite widespread opposition, Canterbury proceeded to cut one staff member from its Chinese programme and dismiss its only specialist in Islamic Studies.
Meanwhile, staff at LJMU protested against the loss of jobs at the University’s Council meeting yesterday, saying that the decision had been rushed and did not make financial sense.

Iraqi academics targeted for death
Iraqi academics are targets for attacks in a concerted campaign to rid Iraq of its intellectual class, according to several international human-rights groups. Last week, the London-based Network for Education and Academic Rights issued a written statement saying that scientists, doctors and university professors were the targets of “a co-ordinated liquidation process”.
The Network cited statistics compiled by Iraq’s Ministry of Education which included that, in 2005, 296 professors and staff members were killed, including 80 from the University of Baghdad alone. Thousands of Iraqi academics are fleeing the country, fearing for their lives, the group reported.
John Akker, Executive Secretary of the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics, which is helping endangered Iraqis resettle in Britain, said the security situation for Iraqi academics was deteriorating rapidly. Mr. Akker said that both the scale and the intent of the attacks were different from the kind of violence Iraqi academics faced shortly after the American invasion, when many professors who were former Ba’ath Party members were threatened and attacked in what appeared to be politically motivated reprisals. “There’s a real change in the numbers, there’s a real change in the kind of people who are being targeted, and there’s a real change in how well organized and thought through these assassinations are,” he said. “You could not call these political assassinations any longer. They are simply anti-intellectual and anti-education.”
Another international organisation, UNESCO, is asking the rest of the world to come to the aid of the besieged professors. UNESCO Director General, Koichiro Matsuura, has called for solidarity with Iraqi academics and intellectuals, saying that they are “subjected to a heinous campaign of violence”.
From the Chronicle of Higher Education

Date set for election of lecturers’ union leader
A new general secretary for the newly formed University and College Union (UCU) will be elected in March next year, following the recent merger of the two British academic unions, the Association of University Teachers (AUT) and the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (Natfhe).
Voting will begin in early February and close early in March. It is understood that Sally Hunt, the UCU joint General Secretary and former AUT General Secretary, and Roger Kline, formerly Natfhe’s Head of Higher Education, will contest the position.
The timing of the election will ensure a new leader will have been elected in time for the first UCU conference, to be held in May.

Connolly laughs his way to top of the class
Billy Connolly, who left school at fifteen to work in a shipyard, donned an academic gown yesterday to accept an honorary degree. The comedian joked that his doctorate from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, for services to the performing arts, was “like getting your picture on the wall in art class”. He added: “If you don’t go through higher education in the first place, you go through life thinking you’re not that bright. I read that David Attenborough has twenty-nine honorary degrees, but I think two will do me.” Connolly, who also has a doctorate from Glasgow University, said such honours used to go to classical musicians or Shakespearean actors.
The Daily Telegraph

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: Direct enquires should be made to Marty Braithwaite, AUS Communications Officer, email:

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