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AUS Tertiary Update

Mixed financial bag for tertiary institutions
The financial performance of public tertiary-education institutions varied widely in 2005, ranging from the profitable to the “downright disastrous”, according to an analysis of annual reports published in Education Review. While all eight universities returned surpluses for the year, the financial performance of polytechnics, institutes of technology and colleges of education was mixed, and all three wananga recorded deficits.
Aside from Massey, all universities satisfied the Tertiary Advisory Monitoring Unit’s recommended guideline that institutions return an operational surplus of between 3 and 5 percent. Best performing of the universities was Otago, which made a surplus of more than $20 million or 5 percent as a proportion of income. Next best was the University of Auckland with an actual surplus of $19.7 million (3 percent of income), followed by Victoria at $9 million (3.8 percent) and Canterbury with $8.7 million (4.7 percent). Waikato University generated a surplus of $8.5 million (4.7 percent), the Auckland University of Technology $7.1 million (3.6 percent) and Lincoln University $3.8 million (4.6 percent). Trailing the universities, Massey reported an operational surplus of $3.7 million or only 1 percent of income.
The financial performance of polytechnics ranged from surpluses of $4.2 million (15.7 percent) at Aoraki Polytechnic and $1.5 million (17.6 percent) at Telford Rural Polytechnic, to losses of $4.4 million (21.8 percent) at the Western Institute of Technology, $3.3 million (20 percent) at Tairawhiti Polytechnic and $2.5 million (3.6 percent) at the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology.
Education Review reports that the financial performance of the country’s wananga must be of concern to the Government, with all three reporting losses. While the financial performance of Te Wananga o Aotearoa has been well reported, the most staggering loss in 2005 came from Te Wananga o Awanuiarangi, which recorded a deficit of $4.9 million, or 30 percent against its level of income. This is a significant turnaround from 2004 when the institution generated a surplus of $286,000. Suffering a smaller loss in 2005 was Te Wananga o Raukawa, which had a deficit of $462,000 or 2.4 percent of income. Te Wananga o Aotearoa has forecast a loss of $13 million in the first half of 2006, but says its recent restructuring will bring the institution back into a surplus next year.
The Education Review website can be located at: www.educationreview.co.nz

Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. TAMU goes hiTEC
2. AUT says no to Fairfax internship
3. Plumbers Board sacked for high standards, says English
4. Collaboration between Malaysian, NZ vice-chancellors
5. New senior-management appointments at NZQA
6. Australia opens way for specialist universities
7. More women in UK academia
8. VCs warned over fixed-term employment
9. Wired wigs help students cheat in exams

TAMU goes hiTEC
The financial performance of all tertiary-education institutions will be monitored by one government agency from September this year, following the announcement yesterday by the Minister for Tertiary Education, Dr Michael Cullen, that the Tertiary Advisory Monitoring Unit will shift to the Tertiary Education Commission.
The decision to move TAMU to TEC follows last year’s Education Sector Review which raised questions about the monitoring in the tertiary-education sector between divided between the Ministry of Education and TEC.
Dr Cullen said that the move would support the next stages of the tertiary-education reforms. “It will offer a more integrated view of institutions and their performance, with educational outcomes being monitored alongside financial, governance and leadership indicators,” he said.
The specific functions transferring from the Ministry of Education to TEC are the monitoring of finances, governance and management of tertiary-education institutions, providing advice on ministerial appointments to the councils of institutions, building governance and management capability, taking the lead responsibility for risk assessment and giving advice on interventions and implementation of the Minister’s decisions on interventions in the sector.
The Ministry of Education will retain responsibility for advice and decisions on Crown property used by tertiary institutions and for whole-of-sector monitoring and policy advice. The Ministry will also continue its role of monitoring and advising on central Education Crown entities comprising the TEC, New Zealand Qualifications Authority, Teachers’ Council and Careers Services.
Dr Cullen said that, after consulting with tertiary education institutions, Ministry of Education staff and other government agencies on the issue, it was decided to transfer TAMU to the TEC. “A priority will be to ensure the smooth transition of existing work programmes and staff to minimise disruption,” he said.

AUT says no to Fairfax internship
The Auckland University of Technology says it will not participate in a new journalism internship scheme involving Fairfax Media, Massey and Canterbury Universities and Aoraki Polytechnic. Last week, Fairfax Media, New Zealand’s biggest media company, announced the new internships which will give selected students the opportunity of a year’s study at one of the three participating institutions. The internships will provide work experience for the successful applicants and reimburse their course fees worth around $3,000. In turn, the students will be bonded to work at a Fairfax newspaper for two years at the conclusion of their courses. The first intake of twenty students will undergo training for a Diploma or Graduate Diploma in Journalism in 2006.
While the internship scheme has been welcomed by the three participating tertiary institutions, the AUT says it has declined to be involved. AUT Curriculum leader, Susan Boyd-Bell, told Radio New Zealand’s Mediawatch that, as a publicly funded tertiary-education institution, AUT could not allow a private company to select students for its limited-entry course. Ms Boyd-Bell said, however, that AUT had given Fairfax the opportunity to have access to the names of students selected for its course, from which Fairfax could then offer scholarships to individuals. That offer was declined by Fairfax.
The Head of the School of Political Science and Communication at the University of Canterbury, Jim Tully, said that journalism in New Zealand is generally notable for the close relationships between providers and the media industry, and believes that the Fairfax intern scheme demonstrates a high level of mutual respect. He said that the tertiary institutions had the right to accept or decline an intern as part of their training schemes, adding that people like himself would be involved in the selection process. “We do not believe the integrity of our selection process will be compromised by the Fairfax scheme,” he said.

Plumbers Board sacked for high standards, says English
The National Party spokesperson for Education, Bill English, says Labour has sacked the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Registration Board because of its commitment to high standards of competence in the plumbing trade. He says the Board has been punished for its refusal to drop its standards to fit in with Labour’s bums-on-seats attitude to trade training.
Mr English’s comments followed the Government’s decision this week to sack the Registration Board after the release of an independent report which said that there was a dysfunctional relationship between the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Industry Training Organisation (ITO) and the Board.
A review by Wellington lawyer Hazel Armstrong found that training and registration systems in the plumbing, gasfitting and drainlaying industry were not well aligned and, as a result, trainees had not been provided with appropriate support. Although the Government had invested $24 million in trade training over the last six years, the number of new entrants in the industry had decreased.
Responding to the report, the Minister for Tertiary Education, Dr Michael Cullen, said that the Government is moving to increase the number of qualified and registered plumbers, gasfitters and drainlayers. “Plumbing, gasfitting and drainlaying are crucial trades for a wide cross-section of New Zealanders, from homeowners to large industry,” he said. “That is why the Government acted to deal with a number of issues affecting the industry after it became apparent that the issues could not be resolved by the industry itself.”
A cross-agency working group, led by the Tertiary Education Commission, is being established to ensure all the review’s findings are acted upon. “I am confident the issues between [the ITO and Board] can be resolved,” Dr Cullen said. “It is vital that organisations work together to train people with the skills this country needs, and match the Government’s commitment to countering skill shortages through industry training and the Modern Apprenticeships programme.”

Collaboration between Malaysian, NZ vice-chancellors
A ten-strong Malaysian Vice-Chancellors Committee (MVCC) delegation led by MVCC Chair Professor Dato’ Dzulkifli Abdul Razak met with New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee representatives, led by Professor Roy Sharp, in Wellington on Tuesday this week.
On the agenda for discussion were the respective internationalisation policies and strategies of the Malaysian and New Zealand universities and governments, along with collaboration opportunities around academic and research exchange. Research links were discussed around identified areas of possible co-operation.
Two-way student mobility was another avenue explored, with the Malaysian delegation making the point that an increasing number of university courses in Malaysia were now taught in English. In part, the delegation was preparing the way for a visit by the Malaysian Minister for Higher Education to New Zealand.
The Malaysian university system is now funded to achieve a goal that 75 percent of university teaching staff will be qualified at PhD level by 2010, in line with the “Ninth Malaysia Plan”. Tuesday’s meeting explored ways that New Zealand could contribute to this initiative through such devices as joint supervision of PhD students. The Malaysian delegation also invited New Zealand Vice-Chancellors to take part in a reciprocal meeting next year in Malaysia.

New senior management appointments at NZQA
The New Zealand Qualifications Authority has announced appointments to three new deputy-chief-executive positions, created through the implementation of a new organisational structure in the wake of an external review of the organisation last year. The new structure creates three divisions at NZQA: Qualifications, Quality Assurance, and Strategic and Corporate Services.
The new Deputy Chief Executive of Qualifications is the current principal of Pakuranga College, Bali Haque; the new Deputy Chief Executive of Quality Assurance is Mike Willing, currently the Product Conformance Manager at Fonterra; and the new Deputy Chief Executive of Strategic and Corporate Services is Keith Marshall, who has held a variety of senior-management roles in the private and public sectors.
NZQA Chief Executive, Dr Karen Poutasi, says the three appointees are of the highest calibre and bring an extensive set of senior-leadership and management skills to the organisation.

Worldwatch
Australia opens way for specialist universities
The Australian university system is in for a radical shake-up after education ministers in that country agreed to de-regulate the market for higher education under new National Protocols for Higher Education Approval Processes. The protocols open the way for a new class of specialist universities, more self-accrediting institutions and streamlined approval mechanisms that will be attractive for foreign providers wanting to offer degrees.
Federal Education Minister Julie Bishop said that the creation of a new class of specialist universities followed recognition that some of the finest institutions overseas were specialised. She envisaged that the specialist universities would, in the main, be private, drawing fee-paying students from Australia and overseas. Private providers offering courses in high demand, such as business and information technology, could well seek the marketing advantage of a university title.
The Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee has supported the protocols, with its Chief Executive, John Mullarvey, saying they should demonstrate to Australia and the rest of the world that mechanisms were in place to ensure only high-quality institutions could offer degrees. “We are not about limiting new institutions starting up in Australia; we just want to make sure they are quality players,” he said.
The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has warned, however, that specialised universities are not the answer to the challenges facing Australia’s higher-education system, and could lead to a reduction in quality and student choice in existing universities. “Australia already has a diverse higher-education system, with a multitude of public and private providers in addition to universities able to offer degrees in many areas and access public subsidies,” said Andrew Nette, NTEU Policy and Research Coordinator. “The reputation of Australian universities is arguably our key advantage in the global education market. Central to this is a clearly defined standard for use of university title. Deregulating access to the university title by introducing specialist universities risks confusing students about the nature of our higher education system, with potential implications for our international competitiveness.”
From The Australian and NTEU

More women in UK academia
An increasing proportion of women hold academic posts and the number of female professors is slowly rising in the United Kingdom, but they still earn less than their male counterparts, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
The report found that the proportion of women in academic posts rose by 9 percentage points, to 36 percent between 1995 and 2005, and the proportion of women professors doubled over the same period, from 9 percent to 19 percent.
While the number of female academics may be increasing, their mean salary is still £5,000 less than that of their male counterparts. About 18 percent of men earn more than £50,000, compared with only 6 percent of women.
As well, the report also shows that there has also been a proportional growth in academic staff from non-white ethnic backgrounds and staff from overseas in the total academic workforce.
Overall, the workforce has increased by 20 percent over the ten-year period, and the total number of full-time-equivalent academic staff has grown over the period, from 80,000 to 97,000. The report said there were 284,000 people employed in 130 higher-education institutions in England in 2004-05 including professional and support staff as well as academic employees. This represents more than 1 percent of the total workforce in the UK.
From the Education Guardian

VCs warned over fixed-term employment
The University and College Union (UCU) has warned vice-chancellors in the United Kingdom that they must get their act together, after European Union employment laws came into effect this week. The new laws state that staff members who have been on fixed-term employment contracts for more than four years can now regard their posts as permanent. Almost 70,000 academic and academic-related (general) staff are currently employed on a fixed-term basis within UK universities.
The Fixed Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations state that employees who have had their contract renewed, or who are on at least their second contract and have four years’ service (from 10 July 2002), can regard their posts as permanent. Only in exceptional circumstances, when the employer can objectively justify the use of a fixed-term contract, does this not apply.
The most recent statistics from UCU reveal that 48 percent of all staff on short-term contracts have been employed for four or more years at their institution, and are now entitled to a permanent contract. Almost a third (30 percent) had been employed for six years or more. The problem is particularly acute for research staff, where 89 percent are on short-term contracts.
UCU joint General Secretary, Sally Hunt, said that universities could not continue to exploit fixed-term staff and the Union was delighted to have the legal backing to take vice-chancellors to task over their failure to accommodate the new legislation.

Wired wigs help students cheat in exams
More than twenty “desperate” students in Vietnam paid up to 50 million dong ($NZ5,300) to don elaborately wired wigs and shirts that allowed them to cheat in their college entrance exams, police said yesterday. During a weekend raid, Hanoi police confiscated fifty mobile phones, sixty earphones, 150 SIM cards, eight shirts and five wigs. The students paid 20 to 50 million dong to get wigs or shirts that were wired to mobile phones. A police officer said the operation had been running since 2003. The price depended on the popularity of the college the student was enrolling in.
The Guardian

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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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