AUS Tertiary Update
University pay deal to go to ratification
Union members at New Zealand universities have voted to send proposed new pay deals to ratification which, if accepted, will see salary increases of between 4 and 5.5 percent for general staff and between 6 and 7.5 percent for academic staff this year. The proposed increases come as a result of tripartite discussions among vice-chancellors, university staff unions and the Government, resulting in a $26 million funding boost for universities targeted at salaries. If accepted, most university staff will receive their biggest across-the-board salary movement in twenty years.
Meetings held with union members at seven universities over the last fortnight resulted in a vote of 1237 to 42 in support of a recommendation from the combined unions’ bargaining team that enterprise-based collective employment agreements incorporating the current salary offers be renewed. It has also been proposed that, once those agreements are settled, further discussions will take place at each of the universities to discuss “local” issues, including proposals to review general staff salary structures.
If ratified, the renewed collective agreements will all run until 31 May 2007, allowing the unions to again initiate bargaining for national multi-employer collective agreements next year.
Association of University Staff General Secretary, Helen Kelly, said that an umbrella agreement between the unions and vice-chancellors had been renewed, requiring the parties to work actively and constructively through the tripartite process to ensure that the issue of competitive and fair salaries maintains a high priority. The agreement also requires the parties to use their best endeavours to develop, agree and implement sustainable solutions to providing competitive and fair salaries for staff; to implement, as appropriate, agreed outcomes from the Universities Tripartite Forum in collective agreements; and to develop solutions to other funding and resourcing issues facing universities.
Ms Kelly said that the negotiations had been a significant advance in the way bargaining was conducted in the university sector, and was the direct result of the efforts of union members over the past few years. She also said she expects that the next stages of the tripartite process will be more complex than the initial round, as a result of the Government’s plans for a new funding system and further differentiation within the tertiary education sector.
It is expected that ratification ballots to renew the current collective agreements will be under way by early August.
Tertiary Update this week
1. New Secretary for Education
2. Wananga to lay off staff
3. New appointments to FoRST Board
4. It just ain’t right, say PTEs
5. UK staff accept pay deal
6. Universities close in face of Middle-Eastern conflict
7. Bishop (Minister?) calls for less to be spent on administration
8. Arnie docked
Secretary for Education announced
It was announced this week that Karen Sewell has been appointed as the new Secretary for Education and Chief Executive of the Ministry of Education. She will take up the new posts in November, replacing Howard Fancy, who notified his resignation earlier in the year.
In announcing Ms Sewell’s appointment, the State Services Commissioner, Mark Prebble, said that she has a proven record as Chief Executive of the Education Review Office, a position which she has held since 2001, and in various management, leadership and teaching roles in a State Services career devoted to education. Mr Prebble says that Ms Sewell has a good understanding of the issues facing the Ministry of Education and the wider education sector that will enable her to quickly understand its strategic issues and the education-policy agenda. “She is deeply committed to the value of education and to improving education outcomes for New Zealand children. She will continue the work under way at the Ministry to strengthen its performance, systems and future capability. Ms Sewell is widely known and respected in the sector, and by her colleagues in the Public Service.”
In June 2005 Ms Sewell was asked by the Board of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) to act as its Chief Executive, and performed this role on leave from the Education Review Office for almost a full year. Mr Prebble said that, as Acting NZQA Chief Executive, Ms Sewell demonstrated the ability to step into an organisation in crisis and to take firm control, and then rapidly devised a strategy for recovery and led its implementation. She managed the delivery of consistent results for the national examinations in 2005 and has established the planning for ongoing improvement in future examinations.
Ms Sewell has previously taught at schools in the United Kingdom and in New Zealand, has been the holder of a teaching fellowship at Victoria University Wellington, a recipient of a Nuffield Bursary at the University of London and has also been an Inspector of Secondary Schools for the Department of Education.
Wananga to lay off staff
Hard on the heels of a reported loss of $4.9 million last year, it has been reported that Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi is expected to lay off as many as sixty of its 240 staff. Last year’s financial loss, equivalent to 30 percent of the Wananga’s income, is understood to be one of the worst ever recorded by a tertiary-education institution.
According to a report in Education Review, the Government is confident that the Whakatane-based institution can manage its way back to good health and that, while the situation is being monitored, more formal intervention will not be pursued as the Wananga has substantial reserves and is putting in place corrective action to ensure its long-term viability. A spokesperson for the Minister for Tertiary Education, Dr Michael Cullen, is reported as saying that the Crown does not expect the Wananga to request financial assistance to fund the deficit.
Council Chair, Dr Hirini Mead, said that the Wananga’s Council had approved a restructuring plan which included a reorganisation of academic delivery to streamline administration and eliminate duplication across the sector. Dr Mead told Education Review that the new structure would require between fifty and sixty fewer staff, with those affected given the opportunity of taking voluntary redundancy or seeking positions in the new structure. He said the staff positions to be cut would comprise both administrative and teaching staff.
National President of the Association of Staff in Tertiary Education, Lloyd Woods, said that job losses at both Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi and Te Wananga o Aotearoa continue to be heartbreaking for staff, including those who will be left behind to try and “salvage the wreckage” in some areas. “We have been very involved trying to minimise the numbers whose jobs are to be made redundant, and to ensure that the institutions do not cut any more staff positions than they must,” he said. “It is vital that they are not left with insufficient high-quality staff to ensure high-quality provision.”
New appointments to FoRST Board
The Minister for Research, Science and Technology, Steve Maharey, has announced three new appointments to the Board of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, the main government funding body for science and technology. They are Paul Tocker, Chief Executive of Crop and Food, Dr Diana Hill, Chief Executive and Director of the quality assurance company, Global Technologies, and Dr Bronwen Connor, Head of the Neural Repair and Neurogenesis Laboratory and a senior lecturer at the University of Auckland.
The new appointees replace retiring Board members Dr Andy Pearce, Professor Tom Barnes and Dr Grant Ryan. The appointments are for three year terms effective from 13 July.
According to Mr Maharey, the new Board members bring a strong mix of governance and business skills and specialist research experience, including emerging areas of science. They also bring experience in the public sector and strong links with the global science community.
The other members of the FoRST Board are Dame Margaret Bazely (Chair), Professor Judith Kinnear, Jim McLean, Associate Professor Pare Keiha, Professor Gary Hook and Craig Norgate.
It just ain’t right, say PTEs
In a series of rather curious media releases this week, entitled 10 reasons why student loan rules just ain’t right, an otherwise unknown organisation calling itself the PTE Budget Policy Awareness Group appears to have launched something of a campaign in protest at the decision of the Government to limit access to student loans and allowances to those students enrolled in publicly funded tertiary-education courses.
The releases say that more than 100 private training establishments provide courses not funded by the Tertiary Education (TEC), up to half of which receive no TEC funding at all. They add that many of those PTEs will be forced to close at the end of the year.
The first media release from the group says that dozens of PTEs face a period of at least twelve months during which students enrolled in their courses will not be eligible for student loans. “Students will flee these courses on mass [sic], PTEs will go under, hundreds of teaching staff and students will be left stranded,” the release says.
“We have been left way up the proverbial creek – left to sink – left without any lifeline, let alone a boat or even a miserable oar,” said Brijeshi Sethi, PTE Budget Policy Awareness Group spokesperson and Managing Director of a West Auckland PTE, the New Zealand College of Education.
Association of University Staff National President, Professor Nigel Haworth, said that he was surprised at the outcry from the affected PTEs. “The AUS has never thought it appropriate that public funding should go to private tertiary-education institutions which are not publicly accountable for either the quality or usefulness of their courses,” he said. “Students are better advised to enrol in public institutions offering assured quality and qualifications which are consistent with the nation’s tertiary-education strategy and needs.”
UK staff accept pay deal
University staff in the United Kingdom have voted to accept a pay deal that will increase salaries by 10.37 percent over the next two years. The third year of the deal, subject to negotiations after the results of an independent review of university finances, will provide a minimum increase of a further 2.5 percent.
More than 24,500 members of the new University and Colleges Union (UCU), or 70 percent of those participating in the ballot, voted in favour of the deal which followed months of industrial activity culminating in strike action earlier this year.
UCU General Secretary, Sally Hunt, said that the ballot turnout showed the high level of engagement that union members have had during the dispute. “The final settlement provides a solid first step towards restoring pay levels in our universities to those of comparable professions, but our employers must realise that there remains a long way to go,” she said. “Recent studies have confirmed UCU’s view that there is extra money available for pay in the future, and we expect this to be confirmed by the independent review of university finances.
Ms Hunt said that during the pay dispute the union had to negotiate with an employers’ organisation which lacked unity and was often shambolic. “If we are to avoid further prolonged industrial action in the future, the national bargaining structures and University and Colleges Employers’ Association itself require urgent reform,” she said. “In the meantime this dispute has shown that the days when universities could hold salaries down and take our members’ goodwill for granted are over for good.”
Universities close in face of Middle Eastern
Several Lebanese universities and two Israeli campuses have cancelled classes as fighting between Israel and the Lebanese militia, Hezbollah, entered its second week. A spokesperson for the American University of Beirut, one of the region’s elite higher-education institutions, said that administrators had reluctantly decided to close two summer programmes for American and European students because the situation had become too dangerous for many professors to report for work.
Notre Dame University Louaize, a private, English-language university near Beirut, announced on Monday that it was closing until further notice, while the Université Saint Joseph, a private, French-language university in Beirut, announced last week that it was cancelling classes, examinations and diploma ceremonies. The University of Balamand, in northern Lebanon, announced that it was suspending its summer semester until further notice.
In Israel, the University of Haifa and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology announced on Sunday that their campuses were closing until further notice. University of Haifa President, Aaron Ben-Ze’ev, said that American and other foreign students who were enrolled in the University's summer programmes had been transferred to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The campus, he said, is empty except for emergency crews and researchers who come to feed and care for laboratory animals.
Meanwhile, the Gaza University Teachers’ Association has called for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel, and for Israel to withdraw all occupation forces from Gaza, ending the occupation of Palestinian land.
From the Chronicle of Higher Education
(Minister?) calls for less to be spent on
The Australian Minister of Education, Julie Bishop, is reported in The Australian as saying she wants universities to spend less on administration and more on teaching, adding that savings from economies of scale, joint purchasing arrangements and more collaboration across courses and institutions are among the ways they could achieve this.
It is reported that, while her comments will find favour with academics who have long complained about inflated university bureaucracies, they are likely to be viewed with cynicism by administrations “groaning under the weight of red tape” created by the Howard Government’s university reforms.
An overhaul of administration at Curtin University of Technology is said to have attracted the Minister’s attention, with Vice-Chancellor Jeanette Hacket saying Curtin had switched to strategic procurement, centralised purchasing and standardised information-technology services, saving the University $A1 million on its first contract for stationery and business machines alone. The savings would be spent on teaching and research.
Outlining her first-term agenda, Ms Bishop signalled that she would visit the vexed issue of how to allocate base grants according to teaching costs, and push for a greater range of institutions in Australia from liberal arts colleges to specialist universities. She will also continue the fight to have some universities teaching-only, despite state education ministers signing off recently on new national protocols that specify universities must have a research component.
Those concerned at the ease with which universities hand out honorary degrees will be pleased at news that an Austrian court has ordered the country’s first private university to revoke an honorary degree it awarded to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Imadec University in Vienna gave the honorary doctorate of business administration to the former actor in a special ceremony in October 2001, citing his lifetime work, in particular with children in US ghettos, and his services to the Austrian economy. Almost five years on, however, Vienna’s Administrative Tribunal ruled that the University was not in a position to award honorary degrees, not only because it could give titles only to people who had studied there, but also because it could only confer the degrees of executive MBA, international MLE and LLM. The court described the University’s actions as a “breach of administration” and fined it an undisclosed amount.
Meanwhile, former world champion racing driver Sir Jackie Stewart received an honorary degree from Edinburgh University yesterday, and UK television presenter, Chris Tarrant, is to receive an honorary doctorate from Aston University. The host of hit TV series Who wants to be a millionaire will be presented with a degree celebrating his services to the entertainment industry during a ceremony tomorrow at the University in Birmingham.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org