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AUS Tertiary Update

Auckland, Otago take lion’s share of PBRF funding
Between them, the Universities of Auckland and Otago will receive more than 50 percent of the total Performance-Based Research Fund this year, according to the 2005 PBRF Annual Report recently released by the Tertiary Education Commission.
Of the $126 million forecast to be allocated from the fund in 2006, the University of Auckland will receive $37.7 million and the University of Otago $26.6 million. Auckland’s share will increase by 1.1 percent, up from 28.8 to 29.9 percent of the available funding, while Otago’s share, although growing in monetary value, drops by 1.3 in percentage terms, from 22.4 to 21.1 percent. The growth in Auckland’s share of the PBRF funding is due to an increase in external research income and research-degree completions.
According to an analysis in Education Review, all universities will be better off than they would have been without the PBRF. This year, the scheme removed 50 percent of the research funding attached to student-component funding for student undergraduate and postgraduate enrolments and reallocated that money, along with $50 million in additional government funding, to the PBRF. Under that formula, the most successful university, on a proportional basis, is Lincoln, which is $2.6 million or 86 percent better off under the PBRF. Auckland will be $17.8 million or 44.7 percent better off, while Otago is ahead by $13.7 million or 53 percent. Waikato is better off by $4.3 million (or 45 percent), Massey $6.7 million (2.6 percent) and Canterbury $5.5 million (28 percent). Victoria trailed the field among the traditional universities, being better off by $3 million or only 19 percent.
Education Review reports that research-degree completions, which account for 25 percent of the PBRF, produced a mixed result, with half of the universities reporting more completions in 2004 than in 2003. Auckland, Massey and Canterbury each reported more than 300 research-degree completions and Otago and Waikato had relatively more doctoral completions than did other institutions.
The report also showed that Auckland’s external research income increased from $69 million in 2001 to $101 million in 2004 while, during the same period, Otago’s external research income grew from $52.9 million to $59.4 million.

Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. University staff to vote soon on new agreements
2. University staff welcome proposals for second-language learning
3. Close call for polytech courses
4. TEC to run assessment process for funding
5. VC defends academic freedom
6. Campaign against exploitation of non-tenured US staff
7. Boycott lifted at Brunel
8. Universities in Lebanon and Israel respond to war
9. Institute named after nanny

University staff to vote soon on new agreements
Ratification ballots to renew collective employment agreements are expected to get under way at universities next week, once the Tertiary Education Commission has formally advised vice-chancellors that new funding is on the way.
University staff recently decided to renew current collective employment agreements, including salary offers based on a $26 million funding package from the Government. If the 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 terms of settlement for each of the collective agreements have now been signed, the last ones being completed at Lincoln yesterday. As well as the proposed salary increases, each collective agreement includes provisions requiring the unions and vice-chancellors to continue to work actively and constructively through the tripartite process to resolve funding and salary issues. The term of all agreements will run from 1 July 2006 until 31 May 2007, allowing for national bargaining to be initiated again in 2007.
AUS General Secretary Helen Kelly said that the proposed salary increases achieved this year were among the largest across-the-board increases seen in the sector in twenty years, and were a direct result of the tripartite process initiated by the Association of University Staff. “The Government has agreed that $26 million funding made available for this increase is an initial contribution, and we look forward to continuing the tripartite process to make further progress,” she said. “While the Minister for Tertiary Education has announced the funding that forms the basis of the salary package on offer, the documentation is yet to arrive. Once that has been received, the ratification processes will start.”
Ms Kelly said that the unions’ bargaining team is recommending that union members accept the deals.

University staff welcome proposals for second-language learning
The emphasis placed on the teaching of languages in the draft curriculum for primary and secondary schools has been cautiously welcomed by the Association of University Staff. Unveiled this week by the Minister of Education, Steve Maharey, the proposed new curriculum adds “learning languages” to the existing seven learning areas. If accepted, this will require all schools with Year 7 (Form 1) to Year 10 (Form 4) students to offer classes in a second language. That is, in addition to English and Maori.
While the Government does not intend prescribing what languages it wants taught, Mr Maharey hinted that widely spoken ones, such as Spanish, should be considered. He noted too that Pacific Island language teaching had recently received more Government money, and that the needs of New Zealand’s rapidly growing Chinese and Indian communities should be addressed.
AUS Academic Vice-President, Dr Tom Ryan, said that this is very welcome news for language departments in our universities. “In recent years many tertiary language programmes have suffered from a decline in enrolments, leading to widespread cutbacks in courses and teaching positions and, in some cases, the wholesale elimination of programmes,” he said. “Over just the past year, for example, both Waikato and Canterbury arts faculties have suffered such ‘slash-and-burn tactics’.”
Dr Ryan said that the proposals for more second-language learning in our schools would clearly require the training of appropriately qualified language teachers, many of whom will need to come through university language departments. “The sector as a whole should welcome this development and see it as an opportunity to reassert the value of language study in education generally,” he said.

Close call for polytech courses
A number of at-risk courses at the Otago Polytechnic have been spared the axe by an interim payment of $1.578 million from the Quality Reinvestment Fund, a $200 million fund to help polytechnics and wananga invest in high-quality courses and to smooth the withdrawal of funding for community courses. It was reported this week that the money came as a deadline expired for heads of courses with low enrolments to put their case to Polytech management for the courses to stay.
The Polytechnic Chief Executive, Phil Ker, is reported as saying that the interim funding acknowledged the underpinning problem his polytechnic faced, that some courses attracted relatively small numbers of students because of the region’s population, but were nevertheless valuable. He said that the extra funding meant that, where ways of improving the situation were identified, the Polytechnic now had some resources to do this.
The Polytechnic has been undertaking reviews of courses under what is described as the looming threat of a million-dollar deficit.
From the Otago Daily Times

TEC to run assessment process for funding
It has just been announced that the Tertiary Education Commission is to hold an assessment process this year for funding for providers affected by the recent student loans and allowances policy change. This will allow for the forty-three non-Student Component funded Private Training Establishments (PTEs), whose access to Student Loans and Allowances is to be withdrawn from January 2007, to apply for government funding.
Following the Budget decision, the TEC has been in contact with affected providers to consider the options for implementing the policy.
TEC’s Acting Policy and Advice Group Manager, James Turner, said the decision will ensure that affected PTEs have an opportunity to apply for Student Component funding and ensure good quality, relevant provision is not lost. Providers who wish to apply for government funding through this process will be required to provide evidence to demonstrate provision of high quality and relevant education.
Further information on the assessment process will be made available to affected PTEs in the next few weeks.
Final decisions, about which provision will be subsidised in 2007, will be confirmed later this year.

Worldwatch
VC defends academic freedom
The Australian National University Vice-Chancellor, Ian Chubb, has called on universities to vigorously defend their academics’ involvement in public debate, citing a specific attempt to undermine this at ANU.
Professor Chubb revealed he was warned to “be careful” about promoting research that was critical of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement. In an opinion piece in The Canberra Times, Professor Chubb revealed that he received “a couple of telephone calls” cautioning him against publicising the work of four people, including two ANU academics.
In a separate letter, Professor Chubb defended researcher Amin Saikal, who has been criticised for his views on the Middle East because the research centre in which he works is partly funded by a United Arab Emirates foundation.
Professor Chubb spoke out about academic independence after claims of anti-Americanism in academe from former Liberal senator and diplomat, Michael Baume, who is Deputy Chair of a company expected to fund a new United States Studies centre. Referring to “ludicrously unbalanced” debate about the Free Trade Agreement, Mr Baume warned that his company would not renew funding if the university that won the bid succumbed to anti-Americanism.
Professor Chubb responded, asking how you could be seriously engaged in an institution where that’s the explicit objective? He said about 50 percent of Americans did not vote for their President but they weren't called un-American. “A handful of Australians say something about the policies of the President and they're declared to be anti-American,” he said.
From The Australian

Campaign against exploitation of non-tenured US staff
The American Federation of Teachers’ higher-education division launched a legislative campaign to address the exploitation of part-time and adjunct labour in colleges and universities at its Annual Conference last week.
AFT Vice-President, Barbara Bowen, said that a current staffing crisis in United States universities is a consequence of longtime attacks on the academy. She stated that that the goals of the campaign are to encourage state legislators to explore the impact of a staffing crisis on higher education and the people it serves, to foster public discussion through hearings, to promote the improvement of working conditions and the earnings of part-timers and to reverse the erosion of full-time, tenured jobs. The hope is to have local branches of the AFT develop and promote prospective legislation in twenty states and the United States Congress, starting in January 2007.
Higher-education delegates to the Conference also received an update on the AFT response to attacks on academic freedom, the most fevered of them said to have come from well-funded and loud voices on the far right, such as conservative commentator David Horowitz, and organisations like the National Association of Scholars and the American Council of Alumni and Trustees.

Boycott lifted at Brunel
A year-long dispute between Brunel University management and the University and College Union (UCU) was resolved this week after the parties reached agreement at arbitrated talks last Friday.
The dispute started last year after University management made a number of staff, including prominent union activists, compulsorily redundant. The Union called for Brunel University to be greylisted, which consists of a voluntary embargo of links between the University and union members and a boycott of the University by trade unionists across the globe.
As part of the settlement, the University has restated its recognition of UCU as the representative trade union for academic and academic-related staff at the University. The agreement also includes agreed facility time for UCU activists, a commitment that University management will not victimise UCU members for their trade union activities and an acknowledgment that all parties will work together to improve industrial relations at the University. The greylisting and boycott were lifted after the agreement was endorsed by Union members at Brunel.
UCU Joint General Secretary, Sally Hunt, said that the agreement was a significant step forward for Union members at Brunel. “I would like to pay tribute to the courage and stoicism of our members at Brunel University who have stuck together and stayed with their Union during a long and difficult dispute,” she said. “I would also like to thank UCU members and trade unionists from across the globe for showing solidarity with our members at Brunel.”

Universities in Lebanon and Israel respond to war
Lebanese universities have expressed rage and sadness in the wake of last weekend’s Israeli attack on Qana, a village that Israeli military officials said was being used by Hezbollah to fire rockets at northern Israel. On Monday, nearly 1,000 physicians, staff members and others gathered outside the American University of Beirut Medical Center to protest against the latest civilian killings. Speakers urged governments abroad, especially the United States, to pressure Israel to call a cease-fire and lift its blockade of Lebanon. University officials said more than 600 people had been killed and more than 2,000 injured in Lebanon over the past three weeks.
The Lebanese American University shut down its two campuses, in Beirut and Byblos, on Monday, the first time the campuses had closed since the war began, while the website of another Lebanese University was replaced by a slide show of photos of bombing victims and damaged buildings. “The Lebanese University in mourning,” a statement on the site read in French.
Meanwhile, officials at the University of Haifa have decided to show their support for the Israeli armed forces by turning their main administrative building into a giant Israeli flag. At night, the thirty-story Eshkol Tower on Mount Carmel lights up with the design of the national flag.
While the University’s offices reopened last week, classes and examinations remain suspended because of the danger from rocket attacks.
At the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, more than half of the University’s staff returned to work this week after the University shut down in the immediate aftermath of the war.
From the Chronicle of Higher Education

Institute named after nanny
A Canadian businessman who made a $C1 million donation to a university has decided to buck the trend of having a building named after him. Instead, he has asked for it to be named after his childhood nanny. The new home of the Coady International Institute at St Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia will be named the Marjorie Desmond Learning Pavilion after the nanny who helped raise John Chisholm and his siblings.
“In an era of vanity charity, this is a refreshing and inspiring gesture,” said Mary Coyle, Vice-President of St Francis Xavier. She said that Mr Chisholm’s modesty and generosity led others to think of making similar unnamed donations.
When asked what Ms Desmond would have thought of the gesture, Mr Chisholm said his former nanny
disliked being under the spotlight, and he added: “She'd probably give me heck.”
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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