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AUS Tertiary Update

Boost to international education
In an address to the annual Education New Zealand International Education Conference this morning, the Minister for Tertiary Education, Dr Michael Cullen, has outlined a new direction and additional promotional spending for the international education sector.
The new direction will be based on four distinct goals: that New Zealand students will be equipped to thrive in an inter-connected world; that New Zealand’s education providers will be strengthened academically and financially through international links; that international students will be enriched by their educational and living experiences in New Zealand; and that the direct economic and social benefits to New Zealand from international education activities must grow to their full potential.
Supporting the new agenda, Dr Cullen has announced that the Government will re-allocate $1 million in Export Education Levy funds in this and the next financial year towards supporting additional promotion and marketing activities. An extra $200,000 will also be provided this year from Vote Education to support more promotion and marketing work in India.
The Government will also undertake ministerial missions in 2006/07 to North Asia (including China) and Northern Europe and in 2007/08 to South East Asia and the Middle East, improve the effectiveness of quality-assurance and pastoral-care policies, implement an effective international media and communications strategy and investigate other promotional and marketing ideas. Dr Cullen said he has also asked his officials to investigate proposals to expand existing scholarship programmes.
Dr Cullen told the Conference that New Zealand must do much better at attracting high-calibre international students and researchers. “We live in a world that is hungry for education. I firmly believe that New Zealand can meet some of that demand, and establish itself as a premier provider in a number of high-value niches in the international education market,” he said. “This is a $2 billion a year industry which provides important opportunities for educators here and offshore. The thousands of overseas students here enrich our communities and help raise the standards of our domestic students.”

Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. Tertiary providers rapped over student care
2. He maemae aroha
3. Massey awarded tertiary-teaching-centre contract
4. Two new centres of research excellence to be established
5. Otago Polytechnic to increase fees
6. Top scholarships awarded
7. University of Sydney rolls out AWAs
8. Canadian universities boycott ranking
9. Plummeting numbers jeopardise sciences
10. AVCC labelled whingers

Tertiary providers rapped over student care
Private Training Establishments were the subject of two-thirds of the number of complaints made by international students last year, according to the latest report of the International Education Appeal Authority. The Authority received sixty-two complaints related to breaches of the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students for the period 1 October 2004 to 30 September 2005, down from 101 complaints the previous year.
The Code of Practice sets out minimum requirements for tertiary-education providers which are designed to go some way to providing the conditions required for the experience of international education to be a positive one for both students and their host country.
Of the latest complaints, forty-one were against private training establishments, ten against universities, and a further eleven against schools, polytechnics and colleges of education. In all, complaints were received about forty-three different providers by students from Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan, Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United States.
The report said that, while it was evident that many providers had excellent systems in place for dealing with international students, some providers appeared to be acting with little regard for the Code. “It is disappointing to discover that some large institutions are not fully meeting their obligations to provide appropriate services for their international students,” it reads. “If the international education sector is to flourish it is essential that providers enrol students who are well-informed about the courses they propose to participate in, that they select only those students who are going to be able to participate effectively in their courses and that they provide appropriate support services once the students are in New Zealand.”
The types of complaint received included poor course quality, inappropriate course placement, poor quality of homestay accommodation, inadequate information about course costs, expulsion and threats of expulsion, provider failure to pay refunds where due, provider failure to record and maintain information about the student and a lack of fairness in the way requests for refunds were dealt with.
In its report, the Authority took the unusual step of directing that the Capital Language Academy be named, along with the particulars of a complaint laid against it, after it was ordered to repay a student $3277 in fees and $750 in compensation because it took nearly seven months to refund the fees to the student, who was unable to attend a course in 2004.

He maemae aroha
The Association of University Staff and Te Kahurangi Whāiti are mourning the loss of the Māori Queen, Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangi Kāhu.
Crowned on May 23 1966, Dame Te Ata was the Kingitanga movement’s first Māori Queen. The Kingitanga movement was formed in 1856 as a way of protecting Maori land under the mantle of a King, the first of whom was Pōtatau Te Wherowhero, an ancestor of Dame Te Ata. During her forty-year reign she was involved in local, national and international politics and an avid and staunch supporter of indigenous development.
Dame Te Ata was awarded an honorary doctorate from Waikato University in 1973, and an honorary Doctor of Laws from Victoria University in 1999. She was one of the first inductees of the Order of New Zealand when it was established in 1987. She was also the first Māori woman to be made a Dame.
Dame Te Ata is (was?) very well respected within the university sector. She is (was?)a strong advocate for Māori women and is (was?) regarded within Maoridom as a great and influential leader.
AUS Māori Officer, Naomi Manu, said today that Dame Te Atairangi Kāhu is a person that Aotearoa will stop to mourn. “Her untimely death is a loss for a country that needs leaders like her,” she said. “The fact she was awarded two honorary doctorates by two universities in this country shows how important she was to university staff members and she will be remembered. Her death is sadly mourned.”

Massey awarded tertiary-teaching-centre contract
A Massey University-led consortium has won the contract to establish the new National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence. The Government will spend $4m a year on the Centre, which will be hosted by Massey University in collaboration with Auckland University of Technology, University of Canterbury, Christchurch College of Education, Universal College of Learning and Manukau Institute of Technology.
The Centre will be based at Massey’s Wellington campus with regional hubs in Auckland, Christchurch and Palmerston North. The hubs will work with tertiary-education providers to fund and support a range of services, activities and projects throughout the country.
Making the announcement yesterday, the Minister for Tertiary Education, Dr Michael Cullen, said that the Centre would promote and support effective teaching and learning across New Zealand’s tertiary sector. “It will assist tertiary-education organisations and educators to deliver the best possible learning outcomes for students,” he said. “The Centre will also support and challenge tertiary-education organisations to enhance the effectiveness of teaching and learning practices. This will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the quality of teaching and will result in students achieving their full potential.”
The National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence will establish benchmarks to improve teaching practice; support the development of subject expertise in tertiary teaching; research, identify and share effective teaching and learning practices; explore the need for professional standards, including entry requirements to the tertiary-teaching profession; and administer the Tertiary Teaching Excellence awards
Dr Cullen said that encouraging excellence in teaching would reinforce the Government’s reforms of the tertiary-sector-funding framework as it strives to lift quality across the sector. “High-quality teachers producing high-quality, work-ready students where the economy needs them most is vital for economic transformation,” he said.

Two new centres of research excellence to be established
The Government is to set up two new research centres and increase funding to existing Centres of Research Excellence, according to an announcement by the Minister for Tertiary Education last Friday.
In June, Dr Cullen said that the Government agreed to support the existing seven centres, known as Cores, beyond 2008, and an additional $10m in operating funding and one-off capital funding of $20m from 2007/08 has now been allocated.
The Cores were set up in 2002 and 2003 with the aim of producing world-class research that is focused on New Zealand's future development.
Dr Cullen said that he is extremely pleased to be able to confirm that further funding will be available for current Cores if successful in the next selection round and that he is excited by the prospect of New Zealand having up to two additional Cores.
Dr Cullen said the Cores had created collaborative scientific networks and their work was supporting industry and impacting positively on the economy.
The Royal Society of New Zealand will conduct the funding-allocation round on behalf of the Tertiary Education Commission with proposal applications starting next month.

Otago Polytechnic to increase fees
In a move described by the New Zealand Union of Students Co-President, Conor Roberts, as extremely disappointing, the Otago Polytechnic will increase its 2007 domestic tuition fees by up to 5 percent on current levels. It is the maximum permissible increase under the Government’s fee-maxima policy.
Mr Roberts said that students should not be forced to pick up the slack because of the Government’s under-funding of the public tertiary-education system. “Dr Cullen is currently undertaking a review of how tertiary education is funded in New Zealand, but is omitting to look at the actual levels of funding for our institutions,” he said. “Last year, students at Otago Polytechnic borrowed over $8.5 million simply to pay for fees, students are frustrated that it will be even higher next year.”
Mr Roberts said that, if high quality tertiary education is wanted in this country, then the Government must take responsibility to fund it properly, as current funding levels are outrageously low. “High fees act as a barrier to tertiary education for many people and high debt has a host of negative outcomes for students and the wider society,” he said. “As we go into the fee-setting season, students are calling on tertiary institutions to not raise fees and send a message to the Government that they cannot get away with simply passing the buck on to students.”

Top scholarships awarded
The recipients of the twenty-four Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarships were announced this week by the Minister for Tertiary Education, Dr Michael Cullen. The twenty-four scholars will get almost $2.8 million over the next three years of their study and, while most will undertake their research at a New Zealand university, some will carry out their studies at an overseas tertiary institution. On the completion of the scholarship, students conducting research overseas must return to New Zealand for a period equal to that of the scholarship.
According to Dr Cullen, the scholarships have been set up to nurture high-quality research in all disciplines, and support development of internationally competitive researchers and graduates. “The research supported by the scholarships shows how tertiary education can be a driver of innovation and improved productivity, and underpin this country’s economic transformation,” he said.
Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarships are administered by the Tertiary Education Commission. The next round of applications for the scholarships closes on 15 December 2006.

University of Sydney rolls out AWAs
In a move that has angered staff, the University of Sydney yesterday began what it has described as the roll-out of Australian Workplace Agreements. In a broadcast email to the University’s 5,500 staff, the Vice-Chancellor, Gavin Brown, has announced that all staff will be offered the AWAs or individual employment agreements in place of the current collective agreement, negotiated by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU).
The email says that the introduction of the arrangements offers the University the opportunity to further strengthen its flexibility and efficiency in an increasingly competitive environment, but does not say how. It says that the University is committed to maintaining fair, reasonable and competitive salaries and conditions which both reward and recognise the contributions of staff, and adds that complying with the Government’s wish to have staff on individual agreements will result in an additional $A15 million in government funding.
Describing the offer as provocative, the President of the NTEU University of Sydney Branch, Michael Thompson, says that University management are trying to lure staff on to AWAs with a non-guaranteed 6 percent performance bonus, while at the same time stripping significant conditions currently provided for under the current collective agreement. Core conditions at risk include all leave arrangements, “draconian” constraints on academic freedom, increased powers to sack staff and reduced access to arbitration procedures.
New South Wales NTEU State Secretary, Chris Game, said that the Union was not aware of any other university actively pushing AWAs in this way. “It is a shame that, instead of leading the way with pay and conditions, we have a University pushing a worst-practice industrial model,” she said

Canadian universities boycott ranking
Eleven Canadian universities are refusing to participate in an annual university ranking survey, saying that the magazine conducting the survey uses flawed methodology.
On Monday, the universities sent a joint letter to the magazine’s publisher saying they would not participate in a questionnaire used to compile information for the popular Macleans University Ranking Issue. In the letter, the group reiterated an ongoing concern “about the methodology used in the ... survey and the validity of some of the measures used”. The letter also stated that the universities’ “serious concerns have gone largely unaddressed, and there is still no evidence that Macleans intends to respond to them”.
Despite the boycott, the Macleans Managing Editor of Special Projects, Tony Keller, said the eleven universities will still be included in the issue. “Journalists don't stop covering stories and subjects because the stories and subjects criticise them,” he said. “This information is all available. It’s all publicly available from third-party sources, from university consortia, through access to information, from annual reports. It’s all there, so we'll be continuing ... to use all that information.”
In an earlier letter in March, four of the eleven universities voiced their dissatisfaction with the magazine's data-collection methods. The letter was accompanied by a boycott from the four universities of the magazine's University Student Issue and its graduate survey.
From CTV Canada

Plummeting numbers jeopardise sciences
Research released in the United Kingdom this week asserts that student numbers for Physics degrees are in “terminal decline” and that other science subjects including Chemistry and materials-based subjects such as Metallurgy and Forensic Engineering, are under serious threat.
One study, focusing on university student numbers since 1996, showed that, while there had been a 6 percent drop in the number of full-time undergraduates studying Physics, there had been a 20 percent decline in the number of chemistry students and a 24 percent decline in the number of students on materials-based courses.
Earlier in the week, it had been reported that the number of students taking A-level Physics had dropped by almost half since 1982, and more than a quarter of universities with large Physics departments have given up teaching the subject since 1994
The research confirms concerns voiced earlier this week by business leaders that Britain is in danger of running out of scientists because of flaws in its secondary-education system. Thousands of potential physicists, biologists and chemists were being put off because of a “stripped-down” science curriculum, a lack of specialist teachers and uninspiring careers advice.
From Education Guardian

AVCC labelled whingers
A review by education consultant PhillipsKPA has concluded that the Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee “brand” has become tarnished and carries negative connotations with some stakeholders. It recommends that the AVCC change its name to Universities Australia to better reflect the nature of its membership.
Senior politicians told PhillipsKPA they thought the AVCC was “a negative organisation, characterised in its dealings with government by political naivety and whingeing self-interest”. They held a perception that the AVCC was “never satisfied with government decisions”.
The review says a future university “peak body” should make advocacy its chief function, followed by analysis and services. It also says the peak body needs to “embrace the diversity of its membership and accept that a shared view will not be achieved on all issues”.
The report says the AVCC leadership team should comprise a part-time, paid, non-executive chair of the Board and a full-time chief executive.
The current AVCC Chief Executive, John Mullarvey, offered no comment on the report, while the AVCC President, Gerard Sutton, said the Board supported the broad directions the report laid down for the sector. He added that the perceptions held by politicians must be addressed.
Vice-chancellors will discuss the report at a retreat next month.
From The Australian

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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