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AUS Tertiary Update

Polytechnics face record losses
Polytechnics and wananga are reported to be facing their worst-ever year financially, with suggestions that nine of the country’s twenty-three institutions will record deficits ranging between $0.5 million and $13 million for 2006. Worst affected is Te Wananga o Aotearoa, which predicted last year that it would lose as much as $13 million in the first half of this year, largely as a result of a major restructuring and significant cuts to its student numbers.
It has been estimated by Education Review that the nine institutions affected will collectively lose as much as $35 million this year, while many of those institutions forecasting surpluses are expecting their lowest in years. The Tairawhiti Polytechnic is facing its third consecutive deficit of $3 million or more.
The Chair of the Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics of New Zealand, Dr Neil Barns, told National Radio’s Morning Report on Tuesday that the losses resulted from a combination of lower enrolments, the Government’s reduction in funding for courses it considers of low relevance and an overall reduction in revenue. He said that a number of the institutions had previously used income from the types of courses from which the Government has cut funding to cross-subsidise others such as trades training or those in regional areas where enrolments are small.
Dr Barns said that the polytechnics are talking to the Government and Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) to find ways of alleviating the situation until new funding arrangements are implemented.
The National Secretary of the Association of Staff in Tertiary Education, Sharn Riggs, said that the report came as no surprise to her organisation. “We have watched a pattern of financial difficulties across the sector for a number of years now, and all our submissions to the TEC and to the Minister for Tertiary Education have reiterated the fact that the institute of technology and polytechnic sector is underfunded,” she said. “This is exactly why some institutions have resorted in the past to using avenues of funding such as high-volume community and international students. Now that those funding sources have dried up, the stark reality of the financial state of the country’s polytechnics is there for all to see.”
Ms Riggs warned that, while the TEC reforms signal some positive approaches to dealing with these problems, they may come too late for those institutions with little or no infrastructure left from which to rebuild.

Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. Canterbury management hostile to staff, says report
2. Students to challenge Code of Conduct
3. AUT academic audit released
4. OECD report shows NZ tuition fees high
5. Skill shortages open doors for women in trades
6. Marsden Fund awards for 2006
7. What makes students travel?
8. Over-fifties keen to quit academia
9. After-effects of 9/11 still show
10. Spin doctor?

Canterbury management hostile to staff, says report
A hard-hitting report, released this week by the Canterbury Branch of the Association of University Staff (AUS), describes an institution with serious problems, attributed “overwhelmingly” to senior management and an employer who has, at best, an indifferent and, at worst, a hostile attitude to staff.
The report, based on a survey of more than 500 staff, also says that low morale and high levels of stress at the University are worse than international norms and may result in a “thoroughly” unhealthy and unsafe work environment
A significant majority of the academic staff (67 percent) and around 40 percent of the general staff who participated in the survey said that the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Roy Sharp, was not a good leader. Only 12 percent of academic staff agreed he is a good leader. Three-quarters felt they did not know the long-term vision of senior management, and only 5 percent of academics believed that senior management consults with them sufficiently.
Of the respondents, 67 percent of academic staff and about 40 percent of general staff report “burn-out” due to job-related stress, compared to an average figure of 26 percent in the United States. Higher levels of stress than two years ago were reported by 61 percent of academic staff and 31 percent of general staff. Morale has also eroded, with 57 percent of academic staff and 27 percent of general staff reporting a deterioration over the last few years.
In an email to staff, Professor Sharp questioned the report’s methodology, saying that it was inevitable that major University restructuring had affected staff, some of whom were more comfortable with it than others. While it was “indeed regrettable” that some staff were not happy in their work, “it is inconceivable that a University besieged by low morale could achieve what this university has ... in the last few years,” the email read.
AUS Canterbury Branch President, Dr David Small, said the achievements of staff are “a tribute to their professionalism and dedication, and their sense of hope that their collegial spirit is strong enough to survive the current autocratic management”. He said that the report was a serious indictment of the managerial team, and it was regrettable that Professor Sharp had no interest in investigating and addressing the matters it raised.
A summary analysis can be found at:
The report can be found at:

Students to challenge Code of Conduct
The Otago University Students’ Association says it will challenge a Code of Conduct adopted by the University Council on Tuesday this week. Student President Paul Chong, has been widely reported as saying that OUSA had not been consulted properly and would “see the University in court”.
The University of Otago Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Skegg, has rejected the claim, saying that there was wide consultation on the proposed code over an eighteen-month period, with student representatives fully involved, including Mr Chong himself, on a working party dealing with the matter.
On Wednesday, Public Law specialist, Mai Chen, told Morning Report that she had been examining the issue for OUSA and believed that, while the University had the right to have a code, it should be limited to on-campus behaviour. “Just because you become a student at Otago University, you don’t relinquish your rights as a human being which all New Zealanders have under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, the freedom of movement, freedom of association, the freedom to express oneself and the freedom from double jeopardy,” she said.
Professor Skegg said that the University’s legal advisers and those for OUSA agreed that the University’s authority was not defined by the boundaries of the campus but by the need for there to be (existence of?) a nexus between the behaviour of concern and the University as an institution. “The University has always been clear that it does not seek to control behaviour unconnected with the University. The suggestion that the Code goes beyond what is appropriate is rejected, as is any claim that the Code is unlawful or invalid,” he said.
The Code is intended to promote the University's academic aims and sense of community through the cultivation of mutual respect, tolerance and understanding, and outlaws actions such as vandalism, setting fires without regard for personal safety or the security of property and throwing bottles.

AUT academic audit released
The Academic Audit Unit has released the report from its recent academic audit of the Auckland University of Technology (AUT). It concludes that the University focuses on students and their preparation for employment within an educational culture of applied research and curriculum development, design and delivery that maintains active linkages with the professions, business and industry.
The Audit Unit commended AUT in a number of areas, including the assurance and enhancement of quality of it academic programmes and the extent and effectiveness of stakeholder involvement in the design and development of curricula. It also commended AUT for the effectiveness of its “staircasing” of students from pre-degree to degree programmes and for relevance of, and staff satisfaction with, staff-development programmes.
With respect to teaching quality, the report noted that the University is aware of the need to monitor the workloads of academic staff undertaking extra responsibilities.
The New Zealand Universities Academic Audit Unit was established in 1993 to monitor and advise on academic quality and standards. The process of audit requires an initial self-review; the Audit Panel then conducts interviews in an audit visit to the university. The report commends good practice and makes recommendations intended to assist the university in its own programmes of continuous improvement.
Academic audits, in which all New Zealand universities participate, focus on teaching quality, programme delivery and the achievement of learning outcomes.
AUT Vice-Chancellor Derek McCormack says that the University is pleased with the report. “We welcome the helpful recommendations which reinforce the programme of change and development already under way, as we make sure that the student experience at AUT remains distinctive and of high quality,” he said.
The AUT audit can be found at:

OECD report shows NZ tuition fees high
A report released on Tuesday by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development highlights New Zealand’s “incredibly high” student-tuition fees, according to the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA).
“The 454 page report, Education at a Glance, shows that New Zealand’s fees are high by international standards and levels of government funding for tertiary education are comparably low,” said NZUSA Co-President, Conor Roberts. “When the OECD compared us with other countries, it highlighted our high fees and comparably low levels of government funding of tertiary education.”
The report can be found at:

Skill shortages open doors for women in trades
Skills shortages are prompting employers to buck the trend and employ female apprentices, according to a major new report on Modern Apprenticeships released on Monday by the Human Rights Commission.
Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, Dr Judy McGregor, said that pragmatism was driving the change, adding that, when faced with a skills shortage, some employers are thinking outside the box and bringing young women into trades training.
Latest figures show that one in twelve Modern Apprentices are women, and a growing number of them are training to become builders, joiners, carpenters, electricians and motor mechanics. Dr McGregor said that there is a long way to go, however, with female apprentices increasing from 6.6 percent in 2003 to just 8.5 percent currently.
A number of female Modern Apprentices from throughout New Zealand are profiled in the Human Rights Commission report, Give Girls a Go! Female Modern Apprentices in New Zealand, launched in Parliament this week by the Minister of Women’s Affairs, Lianne Dalziel. Their stories and reports from their employers aim to raise awareness among young women, educators, careers advisors, industry training groups and employers about the benefits of trades training.
Dr McGregor said that the positive reaction from some employers of female Modern Apprentices challenges stereotypes. “In the past, bosses appeared to be stuck in the groove of “boys only”. Now many are open to the best person for the job whether they are female, male, Māori, Pacific or from a minority group,” she said.

Marsden Fund awards for 2006
The Marsden Fund, New Zealand’s funding for ideas-driven research, has this year given the go-ahead to seventy-eight new projects, with $39.1 million in awards. The projects, twenty-six of which are Fast-Start grants for outstanding new researchers, cover an enormous breadth of disciplines, from nanotechnology to the arts in Oceania.
Chair of the Marsden Fund Council, Dr Garth Carnaby, said that some truly world-class research would simply not happen without the Marsden Fund. Examples of what the new funding will enable include allowing New Zealand researchers to participate in a new global initiative to detect neutrinos using the Antarctic ice cap as the detector, investigating the social networks of homeless people and analysing youth perspectives on videogame violence. There is also a project that may help parole board members decide when violent prisoners should be allowed to go home.
Of the 932 preliminary proposals (722 Standard proposals and 210 Fast-Start proposals), only seventy-eight were ultimately funded.

What makes students travel?
A new report, What makes a student travel for tertiary education study, provides an insight into the movements of tertiary students throughout New Zealand and helps to answer questions about the relationship between the location of tertiary provision and the decision-making of tertiary students. It measures the impact of factors such as geographic access to tertiary provision, ethnic group, highest school qualification and tertiary campus on the decisions of how far students will travel for tertiary study.
The report is restricted to full-time students who were under twenty years of age and left secondary school to attend a public tertiary-education-institution campus. The rationale for these restrictions is that these students are likely to travel for educational purposes, whereas older or part-time students are likely to have more varied reasons for travelling, such as family and work.
Some findings from the report are that geographic access to tertiary provision is the most significant factor in determining how far a student travelled to attend a tertiary campus. Students who were comparatively more isolated from tertiary provision had a higher probability of travelling further than their nearest campus for tertiary study.
While field of study influenced how far students chose to travel for tertiary study, it was a field of study at a particular campus that was most important in this decision.
The influence of the tertiary campus was found to be an important factor in the decision of how far a student will travel for tertiary study. Certain campuses have a higher probability of attracting students from far away.
Māori students were more likely to travel long distances for tertiary study, while Pasifika students were more likely to attend a tertiary campus near their home-base than other students.
Women were more likely to travel long distances for tertiary study than men.

The report can be found at:

Over-fifties keen to quit academia
Age discrimination is said to be rife across Britain’s universities, with staff aged over fifty the unhappiest in their jobs, according to a poll released this week by the University and College Union (UCU).
Among the key findings of the survey is that 43 percent of staff aged over fifty would retire immediately if they could. This is in stark contrast to younger members of staff, of whom just 18 percent aged under 35 would retire now. Overall, 33 percent said they would retire now if they could.
Staff aged over fifty have the lowest morale, with 39 percent of them describing their morale as poor or very poor. In the fifty-one to fifty-five age bracket, 41 percent of staff describe morale as poor or very poor, and in the fifty-five to sixty-four age bracket, 37 per cent describe morale as poor or very poor. Overall 35 per cent of staff describe morale as poor or very poor.
UCU Joint General Secretary, Sally Hunt, said that the report showed that there was a group of incredibly devoted and hardworking lecturers in their fifties, many of whom are clearly very unhappy. “In a sector where age and wisdom have traditionally been synonymous, I cannot understand why universities are failing to treat their staff with respect they deserve,” she said. “All too often it is this group that is the first to be considered for voluntary redundancy and little is done to consider their needs and how best to use their wealth of experience and knowledge.”

After-effects of 9/11 still show
American universities are still feeling the after-effects of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, particularly in areas like visa rules, international faculty exchanges, curriculum offerings and campus risk-management and security planning, according to a report released this week by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU).
The report, September 11: Effects on My Campus Five Years Later, was based on a survey of 133 presidents and senior-level administrators at colleges in thirty-one states and the District of Columbia. While the findings are not statistically significant, the responses provide insight into the continuing effects of the terrorist attacks on higher education.
NAICU President, David L. Warren, said that what stands out most in the survey is the impact 11 September has had on international-student enrolment and faculty exchange. Two-thirds of survey respondents agreed that the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, established in 2003 and run by the US Department of Homeland Security to track and monitor foreign students and scholars, has at least moderately affected campus policies and international exchanges.
More than half of the respondents agreed that the attacks had had at least moderate effects on curriculum. Respondents noted greater student interest in foreign policy and international relations and an increased interest in, and availability of, courses on Islam. New undergraduate majors and graduate programmes have also been developed, including certificate programmes in homeland security.
Some respondents also cited an impact on liberal-arts core requirements, while more than three-quarters of respondents reported moderate effects at minimum on campus risk-management and security procedures, such as the development of additional staff positions, the installation of panic buttons in classrooms and new emergency-response programmes.
From the Chronicle of Higher Education

Spin doctor?
In what Tertiary Update believes must surely rank as one of the more questionable decisions of the season, Australian cricket legend Shane Warne donned academic regalia yesterday to receive an honorary doctorate from the Southhampton Solent University in England.
Professor Glyn Tonge, Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the University’s Board of Governors, said that, as arguably the greatest bowler who has ever lived, Shane Warne is highly deserving of this honorary doctorate. “His sporting success is an inspiration to all,” he said.
In what was described as a break with tradition, the degree was conferred at the Rose Bowl, the home of Hampshire cricket where Warne is currently playing.
From BBC Sports News

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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