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AUS Tertiary Update

Tertiary Strategy to drive economic transformation
The new Tertiary Education Strategy released this morning underlines the Government’s determination to equip the country with the kind of twenty-first-century skills needed to drive economic transformation, according to the Minister for Tertiary Education, Dr Michael Cullen.
The Strategy broadly expects the tertiary-education sector to contribute to transforming the New Zealand economy through lifelong learning, by creating and applying knowledge to drive innovation and by building strong connections between tertiary-education organisations and the communities they serve. It also sets out the Government’s expectations and priorities for how the sector will contribute to the Government’s goals, not just for the economy but also for families and national identity.
As such, the Strategy will be the key to developing and negotiating future plans for the sector, and will incorporate the Statement of Tertiary Education Priorities (STEP) so that there is now one document setting out government expectations and priorities.
From 2008, the new tertiary-education system will be based on the Strategy and three-year plans which will be agreed between individual tertiary-education organisations and the Tertiary Education Commission. These plans will establish what the Commission will fund and how each organisation will meet the priorities identified in the Strategy.
Dr Cullen said that the Strategy marks significant progress towards a new tertiary system that provides a better bridge between the world of learning and the world of work. “If we are to achieve our aim of a higher-income, knowledge-based economy that is innovative and creative, it is vital that the tertiary-education sector plays its part,” he said. “It is important that we have a tertiary-education sector that allows families, young and old, to meet their aspirations for education success and one that supports and celebrates our unique national identity.”
Dr Cullen said that feedback during consultation on the Strategy reconfirmed the Government’s support for a tertiary-education sector that makes a unique and valuable contribution to our national development in all dimensions, social, economic, cultural and environmental.
The new Strategy can be viewed at:

Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. New funding for Medicine and Dentistry teaching welcomed
2. Massey gets exemption from fee maxima
3. Commissioner for Western Institute of Technology
4. Study shows those with qualifications earn more
5. Education links strengthened with India
6. Gold star for Otago
7. Student-loan-repayment threshold too low, says NZUSA
8. Fewer US academics on tenure track
9. Work-life balance award to UK university
10. Iranian students disrupt President’s speech
11. Odds on for union leadership

New funding for Medicine and Dentistry teaching welcomed
Last week’s announcement that funding for Medicine and Dentistry degree programmes will be increased by $24.6 million has been welcomed by the Association of University Staff (AUS). The additional funding has been allocated following a review which identified that there is a significant level of under-funding for undergraduate Medicine and Dentistry education, that New Zealand’s Schools of Medicine and Dentistry need to be able to recruit and retain highly skilled staff and that students must have access to the highest-quality learning.
In a letter to AUS, the Minister for Tertiary Education, Dr Michael Cullen, said that the additional funding will address staff recruitment and retention issues, support curriculum development and ensure that the teaching infrastructure facilitates excellent learning outcomes and meets Australasian standards.
The AUS National President, Professor Nigel Haworth, said that the additional funding comes on top of the $26 million funding package which resulted from the tripartite process among the Government, unions and vice-chancellors earlier in the year. “The new funding which has come into the sector has proven the real value of constructive engagement with the Government on important issues within the sector,” he said.
Professor Haworth said that a major problem facing the universities was the disparity between salaries paid to Medical and Dental specialists within the public health system and those in the universities. “Despite an internationally accepted view that salary rates between these to groups should be comparable, the current difference in base-salaries is around $20,000 per year,” he said. “Had this new funding not been made available, that differential would have ballooned to $49,000 within eight years.”
Professor Haworth said that he expected the new funding would allow for immediate employment agreement negotiations between AUS and the Universities of Otago and Auckland to ensure that the additional funding supported the Government’s objective of addressing staff-recruitment and retention issues.
In 2007, the new funding rates will be between $32,458 and $38,283 per equivalent full-time student for Medicine and $46,427 for Dentistry. This represents an increase over current funding rates of $13,566 for Medicine and $14,353 for Dentistry.

Massey gets exemption from fee maxima
Massey students say they will face a “whopping” tuition-fee increase next year, following a decision by the Tertiary Education Commission to approve an application by the University for an exemption from the Government’s Fee-Maxima policy. Under that policy, tuition fees and course costs can increase by a maximum of 5 percent without specific exemption.
The exemption will allow Massey University to increase fees by up to 10 percent for undergraduate courses and above the $500 limit for postgraduate research for 2007.
Despite student opposition, Vice-Chancellor Professor Judith Kinnear has welcomed the exemption, saying that it formed part of a range of measures to enable Massey to meet its financial targets in the near future and continue to invest in staff, infrastructure and services to deliver a quality education experience for students. “Massey’s income per student is amongst the lowest in the university sector because the fee-stabilisation legislation introduced in 2003 (for 2004 fees) froze Massey fees at lower levels than other universities. This was compounded by the Council decision in 2004 not to increase fees for 2005. We need to achieve a level of fee income that will enable us to maintain the quality of Massey’s research and research training and teaching, and deliver on its Charter goals and Profile objectives,” she said.
Massey University Student President Paul Falloon said, however, that the decision would mean that student fees would increase by $700 next year. “This decision is an extreme disappointment,” he said. “The Government has failed to properly fund the University and has left students to bear the brunt of years of underfunding.”
Liz Hawes, President of the Massey Extramural Students’ Society, said that the Government’s supposed concern over student-debt levels had been completely negated by allowing astronomical fee increases such as those seen in the 1990s. “This result completely wipes out gains made through the Interest Free Student Loans policy,” she said.

Commissioner for Western Institute of Technology
In a move which had been earlier described as “almost inevitable”, the Government has announced that a Crown Commissioner is to be appointed to run the New Plymouth-based Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (WITT). The Institute’s Council members have agreed to a proposal by the Minister for Tertiary Education, Dr Michael Cullen, that they stand down and allow the Commissioner, Murray Strong, to take over the authority and responsibilities of the Council. It is the first time that a commissioner has been appointed to run a New Zealand tertiary-education organisation.
Dr Cullen said he was grateful for the work of councillors in trying to manage longstanding financial problems at the Institute, adding that they had done their best and had made progress in some areas during a difficult time of strong labour market conditions and declining enrolments. “With continuing pressure on enrolments and persisting deficits, however, it is now apparent that a fresh approach is necessary,” he said.
Lloyd Woods, National President of ASTE, the union representing academic staff at the Institute, said that the situation had become so difficult that the appointment of a commissioner was almost inevitable. He said that WITT had been struggling for some years following ill-conceived ventures by previous management and councils. “Staff at WITT feel [the appointment of a commissioner] is a positive move and one that shows an ongoing concern for and commitment to the Institute by the Government,” he said. “We see this as a move in support of current management, staff and, most importantly, students.”
Dr Cullen said that the Government is committed to tertiary education in Taranaki, and has made provision of $7 million to support WITT into the future. “I will ensure the Commissioner is supported by an advisory committee comprising people with an understanding of the tertiary-education and training needs of Taranaki. The committee will be appointed in early 2007,” he said.

Study shows those with qualifications earn more
People with a qualification below degree level earn about 20 percent less than those with a bachelor’s degree, while those with a postgraduate qualification earn about 60 percent more than those with only a bachelor’s degree, according to a new report published by the Ministry of Education.
The report, What factors impact on graduates' earnings three years post-study?, looks at the post-study earnings of those who borrowed through the Student Loan Scheme and the earnings of people three years after they left study and again five years after they left study. The analysis provides new information on the extent of change in the earnings of graduates who studied at different qualification levels.
Included among the key findings are that students who studied in the fields of Health, Engineering, Management and Commerce and Education were likely to earn more than students studying in other fields, when adjusted for other relevant factors People holding postgraduate qualifications in Management and Commerce or Health were likely to have the highest earnings.
Among bachelor’s degree holders, studies in Engineering and related technology studies, Health and Education resulted in higher predicted earnings, while individuals holding qualifications below degree level in the fields of Engineering and related technology, Health and Education also were likely to earn higher incomes relative to other fields of study at the same level. Among industries of employment, Engineering, Mining, Telecommunication services, Finance and Insurance, Property and Business Services and Health and Community services provide higher returns to tertiary study.
The report can be found at:

Education links strengthened with India
New Zealand’s education links with India have been strengthened with the appointment of a South Asia Education counselor, Perya Short, to be based in New Delhi. The announcement on Tuesday of Ms Short’s appointment coincided with a bilateral meeting between the Indian Minister of State for Human Resources Development, Purandareswari Smt Daggubati, and New Zealand’s Minister of Education, Steve Maharey, in South Africa.
The Minister for Tertiary Education, Dr Michael Cullen, said that Ms Short would play a valuable role in building relationships between New Zealand and Indian education agencies, institutions and sector groups in what has been a fast-growing and valuable market. “New Zealand has an excellent reputation in India as a quality education provider. Last year, 2,114 Indian students studied here, six times more than in 2000. Total annual fee income was over $23 million,” he said. ”We want to improve the quality of our international education relationships. Strengthening our ties with a growing and dynamic economy like India’s will therefore assist improving the knowledge base of our education organisations and so help the transformation of the economy.”
Education counsellors have previously been appointed to Beijing, Brussels, Washington and Kuala Lumpur, and appointments are to be made to Santiago and Seoul.

Gold star for Otago
The University of Otago has been commended by an independent audit team for its collegiality and strength of communication between the University community and senior management, with specific attention being brought to the job being performed by new Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Skegg.
As part of a three-year programme assessing each of New Zealand’s eight Universities, the New Zealand Universities Academic Audit team spent five days at Otago’s Dunedin and Christchurch campuses in July, speaking to about 200 people, including external stakeholders. Its findings have just been released by the New Zealand Universities Academic Audit Unit in its University of Otago Academic Audit Report, Cycle 3.
The audit team reports that the University of Otago has a strong reputation for high-quality education, a student-centred culture and a lively and distinctive campus life, with changes to the senior management team bringing new approaches to strategic processes. Leading on from this, the University was commended for the inclusive nature of consultation around the development of the University’s Strategic Direction to 2012 document, the strength and depth of relationships between Dunedin City and the University and progress made in responding to Treaty of Waitangi commitments.
The report recommended, however, that the University review its strategies to address continuing gender imbalances among academic staff and senior managers, and that casual and sessional teaching staff should be required to participate in appropriate induction, training and support programmes.
The report can be found at:

Student-loan-repayment threshold too low, says NZUSA
The New Zealand Union of University Students say that the income threshold at which students must start to repay their student loans is too low. On Tuesday, the Revenue Minster, Peter Dunne, announced that the threshold would increase from $17,160 to $17,784 on 1 April next year
NZUSA Co-President, Conor Roberts, said that, for people coming out of tertiary education and earning just$17,784 per year, having to start repaying their student loan remains a huge burden. “New Zealand has one of the harshest repayment thresholds in the developed world, our graduates are burdened with having to pay 10 percent of their income at an incredibly low level of income,” he said. “In Canada they don’t have to start repaying their loans until their income reaches NZ$29,614, in Australia the threshold is NZ$37,335 and in the United Kingdom it is NZ$37,400.”
Mr Roberts said that the low threshold means that students are likely to head off overseas rather than develop their skills in New Zealand. “It also means that people are going to put off starting families because they are lumbered with repayments on high levels of debt at low levels of income,” he said.

Fewer US academics on tenure track
More than 62 percent of all faculty members in United States universities are not on tenure track, including nearly 30 percent of those with full-time positions, according to an analysis released this week by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). The AAUP Contingent Faculty Index 2006 provides data from 2,600 individual college and university campuses on the number of full-time faculty with and without tenure, the number of part-time faculty and the number of graduate-student employees.
AAUP leaders say that, because academic freedom for contingent faculty members is not assured and because contingent instructors are generally not provided with the level of institutional support required to deliver a quality education, the emergence of contingent faculty represents a fundamental change in the nature of higher education. They say they hope that the report will spur discussions on campuses throughout the US about the use of part-timers and the need to create more full-time, tenure-track positions.
Like the survey of faculty salaries published by the AAUP every year, the faculty index will, its authors hope, function as a report card that calls institutions to account for their hiring practices. “Most of the conversation about the use of contingent faculty has been at the aggregate level,” said John W. Curtis, Director of the AAUP’s Department of Research and one of the authors of the report. “As a result, he says, academics have grown accustomed to thinking of the trend as ‘something that happens elsewhere’.”
Now, the AAUP hopes, those same academics can look at the index to find data for particular institutions, like Boston University, where full-time non-tenure-track professors almost outnumber tenure-track professors, and the College of Dupage, a community college in Illinois, where adjuncts outnumber full-timers more than three to one.
The report can be found at:
From the AAUP and Education Guardian

Work-life balance award to UK university
Those promoting the development of legislation promoting flexible working arrangements in New Zealand have been encouraged by reports that Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) has become the first university in the United Kingdom to earn an Investors in People award for promoting work-life balance. The award is said to be giving the University a unique advantage on the academic job market.
All LJMU staff can take advantage of flexible working, from job sharing, semester-only working and occasional working from home to enhanced maternity, paternity and adoption leave and above-average holiday entitlement. Staff also have access to occupational health and counselling services and reduced rates for the University’s sports facilities.
David Blythe, an Investors in People adviser who works with several universities and colleges, said that, while institutions were taking an increasing interest in work-life balance, LJMU had taken the lead in embedding work-life balance practices, and that this had boosted the University’s attractiveness as an employer.
From the Times Higher Education Supplement

Iranian students disrupt President’s speech
Iranian students staged a rare protest against President Mahmamoud Ahmadinejad on Monday this week, calling him a “dictator” and burning his photograph as he delivered a speech at their University. The hard-line President is reported to have taken the protest in his stride as he stood at the podium in a crowded hall at Amir Kabir Technical University as a group in the audience started chanting “Death to the dictator”.
“We have resisted dictatorship for many years, from before the 1979 Islamic Revolution,” Ahmadinejad replied. “Nobody can bring back a dictatorship even in the name of freedom.”
The protest began when a group of students started chanting during the speech, one holding up a poster proclaiming “Fascist President, the Polytechnic is not a place for you”.
Pro-reform students and staff at Iran’s universities have been marginalised in recent years, holding only low-level meetings and occasional demonstrations, usually to demand better facilities or the release of detained colleagues.
Last week, hundreds of opposition students at the University of Tehran staged a short demonstration demanding more freedoms.
From Mainichi Daily News

Odds on for union leadership
It appears as if there is nothing on which United Kingdom betting agency, Ladbrokes, will not run a book, including who will become the head of the recently established University and College Union (UCU). In a pun-laden piece, the Times Higher Education Supplement reports that three hopefuls are on the mark in the race to become the General Secretary of the 120,000-strong UCU, formed after the merger of AUT, the Association of University Teachers and Natfhe, the higher and further education colleges’ lecturers’ union.
The Times Higher reports the election as a three-horse race, with the going expected to be heavy over a testing course as the three candidates jostle to get a nose ahead in the forthcoming hustings before a ballot of the membership closes in March next year
After the close of nominations last Friday, the three confirmed candidates for the post were Sally Hunt, joint General Secretary of the UCU and former AUT General Secretary, Roger Kline, UUCP’s Head of Equality and Employment Rights and former Universities Head of Natfhe and Peter Jones, a Natfhe/UCU activist and hourly-paid lecturer at Deeside College in Wales.
Consistent with the age of true electronic enlightenment, each candidate comes packaged with their own almost-interactive website, but most importantly, Ladbrokes currently has Sally Hunt at even odds to win the election, Roger Kline at six to four and Peter Jones, the rank outsider, at three to one.

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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