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AUS Tertiary Update, 17 May 2007

AUS Tertiary Update, 17 May 2007
Tertiary Update is also available on the AUS website

www.aus.ac.nz

Tertiary education assured of more funding in Budget

Tertiary education has been assured of new funding when the 2007 Budget is delivered this afternoon by the Minister of Finance, Dr Michael Cullen. In a series of pre-Budget announcements over the past fortnight, Dr Cullen, also the Minister for Tertiary Education, has outlined details of significant funding increases for all parts of the public tertiary-education sector, with more than $450 million of new money to be allocated over the next four years.

Universities are to receive an additional $129 million during the four-year period to ensure they can deliver what Dr Cullen described as high-quality and relevant training that meets New Zealand’s economic and social priorities. Polytechnics, institutes of technology and wānanga are to receive another $127 million over the same four years. A further $199.5 million of operating funding is to be allocated across the whole sector over the four years, to increase 2008 Student Component funding rates in line with previous decisions around the Funding Category Review and by the rate of forecast inflation.

Of the new university funding, $40 million will be used to support sector change in key areas such as further differentiation and collaboration, increased achievement of under-represented groups and an ongoing focus on high-quality teaching and research to drive economic growth. The other $89 million over the four year period has been allocated to the University Tripartite Forum to explore and create opportunities to increase the competitiveness of New Zealand universities through recruitment and retention strategies in an international labour market. Of that $89 million, $20 million will be made available this year.

This week, Dr Cullen told Parliament the purpose of the Tripartite Forum is to look at improvements to quality and at upskilling within the university sector, particularly at how it is possible to lift relative incomes among academic staff, given that over a long period of time these have tended to fall behind and have put New Zealand at a disadvantage in terms of international comparisons. Dr Cullen said that, both last year and this, the Government has been able to feed some extra money into the university sector with the assurance that that will flow through into salaries.

A full analysis of Budget announcements regarding tertiary education will be compiled following the delivery of the Budget this afternoon.

Also in Tertiary Update this week

* More PBRF information released

* Government negligent over Case Boreham collapse, says National

* ASTE members to consider pay offer

* New reports deal with enrolments, te reo Māori

* NTEU warns against interference in universities

* University pay gap falls slightly

* Whistle-blowing encouraged on cheating researchers

* Dean resigns ending twenty-eight year lie

More PBRF information released

Following the release of the 2006 Performance-Based Research Fund Quality Evaluation earlier this month, the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) has now published additional information, both on how results should be interpreted and on the process for complaints where it is believed that procedural or administrative errors have been made.

While those tertiary-education organisations (TEOs) which submitted the evidence portfolios of individual staff members have been notified of the individual Quality Category rankings assigned to each portfolio, there will be no public release of individual scores.

The Tertiary Education Commission has said that, while the results of the 2006 Quality Evaluation may have an immediate impact on individual academics, it would like to encourage TEOs to work with staff on interpreting and understanding the Quality Categories. “Researchers may be anxious about the Quality Category they are assigned,” the guidelines read. “It may be desirable to remind staff [that] the focus of the assessment was on their research, and only on the information contained in their Evidence Portfolio. The Quality Evaluation does not measure all of the other contributions they make.”

Complaints arising out of the 2006 Quality Evaluation must be made within fifteen working days after the online publication of the full report of the 2006 Quality Evaluation assessment. The TEC says that complaints will not be considered in relation to substantive decision-making by a peer-review panel. Only TEOs may make a complaint and each complaint must be lodged by the due date, along with the required fee.

Further information, including that for individuals requesting their own rankings, can be obtained from: pbrfinfo@tec.govt.nz

Government negligent over Case Boreham collapse, says National

National Party Education Spokesperson, Katherine Rich, says that the Government had been negligent in the extreme over its continued funding of a private training establishment (PTE), despite clear warnings about its course quality and the potential misuse of funds. According to a New Zealand Press Association report yesterday, Ms Rich also told Parliament that both she and fellow National MP, Judith Collins, were personally threatened by a man linked to the PTE because she was planning to ask questions about the company in Parliament.

Ms Rich said that serious complaints had been made, as far back as June 2005, alleging that Case Boreham Associates Ltd, which trained teacher aides for schools, was siphoning off taxpayers money into “dodgy” property deals, that its courses were so bad students had to “teach themselves” and that the tutors were so hopeless that New Zealand Qualifications Authority reports noted that they did not know any course content and had “little or no idea what to teach”.

Responding to questions in Parliament on Tuesday this week, the Minister for Tertiary Education, Dr Michael Cullen, said that, following the complaints, a range of actions had been taken against Case Boreham relating particularly to its auditing process. “In 2007, following legal action against the company, its registration was cancelled by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and the Tertiary Education Commission ceased its funding. The Commission is now applying for a refund of the money paid out early in this current calendar year,” he said.

Defending himself against the allegation that the Government had not acted quickly enough in dealing with Case Boreham, Dr Michael Cullen said that, if he acted on every complaint received about a tertiary-education organisation by deregistering it, then even the University of Auckland would not be receiving government funding.

Dr Cullen did not elaborate, however, on the nature of any complaints made against the University of Auckland.

ASTE members to consider pay offer

Union members at Christchurch Polytechnic and Institute of Technology (CPIT) will this afternoon decide whether to call off industrial action and vote on a new offer from their employer to settle their collective employment agreement.

Last Thursday, members of the Association of Staff in Tertiary Education at CPIT walked off the job for five hours in protest at an offer from their employer to increase salaries by the equivalent of just under 2.4 percent per year over a twenty-seven month period, but at the cost of major reductions in the accrual of sick leave and cuts to parental-leave entitlements.

ASTE South Island Field Officer Mike Dawson said that the employer’s offer, after six months of negotiation, was, without a shadow of a doubt, the most aggressive employer stance taken in the whole of the tertiary-education sector in many, many years, and was reminiscent of the bad old days of the Employment Contracts Act. “We are appalled at the attitude displayed as well as the claims demanded. At a time when staff have displayed total loyalty, they are being told that they can only get a fair pay increase if they give up sick leave for new staff and make other concessions,” he said.

Following last Thursday’s strike action, ASTE members instituted a work-to-rule regime and rolling industrial action, including a planned boycott of a Careers Expo for secondary-school students this week.

Further negotiations on Monday this week resulted, however, in a renewed salary offer, understood to be an increase to salaries of 3.5 percent over a fourteen-month term and the withdrawal of the employer’s claim to reduce sick leave accruals.

In a newsletter, Mr Dawson said that, as a gesture of goodwill, the boycott of the Careers Expo had been lifted while ASTE members considered the revised offer from their employer.

New reports deal with enrolments, te Reo Māori

For the first time in seven years, the balance of domestic students studying at tertiary-education level in New Zealand in 2006 shifted from lower to higher-level qualifications. According to a new report from the Ministry of Education, 2006 Tertiary Education Enrolments, domestic enrolments in level one to three certificates fell from 32 percent in 2005 to 28 percent in 2006, while the numbers increased at level 4 certificate and diploma levels by 11 percent and 4.3 percent respectively. The reason stated in the report for the shift from lower to higher-level qualifications was that it was a result of government moves to give higher recognition to the value of higher-level qualifications.

The news was not so good for universities, however. The numbers enrolled at bachelor degree level fell by 3.0 percent, from 153,277 in 2005 to 148,753 in 2006. It is the second year in succession that enrolments at bachelor’s level have dropped. Study at master’s level fell between 2005 and 2006 by 5.9 percent to 12,400 enrolments, while doctoral enrolments increased over the same period by 13 percent to 5,470 enrolments.

While the balance of academic attainment may be changing, the report shows that formal enrolments fell overall by 2.7 percent, from 504,434 students in 2005 to 491,000 in 2006. Of those, the number of domestic students decreased by 1.9 percent (or 8,700) and international enrolments fell for the second consecutive year, by 10 percent in 2006 following a 6.1 percent fall in 2005.

The report notes that the decline in provider-based enrolments needs to be measured against a significant rise in workplace learning in 2006. The number of learners in industry training went up by 5.3 percent from 2005 to 2006.

Another new report from the Ministry of Education examines the size and impact of the provision of te Reo Māori courses through tertiary education over the period from 2001 to 2005. The report, He tini manu reo: learning te reo Māori through tertiary education, concludes that, since 2001, there has been an unprecedented level of engagement in learning te Reo Māori through tertiary education. It notes three distinct groups of students as those learning te Reo through te Reo Māori programmes, those learning te Reo as part of other programmes and those who took only one or two courses over the five-year period.

The main contribution of te Reo provision through tertiary education in the period 2001 to 2005 has been to increase substantially the number of people with a basic understanding of the language, while also increasing the number of people with conversational fluency.

Both new reports, along with the latest tertiary education statistics, can be found on the Education Counts website at:

http://educationcounts.edcentre.govt.nz/index.html

Worldwatch

NTEU warns against interference in universities

The National Tertiary Education Union has warned that the Australian Government’s bid to take further control over the financial management of universities from state governments is part of a broader agenda for the further deregulation of universities.

The warning comes after that country’s Education Minister, Julie Bishop, confirmed that universities will have to agree to deliver greater efficiencies to qualify for the transition from one to three-year funding agreements announced in last week’s Federal budget. Ms Bishop said that the issues of governance, quality and data collection would all be “negotiating points” for the new funding arrangements, because “they are three areas where universities still have some challenges ahead”.

Ms Bishop said the budget reforms were ”very much designed to free universities from the shackles of the past thirty years” by allowing them to focus on areas of strength and move away from courses that were unpopular with students.

NTEU President Dr Carolyn Allport said, however, that staff are concerned that this would lead to the further centralisation of power over universities by the Canberra bureaucracy and lead to more, not less, control and intervention in university operations. “Particularly alarming would be the prospect of all university legislation acts being centralised under Commonwealth control, opening them up to the possibility of significant changes,” she said. “This includes further corporatising university governance arrangements and weakening universities’ objects and defining purposes such as the stipulation that they operate in the public interest, and that they guarantee academic freedom and institutional independence.”

From NTEU and The Australian

University pay gap falls slightly

The University and College Union (UCU) has welcomed a report showing a slight fall in the gender pay gap in higher education in the United Kingdom, but has warned much more must be done to ensure the achievement of equal pay for equal work across the sector.

Analysis of statistics from the Higher Education Statistics Agency reveals that there has been a small steady decline in the gap between full-time average pay for female and male UK academic staff over the past six years. Average pay for females was around 15 percent behind that of their male colleagues over the decade from 1996 to 2006, but there has been a relatively steady decline from 15.6 percent in 1999-2000 to an average of 14.1 percent in 2005-06.

UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt said that, despite a narrowing gap, the fact could not be escaped that women continue to be paid less than their male counterparts. “If the pay gap continues to narrow at the current rate some female staff in our universities will never achieve parity with male colleagues,” she said. “Universities need to act now to ensure it is not just the children or grandchildren of current staff that benefit from hard fought battles over pay equality.”

The report can be found at:

http://www.ucu.org.uk/media/pdf/d/t/ucu_genderpaygap96-06.pdf

Whistle-blowing encouraged on cheating researchers

A whistle-blowers’ hotline has been set up in the United Kingdom to ensure that research misconduct is properly investigate and the perpetrators held to account. The UK Research Integrity Office’s new hotline, launched last Friday, will offer practical advice on what is and is not acceptable research practice and how to take allegations of wrongdoing forward.

At present, the hotline covers misconduct in medical research and biomedical sciences, but it plans to expand into other fields soon. It was launched after a ten-year campaign against what has been described as the “good chaps” network and general complacency towards research fraud and misconduct.

It is reported, however, that those hoping that a call to the Integrity Office will lead to an immediate investigation followed by remedial action will be sorely disappointed. The Office has no regulatory or investigative powers. It merely dispenses advice on how to use universities’ internal procedures and how to engage the relevant regulatory authorities.

From The Times Higher Education Supplement

Dean resigns ending twenty-eight year lie

The Dean of Admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, well known for urging stressed-out students competing for elite colleges to calm down and stop trying to be perfect, has resigned after nearly three decades working at the university. The Dean, Marilee Jones, resigned following an admission that she had fabricated her own educational credentials. Officials of the Institute said she did not have even an undergraduate degree.

Ms Jones was the author of a book, Less Stress, More Success: A New Approach to Guiding Your Teen Through College Admissions and Beyond, which had added to her reputation as a kind of guru of the movement to tame the college admissions frenzy. Less Stress, More Success addresses not only the pressure to be perfect but also the need to live with integrity.

Ms Jones has apologised for not having “courage” to correct the false resumé she presented twenty-eight years ago, which claimed degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic and Albany Medical and Union College.

From LisNews

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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 .


ENDS

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