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AUS Tertiary Update

Hood to stand down as Oxford Vice-Chancellor
Unflatteringly described in the media as beleaguered, New Zealander Dr John Hood has announced that he will not continue as the Vice-Chancellor of Britain’s illustrious Oxford University when his five-year term ends in September 2009. Dr Hood, the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Auckland, was the first-ever “outsider” to be appointed to lead the 800-year-old institution, but his tenure has been characterised as what the Education Guardian has described as beset by arguments with academics angry with his attempts to usurp their power in steering the University.
Soon after taking over the reins at Oxford in 2004, Dr Hood set about reforming the University’s governance structures, including a plan to cut down the size of the University’s Council from twenty-six to fifteen and making it dominated by business rather than University interests. The majority of the Council, including the Chair, would have been from outside the University.
The Independent says that Dr Hood’s radical plans to overhaul the University were humiliatingly killed off by an “unprecedented” rebellion of dons, who accused him of failing to understand the University's long-established traditions. Among their principal objections were Dr Hood’s proposal to chip away at the traditional independence of the institution’s thirty-nine colleges and his plans to introduce performance pay, including instituting financial penalties for perceived under-performers.
Dr Hood’s detractors said that his defeat by the University’s dons severely weakened his position and, while leading rebels stopped short of publicly calling for his removal, some are understood to have wanted him replaced.
The Independent reports that, while it was rumoured that Dr Hood considered resigning after the public humiliation of his defeat by the dons, he was talked out of it. He is now reported as insisting that it had always been his intention to leave after five years without seeking to stay on for an additional two years as allowed under University rules. “I continue to believe that five years is the right period,” he said.
Oxford’s Chancellor, Lord Patten, a former Conservative Party Chair, praised Dr Hood’s achievements, saying that, under his leadership, the University’s global reputation, academic standing, financial strength and internal organisation are all continuing to advance.

Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. VCs argue for indexed funding
2. Tertiary education key to economic transformation, says Anderton
3. NZUSA elects student leaders for 2008
4. TEC on the wine trail?
5. Tertiary-education choices of school leavers
6. Former VC new FoRST Chair
7. Howard Government gets fail mark ahead of election
8. Middle East scholars worry over academic freedom
9. Books dumped in rush to liberate space
10. Extending the arm of campus law

VCs argue for indexed funding
The New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee (NZVCC) has proposed to the Government that university funding be properly and fairly indexed following a recent statement by the former Minister for Tertiary Education, Dr Michael Cullen, that there will no longer be an automatic indexation of funding rates.
A paper recently “adopted” by the NZVCC makes a case for the “real” indexing of the public funding of universities. It argues that university costs can be expected, on average, to increase at 1.6 times the rate of the Consumer Price Index, adding that university funding rates should increase by the same amount. The paper goes on to warn that, if funding is not increased at its recommended rate, the result will be continuing erosion in real terms of university funding and, hence, erosion in quality and capacity of the sector.
In what NZVCC describes as a disturbing letter, Dr Cullen has advised that future tertiary-education funding will be controlled and the level of funding set for three years at a time. The Government will then make decisions about the overall level of funding for tertiary education through the annual Budget process. In making these decisions, the Government will take into account a number of factors, including inflationary pressures, and may use the CPI or another index.
NZVCC says that the aggregate loss of revenue to universities since 1991 as a result of under-indexation has been identified at $223 million a year by 2006. “If household cost increases rather than university cost increases continue to be the basis for indexing university funding rates, then this loss will rise by another $120 million a year in five years and $282 million a year in ten years,” the paper says. In the 1990s, revenue per equivalent full-time student fell by 18 percent in real terms, and in this decade so far it has fallen by a further 2 percent.
According to the paper, initiatives such as the fee-freeze compensation, funding-category-review increases, incremental Performance-Based Research Fund revenue and the tripartite agreement among government, the universities and university unions have not been sufficient to increase revenue in real terms because they have been more than offset by under-indexation of base subsidy rates and real falls in student fees.

Tertiary education key to economic transformation, says Anderton
New Zealand’s tertiary-education reforms are geared towards high quality and relevance to the country’s economic needs, according to Associate Minister for Tertiary Education, Jim Anderton. He also says that the Government needs to get good value from the $3 billion it invests each year in tertiary education and training.
Mr Anderton told a university administrators’ conference held at Lincoln University last weekend that the tertiary-education system must produce graduates with the skills New Zealand is going to need in the twenty-first century and research that contributes to innovation. “Universities also have a fundamentally diverse role integral to building New Zealand as a distinctive place with out own body of knowledge. Research and education that informs and forms the character of our country and our people is part of the economic transformation of New Zealand,” he said.
According to Mr Anderton, the Government expects universities to differentiate more and become more complementary. “Universities will be a major part of delivering more of the innovation New Zealand needs to be a successful developed economy in the twenty-first century,” he said. “If universities aren’t successful at that, New Zealand won’t and can’t be successful. It is too risky for New Zealand to have institutions and sectors growing in a piecemeal or arbitrary way. We need to focus more on the overall strength of the sector and on who can offer what, and how, and where. That will mean that the government and community stakeholders will have a greater say, while we respect academic autonomy and freedom.”
Mr Anderton added that investment plans, negotiated between the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) and each institution, are being built around a strategic assessment of what New Zealand needs rather than being driven by short-term demand for certain courses
The TEC Board is assessing those investment plans for universities this month, with funding decisions expected to be announced in mid-December.

NZUSA elects student leaders for 2008
The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations is set to have two new leaders with the naming of Liz Hawes and Paul Falloon as its Co-Presidents for 2008. A third new face, Analiese Jackson, will be the NZUSA National Women’s Rights Officer.
All three come from Massey University’s stable of student organisations. Paul Falloon is currently the President of the Massey Students’ Association and is a Science graduate. Liz Hawes is the current President of the Massey University Extra Mural Students’ Association (EXMSS) and is midway through a PhD in Political Science, while Analiese Jackson is currently Women’s Affairs Officer on the Massey Albany Students’ Association Executive and has recently completed a Bachelor of Communications. She will study at Victoria next year.
Mr Falloon said that he is excited about the potential for the student movement to achieve positive change both in the lead up to and following the 2008 General Election. Similarly, Ms Hawes said that, as long as students are forced to borrow to live and tuition fees keep going up, they have plenty of work to do. “Next year we will be campaigning hard for a living allowance for all students and lower fees,” she added.
Ms Jackson said that while women students continue to face difficulties in non-traditional areas, and face a significant gender pay gap upon graduation, there is an ongoing need for women’s representation.
Current NZUSA Co-Presidents, Joey Randall and Josh Clark, will continue in their roles until the end of the year.

TEC on the wine trail?
A series of Parliamentary questions has given rise to an expectation that the National Party will turn up the heat on the Tertiary Education Commission, this time over whether public money was spent by Commission management and staff attending a wine festival last weekend and about the cost to the Commission of its public relations and communications staff and consultants.
On Tuesday, National Party Education Spokesperson, Katherine Rich, posed a series of seven written questions to the Minister for Tertiary Education, asking, in a variety of ways, whether TEC staff and management attended the 2007 Taste Martinborough Food and Wine Festival on 18 November. The questions also asked whether their attendance was at a cost to the TEC, how may staff attended, whether attendance was for a work purpose and, if so, what the purpose was.
Not to leave open any possible avenue of escape from the broad net of her questions, Ms Rich went on to question whether the TEC gave staff an allowance to attend the festival, whether it arranged or paid for transport and any other costs for entry, food or wine and, finally, the costs for partners to attend.
Ms Rich told Tertiary Update that her office had received information which had led to the questions
On Monday this week, National Party number three, Gerry Brownlee, submitted written questions asking for the number of staff employed in communications, media or public relations roles, their total annual salary bill and how that compared with the last five years.
This week’s written questions were among forty-nine submitted to the Minister for the Tertiary Education by the National Party between the ninth and twentieth of November.
It is expected that replies to the questions will be made available towards the end of next week.

Tertiary-education choices of school leavers
Participation in tertiary education is a natural progression for many school leavers, whether it is to study for a degree at university or to undertake training as part of a Modern Apprenticeship, according to a new publication by the Ministry of Education. The publication, Tertiary education choices of school leavers, says that, given the benefits to society and individuals of tertiary education and the greater success of students who engage in tertiary education soon after leaving school, effective and appropriate transitions between school and tertiary education are an important part of a well-functioning education system.
The publication is the first of a series of analyses based on a longitudinal unit-record-level dataset which follows a student through accumulation of National Qualifications Framework credits in senior secondary school and into tertiary education. The purpose of this study is to build an understanding of how school leavers are transitioning into tertiary education, and it examines the transitions of 2004 school leavers into tertiary education by a variety of personal, schooling and tertiary-education characteristics and seeks to show where differences exist.
The results of this study are consistent with previous research that has shown that academic achievement while at secondary school is a strong predictor of whether a school leaver will enter into bachelor-level study. However, entry into industry training and non-degree study at tertiary-education providers were not strongly associated with academic achievement at secondary school and, hence, appear to have a different set of influences.
Bachelor-level study was the most popular level of study among 2004 school leavers. However, one-fifth of 2004 school leavers had transitioned into level one to three certificate study by the end of 2006, which is the same level of study that is undertaken at senior secondary school.
The publication can be found at:
http://educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/tertiary_education/15997

Former VC new FoRST Chair
The former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Waikato, Professor Bryan Gould, has been named to succeed Dame Margaret Bazley as the Chair of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology Board. He has been appointed for a three year term, starting in May 2008.
In making the announcement, the Minister for Research, Science and Technology, Hon Pete Hodgson, said that Mr Gould brings a record of significant governance experience, strong and relevant connections to the research sector and an excellent understanding of government processes to the Foundation.
A New Zealander, Mr Gould was a British Member of Parliament for fourteen years prior to his ten-year stint as Vice-Chancellor at Waikato. A press release from Mr Hodgson says that, under Mr Gould’s leadership, the University of Waikato undertook several significant initiatives, including the construction of the WEL Energy Trust Academy of Performing Arts, the establishment of the School of Māori and Pacific Development and the creation of the Waikato Innovation Park.
The Foundation was established by the Research, Science and Technology Act 1990 to invest in science and technology research for the benefit of New Zealand. It invests approximately $450 million of public money per annum through a number of funds and schemes to help support “public-good”-related science and technology undertaken by Crown Research Institutes, universities, private researchers and industry led-consortia, private-sector-business research and development bodies and New Zealand’s top-achieving students and researchers.

Worldwatch
Howard Government gets fail mark ahead of election
A report card on the higher-education policies of the Australian Coalition and Labor parties released by university staff and students this week has given John Howard’s Coalition Government a fail mark for its record on universities. The report card, prepared by National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), the National Union of Students (NUS) and the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations, awarded Labor a pass on the basis of its well-targeted but limited commitments announced during the campaign.
Despite its pass mark, staff and students say they are disappointed with several aspects of Labor’s approach to higher education, particularly the lack of public investment in universities and the failure to reform student income-support structures more comprehensively.
Michael Nguyen, NUS President, said that the current Coalition Government had failed to ensure that young people have the opportunity to go to university regardless of their parents’ bank balance: “The political parties can be assured that in this election young people will be voting on issues like higher education to ensure that their future is worth looking forward to.”
NTEU Assistant Secretary Ted Murphy said, however, that Labor’s rhetoric about introducing an “Education Revolution” has not been matched by a commitment to a greater level of Commonwealth funding to help universities cover the full cost of teaching and research. “At the same time, we recognise that Labor has announced a number of significant, targeted spending announcements that will benefit the sector. These are in addition to commitments such as removing workplace-relations conditions tied to university funding and abolishing full-fee-paying places for domestic undergraduate students,” he said.
The report card can be located at www.nteu.org,au/campaigns/election2007/policyanalysis/reportcard

Middle East scholars worry over academic freedom
Concerns over academic freedom are reported to have loomed large at the annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association, with the Association’s Committee on Academic Freedom reporting that it was busier than ever this year sending letters of intervention in cases where it sees the freedom of scholars as threatened.
The Committee’s Chairperson said that the group had sent out twenty-two letters of intervention over the past ten months, the prime trouble spots being Turkey, Iran, Iraq, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and the United States.
Gershon Shafir, a professor of Sociology at the University of California at San Diego and a member of the Committee on Academic Freedom, said there had been an explosion in the number of cases lately.
The group held its annual meeting in Canada this year because of its view that travel to the United States is problematic for Middle Eastern scholars, even six years after the terrorist attacks of September 2001. “There was a certain sentiment, given the difficulties of the visa situation after 9/11, that perhaps a Canadian venue would be less restrictive," a spokesperson said.
Chronicle of Higher Education

Books dumped in rush to liberate space
In an apparent rush to liberate space for e-learning, universities in the United Kingdom are reported to dispose of 1.8 million books and journals annually, according to official figures released this week. Overall, however, the figures submitted by higher-education institutions show that acquisitions still outstrip the number of items defined as being “sold, destroyed, given away or written off”. Some 2.8 million printed volumes were added to libraries in 2005-06.
In the same year, ten universities disposed of more than 40,000 items while, overall, thirty-six institutions dumped more books and journals than they acquired.
With an increase in the use of online resources and with students demanding virtual learning environments and more study space, the number of books removed from university libraries is on the increase. In 1997, the average number was just over 7,000 per institution, compared with 13,600 in 2006.
Nick Smith, Director of Aston University’s library and information services, which had disposed of 41,380 items, said that, with more visits to their library and the growing popularity of virtual learning environments, their disposal policy enabled them “to increase the amount of study space and the number of much-needed PCs and laptop facilities”.
The Times Higher Education Supplement

Extending the arm of campus law
It is not only New Zealand’s University of Otago that has faced the vexed question of whether or not it can require or impose standards of behaviour on its students when off-campus. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that a number of colleges in the United States are worrying about student conduct away from campus, but few have the authority to track it as effectively as they can on their own grounds. In an effort to reduce crime and serious violations of university policy, several institutions are considering proposed changes that would allow them to expand their jurisdictions.
Stanford University has proposed an amendment to its charter that would expand the control of the Board on Judicial Affairs to “any acts that threaten the safety and integrity of the university community regardless of where such acts occur”. Similarly, Cornell University is considering similar revisions to its campus code of conduct that would allow its judicial administrator to investigate or respond to off-campus activity that “poses a substantial threat to the university’s educational mission or property or to the health or safety of university community members”.

More international news
More international news can be found on University World News
http://www.universityworldnews.com/

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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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