AUS Tertiary Update
Lincoln fails in bid to shift hearing
Lincoln University management has failed in its bid to stop the employment court deciding whether or not the university was justified in sacking one of its senior staff members, Associate Professor Glenn Stewart, last July. The case is now being set down for a five day hearing in the court, expected to start in late August or early September.
Lincoln had appealed an employment relations authority decision in which the Association of University Staff had successfully argued that, because of the importance of a number of legal issues arising in this case, it should be referred directly to the higher-level employment court for a ruling. The reason given for the university management’s appeal stated simply that it was dissatisfied with the decision from the authority.
Associate Professor Stewart, a highly respected scientist with a more than thirty-year career in ecology and conservation, was summarily dismissed after an investigation by university management into an allegation of serious misconduct. The AUS has consistently argued that university management acted unfairly and that the vice-chancellor should not have dismissed Associate Professor Stewart.
In declining Lincoln’s appeal, employment court judge Tony Couch said that, while he believed the authority was wrong not to hear the matter in the first instance, he was exercising his discretion not to refer it back to the authority, allowing the proceedings to remain in the court. In a decision released late last week, Judge Couch provided only his decision, saying his reasons would follow in due course.
The parties will attend a judicial conference on 20 June to see if a settlement can be reached under the guidance of an employment court judge.
Meanwhile, proceedings have been filed by AUS in the employment relations authority alleging that the vice-chancellor of the University of Canterbury has breached his statutory authority with his proposals to restructure the university’s college of arts and the consequential axing of thirteen jobs. The proceedings also ask that the vice-chancellor be required to fulfill his obligation to try and reach agreement with affected staff and the union over the change proposal.
Also in Tertiary Update this
1. From Honiara to Honorius to New Zealand
2. UCOL’s Cordon Bleu cooking school kaput
3. Auckland students support Philippines activist
4. Rutherford’s den gets Canterbury cash
5. Cash bonanza for Oz universities
6. Students into instant security threats
7. Australian universities’ IP position weakened
8. Online journals to go 3D
9. Arachnid honour for Neil Young
to Honorius to New Zealand
A special investigation conducted by Joanne Harris of Education Review has revealed that an online university, previously denied entry to the Solomon Islands to establish a campus in Honiara, has renewed its New Zealand presence. The company promoting what was once the University of Honiara and is now the University of Honorius had advised of its intention to withdraw from New Zealand earlier this year.
Its abandoned New Zealand links included a postal address in Johnsonville, Wellington, local phone numbers, and a plan to establish a travel and tourism school. Now, however, the company’s assistant director for a project titled “Campus 2012”, Megan Alveira, has admitted that it proposes to set up the travel and tourism school within the next two years.
The Education Review story reports that its website, www.university-of-honorius.com, gives Level 5, 22 The Terrace, Wellington as its new New Zealand base as well as a local phone number that transfers to voicemail and an Auckland fax number. The Terrace address is that of a mail-forwarding service provided by the firm Business Suites.
The Ghana-based company is apparently not covered by domestic legislation restricting the use of the term “university” because it is not registered in New Zealand. Ms Alveira is quoted in the story as advising that the project will be established two years earlier than planned, in 2010, “in conformity with the laws of New Zealand (by then)”.
She added that, “We do not know of any restrictions that prevents [sic] an online institution from allowing its communications to be received in New Zealand.”
UCOL’s Cordon Bleu cooking school
The Dominion Post reports that the Universal College of Learning has pulled out of a well-publicised deal to set up an international school of cuisine in Martinborough. As a result, it will have to renegotiate a partly spent government-funding agreement intended for the school’s establishment. Legal advice to the trade and enterprise economic-development agency, which had approved $1.125 million for the project from its regional initiatives fund, is said to have confirmed that the funding agreement was worded in such a way that any shift away from the Wairarapa would necessitate renegotiation.
In association with Le Cordon Bleu of Paris, UCOL was to have established the 300-student cooking school by August, resulting in it being one of thirty international Cordon Bleu schools. UCOL had already spent $900,000 of its trade and enterprise grant on market research, initial-concept work, and investigating the Martinborough proposal.
Economic development minister Pete Hodgson is quoted as saying that, “It is all a bit of a mess at the moment but I did strongly advise UCOL when I got wind of a change that it would be legally premature to announce any change till the legal situation and the funding arrangement was sorted out.”
Meanwhile, it is reported that Martinborough lawyer and vineyard owner, John Porter, whose environment court appeal against the siting of the school in close proximity to his historic house and boutique winery is thought by locals to have led to the pull-out, has been banned from a shop and cafe in the town and there is talk of a boycott of his wines in the district.
Meanwhile, local MP John Hayes has established a taskforce to investigate the viability of establishing a cooking school in Martinborough independently of UCOL.
Auckland students support Philippines
Auckland University Students’ Association (AUSA) has requested that the prime minister, Helen Clark, call on Philippines president Gloria Arroyo to ensure the safety of a student unionist who has received death threats. Glaiza Dimapilis, the 19-year-old president of the Philippine Christian University student council and secretary-general of the National Union of Students of the Philippines-National Capital Region, has received death threats from the Filipino military.
Meeting reporters surreptiously because, she said, a military agent was following her around, Ms Dimapilis told them that a military officer approached her and told her that, “I could be on the shoot-to-kill list or be arrested without a warrant”.
Since Arroyo came to power in 2001, 850 people have been summarily murdered, and between January and October 2007, 68 people were victims of extra-judicial assassinations by the military and a further twenty-six were “disappeared”, according to AUSA.
“President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who was hosted by our government at Waitangi last year, has the power to end these violations of basic and fundamental human rights, yet continues to allow her security forces to terrorise students, trade unionists, and activists,” said AUSA president David Do.
“We call on Helen Clark to convey to Arroyo our deepest concern for the fate of Glaiza Dimapilis and request that she do everything in her power to end government killings of political activists in the Philippines,” Mr Do concluded.
It has since been reported that Ms Dimapilis has filed a writ of amparo in the supreme court and sought the help of the human rights commission to end her harassment. A writ of amparo allows citizens to seek protection from the courts or redress for extra-judicial killings and forced disappearances, removes from authorities the defence of denial, obliges them to take action to solve killings and disappearances, and holds them accountable for such acts.
Rutherford’s den gets
What is said to be a world-class multi-media visitor experience celebrating the life and work of one of New Zealand’s greatest scientists, Ernest, Lord Rutherford, is to benefit from a significant sponsorship partnership with the University of Canterbury. Rutherford is one of the University of Canterbury’s most illustrious graduates and his original student laboratory at Canterbury College, now the Christchurch arts centre, is the den’s central exhibition space.
“We are absolutely delighted to welcome the university as naming-rights sponsor for Rutherford’s den, particularly in this the centenary year of Rutherford receiving the Nobel prize,” said Jenny May, chair of Rutherford’s Den Trust Board.
“The university’s three-year sponsorship will make a major contribution to ensuring the den continues to educate and tell the story of Rutherford’s days at Canterbury College and how he went on to become one of the greatest scientists of the twentieth century,” said Ms May. She added that one of the key objectives of the den is to inspire the Rutherfords of the future through its school-education programme.
Canterbury vice-chancellor, Professor Roy Sharp, said that the the university is proud of its connections with Rutherford. “The pioneering spirit that enabled him to achieve what he did is certainly still alive and well in the Canterbury University of today. It is in the top tier of New Zealand universities and is certainly well-respected for its world class research and teaching.”
“I know how inspirational Rutherford’s story is for aspiring scientists, and I am delighted that the university’s relationship with the den has been formalised in this manner,” he concluded.
Cash bonanza for Oz universities
Universities have done well out of this week’s Australian budget, with education minister Julia Gillard announcing an immediate injection into the system of $NZ591.5 million. The one-off renewal fund is intended to help universities “rebuild their campus infrastructure after eleven years of Howard government neglect”.
The unexpected announcement is an early dividend from a new $13 billion resource, the education investment fund, which adds $5.92 billion in new money to the previous government’s $7 billion higher education endowment fund.
Welcoming the transfusion, National Tertiary Education Union president Carolyn Allport said it was “a very good budget for higher education ... it certainly exceeded our expectations”. She added that, “The education revolution has started.”
Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) president Nigel Palmer said, however, that, “Promises were honoured but opportunities were missed. CAPA was disappointed that the Australian postgraduate award stipend rate and the award duration were not increased.”
National Union of Students president Angus McFarland said he was “shocked and disappointed” that, out of $8.28 billion in new funding for universities, “not one cent” would go to restore essential student services.
Universities Australia chief executive Glenn Withers said the budget provided an “overall very welcome down-payment on the higher-education component of the education revolution”. That point of view was endorsed by RMIT University vice-chancellor Margaret Gordon, who said, “We are unlikely to see vice-chancellors dancing in the streets, that would be too scary, but we'll be dancing privately in our offices and lounge rooms.”
From the Australian
Students into instant security threats
A German graduate student in oceanography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) applied to the transportation security administration for a new ID card allowing him to work around ships and docks. What the student, Wilken-Jon von Appen, received in return was a letter that not only turned him down but added an ominous warning from security administration official John M Busch saying, “I have determined that you pose a security threat.”
Similar letters have gone to 5,000 applicants across the country who have, at least initially, been turned down for a transportation worker identification credential, an ID card meant to guard against acts of terrorism. Administration officials said they were sorry about the language, which they may change in the future, but that they had no intention of withdrawing letters already sent.
“It’s an unfortunate choice of words in a bureaucratic letter,” said Ellen Howe, a security agency spokeswoman. Ms Howe and Maurine Fanguy, the official who oversees the new ID card programme, said that most foreign students did not qualify for the identity cards, but that the letters were not intended to label the recipients as potential terrorists.
Mr von Appen, one of at least four oceanography students at MIT who received identical letters, said he was stunned by its language. “I was pretty much speechless and quite intimidated,” said Mr von Appen, whose research is supported by a $US65,000-a-year grant from the national science foundation.
A British student at MIT who was also rejected, Sophie Clayton, said that at first she was amused at what appeared to be a bureaucratic absurdity. But, as she pondered the designation, Ms Clayton said she grew worried. “The two words ‘security threat’ are now in the files next to my name, my photograph, and my fingerprints,” she said.
From the New York Times
Australian universities’ IP position
A judgement against the University of Western Australia (UWA) in an intellectual-property case involving a former academic, Dr Bruce Gray, has weakened the position of the entire Australian university sector in negotiating benefits derived from the intellectual property generated by their researchers, according to the lawyer defending the case, Martin Bennett.
The university had sought rights to the patent portfolio of Sirtex, a company set up to commercialise IP developed by Dr Gray in a case that could have been worth as much as $NZ240 million for the university.
Mr Bennett said, however, that, in 2000, the then vice-chancellor determined that the university did not have a case. “The fact that, four years later, it commenced a case, indicated that it was an action brought somewhat opportunistically given the value of Dr Gray’s shareholding in Sirtex,” he said.
Mr Bennett said that UWA pursued the case when it realised the amount of money at stake. He also described as “ludicrous” claims by UWA vice-chancellor Alan Robson that the case was based on a matter of principle.
“They have now established that universities in Australia have a very weak position to claim the IP of their academics. I don’t think that it was an intended consequence of the litigation. It would appear to be something the university didn’t consider in bringing the action,” he said.
One of the more unexpected findings in the case was that the duty to research does not carry with it a duty to invent.
From Campus Review
Online journals to go 3D
The world’s researchers now have a startlingly novel method of presenting their data as interactive, three-dimensional visualisations in online publications. Developed only this year by Melbourne-based astrophysicists Dr Christopher Fluke and Dr David Barnes from Swinburne University of Technology’s centre for astrophysics and supercomputing, the system enables researchers to embed 3D illustrations into their PDF files.
The development opens the way for online publications, from academic journals to textbooks, to present 3D images to readers without them having to log on to another website to see a movie or view a CD. Students studying astronomy, chemistry, biology, or any of the other sciences can see illustrations of the planets, a benzene molecule or human cells in 3D and be able to rotate and explore them in a way not possible with the usual two-dimension drawings.
Quoting from the television series Star Trek, where Mr Spock observes in The Wrath of Khan, “His pattern indicates two-dimensional thinking”, Dr Fluke contrasted the age-old restrictions of the print media with the potential of the new technique to overcome the limits publishers have long experienced in trying to represent three-dimensional objects in two dimensions.
“This is an enhancement to the usual method of presenting static, two-dimensional views, or ‘comic strip’ sequences, to indicate changes in viewpoint,” he said. “Interactive figures provide opportunities for students to undertake active learning while reading a textbook: they are able to explore and uncover the connections between viewpoint, orientation, and the 3D nature of models and data sets for themselves.”
From Geoff Maslen in University World News
Arachnid honour for
In the midst of the season of bestowal of often-dubious honorary degrees, it is a pleasure to be able to report that veteran Canadian rock musician Neil Young has been honoured by having a new species of trapdoor spider named after him.
East Carolina University biologist, Dr Jason Bond, discovered a new species of trapdoor spider and decided to name it after his favourite musician. Myrmekiaphila neilyoungi was found in Jefferson County, Alabama, and Dr Bond established through DNA tests that it is a newly discovered species. The spider is distinguishable from others in its genus through its genitalia.
Dr Bond said, “There are rather strict rules about how you name new species. As long as these rules are followed, you can give a new species just about any name you please. With regards to Neil Young, I really enjoy his music and have had a great appreciation of him as an activist for peace and justice.”
Neil Young is not the first musician to have a creature named after him. A species of beetle that looks as if it is wearing a tuxedo was named Orectochilus orbisonorum earlier this year after the late Roy Orbison.
From the BBC and the New Musical Express
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