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AUS Tertiary Update

University salaries lagging, according to new report
A new report shows that New Zealand university salaries continue to lag well behind their overseas counterparts, giving rise to concerns that, unless significant action is taken, New Zealand universities will lose staff in increasing numbers to Australia and other countries.
The report, University Staff Academic Salaries and Remuneration, prepared by the accounting firm Deloitte, compares figures from comparable universities in four other countries against which New Zealand competes for academic staff. A central conclusion is that, while New Zealand salaries have increased at a greater rate than the other countries over the last three years, they remain significantly lower than those in Australia, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, even when adjusted for purchasing power parity.
The report establishes that, while the minimum salary for a professor in New Zealand has increased by 18 percent, double-digit growth in equivalent positions in those other countries means that the New Zealand rate is still lagging behind. Furthermore, the gap between England and New Zealand at professorial and associate-professorial level has increased to such an extent over the previous three years that New Zealand academic salaries, when adjusted, are now lower than those of England at all levels. It also concludes that Australian, English, and Canadian university superannuation schemes provide higher contribution levels than those of New Zealand, where, for example, Australian employers make a contribution as high as 17 percent.
Association of University Staff national president, Associate Professor Maureen Montgomery, said that, although the government had made available more than $61 million in new funding for salaries over the last three years, much more is needed if the pay differential between the countries is not to balloon. “The growth in academic salaries in this country is consistently less than growth in GDP, while the opposite occurs in Australia, and it is that country from which we face the greatest threat to recruitment and retention,” she said. “Australian university staff members have lodged a claim to increase salaries by 27 percent over the next three years, which they are confident of achieving,”
Associate Professor Montgomery said that the disparity in salaries is compounded by better non-salary benefits in other countries.
The negotiation of collective employment agreements will begin in New Zealand universities in June.
The full report can be found at:
http://www.aus.ac.nz/Policy/Funding/Deloitte08/FundingReport08.pdf

Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. “Poor” paper sparks investigation
2. Canterbury arts restructuring to proceed
3. ITP MECA opens up funding possibilities
4. Doctors and students support graduate bond proposal
5. Singapore coup for Massey University
6. Life as a twenty-first-century lecturer
7. Nigerian union threatens indefinite strike
8. Foreign graduates fail in job search
9. The amazing invisible computer lab
10. Low-income names for sale

“Poor” paper sparks investigation
A widely publicised Massey University research paper referring to a “Pacific underclass” proving a “drain” on the New Zealand economy has prompted a strong response from the university’s acting director Pasifika, Sione Tu’itahi. The research paper, released independently by Dr Greg Clydesdale, an economist in Massey’s college of business, argues that this country is admitting immigrants, many of them from the Pacific, whose skills do not match the country’s needs or demands.
Mr Tu’itahi, however, pointed to the PhDs awarded to three Massey Albany Pasifika students this year and the huge contribution of Pasifika people to the arts and to sport. Acknowledging the importance of academic freedom, he nonetheless said, “The report reflects just one way, an economic analysis and interpretation of multiple facts, largely systemic, that contribute to the socio-economic status of Pasifika peoples.” He added that, by measuring people as economic units, Dr Clydesdale has presented a limited view of the positive role and contribution of Pacific Islanders to New Zealand society.
It is understood that one of the research paper’s peer reviewers felt that the paper had been drafted in 2005 and “had been sitting gathering dust until the right moment to release”. The same reviewer described the paper as “poor” and suffering from inaccurate and selective use of references; inaccurate, selective, and poor use of the data provided; unbalanced arguments; and failed to use updated information.
Massey University has welcomed the announcement by race relations conciliator, Joris de Bres, that he will investigate Dr Clydesdale’s report. It is expected that a number of Massey academics and other staff will be willing to participate in such an investigation.
Dr Clydesdale has been reported by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as surprised at the investigation. “No one’s actually laid a complaint against me, and he’s [Mr de Bres] taking it up on his own motives to do it himself. He can’t affect my publication of this, it’ll be published offshore,” he is quoted as saying.

Canterbury arts restructuring to proceed
The University of Canterbury council voted yesterday to support a proposed restructuring of the university’s college of arts that has been met with widespread opposition. The original draft proposal was to reduce the number of schools in the college from eleven to eight, to axe American studies and theatre and film studies, and to cut 21.5 full-time-equivalent jobs, “saving” $2.5 million.
In response to over 300 submissions and a variety of protest actions, the university amended its proposal to retain American studies and theatre and film studies in a modified form, with job losses reduced to thirteen. Yesterday’s recommendation to the council by vice-chancellor, Professor Roy Sharp, was for five schools and one centre in a restructured college of arts.
While there was considerable debate around a proposal to defer consideration of the recommendation until further consultation and planned mediation had taken place, the council eventually formed the view that such a consideration was a managerial issue and, therefore, not a matter for the council.
The Association of University Staff has filed proceedings challenging the university on two issues relating to the college of arts restructuring and mediation will take place in late June. In relation to council decisions on the matter, AUS deputy secretary, Marty Braithwaite, said, “Our argument is that decisions made by council are just rubber-stamping the vice-chancellor’s decisions. Council can go ahead and make a decision but if it makes one that is unlawful, they will have to undo it.”
Last week, Tertiary Update reported that the university’s academic board had voted to reject the proposed restructuring of the college of arts. That report should have said that the academic board deplored redundancies as a consequence of restructuring. We regret the error and apologise for any concern the report may have caused.
ITP MECA opens up funding possibilities
A multi-employer collective agreement has been ratified by approximately 1000 Association of Staff in Tertiary Education (ASTE) members at six North Island polytechnics. In a first for the institutes of technology and polytechnics sector, the MECA contains a provision for the establishment of a joint working group on salaries.
This development, which provides the framework for the ITP employers and ASTE to make a case to government for increased salary funding, follows the success of the universities tripartite forum, comprising the Association of University staff and other university unions, vice-chancellors, and the government, in increasing university salaries. The tripartite forum has resulted in an additional $61 million in government salary funding over three years.
The six polytechnics covered by the MECA are Northland, Unitec, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Western Institute of Technology, and Whitireia. However, there is a possibility that the working group could involve institutions beyond the original six in a salary-funding campaign, according to ASTE northern region field officer, Chan Dixon.
“Funding is a key issue for the ITP sector, as is the extent to which employees’ salaries reflect their work. The working group provides the opportunity for ASTE and ITP employers in general to consider whether we can put together a joint case,” she said.

Doctors and students support graduate bond proposal
The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) and the New Zealand Medical Students’ Association (NZMSA) have both welcomed an announcement by National party leader John Key of a proposal to introduce a voluntary bond scheme that would reward graduates by reducing or removing student debt in return for service in rural areas.
NZMA chair Dr Peter Foley is quoted in The Press as welcoming the scheme on the grounds that “debt relief for graduates would be a powerful tool for retaining a junior doctor workforce being tempted by pay conditions in Australia. Dr Foley said that, “The NZMA is pleased that Mr Key has acknowledged the chronic shortage of doctors.”
“We support the direction that Mr Key seems to be heading, although it is important to acknowledge that doctor shortages are not confined to rural and regional areas, nor to general practitioners.” He added that the NZMA itself had proposed a voluntary bond but would oppose any attempt to force doctors to remain in New Zealand by way of a student-loan contract.
Similarly, The Press reports NZMSA president Anna Dare as applauding the attempt to address the loss of young doctors overseas. “Mr Key has every reason to be very concerned by the number of young medical graduates leaving New Zealand,” she said. “While multiple factors have led us to our current medical workforce crisis, the impact of the high graduate debts on junior-doctor migration cannot be underestimated.”

Singapore coup for Massey University
In what has been described as a unique collaboration, a new venture between the Massey University and Singapore Polytechnic will see the establishment of its first international campus. The Singapore-based operation will allow top polytechnic students to complete the final two years of a bachelor in food technology degree through Massey papers.
Declaring that Massey is justifiably proud of its food-technology degree, acting vice-chancellor, Professor Ian Warrington, explained, “It is but three modules short of an accredited engineering degree yet it is a full science degree and it has very significant business content. Unlike the more common food-chemistry-dominated degrees, we really equip graduates to build an industry – to wear white coats one day, overalls the next, and business suits on the third.”
Welcoming the development, Singapore’s senior minister of state and minister of education, Rear-Admiral Lui Tuck Yew, said the collaboration is a strategic and timely move given the $NZ16.6 billion value of the Singaporean food and beverage industry. “Massey University’s food technology institute is ranked among the top five in the world,” he said. The ministry has done a lot of groundwork and comparative studies before granting this degree tie-up and I am confident the programme will be of very high quality and international standard,” he added.

World Watch
Life as a twenty-first-century lecturer
Polling conducted for the United Kingdom’s University and College Union (UCU) has revealed that administration dominates lecturers’ workloads. The survey revealed that more than half of lecturers (53.9 percent) say they spend most of their working week dealing with administration; over half of lecturers (53.6 percent) spend at least fifteen hours a week on administration, with a quarter (27.4 percent) devoting more than tweny-five hours of their working week to the task.
More than a quarter (28.7 percent) said they deal with over 250 emails a week and those with 250 or more emails a week said they did just nought to five hours of research a week, five to fifteen hours of teaching, but twenty-five hours or more of administration. Over two-thirds (71 percent) reported increases in class sizes at their institution in the last ten years, but only a quarter (23.4 percent) said they now spend more time with students than they did a decade ago. Of the 71 percent who reported growing class sizes, nearly half (44 percent) said they were spending less time with students.
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said, “This survey really details just how outdated the lazy stereotype of lecturers is. The electronic revolution has added to lecturers’ workloads and the increase in student numbers is leading to greater class sizes, but less interaction between students and lecturers.”
“Universities need to work with us to produce proper guidelines which limit excessive workloads and provide proper autonomy for academics to do research and scholarship. The admin overload issue is top of lecturers’ concerns about workloads and employers must act to allow academic staff to get on with their jobs,” Ms Hunt added.
The full survey results can be found at:
http://www.ucu.org.uk/media/pdf/5/n/ucustsurvey_herawresults08.pdf

Nigerian union threatens indefinite strike
Nigeria’s Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has recently held two one-week “warning strikes” to press for a range of demands, including an improved salary scheme and reinstatement of forty-nine lecturers who were dismissed many years ago. Those demands, however, have been ignored, so the union has now threatened nationwide indefinite action. In response, the Nigerian government, concerned that another strike could jeopardise fragile peace on campuses, has warned that lecturers who participate will not be paid.
One of the major bones of contention is the dismissal more than seven years ago of
the forty-nine lecturers from the University of Ilorin (Unilorin). The government believes that, since the case has reached the supreme court, the verdict should be awaited so as not to fall foul of the law.
The ASUU disagrees. Its president, Sule Kano, said the “unjust” sacking of the lecturers violated an agreement with the federal government. “But the government does not appear to have the courage to admit such a mistake. The court case was just a later development. In fact, the ASUU has no case in the supreme court. The ASUU has been patient for over seven years on this matter.”
Another point of disagreement is funding. Although there are ongoing negotiations between the ASUU and government to review the salaries of academic staff, union leaders feel they need to be fast-tracked in order to reach a conclusion.
The National Association of Nigerian Students has appealed to the government and ASUU to resume negotiations. A strike would impact negatively on students, said association official Effiong Okon. “We are pleading with both parties to resolve their differences amicably. When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers,” he said.
From Tunde Fatunde in University World News

Foreign graduates fail in job search
Overseas students whose first language is not English are graduating from Australian universities unable to find work in the fields for which they are qualified. As is happening elsewhere, the universities have been accused of allowing students to graduate without the communication skills needed in the workplace.
A research report released this month has again highlighted an issue that has been troubling academics with a majority of students in their classes who are not from English-speaking countries: how to prepare those who intend to remain in Australia for employment?
The study investigated how successful foreign migrants, including those who graduated from Australian universities, were in finding jobs in their chosen careers between 2001 and 2006. The authors report that only a small minority of foreign students who had obtained permanent residency after graduating found work for which they were supposedly qualified.
Over the five years, only 22 percent of Chinese students, who now comprise the largest proportion of foreign students, graduating in accounting obtained professional or managerial positions, as was the case for only 21 percent of those from India. Yet a majority of Australian accounting graduates were successful in finding work soon after leaving university.
The researchers say the reluctance of employers does not appear to be a result of prejudice but rather that the job applicants lack the English skills needed to work as professionals. “Universities could insist that overseas students take remedial communication courses sufficient to achieve professional standards before allowing them to complete their studies,” they write.
From Geoff Maslen in University World News
The amazing invisible computer lab
North Carolina State University may never build another computer lab. Instead, the university has installed racks of equipment in windowless rooms that students and lecturers never actually enter. The project is called the Virtual Computing Lab, and users enter it remotely from their own computers in dormitory rooms or libraries.
They get all the features they’ve had in the past, including access to expensive software packages like 3-D modeling tools and advanced statistical programmes. Now, however, the programmess run on powerful computer servers behind the scenes, instead of on desktop PCs. And this lab never closes.
“You bring the lab to the students instead of bringing the students to the lab,” says Sarah R. Stein, assistant vice-provost for information-technology special projects at the university. Perhaps more importantly, the virtual lab doesn’t have the limitation of being controlled only by the university’s information-technology department.
Unlike physical labs, lecturers can install anything they want in the virtual laboratory. But the most innovative aspect is that students get access to the servers as well and they say they like the convenience. Administrators are happy because the virtual lab is far cheaper to build and maintain than a physical lab, and no one has to watch over rooms with rows of PCs.
Officials here also say that the virtual lab could be the beginning in a more fundamental shift, one that could change the way technology staff on campuses do business. The goal of the virtual-lab approach is to build Web-based tools that lecturers can control on their own, without having to ask permission from a staff member to add something to a university computer.
From Jeffrey R Young in The Chronicle of Higher Education

Low-income names for sale
The College Board, a United States non-profit organisation that owns and promotes the SAT reasoning test, a standardised college-admission test, is now experimenting with allowing college admissions offices to obtain the names of potential students from low-income families.
The board already sells colleges the names of SAT-takers with particular score levels and other characteristics. So, a college seeking to increase its its population of women students with an interest in science can buy the names of young women who with certain SAT scores in mathematics, for example, and send them recruiting material.
Now the board is piloting a programme that will permit the sale of names of probable low-income students identified by living in certain low-income zip codes or attending certain low-income high schools. The pilot represents a significant shift for the board, which stopped selling zip-code-based names twenty years ago because some colleges were using the information to attract wealthier students.
The experiment, which features strict rules designed to ensure that colleges use the information only to increase diversity, is a response to colleges demanding new ways to reach low-income students. The issue is important, however, for more than educational reasons. The College Board sells names to about 1000 colleges and universities at about $NZ0.38 a name.
From the Chicago Tribune

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

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 inquiries should be made to the editor, email: editor@aus.ac.nz.

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