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AUS Tertiary Update

Otago takes lead in salary stakes
Otago University has stormed to the lead in this year’s salary stakes, with an offer in the current bargaining round of a minimum increase of 5.23 percent to academic staff and 4.21 percent to general staff from 1 July. The offer comprises a base increase of 3.7 percent or $2,000, whichever is higher, from university funding together with the 1.53 percent for academic staff and 0.51 percent for general staff from funding made available through the universities tripartite process.
The actual cost of the university component of Otago’s offer equates to a 3.9 percent increase, with 61 percent of the university’s general staff who are currently paid less that $47,500 set to get the $2,000 minimum. If the deal is accepted, the overall increases for general staff will range from 8.74 percent at the bottom of the general-staff salary scale through to 4.21 percent for those on bands six and above.
Otago’s offer stands to put its salary rates ahead of its main rival university, Auckland, in every academic classification, more than $1,500 ahead at the bottom of the professorial scale and $400 ahead at the bottom of the lecturer’s scale. For senior lecturers at the bar and lecturers at the top of the scale, the difference is more than $1300.
In addition to higher salaries, Otago has better annual-leave arrangements for its academic staff at five weeks compared to Auckland’s determined adherence to the statutory minimum of four weeks.
Combined unions lead advocate and AUS deputy secretary, Marty Braithwaite, said that Auckland had shown an inflexible attitude during negotiations, having pre-empted bargaining by paying a 3.5 percent salary increase from 1 May prior to negotiations and currently refusing a union claim to increase annual leave for academic staff. “The irony is that Auckland has now not only the lowest annual-leave provisions for academic staff of any university in the country, it has now fallen behind Otago in all listed salary rates,” he said. “Auckland’s offer on allowances languishes more than a full percentage point behind Otago, and Auckland management has, in essence, rejected every other union claim.”
Salary increases currently on offer at other universities are 4.73 percent for academic staff at AUT, 4.53 percent for academic staff and 3.51 for general staff at Waikato and Massey, 4.78 and 3.76 percent for academic and general staff respectively at Victoria but, on the basis of concessions made, 4.73 and 3.71 percent for academic and general staff at Canterbury and 4.63 and 3.61 percent at Lincoln.

Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. Adams report condemns PBRF abuses
2. Otago moves up world rankings
3. NZUSA disappointed with fee-maxima policy
4. Branch support for Massey support staff
5. Pacific peoples report welcomed
6. Auckland manager’s $600,000 fraud
7. Historic deal at University of Ballarat
8. Growing ambivalence over libraries
9. South African unions merge to survive
10. Solomons concern over basic education
11. Tribunal backs professor over knuckle-draggers

Adams report condemns PBRF abuses
The recently released report to the Tertiary Education Commission, Strategic Review of the Performance-Based Research Fund, strongly supports long-held AUS concerns and policies on the individual unit of assessment that has been adopted in this country as the basis of the PBRF. The author of the report, Dr Jonathan Adams, managing director of Evidence Ltd, a UK-based organisation specialising in research-performance analysis and interpretation, expresses deep concern about abuse of individual scores by tertiary-education institutions.
In particular, Dr Adams recommends that individuals’ names and grade information be separated in future PBRF rounds on the grounds that such information should not be supplied to institutions because it is susceptible to misuse. Furthermore, while recognising that New Zealand privacy legislation may make this difficult, he argues that scores should also be withheld from individuals because “employers should be providing proper and targeted appraisal and guidance” rather than relying on the inappropriate framework of the PBRF.
“I think it is wholly inappropriate to pass the detailed PBRF scores for named individuals to their institutions,” says Dr Adams. “The acknowledged inaccuracies in scoring at individual level, which individuals cannot appeal, raise serious doubts about the value of information in this format.” Elsewhere, he declares that “scores from a PBRF panel’s review of limited data for a few minutes can be little substitute for proper performance appraisal”.
Reflecting on specific examples of misuse of individual scores, Dr Adams says, “At a local level, it would be quite wrong if such information were to be used for staff appraisal, yet I found two leading research institutions that not only proposed to do exactly this but claimed they were unable to operate unless they did so.” He continues, “I have rarely encountered such a blatant abdication of proper management responsibility nor such willingness on the part of academic institutions to relinquish their autonomy to government and I feel sneaking sympathy with a view [expressed by a head of department] that: [University management is] ‘incompetent and malicious’.”
The full report is available at:
http://www.tec.govt.nz/templates/standard.aspx?id=2547

Otago moves up world rankings
The University of Otago has risen from the 305-401 band to 201-302 in the Shanghai Jiao Tong top-500 world university rankings and from 43-64 to 23-41 in the Asia-Pacific rankings. The University of Auckland’s rankings have remained comparatively stable, moving from 203-304 to 201-302 and 25-42 to 23-41 respectively. Auckland appears in 44th place in the world band, with Otago at 80th. In national rankings, however, those for New Zealand, both universities appear in the 1-2 band.
Auckland vice-chancellor, Professor Stuart McCutcheon, is quoted in Education Review as being pleased with the university’s position. “According to our calculations we have moved to the top of the 201-302 band and remain first ranked among the New Zealand universities. However, retaining our current rankings will be a major challenge for all New Zealand universities in the future given the much greater investment other countries, notably those in Asia, are making in enhancing the quality of their university systems,” Professor McCutcheon said.
Otago pro-vice-chancellor (international), Professor Sarah Todd, is quoted as saying that it is quite an achievement for the two New Zealand universities to be bracketed together in the world’s top 300. “Indeed the fact that five New Zealand universities now appear in the overall ranking of 500 institutions worldwide is good news for the profile of New Zealand’s university system.”
Massey University maintained its place in the 303-401 world and 42-68 Asia-Pacific bands. Canterbury and Victoria remained in the bottom 402-503 and 69-100 bands.

NZUSA disappointed with fee-maxima policy
The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) says it is extremely disappointed that the government has “abdicated responsibility” for bringing already high tuition fees under control by loosening up regulations in favour of institutions, and it is warning of the dangers rising fees pose.
“NZUSA is opposed to the fee-maxima rate increasing in 2009,” said NZUSA co-president Liz Hawes. “While we saw benefit in a system that had potential to keep fees under control, in reality fee maxima have become fee minima. For example, most courses at the University of Auckland are already at the maximum-fee limit, and now it can continue to move even higher. It makes a mockery of the maxima principle.”
The government has announced the top fee-maxima rate will increase by 2.6 percent in 2009, but fees below the maximum will still be able to rise by the annual fee-movement limit of up to 5 percent. “Research shows a worrying shift away from education and career choices based on skill, interest, and ability, or the needs of the country, to what is ‘affordable’ as people consider the long-term implications of high fees contributing to their student debt,” said Ms Hawes. “The negative consequences of such financial decisions are already apparent in the severe workforce shortages appearing in many professions.”
“We’re very concerned that Labour is loosening up regulations in favour of institutions, to the detriment of individuals,” Ms Hawes continued. “Last year the government introduced policy that saw courses above the maximum no longer having to fall back towards it, when previously they had to. There was no consultation on this. Students are justifiably concerned at the negative impact these moves will have,” concluded Ms Hawes.

Branch support for Massey support staff
AUS members are extremely concerned about a proposal to cut campus support-staff positions at Massey University’s Wellington campus and contract the jobs out, according to AUS branch organiser, Lawrence O’Halloran. The proposal is contained in an “Optimisation Report” produced by former Massey human resources director, June Dallinger, who now works as a private consultant. It has apparently been formalised by the deputy vice-chancellor, Professor Andrea McIlroy, who is now meant to be consulting staff as part of an “optimisation” review of Wellington campus services.
“The ‘optimisation’ proposal would see 7.5 full-time-equivalent campus-support jobs cut, including positions in regional facilities management, student learning services, and IT,” said Mr O’Halloran. “Included in the job cuts is the contracting out of the three grounds-staff positions at the campus.”
It is understood that many staff covered by the review are dismayed and angry that no consultation was entered into with them during the six to seven weeks of the investigation and production of the report. “The ‘optimisation’ exercise was conducted in secret and staff only learnt of it when the review was announced,” said Mr O’Halloran. “The Massey AUS branch is seeking to expose the secrecy around the review and members will be petitioning the acting vice-chancellor, Professor Ian Warrington, to place value on general-staff positions and enter into genuine consultation with Wellington staff on this proposal.”

Pacific peoples report welcomed
Massey University acting vice-chancellor, Professor Ian Warrington, has welcomed the review, Pacific Peoples in New Zealand, issued this week by the Human Rights Commission. The review, by race relations commissioner Joris de Bres, considers the controversy that followed publication of a discussion paper on national immigration policy and the economic contribution of migrants to New Zealand. The paper, and associated news releases, were written and made public three months ago by Dr Greg Clydesdale, a senior lecturer in the university’s department of management and international business, and covered in Tertiary Update Vol 11 No 17.
Professor Warrington says the review appears to be a thorough and thoughtful examination of the issues that arose following publication of reports about Dr Clydesdale’s research. “Massey University is firmly committed to the principles of academic freedom but equally firmly committed to the highest standards of research, professionalism, and ethical behaviour,” said Professor Warrington.
“The university did not release Dr Clydesdale’s material to the media and never endorsed the content of it. It understands and regrets the hurt caused in some communities as a result of what was reported, but also notes the commissioner’s finding that many reports were inaccurate,” he continued. “The university acknowledges receipt of complaints on the matter. They are currently under investigation. It is not appropriate to comment further until the process is complete.”
In a statement issued in May, the university’s acting Pasifika director, Sione Tu’itahi, said Dr Clydesdale’s report did not recognise the wider contribution of Pacific people. Mr Tu'itahi said that Massey’s Pasifika Strategy, a first for any New Zealand tertiary institution and official policy of the university, reflects its commitment to the socio-economic well-being of Pasifika peoples.
The full report is available at:
www.hrc.co.nz

Auckland manager’s $600,000 fraud
A project manager at the University of Auckland defrauded the university of more than $600,000 by getting money from fake invoices paid into her own bank account and that of a friend, according to a report in the New Zealand Herald. Katherine Ann Henry pleaded guilty at Auckland District Court to three charges of obtaining by deception. She is due to be sentenced in October.
Court documents showed Ms Henry was working from 2003 until last year at the university’s Mira Szaszy research centre, part of its business school and the first dedicated Māori and Pacific research facility in business and economics in New Zealand. The documents said that Ms Henry made fake invoices in the name of a genuine company that had previously sold two pieces of art to the university.
The deception, in which $609,502.92 was obtained from the university, was uncovered after concerns were raised in 2006 about the research centre’s financial performance. “Costs of the centre had exceeded the budget,” the statement of facts read. “A review of the ledger revealed that many transactions were being expensed into the same account.”
Under the business school’s system, department managers were authorised to approve invoices up to $5000 and all other invoices had to be approved by the school’s finance manager. Approval of project payments up to $5000 at the centre needed the authorisation of the centre director. Once that authorisation was obtained, invoices were entered on to the computer system by an employee and then “approved” by another employee.
Ms Henry got permission to “approve” payments up to $5000 in April 2004. Court papers show, however, that, between June 2004 and October 2006, Ms Henry completed both the data-entry and approval steps of the process herself, in breach of university policy, having obtained a colleague’s password.

World Watch
Historic deal at University of Ballarat
Australia’s National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has had its first success in its national campaign for the renewal of collective agreements after the removal of Howard-government legislation imposing individual Australian workplace agreements (AWAs) on university staff. The new deal at the University of Ballarat includes a 10.9 percent compound pay increase in four instalments over sixteen months, improved rights and pay for casuals, improved superannuation, a commitment to significantly improving employment opportunities for members of the indigenous community, and restoration of union rights.
“We are proud of what we will achieve with this agreement,” said Matthew McGowan, NTEU Victorian secretary. “This will deliver significant benefits to staff and it will place the final nail in the coffin of AWAs at the university.”
“Through this agreement, staff have won a good salary increase and won back many of the conditions of employment lost during the divisive period following the introduction of the Higher Education Workplace Relations Requirements and WorkChoices under the previous coalition government. This agreement demonstrates why unions are important for staff,” said Mr McGowan.
NTEU branch president at the university, Dr Jeremy Smith, added, “This will represent a new chapter for the staff at the University of Ballarat. We will have an agreement that provides significantly improved conditions for staff, particularly in the areas of workloads, salaries, conditions for casual staff, indigenous employment, and superannuation.”
The proposed agreement will represent the final chapter in a long and difficult path for both the university and its staff. Ballarat was the centre of a major dispute during 2005, which reached its height when the university refused to negotiate with the union and offered pay rises only to those staff who accepted AWAs. Nearly 300 fixed-term and continuing staff ended up on AWAs as a consequence.

Growing ambivalence over libraries
Know your library user - and worry about who’s not using the library. That’s the main advice to librarians in a new US white paper that notes “a growing ambivalence about the campus library” among faculty members as more and more knowledge goes digital. The report was released last week by Ithaka, a non-profit organisation that promotes the use of technology in higher education. It probes the relationship between libraries and the faculty at institutions of all sizes, and how the digital shift is altering that relationship.
The authors, Roger Schonfeld, Ithaka’s manager of research, and Ross Housewright, a research analyst, pulled together the highlights from two surveys conducted in 2006: one of US faculty members and another of librarians in charge of collection development. Ithaka conducted similar faculty surveys in 2000 and 2003, so the new report is able to examine trends over a six-year period.
The report confirms what everyone already knows: that electronic resources are ever more central to scholarly activity. It emphasises that scholars still value libraries as buyers and archivers of scholarship, and many still use them as gateways to scholarly information. However, it also confirms that researchers increasingly find what they need through Google Scholar and other online resources, a trend the report’s authors expect to accelerate as more and more knowledge goes digital.
Since 2003, faculty members across the disciplines have shown a marked decline in how devoted they are to libraries as information portals. Eighty percent of humanities scholars are still devoted to library research, although that may not be because they’re traditionalists but because they can’t yet get what they need in digital form. But only 48 percent of economists and 50 percent of scientists value libraries as gateways.
From Jennifer Howard in the Chronicle of Higher Education

South African unions merge to survive
Two small unions representing workers at tertiary-education institutions in South Africa are planning to merge in a desperate bid to ensure their survival. Negotiations are under way between the National Tertiary Education Staff Union (NTESU) and the National Union of Technikon Employees of South Africa (Nutesa) to strengthen their membership and finalise a deal to form a new, stronger union.
Union members said the negotiations are “promising”. “Everybody wanted to keep their own identity. But we’ll have to change names and form a new union,” said one member from Nutesa. At Walter Sisulu University (WSU), the two unions are facing the threat of losing their official recognition if they fail to bolster their numbers within the next six months. Another source said this had already happened in other institutions.
Now Nutesa members at WSU are making preparations for a membership drive. “We are going to embark on a massive recruitment campaign because we need to get as many members as possible. We must do everything in our power to make sure that the union survives during these trying times,” said the member.
Nutesa’s WSU chairperson, Bongiwe Hobololo, confirmed that there were negotiations between the unions at national level. She declined, however, to divulge further details, saying that the process is “confidential”. “For now it’s still in its infancy stage. We will reveal it to the public when the time is right,” she added. Ntesu representatives could not be reached for comment.
From Vuyolwethu Sangotsha in Dispatch

Solomons concern over basic education
An opposition member of the Solomon Islands parliament has raised concerns over the government’s focus on tertiary education. The concern was raised by the member of parliament for West New Georgia and Vona Vona Lagoon, Western Province, Hon Peter Boyers, in parliament last week during discussion on the Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2008.
Mr Boyers argued that basic education should also be of focus and cannot be ignored. “With an enormous population growth, if we are going to create social justice for our people, we have to make sure that our young, growing population gets a free basic education. It is not good to promote a process of tertiary education when at the end of the day it will create an elitism position and suffering at the other end of the scale for our innocent children,” said Mr Boyers.
He continued to say that the birth rate will continue to grow dramatically and how the country manages its funds is a huge responsibility, adding that an informed population is a co-operative population and everybody wants the country and its younger generation educated.
According to NZAID, only 20 percent of children complete primary school, the lowest rate in the Pacific region. Most of the students are pushed out after grade six, and only 4 percent stay on to form six.
Known contributions to high levels of illiteracy are the inaccessibility of educational facilities and financial problems. It is also said that culture often plays a vital role in the lack of education.
From the Solomon Times

Tribunal backs professor over knuckle-draggers
A professor who resigned in protest after his university over-ruled his decision to fail more than a dozen of his students, whom he described as “knuckle-draggingly thick”, has won an employment tribunal case for unfair dismissal. Paul Buckland, professor of archaeology at Bournemouth University, had judged that fourteen BSc students should fail a resit exam.
His marks were confirmed by a second marker and were officially approved by the examination board. After the board had signed off his marks, however, the papers were re-marked and the number of fails dropped to three. Professor Buckland “made the strongest possible complaint” that the decision “represented an insult to his integrity”, the tribunal said. “We are in no doubt that his sense of grievance was fully justified.”
“We find that it was an act calculated to destroy the relationship of trust and confidence between Professor Buckland and the university and was a repudiatory breach of contract.” The tribunal ruled that Professor Buckland “had been put in an impossible position ... in which his views and his position as a senior academic were disregarded in a manner that he was entitled to regard as insulting”. This represented a “fundamental breach” of his contract, the tribunal said.
A Bournemouth spokesperson said the university was “very disappointed with the outcome” and was studying the detailed judgment before commenting further.
From Phil Baty in Times Higher Education

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

AUS Tertiary Update is published 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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