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AUS Tertiary Update

New Zealand still low in international statistics
Latest figures from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) indicate that New Zealand’s annual expenditure per full-time-equivalent tertiary-education student rose significantly from 2004 to 2005. The 2008 OECD Education at a Glance report shows that expenditure per student in 2005, adjusted for purchasing-power parity, was $US10,262 against the previous year’s figure of $US8,866.
This level of expenditure, however, must be set against an OECD average of $US11,512 and $US13,506 for the UK, $US14,579 for Australia, and a massive $US24,370 for the US. New Zealand’s expenditure on tertiary-education institutions as a percentage of GDP is at the OECD average of 1.5 percent, above the UK at 1.3 but following Australia at 1.6 percent and the US at 2.9 percent. Cumulative expenditure in New Zealand over the average duration of tertiary-education is $US31,298 against $US58,654 in the UK and the OECD average of $US47,159.
The OECD notes that university-level entry rates have risen by almost 50 percent on average across its member countries in the last decade. It also goes on to observe, however, that different countries have responded in different ways to this challenge. Nordic countries, for example, “have accepted high public spending on tertiary education as an investment that pays dividends to both individuals and society”. Other countries, including New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, have, however, “expanded their university population by making students pay a larger share of the cost”.
Of the total population aged 25 to 64 that has attained tertiary education, New Zealand ranks towards the top at 38 percent against an OECD average of 27 percent. As to completion rates in tertiary education in the figures that are available, New Zealand ranks second to bottom at 54 percent, just above the US at 47 percent and well below the OECD average of 69 percent.
The OECD records that more than 2.9 million tertiary-education students are enrolled outside their countries of citizenship, double the number in 1996 and a 50 percent increase on 2000. New Zealand places second only to Australia in its proportion of international students, with nearly one in five in Australian universities and one in four in New Zealand.
The report is available at:

Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. AUS General Staff Day a resounding success
2. National set to undermine public tertiary-education provision
3. Targeted women’s scholarships OK
4. Disqualified Otago student president fights on
5. Rally for academic freedom in Australia
6. Here comes the “blended professional”
7. Cash bonuses for US academics
8. My door is always closed

AUS General Staff Day a resounding success
Reports from AUS branches have declared yesterday’s General Staff Day a resounding success, reports AUS general staff vice-president Cate Bardwell. “Each AUS branch organised a lunchtime activity to celebrate the contribution of general staff to our universities. Activities included barbecue lunches, a debate, speeches, quizzes, spot prizes, and cake deliveries for morning tea.”
Across the country general staff attending the lunchtime events have commented on how much they have enjoyed the chance to spend time with colleagues who they otherwise rarely see, even though they work in the same institution. “The overwhelming response to each branch’s invitation reinforced for us the importance of events of this kind as an opportunity for staff and members to spend time together in a collegial and social setting,” said Ms Bardwell.
“As well, the event has served to highlight the huge contribution that general staff make to university life, a contribution that has been acknowledged during the campaign by supporting statements from a number of academic staff and others,” Ms Bardwell added. And one academic staff member is quoted as saying, “Nobody should ever forget: [universities] would not function without general staff. That’s quite simply because, very often, they really are the people who know how to make it work: everyday, every place, every time.”
A poster publicity campaign was held leading up to the General Staff Day, with posters and other publicity material featuring 32 general-staff members from throughout the country. “Our limited print run of posters has been very positively received,” Ms Bardwell noted. “We encourage members and other staff to visit the AUS website to view all the profiles and print a copy of their favourite poster. These profiles give a very real sense of the range of expertise that is held within the general-staff population of our universities.”
The posters are available at:

National set to undermine public tertiary-education provision
The National party appears intent on undermining the provision of public tertiary education, with a statement this week to the effect that private training providers should receive the same level of funding as public-sector institutions, according to the Association of University Staff.
AUS general secretary Nanette Cormack said that the National party’s tertiary-education spokesperson, Dr Paul Hutchison, has complained that private training institutions do not receive public funding to provide real-estate courses where the same or similar courses are already being successfully provided by polytechnics.
Ms Cormack said the suggestion from Dr Hutchison, that public and private tertiary-education providers should compete for funding to run the same or similar courses, revealed that the National party, if elected to government, was on an ideological course to return the tertiary-education sector to a free-for-all competitive environment.
“Considerable time and effort have been spent over the last few years developing a tertiary-education strategy that is responsive to the economic and social goals and needs of the country, and to ensure that the component parts of the sector complement rather than unnecessarily compete against each other,” Ms Cormack said.
“Dr Hutchison clearly wants to return to the uncontrolled, wasteful, and deregulated practices of the past; that he is championing the public funding of private real-estate courses, particularly at a time when the real-estate market has stagnated, simply serves to illustrate that the National party cares more about its private-sector friends than in the quality and relevance of tertiary education,” Ms Cormack concluded.

Targeted women’s scholarships OK
The Human Rights Commission has suggested that women-only scholarships may contravene the Human Rights Act unless they target areas of education in which women are under-represented, according to a report in Education Review. It has added, however, that individual cases would need to be judged on their own merits.
The commission has previously said that scholarships offered by charitable trusts are exempt from the act and has now added that, while it is unlawful to discriminate in certain areas on the ground of sex, measures to assist groups to achieve an equal place in the community are also exempted.
The commission is quoted in the report as saying, “It follows that even if women are over-represented in enrolment figures, ‘women only’ scholarships may still be justified if the achievement is not reflected in certain areas.” Citing statistics showing that women are not necessarily getting the best job value for their educational qualifications, the commission continues, “This would suggest that scholarships designed to support women students in non-traditional areas of study could be justified whereas a scholarship for women to complete a general arts degree may not.”
Meanwhile, Education Review reports, the academic who asked the commission to rule on women-only scholarships, Victoria University senior researcher Dr Paul Callister, has asked the commission also to rule on the legality of men-only scholarships. He is quoted as saying that the commission’s statement on women-only scholarships indicates that men-only scholarships for fields such as early-childhood-teacher training and nursing would also be legal and he has asked for clarification.

Disqualified Otago student president fights on
The Otago Daily Times reports that Jo Moore, until recently president-elect of the Otago University Students Association (OUSA), yesterday gathered about 100 signatures from students for a petition challenging her disqualification as a candidate during the recent presidential election. Ms Moore, a commerce student, said she had been getting strong support yesterday from fellow students who regarded her disqualification as unfair. If she could gather about a further 100 signatures, she said, she could call together a student general meeting to reconsider her disqualification.
Late last month, association returning officer Kyle Matthews found there had been some breaches of electoral rules, but upheld Ms Moore's election, after two complaints, including one by unsuccessful presidential candidate Timothy Grigg. On Monday, however, Ms Moore discovered that she had been disqualified by OUSA’s independent election arbitrator, Professor Paul Roth, of the Otago University law faculty, following a further complaint.
Current association president Simon Wilson is reported as saying that he regrets that Ms Moore was not informed about the late appeal being lodged last Thursday, calling it “an oversight”. Professor Roth, he said, had reviewed only matters previously considered by the returning officer, including information provided by Ms Moore.
Legal advice obtained by the association from law firm Anderson Lloyd yesterday stated natural justice had not been breached over the appeal process, and that the association executive did not have the power to overturn the findings of its independent arbitrator.
Those findings were that Ms Moore had been involved in trying to “massage the vote” and had exceeded the $1000 spending limit imposed on presidential candidates, partly in respect of a party during which beer had been provided and voting had taken place on a laptop computer.

World Watch
Rally for academic freedom in Australia
A national campaign to promote academic freedom in Australia was launched this week, with the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) calling on universities and vice-chancellors to stand by their staff and protect the vital role they play in public commentary. NTEU president, Dr Carolyn Allport, said that the universities’ reliance on government and industry funding for research and new course development has made some institutions reluctant to bite the hand that feeds them.
That, however, comes at a high price, she said, with the vitality of public debate and commentary increasingly under threat. “There is a concern about university reputation ... because of money,” she said. “But the university has a responsibility to support the public-commentary role played by their staff and particularly by their researchers.”
A senate inquiry into academic freedom in schools, universities, and other higher-education institutions is under way, with a report expected by 11 November. The NTEU has also urged the Rudd government to change the 2005 sedition laws to give greater protection to the right to make public commentary. “People who work in the universities, the arts, and the media are all attempting to give information and analysis to the community and we need to do that in a professional way and without fear or favour,” Dr Allport said.
The campaign follows the resignation of prominent public-transport advocate Paul Mees from Melbourne University in February. Dr Mees, who now works at RMIT, was told his pay would be cut by $10,000 a year and his position downgraded after he ridiculed the authors of a 2007 report on urban transport issues. The university launched an investigation and found Dr Mees guilty of misconduct, after the then head of the department of infrastructure, Professor Howard Ronaldson, threatened legal action. Dr Mees was among the speakers at the public forum, which was hosted by his former employer, Melbourne University.
From Bridie Smith in the Age

Here comes the “blended professional”
A new breed of professional manager is moving into areas of university work traditionally handled by academics, according to a report from the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education. The report by Celia Whitchurch, lecturer at the University of London’s institute of education, says staff are increasingly being appointed on the basis of previous higher-education, further-education, or third-sector experience that allows them to handle “mixed portfolios” of academic and non-academic work.
The new breed of manager is likely to hold masters- and doctoral-level qualifications, to have a teaching or research background, and to undertake tasks such as offering pastoral advice to students, speaking at outreach events, and taking part in overseas recruitment visits and interviews. These staff members may move into pro vice-chancellor posts with portfolios such as student life or institutional recruitment, suggests the report, Professional Managers in UK HE: Preparing for Complex Futures, which is currently in press.
Dr Whitchurch interviewed middle- and senior-level staff in seven institutions in the UK, as well as in the US and Australia. She found the new type of manager, which she calls a “blended professional”, in posts such as director of lifelong learning, director of research partnership, diversity manager, and learning partnerships manager.
They have “an ability to work in ambiguous space between professional and academic domains, capitalising on a sense of ‘belonging’ and ‘not belonging’ to both”, her report says. Their work takes in in-house research on new forms of activity such as foundation degrees or local business links.
Dr Whitchurch added, “Professional staff are increasingly working alongside their academic colleagues on extended projects such as student transitions and community partnership ... At the same time as functional specialisation has occurred in areas such as marketing and enterprise ... ‘blended’ roles and identities have also emerged.”
From Melanie Newman in Times Higher Education

Cash bonuses for US academics
Kent State University in the US is trying a new and unusual tactic to improve its status, retention rate, and fund raising by paying cash bonuses to faculty members if the university exceeds its goals in those areas. The bonuses are built into a contract, approved last month, that covers 864 full-time, tenure-track faculty members who teach and do research on the university’s eight campuses.
The “success bonus pool” will be divided among faculty members if the Ohio institution improves retention rates for first-year students and increases the research dollars it generates and the private money raised through its foundation. The message behind the institutional-performance bonuses, which are much more common in private industry and for university presidents than for professors, is that faculty members should benefit from the work they do that influences those measures of a university’s success, Kent State president, Lester A Lefton, said. “Be a good partner, and Kent State will be good to you”.
“We’re not asking for extra work, but if operating results are better, I want to share this with the faculty,” the president said. “We think this is an innovative approach that benefits both faculty and administration, and ultimately benefits our students.”
Paying faculty bonuses tied to institutional performance is highly unusual, said Gary Rhoades, director of the center for the study of higher education at the University of Arizona and the next general secretary of the American Association of University Professors. Bonus clauses tied to institutional performance are more common in contracts of presidents, provosts, and other senior administrators.
“I think it’s a creative idea,” said Dr Rhoades. “Providing incentives for activities that go beyond an individual faculty member’s duties and that benefit the institution is a smart move by the university. If the boat rises, we all rise with it.”
From Kathryn Masterson in the Chronicle of Higher Education

My door is always closed
Lizabeth Barclay, grievance officer for Oakland University’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), was on her way to deliver a formal complaint to the university’s senior vice-president when she was barred from entrance to the office. Outside a locked door to the university’s chief administrative suite of offices, she was told by a secretary through a call box that she could not enter unless she had an appointment.
Professor Barclay explained that she did not have an appointment; she had just come to drop off the grievance paperwork. She pointed out that never before had she needed an appointment to enter. When someone else walked out, Barclay entered and delivered her notice. But the management and marketing professor, as well as many other faculty members at the university, are outraged that they can apparently no longer visit the offices of senior administrators uninvited.
“Universities cannot respond to isolated acts of violence or even terrorism by denying such free access and becoming examples of closed societies,” reads an open letter distributed this month by the campus AAUP. “Universities must remain symbols of a free society. Faculty should not be drawn into actions antithetical to a free society.”
“If senior administrators choose to respond by walling themselves off from the rest of the university, they have that right even if such actions counter the free society we hope to emulate for our students. However, faculty need not participate in such actions.”
The AAUP is recommending that faculty carry out all face-to-face contacts with senior administrations in “open-university” faculty offices or conference rooms, said Joel Russell, local chapter president.
From Inside Higher Ed

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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: Direct inquiries should be made to the editor, email:

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