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AUS Tertiary Update

Tertiary-education PaEE review progresses slowly
The sub-sector group which as been monitoring the Pay and Employment Equity Review in institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs) has found the review is struggling to do its job adequately. In May 2004, the government launched the Pay and Employment Equity Plan of Action to ensure that remuneration levels are free of gender bias and to remove barriers to employment equity for women in the sectors that the plan covers.
Part of that plan of action includes sectoral reviews to identify the barriers to employment equity. All 39 public-service departments, the 21 district health boards, and the public-school sector have finished or will shortly finish their sectoral reviews this year. All those reviews have found that women earn less than men, with pay gaps ranging from 3 to 25 percent. They have also found a lack of career pathways, unequal participation, and inappropriate behaviour, including tolerance of bullying and undervaluing women’s contributions.
The second round of reviews also began recently in the tertiary-education sector and kindergartens. AUS and the Association of Staff in Tertiary Education have been contributing support and advice to the tertiary-education review. At the moment, some ITPs are participating in the review but no universities. In addition, there are eight ITPs newly committed to undertaking a review in 2009, and some wānanga and universities are now considering doing so too.
The problem the review has uncovered is that, while the surveys and information from the participating institutions is useful, the analysis tool the review committee is using is struggling to classify and compare jobs to enable it to measure whether they are paid equitably.
To address this problem, the ITP sub-sector group has brought in Robyn Bailey, senior lecturer in career development at AUT, to help provide coaching, technical support, and advice to institutions as they complete their pay and employment equity reviews. She and Tim O’Flaherty from the Department of Labour spent last week at UCOL and Waiariki Institute of Technology overcoming issues those two institutions were having with their reviews.
The ITP sub-sector group met again last week and project managers at newly participating ITPs met for training yesterday. If the reviews are completed successfully, their findings will direct the next stage of the plan of action: developing a plan in response to the findings.

Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. Tertiary-education unions ask, “What’s the hurry?”
2. New law school for AUT
3. IT graduates halved
4. International students need anti-racism support
5. High stress levels in further education
6. Spanish revolt against Bologna
7. South African unions explore amalgamation
8. Tough new regulations in Greece
9. Universities not run by lefties – official

Tertiary-education unions ask, “What’s the hurry?”
Unions currently forming the new Tertiary Education Union are calling on the government to take a breath and reassess its priorities before urgently rushing through its proposed amendment to the Employment Relations Act. The amendment would deny employees who work in small businesses or organisations protection against unfair dismissal within their first 90 days of employment.
“The first hundred days of a new government are meant to signal innovative changes that shape the rest of its term,” said AUS acting general secretary, Nanette Cormack. “And yet, from this National-led government today, we apparently find that one of the biggest, most urgent matters it wants to deal with is to give small employers the absolute right to fire workers indiscriminately. It seems that this needs to be dealt with more urgently than the international financial crises, or before other pressing environmental and social problems,” Ms Cormack added.
“The question workers will be asking is ‘What is the rush?’” said ASTE national secretary, Sharn Riggs. “Why has the 90-day probation bill been put into urgency just before Christmas?”
“National knows that hundreds of thousands of workers and their unions opposed its last 90-day bill,” said Ms Riggs. “And those workers campaigned with other New Zealanders to win political support from the Māori party to defeat the bill. It appears this time the National-led government does not want to take the chance of allowing the public to have its say. We hope the Māori party will continue to oppose this ill-conceived bill.”

New law school for AUT
The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) has announced that it has given approval for AUT University to offer a bachelor of laws degree starting in 2009. The degree has been approved by the New Zealand Council of Legal Education as meeting its educational requirements for a degree which qualifies candidates for admission as barristers and solicitors of the High Court of New Zealand. The degree has also been approved by the Committee on University Academic Programmes of the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee as meeting the necessary academic standards for a degree programme in a New Zealand university.
AUT University vice-chancellor Derek McCormack said that Auckland is currently under-served compared to other New Zealand major centres and Australian cities, and its large population will benefit from having another law school. “Auckland is home to one-third of New Zealand’s population and there is huge demand on its only law school at the University of Auckland,” he said. “The AUT law degree will complement the existing provision and is a strong option for students in the region.”
Both the TEC and AUT conducted separate consultations with the legal profession, industry, and government departments. Results from both sets of research apparently showed strong support for a law degree based in Auckland with a commercial-law focus.
AUT has appointed Professor Ian Eagles as dean of law. Professor Eagles was formerly a law professor at the University of Auckland and is regarded as one of New Zealand’s leading experts in competition law and intellectual property. He has published widely in these and other areas.
The AUT law school will be based at the university’s city campus in the Auckland CBD. Degree courses will commence in semester one, 2009, with a first year intake of 100 students and the university is already taking enrolment applications.

IT graduates halved
The number of tertiary-education graduates coming out of information-technology courses has halved over the past four years and technology businesses are said to be scratching to fill roles, according to a recent story in the NZ Herald. University of Auckland professor of computer science and director of the centre for software innovation, John Hosking, is quoted as saying that this is threatening the technology sector’s ability to increase its “volume of development”.
“You need the people to do the spadework, to develop the products,” Professor Hosking said, adding that, because IT is “utterly pervasive” in business, the whole economic infrastructure is at risk. “It seems the stereotype of the IT nerd is the main force turning young people away from a career in the sector.”
One reason given for the drop is that parents often have a strong influence over their children’s career selection and, following the dot-com crash, there has been a perception that IT is not a solid career choice. Another is that secondary schools have different standards for assessing IT as a subject, and many students turn it down because it does not contribute as many points towards their final grade for the year. “We are losing people there because they think it’s a second-rate subject,” Professor Hosking concluded.
Managing director of IBM New Zealand, Katrina Troughton, is quoted by the Herald as saying that the company struggles to find IT graduates with a broad understanding of business and communication as well as technology skills. IBM often recruits from overseas or has to invest in training the candidates. It also works with tertiary-education institutions to promote the opportunities available in IT. “It’s not just about sitting in front of a computer all day,” Ms Troughton said.

International students need anti-racism support
Education providers need to do more to protect international students from racial attacks, says Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres. He added that the fate of Jae Hyeon Kim, a 25-year-old South Korean who was murdered on the West Coast in 2003, is a reminder New Zealanders need to do everything possible to make the country safe for visitors.
Kim could well have been one of the many international students New Zealand attracted, Mr de Bres told last week’s International Education Association conference in Auckland. “You [education providers] have a particular responsibility to ensure the safety of your students, to make them aware of the risks, and to provide them with easily accessible processes to report instances of racial harassment,” he said.
An informal survey of tertiary-education institutions has found that they are reluctant to recognise a problem with racism in their own areas, and that there is little information available on racial harassment of international students. “There are few specific processes for international students experiencing racial harassment off campus and little specific information on student safety for international students,” Mr de Bres said.
The 2007 national survey of international students found three-quarters of them had experienced discrimination by other students on campus. About half had experienced discrimination by teachers, administrative or support staff, and other international students. Mr de Bres urged education providers to liaise with police, ethnic councils, and local government in order to deal with these problems.
Visa numbers for international students were up 33 per cent between July and November compared with the same time last year. Export education is estimated to contribute $2.3 billion a year to New Zealand’s economy, 1.13 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, compared with 1.06 percent in Australia and less than 0.5 percent in each of Canada, the United States, and Britain.

World Watch
High stress levels in further education
Stress levels for UK staff in further education (roughly the same as New Zealand’s institute of technology and polytechnic and industry training organisation sectors) exceed the averages for other workers on seven key measures, according to a recent survey of 3000 workers in further education. The survey, carried out by the University and College Union (UCU), and reported in Tackling Stress in Further Education, used a methodology devised by the Health and Safety Executive which analyses stress amongst the general working population, including those in education.
The results of the UCU survey show that workers in further education reported lower levels of well-being, which equated to more stress, in all seven areas in comparison to the national population. The areas with the most marked differences for further-education workers included how change is handled at work, the demands made upon them, and their understanding of their role at work.
In addition, 87 percent of respondents reported “sometimes”, “often”, or “always” experiencing levels of stress at work that they found unacceptable. Nearly four-fifths of respondents (79.8 percent) “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with the statement, “I find my job stressful”. More than half (55 percent) reported “high” or “very high” general levels of stress.
In response to the survey, UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said, “Our members in further education have worked in an environment of continual change where there is barely time to consolidate one new policy before the next comes along. This survey clearly shows this is the root cause of a great deal of stress,” Ms Hunt added. “The economic downturn looks set to herald more change as further education will be at the heart of responses to increasing levels of unemployment.”

Spanish revolt against Bologna
Resistance to the Bologna process of rationalising university-degrees is growing among academics and students in Spain. The Spanish government has tried to defuse the situation, but last week more than 600 students were occupying various buildings at the University of Barcelona while, in other actions, there were large demonstrations in Madrid, students blocked train lines in Barcelona, and others interrupted a senate meeting in Valencia.
The students are protesting at what they see as a creeping privatisation of state universities, in which they allege private interests, such as those of employers, are taking precedence over the common good. With few grants available and, as yet, no student loans, most Spanish students work and study at the same time. They complain that Bologna developments such as the European credit are increasing workloads and making this impossible.
“The Bologna criteria, such as continuous assessment, the need to attend more classes, the emphasis on lots of hours of personal work at home, are all very valid criteria,” said Francesco Castells, a sociology student at Barcelona University, “but they mean students can no longer combine work and study.”
Many students also believe the new system will force students to complete an often-expensive master’s degree to obtain the same recognition and job prospects they would formerly have earned with a first degree.
From Rebecca Warden in University World News

South African unions explore amalgamation
Following a successful vote and presentation by the National Tertiary Education Staff Union (NTESU) at the recent congress of the National Union of Tertiary Employees of South Africa (NUTESA), the two largest tertiary-education unions in South Africa have agreed to enter a period of engagement on amalgamation. The move follows several years of a “One Voice” campaign conversation and trends in the international union movement which have seen mergers in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.
In the long-awaited vote at the NUTESA congress, its branches agreed to a memorandum of agreement to establish a joint task team to develop a proposal on amalgamation. In the face of attacks on academic freedom, attrition in the established posts of institutions, low salary rates, and deteriorating conditions of service, it is increasingly being seen as imperative that a single voice appears to speak for union members in the tertiary-education sector.
NTESU national deputy president, John Landman, said, “With a potential to attract 25,000 or more members from the 21 institutions of higher education, and more if the further-education colleges are included in the recruiting pool, the prospect of combating the problems faced by the sector and raging managerialism on campuses would be hugely improved by a merger.”
It is believed most of the gains from an amalgamation would be at the national, consultative level with the Ministry of Education, Council on Higher Education, and the employer body, Higher Education South Africa.

Tough new regulations in Greece
Tough new measures are being imposed by the Greek Ministry of Education on universities and institutes of technology. Although the institutions are supposed to be autonomous and self-administering, the government intends to exercise greater control over their operations, restrict academic freedom and trade union activity, and curtail student mobilisation.
The new measures have been introduced following the failure of almost all the higher-education institutions themselves to produce their own internal regulations as demanded by legislation brought in by the government last northern summer.
Six months after the introduction of the legislation, the Education Ministry exercised an option to introduce its own Model Internal Regulations for the Operation of the Higher Education Institutions. These are compulsory for those institutions that have not proposed their own and will apply until they produce them.
The regulations interpret and expand the provisions of the legislation in assessment, the four-year rolling financial programme, duration of studies, credit units, appointment of a secretary-general, plant and building management, and security. They also introduce a series of disciplinary measures, a great deal more severe than existing ones, covering academic staff and students.
The new regulations expressly forbid the conscious use of other people’s work without proper mention of their contribution in the research or teaching project; conscious neglect to declare a possible conflict of interest by a participant in a research project; the unauthorised use of areas and/or equipment in a way that is in direct conflict with the institution’s mission and without the express permission of those responsible; and, finally, engaging in behaviour not in accord with the provisions of the Civil Service Code.
Rather than seeking ways to reach an accommodation with the academic community, the government seems intent on sharpening the conflict. In the past, the institutions have refused to implement government directives and they appear reluctant to do so this time.
From Makki Marseilles in University World News

Universities not run by lefties – official
Australian universities are not controlled by left-wing academics hell-bent on brainwashing students, a Senate inquiry has found. The previous Liberal-National coalition government established the inquiry into allegations of academic bias a week before it lost control of the upper house earlier this year. Its final report, however, states that there is no evidence of bias in the nation’s universities.
“The committee’s finding is that, in view of the relatively tiny number of submissions received from the hundreds of thousands of students who are said to be affected, there can be no basis for arguing that universities are under the control of the Left,” committee chair Gavin Marshall wrote in the report. “If there is a Left conspiracy to influence the direction of the nation’s affairs and its social and economic priorities through the process of subverting a generation of undergraduates, this is not yet evident.”
When tabling the report, Senator Marshall said the inquiry was a waste of time and Labor members of the committee said the inquiry was instigated by Liberal student organisations. Furthermore, Labor government senators were puzzled why students didn’t complain about perceived bias to their universities “rather than to a Senate committee”.
In the majority report, they asked whether a left-wing bias among academics would even pose a problem if it did exist. “The issue is whether this has any bearing on teaching and learning, or any effect on the intellectual development of students.”
Liberal senator Mitch Fifield said, however, that, while specific examples of deliberate bias appeared to be “uncommon”, real bias could be seen in the curriculum taught in many faculties. “It ensures a monoculture,” he told the Senate. The coalition senators’ minority report recommends a charter of academic freedoms be developed to protect students’ rights to religious and political expression. “This charter should be adopted by all universities as a condition of funding,” the minority report states.
The coalition also wants universities to conduct a full review of their complaints processes for students.
From the Age

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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