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AUS Tertiary Update Vol.3 No.33

The Association of University Staff (AUS) and Massey University have agreed that the union's litigation regarding Massey's repositioning project need not proceed. The case -- to have been heard in the High Court in Wellington next week -- related to procedural aspects of the project. It has been agreed that the Vice-Chancellor, Professor James McWha, will seek the support of the University Council for a review of structures and processes for academic policymaking at all levels within the university. AUS believes that the agreement on the review acknowledges the importance of collegial decision-making and we will work with the University towards a successful outcome.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Governance changes coming
2. Loans draining the brains
3. AUS says No to Singapore free trade
4. Lake Taupo University College closer
5. AUS advisor on Employment Authority
6. Sector briefs

The government plans to introduce legislation this year clarifying the role of tertiary councils, and allowing greater government involvement when institutions are in difficulty. The Associate Minister, Steve Maharey told a student forum at Victoria University that governance and management in the tertiary sector needs to improve if institutions are to meet the demands of students, society and industry. "National's underfunding of the sector has been a major contributor to the financial distress many institutions find themselves in. But it is not only underfunding which has caused institutions' financial problems", he said. Instead of acting as an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, government wanted to build fences at the top -- leaving to their own devices institutions that were operating well, but being there to help those that aren't.

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University students are hammering home the point that it is the student loans scheme that is sending our bright young people to greener pastures overseas. The New Zealand University Students' Association (NZUSA) has strongly criticised the Business Roundtable-funded "Young New Zealanders" advertisements in the national press, saying they ignore the loans scheme as the key reason for the 'brain drain'. "Students who stay in New Zealand", says NZUSA co-president, Sam Huggard, "are faced with the prospect of a higher marginal tax rate than other New Zealanders, when their 10 cent in the dollar student loan repayment is taken into consideration". NZUSA officials will be outlining their case for lower fees and improved living allowances to stem the emigration flow when Parliament's Education and Science Select Committee this month begins its inquiry into fees, loans and allowances.

The Association of University Staff (AUS) has urged the Select Committee hearing submissions on the proposed free trade and investment agreement with Singapore NOT to recommend ratification of the deal. Executive Director, Rob Crozier told the committee the AUS strongly opposed the inclusion of tertiary education as well as research in the trade agreements. He pointed out that by including research, funding through mechanisms such as the Marsden Fund could be accessed by Singaporean researchers, with catastrophic effects on New Zealand research. Mr Crozier also doubted the free trade agreement would mean more Singaporean students studying in New Zealand since Singapore makes it clear that it will not recognise New Zealand degrees for professional practice in that country.

A preliminary agreement has been signed between the Lake Taupo Development Company, the University of Limerick in Ireland, and Victoria University to set up a University College in Taupo specialising in Information Technology (IT). The proposed institution would be a core part of a high tech incubator and business park offering employment to the graduates and investing venture capital in the most innovative student projects. The first courses are planned for 2002. The venture has the support of local Maori.

Congratulations to Christchurch solicitor, Philip Cheyne -- AUS legal adviser for a number of years -- on his appointment to the Employment Relations Authority. The Authority has been set up under the Employment Relations Act to investigate disputes that cannot be solved by mediation. We appreciate the work Philip has put in on our behalf over the years, and know he will continue to make a valuable contribution in the new position.

The deadline for submissions from Massey and the Auckland College of Education as to why they should be allowed to merge has been extended until 30 November.

UCOL polytechnic in Palmerston North is offering an employment guarantee to its students. Students who enrol for courses in 2001 can study another course at the polytechnic for free if they have failed to get a job within 6 months of graduating with their original qualification.

Alliance List MP, Liz Gordon is supporting Victoria University's Geology Department in its battle to stave off staff cuts (see "Tertiary Update", Vol. 3 No. 32). Her reasons are very simple -- the map she has on her office wall at Parliament is a daily reminder that the capital sits on a series of active fault lines. "The big one will be very dangerous, but it might not be a catastrophe, and, if it is not, this will be because many fine scientific minds have been applied to minimising the effects." Her message to Vic. -- "Saving Geology now might save us later!"


Taiwan has announced sweeping changes to its university education system that will see a move away from rote learning to an emphasis on creativity. US$50m. has been set aside over a four year period to allow public and private institutions to change their curricula and set up new courses and programmes as they move away from the traditional "memory-focused approach" to a more creative learning style that blends theory into practice.

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) in Australia says the initial stages of an audit it is carrying out of higher education has highlighted the need for substantial reinvestment in universities. The study finds that since the Commonwealth government assumed full responsibility for university funding in the mid-1970s, the allocation has fallen from 1.6% of GDP to 0.8% in 1998-99, with much of the fall being in the latter part of the 1990s. The full paper -- entitled "Public Revenue and Spending on Tertiary Education, Research and Development" -- is available from the NTEU web site at http://www.nteu.org.au
AUS Tertiary Update is produced weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the union and others. Back issues are archived on the AUS website: http://www.aus.ac.nz. Direct enquiries to Rob Crozier, AUS executive director. Email: rob.crozier@aus.ac.nz.

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