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AUS Tertiary Update Vol.3 No.37

AUS is very concerned at the news that Norman Kingsbury has resigned as Chair of the Tertiary Education Advisory Commission (TEAC). Dr Kingsbury is understood to have resigned from TEAC because of the pressure of work in his full-time position as Chief Executive of NZQA. AUS has written to the Minister with some suggestions for a replacement for Dr Kingsbury as Chair of TEAC, and pointing out that the position requires a good understanding of the sector, and the time and intellectual energy to ensure progress on re-building New Zealand's tertiary education system to meet the needs of the knowledge society.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. AUS latest submission to TEAC
2. Conference papers on the web
3. New governance arrangements proposed
4. Importing education
5. Government equity initiatives welcomed
6. TOMU now TAMU
7. University expecting $8m surplus
8. Open meetings rule, OK
9. Australian science meets parliament
10. Conflict of interest in clinical research

AUS has made submissions to TEAC on the shape of the tertiary education sector for the Commission's report to government due out just before Christmas. The AUS submission focuses on specific questions raised in the "Shaping a Shared Vision" document, and takes as its basis the fact that mass tertiary education implies diversity, and the urgent need for the nation’s long-term investment in the public tertiary education infrastructure to be built up. The full text of the submission is available on the AUS website:

With the AUS annual conference coming up early next month, papers prepared for the event will be posted on the AUS website ( as they come to hand. Resolutions made at the conference -- which will be held in Wellington on Monday 4 and Tuesday 5 December -- will also be posted on the website. If you have a comment on any particular issue, get in touch with your Branch President.

The government has announced it will introduce legislation to parliament next month to bring tertiary institution governance and management capabilities up to date. The Associate Minister, Steve Maharey told the annual conference of the Association of Polytechnics (APNZ) that the governance and management arrangements that prevailed last century are not adequate to meet the demands of this century. The proposed legislation would strengthen the ability of tertiary councils to hold their chief executives accountable, and allow for greater government assistance to institutions in trouble. Mr Maharey gave assurances that there would be checks to ensure that these powers did not impinge on the principles of academic freedom and institutional autonomy.

A transnational commercial training organisation, Com Tech has joined forces with Deakin University in Australia and Microsoft to offer a bachelor of computing (network technologies) degree. The 3½ year course will be available in Auckland and Wellington and combines distance education and face-to-face training. Graduates will receive the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer certification, a guaranteed job in the IT industry six months after starting the degree, three years of fully paid industry experience, and a computing degree from Deakin University via distance learning (see

AUS is welcoming the government's initiative to encourage greater Maori and Pacific Island student participation in tertiary education. Beginning next year, an $18m. package will be made available over four years to fund support services for Maori and Pacific students at public tertiary education institutions. AUS National President, Neville Blampied says research shows that there has been a decline in participation by these groups as rises in tuition fees over the past decade have increased the cost of education. “As a small society, struggling to meet the challenge to become a knowledge society, New Zealand cannot afford the loss of talent from any group or sector," he says.

Finally, vindication for what the universities (strongly supported by AUS) have argued for years. The Associate Minister -- in his speech to the APNZ (see earlier story) -- confirmed that universities are not "owned" by the Crown, and that the Tertiary Ownership Monitoring Unit within the Ministry of Education was misnamed. The unit, Mr Maharey said, is now the Tertiary Advisory Monitoring Unit.

The University of Otago expects to end the year with a $8m operating surplus. The University's financial controller, John Patrick says the forecast operating surplus "should be seen as an excellent outcome," given significant cost rises during the year, including costs linked with major building projects, higher energy costs, several new initiatives, and the weak New Zealand dollar. Contributing to the surplus was higher than budgeted income from licensing of intellectual property including research work on a bacteriocin-like inhibitory substance (BLIS) by microbiologist, Associate Professor John Tagg.

In a move that should resonate strongly on many New Zealand campuses, the City University of New York (CUNY) Board of Trustees has been forced to concede that faculty, students and the public have a right to attend all the meetings at which the board sets policy. The move follows a ruling by the New York Supreme Court.

Australian MPs received a reminder of the importance of investment in science and research when 180 Australian scientists travelled to Canberra to meet the politicians. Nearly three- quarters of the 224 Federal MPs agreed to one-on-one meetings with the scientists, including all the party leaders, and about half the members of the Cabinet. The event included a nationally-televised address by Bill Clinton's science adviser; a cocktail party at Parliament, and a briefing day to discuss strategy and tactics.

There's been a call in the United States for medical schools to agree on a consistent strategy for dealing with financial conflict of interest in clinical research. The call has come from the president of the Association of American Medical Colleges, Jordan J.Cohen. He told the Association's annual meeting "Public trust is what fuels public support for medical research. We risk great peril if we fail to respond to the growing perception that financial conflicts of interest have gotten out of control." Dr Cohen announced a panel was being set up to get consensus on how schools might deal with the problem. Questions to be considered include how much money researchers may make off their work -- for example, by owning company stock, or giving speeches.

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:

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