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AUS Tertiary Update Vol.3 No.38

TEAC International reference group appointed
A new group has been formed to advise the Tertiary Education Advisory Commission (TEAC) on international developments in tertiary education and training. The TEAC international reference group comprises eight experts from Finland, Sweden, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Australia. Announcing appointments to the group, the Tertiary Education Minister, Steve Maharey said it will help New Zealand learn from the major reviews of tertiary education that have already taken place overseas. It is also planned to appoint people from the United States and Canada to the group. With such a far-flung membership, communication will mostly be done electronically by e-mail and "virtual" conferencing.
The AUS has been pushing for such a group since TEAC was first mooted. Welcoming the move, National President, Neville Blampied says: "It is essential that any review of our tertiary education system should be deeply and extensively informed by the best advice possible in an international context." But Mr Blampied still has reservations about the state of TEAC. "If initiatives such as the International Advisory Group are to yield maximum benefit to the Commission's work, then Government needs to ensure that Commission members and Secretariat have the time and resources required to fully consider issues and to prepare reports which will give New Zealand the tertiary education system it needs for the 21st century,"

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Polytechs thrown a financial lifeline
2. Collecting on student loans
3. Cash row hits Christchurch Polytech
4. Women's Studies looking for a home
5 Take a punt on research
6 Californian men get more.

The government has put aside $5.3m. to help four polytechnics in financial difficulty. The money is aimed at keeping Wanganui, Taranaki and Wairarapa polytechnics and the Central Institute of Technology in the Hutt Valley afloat until the end of the year. But the Tertiary Education Minister has warned them that to qualify for the money they must produce business plans to show that they had a long-term financial future.
Meanwhile, the union representing polytechnic teaching staff, the ASTE, says almost all the country's 23 polytechnics have already cut their costs, resulting in more than 80 redundancies, many in the trade areas. This, the union say, goes against the government's stated commitment to a modern apprenticeship programme. "ASTE regards this as an extremely serious situation given that regional polytechnics are critical to the government's regional economic development policy."

The government is currently investigating reciprocal agreements with Australia and Britain to collect money owed by the more than 10,000 Kiwis overseas who have student loans. The Inland Revenue Department estimates that nearly $136m. is owing, and the laws requiring annual repayments cannot be enforced when the former students are out of the country. The Minister of Education, Trevor Mallard; is quoted as saying the reciprocal agreements would "assist" students. Tertiary Update wonders if the students will see it that way!

A stand-off has developed at Christchurch Polytech over a management suggestion that student's association funds be put towards student services. Chief executive John Scott is proposing that the Christchurch Polytechnic Students' Association (CPSA) contribute more than $264,000 from its fees for student services, including those provided solely by the institute. The move follows a vote by students for a return to compulsory association membership. In the run-up to that, the association made the provision of student services a major issue in its campaign for compulsory membership. Mr Scott now says that since students supported that, it is reasonable to expect the CPSA to accept financial responsibility. The Association is refusing to pay, saying that if it does it will not be able to meet its own commitments to paying staff, scholarships, and an improved hardship grant for students.

Women's Studies staff of Victoria University are opposing a suggestion that their department be dismantled, and the women's studies programme be dispersed through different schools. The move is part of a restructuring at the university. Attempts to date to place Women's Studies in a school have come to nothing, although staff believe they will eventually find a home. In the meantime the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, Professor David Mackay has suggested the dispersal idea, saying it is appropriate for a subject that crosses various disciplines. Women's Studies staff say, however, that this would make running an integrated programme extremely difficult, and that conflicts would inevitably arise between the teaching demands of the host School, and the Women's Studies programme. The Head of Women's Studies, Alison Laurie points out that the programme is economically viable, with enrolments being maintained. "Moreover, our programme attracts many disadvantaged students and has for some years functioned as an entry point to the university, as well as providing a safe and welcoming space for both women and men on campus." Submissions on the proposal close on 24 November.

Science has been the winner from the gambling habits of West Australians. Sales of lotto, scratch 'n win tickets and other gambling products has contributed A$2m. towards much-needed research equipment in universities and research institutions. Meanwhile, back in New Zealand we still await government action to reverse the New Zealand Lotteries Board’s decision of 1997 to axe the $1 million dollar Lotteries Science Fund that funded similar projects in New Zealand. AUS continues its letter-writing campaign to get it reinstated, but despite ministerial assurances that the issue would be discussed by the Board last April, we've heard nothing!

A study has found that male staff at California State University do much better out of its merit-pay system than women, with female professors earning, on average, 8% less than the men.
The study by the California Faculty Association -- which has long argued the system is unfair -- found that in 1999, 64% of male professors received merit increases of $900 or more where only 36% of women reached that figure. Non tenure-track lecturers -- most of whom are women -- received few merit rises than tenure-track faculty members. Staff of African-American and Latino ethnicity also lagged behind, with professors receiving 8 to 10% less in merit pay. The university disagrees with the union's findings, and is standing behind the merit pay scheme.
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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