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AUS Tertiary Update Vol.3 No.39

AUS representatives Rob Crozier and Margaret Ledgerton have been highlighting to politicians the huge gap that has opened up in terms of Equivalent Full Time Student (EFTS) funding over the past ten years. Appearing before the parliamentary Select Committee Inquiry into the Resourcing of Tertiary Education, the AUS team produced figures showing the significant fall in funding when present funding is compared with original 1991 cost categories adjusted for inflation. Under that formula, science undergraduate subjects should be funded at $12,010, but will receive only $8,091 in 2001. Science honours figures are even worse – the cost-adjusted figure at the end of June this year is $27,728 while the actual funding for 2001 is $11,421 for a taught programme and $22,621 for a research-based higher degree. All of which leads "Tertiary Update" to the conclusion that tertiary funding could be described as operating on rubber bands and number eight wire!

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Govt asked for its position on UNESCO recommendation
2. Plea to keep parallel importing for university libraries
3. Victoria contract settled
4. AUT super not so “super”
5. Better system for student summer jobs
6. AUS and NTEU @ USP
7. Oz fees biting into enrolments
8. British funding boost
9. From Murdoch to Thomson

AUS Executive Director, Rob Crozier has asked the government to clarify its position on the UNESCO Recommendation on the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel. The previous government endorsed the recommendation in November 1997, but did not agree to Section IX on terms and conditions of employment. The issue was raised by Mr Crozier at the quarterly meeting the AUS, along with other tertiary education staff unions, has with the Associate Minister of Education, Steve Maharey. It was pointed out that Section IX provides a template for good faith bargaining in the tertiary education sector. The Minister will investigate and make a recommendation to Cabinet.

The AUS is asking that any move by government to ban parallel importing of goods does not affect the ability of university libraries to directly import books. In a letter to the Minister of Commerce, the AUS National President, Neville Blampied highlights the dire straits of New Zealand's university libraries as they battle to keep their collections up in the face of funding cuts and a declining dollar. He points out that universities have played their part in helping the government achieve its aim of stabilising fees, and now wants it to give something back. "We believe that the Government must play its part by eschewing moves which will deliberately raise university input costs, as the ban on parallel imports of books and serials undoubtedly would."

Staff at Victoria University have settled their collective contract negotiations with a 1.5% pay increase from January. Other improvements include a 25% increase in academic study and conference leave allowances and a 50% increase for conference fees. A Working Party has been set up to meet before Christmas to discuss changes to the Salary Review process for general staff.

The Auckland University of Technology (AUT) has announced that it intends to establish a superannuation scheme, but makes no mention of an employer contribution to the scheme. Instead it appears to be simply a long-term, locked-in savings scheme without a monthly plan fee. Nor, in the view of "Tertiary Update" is the offer of a chance to go into a draw for a Christmas hamper for those who enquire about the scheme before 8 December adequate compensation. On a more serious note, “Tertiary Update” believes the scheme is evidence of AUT’s lack of commitment to the international labour force it must attract -- a labour force that places high value on superannuation portability. To be a “real” university in New Zealand requires, in our view, access for AUT staff to the New Zealand Universities’ Superannuation Scheme (NZUSS).

Student Job Search has installed a $ computer network aimed at improving its hunt for summer jobs for students. The computer network links all six regional Job Search centres and allows e-mail contact with employers and access to on-line job boards. It also links with the Department of Work and Income to speed up the exchange of information for confirming eligibility for student allowances and other financial assistance.
Meanwhile, Green MP Sue Bradford says she's receiving reports about students struggling to find summer jobs, and is warning the government it must face the consequences of denying unemployed students access to the emergency benefit. Ms Bradford introduced a bill to parliament earlier this year to reinstate the emergency benefit for students who could not find work over the summer break, but it was voted down.


The AUS national president, Neville Blampied has been visiting Fiji to review support for staff at the University of the South Pacific (USP) in the wake of the 19 May coup. He was a guest of the Association of University of the South Pacific Staff (AUSPS), the union representing academic and senior general staff at USP. Also visiting was a senior official from Australia's National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU). AUS and NTEU have been supporting USP staff by giving international publicity to the coup and its academic consequences, and it was agreed this would continue.

The NTEU is battling the Australian Education Minister, David Kemp to get the government to recognise that increases in the fees students have to pay are resulting in fewer applications for university places. In 2000, there were 8,400 fewer applications for undergraduate study than in 1996. Mature students, in particular, seem to be put off. Preliminary figures show that in the state of New South Wales alone, applications from older people for university places in 2001 have fallen by around 25%. NTEU President, Dr Carolyn Allport has accused the Minister of being "in denial" when he insists the drop in applications is due to "strong employment prospects". Since 1996, the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) has increased from $A2,500 a year to between $A3,500 and $A5,800 a year.

In Britain, the Secretary of State of Education, David Blunkett has announced an increase in funding to universities of nearly £1bn over the next three years, including an extra £330m. for staff pay. Welcoming the move, the General Secretary of the AUT, David Triesman said the announcement had not come a moment too soon for universities and their hard-pressed academic staff: "Today David Blunkett has explicitly recognised that university staff are central to providing world class higher education. We have turned the corner on funding for higher education." He said AUT -- which has waged a long campaign for pay increases -- would be seeking meetings with university vice-chancellors to discuss how best to spend the extra money.

Universitas21, a network of 18 universities in 10 countries that the University of Auckland belongs to, announced plans on Monday to develop online-learning materials with Thomson Learning -- a division of the Thomson Company, an international company focusing on electronic delivery of information.
Thomson Learning will be responsible for the course design, testing and assessment, and student-database management for the project. Universitas 21 will award degrees, diplomas, or certificates to students who complete course requirements.
Microsoft, which was rumoured to be the third party in the previous proposal, is not involved in the latest proposal. Universitas 21 is headquartered at the University of Melbourne. AUS and NTEU have co-ordinated a network of Universitas21 contacts to monitor progress. ***************************************************************************
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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