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AUS Tertiary Update Budget special

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Today’s Budget has been described as “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly” by AUS President, Neville Blampied in terms of its impact for universities and their staff.
The Good
* $40m over 4 years for Centres of Research Excellence (this includes a one-off $20m capital injection with the remaining funds coming from reallocation of existing expenditure)
* Three new staff in the Office of the Ombudsman to be appointed to investigate tertiary education complaints ($272,000 in 2001/2)
* Four new tertiary teaching awards worth $50,000 each to be awarded annually
* $100,000 p.a. for training programmes for members of tertiary institution councils
* Marsden Fund for excellent research up $2m to $27.8m
* Health Research Council up $5m so that it can cover full costs rather than marginal costs
* Transition Tertiary Education Commission to be established by July 31
* Tertiary Education Learning and Assessment Centres to be established for students to obtain advice and support in tertiary study, guidance and assistance to improve their achievement in tertiary education, and guidance on future study and career choices
* Export Education ($1.3m 2001/2)
* Co-ordination of Tertiary Education E-Learning Strategy ($100,000 in 2001/2)
* An additional $1m for the Mediation Service to meet the needs of employers, managers, employees and unions
The Bad
* An increase of 5.1% on 2000 EFTS baselines (2.6% above 2001 levels and below the rate of inflation) provided institutions maintain fees at 2000 levels
* Transition Tertiary Education Commission to be located within Ministry of Education
* Earlier intervention for At-Risk Institutions ($250,000 in 2001/2). This issue is currently being hotly contested by AUS and NZVCC as the Education Amendment (No.2) Bill makes its way through Parliament
The Ugly
* If institutions refuse to accept the 5.1% increase in funding and do not hold fees at 2000 levels, they will not be eligible for Centres of Research Excellence funding.

Neville Blampied says “there is no principled reason why Centres of Research Excellence should be linked to fees in this way, and it is clear the Government feared that the merits of the stabilisation offer alone would not induce universities to accept it. We think this is a tactic of which the Government should be ashamed, and AUS calls on the Ministers involved to break the link between these two line items.

“Making progress on the foundations of the knowledge society and innovation economy should not be subject to petty politics,” he said.

Crisis Summit called for
Meanwhile, AUS Executive Director Rob Crozier, has called on representatives of University Councils, Vice-Chancellors and students to join staff in a Crisis Summit.

“Nothing in this Budget will prevent the continued loss of talent from our universities, nor will it enhance our ability to recruit highly qualified staff.

“The choices the sector faces are difficult in the extreme. Either choice puts at risk the quality and reputation of New Zealand’s universities as first world institutions, and therefore impacts on both staff and students,” he said.

“We therefore consider that it would be both fruitful and constructive for representatives of University Councils, Vice-Chancellors, staff and students to convene a Universities’ Crisis Summit to give cool, calm and collective consideration to the ramifications of the Budget before responding to the Budget offer.

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