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Too little, too late

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University staff are underwhelmed by the Government’s announcement of a $34.7 million fund to assist public tertiary education providers to adapt to a changing environment. The fund does not come into effect until 1 July 2002.

Association of University Staff Executive Director, Rob Crozier, said in Wellington today that this fund would not do anything to assist university staff who were finding their salaries and working conditions to be totally inadequate.

“It is important to realise that university staff operate in an international market place and that our salaries and conditions are uncompetitive.

“New Zealand universities are now extremely unattractive places for academic and general staff to work in and the current problems of staff recruitment and retention require urgent remedial action,” he said.

“It is deplorable that the Government has precluded university salaries from being increased in spelling out what this additional money can be spent on.

“The Association has embarked on a campaign to seek a better funding regime specifically for salaries and we believe that Vice-Chancellors are supportive of this. In the meantime, we will be forced to look at ways in which we might make staff workloads less oppressive – areas such as library closures at certain times, restricted course offerings, fewer tutorials, less internal assessment etc.

“If the Government is serious about the outcomes of the recent Knowledge Wave Conference, then it has to get real and acknowledge the vital contribution of the universities’ intellectual capital – their staff,” said Mr Crozier.

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