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AUS Tertiary Update Vol. 4, No. 45

In our lead story this week…..
A "bitter pill to swallow" is how the Association of University Staff (AUS) national president is describing the "generosity" of the Higher Salaries Commission (HSC) in announcing that MPs were to receive pay increases of up to 5%. Neville Blampied points out that until the late 1980s, when responsibility for setting academic salaries passed from the HSC to individual universities, the pay of a career-grade senior lecturer was benchmarked to that of a back-bench MP. In 1990, the base pay for an MP was $63,5000, while the senior lecturer received $61,000. In 2001, the MP's salary has risen to $90,500, while the senior lecturer is receiving only $70,200 as a result of a decade in which academic pay has failed to even keep up with inflation. "If the HSC had done no more than adjust academic pay for inflation over the past ten years, university staff would have collectively received $50m more in their pay packets than they have received," Mr Blampied says. "The gap between actual pay and what it would be if adjusted for inflation is now running at about $18m per annum. Mr Blampied is also calling for an urgent independent review of university pay levels and structures as recommended by the Tertiary Education Advisory Committee (TEAC) in its final report to government. "This should be a top priority for 2002," he says.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Staff vote 'yes' for strike action
2. New AUS President for 2002
3. Canterbury and Lincoln courting?
4. Consultation for Tertiary Education Strategy
5. AUS 2002 subscriptions
6. Unitec tries another angle!
7. Hawaii union boss for GNS
8. A message from disgruntled AUS members
9. Season's Greetings

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Staff at six New Zealand universities have voted to strike in early March in protest at the pay offers being made by management. Staff at Waikato, Massey, Victoria, Canterbury, Lincoln and Otago have voted to hold a national strike on 4 March, followed by rolling stoppages the following week. Auckland University staff had earlier voted to accept their pay offer.

Dr Grant Duncan has been confirmed as AUS National President for 2002 at this month's Annual Conference in Wellington. He will take office on January 1. Dr Duncan – a senior lecturer in public policy at Massey, Albany – says there will be many challenges for AUS members in the coming year. "We will be actively engaging with Government over the substantial reforms of tertiary education that are in the pipeline, " he says.

Statements and announcements from both Canterbury and Lincoln Universities have indicated that some sort of further co-operation is in the wind, but whether or not it will be a full-scale marriage, or a rather looser relationship is not yet clear. The Vice-Chancellor of Lincoln University, Frank Wood has talked of "possible collaboration opportunities", while Canterbury Vice-Chancellor Darryl le Grew has said that "South Island universities such as Canterbury and Lincoln could be unified under the umbrella of a university system” and has referred to his vision of 'Rutherford University' in the south. Prof. le Grew has pointed out that his university already collaborates with Lincoln in areas such as forestry and engineering, but says the signals are now strong that the sector needs to look at new initiatives to "expand student opportunities" and rationalise provision of tertiary education. AUS Canterbury and Lincoln Branch Presidents, Maureen Montgomery and Jim McAloon, are to send a letter to the two VCs noting the consultation clauses in staff collective agreements and expect to be involved in the discussions.

AUS is welcoming government confirmation that it will be actively consulting the sector as it develops the Tertiary Education Strategy. The government released its draft strategy for tertiary education between 2002 and 2007 last week. It connects learning and research with the economic and social development needs of the country, and covers the entire post-secondary school education and training system. Submissions on the draft document close on 28 February 2002, and the final document is due for release in April next year. The minister in charge of tertiary education, Steve Maharey says the government wants feedback. "The government is very clear that it cannot develop effective policy in this area alone, and we are seeking active engagement over the next few months to ensure that the finalised Strategy will achieve the changes our system needs." The AUS incoming president, Dr Grant Duncan says university staff have an "inestimable contribution" to make to the knowledge society of the future and says AUS welcomes confirmation that there will be consultation as the strategy unfolds.

The AUS Annual Conference has approved a deficit budget for 2002 and an increase in subscription rates of around 1.8%. The new rates (to which branch levies must be added) are: for those earning $45,000 p.a. and above, $440; for those earning less than $45,000 p.a., 0.77% of salary.

Auckland's Unitec polytechnic – already in the firing line for calling itself 'Tomorrow's University' – is getting more flak for announcing it has joined the International Association of Universities (IAU). The Crown Law Office has already warned Unitec it cannot continue calling itself a university, and the new move is being seen as an attempt to bolster the institution's claim to be the country's ninth university. The Executive Director of the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors' Committee, Lindsay Taiaroa says Unitec remains a polytechnic, and will continue as such for the foreseeable future. "The issue of university status in this country is governed by a process and legal requirements which Unitec has not yet met," he says. "In the meantime, the reality is that in New Zealand Unitec is a polytechnic and it is breaching both the Fair Trading Act and Education Act by suggesting otherwise." He also points out that acceptance as an IAU member does not mean much in the domestic context because most New Zealand universities prefer to belong to the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU). Meanwhile, the AUS
Executive Director, Rob Crozier says that the sooner the Government enacts legislation to restrict the number of universities in New Zealand the better for all concerned including, in particular, students

Dr Alex Malahoff, a Russian-born New Zealand scientist currently working at the University of Hawaii has been named the new Chief Executive of the Geological and Nuclear Sciences CRI. He will take up the position in July next year. Dr Malahoff is President of the faculty union at Hawaii, and has been on the GNS Board for a number of years. In that position he has argued strongly for greater collaboration between the CRI and Victoria University.

Knowledge Economy?
When knowledge starves in a draughty tent
And colleagues hence are driven
Then Christmas is combined with Lent
And bugger all is given!

"Tertiary Update" wishes all readers a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2002. We'll be back on Thursday 31 January 2002. AUS National Office will be unattended from noon on Friday 21 December until Monday 7 January. If you need to make contact with AUS during that time, please call Rob Crozier on his mobile – 021 375 661.
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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