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AUS Tertiary Update Vol. 5 No. 29, 15 August

In our lead story this week…..

The Chancellor of Lincoln University, Margaret Austin says the university's rationalisation programme announced to staff last week is "regretted" but in the long-term interests of the university. Speaking after a meeting this week of the university council, Ms Austin said the proposed adjustments were "relatively minor and based on significant analysis of programmes, subjects and staffing during 2002." Of the areas affected, she said horticulture was not being abandoned at Lincoln, but would be taught through the BSc degree while valuation and property management would come under the Master of Property Studies and Bachelor of Commerce (Agriculture) qualifications. The university is withdrawing its Natural Resources Engineering degree, but Ms Austin said that discipline would still have a presence on campus through research and teaching in other degrees.
The Lincoln branch of the Association of University Staff (AUS) has said the "rationalisation process" is the consequence of the Labour-led government's failure, in its first term, to make "meaningful improvements" in the tertiary education sector. "The timetables for meaningful improvements seem to be moving further and further back," said branch president, Dr Jim McAloon. "The consequence of this is continued pressure and reductions such as proposed here." Dr McAloon said members feared there may be more cuts to come, and that there could be consequences for administrative and technical staff. "Many Lincoln staff find it hard to remain positive and hard to continue to give of their best in such circumstances," he said.

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Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. NZVCC still waiting to hear on 'fees maxima' SOP
2. Census shows up areas of low education status
3. Business School to receive Industry NZ Funding
4. National Maori Tertiary Student Hui
5. Tax breaks rather than increased funding in USA

The New Zealand Vice-Chancellors' Committee (NZVCC) has written to the Labour-led government to make clear its members are not prepared to recommend acceptance by their councils of a fees stabilisation deal for 2003 until they have written confirmation that a Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) on a maximum for university fees will be withdrawn. The SOP is part of the Tertiary Education Reform Bill which was delayed when Parliament was dissolved for last month's election. Following a meeting with education ministers in June, the Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors told the government they would support government regulation of the setting of tuition fees provided it was part of a fully-developed funding policy framework. The understanding was that in return, ministers would arrange for the withdrawal of the 'fees maxima' SOP. In their latest letter, the NZVCC says work on the funding policy framework is still going on and that, since it has not heard to the contrary, it assumes the SOP will be withdrawn until the entire funding policy framework has been developed.

Figures from the 2001 census show nearly a third of residents in the Auckland suburbs of Glen Innes, Tamaki and Port England have no educational qualifications - double the number for Auckland as a whole. In Port England, 34% of people reported having no qualifications, while in Tamaki the figure was 32%. Commenting on the figures, the principal of Tamaki College, David Hodge said they were no surprise, given the hurdle tertiary education fees posed for people on low incomes. He said the withdrawal of companies and businesses from providing on-the-job training was also a factor in the low level of education qualifications in the area. Mr Hodge said, however, that a scholarship partnership between his college and the Auckland University of Technology was now seeing higher numbers of Tamaki students going on to tertiary education. "As you withdraw that financial barriers, what you find is you have people lining up to get in and going to tertiary institutions and being very successful," he said.

The University of Auckland Business School is to receive $446,900 from Industry New Zealand to promote biotechnology, and help inventors take their ideas to the market. $400,000 is being made available from the Enterprise Culture and Skills Activities Fund to "develop entrepreneurship in biotechnology industry innovation". The project aims to give school students in the Auckland region basic knowledge of biotechnology innovation and some experience in the workplace. Training will be offered to 30 secondary school teachers and 200 university-level students will also be targeted under the scheme. It is eventually aimed to extend the programme throughout the country. The rest of the money is going to a programme for inventors, known as "The Icehouse". That involves workshops to teach Auckland-based inventors assess and bring their ideas to the market. Again, it is planned to eventually extend the scheme to other parts of the country.

Te Roopu Tautoko, the Maori wing of the Aotearoa Tertiary Students' Association (ATSA) is to hold its second national hui in Whakatane later this month. The main focus of the hui, which will take place between 22 and 25 August, is retention of Maori students in tertiary education. President of ATSA, Julie Pettet said the Hui would be "about practical solutions that come from Maori students, the users of the system that is failing them". It would also explore how iwi, government and the tertiary institutions could work together with Maori students to resolve the problems. For more information, contact ATSA National Office (04) 939 1417 or e-mail info@atsa.org.nz

As the price of tertiary education skyrockets in the USA, rather than increase state funding the Government is creating tax breaks that commentators say are risky and more beneficial to higher earners who can afford to save. The programs have a special allure at a time when colleges
and universities are posting sizeable, sometimes double-digit, tuition increases. Some private colleges already charge $25,000 a year or more in tuition. While room, board, books and other fees can easily add $10,000 more to an average fee of $3,754 a year for public institutions.

The breaks have seen millions of Americans opening the special accounts. Losses on accounts have been common. One accountant said that most state equity accounts plans had lost money - many of them losing 15 percent to 20 percent - but that their fixed-income plans had generally fared better. "Many younger beneficiaries have seen their accounts lose value," he said. "But I don't think any programs forced you to invest in stocks for children close to college age."

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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