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AUS Tertiary Update Vol. 5 No. 32, 12 September

In our lead story this week…..

The national president of the Association of University Staff (AUS), Dr Grant Duncan says a recent article in the New Zealand Herald highlighting the reluctance of our brightest students to under-take post-graduate study is a warning of additional stress in the future for an already depleted tertiary education workforce. The Herald article was based on the Ministry of Education's Briefing to the Incoming Government following this year's election. Dr Duncan says that if numbers decline, it will impact on the pool of people that universities draw on for their teaching staff. "This, combined with graduates being able to get much higher salaries overseas, predicted international shortages of staff, and the ageing workforce all paints a serious picture for tertiary education in the future and makes the Governments promise of a plan for the tertiary workforce, extremely relevant and urgent," he warns.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Employment agreement update
2. PSA Wins Injunction Against Otago University
3. NZQA seeks exam-writing staff
4. Protestors injured at Karachi university
5. US Tertiary education agencies target for budget cuts

As this "Tertiary Update" goes out, mediation is taking place on the employment agreement negotiations at Otago University. We'll report on the outcome in next week's "Update". Meanwhile, negotiations have begun at Waikato University and will continue next week. Canterbury negotiations begin next week, while staff at Massey and Victoria Universities are currently considering claims for negotiations beginning in the next month or so. Lincoln University is yet to begin the claims process.

The Employment Relations Authority has granted the PSA an interim injunction to prevent the University of Otago from advertising and filling positions in its restructured Research & International Division. PSA organiser Mark Ryan says the university advertised positions in the division before it had placed all staff affected by the restructuring, thus breaching the management of change provisions of the general staff collective employment agreement. "We are naturally pleased that the Authority has supported our application for the injunction," he says. "It has been a fraught process for our members affected by the restructuring. We look forward to a speedy resolution of the substantive matters of these proceedings." The substantive hearing will be before the Head of the Employment Relations Authority, Mr Alistair Dumbelton in Dunedin next Monday and Tuesday (16 & 17 September).

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) is advertising contract positions for Material Developers to develop and write examinations for the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Scholarship standards. The subjects involved are biology, calculus, economics, french, history, physics, physical education, science, social studies, statistics and music. Further information about the positions and an application form are available from Karen Soanes, e-mail: or phone 04 802 3000 ext. 5049.


Dozens of protestors were injured when Pakistani security forces used batons to break up a student demonstration at the University of Karachi. The students were protesting at what they believe are the unjustified dismissals of several faculty members. Among the injured were some university academic staff who tried to block the security troops as they used batons against students and dragged them away. The secretary of the Karachi University Teachers' Society, Sarwar Naseem, who was one of the injured, said he had never witnessed such treatment meted out to teachers and professors at a Pakistani university campus. The security forces moved in after an angry exchange between the protestors and the university vice-chancellor Zafar Saied Saify, who asked the protestors to end their demonstration. Despite the security presence, the protestors managed to storm the university administration building and were later joined by staff members in a sit-in at the campus demanding that troops who had attacked the protestors be disciplined. A spokesman for the paramilitary force defended the action, saying the troops had acted legally. But an official said an inquiry would be ordered and any soldier who had used excessive force would be punished. Students detained were later released and no changes were made. The University of Karachi campus has been tense for several weeks after claims that several faculty members have been forced to take early retirement. Campus guards have also been accused of physically abusing students.

In the United States, a number of state governments have targeted tertiary education agencies for spending cuts as they try to balance their budgets. In California, the state's Post-secondary Education Commission has seen its finances cut by more than 40%, from US$3.6m. to just under US$2.2m. The Democrat Governor of California, Gray Davis had proposed the Commission's funding be cut by 80%, and there are fears he could still use his powers of veto to push through the bigger budget cut. The Commission's executive director, Warren H. Fox resigned when the extent of budget cuts became known, and said the decision demonstrated "the precariousness of state-wide agencies that have a very important role but are not perceived by legislators as direct providers of education". He predicted "a very bleak future" for agencies like the Commission. Other state agencies affected include Arizona's co-ordinating board for community colleges, which saw its budget down by 66%, and Missouri's higher-education co-ordinating board, where the budget was cut by 27%. Both agencies said they would have to scale back their activities and cut staff. Some critics of the move suggested the decision to cut their budgets had political, rather than economic motives. Commentators say that other state higher-education agencies have escaped such severe budget reductions at this stage, but many are having to contend with cuts of up to 10%. They say, however, that in a number of cases bigger cuts are in the pipeline. Virginia's State Council of Higher Education, for example, has had its budget cut by 8% in the current fiscal year, but has been warned to expect a cut in six-month's time of between 7% and 15%.

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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