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AUS Tertiary Update

Stop funding PTEs for research and degrees, says AUS
The Association of University Staff has told the Government that it does not support public funding being made available to allow private tertiary-education providers to offer research-led degree and postgraduate education and to undertake research.
The submission comes in response to a discussion paper from the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) which proposes four specific contribution-areas for which PTEs may be eligible for public funding. The paper justifies making funding available for degree-teaching and research on the basis that there are already a small number of PTEs that offer degree and postgraduate education and research in niche areas such as theology, computer game development and teaching. TEC says that this provision is currently funded from the Student-Component Fund and that some PTEs also receive money from the Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF).
According to the 2005 PBRF Annual Report, there were only six research degree completions across the entire PTE sector in 2004 and, among them, the seven PTEs participating in the PBRF received only 0.06 percent of the available funding.
Other areas where TEC proposes funding PTEs include the provision of skills for employment and productivity, for foundation education that builds literacy, language or numeracy and/or staircases to higher learning and for teaching and learning environments based on Maori pedagogy and approaches which enable learners to re-engage in education.
AUS National President, Professor Nigel Haworth, said that it is completely inappropriate for research-led undergraduate and postgraduate degrees to be included as distinctive contributions to be made by PTEs. “By doing so, the reputation of New Zealand university degrees is threatened and, without any analysis, PTE research is being legitimised by TEC,” he said. “It also signals to PTEs that, in order to secure more public funding, they should increase the miniscule amount of research and research-degree completions in their sector.”
Professor Haworth said that the New Zealand Tertiary Education Strategy and reforms were designed to define the distinctive contributions made by the various types of tertiary-education organisations and ensure that each concentrated on recognised areas of strength and expertise. “Allowing or encouraging PTEs to engage further in degree teaching and research by making public funding available to them is an unnecessary embellishment of their current role, and can only lead to further duplication and unnecessary competition,” he said.

Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. Warning of further redundancies at University of Auckland
2. UNITEC ordered to consult with union
3. NZ universities leaders in creating wealth
4. New Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence established
5. Summit on resourcing for public education
6. AUS vacancy for new Deputy General Secretary
7. Room for improvement on equity figures
8. Disparity among efforts required for university courses
9. Protests scuttle President’s appointment
10. Golf programme hits the rough

Warning of further redundancies at University of Auckland
Further redundancies among academic staff at the University of Auckland are feared if a "risky" venture to build a new biotech centre at the School of Biological Sciences falls below budget targets. The Association of University Staff says that staff there are watching what is currently happening in the Business, Education and Arts Faculties, and are worried that they too could lose their jobs.
The possibility of eventual redundancies among academic staff cannot be ruled out in the event that plans to make money from partnerships with pharmaceutical companies and agribusiness in a proposed multi-million-dollar Institute for Innovation in Biotechnology fail.
AUS Auckland Branch spokesperson, Associate Professor Peter Wills, said that the University is using completely the wrong model for partnership with biotechnology business interests. "There should be an absolute firewall between the academic and business sides of operations such as this," he said. "Instead, they talk of a seamless connection with biotechnology companies, they distort the balance of academic programmes and then they raise the possibility of redundancies among academic staff. We are all sympathetic to the University's need to develop new sources of revenue, but academic autonomy and integrity cannot be put at risk."
Associate Professor Wills said that the plan to graft a large business enterprise on to the School of Biological Sciences was not discussed by the School’s external Advisory Board when that is precisely the sort of advice that should have been sought about entering the risky commercial biotech arena.
Associate-Professor Wills called on the University to put the plan on hold until it could guarantee the integrity of academic programmes and security of tenure for academic staff.
Meanwhile, the Branch has launched an email-postcard allowing individuals to register concern that the University has embarked on an unnecessary and severe form of restructuring resulting in the loss of fifty-four faculty positions in Education, Business and Arts. It can be found at:

UNITEC ordered to consult with union
The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has issued compliance orders against the Auckland institute of technology, UNITEC, requiring it to consult properly with staff and their union before making any final decisions relating to withdrawing a diploma course in Design Media and to refrain from shifting the location of two business courses to its campus in Waitakere.
The orders require UNITEC to comply with the provisions of the academic staff collective employment agreement, which provides for a period of one month for submissions from the union, the Association of Staff in Tertiary Education (ASTE), and staff in response to its proposals.
In making the orders, the Employment Relations Authority rejected concerns from UNITEC about the effect that having to undertake consultation at this time of the year would have on its 2007 planning, saying this was a consequence of its earlier actions and one which could have been avoided by measures easily undertaken.
ASTE National Legal Officer, Mike Dawson, said UNITEC’s decision to close down the diploma course should have been the subject of full review involving staff and the union and, similarly, that the move to shift teaching the business courses to one campus should have been the subject of formal consultation. In both cases, the decisions were made without consultation.
Mr Dawson said that the ERA’s determination confirmed the requirement for employers to consult appropriately with unions and their members in a formal and considered manner when looking to make structural and staffing changes within their organisations. “These compliance orders highlight the fact that employers are not a law unto themselves,” he said. “They need to abide by the terms of the collective agreements and, most importantly, they need to understand that reasonable timeframes for consultation, and talking with and listening to staff and their representatives in a timely manner, will result in better decisions for everyone.”
Mr Dawson continued, saying that he hoped that the Authority’s decision would mean that UNITEC’s proposals could now be properly considered by staff. “We hope that this outcome will mean that any future proposals by UNITEC management will be dealt with through proper processes and in full consultation with ASTE members through their union.”

NZ universities leaders in creating wealth
The market value of companies started by New Zealand universities grew more than four times between 2003 and 2005 to a total of more than $430 million, according to figures compiled by Ernst & Young. The findings, when applied to overseas benchmarks by the University Commercialisation Offices of New Zealand (UCONZ), showed that New Zealand universities are matching or significantly out-performing overseas benchmarks. It says that, per dollar invested, New Zealand universities produced more than twice the number of new companies than the United States average and over 50 percent more than Canada, and that New Zealand universities produced patent applications on a par with US performance and 30 percent more efficiently than Canada.
The range of economic benefits for New Zealand arising from the universities’ commercialisation activity as detailed by Ernst & Young include that, between 2003 and 2005, the market capitalisation of companies founded using intellectual property developed by New Zealand universities grew from $76m to over $430m, the universities’ commercialisation organisations raised over $100m in capital for spinout companies and the number of people directly employed by these new companies grew almost 200 percent, from 198 to 356.
The Minister for Research, Science and Technology, Steve Maharey, welcomed the results, saying that developments in universities to set up organisations that commercialise intellectual property are part and parcel of a modern university setting. “The Government applauds this rapid success,” he said.
UCONZ says that, because university research has a very high multiplier effect, the actual gains to the economy go well beyond the direct figures quoted, with a recent report on the economic impact of the University of Auckland showing that, for every dollar generated by university research, another seven dollars of new value was created in the regional economy.

New Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence established
New Zealand’s first Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence is under way, with Massey University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Judith Kinnear, signing the funding agreement with the Tertiary Education Commission last Friday. The Centre includes AUT University, the University of Canterbury, the Christchurch College of Education, the Universal College of Learning and Manukau Institute of Technology.
The Centre, to be based at Massey’s Wellington campus, is part of a $20 million, five-year Government initiative intended to boost the quality of teaching and support the development of teaching expertise across the tertiary sector. It will have regional hubs in Auckland, Palmerston North and Christchurch.
The Centre’s Interim Director, Professor Tom Prebble, says the new investment in teaching excellence complements the Government’s focus on research. “The Centre will help tertiary-education organisations and educators to deliver the best possible learning outcomes for students.” He says about half the $4 million annual budget will be spent on projects, while some of the money will be spent on research and monitoring and evaluation of effective teaching.
The Centre will establish benchmarks to improve teaching practice, support the development of subject expertise in tertiary teaching, research, identify and share effective teaching and learning practices, explore the need for professional standards, including entry requirements to the tertiary teaching profession, and administer the Tertiary Teaching Excellence awards
The Centre’s establishment board includes representatives from wananga, polytechnics, private training establishments and other tertiary education providers.

Summit on resourcing for public education
A one-day summit looking at resourcing for quality public education is to be held later this month. Its aims are to restate the case for free, high-quality public education from early childhood to tertiary, outline areas where current resourcing prevents the sector delivering the highest quality to everyone and develop means of applying pressure on the Government to do more to deliver resources for education in the 2007 budget.
Organised by the Quality Public Education Coalition, the summit will be held on Wednesday 22 November at the St Columba Centre in Auckland.
Included in the summit will be a session on tertiary education, including an outline of current resourcing, an overview of the current political direction and a panel on resourcing. The panel will include AUS National President Professor Nigel Haworth.
More information can be found on the QPEC website:

AUS vacancy for new Deputy General Secretary
The Association of University Staff has a vacancy for a full-time Deputy General Secretary working in its National Office in Wellington. This is a senior position in the organisation, deputising for the General Secretary and developing, overseeing and implementing the union’s industrial and professional strategy. It includes staff-management responsibilities.
The appointee will have extensive industrial experience, including strategy development, political skills, highly developed writing and research skills and experience in the union movement.
Further information and a job description are available from the Association of University Staff, P.O. Box 11-767, Wellington, email, Tel: 04 801 4790.
Applications, including the names of three referees, should reach the above address by Monday 27 November 2006.

Room for improvement on equity figures
A new report released by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) shows that, while a greater proportion of women than men in the United States gain university degrees, women still occupy only 24 percent of academic positions at four-year degree colleges and universities.
The report, AAUP Faculty Gender Equity Indicators 2006, provides data on four specific measures of gender equity for staff, both academic and non-academic, at over 1,400 colleges and universities, with individual campus listings included to promote discussion of faculty gender equity at local university and college level.
The four indicators compared in the report for men and women faculty are employment status (full- and part-time), tenure status for full-time faculty, promotion to full professor rank and average salary for full-time faculty. The report consists of three sections: an article on “Organising Around Gender Equity”, aggregate national tables for each of the four equity indicators by type of institution and an appendix listing the four indicators for each individual college and university. Data for the report are drawn primarily from the AAUP Faculty Compensation Survey, with additional data on part-time faculty from the US Department of Education.
The report is the latest in a series of AAUP initiatives aimed at improving the status of women faculty dating from the formation of AAUP’s Committee on the Status of Women in College and University Faculties.
The report is available on the AAUP Web site at:

Disparity among efforts required for university courses
Undergraduates at different universities are being awarded degrees in the same subjects after spending wildly varying times in lectures, seminars and private study, according to a new report released in the United Kingdom.
Researchers at the Higher Education Policy Institute who studied responses from 15,000 students to a web-based survey last year say the extent of the “remarkable” differences raises questions about what it means to have a degree from an English university if it can apparently be obtained with such very different levels of effort.
The report, The academic experience of students in English universities, says that students in Medicine and Dentistry courses might be working for anything between twenty-one and forty-five hours a week, those studying biological sciences between nineteen and forty-three hours while, in History, the difference ranged from seventeen to more than thirty-two hours, depending on the university.
Responding to the report, Sally Hunt, joint General Secretary of the University and College Union, said research undertaken by the Union, to be released this week, paints a worrying picture of how much time is spent by lecturers on teaching and research compared to administrative duties. “Our members complain of ever increasing bureaucracy and this combined with rising student numbers puts enormous pressure on staff, particularly now that students are paying for their studies,” she said.
The report can be found at:
From the Education Guardian and UCU

Protests scuttle President’s appointment
In an abrupt reversal, trustees at Gallaudet's University in Washington have bowed to pressure from students and academic staff and have revoked the appointment of the institution’s controversial new President, Jane Fernandes. The decision comes after months of protests, including hunger strikes, occupations of college buildings, barricading of university gates and mass arrests, at the country’s premier university for the deaf.
The protesters said Ms Fernandes, who had served as Gallaudet Provost, lacked leadership skills. They blamed her for falling academic standards and said her promotion was the result of a baroque selection process which denied other candidates serious consideration. Ms Fernandes hit back, accusing her opponents of rejecting her for not being “deaf enough”.
Trouble began in May, when University administrators selected Ms Fernandes to succeed the retiring President. Students set up barricades at the main entrance, demanding her removal. Last month, 82 percent of faculty voted for her to quit and voted “no confidence” in the University’s Board of Trustrees..
As the standoff continued, Ms Fernandes also lost the confidence of the deaf community, with the National Association for the Deaf calling for her to go.
It is also the second consecutive time that protests forced the Board’s hand in choosing a president. Eighteen years ago, in a struggle that became a watershed for deaf rights, demonstrators succeeded in forcing a reluctant Board of Trustees to name Gallaudet’s first deaf president in more than 100 years.
From the New York Times and the Guardian

Golf programme hits the rough
Peking University has shelved plans to build a practice green for golf after a storm of criticism, with opponents charging that the sport is too elitist, and inappropriate at a university serving students from a wide range of backgrounds.
In August, the University, where Mao Zedong once worked as an assistant librarian, announced that it planned to teach China 's intellectual elite how to play golf as a part of its physical education programme.
Peking University President Xu Zhihong is reported as saying the unexpectedly heated public debate made proceeding with the practice range “too sensitive”.
Last month, Xiamen University in China’s southeastern Fujian Province announced it would introduce golf as a compulsory subject in order to produce “socially elite” graduates.

AUS Tertiary Update is compiled weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the Association of University Staff and others. Back issues are available on the AUS website: Direct enquires should be made to Marty Braithwaite, AUS Communications Officer, email:

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