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New Zealand Women in Leadership Programme

NZVCC Electronic News Bulletin Vol. 7 No. 1 13 February 2007

Lead item …

New Zealand Women in Leadership Programme

A programme which aims to recognise and enhance women’s leadership capacities and influence within universities has been endorsed by the NZVCC. The New Zealand Women in Leadership Programme, funded by the Kate Edger Educational Charitable Trust, is described as a tertiary education initiative. Other parties involved in the initiative are the Human Rights Commission, the Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor Equity at the University of Auckland and Massey University’s Centre for Women and Leadership. One of the programme’s benefits is seen as assisting the NZVCC to address in a cost-effective manner gender imbalance in senior academic and managerial positions. Each university has been asked to nominate a senior liaison person to enable the nomination process to begin. This will involve each university nominating two participants for residential courses to be held in June and September this year.

The first course is scheduled to take place from June 11 to 15 at the Museum Hotel in Wellington. The schedule of activities will incorporate local and international guest speakers from a range of backgrounds and cover leadership skills and strategies, professional self-development and career planning. The event is also designed to allow participants the opportunity to build networks with senior women from other universities and the wider community. Applications will be considered from university women at middle to upper institutional levels who are in, or aspire to be in, leadership positions such as senior academic posts, heads of school/department, major university committee chairs and principal investigators on major research projects.

Programme objectives include increasing knowledge of governance and management competencies relevant to higher education, increasing understanding of the socio-political and economic context in which the tertiary education sector operates and increasing research management/leadership capability to develop strategies for the funding environment.

A further benefit of the programme is described as building research, teaching and administrative leadership skills for participants, and enhancing university capability in these areas. The NZWIL steering committee comprises Professor Dianne McCarthy, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Equal Opportunities), University of Auckland, and Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Judy McGregor. Nominations for the programme participants close on March 30. The programme convenor is Sarah Schulz whose email address is:

Other items …

British government matches university philanthropy

Elite British universities such as Oxford and Cambridge will be able to build up endowments worth billions of pounds under a new scheme to be announced by the Blair government, The Observer reported this week. In a move to allow Oxbridge to match their American Ivy League counterparts, donations from philanthropists, alumni and businesses will be boosted by government money. Under the scheme, every £2 given to a university will be matched with £1 from public funds up to a maximum of £2 million. Of universities in England, 75 will be eligible for the scheme with the remainder given cash to assist in the establishment of fundraising centres.

According to The Observer report, top American universities such as Harvard and Princeton use massive sums, built up through matched funding schemes, to make sure no student has to turn down a place because they are unable to afford the fees. The Sutton Trust, a British organisation supporting students from less privileged backgrounds, has published a report which pointed to the need to establish such a scholarship approach in the UK. Harvard received £305 million last year from 89,000 individuals bringing its total endowment to £14.9 billion. By contrast, Oxford and its colleges now hold £3.6 billion, mainly from large donations from benefactors. According to the report there is no culture among former Oxford students of giving small donations en masse. The British scheme follows recommendations from a government task force, headed by Bristol University Vice-Chancellor Professor Eric Thomas, on how to increase donations to higher education.

Economic benefits of university degree demonstrated

The economic benefits associated with attaining a university degree have been highlighted in a new report from Universities UK, the peak body for the British university system. Additional lifetime earnings of approximately £160,000 (an extra 20 to 25%) accrue to individuals with such qualifications compared to those with two or more A levels. Main findings in the report include the fact that financial benefit is greatest for men from lower socio-economic groups or from families from lower levels of income. Further, the benefits associated with a university degree increase as graduates grow older.

The report also states that university graduates are more likely to be employed compared to those with the next highest qualification and are more likely to return to employment following periods of unemployment or economic inactivity. Among the factors the report looks at when assessing the benefits of a university degree are gender, socio-economic group and qualification subject. Non-financial benefits are also discussed including health, social cohesion and reduced crime rates. Research for the report was conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in association with London Economics. The report is available at:

MacDiarmid memories a beacon to young scientists

The recent death of Nobel Laureate and Victoria University alumnus Professor Alan MacDiarmid has been widely reported but an autobiography he supplied when he won his Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2000 shows just how much he acknowledged his Kiwi roots. Among the gems he describes are a before-school job delivering milk in Kerikeri (“my mother was superb – she would get up with me while it was still dark to make me hot tea and send me on my way”) and later employment delivering the now defunct Evening Post in Wellington. Then there are the following reminiscences of his Victoria days:

“When my father retired (on a very small pension) and moved away from Wellington, it was necessary for me to leave Hutt Valley High School after only three years at the age of 16 and take a low-paying, part-time job as "lab boy"/janitor in the chemistry department at Victoria University College, as it was then known. The total student population was 1200; the Chemistry Department had a faculty of two! I boarded with friends of my parents and, as a part-time student, took only two courses - one in chemistry and one in mathematics. During this time I became a resident at Weir House, the university dormitory for men. This I found to be one of the most enjoyable and maturing times of my life where I made many good friends from the other 90 residents, with some of whom I still keep in close contact. I remained a part-time student throughout my BSc and MSc studies at Victoria University College. After completing my BSc degree I graduated to the position of demonstrator. Since the age of 17 I have supported myself financially, assisted later only by scholarships and fellowships for which I am most grateful.”

The memories of one of New Zealand’s top science achievers can only act as a beacon for young people from less privileged backgrounds considering a scientific career. The autobiography can be read in full at:


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