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Unions call for continuation of tertiary strategy

Unions call for continuation of tertiary-education strategy

Unions representing staff in the tertiary-education sector say that they will work with the new National-Act government to ensure that reforms resulting from the tertiary-education strategy of the outgoing government will continue to meet the economic and social goals and needs of the country.

Both the Association of University Staff (AUS) and Association of Staff in Tertiary Education (ASTE) have prepared a briefing paper for the incoming education ministers, and will seek to meet them as soon as they take charge of their portfolios.

Central to any discussions will be the future of the tripartite arrangements among the unions, government and vice-chancellors which has seen more than $65 million of new funding invested in university staff over the past three years.

AUS national president, Associate Professor Maureen Montgomery, says that the incoming government needs to consolidate the reforms implemented over the last three years and ensure that New Zealand has a collaborative rather than competitive tertiary-education sector, one where public funding is used to support a planned provision through public tertiary-education institutions rather than through profit-based private providers.

ASTE national president, Tangi Tipene, says that, while some headway was made by the previous government towards addressing the systemic under-funding of the sector, the unions’ briefing to incoming ministers will centre on the fact that New Zealand still lags behind other OECD countries in terms of per-capita expenditure on tertiary education. The effect of underfunding on staff is evidenced by low comparative salaries, the intensification of workloads (particularly impacting on staff in the ITP sector) and increasing demands for research outputs.

Concerns will be raised also about the PBRF as a funding and evaluation model for research, noting misuses and abuses of individual evidence-portfolio scores and the inadequacy of the model in addressing the research-development needs of the ITP sector. However, the unions will be clear that they see the continuing support and development of research in this country as critical to our progress both nationally and internationally.


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