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NZVCC - Portfolio announcements awaited

NZVCC Electronic News Bulletin Vol. 8 No. 19

11 November 2008

Lead item …

Portfolio announcements awaited

With the election of a National government, all eyes in the tertiary education sector are trained on the list of possibilities for the tertiary education portfolio. Of further interest to universities is who will be the minister for research, science and technology while the widely-tipped post of minister of infrastructure also has a bearing on institutions that constitute the foundation of New Zealand’s research capability.

Dr Paul Hutchison is National’s tertiary education and RS&T spokesperson but East Coast MP Anne Tolley is education spokesperson and appears to have the inside running for a senior Cabinet post in that portfolio. That raises the possibility of a number of associate ministers of education for the tertiary, schools and early childhood sectors. At least one of those posts could in theory be offered to one of the minor parties as part of the negotiations around the support arrangements for the new government, even though National has now decided to form a minority government with support from ACT and United Future on confidence and supply issues. Any portfolios offered to potential support parties – including the Mâori Party – will therefore be on an outside-of-Cabinet basis.

Current media speculation has Prime Minister elect John Key being sworn in by the middle of next week once he has confirmed details of confidence and supply agreements and his Cabinet list. If this occurs it will be at least the second time a government has been sworn in before the official election results are declared, the last time that happened being in 1999. Once the Governor-General is satisfied a new government has a majority for confidence and supply it can be sworn in. Outgoing tertiary education minister Pete Hodgson also held the RS&T and economic development portfolios, linking roles around the development of an innovative economy. It will be interesting to see if National employs a similar approach.

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Other items …

University staff members among new RSNZ Fellows

Six university staff members are among 10 new Fellows announced by the Royal Society of New Zealand last week. They are Professor Neil Broom, Department of Chemical & Materials Engineering, University of Auckland; Professor Mark Cannell, Department of Physiology, University of Auckland School of Medicine; Professor Russell Gray, Department of Psychology, University of Auckland; Professor Jim McQuillan, Department of Chemistry, University of Otago; Professor Mick Roberts, Institute of Information & Mathematical Sciences, Massey University, and Professor Gregory Seymour, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Otago.

NZUSS trustee reappointed

The NZVCC has reappointed Wayne Morgan, Chief Financial Officer at Victoria University of Wellington, as a university-appointed trustee of the NZ Universities Superannuation Scheme for a further three-year term, ending on 1 January 2012.

Professor Scott to continue as CUAP Deputy Chair

Victoria University of Wellington Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Education Professor Dugald Scott will serve a further three-year term as Deputy Chair of the Committee on University Academic Programmes. His reappointment through to 31 December 2011 was confirmed at the October NZVCC meeting. Professor Scott also chairs the CUAP Sub-Committee on University Entrance.

Developments in NZVCC scholarships office

Wendy Robinson, formerly a scholarships staff member at the University of Waikato, has taken up the post of Scholarships Advisor in the NZVCC scholarships office. She joins Scholarships Manager Kiri Manuera at a time when the office is fully engaged working with outside agencies to promote recent scholarship selections, organising this year’s Rhodes Scholarship selection process and planning for next year’s 50th anniversary of the Commonwealth Scholarships Scheme. The NZVCC scholarships office recently published a new, expanded edition of its scholarships handbook featuring a pull-out wall chart detailing all the scholarships and fellowships on offer. This will be augmented by a NZVCC scholarships deskfile folder for each of the eight university scholarship offices, allowing them to keep up to date with developments in the Committee’s portfolio of scholarships.

Universities Australia backs plan to rebuild student services

The Australian universities’ peak body, Universities Australia, has expressed strong support for a government plan to rebuild student support services in universities. Universities Australia Chief Executive Dr Glenn Withers says that universities have struggled for years to prop up essential student services through cross-subsidisation from other parts of already stretched university budgets, to redress “the damage that resulted from the former government’s disastrous voluntary student unionism legislation”. His organisation supports the move to allow Australian universities to make the choice to levy students for a service and amenities fee. Universities Australia will seek consultation with the current government to ensure that universities have the flexibility to tailor those services and amenities to match individual university missions. The peak body has also welcomed the government’s decision to provide an option for students whereby they can defer the payment of a services and amenities levy to an income contingent loan arrangement.

Universities Australia says it looks forward to exploring with the government the nature of any student representation and advocacy protocols. “An effective student voice is important for good university management and for several months now Universities Australia and the National Union of Students have been jointly working on a skills development package to put to government for support to improve student representation and advocacy,” Dr Withers says.


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