AUS Tertiary Update
New ministers sworn in
Four new ministerial position-holders with responsibility for education in the new National-led government were sworn in yesterday. While both of the National party members are in cabinet, the two from support parties are associate ministers outside cabinet.
East Coast MP Anne Tolley, cabinet number eight, becomes minister of education, minister for tertiary education, and minister responsible for the Education Review Office. She has previously been a spokesperson on women’s affairs and early childhood, a whip, and shadow child, youth, and family minister, and earlier this year took over the education portfolio.
North Shore’s Wayne Mapp, at number thirteen, becomes associate minister for tertiary education, minister of research, science, and technology, and associate minister for economic development as well as holding the defence portfolio. His previous shadow positions include justice, immigration, foreign affairs, labour and industrial relations, and Auckland issues as well as defence and he was a short-lived spokesman for political correctness eradication under Don Brash. Before entering parliament, Dr Mapp was associate professor of commercial law at the University of Auckland.
Pita Sharples from the Māori party and Heather Roy from ACT are associate ministers of education.
In response to AUS questions prior to the general election, the National party committed itself to supporting the Universities Tripartite Forum “as a means to resolve salary issues in the tertiary sector” and address issues for general staff. In response to the new appointments, AUS acting general secretary, Nanette Cormack, said, “We are looking forward to continuing the positive tripartite relationships developed under the previous government. The challenges facing the tertiary-education sector are serious and will only be successfully met by developing solutions that are holistic, have buy-in from all stakeholders, and, most importantly, prioritise public education institutions over those run by profit-takers.”
Also in Tertiary Update this
1. New union another step closer
2. Senior Canterbury staff quitting
3. Plumbers’ training subject to full inquiry
4. Zero fees to stay at SIT
5. Crime on the wane at Otago
6. Revolution required in Australia
7. “White middle-class privilege” perpetuated in the UK
8. Inclusive universities best placed to deliver
9. All-women university under way in Saudi Arabia
10. Presidents’ pay rocketing in the US
New union another step closer
The formation of a new union in the tertiary-education sector takes a further step forward with the inaugural conference of the Tertiary Education Union, Te Hautū Kahurangi o Aotearoa, on Monday and Tuesday next week. The conference, to be held at the Brentwood Hotel in Wellington, will endorse the set of rules adopted at an earlier rules conference of AUS and the Association of Staff in Tertiary Education.
The conference will also see the opening of nominations for the new union’s officers and the election of its first national women’s committee, Te Kahurangi Māreikura. Nominations for national offices will close on 3 February, with the successsful candidates taking office on 1 April.
The conference will also consider a number of professional and education issues, future industral activity, and a budget for the new union as well as a number of other financial arrangements.
Guest speakers at the conference will include former AUS general secretary, now CTU president, Helen Kelly, former University of Canterbury vice-chancellor, now chief executive of the Tertiary Education Commission, Professor Roy Sharp, leaders of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations, and international guests. National Distribution Union national secretary and high-profile political commentator, Laila Harre, will address a women’s breakfast on the second morning of the conference.
Applications for the position of national secretary of the new union close tomorrow and an appointment is expected to be made in mid-December in readiness for the commencement of operations on 1 January.
Senior Canterbury staff quitting
The University of Canterbury is undergoing a comprehensive change of its senior academic guard ahead of the arrival of new vice-chancellor Rod Carr next year, according to a story in yesterday’s Press. Three of the university’s six pro-vice-chancellors, the academic leaders of its colleges, are quitting their jobs, and two of them are leaving the university. Dr Carr, who is managing director of Jade Software Corporation, begins as vice-chancellor in February.
In an email to staff on Monday, the Press reports, acting vice-chancellor Ian Town announced that pro-vice-chancellor of engineering, Peter Jackson, is retiring from the university in May next year. Last week, staff were also told by email that pro-vice-chancellor of science, Ian Shaw, is relinquishing his position to return to the academic life as a professor in the university’s chemistry department. Pro-vice-chancellor of law, student services, and international students, Scott Davidson, has also resigned and leaves the university next month for Lincoln University in Britain.
The three remaining pro-vice-chancellors (PVCs) are Ken Strongman in arts, Nigel Healey in business and economics, and Gail Gillon in education.
Professor Town said in his email that Professor Jackson had made a “huge” contribution to the university. The intention is to make a new appointment and allow for a handover period before his retirement. A search is also on to replace Professor Shaw.
Professor Shaw told the Press that the run of departures was “interesting” but was unrelated to Dr Carr’s appointment or any desire from the top for a new senior management team. “I don’t think there’s anything sinister going on here. We’re all quite impressed with the idea of Rod as the vice-chancellor,” he said. “I’m absolutely certain in all three cases it is unrelated to the [vice-chancellor] appointment process.”
Plumbers’ training subject to
Years of controversy over the way plumbers are trained in New Zealand have escalated to a full inquiry into plumbing qualifications, auditor-general Kevin Brady announced this week. Mr Brady said concerns had been raised with his office about the way the regulatory body, the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board, carried out its work.
“The auditor-general has been asked to review specific aspects of the board’s activities several times since 2000, resulting in advice at different times to the board, ministers, and the regulations review committee of parliament,” Mr Brady said. “The auditor-general has made preliminary inquiries into these matters and has decided that an inquiry is warranted to provide assurance to parliament and to the public about the way the board is operating and to assess progress with implementation of changes.”
The inquiry comes after years of wrangling about how plumbers are trained and then assessed in their final exam. The issue reached boiling point in 2006, when the government sacked the board, saying it had set its standards too high. An independent report by lawyer Hazel Armstrong said the relationship between the board and the Industry Training Organisation was dysfunctional.
A March 2007 report by the board’s chief examiner, Roye Daniel, lamented the poor quality of exam candidates. “While candidates for craftsman examinations are not directed to enrol for study courses, those at registration level who have been trained in New Zealand, should have been through a recognised theory-training package,” Mr Daniel said.
“If this is the case, why is there such a lack of understanding of fundamental underpinning trade knowledge? ... One would have to ask how these candidates meet a satisfactory level for registration if their underpinning knowledge is below the expected standard.”
Zero fees to
stay at SIT
The zero-fees regime at Southland Institute of Technology looks likely to remain until at least 2011, with local MP and member of the new National-led government, Eric Roy, saying the scheme has a greater chance of continuity now than it ever had. “I am very supportive of SIT and the zero-fees scheme and I will work to ensure that the new government understands and supports SIT to keep the scheme in the future, “ Mr Roy said
SIT’s council recently approved the scheme, which allows students to study and gain qualifications without paying the tuition fees that other organisations charge, remaining in place until at least 2011. “Our zero-fees scheme is our point of difference and has been very successful. It has attracted students from all over New Zealand and has given many the opportunity to gain qualifications, who otherwise may have been deterred by tuition fees,” said SIT chief executive officer Penny Simmonds.
The zero-fees scheme was first put in place in 2001 and was a strategy to attract potential students to Invercargill. Prior to the introduction of the scheme, SIT had around 1400 students enrolled and since then the roll has increased dramatically so that, by 2008, over 4000 students are enrolled.
“Invercargill is a friendly rural town and a fantastic place for students to come and study,” said Ms Simmonds. “We put a great deal of effort into looking after students and the local community is really supportive of them also. A key focus is ensuring that the student environment is welcoming and conducive to achieving academic goals,” Ms Simmonds added.
the wane at Otago
A “culture change” among students and a collaboration involving the University of Otago, the Dunedin City Council and police is behind a significant reduction in fires and offences committed in the university precinct this year, university student services director David Richardson is quoted as saying by the Otago Daily Times. The Fire Service has noticed the most dramatic drop, with 87 “nuisance” (rubbish or furniture) fires recorded in the campus area this year, compared with 226 the previous year and 269 in 2006.
Dunedin deputy chief fire officer, Trevor Tilyard, said a major push to improve student behaviour had paid off. “In years gone by, we would have been run off our feet . . . but hopefully the culture of all this nonsense is changing.”
Rubbish collection by the council and the increased presence of Campus Watch staff and police officers are behind the reduced frequency of fires. Mr Richardson said, “What is happening is a cultural change as people understand what the university takes seriously. We take fires seriously as they damage property and they pose a serious risk of injury or loss of life.”
Campus Watch, which began in February last year, is a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week operation employing 50 staff who patrol the campus area and look after the security of the university, plus performing some other custodial roles. Members, it is reported, are finding younger students more receptive to the idea of Campus Watch and more aware of their boundaries than older students.
The total number of thefts reported to proctor Simon Thompson by Campus Watch members dropped from about 80 last year to 42 this year. Mr Richardson attributed part of this drop to Campus Watch working with police.
In last week’s Tertiary Update, an acronymic mix-up in the report of Unitec rejoining Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics New Zealand resulted in NZQA, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, being identified as the university qualification body. That is, of course, CUAP, the NZVCC’s Committee on University Academic Programmes.
Revolution required in Australia
Australia needs a new education revolution, a new approach encompassing the whole of the education system because universities alone cannot solve the nation’s educational problems, according to federal education minister and deputy prime minister, Julia Gillard. Speaking at the University of Melbourne, Ms Gillard said Australia had to start again with a system-wide approach that would invest in the early years when social inequality was already entrenching itself.
“We know, for instance, that by age three, the average child of a professional couple has a vocabulary of 1,100 words and an IQ of 117, while the average child of parents receiving welfare has a vocabulary of 525 words and an IQ of 79,” she said. “So the more we invest early, the greater the educational improvements we can make.”
Ms Gillard identified a need for significant reform in the nation’s universities and added that the “one over-arching problem” facing universities is stagnating levels of public funding. While public investment in tertiary education increased by 49.4 percent across the OECD in the decade to 2005, in Australia it increased by zero percent.
“In that time, Australia’s share of public expenditure on tertiary institutions fell from nearly two-thirds to less than a half,” Ms Gillard said. “But while we’re pleased our universities have been able to increase their own sources of funding, this should have enabled them to significantly increase quality, not just make up for the public shortfall.”
Discussing the way that universities had been forced to find more money from non-government sources under the Howard government, Ms Gillard said this means that the last decade of strong economic growth had been a massive wasted opportunity for universities.
From Geoff Maslen in University World News
“White middle-class privilege” perpetuated in the
British universities are practising a form of social engineering aimed at “perpetuating largely white middle-class privilege”, it was argued at a Times Higher Education debate last week. According to Harinder Bahra, professor of management and diversity at Leeds Metropolitan University, “The expansion [of higher education] has increased participation but not widened participation.” He added that, in his view, institutions replicate inequalities through admissions policies and organisational culture.
“How many black staff are found in senior positions as role models or work in admissions, apart from the customary black outreach worker, funded from the widening participation budget?” he asked. Professor Bahra cited the “transformational example” of India, which sets quotas at universities for lower-caste applicants; but he also noted that such a policy was unlikely to be implemented in the UK. After the event, he said that he thought a “limited” version of the Indian programme should be introduced in the UK.
Aneez Esmail, professor of general practice at the University of Manchester, noted that “affirmative action” had helped produce America’s first black president, although such initiatives had received mixed reactions in the US. In some states, he said, laws had been passed preventing affirmative action.
“People are worried about a backlash, but if we do nothing, nothing will change,” Professor Esmail said. Institutions such as Manchester, which has put considerable effort into widening participation, is “still not meeting the very low targets set by the state.”
Professor Esmail referred to the recent suggestion by Lord Chris Patten, chancellor of the University of Oxford, that universities are being used as “social security offices”. “What he is saying is that he doesn’t want anything to change,” Professor Esmail said. “That is not acceptable.”
From Melanie Newman in Times Higher Education
Inclusive universities best placed to deliver
Universities that accept a broad range of students and offer lifelong-learning opportunities, specifically, those of Australia, the UK, and Denmark, have the best higher-education systems in terms of responding to economic and social challenges, according to Brussels-based think-tank, the Lisbon Council. “In an era of knowledge, access to education is a key policy goal, which reaps tremendous social and economic dividends,” said Lisbon Council president Paul Hofheinz, commenting on a study of tertiary-education systems among seventeen OECD countries, published on 18 November.
The high ranking, first, second, and third, of Australia, the UK, and Denmark, results from their universities accepting the broadest range of students, both domestic and foreign, without lowering their educational standards. Inclusiveness attracts foreign students, which, in turn, gives countries an advantage in the global race for talent, the authors suggest.
In addition, all three countries are “frontrunners in the effort to offer continuing education to adults after they have left the formal education system”, allowing large numbers of people to benefit from access to lifelong learning and, consequently, stay competitive in the labour market.
By contrast, both Germany and Austria, which ranked fifteenth and sixteenth respectively, suffer from the restrictiveness of their educational systems. “They turn away the most number of students from higher education, and as a result offer higher education to a relatively low number of people,” argues the report. As for Spain, ranked last, the report suggests that it should address “the apparent discrepancy between the subjects taught in university and the skills sought on the labour market”.
“Our systems are too elitist and exclusive. They do not offer enough educational opportunity to enough people throughout their lifetimes,” said Dr. Peer Ederer, the principal author of the study, adding that tertiary-education systems are not delivering the social and economic demands of modern, knowledge-based economies.
All-women university under way in Saudi
Work has begun on the construction of a new $NZ6.88 billion campus for Riyadh Women’s University, the first university in Saudi Arabia exclusively for female students. The foundation stone of Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman University in Riyadh was laid last month by King Abdullah, whose involvement has created tension in the kingdom.
The project is vast in every way. For a start, the new campus will enable capacity to be doubled to around 40,000 students, twice the number at Oxford University. The women will have fifteen academic faculties to choose from on an extensive campus containing, among other things, a 700-bed hospital, housing for university staff, a school, a kindergarten, and a high-tech transport system.
The king’s decision to attend the foundation ceremony is seen as a reflection of his personal commitment to expand education in Saudi Arabia, for women as well as men. King Abdullah’s pledge to expand education and career opportunities for women has come in for private criticism from elements in the Wahhabi religious establishment, and even from conservative Muslims inside the vast royal family itself.
The king, however, has insisted several times in recent public speeches that it is vital for the Saudi population as a whole to be offered the best possible educational opportunities. He has also repeated his commitment to the introduction of broad curriculum reform.
Dissenting voices, however, say that projects such as the expansion of Riyadh University for Women will merely reinforce existing gender segregation. “It seems to me that the university will be totally isolated from other academic institutions,” said Dr Mohammed al-Zulfa, a member of the kingdom’s advisory council. “Much of the intellectual enrichment of university life comes from contact with other establishments.”
From Tabitha Morgan in University World News
Presidents’ pay rocketing in
David J. Sargent, the 77-year-old president (vice-chancellor-equivalent) of Suffolk University in Boston, received a $US2.8 million pay package in 2006-07, including a $436,000 longevity bonus and more than $1 million in deferred compensation, after the board of trustees, eager to delay his retirement, decided he had long been underpaid. Dr Sargent was the nation’s highest-compensated university president in the annual survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education, released this week.
Others also received more than $2 million. David P Roselle, who resigned as president of the University of Delaware in June 2007, had a package of $2.4 million, including deferred compensation. And E Gordon Gee, who forfeited more than half of his $2 million compensation package when he resigned from Vanderbilt University in 2007 to become president of Ohio State University, is the highest-paid public-university president, the survey found. Professor Gee’s Ohio State package was raised just this month to more than $1.3 million.
While seven-figure pay packages had been limited mostly to prominent private research universities, some presidents of public institutions like Ohio State and Delaware, or private universities like Suffolk that offer few doctoral degrees, are also topping $1 million in pay and benefits. In fact, compensation for public research-university presidents is growing faster than for those who head private institutions, the survey found.
Median pay and benefits for presidents of public institutions rose 7.6 percent in 2007-08, to $427,400. Over a five-year period, the public universities’ median compensation rose 36 percent, compared with 19 percent at private institutions.
From Tabitha Lewin in the New York Times
More international news can be found on University World News:
AUS Tertiary Update is published weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the Association of University Staff and others. Back issues are available on the AUS website: www.aus.ac.nz. Direct inquiries should be made to the editor, email: firstname.lastname@example.org