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TEC approves MANU-AO funding

April 2009
TEC approves MANU-AO funding

The Tertiary Education Commission has approved $2.5 million of funding over three years for MANU-AO, the Māori Academy for Professional and Academic Advancement.  The funding will allow the academy to build on its successful one-year pilot programme centred on Māori academic networking and supported by the NZVCC committee on Māori, Te Kāhui Amokura, in association with all eight New Zealand universities.

Manu-AO aims to advance Māori scholarship, strengthen links between Māori academic and Māori professionals and accelerate Māori academic and professional leadership.  A series of seminars established in the pilot programme will now be extended over the next three years with a forum held in year three to discuss the characteristics, parameters and evolution of Māori scholarship.

The rationale for MANU-AO centres on the need for a well-qualified Māori professional workforce and high-calibre Māori academic leadership, The academy aims to provide an active link between academic leadership and Māori social, cultural and economic advancement.  It also seeks to address the leadership crisis due to the lack of Māori in senior academic positions and provide a distinctive Māori brand of indigenous scholarship.

The devolved model is operated by the academy with chapters run by regional co-ordinators in each university.  To complement national programmes, each chapter offers campus-specific programmes and interacts with regional organisations.  MANU-AO will be launched by the Minister of Māori Affairs, Dr Pita Sharples, at a function at Victoria University of Wellington’s Te Herenga Waka Marae on June 3.

External review for NZUAAU

The NZ Universities Academic Audit Unit board has appointed a four-member panel with international representation to conduct an external review of the unit.  The panel will be chaired by Dorte Kristoffersen of the Hong Kong Council for the Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications.  Other members are Emeritus Professor Barrie Macdonald, formerly of Massey University, Pauline Kingi of Te Puni Kokiri and an Auckland University of Technology council member, and Dr Anne Martin, a former Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Academic) at Deakin University.

The panel will conduct their site visit in June this year and will be supported by Exmoor Associates Ltd, appointed by the NZUAAU board to act as a secretariat.  The board has developed terms of reference for the review and has asked the panel to evaluate the unit’s effectiveness in achieving its objectives and fulfilling the NZVCC’s legislative requirements with respect to auditing the maintenance and enhancement of university quality processes associated with teaching and learning in a research environment.  The panel will also evaluate how the unit administers audit activities in accordance with the International Network of Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education’s good practice guidelines, whether it provides an effective service to the university sector and is accountable to it, and whether the unit is perceived as a credible agency by other education quality assurance agencies.

The panel will consider the appropriateness of the unit’s constitution in enabling it to act effectively to the benefit of the university sector, consider the adequacy of the unit’s resources to undertake its functions, and recommend any changes or improvements to the unit’s work practices and activities.  It will report to the NZUAAU board which will forward the report and the board’s comments to the NZVCC.   The report will be made public and posted on the unit’s website.

The unit has developed a self-assessment portfolio text with supporting documents for the panel’s information.  This is available from the unit’s website for reference by interested parties who wish to make a submission to the panel.  The self-assessment portfolio can be accessed at under “reports and papers”. Submissions must relate to the terms of reference and can be sent to  The closing date for submissions is Thursday, 30 April 2009.

‘World-class’ universities – what does that mean?

What is meant by “world-class” universities and how that status may be achieved is examined in a new World Bank publication The Challenge of Establishing World-Class Universities.  The latest issue of VC-Net, the Association of Commonwealth Universities’ news service, reports that achieving and maintaining world-class status has become a driving goal for many higher education sectors.  Increased competition for resources, the development of student/faculty/research markets, internationalisation, ICT advances and accountability demands have all contributed to universities aiming for elite status. In recent years this driver has been reinforced by a rankings culture.

The World Bank publication sets out some characteristics which could distinguish world-class universities as well as examining the specific implications for the bank’s policies.  Strategies for increased university status at institutional, regional and national levels are examined.  Cited comparable criteria are faculty strength, research profile, business/industry links, funding levels, governance structures and graduate employment and salaries. Less tangible attributes are reputation, research culture and educational values.

The publication looks at the actions governments can take including upgrading existing universities, merging selected institutions and establishing new ones.  Achievement factors identified as being significant at institutional level are leadership and strategic vision, planned and realistically-timed change, internationalisation goals and ambitious innovation.  However, the publication does acknowledge there is no “universal recipe or magic formula” for making a university world-class.

“Doorstop” interview provides insight into Australian goal

The official transcript of a “doorstop” interview with Australian Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard on her government’s response to the Bradley Review of Higher Education, conducted just after she outlined that response at the recent Universities Australia Conference, casts some light on how an uncapped Australian university system will work.  Outlining the response to the journalist involved, Minister Gillard said student demand for places would be met with a new system of funding.  “We’ll end the day with artificial caps driven by politicians and enable student to go to higher education.  We want to do that because we want to hit a new national goal – 40% of our young people having attained a Bachelor degree or above by 2025”.

The journalist then asked if freeing up the “student demand side of things” constituted the Australian government giving the higher education sector a blank cheque in terms of funding uncapped demand.  Minister Gillard responded: “No it’s not because we will have the new national regulation and quality assurance system.  The system will work on the basis that a student who becomes enrolled at a public university in a course will be entitled to get Commonwealth support for that place.  But the quality of that place, the quality of that course, the quality of the teaching and learning will be the subject of rigorous oversight by the new national regulator.”

To a further question on whether the Australian government would be able to cap the number of student places it was offering at universities, the Minister replied: “We anticipate some universities will respond to this through growing and we do want to see growth in participation – so we don’t fall behind the standards of the world and the nations with which we compete.” Journalist: “So the universities will be able to enrol as many students as they want?”  Minister Gillard: “Universities, once we move into the demand-driven model in 2012, will be able to increase enrolments as they see fit, but there will be strong quality assurance so that we cannot get under-performing courses or poor course offerings for students.”

The minister was then asked how possible it was to boost higher education funding in the current financial circumstances.  She replied that the Bradley Review was initiated in easier economic times – “that’s why today I have said we can’t do everything at once, any decisions about money flowing from the review will be made in the budget context.”



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