TEU Tertiary Update Vol 13 No 46
EIT votes on definition of academic staff role
TEU members at Napier's Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) are voting on whether to accept a new collective agreement that the union says will help protect academics from losing work to staff on a lower pay scale.
EIT has a new academic position, called a learning facilitator, whose role has been relatively undefined until this point, but essentially involves supporting other academic staff to 'maximise students' learning experience.'
TEU's local bargaining team has negotiated a definition of the tasks that a learning facilitator can, and importantly, cannot do. A learning facilitator will not for instance be able to take responsibility for programme design, lesson preparation or assessment (except when it is a checklist).
TEU deputy secretary Nanette Cormack says that the intention is that the new definitions will not only protect other staff from losing work or responsibility to the less well-paid learning facilitators, but will also help provide the beginnings of a career path for some learning facilitators to move into other academic positions.
"Currently there is some overlap between the top of the pay scale for learning facilitators and the first five steps on the pay scale for other academic staff. When EIT merges with Tairāwhiti Polytechnic it is likely that a number of courses will be led by academics on one campus but delivered to smaller groups by learning facilitators on the other campus. It's important if people are doing the full job of an academic, including programme design and lesson preparation, that they get paid the full salary."
As well as the new job definitions the proposed new agreement includes two pay increases of 1.9 percent over two years and a one off payment of $700, which members should receive just before Christmas. It also establishes a $2000 fund to help the two TEU branches at EIT and Tairāwhiti to meet and work through their own union merger issues. Voting to ratify the agreement closes tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the government yesterday officially approved the merger between EIT and Tairāwhiti. The two polytechnics will merge on 1 January next year. The Government has given $7.5 million to help with the transition to clear a backlog of maintenance work at Tairāwhiti and to pay for costs to rearrange courses. EIT told Radio New Zealand all employees of both polytechnics retain their positions for now, but back office jobs will be looked at in the new year.
Also in Tertiary Update this week:
- Ministry's answer for young Māori and Pacific students is more reviews.
- Cutting budgets won't necessarily save money
- TEU mourns Pike River tragedy
- Majority don't want govt telling students what to do
- Communities call for caution in trade negotiations
- Other news
The Ministry of Education has released its 2010 annual monitoring report on the Tertiary Education Strategy 2010-2015. The strategy, which the government released last year says the government will focus its tertiary education efforts on, among other things, increasing the number of young people moving successfully from school into tertiary education, and increasing the number of Māori and Pasifika students enjoying success at higher levels.
The report notes that since the introduction of the 2010-2015 Tertiary Education Strategy, there have been a number of policy changes made to support the tertiary education system to achieve the priorities. For many current students though, these policy changes are actually reviews, including a review of special admissions to universities to allow universities to set entry priorities an operational policy for industry training, a targeted review of qualifications by NZQA aimed at improving the overall design of the vocational qualification system, and a review of the government's investments in te reo Māori.
TEU national president Dr Tom Ryan said that on the whole the union supports the Strategy and its focus on helping those who would not otherwise get a tertiary education into study.
"Reviews are important," said Dr Ryan "But in many instances we already know what we need to do to increase participation in tertiary education among Maori and Pasifika. While the government continues to cut funding, remove foundation studies pathways, and fuel an environment of restructuring it fails to do anything that will seriously address its own strategy's goals."
There is no evidence that cutting spending is actually saving money according to CTU policy director Dr Bill Rosenberg. In his latest economic bulletin Dr Rosenberg says the evidence shows there are many similar sized nations to New Zealand which spend a higher proportion of their national output on government services, and have considerably higher standards of living.
"Currently Treasury, the Reserve Bank, ACT and two of the government’s taskforces are all calling for reductions in government spending. The government has even considered the idea of a cap on government spending, but instead put a cap of $1.1 billion on 'new' spending – its 'operating allowance'. But the evidence that smaller government as such is better for growth or innovation or quality of life is simply not there."
"Around half of government expenditure is “transfer payments” – such as New Zealand Superannuation, unemployment and other benefits – which help to make society fairer but are largely money-in, money-out, reducing the size of the private sector economy very little. In the end it is quality of spending that matters."
Dr Rosenberg says one example of how quality counts is in the area of health.
According to the OECD, the US with a largely private health system spent 16 percent of its GDP on health in 2007. New Zealand, spent just 9.2 percent, overwhelmingly through government funding. Yet the US has inferior health outcomes in many respects to New Zealand. It has lower life expectancy for example, and (in 2007) large parts of the population were without insurance coverage.
"So comparing government spending in the US and New Zealand not only ignores the fact that the government in the US doesn’t provide nearly as much health care as New Zealand," said Dr Rosenberg. "The US economy and population get vastly inferior results from its health system. We are demonstrably better off with that higher government spending."
TEU national President Dr Ryan has written to the general secretary of the miners' union, the EPMU's Andrew Little, to express the TEU's heartfelt sympathy for the workers and families involved in the Pike River mine disaster.
Dr Ryan noted that many TEU members on the West Coast have been personally affected by the tragedy through kinship or friendship to the men who were killed. Many of the staff at Te Tai Poutini Polytechnic have been actively supporting their local community through the disaster. Some of the missing miners were students in programmes run by the same institution. You can view Dr Ryan's message about the tragedy here.
TEU's national council has resolved to donate $5000 to the EPMU's Miners Families Support Trust and some individual TEU branches have also made donations to the trust. The cause of the disaster is not known and is unlikely to be known for many months, and the families will face hardship. Half of the funds donated to the EPMU trust will be contributed to the community fund being administered by the Grey District Council and half will be used to establish a dedicated fund for the education of the children of those killed. The trustees will be local union representatives.
Donations can be made at any Kiwibank branch or direct to bank account: Kiwibank 38-9011-0165987-00 Cheques made out to “EPMU Pike River Miners Families Support Trust” can also be sent by post, care of EPMU, PO Box 14-277, Kilbirnie, Wellington 6241.
Students held silent vigils outside MPs' offices yesterday in protest against the voluntary student membership bill that will abolish compulsory membership of student unions at tertiary institutions.
The Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill is a member's bill sponsored by ACT MP Heather Roy.
Before the rallies the national students' association NZUSA released the results of an independent public opinion poll showing that 77 percent of respondents felt that students should decide the structure of membership of their associations, compared with just 17 percent that believed it was the Government’s decision, and 6 percent who were unsure.
Parliament is due next week to vote on the bill for a third and final time.
NZUSA co-President David Do says the opinion poll shows the New Zealand public believed students themselves should determine the method of students’ association membership, rather than the government.
"Students are best placed to make their own decisions about the membership of their local students' associations, and this public poll shows there is no appetite for Government involvement in such processes," said Mr Do.
"These results follow an overwhelming response at Select Committee where 98% of the 4,800 submissions were against the Bill and in support of the status quo. With students, the public, and tertiary institutions opposing the Bill and warning of its negative consequences, why would the Government support such an unpopular and unworkable Bill?" said Mr Do.
The current law, passed by the National Party in 1998, already allows students choice in determining what sort of membership model they want via referenda, and also enables students to individually opt out of membership through conscientious objection and financial hardship.
The Act Party Bill seeks to replace the status quo by imposing voluntary membership on all associations, hence removing students’ choice and putting important student services, representation, and welfare at risk.
TEU national president Tom Ryan has added TEU's signature to a letter from a wide range of civil society groups calling for government to exercise caution in its current negotiations of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) .
The TTPA has been called a "free trade agreement" by its proponents but in reality, the main function of the agreement would be to establish an array of new investor rights and privileges that could undermine vast swathes of important non-trade laws, policies and practices in the nine countries currently involved. These constraints would bind our governments into the indefinite future.
The USA is effectively setting the terms for the current negotiations, based on a standard template that replicates the U.S. North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) model.
That agreement not only establishes vast new investor rights to acquire land, natural resources, financial and other firms and operate them under deregulated terms - it also elevates private investors to equal status as sovereign government signatories to the agreement. Under the U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) model, foreign investors and corporations are empowered to privately enforce their new 'trade' pact privileges by suing signatory governments and seeking monetary compensation for government actions they consider would undermine their expected future profits.
Dr Ryan said when signing the letter that there can be no doubt that the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is going to be a major issue in New Zealand over the coming months and years.
"It has significant implications for our members - especially regarding the provision, and indeed survival, of public services such as tertiary education, in this country and across the region."
"Too many free trade agreements that have been negotiated recently give big corporations the right to go to secret international tribunals where they can either challenge or seek compensation for other countries’ labour laws, public provision of services and government support for public education. We don't want to see that happen with this agreement," said Dr Ryan.
TEU national president Dr Tom Ryan said what was is happening in Wellington – as Victoria University plans to close its gender studies course, Massey University considers closing the Wellington campus engineering school and a potential merger of Weltec and Whitireia – reflected a national trend. "Gender studies is an example of the pressure that's being put on the liberal arts areas [which are] seen as less deserving of support than science and technology." Dr Ryan says there have been more than 50 major restructurings this year, after the Government put pressure on the tertiary education sector to make cutbacks. Liberal arts are suffering, as well as language courses and Māori programmes, he says. –Dominion Post.
Massey University vice-chancellor Steve Maharey said restrictions on student places and huge growth led to the sudden closure of summer school enrolments in July. The university revealed on Tuesday that about 20 papers were pulled and enrolments almost halved after the university was forced to close the door on summer school. Of the students who missed out, 1347 lodged an appeal for a place at Massey University. More than half, 715 students, were accepted –Manawatu Standard
The Nelson teaching campus of the University of Canterbury will remain open after pressure from the community got through to decision-makers. Pro-vice-chancellor for the College of Education, Professor Gail Gillon, has confirmed that the 12-year-old Hardy St campus will remain open despite having been earmarked for closure. If the campus had closed, all training teachers who live in Nelson would have to have studied thorough correspondence - The Nelson Mail
TEU Tertiary Update is published weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the Tertiary Education Union and others. You can subscribe to Tertiary Update by email or feed reader. Back issues are available on the TEU website. Direct inquiries should be made to Stephen Day, email: firstname.lastname@example.org