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TEU Tertiary Update Vol 14 No 29

Student membership bill will cost staff

Tertiary education staff understand the ideology on both sides of the debate about voluntary student membership, says TEU president Sandra Grey, but with legislation on the issue now imminent it's time politicians focus on finding a pragmatic solution rather than arguing their ideological corners.

"Whether you believe in voluntary membership for students' associations in theory or not, the evidence from Australia, and from voluntary associations in New Zealand, is that it is bad for tertiary education staff."

"In all instances the result has been one of two things. Either tertiary institutions start offering the services that the students’ association previously offered, and also pick up the tab for running those services; or they don't offer to pick up those services, which will mean less pastoral care, a less vibrant cultural atmosphere, and decreased support for students."

"The first option means budget cuts in other areas and increased workload as tertiary institutions shift money and staff to cover these new expenses.  The second option means it is harder for students to learn. Neither is a pragmatic solution."

TEU Council is urging branches to support the New Zealand Union of Students Associations' (NZUSA) campaign to stop the bill passing including participating in the National Day of Action planned for on 17 August , supporting its on-line campaigns, Demand A Better Future website and Save Our Services, and contacting the local student associations in their area to see what support and help they can provide.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Budget cuts looming at Canterbury
  2. Inflation sidesteps education workers' pay-packets
  3. University entrance gets tougher
  4. Other news

Budget cuts looming at Canterbury

The vice-chancellor at the University of Canterbury, Rod Carr, wrote to staff last week warning them the university council is likely to present an austere budget for 2012.

"As many staff will be aware, we are facing some major challenges associated with preparation of our 2012 budget. No decisions have been made and no numbers are finalised at this stage. Some of these challenges are earthquake-related, others are issues the senior management team has previously identified."

The vice-chancellor noted that there would be a loss of revenue arising from student withdrawals and lower recruitment related to the earthquakes, as well as increased costs associated with the earthquake.

"The current early draft budget for 2012 has a significant shortfall, of the order of $12- $18 million on an expenditure base of around $300 million. Over the next five weeks the senior management team will be working through various options to ensure we can present a viable budget for 2012."

Dr Carr invited staff to provide their own thoughts to council on how to increase revenue, concentrate the university's resources or cut costs.

"This year, more than almost any other year in the university’s recent history, we need to take a hard look at all costs and ensure that any dollar we spend is justified. There will be some short term pain."  

Inflation sidesteps education workers' pay-packets

Statistics released last week show that average hourly earnings for people working in education and training have risen 32 cents to $31.05 in the last year. That rise of 1 percent is well less than inflation for the same period of 5.3 percent. Indeed, total average hourly earnings for people working in education and training fell for the latest quarter from March to June by 38 cents.

The number of men in filled jobs in education and training has remained static at 45,000, but the number of women in filled jobs in education and training has risen from 106,000 to 111,000. So, it is probably no surprise then with the percentage of women in education and training increasing that hourly earnings are failing to keep up with inflation, because the other thing Statistics NZ's Quarterly Employment Survey shows is that the gender pay gap has widened to 13 percent for the June quarter.

"There has been a lack of action from this government to reduce the gender pay gap, and this is especially disappointing given the recent coverage of the issue," said Pay Equity Challenge Coalition spokesperson, Angela McLeod.

Figures in the Quarterly Employment Survey show a per hour pay gap between men and women of 13 percent up from 12.6 percent and an annual weekly income gap of 17.4 percent up from 17 percent from the previous quarter.

University entrance gets tougher

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority has raised the bar for University Entrance requirements from 2014 onwards (for entry in 2015).

New University Entrance requirements from 2014 will require students to acquire 60 NCEA credits at level 3 or higher and 20 credits at level 2 or higher instead of the current 42 credits at level 3.

The vice-chancellors' organisation, Universities NZ, is welcoming the changes.

"These changes will help to ensure that students achieving University Entrance are better prepared for university study," said Professor Pat Walsh, Chair of Universities NZ’s Committee on University Academic Programmes.  

However, NZUSA co-president Max Hardy, told the New Zealand Herald he was concerned that students, as a result of this change, who could have done very well at university are being shut out.

He said about 985 of this year's first-year university students would not have been accepted under the new requirements because they did not meet NCEA Level 3.

"That's 8 per cent of students who actually have quite a good chance of completing their qualification and some of them will be doing very well. So, over a period of time, New Zealand is shutting the door to thousands of graduates."

Mr Hardy said many students did not do too well at secondary school but went on to excel in the tertiary environment.

"The sad thing is those students are normally from low-decile schools who really just need a level playing field, and we are concerned those people won't be given a fair go."

Other news

The CTU has reacted to comments made by the Prime Minister this week that the Government is looking at labour market 'reform' as an option to address the high exchange rate. "We have been increasingly concerned that the Government has abandoned any attempt to build a 'high wage, high skill, high value economy' and instead is advocating for a 'competitive' economy based in part on weakened rights for workers."- CTU Secretary Peter Conway

Lincoln University's vice-chancellor Roger Field will retire from April next year. Field has spent 40 years at Lincoln University, starting his career there as a lecturer in plant science and has spent the past eight years as vice-chancellor. - The Christchurch Press

More than 500 people at risk of long-term unemployment will miss places in a training scheme next year because of a funding shuffle between government agencies - New Zealand Herald

Chants of "no choice, no voice" filled the air at Victoria University last week as 200 frustrated students and lecturers gathered to protest programme cuts. University management has proposed cutbacks that will see least eight staff lose their jobs, close the Crime and Justice Research Centre, and axe various international relations courses - TV3

Senior economist with the University of Auckland Business School Dr Rhema Vaithianathan says New Zealand managers and processes are "strikingly bad" at managing staff and they – rather than the wage gap with Australia – might be the most significant reason for losing staff to our trans-Tasman cousins.


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.

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