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TEU Tertiary Update Vol 14 No 31

AUT undertakes twenty reviews in four years

In the last year, AUT has conducted seven separate staffing reviews.

While three of these reviews reorganised the university's management structure and did not result in redundancies, the other four identified 8.1 full time equivalent staff as surplus. The biggest job losses were in the certificate of health studies, the centre of learning and teaching and the bachelor of dance programmes.

TEU branch president John Prince says that since August 2007 there have been over twenty redundancy rounds at AUT, resulting in the closing of programmes totalling 5,100 EFTS and costing 120 FTE staff their jobs.

"One common theme with many of these redundancies has been the pressure from the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) on AUT to increase its Degree offerings and to reduce its Certificate and Diploma programmes," said Mr Prince.

"Now that AUT has more than met TEC’s requirements this particular pressure should be reduced, but recent reviews indicate that AUT will continue to close more Certificates and Diplomas."

TEU national president Sandra Grey says this amount of organisational change is not isolated to AUT.

"Reviews, restructuring and redundancies are happening constantly at most tertiary education institutions. Staff and students are not given a chance to show the new structure works before the next change proposal is already up for discussion."

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Massey VC denies hoarding public cash
  2. TEU membership grows
  3. Careers Day boycott as Auckland dispute deepens
  4. Waterfront vista, not academics, make universities world class?
  5. Other news

Massey VC denies hoarding public cash

Despite revelations that Massey University almost doubled its profit last year from $5.3m to $10.2m, its vice-chancellor Steve Maharey is denying allegations that the university is hoarding money.  

"We're well-managed, but don't mistake that as we have the money coming from the Government to guarantee quality education forever," he told the Manawatu Standard.

Mr Maharey's denial followed a report from the Tertiary Education Commission earlier in the week that revealed publicly funded universities, wānanga and polytechnics all generated surpluses significantly greater than the 3 percent of revenue the commission requires of them.

Polytechnics had surpluses of 8.3 percent of revenue, universities 4 percent and wānanga 7.3 percent. TEU's national president Sandra Grey said that in total, public tertiary institutions hoarded nearly a hundred million dollars of public money last year that they could otherwise have invested in quality education.

"Because they failed to spend this money students now have larger class sizes, highly respected staff lost their jobs and departments have shrunk or shut," said Dr Grey.

The tertiary education minister Steven Joyce says he is pleased to see that institutions are responding strongly to the government's focus on value for money and fiscal responsibility.

"While the government’s budget remains limited, it’s good to see tertiary institutions managing their finances and assets responsibly and positioning themselves to continue to make a strong contribution to New Zealand’s educational needs."

Dr Grey said that by making cuts and under-spending their budgets institutions were justifying the government's austerity measures for tertiary education.

"Hoarding gives the government a false justification for its relentless on-going budget cuts to tertiary education funding," said Dr Grey.

TEU membership grows

TEU reached a new membership record last month when 125 new members joined existing members to lift TEU's total membership to 10,635 members. TEU has averaged over a 100 new members per month throughout 2010 and 2011. TEU is now the tenth largest union out of 157 unions registered in New Zealand.

TEU national president Sandra Grey says membership growth has been particularly strong in branches that have made recruitment part of their industrial negotiations strategy.

"With more members we have a stronger voice. People are joining TEU because they believe in being respected and paid fairly for work they do."

"Year-in-year-out TEU succeeds at negotiating pay rises better than inflation," says Dr Grey. "Research shows that unionised workplaces earn more than non-unionised workplaces. The more people who join, the stronger the union, and the better off everybody is."

Leading the way, UCOL and NorthTec branches have both grown in size by 16 percent since the beginning of the year. Aoraki Polytechnic branch has grown 12 percent and WITT branch has grown 8 percent. TEU's REAP (Rural Education & Activities Programme) membership also grew 11 percent since the beginning of the year.

The biggest growing university, AUT, grew 6 percent so far this year, while it neighbouring branch the University of Auckland grew by the largest number of members - 53 more members since the beginning of the year.

Careers Day boycott as Auckland dispute deepens

The employment dispute between the University of Auckland and its academic staff is deepening with staff planning to boycott this weekend's highly visible Courses and Careers Day if their long running employment dispute with the university is not resolved.  

TEU national president Sandra Grey says academics would normally give up their Saturday to meet these new students and showcase the university to the community. But, after nearly a year of asking their employer to leave their employment conditions alone and let them get on with their job, academics are now considering taking the unprecedented action of boycotting Courses and Careers Day.

"Local PPTA secondary teachers and university students have both contacted us to offer support for the day, which is good because this is not an action which we are taking lightly," said Dr Grey.

"Auckland academics have, for nine months, made one very simple and reasonable request – to be able to keep their employment conditions the way they are and to get on with their job," said Dr Grey.

"For nine months, their employer has not listened, or compromised, while staff have suggested a myriad of reasonable alternatives to the university’s proposal to remove key employment conditions from their collective agreement. Now they have no option but to increase their level of industrial action, starting with a boycott of Courses and Careers Day."

Waterfront vista, not academics, make universities world class?

An expat equity analyst, Michael Parker, has written a book arguing that New Zealand should build a large 'world class private university on the Auckland Waterfront.

Mr Parker, who currently works for an American Firm in Hong Kong  launched his book The Pine Tree Paradox; why creating the New Zealand we all dream of requires a great university  in Auckland over the weekend.

According to the book goes as far as calling on readers to donate money towards the project  which Parker envisages as being centred around a piece of breath-taking architecture on the Auckland waterfront along the lines of Bilbao's Guggenheim Museum or the Sydney Opera House.

However, TEU national president Sandra Grey says an upstart private university is hardly likely to become world class just because it has nice architecture and an expensive view.

Dr Grey says New Zealand already has world class universities including one a mere stroll from the very site Mr Parker is proposing for his new university.  

"It is time we invested properly in the eight universities in New Zealand and the dozens of polytechnics we already have because these already contain world-class academics and students who make their mark both here in New Zealand and overseas."

You can read Dr Grey's full response to the Pine Tree Paradox on TEU's website.

Other news

Academics don’t want to say who should win American Idol or who should win an OSCAR – we are happy to leave that to the experts in those fields. Likewise, 'managers' of the tertiary sector should trust the professionals they hire to continue to ensure the quality teaching and research in New Zealand - Sandra Grey outlines why she thinks academic quality is under attack.

TEU members at Christchurch Polytechnic and Institute of Technology (CPIT) are taking strike action today. They are protesting about their employer not responding to TEU offers to settle the current bargaining. The polytechnic continues to want control over some of the staff’s leave entitlements, as well as wanting them to work more duty hours - TEU media release

The Benefit Card proposed by the National government will cost taxpayers - YouTube

District health boards have "clear marching orders" pushing them to provide healthcare rather than support learning and training, University of Otago health sciences pro-vice-chancellor Prof Peter Crampton says. Criticism of Dunedin Hospital's relationship with Otago University could be levelled at any DHB hospital, he said - Otago Daily Times

Threats of legal action have been made to 45 Australian-based student loan borrowers who have a combined debt of more than $1 million. The debtors have been sent letters advising they have 30 days to make repayments or face prosecution. Inland Revenue will begin preparing statements of claim to be lodged in the New Zealand courts, after which judgments will be transferred for confirmation in Australian courts - Dominion Post


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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