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TEU Tertiary Update Vol 14 No 33

Thousands of tertiary staff may not yet be enrolled to vote

TEU national president Sandra Grey is concerned that thousands of TEU members may not get to have their say on important tertiary education issues at this year's election because they are not enrolled to vote.

TEU has matched its membership database with the electoral roll and only been able to confirm that 39 percent of its membership is definitely on the electoral roll. A further 50 percent may be on the roll - that is their address does not match but a similar person to the person's details is on the roll.

Eleven percent of TEU members do not match any name on the electoral roll. That does not mean that they are definitely not enrolled; just that the Electoral Enrolment Centre cannot find a match to the name TEU provided.

"We will be trying where possible to contact each member who is not yet confirmed on the electoral roll," said Dr Grey, "but with such large numbers we will be relying on members to make sure they, their colleagues, friends and families are on the roll."

Everyone can easily check to see if they are enrolled and that the Electoral Enrolment Centre has their correct details at Alternatively, they can free-text their name and address to 3676.

Data matching with the electoral roll is a common practice by a wide range of organisations. The process is entirely confidential and the Electoral Enrolment Centre does not look at or retain any of the information TEU provided it.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. More staff needed to lift world rankings
  2. Auckland VC defends academic freedom
  3. TEU will oppose University of Canterbury job cuts
  4. Voluntary student membership bill passes third reading
  5. More trades academies announced
  6. Other news

More staff needed to lift world rankings

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If universities are truly concerned about their ranking in international surveys they need to invest in staff according to TEU national president Sandra Grey.

QS World University Rankings 2011/2012 released this week show five of six surveyed New Zealand universities falling down an international rankings ladder.

Dr Grey says it is important to note that 20 percent of the QS's criteria for evaluating universities is the staff:student ratio.

"While it is hard for New Zealand universities to have much control over some of the other criteria which are so closely linked to global reputation, the one we have instant control over is our staff:student ratios," said Dr Grey. "In New Zealand those ratios have climbed steadily in recent years, and the result is our universities’ global rankings are sliding."

"The University of Auckland, New Zealand’s highest ranked university in the survey has an overall ranking of 82 but its staff:student ratio is not even within the top 300. The situation is similar for our other universities."

QS said of staff:student ratios that they are the "only globally comparable and available indicator that has been identified to address the stated objective of evaluating teaching quality".

QS said while there are some concerns with the use of the staff:student ratio indicator "it does speak to the notion of 'commitment to teaching'".

"The current government is not investing in education, and universities are responding by hiding those cuts with larger tutorials, lectures and class sizes," said Dr Grey.

Auckland VC defends academic freedom

Auckland University vice-chancellor Stuart McCutcheon is defending one of his academics saying she, and other academics have a right to free speech. Prof McCutcheon told Fairfax Media he understood the concerns raised over Prof Margaret Mutu's reported comments on “white” immigration, but he believed strongly in the right of academics to comment on issues where they had expertise, even when those comments may be controversial.

"The Education Act protects the right of academics within the law to question and test received wisdom, to put forward new ideas and to state controversial or unpopular opinions. That is an important right in a free society."

A formal complaint against Professor Mutu has been lodged with the Race Relations Commissioner over comments she about the need to restrict "white" immigration.

In the Sunday Star Times Professor Mutu said the number of people coming from South Africa, England and the United States should be restricted, as they bring attitudes of white supremacy and are destructive to Māori.

That outraged Nga Puhi leader David Rankin, who said the comments were racist and a step "too far". Mr Rankin says he has written a complaint to the Race Relations Commissioner, and has included Professor Mutu's employer the University of Auckland in his complaint.

"They continue to have her on the payroll", he explains, "and have come out to support and endorse her racist comments".

TEU will oppose University of Canterbury job cuts

TEU will be organising a public campaign to prevent hundreds of job cuts at the University of Canterbury. Last week TEU leaked financial documents that showed the university faced losses of $12 to $18 million dollars and one proposal to cope with this loss is to cut around 350 jobs over the next three years.

Since then TEU national president Sandra Grey has been calling on the government to step in and prevent these cuts happening to one of Canterbury's biggest employers and most important learning institutions.

"The university is an essential public infrastructure. It has a key role to play in the coming years helping the city rebuild. It cannot do that without government support."

The university said neither the commission nor the minister has made additional funding available other than retaining the Student Achievement Component for 2012. That means a shortfall of $12-18 million.

"Mr Joyce cannot sit by and let one of New Zealand’s most prestigious learning institutions bleed nearly a fifth of its staff," said Dr Grey.

"A successful rebuild is going to need jobs and education as well as bricks. We'll be working with the Canterbury community and many other New Zealanders who want to see Canterbury University given a fair chance to do its bit to help rebuild its city."

Voluntary student membership bill passes third reading

Parliament completed the committee of the house stage of the voluntary student membership bill last night. No amendments to the bill were adopted. The voluntary student membership bill will now have its brief third and final reading at the next Member's day, which is likely to be 28 September. The new law, when passed, would then take effect in January next year.

In the lead up to the third reading the New Zealand Union of Students Associations (NZUSA) asked for politicians to introduce a compromise proposal that it had developed.

NZUSA's proposal was that students automatically become members of their students’ association when they enrol at a tertiary institution but that they could opt-out of their association at any time and for any (or no) reason. If students opted out within the first four weeks of term, they would receive a full refund of any association fees. Institutions rather than the students’ associations would administer and promote membership processes. Associations would improve their governance and operations through a Code of Practice for democracy and accountability. The proposed law would come into effect in 2013, ensuring enough time for the sector to make adjustments.

"This practical proposal would do what ACT claim they are trying to achieve with their current Member’s Bill," said NZUSA co-president Max Hardy. "Students will see this proposal as a fair and sensible alternative, the proposal has widespread support from students’ associations, and echoes suggestions made by submitters during the Select Committee process."

However, NZUSA's proposal was rejected.

TEU has opposed the voluntary student membership legislation arguing that it will undermine quality learning and put increased pressure on staff if important student services are either no longer offered or funded instead by cuts to other areas of an institution’s budget.

More trades academies announced

Education Minister Anne Tolley has announced the ten new Trades Academies, which are to open around New Zealand from 2012, providing practical skills training for secondary school students while allowing them to study for NCEA credits and tertiary qualifications.

Mrs Tolley also announced this week that Christchurch is to have a new Trades Academy, and that student places are to more than treble at the existing National Trade Academy in Christchurch, which incorporates CPIT.

The number of fees-free places for 16 and 17 year olds will increase to 2000 in 21 Trades Academies from next year.

"Schools are partnering with tertiary providers, employers and industry training organisations to give 16 and 17 year olds a more flexible way of learning, and the vocational skills which will give them more career choices," Mrs Tolley said.

The ten new Trades Academies which will open during 2012 will involve support from UCOL in in Palmerston North and Manawatu, Horowhenua, Whanganui and the Wairarapa , NMIT in Nelson, Unitec and AUT in West Auckland, MIT in Manurewa, Otago Polytechnic in Central Otago, EIT in the Hawkes Bay, WITT in Taranaki, Te Tai Poutini on the West Coast, Wintec in Taumaranui, and the Open Polytechnic across the country.

"Local economies will also benefit from these new Trades Academies, as businesses will now have more young people with better skills ready to enter the workplace," said Mrs Tolley.

"By 2014, 12,500 places will be available for 16 and 17 year olds in Trades Academies, Service Academies and the wider Youth Guarantee."

Other news

A graph showing the cuts to tertiary education funding since 2009 and continuing through until 2015. The data draws from the Treasury’s own forecasts at the time of the last budget - TEU

We do not expect rugby coaches to pick players simply because they have a high ratio of successful kicks to touch or tackles made. We also want them to look for the exciting unpredictable things players can do, the way they interact with and inspire their teammates, and the way they pick themselves up off the ground when something does not go well. We want the same values within our education communities, just with less mud - Otago Daily Times

Photos and video of the most recent strike at CPIT - TEU

The Labour Party launched its youth skills and employment package, which it says will create another 14,000 training positions for young people, if it gets into power at the next election. In addition, any employer who takes on an apprentice will get an $8700 subsidy, the same amount as the unemployment benefit - TVNZ

Philip Morris International, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, is seeking to force a British university to reveal full details of its research involving confidential interviews with thousands of youngsters aged between 11 and 16 about their attitudes towards smoking and cigarette packaging - New Zealand Herald


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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