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TEU Tertiary Update Vol 14 No 41

Unfunded students create $100 million shortfall

A government decision to underestimate the number of students who study each year cost tertiary institutions $100 million for each of 2009 and 2010 according to TEU national president Dr Sandra Grey.

TEU released the third of its election graphs on the state of tertiary education this week. It shows that for the last two years over 10,000 full time equivalent students in study were not funded by the government.

"What that means," said Dr Grey "is that institutions need to cut costs in other places to pay for those students. The result is higher fees, larger student: staff ratios and less money available for pastoral care and support."

In 2009, tertiary institutions taught 246,000 full time equivalent students. Unsurprisingly the next year there were 4000 more full time equivalent students due to students passing from secondary into tertiary education, and larger numbers of people wanting to study because of growing unemployment. Despite the increase in numbers of students, the government chose to fund 6000 fewer student places in 2010 making a shortfall in funding of 10,000 students for the second year running.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Community education wants another look
  2. Educators keep ahead of mean wage rises
  3. TEU advocates new plan at Aoraki
  4. New Zealand doesn’t have to be a low wage country
  5. Other news

Community education wants another look

The number of schools offering community education classes for adults fell from 212 schools in 2009 to just 40 this year, and many of the remaining programmes are struggling.

In 2009, the government cut funding for adult and community education by 80 percent from $16 million to $3.2 million. The $16 million was less than 0.6 percent of the total tertiary budget.

CLASS, (the Community Learning Association through Schools) has just launched a campaign to encourage politicians to 'take another look' at the 2009 decision to cut funding to adult and community education. CLASS is campaigning to get the government to review the 2009 decision and investigate the effects of the radical funding cuts.

Robyn Hambleton, from the Community Education Centre at Wellington High School says adult and community education is not just "hobby night classes"; programmes have been responding to community needs for over 100 years and those who attend them come for a wide variety of reasons.

"They may be 'second-chance' learners looking for an opportunity to move gently back into education. They may be people who want to increase their skills and expertise to move to a new career or return to the workforce. They may want to gain new knowledge to become more confident or independent or be less isolated socially."

"ACE in Schools is an affordable, cost-effective way to encourage and deliver life-long learning opportunities to the whole of NZ. Every community has a school and making use of this expensive infrastructure after hours makes good use of taxpayer funds."

Ms Hambleton is one of the guest speakers at TEU's Speak Up for Education rally on 21 November.

Educators keep ahead of mean wage rises

The Labour Cost Index statistics released this week show that pay rates for education professionals rose 1.0 percent in the September quarter, compared to a rise of only 0.6 percent for all workers during the same period. The increase in education professionals' average salary and wage rates during the September quarter was the highest of any professional group that statistics New Zealand measured.

Statistics New Zealand attributed this rise to recently settled collective employment agreement increase for secondary school teachers.

Secondary teachers with a level 7 qualification and recognised teaching qualification now have a starting rate of $47,023 and a top rate of $71,000. By comparison, the starting rate for an adademic staff member at NorthTec, for example, is $41,649 and a senior academic staff member at NorthTec has a top rate of $68,521.

TEU national secretary Sharn Riggs says what the statistics show is that sectors that are highly unionised, such as in education, are getting more consistent, and higher, pay rises on average than other sectors.

"But there is still some way to go in the current environment where too many employers in tertiary education are using pressure from the State Services Commission as an excuse to keep pay rates low."

More broadly, CTU economist Bill Rosenberg warns that the 2.0 percent increase in the Labour Cost Index for the year to September means that wages are still falling behind price increases. Prices increased 4.6 percent in the same period, including about 2.1 percent due to the GST increase.

Dr Rosenberg noted, "56 percent of people got pay rises in the last year. Those who did got a median rise of 3.0 percent and an average of 3.6 percent. So those people who got a rise didn’t keep up with the rise in prices."

“Some people have had compensation for the rising prices from tax cuts, but this was heavily weighted to higher incomes. People on lower incomes will be feeling the effects of the price rises much more strongly,” said Dr Rosenberg.

TEU advocates new plan at Aoraki

The Otago Daily Times reports that Aoraki Polytechnic is considering a request by TEU that it establish replacement media courses at its Dunedin campus, as part of a review of courses. Aoraki is planning to cut 15 course programmes from campuses in Timaru, Dunedin, Oamaru, Ashburton and Christchurch - a move that might result in up to 20 job losses.

TEU organiser Kris Smith has been negotiating with the polytechnic to provide replacement study courses for Dunedin media programmes. A proposal to cull eight of the 12 Dunedin-taught media courses at Aoraki would put the entire Dunedin programme and campus at risk, Ms Smith says.

TEU members are arguing that the polytechnic could establish multimedia course qualifications, incorporating elements of the radio, television/film, web and advertising design courses. TEU also advocated for Aoraki's level 6 qualifications to be collapsed into one level 5 or 6 diploma incorporating television and film, 3-D animation, photography and creative writing.

"If the design of the programme was co-ordinated with Otago Polytechnic, the students could staircase at least 18 months' credit into the design degree at Otago Polytechnic."

A "rationalisation" of programmes between Aoraki and Otago could have resulted in the formation of an Otago School of Media, but this had fallen by the wayside as part of a senior management change last year, Ms Smith told the Otago Daily Times.

The Timaru Herald quotes from TEU's submission to Aoraki:

"It is clear from the council report [in] October ... that Aoraki has not yet met its budgeted [equivalent fulltime students]. To carve out 180 EFTS ... when there are obviously no sound plans for delivering alternate programmes makes no business sense."

A final decision on whether Aoraki will proceed with its move to cut courses and cull jobs is due by November 11, once a senior management team has reviewed a round of feedback and submissions from affected staff and students.

New Zealand doesn’t have to be a low wage country

With most political parties' employment relations policies now out CTU Policy Director Dr Bill Rosenberg says it is inescapable that National's policies, which weaken collective bargaining, will mean lower wages and salaries.

"Higher wages are affordable, even with current economic output and growth rates. And of course wages could be higher yet, if productivity increased faster – and the results of that were fairly shared with wage and salary earners," says Dr Rosenberg.

A look at historical average hourly wage statistics shows the real average wage was at its highest in March 1982 when it was $29.97 in June 2011 dollar terms. In June 2011, it was $26.27. The current level of the average wage is about the same as it was in December 1972, yet the output of the economy per person has grown considerably over that time.

"By comparison, Australia has thrived with more of its income going to wage and salary earners. In fact New Zealand has one of the lowest labour shares in the OECD."

"In theory, wages should rise as fast as labour productivity. New Zealand’s wage rises are far behind productivity growth. Measured labour productivity rose 52 percent between 1989 and 2010. The real average hourly wage rose just 16 percent."

"The economy and employers could afford higher wages – and higher superannuation contributions for their employees. An essential ingredient to change this is improving employee bargaining power through collective bargaining. Higher wages would not only have social benefits, but could lead to a high skill, high value economy."

Other news

Urgent support needed for locked out workers at CMP Meatworks Rangatikei. These 111 workers have now been locked out for 10 days as the boss tries to force them to agree to an up to 30 percent pay cut. The union members are prepared to bargain but the current offer is unjustified and unaffordable. You can donate food to NZNO in Palmerston North, or donate money to the 'Disputes Fund' account number: 38-9007-0894028-08 - CTU

TEU members at Te Tai Poutini and Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology will both be voting whether to ratify new collective agreements next week. TEU also had a formal facilitation with the University of Auckland over the on-going dispute about the academics' collective agreement. The recommendation from facilitation, and details of the two ratification votes, will be available shortly.

There is official confirmation that total student loan debt now exceeds $12 billion, highlighting just what a liability the Student Loan Scheme has become for the country. "It is ironic that in accounting terms the annual report refers to the scheme as a significant financial asset, when in reality this $12 billion debt manifests itself as a liability on individuals, the country, and our economy," - David Do, Co-President of NZUSA.

Canterbury University is pleading for at least another $150 million from the Government as it faces losing almost 20,000 students and $346m in revenue in the next eight years - The Press

Six industry training organisations have been given until February to improve their performance or face losing all taxpayer funding - New Zealand Herald

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