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TEU Tertiary Update Vol 15 No 14

No money in budget, just shuffling and cuts

The prime minister, John Key, and the minister of tertiary education skills and employment, Steven Joyce, this week foreshadowed several tertiary education budget initiatives.

Mr Joyce told Radio New Zealand that he would be shifting funding away from humanities and commerce towards maths, science, engineering and technology.

"We pay a higher subsidy for humanities and commerce than the Australians do, we pay a lower subsidy for science and engineering."

"That tends to mean that universities are a bit more biased towards those other subjects because we end up paying, probably, a little bit more than they need to encourage those subjects and not enough for the science, technology and engineering subjects," Mr Joyce said.

His statements follow a Tertiary Education Commission edict to tertiary institutions to increase enrolments next year in science, technology, engineering and maths and, if necessary, to cut other courses to do that.

Meanwhile Mr Key told business leaders it would be another zero budget, and, to help achieve that, people with student loans, who currently pay back 10 cents for each dollar they earn, will have to pay them back faster.  Then Mr Joyce said that the government would cut allowance costs by ensuring allowances are targeted at those in the early years of study and to those that can least afford it.

NZUSA president Pete Hodkinson said that any cuts to allowances would reduce access, denying New Zealanders an opportunity to improve their lives, and would lead to greater debt.

Also in Tertiary Update this week :

  1. University tried to sell theatre and film studies to CPIT
  2. Victorian skills training savaged in state budget
  3. Public education workers benefit from union membership
  4. Growing gender pay gap
  5. Other news

University tried to sell theatre and film studies to CPIT

The University of Canterbury was trying to offload its theatre and film studies department to the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT) according to documents TEU obtained under the Official Information Act this week. 

The university told staff and students on 26 March that it proposed to close theatre and film studies, American studies and cultural studies departments. However the papers show that it had already been working behind the scenes to get rid of theatre and film studies since at least last August.

The released documents show deputy vice-chancellor Ian Town met polytechnic chief executive Kay Giles on August 18 last year, when they discussed a proposal from Prof Town to move theatre and film studies from the university to CPIT.

A university spokesman told the Christchurch Pressyesterday that talks with CPIT were not  publicised because they were commercially sensitive.

"No decision has been made to discontinue the programme and no commitments were made to CPIT," he said.

Theatre and film studies department co-ordinator Associate Professor Sharon Mazer told The Press she was "shocked and appalled" the university had held "secret conversations" since August.

She questioned how staff could offer input to the proposal when the process was so far along.

In an email to Ms Giles and other CPIT managers on March 6, the polytechnic's dean of creative industries Jane Gregg said it would be "highly risky" to get involved.

"I think clearly this is not a proposition that has very much in it for us, if it is enacted as they seem to envisage."

In earlier emails, Dr Gregg told Ms Giles she was "worried about getting dragged into a long-standing historical issue".

Victorian skills training savaged in state budget

Australian TAFEs in Victoria (equivalent to New Zealand polytechnics) could be forced to shut down or amalgamate after the state government slashed spending to 80 percent of vocational courses as part of $100 million in cuts to skills funding.

The Melbourne Agereports TAFEs (Technical and Further Education institutions) are reeling after the government announced drastic cuts to fee subsidies. The cuts will lead to sharp fee increases for students and are expected to result in courses being abolished and job losses.

The Victorian Government cut the government subsidy for most vocational courses after demand burgeoned in recent years. The subsidy, originally expected to cost the government $900 million this financial year, has surged to $1.3 billion. Spending will be cut to $1.2 billion next financial year.

The government has slashed funding for up to 80 percent of courses -- some from $7 down to as little as $1.50 an hour - and abolished extra funding to cover TAFEs' obligations as public providers.

TAFEs will receive the same level of funding as private colleges, which typically pay lower wages and offer less in student amenities, such as libraries, and services such as childcare.

Holmesglen and Bendigo TAFEs immediately sent out internal memos warning their staff of cuts.

Australian Education Union state president Mary Bluett said rural TAFEs were particularly vulnerable to closure or amalgamation.

"Wodonga will struggle, as will Barwon South West TAFE and some of the Gippsland campuses," Ms Bluett said.

"There is even talk about handing over TAFE facilities to private providers for them to run programs."

The Victorian Government said TAFE funding rates would be brought in line with private-sector providers, boosting competition and choice.

"The government will work with TAFEs to develop new business models and leverage their established strengths in a more competitive training market," the budget paper said.

TEU's academic vice-president for the polytechnic sector, Richard Draper and national secretary Sharn Riggs have sent a message of solidarity to Australian Education Union members in the affected TAFEs, saying the new budget initiatives are short sighted and hugely damaging.

Public education workers benefit from union membership

Public sector employees in education and training received average salary and wage rises over the last year of 2.4 percent (ordinary time, not including overtime) compared to an average rise of 2.0 percent for all workers. However private sector employees in education and training received pay increases lower than the national average. Their average salary and wages rose 1.8 percent over the last year.

One of the major differences between public and private sector workers in the education and training sector is most public sector education workers belong to a strong national union, whereas very few private sector employees belong to unions or have a collective employment agreement, which they can use to negotiate a pay rise.

Statistics NZ's labour cost index data shows that the most common reasons employers gave for awarding pay rises in the last year were either to match a rise in the cost of living, or because of the existence of a collective employment agreement, and union members with whom they needed to negotiate at their worksites.  Most surveyed employers said they were unlikely to give pay raises for other reasons such as to match market rates, or to attract or retain staff.

Growing gender pay gap

The Quarterly Employment Survey data released at the same time as the labour cost index data shows that the pay gap between men and women has grown by 28 cents per hour in the last year.  Men are paid an average of $28.66 per hour and women earn $24.91 per hour.

TEU women's vice president Alex Sims said it is forty years since the Equal Pay Act 1972 was passed, yet women continue to be paid less than men for doing the same type of work, and occupations that are dominated by women are less valued and lower paid than equivalent male dominated occupations.

"Indeed, far from the gap between men’s and women’s earnings closing, the latest Quarterly Employment Survey shows that the pay gap between men and women has grown by 28 cents per hour in the last year." 

Associate Professor Sims says the Quarterly Employment Survey cannot be dismissed as a mere blip.

"In the past nine quarters, the male ordinary time wage has increased by a greater percentage than the female ordinary time wage on seven occasions; only twice did the female ordinary wage increase at a higher rate than the male wage."

Other news

A report by Deloitte shows that New Zealand academic salaries are up to twenty percent lower than Australian academic salaries and lower than academic salaries in Canada and the United States. The report reinforces that, given the academic workforce operates within an increasingly competitive global labour market, there will continue to be considerable stress on New Zealand universities in maintaining their academic staff - Universities NZ

The Government’s Budget on 24 May will include a zero "operating allowance" for new spending rather than the already very low $800 million the Prime Minister was confident about as recently as February. A zero operating allowance means that any "new" spending announcements will have to be paid for from cuts or "efficiencies" elsewhere. "New" spending can include spending on existing services to cater for population growth and aging. "Efficiencies" are often just cuts, but we may not know what the cuts are until months later - CTU Economist Dr Bill Rosenberg

A Colmar Brunton survey of 220 students found that 22 percent expect to be earning more than $100,000 a year by the time they are 30. Three-quarters expect to earn at least $60,000 by that time. However, the latest figures from Statistics New Zealand show the average wage for those with a bachelor's degree or higher was $43,000 per year - Radio NZ Checkpoint

When the global financial crisis hit in 2008, it looked at first as if many European universities were going to escape the worst. Four years in, that is no longer the case. With governments facing unyielding international pressure to reduce deficits by curbing public spending, universities in Britain, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and Portugal are suffering from their most painful cuts in decades - The Chronicle

Quarterly Employment Survey data released by Statistics NZ today shows that that the number of full time equivalent jobs in education and training fell by 3.6 percent over the last year. The data does not show in what sector of education and training these jobs disappeared, but within the tertiary sector, there have been on-going restructuring and redundancies as a response to government budget cuts - TEU nationa president Dr Sandra Grey

"As teachers, it’s our professional duty to speak out against all kind of bullying behaviour, whether physical, verbal or indirect; whether in the community, the classroom, on computer screens or mobile phones, particularly when different studies show that bullying is on the rise, undermining efforts to enhance quality education", said Education International General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwenendorsing the 'Stand 4 Change' Day against bullying on 4 May.

"The simple facts are staring us in the face. If we want more successful organisations we need to set about ensuring a gender balance in our workplaces and aiming for equal pay. When we set about reducing the gender wage gap, the bottom-line benefits will not be far behind." - chief executive of the Employers and Manufacturers Association, Kim Campbell

In the early 1900s, Ford Motor ran dozens of tests to discover the optimum work hours for worker productivity.  They discovered that the "sweet spot" is 40 hours a week–and that, while adding another 20 hours provides a minor increase in productivity, that increase only lasts for three to four weeks, and then turns negative - Inc. magazine


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