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TEU Tertiary Update Vol 15 No 29

Draper vs Francey presidential election starts next week

One result is certain following the election for TEU’s third national president; next year the union will have its first national president who comes from a polytechnic. But the rest of the details are still to be decided. One male and one female, one Aucklander and one Cantabrian, but both have been branch presidents and active national representatives within TEU for several years.

Lesley Francey, the Scotswoman turned South Aucklander, is a senior lecturer in English at the Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT). She says the biggest issue facing our members is preserving and protecting their conditions of employment.

“Restructuring and casualisation are impacting on the lives and livelihoods of members and if elected I would make these industrial issues my priority.”

“The threat to regional provision is also a major issue and one where I think the TEU could be more active in building public awareness of the implications.”

Richard Draper, from the shaky city, is a senior lecturer in communication at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT).

He says TEU must ensure that it focuses upon its core business - conditions for its members - and that its governance is prudent and effective.

“My role will be to promote our shared vision of a quality tertiary sector, and that we provide a strong voice for all of our members and for the wider union movement.”

“We also have an immediate challenge – to embed the new structures we envisioned at Conference last year and to make sure these deliver how they were intended. It will be my role to ensure this happens.”

You can read more about the candidates, and ask them questions at the TEU election webpage.

The election for TEU’s third national president opens on Monday next week, 27 August, and closes at 5pm Monday 10 September. All financial TEU members are eligible to vote. TEU’s national secretary and returning officer Sharn Riggs says all members who have an  email address in TEU’s database will receive an email with an unique link to the on-line ballot. Members without email addresses will receive a paper ballot in the post.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Industry training changes to amalgamate diverse system
  2. Minister takes second swipe at university councils
  3. Science institute will be ‘business-facing’
  4. TEU to award stalwart defenders of education
  5. TEU challenges compulsory recording of lectures at Auckland Uni
  6. Other news

VC challenged over breach of agreement

The on-going debate about an academic staff promotions policy that many staff at the University of Auckland thought was dormant has erupted again this week after the vice-chancellor presented a fully developed revised policy to union representatives without first inviting them to participate in its review and drafting.

The academic promotions policy was at the heart of the long-running industrial dispute during 2011.  Union members eventually agreed to see the policy removed from the collective agreement on the conditions that they had a guarantee within the collective agreement that the university would not change the policy without the active participation of union members in the process. That settlement followed an on-going bitter dispute that include several bouts of industrial action all based on the vice chancellor’s attempts to take control of these policies away from academics.

TEU branch co-president Paul Taillon says the vice-chancellor has breached that clause, 2.6 of the Academic Staff Collective Agreement, which sets out the principles as to how the promotion policy, as well as research and study leave and disciplinary policies, are to be reviewed.

“According to clause 2.6, if the employer wishes to review any of those policies, he must notify the union of his intention to do so. Then, we sit down and discuss how the review would take place. Moreover, in our view, the point of departure for any such review must be de novo, that is, the existing policy, not a proposal and revised policy that the employer has already developed.”

TEU told the vice-chancellor it will seek legal advice on the interpretation of the disputed clause. However the vice-chancellor has decided to proceed with his plan, having announced the review this week and scheduling ‘briefings’ with staff for next week.

“When we settled last year, I had thought we had reached an understanding that in the matter of these three policies we would work together to review and change them jointly in a spirit of collegiality and the best interests of the University,” said Paul Taillon. “Indeed, after settlement the VC expressed to us his desire to build better, more productive relations this year.”

At the branch’s  Annual General meeting yesterday, TEU members voted unanimously to endorse the following motion: 

“As members of the TEU at the University of Auckland, we condemn the -chancellor’s breach of clause 2.6 of the Academic Staff Collective Agreement in his stated intention to review the Academic Grades-Standards and Criteria policy. We endorse our branch in instructing the union’s solicitor in the area of litigation to bring about compliance.”

In the meantime, TEU members are urged not to engage with the vice-chancellor’s process and are advising members to not participate in the vice-chancellor’s briefings next week. Instead, the branch will mount Informational pickets outside each of the briefings. 

Industry training changes to amalgamate diverse system

The minister of tertiary education Steven Joyce is considering proposals to overhaul industry training rules including limiting the role of ITOs.

The government has had ITOs in its sights for reform since 2010, when it announced 44 percent of all trainees funded in 2008 and 2009 did not earn a single credit, even though the ITOs were being paid their training subsidies.

Earlier this month Steven Joyce announced a further round of consultation on his proposed changes to industry training.

“I have been particularly concerned to resolve the conflict that exists between the strategic role ITOs have been traditionally asked to play in leading the training system, and the operational role they have as one part of the training system.”

The review recommends that ITOs focus on two of their three current mandated roles: to support employers and trainees to succeed in industry training; and to continue in their roles as standard setters to ensure qualifications reflect the skills industry needs. The third role, skills leadership, will be handed over to industries themselves.

The review proposes to amalgamate all apprenticeships into Modern Apprenticeships so that all learners receive the same level of support regardless of age. The government will also be looking at reviewing the funding rate for industry training and apprenticeships.

“We are prepared to pay more per trainee for a more productive system if that is warranted, provided the total cost fits inside the total current appropriation,” said Mr Joyce.

The Council of Trade Union’s secretary Peter Conway has welcomed some of the changes but warned, “the comments the Minister has made on sustainable funding need to be clarified with a lot more detail. While they sound positive this Government has taken significant levels of funding out of industry training in the last few years.”

“The Minister has stated that industry itself should take over the strategic leadership role on skills from ITOs. It is important that ‘industry’ is not seen as employers alone and includes union views and contributions,” said Peter Conway.

Feedback on the changes is due to the Ministry of Education by 12 September 2012. The final changes will be implemented progressively over 2013 and 2014. TEU is consulting with its trades and industry training members before making a submission on behalf of members. The union is particularly interested to hear members’ views on whether the proposal clarifies the roles that ITOs and ITPs should hold in the sector.  If anyone has any issues they want TEU to raise in its submission, they should contact Jo Scott.

Minister takes second swipe at university councils

Tertiary education minister Steven Joyce has continued his criticism of university councils in the lead up to legislation to change the makeup of councils. reports that Steven Joyce suggested university councils were too large, at around twenty members, and “were often too slow to react to changing circumstances, not pursuing commercialisation of research as effectively as possible, and were lagging in their international education initiatives.”

However, TEU national president Sandra Grey said just because those are the core issues for the minister does not mean that they are core issues for universities.

“Universities have a legal duty under the Education Act to provide  advanced learning and research, developing intellectual independence, act as a repository of knowledge and expertise, and act as a critic and conscience of society. Those are their core duties, not the whims of the minister of the day.”

In 2009 the government stripped student, staff and community representation from polytechnic councils, cut council numbers, and ensured that ministerial appointees held a voting majority on all councils.

Sandra Grey says that was a poor decision and should not happen to university councils either.

“Even if it were true that universities are slower to react to commercial pressures than say merchant bankers or hedge fund traders, that is not a bad thing. Democratic university councils that represent local communities including staff and students will make more financially sound decisions in the long term than ministerially-appointed business directors who need to report a profit to their skittish minister.”

“University councils need to be independent from the minister, no matter what political persuasion, so that they focus on their legally required duties as internationally respected learning institutes, rather than chasing short term political goals,” said Sandra Grey.

Science institute will be ‘business-facing’

Scientists may be looking at the Sir Paul Callaghan Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) wondering where their science money went following an announcement this week that will see the ATI dominated by managing directors, consultants and executives. 

The government announced during its May budget that it was committing $166 million to develop the ATI. A large portion of that money came from savings made in the rest of its science and innovation budget (the Vote Science and Innovation budget rose $37 million, but the ATI will cost $166 million). 

During the budget this year, when the minister announced the ATI he linked it closely to investment in tertiary education and research.  This week however when he announced the ATI establishment board the role tertiary education research, and of research active scientists, seemed to be side-lined.

Despite most research in New Zealand coming from the public sector, and particularly universities, the ATI’s new board consists almost entirely of managing directors, executives and consultants from the private sector.  

“There is no representative from the tertiary education on the board. The board is high in managerial experience but short on practicing scientists and researchers,” said TEU national president Sandra Grey.

Steven Joyce described the ATI as ‘a one-stop shop that will help high-tech firms become more competitive by better connecting them with innovation and business development expertise’.

“It will focus on industries with significant growth potential such as food and beverage manufacturing, agri-technologies, digital technologies, health technologies and therapeutics manufacturing, and high-value wood products. This will encourage innovation, competition and greater commercialisation in these sectors,” Steven Joyce said.

TEU to award stalwart defenders of education

TEU is seeking nominees for its inaugural Awards of Excellence. The Awards of Excellence aim to support and promote the work of members who have demonstrated a commitment to academic freedom; to teaching and learning as a social good; to active defence of their profession; and, to activities which foster life-long learning for all. These awards are an important aspect of TEU’s commitment to enhancing the professional status of its members, through peer recognition.

“As an organisation protecting the many professions within tertiary education we see one of our central roles is to advance quality public tertiary education, “ said TEU national president Sandra Grey.  ”As part of that work, these awards will recognise individuals and groups who have made outstanding contributions to public tertiary education and to the union.”

The TEU Awards of Excellence can be made in one or more of the following categories; student learning and participation, supporting teaching and learning, professional integrity, and academic freedom. Nominations are currently open, and will close on 10 September 2012

TEU challenges compulsory recording of lectures at Auckland Uni

Some academics at the University of Auckland report they have instructions that they must record their lectures.

However, the university’s guidelines make it clear that lectures should only be recorded with the permission of the staff involved.

The union previously challenged the university’s right to record lectures without the lecturer’s permission in 2009, saying that it was an ethical matter as well as a matter of intellectual authorship.

At the time the local TEU branch said the university should give more consideration to how the recording of lectures impacts on ‘live’ lectures (as any attempt to ‘substitute’ recorded for live lectures must be seen as posing a serious threat to the quality of students’ educational experience), and the extent to which the process of recording restricts a teacher’s ability to deliver an effective teaching session. It also argued for procedures for how data would be stored and where, and for dealing with changes to a lecturer’s workload resulting from the additional demands these lectures place.

The staff guidelines that the university subsequently drafted state:

“Lectures should only be recorded with the permission of the staff involved. Lecturing staff in team-taught courses should reach a consensus decision about whether lectures in the course will be recorded.”

TEU branch co-president Paul Taillon says that the union can play a key role in monitoring and enforcing employee rights over issues such as these that might otherwise go unchallenged.

Other news

Labour says there are no guarantees for young people when it comes to the Government’s Youth Guarantee scheme. New figures show low course completion rates for the last-chance education programme, with an average of 40 percent of students not finishing. Labour’s Grant Robertson says the 700 or so dropouts from 2010 wasted an estimated $10 million in Government funding - Radio Live

Strikes, lock-outs, months of fighting and some very public bad blood – and still the Ports of Auckland (POA) dispute is far from over, according to Maritime Union New Zealand’s (MUNZ) President Gary Parsloe. Parsloe says union members are in the same position they were earlier this year – wanting to reach an agreement with Ports of Auckland to give port workers job security and stability -Te Waha Nui

“What do we want to be known most for?” That’s not the same as, “What do you want to do?” So we’ll keep doing a lot of things, but we actually have to be known for something to give us that halo effect. So you’re known for Science and Engineering, but you also do Law and Business and whatever - University of Canterbury Vice Chancellor Rod Carr to Canta Magazine

“Shortening the length of masters degrees is not about education, it’s about making money for the New Zealand education market. One of the things that is distinctive about New Zealand masters is that they have a very high research component. - which is good for New Zealand, it’s all about creating new ideas ,creating new knowledge and if you shorten the courses down you are going to take away quite a bit of the innovation and creativity. That is not good for a country - TEU President Sandra Grey to Radio NZ Checkpoint

A professor sent a mass e-mail to all of the students in his course when some of them argued that Christianity is a superior religion. Was he right to do so? Inside Higher Ed

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