AUS Tertiary Update Vol.3 No.26

Published: Thu 24 Aug 2000 12:39 AM

Funding for students in private training establishments has increased from around $7 million in 1998 to $71 million this year, while $110 million has been cut from public tertiary education in the last three years.
AUS President Neville Blampied said members were alarmed to hear the tertiary education funding figures released by Associate Minister (Tertiary Education), Steve Maharey last weekend.
“While the number of funded student places in PTEs has increased by 31.2%, government subsidies for these students have increased by a massive 322.8%.”
Mr Blampied said this year’s increase represents a permanent reduction to public tertiary education funding of around $50 million per annum, added to the $60 million Jenny Shipley removed from the sector in 1998 to cope with the ‘Asian crisis’.
“As AUS members at Massey and Victoria know only too well, public tertiary education in New Zealand is on the brink of a catastrophe of mass redundancies, abolition of courses, and loss of key research programmes and capacities, all caused by the cumulative effects of persistent under-funding,” said Mr Blampied.
He called for the Government to act decisively to restore these savage cuts.
Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Cyberuni Reappears
2. Industrial Action Planned at Massey
3. Modest Enrolment Increase Estimated for 2000
4. Singapore Treaty Text Agreed
An organisation calling itself ‘World School Hastings’ advertised in the New Zealand Herald this week for tutors and teaching faculty with masters degrees.
Described as a subsidiary of ‘Cyberuni Org, inc’ (sic), a New Zealand owned and managed Californian Corporation, it claims that it will be offering university level courses next year in NZ Dip Bus, Information Technology, Gender Studies, NZ Literature, Core Mathematics, Statistics and Science courses, Philosophy/Ethics.
In an indictment of Government’s attitude to the funding of private training establishments (see above), World School claims that “…through a combination of tight financial control, committed staff, and community support, we do not intend to charge fees to students eligible for New Zealand's Universal Tertiary Tuition Allowance subsidy…”
AUS sought an assurance from the Ministry of Education last year that Cyberuni was operating within the constraints of the Education Act 1989 and is currently following this matter up.
Union members at Massey University voted last week to reject the university’s offer on the collective employment contract and also to begin an industrial campaign.
A complete withdrawal of goodwill and a 24-hour strike scheduled for 1 September kick off the campaign.
The action comes after five months of dispute with the University’s senior managers over their stewardship of Massey University, including controversial downsizing and cost-cutting.
Joint unions' action committee spokesperson, Dr Karen Rhodes said the deteriorating working conditions that would result from accepting this contract were the key concern of members, rather than money.
“Although management has conceded some issues in an attempt to gain an ‘interim contract', they have signalled more clawbacks of current conditions for next year. We find this whittling away of conditions totally unacceptable,” said Dr Rhodes.
While growth in tertiary student numbers is predicted to remain modest this academic year, the Government wants to see higher levels of participation in post-school education and training.
Ministry of Education figures released by Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey this week showed that 160,282 equivalent fulltime students (EFTS) were enrolled at tertiary institutions in 1999, with a 1.8% increase in EFTS enrolments expected in 2000.
Wananga, polytechnic and college of education EFTS were predicted to increase by 61%, 3% and 4% respectively in 2000, but university EFTS were predicted to increase by just 0.1%.
“The new measures we have already implemented such as freezing tertiary fees next year and stopping the accumulation of interest on loans while students are studying are making tertiary education more affordable to the many New Zealanders for whom cost had become a barrier,” Steve Maharey said.
A Closer Economic Partnership agreement with Singapore is a step closer. Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton announced that the text for the agreement had been agreed and after consideration by Cabinet it will be tabled in the House and referred to the Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Trade select committee for consideration.
Although the Government has refused to release the actual text, it has admitted that it plans to extend New Zealand's existing commitments to trade in education services under the WTO. AUS is vigorously monitoring this matter and continues to have deep concerns about its implications for public tertiary education.
Michael Irving, former Vice-Chancellor of Victoria University has apparently ‘retired’ to the Queensland’s Gold Coast, where he is now Professor of Health Sciences at Bond University – a private university.
His website bio-pic tells us that he retired from Victoria University in 2000. During his time there, we are informed that “he completed a major reform of the University administration, developed new courses in Health Sciences, implemented new research initiatives, expanded the University campuses, co-ordinated the Centenary celebrations of the University, and significantly increased the enrolment of international students at the University.” And not a golden handshake in sight!
The Association of the USP Staff has demanded a tightening of security in the wake of an alleged assault last week by USP Students’ Association President Veresi Bainivualiku on an Indo-Fijian student.
The Staff Association also wanted the University’s security officers investigated amid reports they are taking a ‘racial approach’ while carrying out their duties.
The letter to the Registrar says: “AUSPS is concerned about the threats made by the USPSA President on USP staff and we wish to inform you (Registrar) that if you fail to provide security to the staff at the University then your office will held responsible.”
AUS Tertiary Update is produced weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the union and others. Back issues are archived on the AUS website:

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