In our lead story this week…..
AUS REACTION TO LATEST TEAC REPORT
The National President of the Association of University Staff, Neville Blampied has welcomed the Tertiary Advisory
Commission's (TEAC) third report as "a welcome affirmation that a strategic direction is vital for the sector". Speaking
in Christchurch, Mr Blampied pointed out that this was a significant change after more than a decade in which there had
been no national vision for tertiary education, no clear appreciation of what the sector should be contributing to
national development and systematic and gross underfunding. He welcomed the report's emphasis on the link between
resources and quality and its recommendation that government should commit itself to “significant and predictable growth
in public investment” in tertiary education. Mr Blampied also supported the report's emphasis on increasing
participation in tertiary education of those who are currently excluded, as well as ensuring New Zealand produced
world-class research and scholarship. He said, however, that this emphasis on the 'two ends' should not be at the
expense of the heart of the system, namely first degree and diploma programmes. Mr Blampied also identified gaps in the
report, saying that it contained no recognition of the need to address the loss of highly-qualified staff, unrealistic
workloads and other staffing issues that affected quality. He was also critical of a report recommendations to
'unbundle' component parts of the education service. To do that, he said, would threaten the professional integrity of
academic work. Looking ahead to TEAC's final report, Mr Blampied urged the Commission and the Minister to ensure it
dealt with staffing as well as capacity in the system. Without the staff capability, he said, "the system is nothing".
Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Average pay packets grow 4.5% - academics’ pay 1.5%
2. English language test for Canterbury’s foreign students
3. Waikato out of the red
4. Award to Otago researchers
5. UK university union secretary goes to Labour Party
6. Call for emphasis on research quality
7. East Timor university rising from ashes
8. Casual staff on up-and-up
AVERAGE PAY PACKETS GROW 4.5% - ACADEMICS’ PAY 1.5%
A survey of New Zealand business has shown salaries are growing at a faster rate than in previous years. Recruitment
agency TMP Worldwide surveyed 550 employers and found that on average, salaries had increased by 4.5% this year,
compared with increases of between one and three percent in the previous two years. The increases, those surveyed said,
were to ensure salaries remained competitive as the costs of finding good staff rose. In contrast, pay increases in that
period for university academic staff averaged 1.5%.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEST FOR CANTERBURY’S FOREIGN STUDENTS
The University of Canterbury is to impose an English language test on foreign students who enrol from New Zealand
secondary schools. Currently, foreign students can enter university from an NZ secondary school with little or no
English competency. The university’s new entry requirement will not apply to permanent residents.
WAIKATO OUT OF THE RED
Waikato University has unexpectedly found itself in the black financially after forecasting a deficit of $3.1m. Instead,
unbudgeted income of $3.3m. saw the budget move in to surplus to the tune of $760,000. Much of the surplus was from
income from external research carried out by the university. Waikato now expects to end the year with a surplus of $1m.
The university's financial services director, Ken Housley, said international student enrolments would be analysed after
revenue failed to reach budget forecasts, despite the fact that recruitment targets had been met.
REWARD TO OTAGO RESEARCHERS
Eminent University of Otago researchers, Emiritus Professor Jim Flynn and Professor Charles Higham, have been honoured
with awards. The two are each receiving a medal and $10,000 in recognition of their contribution. The awards are
presented for outstanding achievement in the discovery and dissemination of knowledge, developing innovative technology,
or development of concepts which enhance university activities. Professor Flynn, whose discipline is political studies,
is known for his work with intelligence testing. Professor Higham, an anthropologist, is a leading world authority on
the pre-history of Southeast Asian countries.
UK UNIVERSITY UNION SECRETARY GOES TO LABOUR PARTY
The General Secretary of the Association of University Teachers (AUT) in the United Kingdom, David Triesman, has been
appointed General Secretary of the Labour Party. The AUT President, Alan Carr, paid tribute to Mr Triesman's
contribution to higher education, saying he had been a "superb ambassador" who had raised the profile of universities,
protected and promoted the interests of staff and contributed to trade union unity.
CALL FOR EMPHASIS ON RESEARCH QUALITY
The Dean of Arts at Melbourne University has called for more weighting to be given to quality when it comes to research
funding. Stuart Macintyre was speaking at a conference in Canberra on "The Idea of a University". Professor Macintyre
said core disciplines in science, social sciences and humanities were especially disadvantaged by the emphasis on
research activity as a criterion for funding. These areas, he said, found it harder to attract industry funding, which
went to the biological and technological sciences. He suggested Australia should follow the British system, where
discipline panels evaluated research performance on a qualitative basis. This approach, he said, was far more conducive
to breadth and excellence.
EAST TIMOR UNIVERSITY RISING FROM ASHES
Work is going on at East Timor's university as the new institution consolidates from the decades of Indonesian rule, and
the violence that accompanied the state's battle for independence. Workmen are currently working on a new library for
the university using funds from the United States Agency for International Development. The university was officially
opened on November 17, 2000, and in its first year of operation has had 4,000 full-time students. Another 1500 students
who failed to score high enough in entrance examinations have been accepted into a year-long programme to prepare them
for university studies in the future. A research centre has also been set up and among its projects is one charting
price variations for basic food commodities. The price of basic foodstuffs has fluctuated violently, hurting family
budgets. The research is aimed at developing proposals for stabilising prices.
CASUAL STAFF ON UP-AND-UP
The number of casual staff employed at Australian universities has doubled over the past 10 years, with 18% of academic
staff now on casual contracts. The Chief Executive of the Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee, John Mullarvey said
the dramatic rise was due to the government's cuts to university operating grants. Salary levels were also a deterrent
to people entering academe. The Minister of Education, David Kemp rejected that funding was the issue, saying that the
rise in casual staff was part of the changing pattern of employment resulting from the universities' own decisions.
Meanwhile, Ted Murphy of the National Tertiary Education Union said the big growth in casual teaching staff was changing
the nature of university teaching. "On a teaching level, casuals are much more limited in the range of tasks that they
can do. And insofar as teaching is informed by research, when you do have such a growth in teaching-only casual
employment, then you are changing the nature of teaching," he said. [Monitoring trends in the employment of casual staff
in New Zealand universities is inhibited by inadequate data – but reports indicate similar trends here]
AUS Tertiary Update is produced weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the union and others. Back
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