AUS Tertiary Update

Published: Thu 25 Sep 2003 11:28 AM

Research consultation proposal approved
A controversial proposal requiring University of Otago researchers to consult with Ngai Tahu before undertaking research was passed by the university’s council this week. The policy, requiring consultation on “all research likely to result in project research”, applies to both externally and internally funded research. Consultation is defined in the policy as informing parties about relevant information; listening with an open mind; and reaching a decision that may or may not alter the original proposal.
University of Otago vice-chancellor, Dr Graeme Fogelberg, said the policy would not give Ngai Tahu power of veto over the research and guaranteed confidentiality and ownership of intellectual property to the university and staff. He said the iwi has undertaken to try and meet the timeframes required for consultation on research projects which were reliant on external funding. The policy says that consultation should be genuine and not just cosmetic.
After being approved by senate, a body of senior academics and managers, last month the policy went to council, but was sent back for further consultation after what was described as a passionate debate.
Earlier this week senate again approved the policy and it was returned to council for further deliberation at its meeting on Tuesday. A secret ballot of council members saw the policy passed by 12 votes to two.
One staff representative said that academic staff were still unclear about the implications of the policy and raised questions about cost, the effect on academic freedom and whether consultation would extend to teaching.
Ngai Tahu council representative Edward Ellison said Ngai Tahu wanted to add value to the research process and strongly supported academic freedom. Other council, student and staff representatives spoke in favour, saying the proposal had been endorsed twice by senate.
Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. Concern at public-private sector tertiary education investment framework
2. Manukau university study planned
3. AUS leader elected to NZCTU post
4. Applications for eCDF and IDF extended
5. Israeli cabinet votes to withhold university funds
6. Australian VCs about face, Sydney reneges on salary offer
7. London strikes on
Concern at public-private sector tertiary education investment framework
Concern has been expressed at the development of a new public-private sector investment framework announced this week by government.
The Partnerships for Excellence facility enables tertiary institutions to seek matching funding from government for large-scale investment projects (generally those valued at $10 million or more). It has been established to encourage greater private sector investment in tertiary education and to foster better linkages between tertiary institutions, business and industry.
Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary), Steve Maharey, said the Partnerships for Excellence facility will create a climate for joint private-public sector investment to increase the capability of the public tertiary education sector to respond to New Zealand’s social and economic development needs.
Association of University Staff (AUS) National President, Dr Bill Rosenberg, says concerns expressed last year about the increasing dependency of universities on the private sector funding are heightened by the announcement. “We would have expected academic issues to be safeguarded in the conditions and criteria as part of the framework. Instead there is a focus only on financial safeguards,” he said. “This highlights the government’s increased reliance on private funding of New Zealand's public institutions. Steadily increasing dependency of the universities on private funding will inevitably lead to challenges to their independence. In particular pressures will increase on staff not to comment unfavourably on commercial interests”.
The government has already decided to contribute $25 million towards the development of a new business school at the University of Auckland, subject to matching contributions being obtained from donors, and Ministers will shortly be considering a proposal for a $25 million ‘Advancement Programme’ proposal by the University of Otago.
Manukau university study planned
The Manukau City Council has commissioned the Tertiary Education Research Project to look into the education needs of the city. The $125,000 study will find out whether Manukau needs its own university.
The council has been pushing for a Manukau-based university since last year when it invited tertiary institutes to put forward proposals for a campus in the city centre.
It decided in July to commission the study to help with the decision. The study will gather information on Manukau's tertiary education and research needs, tertiary enrolment levels, demand for courses, skills forecasting and the social and economic impact of a new institute.
The council is funding $95,000 of the study and the other $30,000 will be picked up by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC). The research is due for completion in March 2004.
Manukau City Council education and employment planner Annette Smithard says the study will look at all the influences on Manukau people getting into tertiary education and succeeding. The council needs to determine what the needs of the city are and will look at a range of factors, from the type of courses offered to transport options in Manukau, Ms Smithard says.
Both the Manukau Institute of Technology and the University of Waikato are vying to provide university education in the city
AUS leader elected to CTU post
AUS General Secretary, Helen Kelly, has been elected as the vice-president of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU). She replaces Darien Fenton of the Service and Food Workers Union who has decided not to seek re-election. Current NZCTU President Ross Wilson and Secretary Carol Beaumont have been re-elected for a further four years.
Helen Kelly, who will remain as General Secretary of AUS, brings a wealth of education experience to the NZCTU. She has held several senior positions within AUS and NZEI and is currently an NZCTU representative on the Government’s Pay Equity Taskforce
Applications for eCDF and IDF extended
Tertiary education organisations have an extra two weeks to bid for the $34 million of new funding for innovative and e-learning projects. The e-Learning Collaborative Development Fund (eCDF) and the Innovation and Development Fund (IDF) make available $34 million for projects that build capability within the tertiary education system.
The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) has agreed to the extension because of the strict timetables around Charters and Profiles and the PBRF. The final deadline is now Friday 10 October 2003.
Israeli cabinet votes to withhold university funds
A cabinet decision last week to condition government support of Israel's public universities on their administrative reform has aroused the opposition of faculty groups and the Council for Higher Education, the country's accrediting and policy-making body for higher education.
A statement issued by the council says that the decision would make the Ministry of Finance the arbiter of whether a university had instituted the required reform, a shift that would constitute "gross intervention in the professional judgment of the Council for Higher Education".
In approving the national budget for 2004, the cabinet stipulated that any university that did not make reforms along the lines of those recommended by a public commission on university governance would lose 30 percent of its state funds.
The public commission advocated replacing the structure used by five of Israel's seven traditional public universities with a more streamlined system similar to that used by many American universities. The reform would eliminate the post of rector, an academic chief elected by the universities' faculty senates, and would strengthen the post of president. Deans would be appointed by the president, not the senate.
Australian VCs about face, Sydney reneges on salary offer
One day after Australian vice-chancellors told the Australian government that its workplace relations requirements were unworkable, the University of Sydney has reneged on signing an employment agreement for all staff which proposes salary increases of up to 18% over the next three years.
Sydney University’s decision followed the announcement by Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Abbot, that universities will lose $404 million in public funding unless they force staff to accept a range of hard line industrial conditions, including the introduction of individual agreements.
Earlier in the week the Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee (AVCC) told government there had been a "categoric rejection" of proposed industrial relations reforms linked with university funding. The AVCC told a Senate Employment Relations and Education Reference Committee hearing that the intrusive nature of the requirements would jeopardise the autonomy of individual universities.
A meeting of University of Sydney staff yesterday condemned the decision to renege on signing the agreement and endorsed a two week campaign of industrial action unless the decision is reversed.
London strikes on
Staff at four of London’s universities went on strike on Monday this week and others are due to follow as protest action heats up at the lack of progress in negotiations over the London Weighting. Union members across London will take industrial action aimed at causing maximum disruption to universities at the start of the new academic year, with action planned though until early October. The strikes will take place for two days at each institution, depending on their registration timetable.
Staff are angry that an allowance paid to offset some of the additional costs of living in London has been held to £2,134 for 11 years. Despite a commitment by university employers to negotiate the matter, after industrial action in February, the Association of University Teachers (AUT) said there has been no headway.
In a new development action has been suspended in four universities where employers have made offers to increase the London Weighting by around 9% by 1 August next year.
AUS Tertiary Update is compiled weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the union and others. Back issues are archived on the AUS website: Direct enquires to Marty Braithwaite, AUS Communications Officer, email:

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