AUS Tertiary Update

Published: Thu 27 Nov 2003 12:03 AM

Lincoln ordered to reinstate sacked worker
Lincoln Hospitality, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lincoln University, has been ordered to reinstate and compensate a worker who was dismissed following the expiry of a fixed-term employment agreement. Christchurch Employment Authority Member Helen Doyle has held that in the circumstances presented uncertainty of student numbers and uncertainty of staffing structures were not legitimate grounds for the use of fixed-term agreements.
The staff member had been employed at Lincoln University as a residential warden for around ten years on a series of fixed-term agreements. She was dismissed from her role as residential supervisor because another person was appointed to the position of Assistant Manager of Accommodations Services, one of the roles the worker had been performing. Ms Doyle found that, despite there being fluctuation in student numbers, the number of residential wardens had not altered in the last seven years and there was no immediate indication that there would be changes in the future. Similarly, she found that despite the restructuring, the worker continued to fill the same role as she had done for a number of years and that the key tasks and requirements of that role would continue.
Ms Doyle found there was no justification for the dismissal, nor were there any performance issues. There were, she said “what could only be described as outstanding references with the students over the years”.
Lincoln Hospitality was ordered to reinstate the dismissed worker into a continuing position, effective from 1 December, and ordered to pay arrears of wages from the time of dismissal. In addition, the worker was awarded $3,000 in compensation.
Rob Davidson, the lawyer acting for the dismissed worker, said it was a sound decision and that Lincoln Hospitality and other university employers needed to take note that uncertainty of staffing numbers, particularly when there was no direct consequence on staffing levels could not be used to justify the use of fixed-term agreements. “Many employers, including this one, have chosen to ignore that the law has changed and now gives workers greater protections,” he said.
AUS General Secretary Helen Kelly said the decision would be of particular interest to a number of university staff, particularly those working in language schools and on research projects, where there was a high incidence of fixed-term employment agreements.
Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. Call for security boss to be taken off Zaoui case
2. Applications Close For New Funding Option
3. Government to back Otago’s ‘Leading Thinkers’ programme
4. Universities plan major capital spending
5. AUT condemns Queen’s speech plans for variable top-up fees
6. Exeter researcher wins £63,000
Call for security boss to be taken off Zaoui case
The Association of University Staff has joined the call for the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Justice Laurie Greig, to be taken off the Ahmed Zaoui case, following what appear to be prejudicial statements made to the New Zealand Listener this week.
Justice Greig is currently reviewing classified security intelligence information which led to a Security Risk Certificate being issued against Mr Zaoui. His decision will assist the Minister of Immigration Lianne Dalziel determining whether or not Mr Zaoui will be deported.
Justice Greig is reported saying that “as a New Zealander . . . we don’t want lots of people coming in on false passports (that they’ve) thrown down the loo”. He goes on to say that if he was to make the decision, rather than Ms Dalziel, Mr Zaoui would be “outski on the next plane”.
AUS National President Dr Bill Rosenberg said that such comments were extraordinary for a person in a quasi-judicial position, but even more so in the exceptionally serious circumstances of the case. “The public have repeatedly been told to trust the process, despite its secrecy and despite its admitted unfairness,” said Dr Rosenberg. “How are the public, and even more crucially, Mr Zaoui, to trust a process when such remarks have been made by the only person who is not an SIS operative who may scrutinise the actual evidence it says it holds”.
“Justice Greig’s comments are made all the more serious by the fact that this is a decision which, if it goes against Mr Zaoui, will most likely lead to his death. He and the Minister of Immigration are in effect deciding on an immigration case in which capital punishment is the penalty,” said Dr Rosenberg.
“AUS has consistently opposed this and similar legislation which strips people of their basic human rights. Today it is Mr Zaoui who is its unfortunate victim. Tomorrow it could be a New Zealander. It is all too easily used to suppress dissenting voices and controversial ideas.”
Mr Zaoui, a former university professor, has been cleared of any terrorist connections by the New Zealand Refugee Status Appeals Authority which granted him refugee status in August. Mr. Zaoui remains detained in the Auckland Central Remand Prison.
Applications Close For New Funding Option
Eleven applications have been received from eight tertiary education providers for a new government funding initiative, Partnerships for Excellence, which enables tertiary education institutions to seek matching funding from government for large-scale investment projects if it is matched by private sector investment.
Public tertiary institutions were invited to put forward proposals for projects valued over $10 million. The close-off date for this year’s round of applications was Friday, 21 November.
“I am pleased to see that there is interest in developing partnerships within the tertiary education sector,” says Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) Deputy Chair and Partnerships for Excellence applications panel chair, Kaye Turner. “It is to all New Zealanders’ advantage that there are closer working relationships between tertiary education providers and their stakeholders, such as local government, business and other private organisations. TEC is encouraging greater partnerships, capability and excellence in the tertiary education sector.”
The proposals will be assessed by the TEC and decisions will be announced during the second quarter of 2004.
Government to back Otago’s ‘Leading Thinkers’ programme
Associate Education (Tertiary) Minister Steve Maharey announced this week that the government would invest $25 million in the University of Otago’s ‘Leading Thinkers’ advancement programme,.
The funding will come from the new Partnerships for Excellence public-private sector tertiary education investment facility. The University is to seek matching funding from private sector donors.
The Leading Thinkers programme will see the University recruiting internationally renowned academics to head up 25 new ‘knowledge leader’ projects. The projects will primarily build from disciplines in which the University already has acknowledged strength: health sciences; science and biotechnology; industry, business and management, and sustainability.
Steve Maharey said the Leading Thinkers advancement programme is closely aligned to the government’s Tertiary Education Strategy, which aims to foster excellence, relevance and access across the tertiary education system.
Universities plan major capital spending
Waikato University is planning to spend nearly $70 million over the next five years on upgrading its Hamilton campus, including spending up to $57 million on new facilities, a $2.5 million general campus revamp and $7.1 million on upgrading existing facilities.
Some of the biggest proposals include $15 million on new space for Waikato’s Management School facilities, up to $13 million on new buildings for a number of schools and $10 million for a new Information Commons.
Meanwhile, Massey University is finalising a 10 year plan to spend around $50 million on redeveloping the College of Sciences, the students’ centre, the library and the registry.
AUT condemns Queen’s speech plans for variable top-up fees
The Association of University Teachers (AUT) has condemned an announcement in yesterday’s Queen’s Speech which confirmed the government’s plans to introduce variable top-up fees in the UK. It will allow universities to increase tuition fees to £3,000, a move which has been criticised by students, unions and universities.
The latest surveys shows that 84% of the public is opposed to the plans and just 12% in favour. AUT general secretary Sally Hunt said she was particularly disappointed by the decision to persist with the plans. “The fact the Government is pressing ahead with the proposals for variable top-up fees makes an absolute mockery of its consultation exercise,” she said. “Students have said no. Lecturers have said no. Former ministers have said no. The public has said no. But, still the Government seems determined to force these plans through”.
At least 100 Labour MPs including Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary, will launch a mass revolt against Tony Blair's plans to introduce the top-up fees. In a fresh gesture of defiance against the prime minister they will follow up the Queen's Speech with a Commons motion condemning the plan.
Education secretary Charles Clarke intends to bring the higher education bill to an early vote in the Commons next month in an attempt to get perhaps the most controversial piece of legislation this side of the general election out of the way as soon as possible.
Exeter researcher wins £63,000
Exeter University in the UK has been ordered to pay almost £63,000 to a PhD researcher who abandoned his research into assisted suicides after a dispute with his departmental ethics committee over the confidential nature of his work.
The lord chancellor, as Exeter University's visitor, took the unprecedented step of awarding compensation to the Canadian criminologist who studied in the UK between 1995 and 1998.
The researcher had complained about ‘irregularities’ in the university's support for his research after he had interviewed more than 100 people, on a confidential basis, in the UK, Canada, the Netherlands and the US to explore assisted suicide and euthanasia among people with Aids.
Because many of the interviewees had direct involvement in acts of euthanasia and assisted suicide, they were promised absolute confidentiality, made necessary because aiding suicide is punishable by up to 14 years' imprisonment in the UK and committing euthanasia carries a life sentence.
Exeter University initially provided a written assurance that it would ‘support and sustain’ the researcher in protecting the identities of interviewees, but later gave ‘the clear impression’ that it was not prepared to recognise the obligation of confidentiality”.
A committee of inquiry at Exeter upheld four of the researcher’s nine complaints, saying that the ethical approval of the PhD research was mishandled and demonstrated serious incompetence and subsequent mismanagement by the department.
Tertiary Update is compiled weekly on Thursdays by the Association of University Staff
PO Box 11 767 Wellington, New Zealand. Phone (+64 4) 915 6690, Fax (+64 4) 915 6699
Back issues are archived on the AUS website:
Direct enquiries to Marty Braithwaite, AUS Communications Officer, email:

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