AUS Tertiary Update

Published: Thu 23 Oct 2008 09:07 AM
New Zealand gets first half-million-dollar VC
Despite his university having slipped fifteen places in the Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings, the University of Auckland’s vice-chancellor, Stuart McCutcheon, has become New Zealand’s first half-million-dollar VC. According to the 2008 State Services Commission’s annual report, Professor McCutcheon received a remuneration package in 2007 worth between $520,000 and $529,999, up by an estimated $50,000 or more than 10.6 percent over his 2006 remuneration. His increase was more than twice that paid to his staff and follows his increase of more than 14 percent between 2005 and 2006.
Professor McCutcheon becomes the second-highest-remunerated public servant, among those whose packages are reported by the State Services Commission, just behind the chief executive of the Ministry of Social Development, who received between $530,000 and $539,999. During the same period, the prime minister was paid $375,000.
Also receiving more than $520,000 in 2007 was Massey University’s former vice-chancellor, Professor Judith Kinnear, but, according to the report, that total included payments relating to previous periods. She received remuneration of $320,000 in 2006.
The next-best-remunerated vice-chancellor in 2007 was Professor David Skegg from the University of Otago, who received between $460,000 and $469,999, up 15 percent on 2006, followed by the recently departed University of Canterbury vice-chancellor, Professor Roy Sharp, who received between $450,000 and $459,999, an increase of around 12.5 percent.
The biggest increase went to Lincoln University’s Professor Roger Field, whose total remuneration jumped by a staggering 23 percent, from between $280,000 and $289,999 in 2006 to between $340,000 and $349,999 in 2007. At the same time, Lincoln University’s staff received the lowest overall salary increases of any New Zealand university at 5.2 percent for academic staff and 3.73 percent for general staff.
The remuneration packages paid to other vice-chancellors were between $400,000 and $409,999 to AUT’s Derek McCormack (up 14 percent), between $360,000 and $369,999 to Victoria’s Professor Pat Walsh (up 11 percent), and between $340,000 and $349,999 (up a modest 6.25 percent) to Waikato’s Professor Roy Crawford. All are included in the top-ten remuneration packages paid to the chief executives of tertiary-education institutions.
The State Service Commission’s annual report also reveals that, excluding chief executives, more than 2,700 people employed in tertiary-education institutions in 2007 received more than $100,000, up from 2,100 in 2006.
Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. Students ask “malicious” VCs to tell the truth
2. New Zealand among most prolific university producers
3. Waikato celebrates Kīngitanga
4. International doctoral scholars selected
5. “Future proofing” by cutting staff
6. Icelandic freeze on Oxbridge funds
7. Medical school bans gifts
8. Blacklist under fire
9. British academic calls for Christian universities
Students ask “malicious” VCs to tell the truth
Student representatives have taken issue with what they consider misrepresentation by the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee (NZVCC) of student-support spending. The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) has urged the NZVCC to come clean on the real figures revealing that universities receive huge funding injections every year off the back of young New Zealanders who go into debt simply to get an education.
“The misleading and malicious comments from the NZVCC regarding universal student allowances are inappropriate, inaccurate, and will do little to win them any public sympathy,” said NZUSA co-president Liz Hawes. “Yes the entire sector is under-funded; however a policy win for students should be applauded for what it is: a worthy principle and a step in the right direction. We look forward to the rest of the sector in time getting the support they also deserve,” Ms Hawes added.
According to NZUSA, Ministry of Education documents clearly show that only 23 percent of New Zealand’s tertiary-education budget is spent on student support, not 42 percent as NZVCC asserts. The rest comes in the form of student loans paid directly to tertiary-education institutions to pay for tuition fees. NZUSA says that this is basically a fee subsidy from government to the vice-chancellors, which individual students have to go into debt to fund. Once this is adjusted for, New Zealand is only just spending over the OECD average of 18 percent.
“The vice-chancellors would do better to encourage more government spending on tertiary education overall, rather than initiating in-fighting in the sector and denigrating good policies that benefit their key stakeholders, students, and that are being warmly welcomed across the country,” Ms Hawes concluded.
A recent Ministry of Education research report indicated that receiving a student allowance has a direct and positive impact on student academic performance.
New Zealand among most prolific university producers
An analysis by John Gerritsen in University World News indicates that New Zealand, Finland, Ireland, and Australia are the most efficient producers of top universities, according to the latest Times Higher Education-QS ranking of the world’s top 500 universities. Those four nations not only had more universities per head of population than any others, they also produced more such institutions in terms of their percentage share of global GDP than other countries.
According to the analysis, New Zealand and Finland also featured in the top three when population and GDP measures were applied to Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s ratings published earlier this year. In the latest THE-QS World University Rankings, Ireland had more top 500 universities per head of population than any other nation. New Zealand, however, was well ahead with its top universities when its share of global GDP was taken into account.
With seven institutions in the top 500 and a population of 4.15 million, Ireland produced one top 500 university for every 593,000 people. Close behind was New Zealand, with one top 500 university for every 695,000 people, and Finland with one for every 749,000. Only two other nations required fewer than one million citizens to produce a top 500 institution: Australia, with one for every 936,000 people, and Switzerland with one for every 947,000.
Considered by share of global GDP, a figure provided with the Shanghai rankings, New Zealand was by far the most efficient producer of top 500 institutions. Its six institutions in the THE-QS rankings equated to one for every 0.03 percent of global GDP, twice as effective as second-placed Finland with one for every 0.06 percent of global GDP. Ireland and Australia were equal third with one THE-QS top 500 institution for every 0.07 percent of GDP, followed by Israel with one for every 0.08 percent.
Waikato celebrates Kīngitanga
Sir Douglas Graham and Koro Wetere are among panellists gathering at Waikato University this month for three evenings of discussions to celebrate Te Kīngitanga. Sir Douglas, a former Treaty negotiations minister, and Mr Wetere, a former Māori affairs minister, will be part of the sessions which aim to acknowledge 150 years of Te Kīngitanga movement 1858-2008.
The seminars will run over three evenings, on 28, 29, and 30 October, and will feature discussions on the achievements of Te Kīngitanga, its meaning, and its relevance and role in contemporary times. Kīngi Tuheitia has confirmed his attendance at each of the evenings.
University vice-chancellor, Professor Roy Crawford, said that the university is immensely proud of its links with Tainui and the Kīngitanga and feels it is important to be able to gather people together to celebrate the achievements of the Kīngitanga and plans for the future. “It’s a great honour that Kīngi Tuheitia himself will be present at all the discussions, and the calibre of panellists shows how highly the movement is regarded,” Professor Crawford said.
Other panellists and guests include Nanaia Mahuta, MP; Emeritus Professor James Ritchie; educator and founding school of education dean at Waikato, Charmaine Pountney; head of the Wintec council and Waikato District Health Board member Gordon Chesterman; and former Māori Language Commission head Haami Piripi.
The series opens with Ms Mahuta and Emeritus Professor Ritchie discussing the significance of Kīngitanga. This will be followed on the second night by a panel of non-Māori commentators and national figures reflecting on Te Kīngitanga as a historical yet modern social movement. The final session will comprise iwi representatives from outside the Waikato/Tainui iwi boundary giving their perspective on Te Kīngitanga, their role in relation to it, and their allegiance to the movement.
International doctoral scholars selected
Tertiary-education minister Pete Hodgson this week announced a new batch of 38 international doctoral scholars who will study at New Zealand universities next year. The scholars have been selected from almost 400 applications received from students in 79 different countries. Each year New Zealand supports up to 38 international doctoral students to study for a PhD at a New Zealand university under the New Zealand International Doctoral Research Scholarship programme.
In announcing the awards, the minister said, “These scholarships are a winner for New Zealand and for the scholarship students. The students benefit from the wealth of knowledge and expertise held within our tertiary institutions. In turn, New Zealand institutions gain from students sharing the findings of their own research and their experiences gained overseas.”
This year the largest numbers of students selected come from Canada, Germany, India, and the United States, but a wide range of other countries are also represented. Research topics include a study of the generation of earthquakes on New Zealand’s alpine fault-line, research into intercultural adaptation, and the application of the small-world phenomenon to the routing of messages within large computer networks. The students will take up their three-year scholarships from January.
Pete Hodgson described the scolarships, administered by the Education New Zealand Trust, as one way New Zealand works to further enhance the reputation of its tertiary-education system overseas. Other programmes include the policy that allows international PhD students to pay the same fees as New Zealand domestic students.
The scholarships have resulted in a rapid increase in international-student PhD enrolments. “Enrolments rose from 693 in 2006 to 1,807 by August 2008, an increase of 161 percent. In 2007 international PhD students enrolled in New Zealand came from 91 countries,” Pete Hodgson said.
World Watch
“Future proofing” by cutting staff
Up to 270 staff will lose their jobs after Australia’s Victoria University (VU) announced it would slash costs by $27 million next year. Victoria is the second university to announce job cuts this month, with 230 academic and general staff to go from La Trobe University by the end of the year. Melbourne University’s troubled arts faculty will also sack up to 20 academic staff by Christmas, its second voluntary redundancy scheme in a year.
The bulk of the redundancies will target Victoria University’s 664 higher-education staff, with up to 150 expected to leave. About 100 of the 1287 general staff and 20 of the 559 vocational staff will also go in a six-month programme the university describes as “future proofing”. Vice-chancellor Elizabeth Harman said it was a pre-emptive move designed to ensure the university remains in surplus as it repositions itself in an increasingly competitive sector.
National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) Victorian state secretary, Matthew McGowan, called on the vice-chancellor to resign, saying there had been no consultation on the cuts and no information provided on how many jobs would be lost or from where. He said a survey from late 2007 found that staff confidence in Victoria University management was at very low levels.
It is understood that the NTEU will be recommending industrial action at a meeting to be held today. “Staff at VU have been left with no other choice but to take industrial action. The vice-chancellor and senior management have consistently failed to negotiate seriously, and have refused to treat the bargaining process with respect,” Mr McGowan said. “VU’s vice-chancellor can turn this around by coming to the negotiating table in good faith, and giving up her reckless and derisory attitude towards collective bargaining and staff.”
From NTEU and Bridie Smith and Ben Schneiders in the Age
Icelandic freeze on Oxbridge funds
Britain’s Oxford University could face losses of up to £30m ($NZ76.6m) in cash deposits tied up in Icelandic bank accounts. Overall, twelve English universities have a total of £77m ($NZ196.7m) in Icelandic banks. The sum Oxford has in Icelandic banks is larger than that held by Cambridge, which stands to lose £11m ($NZ28m), but represents only 5 percent of the university’s cash deposits, so both universities are in a similar position of financial risk.
According to a spokesperson for Oxford, the university has £600m ($NZ1536m) in cash deposits, an annual turnover of more than that, and £3.4bn ($NZ8.7bn) in endowments. “In operational terms, it’s an amount of money we will want to get back, but people here aren’t going to feel the impact,” the spokesperson said. While some universities had been able to withdraw their cash deposits, Oxford had not invested in Icelandic banks over the last eighteen months and the money originally invested was locked in.
Oxford’s director of finance, Giles Kerr, wrote to the English funding council, HEFCE, yesterday to call for co-ordinated action between it, the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills, and the Treasury. “[They] are well aware of the challenges faced by the sector,” he said. “We expect them to do all they can to protect the position of higher-education institutions, which are vital to the country’s future prosperity.”
From Anthea Lipsett in the Guardian
Medical school bans gifts
The University of Minnesota medical school is considering a new conflict-of-interest policy so strict that doctors wouldn’t even be able to accept Post-it Notes bearing a drug company’s logo. The far-reaching policy which, if enacted, would be among the toughest in the nation, comes as congressional investigators and the US Justice Department are probing ties between doctors and drug companies and medical-device manufacturers; probes that have raised some difficult questions for the university.
The medical school’s proposed policy digs deep and reaches far into the entrenched relationship between the drug and medical-device industries and the university’s doctors, researchers, and students, as well as the institution itself. If adopted, the policy would profoundly alter the relationship between industry and the state’s largest medical school.
All personal gifts from industry would be banned. Free drug samples would be limited. Industry support for doctors’ continuing medical education would be phased out. Doctors’ consulting relationships would be disclosed to both patients and the public. Those financial ties would be monitored far more closely.
“It’s really putting policies in place that would, as best as possible, ensure the patient’s best interest,'” said Dr Leo Furcht, co-chair of the task force recommending the rules and chairman of the university’s department of laboratory medicine and pathology. Acknowledging that reactions had so far been mixed, Dr Furch said, “Many people have said, ‘This is something we have to do’, there are some who feel [the policy] has gone a little too far, and some who feel it isn’t enough.”
From Janet Moore in the Star Tribune
Blacklist under fire
Academics named as militant left-wing ideologues in a blacklist tabled in the Australian federal parliament claim they are victims of a Young Liberals’ “witch-hunt”. While many of the blacklisted academics admit that humanities and social science faculties are dominated by progressives, they say bias is not a serious problem in Australian universities.
The list of more than 30 academics who are described as “unashamed activists for political and ideological causes such as radical feminism, animal rights, and gay rights” has been published on the Young Liberals’ website. It was submitted to a Senate inquiry on academic freedom in schools and universities.
Among those on the Young Liberals’ list are controversial philosopher Peter Singer, feminist and activist Eva Cox, former ABC Four Corners producer and now journalism lecturer Peter Manning, and University of New South Wales (UNSW) senior associate dean in the faculty of arts and social sciences, Sarah Maddison. “The way they’ve gone about this has the smell of a witch-hunt,” said Dr Maddison. “They don’t want to create public discussion about the quality of education, they want to score political points.”
Dr Maddison, an expert in women’s rights and indigenous politics, said there is probably “a grain of truth” in the notion that humanities academics are more left-wing than the general population. However, regular student feedback surveys and existing grievance policies already protect against bias, she said.
UNSW deputy vice-chancellor (academic), Richard Henry, said he had full confidence in the independence and integrity of his staff. “It’s ironic that in the name of academic freedom people have created a blacklist that decreases academic freedom.”
From Matthew Knott in the Australian
British academic calls for Christian universities
Britain needs Christian universities to counter the focus on “wealth creation and utilitarianism” in the secular higher-education sector and to teach students biblical values across all subjects, according to Nigel Paterson, a lecturer at the University of Winchester. In a paper for the Jubilee Centre, a Christian social-reform organisation, Do We Need a Christian University?, he proposes a model Christian university that would use the Bible within all its courses.
Dr Paterson, who trained in natural sciences at the University of Cambridge and now lectures in English at Winchester, said two or three Christian universities would enrich the country and contrast with the “spiritual vacuum” elsewhere in higher education. Secular universities’ energies “can all too easily be directed by political influences towards wealth creation and utilitarianism”, he said, while a Christian institution could nurture subjects “that might easily be blocked from starting or closed down in the secular academy”.
A model Christian university would prioritise the study of theology, once “the queen of sciences”, Dr Paterson said, with all disciplines accepting that “there is a religious dimension to life that merits respect and academic scrutiny”.
Britain already has fourteen church universities and colleges founded by religious denominations that maintain links to the Church. Asked whether more courses in theology would be viable, Dr Paterson said that a Christian university could expect to attract UK and international students from evangelical, pentecostal, and charismatic churches.
He said that, while a fully Christian university could specialise in the arts and humanities, avoiding the challenge of finding funding for scientific research, it would be “detrimental to both science and the world” to avoid the study of science.
From Melanie Newman in Times Higher Education
More international news
More international news can be found on University World News:
AUS Tertiary Update is published weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the Association of University Staff and others. Back issues are available on the AUS website: Direct inquiries should be made to the editor, email:

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