Column – Association of University Staff

Negotiations begin at Otago Uni It has been a slow start to collective bargaining at New Zealand’s universities this year with only Victoria, Massey and, as of this morning, Otago beginning negotiations. The union bargaining team at Otago will focus …

Negotiations begin at Otago Uni

It has been a slow start to collective bargaining at New Zealand’s universities this year with only Victoria, Massey and, as of this morning, Otago beginning negotiations.

The union bargaining team at Otago will focus on solving the workload issues that members raised repeatedly in surveys and meeting over recent months.

TEU’s deputy secretary Nanette Cormack, who has been travelling the country coordinating much of the bargaining, says tight financial pressure from government funding cuts means most of the universities are acting cautiously, particularly around the issue of pay.

“We know times are tough but universities have continued to make good surpluses and what we are asking for is reasonable and modest. In addition to concern about erosion of salaries for most union members around the country the issue of workload and job security are increasingly pressing concerns.”

TEU’s Otago University organiser Shaun Scott says Otago staff face ever growing workloads as pressure for more research more students and more compliance reporting from government cuts into time.

“We want manageable workloads for the good of our students, and we also want workloads to be fair and manageable so we can spend time with friends, communities and family.”

Academic staff at Otago University are making a claim that workload should be allocated in an open, equitable, transparent and planned way. This must incorporate a system for allocating teaching workload that is negotiated collectively with staff and their Head of Department (or equivalent). In addition, there must be a transparent system that allows individual staff to compare their allocated teaching workload with the average and range in their department, and/or across the university, and provides for any inequities to be rectified.

“One of the first things TEU members will want to talk about today is a set of principles and processes for dealing with excessive workload in a way that is fair and equal for everyone,” said Shaun Scott.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Minister urges South Island ITP network
  2. Libraries worried trade agreement will make study harder
  3. $1m for Māori trades training at CPIT
  4. Timaru speaks up for tertiary education
  5. Other news

Minister urges South Island ITP network

Tertiary education minister Steven Joyce has encouraged CPIT to look at options for developing a network of South Island Polytechnics. The CPIT Council notice of meeting for June notes the minister “encourages CPIT to explore options for creating a stronger South Island ITP [institutes of technology and polytechnics] network asking that the Minister’s office be kept informed of developments”.

In some South Island towns there are several polytechnics and PTEs competing amongst themselves for the same students.

Polytechnics are facing increasingly difficult times and increasing competition from private training enterprises as the result of the government allowing more public funding to go to the private sector. TEU national president Sandra Grey says the union supports polytechnics collaborating and rationalising their services but only through a planned approach, not as a kneejerk reaction to less funding.

“It is counterproductive to encourage this rationalisation in an environment that lacks control of out-of-region provision and rewards polytechnics for investing their scarce resources in management, marketing, and promotion.”

Libraries worried trade agreement will make study harder

Students at tertiary education libraries could find they have less access to digital works if New Zealand signs a trade agreement with the United States and other countries, warnsTony Millett, the chair of LIANZA’s Standing Committee on Copyright.

New Zealand is currently negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement with a number of other countries, including the United States.

Trade officials are currently negotiating the agreement in secret in the United States, so no one knows what is on the table, or what will be included in the final agreement. However, the agreement’s focus on copyright laws worries Tony Millett from the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA).

“Changes to New Zealand copyright law will have a serious impact on New Zealand libraries. For instance, under present law, copyright continues until 50 years after the death of the author or creator of the work. With every free trade agreement that America has negotiated (Australia is an example), the other country has been forced to extend copyright duration for 70 years or longer. It is almost certain that the TPPA will require a similar extension of copyright duration. There will be a longer period before works come into the public domain and can be digitised;  works already digitised (for example through the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre) may have to be withdrawn;  and it will be much more difficult than it already is to trace copyright owners to seek permission to copy or use their work.”

Tony Millett says most scholarship and research builds on older scholarship so TPPA could impede students’ scholarly endeavours.

“Extending copyright duration will not benefit the original authors or creators – they are long dead – but will benefit only their heirs and successors, and more particularly large corporate organisations that claim copyright ownership of the original works.”

LIANZA is also concerned that the TPPA may drive up the cost of imported books by banning parallel importing;  limit university, polytechnic  and wānanga libraries’ ability to make available audio-visual material like DVDs;  and require ISPs (which may include universities, polytechnics and their libraries) to terminate internet access to users who are alleged to have infringed copyright.

Tony Millett said trade officials should not negotiate international intellectual property and copyright standards behind closed doors, with no opportunity for input, advice and comment from affected stakeholders such as public tertiary education institution libraries.

$1m for Māori trades training at CPIT

The government will invest $1 million into Māori trades training in Christchurch, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, Steven Joyce announced this week.

The new initiative builds on He Toki ki te Rika, a Māori trades initiative delivered by the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT), in partnership with Te Puni Kokiri and Te Tapuae o Rēhua. a collaboration of Te Tapuae o Rēhua, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, and the BETA cluster of Industry Training Organisations, and is supported by Te Puni Kōkiri.

CPIT will use the money to offer trainees a fees scholarship for training and a separate grant for tools for those trainees who move into an apprenticeship. The building firm Hawkins will offer employment opportunities for successful trainees.

“The relationship with employers means that the training providers can focus on progressing trainees into employment and apprenticeships,” Steven Joyce said.

TEU’s Te Tumu Arataki Cheri Waititi welcomed the investment saying it was important that the government stepped with financial support for grassroots initiatives that the community had developed themselves.

“It’s a good initiative providing Christchurch youth, Māori and non-Māori, first preference and first opportunity to rebuild their own communities, towns, communities, and city – they have a strong connection to the place and the people and need to be part of the rebuild.”

Cheri Waititi says the government also needs to invest equally in other tertiary education pathways for Māori and non-Māori in the Canterbury region.

“Trades training in the short-term will help rebuild Canterbury and strengthen the economy but we also need a long-term strategy for improving Māori, and non-Māori access, participation, and successful completion of higher education qualifications.”

Timaru speaks up for tertiary education

The government was not talking to communities, businesses or workers, according to TEU’s national President Sandra Grey speaking at a TEU speak Up for Education meeting in Timaru last week.

The Timaru Herald, which covered the meeting, reported that the polytechnic sector had around 7.5 percent of government funding taken out of its budget this year. Some, Aoraki Polytechnic being one, had 20 per cent taken out of its government funding.

Sandra Grey told the meeting there had been a push towards a more academic model and away from technology and trades. Focusing on just degrees made no sense, she said.

“It’s not a good model for society and it’s not a good model for the community. A degree is not the pinnacle; it’s just one type of education.”

She told the Herald the New Zealand needs to lift the status of polytechnics and institutes of technology, and that she was concerned the current changes meant marginalised young people would not get the chance to gain further education.

Aoraki Polytechnic chief executive Kay Nelson said the main challenge for the institution was demographics.

“Even encouraging our own townfolk to stay around for a year or two would make a big difference.”

She said the polytechnic was not there to “steal” students from high schools.

“It’s all about relationship building and ensuring that everybody in the community knows that they’ve had an input.

Other news

“A number of people,” he says, “jumped to the conclusion that I was saying we shouldn’t train any philosophers. And I said, ‘Where did you get that?’ Because philosophers, people who have done philosophy degrees, work in all areas of life. “Tertiary education is good in its own right. [It’s] about learning how to learn and learning critical thinking and all those sorts of things – Steven Joyce talking to Stuff

Ako Aotearoa’s latest report Lifting Our Game: Achieving greater success for learners in foundational tertiary education calls for government agencies and tertiary providers to work more closely together to lift the success rates for foundational learners. The report focuses on those studying at the lowest levels of tertiary education (Levels 1 to 3 and Level 4 bridging programmes). In 2010, this group represented almost one-third of all tertiary learners – Ako Aotearoa

The University of Otago has approached the Government about its concerns that cutting allowance eligibility for postgraduate students could reduce its numbers. Figures show 564 students – 20 percent of the university’s New Zealand postgraduate students – would be affected by the change when it takes effect next year – Otago Daily Times

A complaint against Whakatāne-based Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi may be taken to the Serious Fraud Office. Last month Awanuiārangi was accused of breaking the law and deceiving its students by calling itself a university – New Zealand Herald

Senior students are ignoring the Government’s pleas to study science and maths for the sake of the country’s future economy. The proportion of teenagers studying physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics with calculus, dropped over the past decade, since NCEA was introduced in 2001 – Stuff

Almost 300 Chinese nationals with fraudulent student visas are enrolled across 20 English language private training providers in Auckland, but there is no evidence the language schools knew of the fraud – New Zealand Herald

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