Community Scoop

TEU Tertiary Update Vol 14 No 40

Column – Association of University Staff

TEU Dunedin team volunteer for MMP TEU organiser Shaun Scott has been working with many TEU Dunedin members in their spare time to put up billboards and placards supporting MMP. “Tertiary education people are a diverse bunch, and we understand the need …

TEU Dunedin team volunteer for MMP

TEU organiser Shaun Scott has been working with many TEU Dunedin members in their spare time to put up billboards and placards supporting MMP.

“Tertiary education people are a diverse bunch, and we understand the need for a voting system that reflects that diversity,” said Scott.

“In tertiary institution cities like Dunedin it’s important everyone gets an equal say in who represents us because there are so many voices who have important things to say that would not otherwise be heard.”

“MMP is the fairest voting system because it gives everybody an equal voice. But, more than that, by voting for MMP we get a chance to independently review it and improve it. But a vote to get rid of MMP would lose that chance to make a good system even better.”

TEU members around the whole country can show their support for MMP by delivering leaflets, hosting a sign, writing letters or a multitude of other small volunteer tasks over the next four weeks. They just need to contact the Keep MMP campaign, which TEU is actively supporting.

“It’s not about your political views, it’s about each person’s vote being worth the same.” said Scott.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Student-staff ratios a dividing issue for political parties
  2. TEU supports equitable access to education
  3. Treasury wrings a few more drops
  4. Other news

Student-staff ratios a dividing issue for political parties

Labour, the Greens, Mana and the Maori Party all argue that student:staff ratios in tertiary education need to come down to protect quality, while National, Act and United Future have no specific policy on these ratios.

Those are the findings in NZUSA’s policy review of the political parties, Students’ Guide to Voting 2011.

The guide, which compares the seven major political parties on student income support, student debt, funding, fees, access, quality and student voice, identifies that on most tertiary education issues there is a clear difference of approach between the parties that comprise the current government and those in opposition.

On the issue of funding, the Maori Party, Labour, the Greens and Mana all advocate increasing funding to the tertiary education sector while Act, National and United Future support the existing levels of funding.

NZUSA also recently broadcast an election summit at which most of the major political parties spoke. TEU’s national president Dr Sandra Grey closed the summit with a speech that emphasised the need to make tertiary education an important public priority, not just for staff and students, but also for our communities.

TEU supports equitable access to education

TEU council met this month and endorsed a policy that says that access to quality education at all levels is an essential element for the achievement of social justice and a sustainable and high-performing economy.  

“The TEU therefore supports open access to tertiary education opportunities in a sector that is adequately funded to support the learning needs of a diverse student population.”

The policy says that the union supports free education and an end to user charges as well as lobbying government to develop policies that provide for a realistic level of student financial support.

“Additionally the union will advocate for the government to put in place policies that provide realistic financial support which allows all students to engage in tertiary education in a learning environment that best suits them. This would include policies on the provision of student allowances for all students, independent of their whanau/family financial circumstances.”

Council members voted to adopt the policy after noting that the government’s own Tertiary Education Strategy 2010-2015 says higher education levels have been linked to better general well-being, better health and greater social mobility:

“Tertiary-educated people are more involved in the community and are more likely to vote and stand for public office. Tertiary education promotes debate, democracy, culture and expression.”

Treasury wrings a few more drops

Treasury’s Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update 2011 came out this week and it signalled even less money for the tertiary education sector in the coming years.  

Treasury’s budget forecast in May showed that tertiary education spending is forecast to decline from nearly $4.5 billion in 2009 to $4.1 billion in 2014 (tables 6.6 and 6.8 p 109). That cut of $400 million dollars will come at the same time as inflation costs are likely to drive the actual cost of tertiary education up by about $1 billion over the same period.

Six months on from that forecast, Treasury’s latest news is even starker. It says that the actual tertiary education spend for this year was $200 million less than what it predicted in May and that the forecast government spend on tertiary education for 2013, 2014 and 2015 is likely to be about $20 million less each year than forecast in May./P>

Most of that cut in forecast spending is from a lower student loan bill than Treasury forecast in May.

TEU national president Dr Sandra Grey says New Zealand has a high-quality and cost-effective tertiary education system – but it cannot continue to be buffeted by drastic funding cuts such as Treasury is forecasting for the next five years.  

“Everyone suffers if you don’t pay for the engine that drives higher education and research in this country. No matter how committed staff are to their jobs they will not be able to paper over $1 billion of cuts.”

Other news

Student numbers at the University of Otago have dropped for the first time in five years, partly because of an introduced enrolment limitation system for all the university’s undergraduate degrees – Otago Daily Times

The University of Wales, the second-largest university in Britain, with a 120-year history has been abolished following a visa scandal. The move follows allegations it failed to carry out proper checks on foreign colleges accredited by the university to award its degrees. An investigation revealed last week that overseas students at Rayat London College, in Hounslow, were sold diploma exam answers in advance of taking the test – The Telegraph

Treasury forecasts of lower medium term growth in GDP, and unemployment staying higher for longer, show that government has failed to achieve its own economic objectives, let alone improve the position of wage and salary earners – CTU economist Bill Rosenberg

A law professor at the International Islamic University in Malaysia, Abdul Aziz Bari, was suspended from work for giving his legal opinion on the power of the Sultan. Rosli H Mahat, the general secretary of the Malaysian Academic Movement (MOVE) calls the suspension a clear breach of academic freedom – MOVE 

The education minister has refused to weigh in on proposed changes to teacher training at Massey University. While Anne Tolley was in Palmerston North this week, she did not want to comment on a Massey proposal to drop its three- and four-year teacher-training course. Massey would not have made the proposal without “good reason” she said – Manawatu Standard

The board of the Industry Training Federation (ITF) has appointed Mark Oldershaw as its new Chief Executive. He replaces Jeremy Baker who left the Federation last month to head Learning State, the Industry Training Organisation for the public sector – ITF

TEU Tertiary Update is published weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the Tertiary Education Union and others. You can subscribe to Tertiary Update by email or feed reader. Back issues are available on the TEU website. Direct inquiries should be made to Stephen Day

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