Tertiary Update Vol 14 No 45   1 Dec 2011

If the Maori Party chooses to focus on tertiary education in its negotiations it could have a significant impact for the sector over the next three years says the TEU Tumu Arataki, Cheri Waititi.

While the party did not publish a specific tertiary education policy before the election, two of its three caucus members, Dr Pita Sharples and Te Ururoa Flavell, have been very involved in tertiary education prior to their election as politicians and have continued to advocate for education as part of their portfolio responsibilities.

The party's kawanatanga policy proposes making education more accessible for all, by introducing a fee reduction policy to reduce fees to a nominal level over time. It would also increase access to student allowances, by reintroducing a universal student allowance – which will be set at the level of the unemployment benefit.

Ms Waititi says the success of these policies rely on "working with our people in our tertiary institutions about how those in the sector can push to have these policies implemented."

"This is all about making sure tertiary education is accessible to everyone in our society, not just those who can pay. The sector has experienced sustained underfunding over a long period of time, which has resulted in course cuts and restrictions on entry for some programmes. The government currently does not have a clear vision for how it will ensure that Maori are able to participate in tertiary education in the same way as other citizens."

The Maori Party would also delay the requirement to repay student loan debt. It would advocate for increased Maori representation on tertiary governance bodies, including mana whenua and Maori student representation. It would link funding to Maori course and qualification completion, and legislate to require the Tertiary Education Commission, to have regard for Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The party wants to increase Maori trade training, cadetships and apprenticeships across growth areas, to reinstate the Training Incentive Allowance, and to promote collaborative arrangements between WINZ, iwi and education providers for training opportunities.

The Maori Party's policy to make Te reo Maori compulsorily available in schools and compulsory Treaty education should have 'flow-on' effects for tertiary education providers as well.

Ms Waititi says if the Maori Party wants to leave a legacy it should consider doing so in tertiary education. "We teach the teachers… ECE through to tertiary."

"We, as educationalists, need to build a relationship with Maori Party MPs and they with us, so they can influence tertiary education policy over the next three years in ways that supports high quality public education for all Maori students."


McDonalds pressure needed to end meat-works lockout

Union members around New Zealand are planning to picket McDonalds restaurants around New Zealand in support of locked out ANZCO meat workers in Rangatikei. One hundred and eleven meat-processing workers who were locked out of their jobs on October 19 for refusing to accept up to 20 pay cuts pay cuts.

Locked out worker Steve McGinity told the Wanganui Chronicle he and his wife have always taken their children to McDonald's but say they won't be getting a fast food treat until the company sorts out its meat supplier ANZCO.

The ANZCO CMP Rangitikei plant at Marton supplies McDonalds with its meat patties.

"We've always taught our kids it's important to work hard and not to let others carry the load. But we've also taught them if you work hard you should get paid hard," he said.

The CTU is coordinating fundraising and informational pickets outside of McDonalds nationwide on Saturday 3 December. McDonalds is the major customer of ANZCO.

NZCTU community organiser Simon Oosterman says similar actions outside of Burger Fuel last year forced that company to abandon the 90 day "no rights" trial period at all of its stores.

"Our goal is to organise one big action at a focus store in every region with a McDonalds at 10am on Sat 3 December. We will then spread out to hold smaller pickets at as many other McDonalds as possible by noon."

The meat workers, who earn on average $45,000 and as low as $23,000 have agreed to sacrifice 10 percent of their pay but ANZCO, a multinational company with revenue of $1.2 billion, and its CEO Sir Graeme Harrison, wanted bigger cuts and thus locked out its own workers. McDonalds has refused to help CTU resolve the situation.

Mr Oosterman is asking for union members to join local teams of activists to help coordinate the pickets. You can contact Mr Oosterman at cmplockout@nzctu.org.nz or 021 885 410

Jobs go at Canterbury Uni

Twenty-four University of Canterbury staff will lose their jobs, after opting for voluntary redundancy, according to the Press.

The soon-to-be redundant staff were responding to a request by vice-chancellor Rod Carr asking staff to consider taking voluntary redundancy as the university tries to restore its finances, after losing students because of the earthquakes.

TEU branch president Megan Clayton told the Press she expected the university to cut fifty jobs through a combination of natural attrition and the voluntary redundancies. She said the fact the university did not accept all 39 applications for voluntary redundancy showed it was not cutting costs in key areas.

However, she expected the university to conduct a round of compulsory redundancies next year.

"We do look to the future with continued foreboding."

She did not know how many people the university wants to make redundant through the voluntary process.

However, a financial report discussed at yesterday's university council meeting said the university must budget for a reduction of fifty staff by the start of next year.

Dr Clayton hoped the government would look favourably on the university's plea for more than $150 million in funding.

"I don't hear the signals of unequivocal support from the government," she said.

The Stand Up for UC group, led by TEU members and students, is continuing to build a campaign to oppose these cuts in the New Year.

Cuts and accountability no longer saving money

The continued calls for ‘more productivity’ and increased ‘accountability’ in tertiary education ignore the fact that the staff who work within the tertiary education sector are driven and motivated individuals, who are always striving to achieve says TEU national president Sandra Grey.

"Big sticks are not needed to get better performance in a professional workforce, and increasing the number of forms we all fill in does not mean better quality teaching, learning, and research, it just means more paperwork."

Dr Grey, who spoke to TEU's Annual Conference last week says the demands for increased productivity ignore the fact that public education is not a ‘production line’ into which you can force more raw product and turn out more widgets.

"Though even for the hard core "econocrats" who dislike notions of public good we could argue that the on-going drive for productivity ignores the gains already made in the sector, gains made at a cost I might add."

"In the last three years staff: student ratios in New Zealand have risen from 1:17.9 in 2009 to 1:19.8 in 2011. The calls for more productivity ignore that there has been an increase in research outputs at institutions and that students’ completions of programmes of study have risen. It also ignores the fact that funding in the sector is not keeping up with costs. The government is getting more for less."

Dr Grey says the government and managers who continue to demand greater efficiencies need to be aware that this push could cost New Zealand institutions in terms of their international reputations.

"Underpinning much of the drive for greater accountability is the desire to ensure tax payer monies are well spent. We all want money spent efficiently, but some of the measures taken by tertiary institutions under the guise of prudent financial management have immensely high transaction costs."

"At its most bizarre and banal, the drive for ‘economic efficiency’ in our sector has led to a department demanding that tutors bring back their used whiteboard markers before they can be issued with a new one."

Tax avoidance by multinationals: this shameful game must stop

In the context of the current financial and economic crisis, education unions have been asked to accept severe cutbacks and austerity measures on the basis that there is no more money available for public services.

In the United Kingdom, technical changes in pension plan design will cut 25 percent from the lifetime value of a pension, some teachers losing more than £50,000 in the value of their pension over a 20-year period. Union research has highlighted that people with the lowest levels of qualifications were most likely to suffer from a cocktail of the Conservative government’s policies. It argues these policies will restrict access to education for both young people and adults, e.g. the axing of education maintenance allowances for teenagers; the tripling of university tuition fees; and, the introduction of fees and loans for working adults who want to retrain.

Education International (EI) and its affiliates in the UK, including the University and College Union (UCU), and the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), are now launching the study: Global Corporate Taxation and Resources for Quality Public Services.

The study, commissioned by the EI Research Institute on behalf of the Council of Global Unions, underlines the shocking extent of tax avoidance by multinational companies, totalling trillions of US dollars annually.

This EI study follows on from a previous study published in March estimating that current total deposits just by non-residents in offshore and secrecy jurisdictions were close to US$10 trillion.

The EI study shows how powerful multinational companies use their global reach to avoid meeting their fair fiscal obligations. They achieve this, first of all, through strategies like exploiting legal loopholes and offshore tax havens. The study highlights the extraordinary statistic that an estimated 60 percent of all global trade is actually routed through tax havens.

EI president, Susan Hopgood, said: "Closing loopholes in international tax legislation will require changing attitudes, and calls for strong political will. The widespread acceptance of tax avoidance as a legitimate goal of large corporations must change. Unless this appalling and unjustified tax evasion is stopped, quality public education and other services will continue to be put at risk by cuts in public spending."

The EI/Global Unions Study on Global Corporate Taxation was earlier this week in London. Click here to download a copy.

Other news

Excellence in Research for Australia (a research management initiative of the Australian government) has a number of limitations: inputs are counted as outputs, time is wasted, disciplinary research is favoured and public engagement is discouraged. Most importantly, by focusing on measurement and emphasising competition, ERA may actually undermine the cooperation and intrinsic motivation that underpin research performance - Brian Martin in the Australian Universities Review, Volume 53, Number 2

The University of Otago has forecast it will struggle to meet a minimum requirement for its operating surplus target in 2012, as set by the Tertiary Education Commission. The TEC asks for a 3 percent return on revenue, but a combination of increasing costs and the poor likelihood of any significant increase in Government investment for the tertiary sector has made it difficult to achieve such a surplus, university financial services director Grant McKenzie says - Otago Daily Times

At universities here in Aotearoa New Zealand there are inklings that a new type of protest movement may be emerging. Closely linked to the Occupy movement that began on New York’s Wall Street and quickly spread around the world, there is an emergent tertiary-education-focused protest movement - Dr Sandra Grey in NTEU's Advocate

Protests at the University of Sydney followed an announcement last week by vice-chancellor Michael Spence that around 150 academics "not pulling their weight" will go, with 190 general staff positions to be cut according to no specified criteria - The Australian

(Tertiary Education Union)

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