TEU wins special PBRF rules for earthquake-shaken researchersPublish By NZweek News Staff Updated 13/10/2011 2:19 pm in NZ News / no comments
The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) has announced that it will adopt three of TEU’s proposed recommendations for conducting the 2012 PBRF Quality Evaluation of earthquake affected PBRF eligible staff in the Canterbury region.
The commission has agreed, following feedback from TEU and the affected TEIs, to create a separate Canterbury Earthquakes option to be included in the Evidence Portfolio schema, to ensure that it recognises the impact of the earthquakes on individual researchers.
The commission has also appointed a Special Advisor who will assist with training the evaluation panel. TEU argued strongly that the panel needed the support of someone who understood what Canterbury researchers have been through. The newly appointed advisor, local Cantabrian and University of Canterbury Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) Steve Weaver, will be able to provide ‘on-the-ground’ advice of the impact on researchers and will be a valuable contributor to the Quality Evaluation process.
Furthermore, the commission will allow, on advice from submitters such as TEU, PBRF eligible staff to choose 2005-2010 as their assessment period for research outputs if they wish.
“TEU lobbied the commission right from the start for these changes, said TEU national president Sandra Grey.
“We meet with our members regularly over the last year and provided the commission with substantial feedback directly from people working in affected Canterbury TEIs.”
“We applaud the commission for listening to what our members were asking. These new rules are a dramatic improvement on the first proposal,” said Dr Grey.
Also in Tertiary Update this week:
- Un-enrolled students crucial to tertiary education
- Canterbury redundancies would be irresponsible and disloyal
- Victoria management in need of performance improvement
- Contest between ‘pragmatic’ Francey and’ experienced’ Draper
- Other news
Un-enrolled students crucial to tertiary education
News that one in four young people is not yet enrolled to vote is worrying for everyone involved in tertiary education says TEU national president Sandra Grey.
“If we want parties and politicians to care about tertiary education then we need people involved in tertiary education to both enrol and vote,” said Dr Grey. “The majority of tertiary education students – the people most likely to care about high quality tertiary education – are young people aged 18-29.”
“We as people working in tertiary education meet with and talk with young students daily. We have a unique opportunity and responsibility to get students onto the electoral roll.”
If people enrol in the next two weeks, before October 26, they will not need to make a special vote. But everyone can still enrol to vote until the day before the election and referendum.
Dr Grey says it is easy to get students on the roll.
“My advice: go into a lecture, tutorial or class just before it begins, put up the PowerPoint slide or OHP from our Enrol to Vote webpage and tell everyone there, for one time only, to get out their phone in class and text their name and address to 3676, or go to the Facebook page IvoteNZ.”
At the University of Auckland, over fifty TEU members have taken up this task and distributed enrolment forms.
“If young people enrol in the same proportions as the rest of the country that will bring more than 100,000 voters, many of whom will care about tertiary education. It could change the election outcome and change the country”
Dr Grey says that anyone who has a plan for getting students to enrol should contact their local Registrar of Electors. They are eager to help with any initiatives you have to get students on the roll.
Canterbury redundancies would be irresponsible and disloyal
Academics who teach small classes will be among those at risk of redundancy, University of Canterbury vice-chancellor Rod Carr told the Press last week.
Dr Carr said the university would wait for voluntary redundancies before deciding how many staff would lose their jobs.
There was “no doubt” staff who were teaching a smaller number of students, researchers whose outputs were smaller and researchers who were not attracting grants would be at high risk of redundancy, he said.
Fifteen hundred domestic students and 450 international students have left the university since the earthquakes, resulting in a $16.5 million loss of tuition fees.
“The Government has not made any commitment to make up for that,” Carr said.
The Government had pledged the student achievement component of the university’s funding would remain the same next year, but Carr said that did not cover losses such as tuition fees for students who had left and who would have gone on to pay for their studies in the years ahead.
TEU’s general staff vice-president Helen Kissell, and a University of Canterbury staff member, also says that the government needs to do more to protect one of Christchurch’s largest employers and most important learning and cultural centres. CERA has identified education renewal as one of the priorities for revitalising Canterbury. Staff redundancies will hamper this significantly and are unlikely to attract new people to the region.
“Staff have given everything we can for our university and our students over the last year. We will keep doing that because a strong, vibrant Canterbury University is crucial to rebuilding a strong, vibrant Christchurch city. It would be completely unjust and illogical for management to cut away those very people who have stuck loyally with the university over the last year,” said Ms Kissell.
Victoria management in need of performance improvement
Victoria University has sent letters to some academic staff telling them that they could cost the university $3 million in PBRF funding if just one of them classifies as research inactive in the next PBRF round.
The letter informs staff that the employer will be initiating a Performance Improvement Plan with them.
“This is a targeted attack on the individual recipient, aimed at putting direct pressure on them with regard to their future employment,” said TEU organiser Michael Gilchrist.
One version of the letter implies that the staff concerned have “no or minimal” research activity and states that there is a “financial and reputational risk to the university in knowingly retaining such a staff member”. The letter claims that PBRF funding is based on the ranking of institutions. “…A shift of one place [in the university's PBRF ranking] could gain or lose about $3 million and the retention of one research inactive staff member could result in the loss of one place”, the letter says.
“This claim is every bit as absurd and inaccurate as it sounds,” said Mr Gilchrist. “Ranking is irrelevant. The impact of one R rated staff member on funding for a tertiary institution will in fact be very small –nominally a few thousand dollars but less likely than that when other variables are taken into account.”
TEU has reminded managers that they can only initiate a Performance Management Plan when a staff member has ‘demonstrably and persistently failed to meet an objective’ in their Performance, Development and Career Planning Process (PDCP) document. “This simply reflects basic rules of fair process in employment. Staff have a right to know where the goalposts are located, especially as they strive to produce quality research under the pressure of the impending PBRF assessment.”
Contest between ‘pragmatic’ Francey and ‘experienced’ Draper
MIT’s Lesley Francey says she will bring pragmatism and strategic thinking to the TEU role of ITP academic vice-president while the incumbent, CPIT’s Richard Draper says he brings knowledge and experience.
The election opened last Friday and closes at 5pm on Friday 28 October 2011.
Ms Francey, who has been a member of ASTE and TEU for 10 years is currently the branch president at MIT and sits on the national ITP sector group and national council.
“At MIT I have worked, along with the branch committee, to build an active and involved membership,” says Ms Francey, “and the staunch resolve of MIT members during industrial action is evidence of the strength of our branch.”
Mr Draper the current academic vice-president also sits on national council and chairs his branch at Christchurch Polytechnic.
Mr Draper says under his leadership the ITP sector group has increased both its communications and performance as a group.
“In addition, we are refining our scope with focus on both the detail of issues arising (e.g. core conditions) and on the larger issues (such as the place of the ITP sector in New Zealand).”
If any academic ITP members have not received their ballot email they should contact returning officer Susannah Muirhead (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The New Zealand Treasury has revealed that the tax switch has created a $1.1 billion hole in the already weakened Government accounts. “The tax switch put up GST pushing inflation to 5.3 percent. The take home pay gap between someone earning $30,000 a year and $150,000 a year has grown by $135.00 a week due to tax cuts. And now despite assurances that the tax switch would be revenue neutral, it has already added over $1 billion to the deficit” – Peter Conway, CTU Secretary
This year’s Marsden Fund was “the toughest round ever”, with the overall success rate for applicants down to just over 8 percent. “The overall success rate since 1998 has been 10.5%, but to achieve that rate this year the Royal Society would have needed to fund another 25 proposals, requiring approximately $15 million more than the $53 million available.” – Shaun Hendy at Sciblog
Dozens of Aoraki Polytechnic staff have passed a vote of no confidence in their chief executive. 105 polytechnic staff are in the union, and membership has doubled since chief executive Kay Nelson started in 2009 -Timaru Herald
“Freedom of intellectual inquiry is a pretty basic human right and it makes sense that this is enshrined in our universities. If our universities are to be what we need them to be, they will be out in front: providing thoughtful input to the directions that our society should take”- Professor Ian Chubb AC, Australia’s Chief Scientist and former Vice-Chancellor of ANU, delivered the inaugural NTEU Lecture at the University of Melbourne.
Times Higher Education released its World University Rankings last week and four of the six New Zealand universities ranked fell from last year’s ranking – Education Directions