Mixed messages from NZVCC

Posted By TEU on Jun 4, 2009 |

The Vice Chancellors Committee has sent out a range of responses to last week’s budget.

On the day of the budget a “measured” NZVCC Chair Roger Field, from Lincoln University, described the budget as worrying and called for “savings achieved through reduced tertiary education compliance costs and cuts in bureaucracy to be reinvested in the sector.”

The next day AUT’s Derek McCormack called the budget a ‘body blow’, and launched a strong attack on the government for withdrawing “funding already committed to keeping academic salaries at levels which are barely competitive in an international market.”

“Further, the Government has made an explicit statement that no provision has been made for growth in university enrolment.  The number of unfunded students in the system this year will continue to grow in 2010 and beyond in a compound effect and this can only result in increasing numbers of prospective students being turned away, potentially to join the dole queue.”

Later that day, David Skegg from the research-intensive University of Otago, said budget measures affecting research, science and technology “have given universities a solid indication that the Government recognises their key role in the research and innovation system and the need to maintain it.”

It is believed that the eight universities may be positioning themselves to take differing strategies for addressing workers’ salary costs in the upcoming employment negotiations.  With some universities recording significant surpluses last year ($25 million at Otago, $10 million at Victoria, $15 million at Canterbury), and all publically stating that salaries are not high enough to recruit and retrain the staff they want, some perceived that universities are not in a position to plead poverty at the negotiation table this year.

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