Overseas academics won’t take the risk

Posted By TEU on Sep 16, 2010 |

Tertiary Update Vol 13 No 35

Rather than increase labour mobility, as the government intends, the 90 day fire-at-will law will make people more reluctant to change jobs. That is the view of the TEU national secretary Sharn Riggs, in her submission to the Industrial Relations Select Committee this week.

Ms Riggs believes that the 90 day fire-at-will provision in the government’s proposed new employment laws will scare some of the world’s best academics off taking the risk of working in New Zealand.

“Tertiary education employees will be at their most vulnerable when changing jobs, and this will make them more reluctant to move here. Many New Zealand academics may decide it is safer to take an overseas job offer as their next career step, leaving New Zealand for better job security overseas.”

Ms Riggs is also worried that many immigrants will be reluctant to undertake considerable risk and upheaval to come to New Zealand if they are aware their new employment may be subject to a 90-day no-rights trial.

“New Zealand recruits a significant proportion of academics from overseas – we actively seek to learn from their knowledge and experience.  However tertiary institutions will find that their opportunity to recruit excellent overseas candidates diminishes, because academics will be unwilling to risk moving here with such uncertainty around their continued employment.”

Among the quotes from TEU members who submitted to the select committee were comments such as:

  • “Coming from Europe, I would have never risked coming to a country where I could have been fired for no reasons less than 90 days after starting.”
  • “Since salaries are lower than in Australia, New Zealand has to demonstrate better working conditions than other countries to attract or retain skilled employees.”
  • “I may be looking for a new job as a result of this restructuring, and it will be more stressful if I know that I can be dismissed without reason during the first 90 days.”
  • “We rely heavily on attracting world-class academics from overseas universities.  But who would uproot their whole family and move half way round the world when there’s the chance of being sacked without reason within the first 90 days?  That’s not a risk any sensible person would take.”

Also in Tertiary Update this week

  1. Musical chairs for remaining Massey jobs
  2. New Aussie govt to focus on skills
  3. Commission set to release league table for rugby teams
  4. Student-teacher ratios higher than OECD average

Other news

The pain that many higher education sectors are facing today was felt more than a decade ago by universities in Canada, and the country’s harsh budget cuts of the 1990s are now being touted as a model of best practice for those enacting similar reforms today. The slashing of funding across the board hit the Canadian higher education sector hard: the proportion of federal funding fell from 80 per cent of universities’ operating revenues in 1990-91 to 57 percent in 2007-08, according to the Canadian Association of University Teachers  – Times Higher Education Supplement

The British government’s business secretary, Vince Cable, is defending cuts to university research, saying research funding should “screen out mediocrity” in the projects backed by the taxpayer. He also asserts that only research that was commercially useful or academically outstanding should be funded. His colleague, education secretary David Willetts, says public spending was “running way ahead of what we can afford” and taxpayers should only fund the highest quality research. – BBC

Nine out of 10 British vice chancellors believe a UK university will shut down because of financial pressures in the next decade, suggests a survey  – BBC

New Zealand has a high percentage of its population that enters tertiary study, particularly at older ages. The entry rate to diploma level study, especially, is one of the highest in the OECD. While entry is high, New Zealand also has one of the highest rates of part-time study. While those studying full-time are as likely to complete their qualification as full-timers in other OECD countries, fewer part-timers complete their qualification. – Ministry of Education analysis of Education at a Glance 2010

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, email: http://scr.im/stephenday

Thanks to KristaLAPrincess @ Flickr for the photo
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