TEU president-elect says funding cuts have reached their limits

Posted By TEU on Sep 2, 2010 |

Tertiary Update Vol 13 No 33

Dr Sandra Grey, TEU’s current women’s vice-president, will take up the role of TEU national president te tumu whakarae next year after she was elected unopposed earlier this week.

Dr Grey is a senior lecturer at Victoria University’s School of Social and Cultural Studies, where she teaches social policy and researches ways in which citizens can bring about social and political change.

Dr Grey entered tertiary education as at Auckland University after a career as a radio journalist, hoping that her studies would allow her to move into writing feature articles.  However, after a masters, and then a PhD scholarship to the Australian National University, she took up a job at Victoria University.

Dr Grey says that one of the issues that drove her to stand for the TEU presidency is the funding cuts and ever-growing pressure to produce more that is being foisted on tertiary education employees.

“It’s increasingly hard to resist the economic arguments that say tertiary education is all about economic widgets and how they can contribute best to the economy. However, I was one of those open entry students, a second chance learner that might have missed out on a place under today’s restrictions. It incenses me that others might not get the chance that I had.”

“I am constantly hearing stories of colleagues who have reached their limit. They just can’t produce any more. Funding is not going up at all, but the amount of work is.”

“It’s not healthy in terms of people’s personal lives or their families, and it also does not make for good institutions either. It doesn’t turn out good research; it turns out volumes of research but not better research.”

Also in Tertiary Update this week

  1. Tertiary practitioner support is complex and confused
  2. Being collective, being union pays
  3. Govt hunting down student debt ‘refugees’
  4. Otago Polytechnic to turn away students

Other news

The Government’s decision to extend 90-day new-employee trials to all businesses was made after a suggestion from the Act Party, and went against the recommendation of its own Minister of Labour, Kate Wilkinson. Government papers also show the proposal to enable bosses to demand proof of sickness from workers without first having reasonable grounds for suspicion was made without the advice of the Department of Labour – The New Zealand Herald

The Southern Institute of Technology will lose more than $1 million in funding after 220 “low-priority” equivalent fulltime students were removed from the 2011 budget. The Tertiary Education Commission advised SIT the 220 fulltime students would be removed from the English for Speakers of Other Languages training area, which the commission saw as “low priority”. – Southland Times

Earlier this year the PSA and TEU formed a partnership with WWF New Zealand and 350 Aotearoa to promote action on climate change in the workplace. The project is called Union Climate Action, and over 400 workers have signed up so far as activists and participated in the first project. Union Climate Activists are now working on their second big action – getting workplaces to take part in the 350 Aotearoa 10/10/10 working bee. To be involved you can register here.

Eminent historian Judith Binney has won New Zealand’s top book award with her research on the lost history of the Tuhoe tribe.  The New Zealand Herald says Dame Judith is renowned for exhaustively researching and pulling together the complex strands of Māori oral tradition, and that she has an output of one book every ten years.  That contrasts with PBRF requirements for academics to produce a book every six years.

Melbourne’s La Trobe University vice-chancellor Paul Johnson has set a target of having 40 percent of staff participating in a proposed volunteering scheme for local communities in Melbourne’s northern suburbs. With university students increasingly being encouraged, enticed or even required to become involved in volunteering, Professor Johnson wanted to put a focus on staff in a move that he hoped would support staff morale and productivity while building the university’s reputation in its local community – The Australian

Tairāwhiti Polytechnic’s chief executive Judy Campbell, in response to a letter to the Gisborne Herald by an ex-student states that there are half as many staff as there used to be but they are doing the same amount of work. “Tairāwhiti Polytechnic has shed more than 50 percent of its staff but maintained student numbers to close to previous levels and we are therefore many times more efficient than we have been in past years.”

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