EIT votes on definition of academic staff role

Posted By TEU on Dec 2, 2010 |

Tertiary Update Vol 13 No 46

TEU members at Napier’s Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) are voting on whether to accept a new collective agreement that the union says will help protect academics from losing work to staff on a lower pay scale.

EIT has a new academic position, called a learning facilitator, whose role has been relatively undefined until this point, but essentially involves supporting other academic staff to ‘maximise students’ learning experience.’

TEU’s local bargaining team has negotiated a definition of the tasks that a learning facilitator can, and importantly, cannot do.  A learning facilitator will not for instance be able to take responsibility for programme design, lesson preparation or assessment (except when it is a checklist).

TEU deputy secretary Nanette Cormack says that the intention is that the new definitions will not only protect other staff from losing work or responsibility to the less well-paid learning facilitators, but will also help provide the beginnings of a career path for some learning facilitators to move into other academic positions.

“Currently there is some overlap between the top of the pay scale for learning facilitators and the first five steps on the pay scale for other academic staff.  When EIT merges with Tairāwhiti Polytechnic it is likely that a number of courses will be led by academics on one campus but delivered to smaller groups by learning facilitators on the other campus. It’s important if people are doing the full job of an academic, including programme design and lesson preparation, that they get paid the full salary.”

As well as the new job definitions the proposed new agreement includes two pay increases of 1.9 percent over two years and a one off payment of $700, which members should receive just before Christmas.  It also establishes a $2000 fund to help the two TEU branches at EIT and Tairāwhiti to meet and work through their own union merger issues.  Voting to ratify the agreement closes tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the government yesterday officially approved the merger between EIT and Tairāwhiti.  The two polytechnics will merge on 1 January next year. The Government has given $7.5 million to help with the transition to clear a backlog of maintenance work at Tairāwhiti and to pay for costs to rearrange courses. EIT told Radio New Zealand all employees of both polytechnics retain their positions for now, but back office jobs will be looked at in the new year.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Ministry’s answer for young Māori and Pacific students is more reviews
  2. Cutting budgets won’t necessarily save money
  3. TEU mourns Pike River tragedy
  4. Majority don’t want govt telling students what to do
  5. Communities call for caution in trade negotiations

Other news

TEU national president Dr Tom Ryan said what was is happening in Wellington – as Victoria University plans to close its gender studies course, Massey University considers closing the Wellington campus engineering school and a potential merger of Weltec and Whitireia – reflected a national trend. “Gender studies is an example of the pressure that’s being put on the liberal arts areas seen as less deserving of support than science and technology.” Dr Ryan says there have been more than 50 major restructurings this year, after the Government put pressure on the tertiary education sector to make cutbacks. Liberal arts are suffering, as well as language courses and Māori programmes, he says. –Dominion Post.

Massey University vice-chancellor Steve Maharey said restrictions on student places and huge growth led to the sudden closure of summer school enrolments in July. The university revealed on Tuesday that about 20 papers were pulled and enrolments almost halved after the university was forced to close the door on summer school. Of the students who missed out, 1347 lodged an appeal for a place at Massey University. More than half, 715 students, were accepted –Manawatu Standard

The Nelson teaching campus of the University of Canterbury will remain open after pressure from the community got through to decision-makers. Pro-vice-chancellor for the College of Education, Professor Gail Gillon, has confirmed that the 12-year-old Hardy St campus will remain open despite having been earmarked for closure. If the campus had closed, all training teachers who live in Nelson would have to have studied thorough correspondence – The Nelson Mail

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: stephen.day@teu.ac.nz

Thanks to Joyce Seitzinger @ Flickr for the photo
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