Studylink, where’s my allowance?

Students have had a hard time over summer. I arrived in Hamilton to look for somewhere to live in November of 2012, and while I’d sussed out some empty flats to look at via Trade-Me, nothing prepared me for the state of the place when I got here – whole suburbs were ghost towns of empty student flats, and all I saw on campus when inquiring about post-grad papers were International students doing bridging courses over summer.



Eventually it sank into my stressed-out brain that there were no students here ‘cos they’d all gone home to parents, some of them for jobs but mostly for the free room and board.



Then Studylink announces its new parameters, and suddenly a bunch of previously capable and successful students (postgraduates) were persona-non-grata for study support, and indeed, enrollment in a New Zealand University. This is probably the greatest shift in student allowance availability since the Student Loans Act was passed in 1992. 
Cue tickets to Australia, and a windfall for Monash and its ilk. 
Knowledge Economy, it isn’t.



What are the current batch of undergrad’s supposed to make of this? 
How confident are you, handing in assignments, going to tutorials, aiming for the ‘A’ grade, when suddenly those who were your tutors last year have been told ‘don’t come back’, unless they have no need for student allowances or student loans to cover study costs.



Someone needs to tell the Minister of Education, the Hon Hekia Parata, that this is an unreasonable way to treat those of our student community who have actual proven track record as successful students – after all, post-grad is not a forgone conclusion, it’s something some of us agonise over for a year after completing Hons; and some even go out into the workforce for a few years before returning with enough experience of life to really value our university opportunities. E-mail her here hekia.parata@parliament.govt.nz



What-the-Hekia, this is the longest Recession since the Great Depression of the 1930’s, this is actually the very economic situation that our social welfare ‘safety net’ was designed for – when global conditions go sour, NZ has very little resiliency, due to our over-exposure to export earnings. 



There were no jobs going for the one in four maaori or pasifika students without jobs this summer; and the jobless rate wasn’t much brighter for our ‘cream of the crop’ high achievers, either. 


The net unemployment rate for 15-19-year-olds in the year to December was 30.9% [that’s just under 1 in 3 of the cohort ‘not in employment, education or training’ (NEET)] and for the 20-25-year-old bracket, it’s 18.5% [over 1 in 6 NEET]. 
These are people who can’t get a student loan, entry to a course nearby, or a job. 
They’re the people who aren’t here on campus with you this year, out of the kids you might have known at secondary school.

I tried to get figures from SJS and Winz on student hardship unemployment uptake over summer, but had no replies.
This was going to be an article for Nexus, the student paper at Uni of Waikato, but they seem to have lost possession of their testicles and couldn’t find it in their teeny shrivelled hearts to criticise Hekia Parata, a former WSU President, so here it is on g.blog.

Good Golly Ms Tolley

National announces its Education policy:

People wanting to be teachers may soon have to pass a personality test to assess whether they are right for the job.

It’s one of the moves planned by National should it retain power after Saturday.

Education spokesperson Anne Tolley released her extensive education policy today which covers everything from plans for a new funding structure for the early childcare sector to clamping down further on people who take out student loans.

Schools know that because the Standards are so flawed, the level of moderation is so inconsistent, and implementation is so varied around the country, any student achievement data based on them is completely unreliable. It is unfair and dangerous for ‘National Standards’ to be used to compare and judge school performance, let alone as an accountability measure”.

NZEI is also concerned that National wants to shift the resourcing model to ‘incentivise school performance’ as it suggests that money will be removed from those schools which are not complying with ‘National Standards’ or are not performing against them.”

“More measuring doesn’t make the pig fatter and National’s policy will simply increase the bureaucracy in education without adding value to the people who matter – children.

Message on behalf of TEU, urgent meeting at Victoria University of Wellington this afternoon.

Media Advisory:
Meeting 4pm Thursday 18 August, MacLaurin Lecture Theatre,
Kelburn campus, Victoria University

The decision announced earlier today to sack two lecturers in Victoria University’s International Relations programme to make way for new “themes” in the programme based around Security Studies and the Asia-Pacific region will lend urgency to a meeting of staff, students, University Council members and MPs scheduled for 4pm Thursday 18 August at the Kelburn Campus’ MacLaurin Lecture Theatre 102.

“We can’t tell exactly who will be attending the meeting other than students and staff at this stage,” says Tertiary Education Union Organiser, Michael Gilchrist, “but we see the current changes as a watershed issue for the future direction of the university.”

“There is no question of a lack of funds or student demand in the programme. On the contrary, an additional investment is being made. But younger staff, attempting to raise a family and build an academic career, are losing their jobs.

“We are particularly concerned that the university’s Academic and Faculty Boards, representing students and staff have not been consulted and that recent resignations in the programme have not been used to avoid making staff redundant.

“Likewise, students see the alarming implications for the courses they are taught, the relationships they have with lecturers and their plans for progression within disciplines if changes in the wind of management thinking can have this kind of effect.”

**For further information please contact**

Michael Gilchrist 021 770 846 or 04 463 5058

Further information on the situation at Victoria is also available at www.teu.ac.nz

Update:
There is another meeting happening to discuss the change proposal and responses to the VUW Council, on Wednesday 24 August at 5pm, until 8pm, in the Adam Art Gallery, Victoria University of Wellington.

This meeting is being called to discuss, organise and coordinate nationwide resistance on campus.

Amongst other things, the university is under attack from the government, with VSM set to pass in the next month. It is also under attack from its own management, with lecturers being sacked and research shut down in Wellington; whilst key academic conditions are being taken from academic staff in Auckland.

Robbie Shilliam, a lecturer in International Relations at VUW, will speak briefly about general issues.

Joe Kelly, an ex-student, will speak about past experiences of occupations which have occurred at VUW.

We will then discuss how to most effectively build resistance on campus, and make some plans.

Please invite anyone you think might be interested.

The change proposal can be accessed here.

Paying for free education

My kids’ kindergarten has just given us a letter saying that, due to government funding cuts, they will now be asking for a 50c per hour donation from the parents of each child to help cover the costs of our twenty free hours of early childhood education. For our two children that works out to about $13 a week, or $500 for the year. Continue reading

National Standards Bus Tour at Parliament

Next Wednesday (March 31st) at 12.30pm, the NEZI primary teachers’ union is holding a rally at Parliament to present its petition opposing the government’s imposition of “national standards”.

The government’s proposal means essentially exams for children as young as five, on a narrow range of subjects, to the detriment of their broader education and development. More info is available at:
http://www.handsupforlearning.org.nz/

The teachers are at the forefront of the union opposition to this government.
Come along and give them your support!

Wassup with the VUW School of Gender & Women’s Studies?

Most of you know I’m currently an academic feminist.

If it had been up to the VUW Academic Board, this would not be so.
At long last, Dr Lesley Hall has been confirmed in her position for another year, and the undergraduate papers in the School of Gender & Women’s Studies (GWS) will remain.

Great news, I hear you say.
Well, yes, but not for the mass of undergraduates who have been trying to enrol in papers that have not shown on the VUW enrolement website, nor have they been confirmed in any on or offline prospectuses so far.

It is a travesty of education policy to arbitrarily choose from one academic year to next whether courses will be continued, as the VUW Council have been wont to do with GWS over the past few enrolement seasons.
“Oh noes, we have falling enrolements, we must cut courses”, they say, when their late approval of courses has contributed to uncertainty about course provision – along with the mega-PR campaign encouraging undergrad students to enrol early online, where the courses don’t show.

So, if you, or anyone you know, had intended to take a Gend paper this coming academic year, jump back on the website and dump that Accy or Eng paper you chose instead, and create a huge paper trail of grumpy feminist students who want their courses back!

Rant over.

Tonite, and tomorrow afternoon, some students are graduating with majors in GWS, including (soon to be) Dr Alison Hopkins.
I shall be joining the other post-grad students in progress to congratulate Alison and the others, at our School pre-grad morning tea, then joining the procession in Lambton Quay as a ‘sidewalk photographer’ to record the achievements of those of my peers who have finished theses despite the distinctly unwelcome air we have studied in, as Fac Ed and FHSS fight over the living, breathing bodies of our postgrad students.
But I’ll save the ongoings of that argument for another post!

Here’s something pretty from back in 2008, when we first started complaining about the cuts to facilities for GWS.

2008 protest poster

2008 protest poster

Vacancy: Lecturer in Peace and Conflict Studies, Otago

I’m passing this around, in case any greenies are so inclined & qualified.

Lecturer in Peace and Conflict Studies (Confirmation Path)
National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies

Applicants should possess a PhD in Peace and Conflict Studies or a cognate discipline, and have an established or emerging track record of systematic research and publication. They should also have teaching experience at the tertiary level. Given that Peace and Conflict Studies is a new programme, candidates should be able to demonstrate skills in academic curriculum development as well.

The successful candidate:

* Will have a research background in peace and conflict studies with a significant number of peer reviewed publications. Some preference will be given to those with advanced knowledge in conflict analysis and resolution.

* Will contribute to the research environment by developing/contributing to local and international research groups, by attracting postgraduate students, and by competing successfully for research funding.

* Will be expected to teach two postgraduate courses per year in the area of Peace and Conflict Studies and to supervise 400-level Honours, Masters and PhD students.

* Will contribute to the administration and development of the Centre in particular, and the Division of Humanities and the University of Otago in general.

The position is available from 1 June 2010 and it is hoped that the successful applicant can commence duties as soon as possible around that time.

Specific enquiries may be directed to Professor Kevin P Clements, Director, National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies,
Tel 03 479 4546, Fax 03 479 8084,
Email kevin.clements@otago.ac.nz

Applications quoting reference number A09/163 close on Friday 22 January 2010.

Job Description: You can download the Lecturer in Peace and Conflict
Studies (Confirmation Path) job description (12 KB in PDF format) at
vacancy/otago006243.pdf

Application Forms: Download the Application Form in PDF format at
vacancy/otago002583.pdf

or MS Word format at
vacancy/otago002584.doc

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO): Download the EEO Form in PDF
format at
vacancy/otago002585.pdf

or Rich Text Format (RTF) at
vacancy/otago002582.rtf

Prior to applying for any academic staff vacancy, applicants should also read:

* Application Information for Academic Staff at
application_academic.html

and
* Information for Applicants for Academic Posts and Conditions of Appointment at
ConditionsofAppointment

Saving Our Students!

It’s that time of year again, so on behalf of student activists on Victoria University of Wellington campuses, I’m going to say something about tertiary education policy.

I principally joined the Greens in 1999 in shock at the $3 billion student debt, with the realisation that the Green Party had the best idea of how crippling this was going to be for an entire demographic of young grad’s, for a good chunk of their future.
I have been gratified to see first Nandor, then Meyt, achieve gains in the areas of interest write-offs on student loans, then interest-free student loans (but sadly, not back-dated); and a constant policy of universal access to student allowances, which is still in the campaign for accessible education for all.

Having got that off my chest, here’s the latest from my Alma Mater:

The VUW Council is meeting at 3pm on Monday, 6th October, 2008 to discuss fee-setting for 2009. It is expected that a 5% fee rise will be put to Council members to vote on.

The Education Action Group (EAG) is calling for all students with an interest in this issue to meet at VUWSA, ground floor of Student Union Building, Kelburn Campus, at 2.30pm, on Monday 6th October, 2008, before proceeding over to the public gallery of the Hunter Council Chamber, to protest against this fee rise.

A 5% fee rise means an extra $186 – 309 per undergrad average years’ enrollment, or $235 – 274 increase for taught post-grad, $216 – 262 increase for post-grad by thesis. That’s a lot of lunch-money, or a couple of weeks’ worth of rent if you’re lucky.

Currently, Student Debt is at $10 billion*, with an expectation that this will tick over to $11 billion in the new year, before the fee rise mooted will take effect. Constant fee rises each year only exacerbate the rate at which the total student loan debt increases. Interest-free loans policy is only a palliative for this problem, which is keeping young graduates working overseas for longer and longer periods of their lives in order to keep debt under control.

Come and join the protest!

There will be a banner-making session at 5pm on Sunday, 5th October, in the foyer outside VUWSA reception; anyone interested please e-mail president@vuwsa.org.nz for further information on building access.

Volunteers wanted to help with leaflet drops and poster-runs; reply to same address if you want details of how to help with this.

*details here: http://www.students.org.nz/index.php?page=10_billion