UC member meeting resolves on qualified support for CIT merger; rejection of private Polytechnic
A general meeting of NTEU members at UC on September 20th passed the following motions.
1. NTEU notes the publicly declared position of Vice Chancellor,
Professor Stephen Parker, supporting a merger of UC and CIT, and further
notes the recommendation of Professor Denise Bradley that such a merger
might produce educational and social benefits for students and the ACT
community provided that the distinctive roles and identity of higher
education and VET are preserved and enhanced within any new merged
In this context, NTEU recognises that any merger should reflect deep
collaboration rather than competition between UC and CIT. This would be
consistent with Professor Bradley's recommendation that UC/CIT
competition is likely to diminish the educational, social and cost-
effectiveness of the ACT tertiary education system. This is in contrast
to Professor Parker's continuing advocacy and support for the
establishment of a UC-sponsored private Polytechnic which currently
envisages direct and indirect competition with CIT. Such a Polytechnic
would be unsustainable following any CIT/UC merger unless Professor
Parker intends to eliminate significant components of the existing UC
and CIT program profiles in an attempt to boost the enrolments and
profitability of the private Polytechnic arm.
On this basis, NTEU is willing to consider support for a UC/CIT merger
if it creates a genuine fully public dual sector University with high
educational and employment standards which reflect the complementary but
distinctive roles of higher education and VET. For this to occur the
support of all CIT and UC stakeholders will be required. Any decision
of the ACT Government to endorse any merger process should only take
place after detailed negotiations and consultations with all parties. A
precondition for any merger must be the abandonment and/or windup of the
proposed private Polytechnic.
2. NTEU does not support the establishment of such a Polytechnic.
It will operate in direct competition with parts of UC's
existing program offerings as well as those of CIT. Moreover, the
primary motivation for the Polytechnic appears to be the establishment
of a private UC arm which sits outside the regulatory framework
established by the current UC Collective Agreement and aspects of
Commonwealth Government funding and administrative requirements for
public universities. At the same time, it seems unlikely that such a UC
Polytechnic can become profitable as a private arm unless there are
significant direct or indirect cross subsidies from existing UC public
assets; diminished employment, promotion and salary rates for teaching
staff and/or the closure or cutback of existing first (and maybe second)
year public UC courses.
3. UC Branch of NTEU will launch a campaign on these issues in
conjunction with the NTEU National Office and, where possible, with the AEU
ACT Branch. This will include an immediate submission to the ACT
Department of Education and Training and the ACT Assembly, to be
followed by a wider public campaign and action in the lead up to the
next round of UC Collective Bargaining. In pursuing a new Collective Bargaining round the UC Branch will seek to ensure parity of working conditions (including pay rates, superannuation, job security, and teaching and research loads) across UC and all of it's current and future subsidiaries (including the Polytechnic). As a preliminary step a log of claims will be immediately served on the UC Group to establish an interim Collective Agreement for the Polytechnic reflecting existing UC employment standards.