No green light for Aus unis in environment ranking

Plus union challenges cuts to come at UWA 

On their bikes

The University of South Australia was very pleased with the people enjoying its hospitality at the Tour Down Under bicycle race in SA on Saturday, asking what the collective noun for chancellors and vice chancellors past and present is. To which Uni SA marketing maven Byron Sharp replied; “a school is too obvious. Not a band nor gang. A bevy, plague, parliament? Maybe a dazzle.” CMM would never suggest “a puncture.”

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First of many meetings

The Fair Work Commission will hold a conciliation hearing between the University of Western Australia and the National Tertiary Education Union over the university’s pre-Christmas announcement that 300 jobs are to go. The union claims management is in breach of the UWA enterprise agreement, which requires Vice Chancellor Paul Johnson to consult with staff over job cuts and/or changes to workforce composition.

“It is clear the VC has made a decision to axe staff and that any consultation he now proposes would be cosmetic rather than providing a genuine opportunity to influence his decision,” the NTEU says.

Unless the parties resolve the dispute, which seems unlikely, the commission can move to a formal hearing. The conciliation is set for February 9. The university surely expected this so it will be interesting to see what surprise case management will present – the last thing UWA needs is a drawn-out brawl focused on the state of its finances, the reason it gave at Christmas for the cuts.

Great moments in marketing

“Come hear local Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson strum some tunes on the TAFE NSW busker stage,” (at the town’s country musical festival); via Twitter. Friday.

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Better in Beijing

Greg McCarthy thinks the Australian higher education model is unsustainable; “institutional responses to the funding crises will flow beyond 2016, with major professional and academic staff down-sizing, a significant rise in teaching-only positions, leaving research neglected, and an increase in academic workloads to fund any ongoing research and infrastructure expenditure,” he writes for the Asia and the Pacific Policy Society. So how fortunate for the University of Adelaide political scientist that he is off to Beijing where he will take up the BHP Billiton chair of Australian Studies at Peking University.

It certainly sounds like he will feel more at home there. “Australian university policy has erased the distinction between elite and vocational education. In contrast, China and Japan, under governmental planning, have clear lines of segmentation separating elite research universities and vocational institutions. The result is notable research achievements,” he says.

ANU’s loss

ANU is recruiting a new marketing director to replace Tracy Chalk who is off to the University of Western EnglandCanberra, Bristol, hard to tell them apart. Ms Chalk has been at ANU since January 2009.

No news not good news

Research administrators at the University of Wollongong are in the news this summer as much for what they are not saying as any achievement. First UoW led the country with no less than 13 subjects not rated in Excellence for Research in Australia due to “coding issues.” (CMM December 4). Only six other universities had subjects similarly cited, most just one or two but Wollongong has stayed silent on how the errors occurred.

And now there is the controversy, comprehensively covered in The Australian, of the award of a PhD to vaccination critic Judith Wilyman. The university says the award was made on the basis of reports by examiners who have “unchallengeable knowledge in the field of study.” Good-o, but who are they? CMM can find no reference in the university’s policies prescribing anonymity for examiners post award and wonders why they remain unnamed. Given criticism of the award who they are and what they wrote should surely help the university.

All in the state

South Australian Lynton Crosby has another honour to add to his UK knighthood. Australian Higher Commissioner, and fellow South Australian, Alexander Downer named him Aussie in the UK of the year on the weekend. This was too good an opportunity to miss for yet another South Australian, University of Adelaide VC Warren Bebbington, who in congratulating Sir Lynton just happened to mention he is a UofA alumnus. “The University of Adelaide is well-known for producing influential political minds, of all persuasions, and graduates like him continue to be an inspiration for students looking to enter politics and public office.

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Going green

The University of Nottingham is the world’s greenest campus in the Universitas Indonesia GreenMetric Ranking just out, but no, proximity to Sherwood Forrest has nothing to do with it. According to UI the award is based on “environmental setting, energy and climate change, waste, water, transportation (and) education.” This year’s award also includes institution’s carbon footprints.

The rest of the top ten consist of US, Irish, UK and Canadian universities, all up 407 universities are listed. As usual, the University of Melbourne leads for Australia, unusually it is only followed by one other institution. The University of New South Wales is there, at 57 but that’s it.

Kindly Swiss

If you get what you pay for in life a degree from MIT must be truly terrific. According to Laura Tucker from rating agency QS, undergraduate sticker price pa there is $US46 000. All the other US universities in the rater’s top ten are in the same price bracket, with the three UK institutions around a third for domestic students. For a real deal however ETH Zurich is the go, charging domestic and international students just US$1200 a year. Can’t fault the Swiss taxpayer for generosity.

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Education testing times

One-time news and media conglomerate Pearson is shedding 4000 jobs due to declines in its education testing business to focus on, um, education testing and courseware. The need for savings is due to cyclical factors, Pearson says, including an improving job market in the US leading to lower HE enrolments. (Across all post-secondary HE sectors starts were down 2.3 per cent last year, according to the US National Clearinghouse Student Research Centre).  Pearson’s education advisor Sir Michael Barber is normally chatty on Twitter, but not about this.

Taking the day off

CMM will not publish on Australia Day – back on Wednesday.

Know something the world needs to know? Anonymity guaranteed but lots of questions asked, stephen4@hotkey.net.au