UWA ordered to talk more about job losses

Plus McMillen stays on at Newcastle and cuts the National Library wont talk about

Free kick

The University of New South Wales will “support” Sydney Football Club ı(it’s a soccer team) in the Asian Football Confederation’s 2016 Champions League. “It’s a natural fit,” says Vice Chancellor Ian Jacobs what with UNSW students enjoying soccer. As does the VC ,who supports London team Arsenal. Funnily enough there is no word on what supporting Sydney FC will cost.

Campus Morning Mail

UWA go slow
The University of Western Australia’s plan to sack 300 people is delayed following a decision yesterday in the Fair Work Commission. CMM understands that a conciliation conference was held before Commissioner Williams yesterday following the university and National Tertiary Education Union failing to resolve the dispute. The university’s senior deputy DVC Dawn Freshwater is now expected to send an all-staff email stating that VC Paul Johnson’s December announcement of job losses and a university-wide restructure was premature because staff consultation had not occurred and the number of jobs to go was not decided. The consultation period will be extended, albeit briefly, to March 7. Professor Freshwater’s present schedule has an all staff forum on February 22.

The university is also now required to consider savings proposals that do not require redundancies and to open access to the minutes of meetings that determined options, which were sent to the university senate. These are believed to be the proposed redundancies and restructure and alternatives, to cut staff without organisational change, and performance savings under the existing structure.

At a staff meeting on February 3 despite a great deal of detail, Professor Freshwater repeatedly referred to the restructure and 300 job losses as proposals, (CMM February 2). Turns out she was right. This setback does not derail management’s plan but it certainly slows it and will encourage further procedural challenges. The restructure was never going to be easy but it is getting harder.

Aux armes!

“Our Bachelor of Arts programs are coming to the Wimmera and GrampiansFederation U announced yesterday. Citizens, you are warned.

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Cut and come again
CMM understands National Library of Australia staff were briefed by management on Tuesday on the impact of budget cuts. However a spokeswoman declined to comment yesterday. Back in December the ANL took a hit, with a reported $1.5m being cut from forward funding for the next four years so CMM asked yesterday if staff had been briefed since then on the impact of those reductions. The spokeswoman again declined to comment. So the good news, which is pretty bad, could be that the details of the December cuts is now reaching the people who will cop them. And the bad news, which is worse, is that there are more cuts to come. We will know when, or if, the library comments.

Newcastle VC stays on

Caroline McMillen has a second term as VC, through to 2019, at the University of Newcastle, where she started in 2011. Her renewal was announced yesterday by Chancellor, Paul Jeans. Professor McMillen has done pretty well so far, pursuing a reputation for Newcastle as a research-intensive university in a regional setting while serving some communities with relatively high levels of disadvantage. The university has strong research capacities in engineering and medicine and does well in the applied research stakes. In ERA 2015 it was up with the Group of Eight, with ten “well above world class” ratings for medical and health science. In 2014 it was next after the Group of Eight for ARC Discovery Grants. The occasional problem on her watch, central cost communities to the south occasionally arc-up about being ignored for example, are quickly contained. And her expansion into the city’s CBD was glowingly supported by the city’s daily paper. She is also happy to go it alone, taking Uni Newcastle out of the Innovative Research Universities group to lobby for itself alone (CMM December 18 2014).

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Worth paying for

Commercial journal publishers have a new competitor, although billion dollar behomoths like Elsevier will not likely notice that ANU academic Julieanne Lamond and colleagues have taken over Australian Literary Studies. The journal is still to publish two more issues in print before going digital but its 1000 essay archive is already electronic  – making it an invaluable scholarly resource. But it’s not open access!

Why not CMM asked? Because the people who do the work on journals, copy editing and the like deserve to be paid, which the commercial publishers don’t do, Dr Lamond replied. And it’s not exactly going to cost universities ($75 per annum) or individual academics ($25) a bomb to subscribe. Access to new content is free for the first six months, after which essays go behind a paywall but authors are able to post pre-pub drafts to their university’s repository.

Explaining “innovation” for tax officers

Ask university research funding chiefs what they think about tax deductions for corporate research and development, and they will tell you the money buys a bunch less benefits than it should. In fact, you don’t have to ask before they start explaining what they could do better with some (but preferably all) of the $3.5bn Treasury expects the R&D deduction to cost by 2017-18. However business unsurprisingly likes things they way are.

“The challenge is in designing an effective mechanism to support the activities most likely to generate spill-overs and be additional to business-as-usual; and to ensure that the administration of the programme facilitates businesses use,” as the econocrats diplomatically put it.

The deduction is being reviewed now by Bill Ferris (chair of Innovation Australia) Chief Scientist Alan Finkel and Treasury secretary John Fraser as part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

But working out who should get tax concessions and for what is more taxing (sorry) than it looks, as demonstrated by another review, of incentives for early stage investors in innovations. As Innovation Australia points out, this discussion paper struggles to define “innovation.” Thus Treasury proposes a set of principles. “A principles-based definition is intended to be intuitive and draw upon established industry terminology which will allow the law to accommodate new innovative entities not yet envisioned at this point in time. In addition, companies should be able to utilise existing documentation, such as a business plan, to determine whether they would qualify.”

Good luck to innovators hoping officials recognise a “new innovative entity not yet envisioned” when they see one. Maybe they could ask people to assess proposals who actually know about whatever the science is. The ARC can’t be that busy.

Problem not parked

Staff and students at Deakin U’s Melbourne campus at Burwood have long lamented that it is easier to find an expensive car park than a cheap one (CMM January 28) But they need lament no longer, because the state government has laid on a new shuttle bus to a convenient train station. With 27000 students at Burwood, CMM suspects the price of parking problem is not solved.

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Grammy men

First the University of Queensland and Griffith U claimed Grammy winner Tim Munro as their own – he has degrees from both. And now Southern Cross U is thanking the judges as it accepts the accolade for having another Grammy winner who is a graduate. Joshua Blair, who worked on the audio for Mr Bruno Mars’s record of the year, has a BA with a major in contemporary music from SCU.

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