Administrators out more academics in at Uni of Queensland

plus waiting at Warrnambool

Win for UWA in sacking case

and big job news of the week

Cyber comrade

Kim Carr looked cautious when he met Pepper, CQU’s humanish-looking robot, the other day, “as if he suspected it of being part of a Centre Unity branch stack,” CMM suggested. But no, CQU ed tech researcher Michael Cowling suggests robots will be classroom-teaching assistants. Senator Carr was obviously wondering if Pepper is a member of the Australian Education Union.

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Cuts to come at UoQ

After a year of investigation University of Queensland management presents its administration as inefficient and argues it is time to roll out a reorganisation of all support services, starting with HR and finance functions. Staffing costs in these functions are anything up to 54 per cent above “best in class” the university announced in a paper yesterday.

UQ’s current approach to service delivery consumes resources that could be otherwise directed to enhancing teaching and research. Our staffing profile trend and ratios indicate a decrease in the number of teaching and research staff, in tandem with an increase in student numbers … .These trends are not sustainable in the longer term given their impact on both the learning experience and staff well-being. Investment in additional teaching and research staff needs to be made to address this imbalance.”

The paper also sets out a new service delivery structure for both functions and acknowledges; “it is likely that over time some professional staff positions may no longer be required”, which rather seems the point of the exercise to CMM. As to how many staff are “some” is not stated.

In a message to the university community yesterday Vice Chancellor Peter Hoj said he knows “change is difficult and I assure you that if these proposals are implemented, affected staff will be supported throughout any change process.”

Consultations on the proposal will occur until July.

High price of advice

At the University of Melbourne the National Tertiary Education Union is claiming credit for management releasing information on 2015 consultancies, which the NTEU says was left out of the annual report. Most are straightforward stuff, of the advice on walking upright kind, but a couple stand out. Like the $4.4m Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC to its pals) charged for presumably the last burst of work on the Business Improvement Programme, which as CMM goes to press is still, improving. There is also half a million to keep the university’s Australia India Institute ticking over, perhaps in the hope that the Indian parliament passes legislation allowing international universities into the country on practical terms.

And then there is the $2.4m McCann Worldgroup charged for a brand campaign, which CMM suspects is the research focused “Collision”. CMM is a big fan of this strategy but as it is based on continuing university input the agency fee is not the half of the actual cost. In contrast, consulting for the School of Engineering’s “vision and growth strategy” cost just $15 000. Can’t fault the engineers for being economic in their dreams.

Monday

UWA sacking upheld

The University of Western Australia sacked forensic scientist Ian Dadour last year, “following an independent investigation into claims of misappropriation of university funds,” CMM April 13 2015). And now the Fair Work Commission has backed the university’s decision. According to Commissioner Williams;

Professor Dardour was an employee of many years service who prior to his dismissal was the Director of the Centre for Forensic Science and whom had been made a Winthrop Professor. Whilst Professor Dadour points to these matters as ones that should be taken into account in his favour they do not assist him in the circumstances of this case. It would be difficult to imagine in what circumstances the seniority or length of service of an employee would excuse the misappropriation of $38 500.

“The dismissal of Professor Dadour was not disproportionate to the gravity of his misconduct. The dismissal of Professor Dadour was neither harsh, unjust or unreasonable. The dismissal of Professor Dadour was not unfair,” the commissioner stated.

The judgement also vindicates the university’s handling of the matter. “I am satisfied that Professor Dadour has received ‘… a fair go all round’ the Commissioner Williams concluded.

Waiting at Warrnambool

Deakin VC Jane den Hollander is holding a staff forum at the university’s Warrnambool campus today and you can guess what all the questions will be about as the stalemate over its fate drags on. Deakin wants out of Warrnambool and hopes another uni will take it over but none have stood up, with the most likely successor, Federation U, promising a decision at the end of the month.

If Professor den Hollander was hoping she would have something new to say following a Wednesday night community meeting she will be disappointed. CMM understands 150 locals heard nothing new from federal MP Dan Tehan (Lib-Wannon) and the Labor and Greens candidates. Mr Tehan reminded the audience that there was $14m for the Warrnambool campus in a regional adjustment fund, which was not tied to the election result and everybody agreed that it should stay open. Unless Fed U makes an unqualified offer this is going to keep on dragging on until it lands on the desk of whoever is minister after the election.

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Topic of Capricorn

Good to see the government so attuned to education-needs in Queensland seats. In February the prime minister opened a building at CQU’s Rockhampton North campus (CMM February 7) and now regional development minister Fiona Nash has promised $10m for a regional sports precinct at CQU Mackay, in the neighbouring seat of Dawson. Michelle Landry holds Capricornia in the Liberal interest – just. Her two party preferred vote in 2013 was 50.77 per cent. George Christensen is much safer in Dawson, with a 57 per cent TPP vote last time.

Creative CASE studies

The University of Melbourne has just won six advertising and comms awards at the US Council for Advancement and Support of Education annual conference, including a gold for Collision (above). The University of Sydney won a silver award for its “raising the bar” series of talks by academics in boozers (CMM September 30 2015). And the University of Western Australia scored a bronze for a new student enrolment package.

No Monday issue

With a public holiday in most states on Monday CMM is taking the day off. Back on Tuesday.

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Heads Up: moves of the week

 The Australian Research Council farewelled the endlessly energetic, prodigiously professional and kind to all comers, Dinah Bryant yesterday. The comms chief is off on maternity leave, for baby number three. Every hack who ever called her with a stupid question (as CMM did many times) will miss her calm, courtesy and ability to translate impenetrable ARC announcements into language journalists can understand.

 Neville Owen is joining Swinburne U from the Baker IDI, reflecting SU’s emerging investment in health science. Professor Owen researches physical activity in preventing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Mark Erickson is moving from ANU to become academic registrar at the University of Queensland. He replaces veteran Maureen Bowen who held the post for the last five of her 27 year UoQ career.

UTS is recruiting a deputy director of alumni relations. While applicants need to be proactive and passionate about UTS alumni (even before they start!) a higher education background is not specified.

The University of Wollongong has a new dean of medicineNicholas Zwar, now at UNSW. Professor Zwar replaces current dean Ian Wilson who wants to “return to his preferred role” as associate dean, learning and teachingProfessor Zwar starts in October.

The endlessly energetic constitutional lawyerauthor, commentator and science fiction critic (“in a courtroom far, far away”) George Williams took over as dean of law at UNSW this week.

Helen Sullivan is the new director of the ANU’s Crawford School of Public Policy. She is moving from the Melbourne School of Government.

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