and low inflation makes uni salary rises harder to fund

plus advice to medical research advocates: keep it brief

Deal delayed

A university campus continuing in Warrnambool after Deakin departs may not be the sure thing the government expects (CMM yesterday). Federation University, the less likely, well only, real possibility to take over is yet to make a decision, with the university’s council rolling over a decision last week to its June meeting. CMM hears a decision is promised by the end of that month at the latest. If it takes that long it will give Dan Teehan, Warrnambool’s sitting Liberal MP for the federal seat of Wannon exactly a day to sell an agreement before we vote.

Western Sydney U student numbers down

The staff freeze (CMM April 18) at Western Sydney University continues, due to a decline in student numbers after the HECS HELP census date. What is being called “a 2 per cent expenditure restraint” is applied to all operating units. Management is said to be hoping for a strong mid-year student intake to improve finances.

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Kaempf joins UQ elite

The University of Queensland has elevated political scientist Sebastian Kaempf to its elite College of Peer Observers of Teaching, (no, they do not get gorgeous robes to wear while observing campus classes). Dr Kaempf won the university’s 2012 teaching award. His MOOC “Global media and war” will run next year, which will require a different sort of observation altogether.

International advisers

Training Minister Scott Ryan did well in getting one statutory appointment before the takeover conventions kicked in (Mark Paterson at ASQA) but his colleague Richard Colbeck produced a stellar performance in appointing no less than ten members to his new Council for International Education. And what an interesting list it is, heavier on private sector and industry groups than on representatives of universities, the organisations that generate the big money in education exports.

Council members are; Tim Beresford (DVC Macquarie), Brett Blacker, (English Australia), Rod Camm, (ACPET) Claire Field, voced consultant and Mr Camm’s predecessor at ACPET) Phil Honeywood, (International Education Association of Australia), Jenny Lambert, (ACCI) the rotating chair of the Council of International Students Australia, now Nina Khairina, Simon Maddocks, (Charles Darwin U), Belinda Robinson, (UA) and Helen Zimmerman, (Navitas). But will they all ever get to meet? An in-coming Labor minister might have other members in mind.

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Keep it brief

The Medical Research Future Fund advisory board invites submissions for its five-year strategy and two-year priority plans. Yes this sounds like an invitation for very long, very loud statements that (a) Australia is behind the Central African Republic on research into (nominated disease) and that (b) more funding is urgently need to prevent (dire threat goes here). But the board obviously isn’t interested in wading through endless glossy brochure and volumes of supporting stats. All submissions must be three pages max and the priorities document includes specific questions. Responses are due on June 6.

Future finished

The future will be sooner than you think, what with applications for Australian Research Council Future Fellowships closing today week.

Indexed under “not much”

As the National Tertiary Education Union and WA universities prepare for the first round of new enterprise bargaining negotiations they will both be looking at how much money there is to argue over. The technical industrial relations term is “not much”, thanks to the feds and the state of the economy. The commonwealth used to allocate higher education grant increases according to the consumer price index, until Labor changed the formula to CPI plus the Professional, Scientific and Technical Services Labour Price Index, which moves ahead of consumer prices. (Campus Morning Mail May 23 2014). However the conservatives have wanted to switch back to the CPI alone and this is in the forward estimates, to start in 2018. Universities Australia would like things back the way they were, which is understandable given the CPI does not deliver much these days. Headline inflation fell by 0.2 per cent in the March quarter, for an annualised 1.3 per cent rate, which isn’t going to help a whole lot with the NTEU’s signalled ask of a 3.75 per cent pay rise per annum for four years.

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Farmers’ friends might even meet one

Charles Sturt U’s Wagga campus will be the new home of the Rural Industries Development Corporation. There was long-time talk that agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce wanted agricultural researchers out of flash Canberra digs and into towns where they might meet an actual farmer. Last June word was that the Grains Research and Development Corporation would leave lakeside Barton and relocate to CSU Wagga, (CMM June 9 2015). But no, it is ag research umbrella agency the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation which is making the move. The RIDC board made the decision weeks back but will visit CSU Wagga today for a meet and greet.

Not copping the cap

Labor policy people are wondering what got into TAFE Directors Australia in demanding that they should be exempted from the party’s proposed $8000 borrowing cap on VET course costs (Campus Morning Mail, yesterday). CMM understands the policy was explained to TDA including the exemption for legitimate higher cost courses exemption. In any case, Labor people point to Victorian and NSW TAFE guides which show most diploma courses are well under $8000, even before state government subsidies.


Poll prediction of the morning

Griffith U’s Anne Tiernan says Queensland could decide the election and that immigration minister Peter Dutton is at risk in Dickson.

Dolt of the day

Is CMM. Yesterday I reported that the University of Western Australia’s plans to develop land at Shenton Park depended on a change to its founding legislation, as similar proposals by Curtin and Murdoch U’s do. A reader advises that in fact the university can be as entrepreneurial as it likes, as long as profits are reserved for education purposes. Protests that the project will upset Carnaby’s Cockatoo are another matter but the university says it is “working through detailed state and federal environmental approval processes.”