Streamlined visa fiasco to be fixed this week

plus universities in uproar as government demands full costings for all courses 

Murdoch becomes industrial battleground

and Kim Carr speaks up for humanities and social science research

More of the same

Deakin U has a new corporate campaign. “Think Young,” which apparently is demonstrated by “an openness and eagerness to explore the new.” The TVC launched last night.

This will resonate with people who care that Deakin U is a century younger than the University of Melbourne but not matter much to anyone else. The good thing about the campaign is that the creative is substantiated in a suite of comms that focus on Deakin people. The average thing is that the campaign would work just as well for a dozen other universities. CMM liked better Deakin’s 2014 recruitment advertisement, “University: for when your dream career of pirate doesn’t work out,” (CMM July 25 2014).

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Canberra demands completing costings

Universities are in uproar over demands from Canberra for a mass of information on teaching costs, to be used in the government’s review of existing funding bands for Commonwealth Supported Places. The Department of Education and Training wants, comprehensive information on “the relative cost of the delivery of teaching and scholarship across disciplines and levels of study.” This is an immensely complex exercise and universities are alarmed by the tight deadline, with the DET requesting data by October 10.

In essence, DET is demanding from the whole system what a dozen universities provided for the 2011 Base Funding Review, which Labor education minister Chris Evans welcomed and then ignored.

Over the weekend university experts familiar with the 2011 process worked to create a framework for all universities to use so that data on everything from teaching through infrastructure to maintenance costs are expressed consistently.

The project follows from Education Minister Simon Birmingham’s promise to adjust discipline band funding for CSP. Back in August he told a Melbourne conference that; “we have to have a look at how the financial incentives the government has in place actually drive behaviour by the universities in their decisions on how many people to enrol in different disciplines … it means that perhaps support in some courses needs to go up, while support in others needs to go down,” (CMM August 15).

This is an immensely high-stakes process for universities, set to reform CSP funding rates established decades back and which in many cases bears no relationship to actual costs. University leaders are acutely consciously over permanent damage to their funding bases if inconsistent and ambiguous data from institutions leads to Canberra setting new rates, which do not reflect real costs. “We could all do a huge amount of work and end up with the old mess replaced with a new one,” a funding policy veteran said yesterday.

Mon Aug 22

Flinders’ big hire and a closed book on North Terrace

Mark Gregory is moving from the University of Adelaide  to be VP corporate services at Flinders U. This is something of a coup for the jewel of the south – its auld enemy was well pleased when it hired Mr Gregory from Portland State U to run IT back in 2013. But as he departs North Terrace Teresa Chitty arrives. The director of research and collections at the University of Melbourne library is stepping up to be UniAdelaide’s new librarian. Paul Wilkins has acted in the job since the departure of the long-serving Ray Choate last year (CMM May 6).

Ms Chitty’s first big challenge when she arrives in November will be to reduce books on the shelves by increasin the rate of archiving texts that are not being borrowed or are electronically available, as set out in the Library of the Future report released on Friday by DVC Pascale Quester.

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Pace to pick up on visa go slow

It seems ministers have got the message that the great international visa go-slow is serious indeed (CMM August 26 and August 30 ) and having heard that at least one thousand aspiring students are being blocked have told officials to pick up the pace, pronto. CMM understands Education Minister Simon Birmingham and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton have met on the fast-escalating problem. Last week Phil Honeywood from the International Education Association of Australia told CMM that the new, so-called streamlined visa system had the potential to lead to agents sending students to other countries. It’s gone past potential – it is starting to cost universities, and the country, money. Word is that a fix is expected in the next few days.

App of the day

CMM applauded La Trobe’s Josephine Barbaro and partner SalesForce for creating ASDetect, an app that provides diagnostic tests for families to use with children they suspect may be on the autism spectrum CMM February 15). Now there is a standing ovation for the app. The Australian Information Association has presented it with the 2016 R&D project of the year in its iAwards. Since February the app has been downloaded 10 000 times, and used in 4000 assessments. Be buggered with applause this is a research outcome that everybody should cheer.

What a coincidence!

In the week when the QS ranking (CMM tomorrow) is out and the ARWU discipline lists are published Times Higher promises to; “reveal exclusive new data from the Academic Reputation Survey that fuels the rankings.”

Murdoch battleground

Neither union nor universities are blinking in their industrial standoff in Western Australia. Both know that as WA goes so the rest of the country follows and there is a great deal at stake in the first exchanges of the new national round of enterprise bargaining. So much that the National Tertiary Education Union and the Australian Higher Education Industrial Association are in Fair Work Australia arguing about arguing, with the union appealing a ruling that it should correct the record on a statement re negotiations (which it had already withdrawn) that the AHEIA said is untrue.

Of the four public universities it seems Murdoch U is keen to take the lead and the two sides are slugging out terms there clause by clause. The university’s lawyers are also alleging the union is misrepresenting management’s position, which the NTEU rejects. The union adds that it is instructive that the management’s allegation was made within a working day of FWA considering an application for a ballot of NTEU members on taking protected industrial action.

This will all take some time.

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Out of ANU

Tim Grainger is leaving the ANU, where he is marketing comms manager at the College of Law to become director of the Parliamentary Education Office. It is “an opportunity too tempting for me to refuse (even with the current Senate),” he writes.

HEPPP can help

The Regional Universities Network has responded to the feds’ invitation to universities to explain why the government should not eviscerate the Higher Education Participation Partnerships Programme. As ever RUN responds with its usual admirably frank self-interest but it also makes a fundamental point;

“a long-term programme with public-policy commitment and funding stability is needed to fundamentally change the aspiration for, and participation at, university by underrepresented groups. It will take a generation to fundamentally lift the aspirations of students in relevant groups and address, the embedded, significant, inter-generational, multi-faceted education disadvantage that many face.”

Power as applied

Deakin researcher Dr Lucy Zinkiewicz and student Sophie Bromfield are exploring how, or if, the nature of organisations shape the ways men and women use power and influence differently. They are looking for people who work in Australian universities to participate. Their survey is here .

Carr speaks up

Nature abhors a vacuum so in the absence of Labor education shadow minister Tanya Plibersek saying much about the portfolio research spokesman Kim Carr made an fighting speech to the Deans of Arts, Social Science and Humanities on Friday. He condemned last month’s inane attack on humanities research in News Limited papers (CMM August 23) and suggested in failing to speak up for ARC funded work, Education Minister Simon Birmingham had “thrown your disciplines under the bus.”

“The implication that that the humanities are inherently misaligned with the public interest is a scandalous misrepresentation of the facts. These smears must be called out and condemned,” he said.

“Our plan for research policy recognises the contribution of fundamental research, of public-good research, of scholarship in the humanities, creative arts and social sciences, and in the work that scholars and scientists do to keep their disciplines flourishing,” Senator Carr added.

CMM guesses it went down well

Melbourne redmonds more

The University of Melbourne has announced a second 2016 round of Redmond Barry professors. The award is named for aUniMelb founding father and honours achievements in teaching, research and/or creative activity (CMM August 5).

Newly redmonned are Peter Bossaerts, BusEco, Frank Dunshea, VetAg, Billie Giles-Corti, Med&Dentistry, Ivan Marusic, Engineering, Geoff Taylor, Science, Stephanie Trigg, Arts, Rachel Webster, Science.

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