Undead budget cuts

What’s next, shopper dockets?

“The question ‘what do students hire the University for?’ underpins our continuous effort to improve the quality and efficacy of what we offer our students.” Macquarie University’s Chief Operating Officer Dr Paul Schreier, writes.

A bob each way

In Western Australia the National Tertiary Education Union is backing both Labor and the Greens in the imminent Senate election, because the parties oppose university cuts. Good-oh, I wonder which party’s candidates it wants in winnable spots? The union certainly seems keen on Greens senator Scott Ludlam. It is promoting a talk by him at Murdoch University (lunchtime Tuesday) on “a range of issues … that continue to shape our media and culture”. Strangely, the need for increased education funding is not mentioned, but I’m guessing it will come up.

Zombie cuts that will not die

Not long before Senator Ludlam is set to speak in Perth the Senate is scheduled to consider the Higher Education Support Amendment (Savings and Other Measures) Bill 2013. Yes, it is the legislation Labor proposed last April, which the party now opposes. The Senate has already thrown it out once and will surely do it again – even without Senator Ludlam’s help. But even if this happens these zombie cuts will surely stagger on and be incorporated in the budget.

Short and to the point

At a Swinburne Online Parliament House breakfast the other day Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister Alan Tudge tweeted positive noises about digital technologies, “which are already changing our higher ed sector”. As the author of a report on online education I am guessing he would know. Trouble is the report, undertaken before the election, was never made public. Maybe the tweet was it.

Oh good, another inquiry

“Start preparing your submission now to the Senate Inquiry into Australia’s Innovation SystemSenator Kim Carr enthusiastically advised yesterday. Don’t rush; the new Senate Economic References Committee inquiry into Australian industry innovation is not due to report to July – 2015 that is. Even so this is not an inquiry to ignore, what with terms of reference that the constituent factions of the research community can use for all sorts of purposes. The free kicks possible with requests for advise on research funding models, industry links, and career paths will carry sector players from one end of the field to the other. But the big one is; “the importance of translating research output into social and economic benefits for Australians, and mechanisms by which it can be promoted.” This is a chance not to be missed by advocates of using research impact for allocating funding. Unless, of course, the government gets their first, with funding reforms of its own. Who knows what will happen. It’s a long time, and two budgets before the committee reports.

Unkind cut

CMM’s Cruel Joke correspondent points to the program for the University Financial and Planning Conference, on in Sydney next week, which includes a workshop on “how to achieve long-term financial sustainability.” The featured speaker is Pranay Lodhiya, chief financial officer at La Trobe University. Yes that La Trobe, the one planning cuts to avoid a $50m plus deficit. Perhaps Mr Lodhiya is hoping for hints.

Irrelevant at UWS

After a year of brawling at the University of Western Sydney it seems as if  the NTEU is out of puff and management is equally exhausted. Last week the campus branch of the union called off industrial action in the hope that management was moving on stalled enterprise bargaining talks. But now the NTEU says nothing happened and “staff are becoming increasingly disillusioned with the failure of management to acknowledge their contribution.” Talk about a tremulous tocsin. Neither side is winning at UWS. Management does not seem confident it has staff support. There is nothing stopping the university asking staff to vote on its existing offer for a new enterprise agreement. But it also seems the union worries university life will go on much as usual if there is a full-scale strike. It’s probably too strong to suggest the UWS community wishes a plague on both sides’ houses, if only because to do so assumes staff take the EB process seriously. I doubt the stoush took any of the gloss off the university’s 25th anniversary events yesterday.

Easily done

The ERA Whisperer (aka Owen Pelly, which I suspect may not be a real moniker) advises that 1000 or so conferences are nominated for ERA 2015’s Journal and Conference Consultation Interface (JACCI to its mates) which does not strike him, or her, as many. “Let’s just say that this conference thingy might be a debacle.”  Surely not. As anybody who looks at the JACCI guide  knows, working the process out takes only patience, and a fascination with bibliometry.

Johnny we’ll get to read ye

It’s not quiet a presidential library but John Howard’s papers are to have a home of their own, outside the National Archives with the University of New South Wales housing them at ADFA. Mr Howard’s papers from 1974 to 1996 will be available from May, with records from later years following under the usual access conventions. But why UNSW @ the Defence Forces Academy? The reason given is that Mr Howard deployed lots of troops as PM – by which logic the papers could have gone to the War Memorial, (coincidentally now run by Howard Government defence minister Brendan Nelson). Not that there is anything wrong with physically locating them at ADFA instead of in the National Archives, it’s digital access which will matter.

Heart not in it headline of the day

“Former nurse from Brisbane publishing shortlisted manuscript.” The University of Queensland managed to be brief and boring yesterday.

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