Western Sydney U set to centralise

While Flinders sails towards a simplified structure and UWA offers staff a different deal

 plus executives exclude academics (who knew!)

 and just as you get used to TEQSA, UniMelbourne makes the case for a new higher education regulator

Now its maths in caffs

Sydney and Melbourne both hold boffins-in-bars events, where academics talk about their work to audiences who like to learn by the glass via the Raising the Bar initiative   CMM  November 23). And now a learned reader points CMM to Mathsjam. “a monthly opportunity for like-minded self-confessed maths enthusiasts to get together.” The next event is on December 13 in 50 cities around the world, including Sydney. Details here.

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Flinders sailing to a new structure

Flinders announced its proposed new structure last night, with a plan to replace the existing four faculties incorporating 16 schools, with six colleges, medicine and public health, nursing and health sciences, science and engineering, education, psychology and social work, business, law and government and humanities, arts and social sciences. This announcement has been months in the planning and consulting, as required by the university’s staff agreement, however while it is fundamental to Vice Chancellor Colin Stirling’s 2025 plan it is not a response to hard times. Voluntary redundancies and early retirements have generated sufficient head count savings, around 200 , income assumptions have improved on the basis of higher expected enrolments.

If adopted the university administration will be restructured to suit the new organisation, which would commence in July. Overall it seems management roles will mainly be the ones to go or be transformed.

A farewell to Fed

After a decade in the job departing Federation U VC David Battersby was farewelled with a civic reception in Ballarat the other day. But no party to welcome his successor is announced, basically because nobody, apart from university chancellor Paul J H Hemming, knows who it is. Assuming, that is, the very long process to pick a successor is concluded. If not, no worries, its still five weeks until Professor Battersby goes.

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Executiving academe

Academics in Australia are being excluded from decision making on learning and teaching, according to Deakin U governance scholar Julie Rowland, who has researched practice at US, UK and Australian universities. She says academic and faculty boards are becoming fewer and have more members who are not “practising teachers or researchers.” This is due to universities being “executivised” with managers making the running in forums focused on teaching and learning. “Administrative processes intended to standardise and control outputs have had a big impact on curriculum, pedagogy and research practice, which has, in turn, has the potential to limit and define what can be taught and researched,” she writes.

Murdoch makes an offer

Murdoch University is offering staff a 3 per cent pay rise over four years. This is in-line with the 3.5 per cent Curtin U management has tabled in the existing round of enterprise bargaining for the same period and Edith Cowan’s 3.75 per cent, (CMM November 3). Murdoch U is said to have made the offer conditional on changes to a range of working conditions being met.

Case for expert advisers

The feds have finally got around to releasing all the responses to Minister Birmingham’s mid-year policy paper. Most were already available and some were forgettable – there isn’t much to say about funding universities not said already. If education inquiry submissions were laid in a line they would stretch from parliament house to perdition.

But one of the new releases, at least to CMM, is the University of Melbourne’s, which adds detail to Vice Chancellor Glyn Davis call for a new regulator. “If we are not going to have deregulation we need an effectively regulated system,” he  told CMM back in February.

Now his university proposes an Australian Higher Education Taskforce, which would “act as an expert and independent central advisory and implementation body” and advise the executive and bureaucracy on, “long-term planning, resource allocation and regulation of higher education.”

Just the thing for any government that decided deregulating higher education was just too hard and wanted something solid between ministers and demanding vice chancellors.

Shape of offers to come

The restructure at the University of Western Australia rolls on with roles being allocated and jobs being offered in big administrative areas, including student services. However people at UWA say the standard letter of offer includes variations to wages and conditions that are set out in existing employment terms. If so, it may reflect what management wants in bargaining now underway for the new enterprise agreement.

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Western Sydney set to centralise admin

At Western Sydney U word on the long awaited Project Essex is out. But as a learned reader suggest, just two words in yesterday’s briefing paper say it all, “consolidate” and “centralise. Essex, based on work by Deloitte, is the latest in a line of management commissioned reports to improve administration, following work in recent years by Ernst and Young and the Nous group.

According to a staff brief, a purpose of the exercise is to develop “a more effective and efficient service delivery by consolidating and centralising professional services.” And Deloitte delivers, with everything that looks susceptible to centralising being consolidated. There is no word of how many heads will roll; in fact the brief makes no mention of saving money. This is probably because the university is playing the restructure by the enterprise bargaining book, which requires consultation with the union on how many people will be sacked before they are sacked, although, the project rationale can mean whatever management wants it to mean. “The challenges of growing competition in our sector means there is a need to create sustainable service delivery models that will take the organisation into the future.” Good-o but last night people were reading “sustainable” as a synonym for jobs to go.

Newbies not named

The Australian Research Council has announced 58 new members of its College of Experts, the body which recommends who should get research funding. But who are they? A full list of the 176 strong college is  here, but the new 58 are not identified. Still, Research Offices will know who they are.

Heads Up: Big Weeks at Work

The Australian Academy of Science has awarded its academy medal to Ian Chubb, former Flinders and ANU VCs and celebrated chief scientist. The award is the academy’s highest honour for a contribution to science outside research.

Duncan Campbell is the new head of the School of Engineering at the University of South Australia. He moves from QUT where he is now professor of robotics, with a research focus on drone technology

Emma Johnston is the University of New South Wales’ new dean of science. She moves to the role from PVC R, which she took up midyear after Brian Boyle became DVC R (CMM May 3). Until she takes over in May now acting dean Peter Lovibond will continue, he will then become deputy dean.

Athman Bouguettaya is the new head of the University of Sydney’s school of IT.

Jogvan Klein is giving up his RMIT job of associate director of global mobility and entities (no less) and moving to the university’s Vietnam operation where he will be director, international.

The Australian Academy of Science award winners for 2017 are:

Mathew Flinders Medal: ANU colloid scientist Barry NinhamThomas Ranken Lyle Medal: University of Sydney astronomer Joss Bland-HawthornGustav Nossal Medal for Global HealthBarend Marais, University of Sydney. Jacques Miller Medal for Experimental BiomedicineJian Li, Monash University. Nancy Millis Medal for Women in ScienceKerrie Ann Wilson, University of Queensland. Anton Hales MedalJuan Carlos Afonso, Macquarie University. Dorothy Hill AwardJoanne Whittaker, University of Tasmania. Fenner MedalSimon Ho, University of Sydney. Gottschalk Medal: Kathryn Elizabeth Holt, University of Melbourne. John Booker MedalDayong Jin, UTS.Le Fevre Memorial Prize, Deanna M D’Alessandro, University of Sydney. Moran Medal: Joshua Ross, University of Adelaide. Pawsey Medal: Igor Aharonovich, UTS. Ruth Stephens Gani MedalSarah Medland, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.

The Australian Academy of the Humanities elected fellows for 2016 are announced. They are: Alastair Blanshard, classics (University of Queensland). Eric Csapo, classics (University of Sydney). Harriet Edquist, architectural history (RMIT). Ken Gelder, English and theatre studies (University of Melbourne). Helen Groth, English (UNSW). Sandra Hale, interpreting and translation (UNSW). Ariel Heryanto, Indonesian cultural politics (ANU). John Macarthur, architectural history (University of Queensland). Marc Oxenham medical anthropology in the ancient Asia-Pacific (ANU). Alastair Pennycook, linguistics, (UTS). Mary Roberts, art history (University of Sydney). Mina Roces, Philippines history, (UNSW). Nicholas Smith, philosophical logic (University of Sydney). Wanning Sun, China’s media and diaspora (UTS). Christina Twomey, Australian history (Monash University). Honorary fellows are, documentary maker John HughesAnne-Marie Schwirtlich, Australian National Library and novelist Tim Winton.

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