Time to call parrot pals

ANU researchers warn there could be just 300 Swift Parrots in the wild

Deforestation of their Tasmanian breeding habitat is the big problem.

If money for conversation-science can help pals of the parrot will surely rally round. IN 2017 ANU’s Difficult Bird Group wanted to crowd-fund $4000 for SP nesting boxes that would keep out predatory Sugar Gliders – people kicked in $57 000 (CMM October 20 2017).

UWA staff get benefits back

The expected Covid-19 cash crunch is not as bad as expected

Mid-year UWA’s then acting VC, Jane den Hollander and the National Tertiary Education Union negotiated temporary concessions on staff conditions in return for job protections (CMM June 30).

But UWA now confirms benefits are back, “thanks to the extraordinary contribution of all staff over the course of this year …. UWA is able to bring the cost saving measures agreed in the enterprise agreement variations to an end early.”   Plus, the job protections will run as agreed for the rest of the financial year.

“Thanks to the enterprise agreement variations we have avoided stand downs and redundancies as a direct result of COVID19, and the COVID19 Temporary Measures Committee (CTMC) has been successful in ensuring contract extensions,” National Tertiary Education Union WA secretary Catherine Moore says.

VET starts, fewer finishes

The estimable National Centre for Vocational Education Research reports all-VET 2018 attrition figures for 2015 starts  – which is good

What does not look great is overall completions are projected to be 41.4 per cent.

The highest completion rates are at certificate four (47 per cent) and the best by provider class was 58 per cent completions by international students in fee for service courses.

Diploma completions by 2018 are projected to be highest, at 63 per cent.

International arrangements veto bill in the Senate

The government’s bill over-sighting public universities international agreements was in the Senate yesterday – where no one ever goes off on tangents

Penny Wong (Labor) certainly does not – her questions on why private universities, using Bond U as an example, are not subject to the bill undoubtedly served an important purpose.

And Foreign Minister Marise Payne was keen to make it known that the government had consulted, and then consulted some more with universities, (public ones, that is).

Senator Payne referred to meetings with higher education peak bodies, and individual institutions on September 1, 4, 7 16 (twice) 17,25 (twice) 28, and 30, on October 7 and 9 and 23 November.

However, Tim Ayres (Lab-NSW) was not impressed, taking up a point Senator Wong made, that consulting is all very well but the time to do it is when a bill is being drafted.

And he added, “I would like to say that I have heard much criticism from the individual institutions in the university sector—although I have to say that some of the criticism from their peak organisations has been muted; you don’t hear much of any substance from them.” It may look like a tangent but somebody presumably got a message.

There will be more tangents, sorry, talking, before the bill passes.


252 Uni Sydney staff can take the money and run

Some 505 asked for voluntary redundancy but management wants half to stay

VC Michael Spence told the university community yesterday that expressions of interest from 137 academics and 115 professional staff are accepted, subject to more consultation on the impact of their exiting. In the case of 33, the university is consulting according to requirements of the enterprise agreement, which require asking the unions.

Dr Spence says there are many cases, “where making the position redundant would affect our capacity to continue vital work of the university, including where the educational experience of our students or our research outputs were significantly impacted.”

Staff accepted have until COB Monday to make up their minds.  And those who will not get the money and run might decide it is nice to be wanted, or not.

Appointment, achievement

The Australian Naval Institute award its McNeil Prize to Jason Scholz. The award is for “an outstanding contribution to the capabilities of the RAN. Professor Scholz (RMIT) is CEO of the Trusted Autonomous Systems CRC, one of the defence cooperative research centre programme, created when Christopher Pyne was defence industry minister (CMM May 24 2018).

 The Uni Queensland Senate has elected Peter Varghese to a second five-year term as chancellor, commencing in July.

40 new campus Superstars of STEM

Science and Technology Australia announces women scientists set to smash stereotypes

They join Superstar of STEM, a programme designed, “to create a critical mass of celebrity Australian women who work as scientists and technologists – role models for young women and girls – and to work towards equal representation in the media of women and men working in all fields in STEM.”

Participants receive comms training and opportunities to speak about their work and encourage girls and women to start, and stay in STEM.

Of this year’s 60-strong intake, 40 are academics. The full list is here

The university stars are,

ANU: Kiara Bruggeman

Centre for Eye Research: Jennifer Fan Gaskin

Deakin U: Dwan Price

Hudson Institute Medical Research/Monash U: Erin McGillick

UWA: Sabine Bellstedt

Macquarie U: Heather Handley, Joanne Jamie, Noushin Nasiri

Monash U: Melanie Finch, Rashina Hoda

QUT: Divya Mehta, Nicole White

RMIT: Jessica Danaher, Wenyue Zou

Swinburne U: Dana Rezazadegan

Telethon Kids Institute/UWA: Jessica Buck

Terrestrial Research Ecosystem Network/Uni Adelaide: Samantha Munroe

Uni Adelaide: Hannah Wardill, Jiawen Li

Uni Melbourne: Clare Kenyon, Kim-Anh Lê Cao, Kylie Soanes, Maria del Mar Quiroga, Priyanka Pilal

UWA: Parwinder Kaur

UNE: Marissa Betts, Mary McMillan

UNSW: Stephanie Gardner

Uni Newcastle: Hannah Power, Jessica Allen

Uni Queensland: Sonia Shah

Uni SA: Zoe Doubleday

Uni SA/Geological Survey WA: Emily Finch

U Tasmania: Lila Landowski

UTS: Jennifer Matthews, Jiao Jiao Li

Uni Sunshine Coast: Alexandra Campbell

Uni Wollongong: Holly Tootell, Marian Wong, Yee Lian Chew