No such thing as a free lunch at Monash U

A learned reader reports indigestible advice in Monash University’s rules. Clause 77 (d) (ii) states; “If absent for lunch only, a staff member is not entitled to claim for that meal. To be considered as having been absent for lunch the staff member must have been absent from the university during the usual lunch period. Cl 77 (d) (iv) adds, “if absent for two meals the staff member may claim expenses for one meal. To be considered as having been absent for two meals the staff member must have been absent for any two meals … .”

“Even though a learned reader I do not understand this,” the LR remarks.

Staff protest to Flinders U council as restructure rolls-out

The academic restructure at Flinders U is picking up pace. The university is asking (not that they have a lot of choice) specified academics in balanced teaching-research roles to apply for jobs in either teaching or research roles (CMM October 2).  The fear among staff is that some will see their old role go but not get a new one. The College of Nursing and Health Sciences is now talking to effected staff and change proposals were released Thursday for two-weeks consultation in science and engineering, education psychology and social work and medicine and public health. The remaining colleges, business, government, law and HASS, are expected to put their plans to staff before month-end.

But it will be to no avail if the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union has its way. This week the union is expected to lodge a dispute in the Fair Work Commission, arguing the process involvesshame redundancies by any definition.”

The union has also drafted a letter to the university council, said to be signed by 250 academic staff, complaining that academics are not being consulted and their “status in the new structure” appears to depend on research output, which unfairly ignores, “the impact of their past and present formal and informal workload on their research productivity … as well as the possible failure of past performance management processes.”

VC Colin Stirling says the restructure is about the university doubling research performance and achieving, “international recognition as a leader in contemporary education.”

La Trobe looks to apply autism ID app in China

La Trobe U is looking for not-for-profit partners in China to launch its early childhood autism-detection app, ASDetect. Based on work by the university’s Josephine Barbaro the app, “guides parents through age-appropriate assessments, using videos of children both with and without autism to illustrate questions about social communication milestones.”

UniSyd an “intellectual backwater” if Ramsay civ centre established

The University of Sydney must reconsider a partnership with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, “if it is serious about remaining internationally attractive and to maintain, or indeed increase, its global ranking,” Charlotte Epstein warns in an open letter to Vice Chancellor Michael Spence.

Associate Professor Epstein works on international relations theory in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, where any Ramsay funded degrees would be based. She is one of a range of senior researchers arguing against the civ centre proposal.

According to Aspro Epstein, a “west centred” centre will make the university “an intellectual backwater” and the proposal is “puzzling” given Australia’s history, “ ‘western civilisation’ has been the driving factor in the dispossession of Aboriginal peoples and in the trampling of their rights, which is not simply a thing of the past. Australia is recognised as being the settler colonial state that has the least come to terms with this past; hence an initiative in this direction is puzzling,” she argues.

“I find myself lost for words when I am asked by my international colleagues to explain the university’s undertaking. I know that this embarrassment, dismay even, is widespread among faculty.

“Not only is it ethically deeply problematic, the initiative is un-strategic in the current international market. It will make the University of Sydney unattractive to international scholars at the cutting edge of my, and many other, fields.”

A meeting of staff opposed to a Ramsay centre is set for October 29.

A snag in UniCanberra’s advice to staff

Union members at the University of Canberra will strike for a half-day Wednesday as part of the union’s enterprise bargaining campaign. Only union members can participate in the protected industrial action, a point made plain to a staffer who asked the university if those who aren’t could attend a protest during lunch breaks (word is there will be snags). Management’s initial response was that this “may constitute participation” in the strike, although word now is that no-one is going to be pursued for taking a sausage-break with the comrades.

The university also told union members that they had to advise management if they intended to strike by Friday, so pay could be deducted for the next pay day, (Thursday). The union says staff are not obliged to tell management that they are stopping work before they have stopped.

UniMelb says no reduction in conditions for senior managers

Some staff at the University of Melbourne outside the proposed enterprise agreement agreed by management and the union are feeling exposed. Academics in executive roles are not covered by the deal, nor are professional staff earning more than $144 000. The fear is that management will offer people agreements that are light-on for contractual rights and set out conditions as university policies, which management can change as suits it.

However, the university responds that “relevant terms” of the 2013 agreement will continue and improvements proposed in the new deal will apply. “There will be no reduction of terms and conditions, as it is important that we maintain and grow competitive and attractive terms for our senior management roles,” a university representative said yesterday.

Information sessions for staff start this week.

Appointments, achievements

Jim Nyand (ACU) has taken over as chair of Engagement Australia and Callista Thillou (Flinders U) is the new deputy chair. EA provides community engagement resources and research for 17 university and NUHEP members.

Matt Brett is leaving La Trobe U, where he is higher education policy manager. He is moving to Deakin U, to become director, academic governance and standards.

Cancer researcher Phoebe Phillips (UNSW) is a 2018 Eisenhower Fellow, which funds seven-week programme in the US. Venture capitalist Toby Heap is the other Australian fellow.

The two CSL Centenary Fellows are Connie Wong (Monash U) and Daniel Pellicci (Peter Doherty Insitute). Dr Pellicci will use his $1.25m to study “unconventional: T Cells in tuberculosis.  Dr Wong will use hers to investigate connections between brain and immune system.

Astrophysicist Lisa Harvey-Smith is the Commonwealth’s inaugural Women in STEM ambassador. She will “advocate for girls and women in STEM education careers.

The University of Queensland has won the education and training category in the Queensland Premier’s export awards for the work of the International Marketing and Recruitment and Admissions team.

Sue Keay from QUT is named by  Robohub one of 2018’s 25 women in robotics one needs to know about. Dr Keay is CEO of the university’s robotic vision centre.

The UK and Ireland Society for French Studies announces Natalie Edwards from the University of Adelaide is its 2018-19 international visiting fellow.