Head-high hyperbole

Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic announces ministers responsible for the construction sector are “tackling challenges head on.” And there was CMM thinking you could incur a 50 metre penalty for that.

La Trobe U pay for longer hours offer “extra egregious” says union

Just in at the “what a surprise!” desk

LTU’s enterprise bargaining pay offer is 13.6 per cent 2023-25, plus it points to a 2 per cent admin pay rise last year. But the union responds that 3.6 per cent of the offer is to cover a proposed increase in working hours , which is not on.

“Management have the funds to offer the 3.6 per cent and they should do so without the increase in annual hours worked by staff,” says the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union.

But how extra are these egregious hours the university proposes? According to LT U management the “proposed adjustment to work hours,” is 3.57 per cent, to bring the university “in line with the rest of the Victorian HE sector.” (CMM June 2).

To which the union responds, “Overwork is already rife at LT U.”

Campus Morning Mail is about to be over and out

Last issue Friday. Thanks for reading. And thanks to everybody who made it happen. You know who you are and I hope you know how grateful I am.

CMM is, always was, dedicated to Stephanie Raethel whose love and wisdom kept the press rolling for just shy of ten years

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Improving student learning for all learners must be at the heart of the Accord. A national resource to lift outcomes and benefits for all through relentless improvement in university teaching is the way to do it. Liz Johnson, Sally Kift, Jason Lodge and Siobhan Lenihan make the case for their proposed National Centre for Student Success, HERE.

plus Amanda-Jane George (CQU) and Julie-Ann Tarr (QUT) on the great FOI go-slow. Academics require access to (inconvenient, uncomfortable) government information. It’s why they need to watch for the results of the latest freedom of information inquiry, HERE

with Alice Brown and Jill Lawrence (Uni Southern Queensland) on solving the nudge-nag conundrum and how it help students on-line  HERE

These are the last selections by Commissioning Editor Sally Kift for her celebrated series Needed now in learning and teaching. Thanks Sally, you expanded the national discussion

What students pay for isn’t always education

The Public Universities Australia lobby is unhappy with utilitarian attitudes to education among ministers who see it is about, “securing employment, which supposedly ensures that graduates are able to earn a good income from which they can afford to repay their student loan debt.”

This PUA argues in considerable length is wrong on many grounds, ethical, educational, financial and philosophical.

PUA also raises a pragmatic point – whether students get value for money. “There is also the question of whether student fees should be paid at all when they are not spent by universities directly on the costs of their education,” in which the PUA includes, teaching, research and community outreach.

Good-o, but it would be a problem in these straightened times if students, especially internationals, started asking what was in it for them for their fees to fund research.

It’s a question that could come up, it has in the past. In 2015 Andrew Norton  made an impressively questioning case.

““In theory, students could benefit from greater investment in their education. In practice, there is no guarantee that additional funding, whether private or public, would provide direct educational benefits, such as small classes or more personalised help. That is because universities have powerful incentives to spend extra money on research instead.”

It resonated with then powerful people. Belinda Robinson, then CEO of Universities Australia noted, “what this demonstrates is that dedicated funding streams for research are clearly insufficient to fund the real costs of doing world-class research … while the quality of education is enhanced by being research-informed, funding for research must not come at the expense of teaching and learning programmes.”

And then Uni Adelaide VC, Warren Bebbington pointed out, “there is little doubt that part funding research from course fees makes for a disconnect between the fee a student pays  and the outcomes the student expects. It also conceals the real cost of research, and its systemic underfunding.” (CMM November 2 2015).

The question for students then and now is how much they get of what they pay for.

Uni Adelaide’s slim surplus

It reports a 2022 operating result of $12m and an underlying outcome of $14m

The operating profit is down $186m on 2021 – for mostly the same reasons universities in eastern states have had less declines than free-falls in earnings.

Uni Adelaide reports falls in investment income, no one-off Commonwealth pandemic funding and the continuing effect of Covid caused enrolment falls.

“Forecasts indicate indicate that 2023 and future years will be challenging,” the university states.

They won’t be the only challenges – a decision to merge with Uni SA is expected at month end.

Claire Field farewells CMM with calls on three big issues


With the final edition of Campus Morning Mail to be published on Friday, let me start by thanking Stephen Matchett for the vital service he has provided for more than a decade. Bravo!! And thank you also for your faith in me 182 columns ago when you first invited me to write for CMM

And so to some final observations:

 Higher education – equity

As university leaders read the latest public opinion results which show growing support for the “no” case on the Voice to Parliament – they would do well to listen to my podcast interview with ECU’s Braden Hill.

In a detailed discussion about what equity in higher education really involves, Professor Hill not only goes on to remind us of Megan Davis’ warning at the UA conference that “silence (on the Voice) is a political decision”. He goes on to ask “if the no vote wins, will we be comfortable with the role our sector played?”

 Higher education – changing world of work

Congratulations to the University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney’s business schools for the work they are doing to help both employers and their alumni adapt and respond to the changing world of work.

As I have watched the growing prevalence of short courses being offered within and outside traditional tertiary institutions, I had wondered if Australia’s oldest and most research-intensive universities would sit back and rely on their reputations and prestige. Last week in two separate meetings – it was great to see that in fact both universities are acutely aware of and responding to the growing demand for short, just-in-time, courses to help people and organisations adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing world. I look forward to seeing their respective next steps.

 VET – funding

My first column for CMM focussed on VET data and funding and that’s where this one ends. In Senate Estimates, officials released the latest data showing how the Federal Government’s Fee Free TAFE funding is being allocated (and they are to be congratulated for doing so, state governments have typically shared far less data on their Free TAFE initiatives). Officials also signalled a move to greater national consistency in VET funding in the new National Skills Agreement through a “shared stewardship model.”

I have unpacked the details of both initiatives on my website and I discuss the impact of changing VET funding with Kallibr Training CEO, Gerard Healy, on an upcoming episode of the podcast.

 Claire will continue to publish weekly articles on issues affecting the sector. If you want to stay in touch you can subscribe for free to her podcast, connect on LinkedIn, or sign-up for a free trial of her detailed weekly updates on the sector

Easier country practise

In their review of initial teacher education Mark Scott (Uni Sydney) and colleagues suggest, “developing more comprehensive system level agreements between school systems …  and higher education providers,” – the Andrews Government is already on to it

There’s $32m for 11 000 rural, regional and other targeted teacher education placements over two years. The money is for initial teacher education students’ accommodation, travel and meals on three-week placements. It is open to all, although launching La Trobe U Bendigo might indicated a focus on regional need and political message

Vic Gov is good at this sort of cost-effective education intervention. Last year it led the charge to fund expenses for pre-school teachers upgrading to degrees, with $25 000 payments (CMM May 18 ’22).

Future Campus – the news you need


Thousands of people across the higher education sector have signed up to Future Campus, the newsletter and website launching next week

We’ve already had commitments from a range of people ready to contribute their insights for the tens of thousands of people who have enjoyed CMM each day, will bring a sense of continuity with articles and interviews by Stephen Matchett.

In keeping with our vision of an information, news and analysis hub for the sector and by the sector, Future Campus will bring you voices, views and insights that feel relevant, and that you won’t find elsewhere.

We won’t be CMM but are seeking to bring a range of useful content with a newsletter that comes to you at least once a week, as well as special editions focused on key issues relevant to the sector. New content will appear on the site most days and we will start bringing reports, events and other resources that you have been telling us you want.

Sign up and receive Future Campus straight to your inbox, free of charge on 22 June. It should be a fascinating ride.

Subscribe at: www.futurecampus.com.au


A new deal at Uni Sydney

After nearly two years of negotiations National Tertiary Education Union members voted yesterday to accept management’s enterprise agreement offer

In what is said to be the largest meeting of the NTEU in the university’s history, members voted 688 in favour, 172 opposed, with 21 abstentions. With the Community and Public Sector Union also said to support the offer, it should now go to an all-staff vote.

And if it is knocked back there CMM has no clue what union and management negotiators will do, although a serious interest in whisky would be understandable.

This may not be the toughest negotiation in the history of Aus HE – but if not it comes close, to the one that surely is, the last bargaining round at Uni Sydney.

And it is a big win for NTEU negotiators who dragged management away from key original claims (notably on more teaching only academics) and extracted a sector-leading pay rise.

As NTEU General Secretary Damian Cahill put it last night, “this wonderful result is the product of a long and hard-fought campaign against strong opposition from university management.”

It was also an immensely hard sell within the union – the NTEU Sydney branch committee has factions, which sometimes appear happy to debate what the day is.

And it is an achievement for management, which said from the start the university would talk and keep talking until agreement was reached and in the end got a deal that they can live with. This contrasts with the last round, when then VC Michael Spence surveyed staff about voting on an agreement without union support. Some 4349 staff participated and 61 per cent of them said the university should stay at the table, thus giving the union a de facto mandate to dig in (CMM September 7 2017)

While there is a strong voice warning the proposal now is still unfair for casual academics, overall it is sector leading, with an 18.2 per cent pay rise through to 2026. (Other terms too numerous to mention were in CMM last week, June 9).

In some elements it is a new deal in the FDR sense setting a benchmark for other rich universities,- hello Melbourne, evening Monash.

Appointments, achievement

Michael Healy joins Education Services Australia as national manager for careers ed.

Writer and artist Anna Jacobson is the University of Queensland Library’s Fryer Fellow.

Jeanti St Clair is inaugural research artist at Northern Rivers Performing Arts. Ms Sinclair also lectures in journalism at Southern Cross U

Swinburne U announces its 2023 distinguished professors,  Guoxing Lu (impact engineering), David Moss (Optical Sciences Centre), Saeid Nahavandi (defence innovation) Margaret Reid (Centre for Quantum Science),

Marnie Hughes-Warrington (Uni SA) receives a George Parkin Award for her distinguished contribution to the Rhodes Trust scholarship scheme.

John Wilmore has started at Uni Sunshine Coast as DCVC Academic. He moved from Uni New England.