Counting the uncounted: employees in Victorian public sector universities
The nine ways students want teaching to improve
Comparing research performance: there’s a better way than the H index
CMM is off for Easter – back to Tuesday
Cash for campuses as both parties take a uni by uni approach
Pork producers, meet barrel makers
Labor promises a $300m future fund in government to fund higher education infrastructure – which is being committed fast (CMM yesterday). The Innovative Research Universities adds up which unis are promised what and records $136.25m already announced.
The big money is allocated to Uni Sunshine Coast for the Moreton bay campus ($50m), Western Sydney U for agri-business, ($20m), UTS for an Indigenous residential college ($20m), Southern Cross U for a flood research centre ($12m) and CQU for its Cairns aviation hub ($10m).
Cynics suggest this looks like “special deal” funding from Labor. Other cynics ask if this is so how does it differ from the coalition lifting the cap on funded student places for selected regional universities. But what can you expect from cynics?
Curtin U digs mining school out a hole
Enrolments are down at Curtin U’s WA School of Mines but the university is upbeat about a new curriculum
The university says it plans to “position” the Kalgoorlie-based school to “train the mining workforce of the future” with courses in “emerging areas, … such as robotics, data analytics and additive manufacturing.”
The new curriculum will be a response to the “downturn” in mining and resources and a “sustained period of low enrolments.”
A new curriculum was a core recommendation of a school review, chaired by former Rio Tinto executive John McGagh. The university has retained mining education veteran, David Brereton (ex Uni Queensland) to ensure the curriculum “will equip graduates to work in a highly technical, sophisticated and evolving industry.”
The university says the downturn led to “recent staffing changes … which have involved eight positions.” CMM thinks that means positions abolished or restructured. However, Vice Chancellor Deborah Terry says, “there is no expectation that the rollout of the new curriculum will be associated with any job losses.”
Why Peter Ridd won his case against James Cook U
The case was about the university Enterprise Agreement, says Judge Vasta
Why the case: Professor Ridd is critical, to say the least, of some colleagues’ research on the state of the Great Barrier Reef. The university said he was sacked for breaching the university’s code of conduct in stating his views while Professor Ridd responded he has a right to comment on research CMM yesterday).
What the court found: On Tuesday Judge Vasta found for Professor Ridd in the Federal Court in what is being widely viewed as a victory for academic free speech.
In his full judgement, Judge Vasta says that the case actually “purely and simply about the proper construction of a clause in an Enterprise Agreement.” But he also addressed the importance of protecting academic freedom.
The case turned on whether the university’s code of conduct takes precedence over clause 14 of the university’s enterprise agreement, which covers “intellectual freedom.” The judge concluded that, “it is actually cl.14 that is the lens through which the behaviour of Professor Ridd must be viewed.”
“Incredibly, the university has not understood the whole concept of intellectual freedom. In the search for truth, it is an unfortunate consequence that some people may feel denigrated, offended, hurt or upset. It may not always be possible to act collegiately when diametrically opposed views clash in the search for truth,” he says.
What this means for other universities: The National Tertiary Education Union campaigns for academic freedom clauses in Enterprise Agreements rather than in university policies. National President Alison Barnes explains why; “the most important implication of this judgement is that the only real protections for academic freedom in Australia are in the enterprise agreements negotiated by the NTEU. Most universities have policies on academic freedom, but they are completely unenforceable and therefore of very limited value.”
“Professor Ridd’s views on climate change would be at odds with the strongly held opinions of many NTEU members. However, that is not the point. The right to speak freely about academic matters needs to be especially protected when views are unpopular or controversial. It is greatly to the credit of his colleagues, many of whom disagree with his views, that they did not support the heavy-handed approach of the university management in this case,” Dr Barnes says.
Updating old laws
Another major project for Uni Adelaide law reformers
The South Australian government has commissioned the SA Law Reform Institute to up-date the state’s laws on abortion, now 40 years old. The Institute is based at the University of Adelaide law school.
State Attorney General Vicki Chapman says the review is about; “making abortion a regulated medical procedure under health law as opposed to a criminal law issue” and SALRI has started with community consultations, running to end May.
SALRI has a record of research based recommendations on updating laws in-line with the way we live now. Recent projects include, surrogacy, LGBTQI discrimination and family inheritance.
No avoiding the ATAR in teacher education debate
The deans of education want to stop politicians focusing on ATAR scores for teaching degrees – it isn’t their only problem
Deans of education president Tania Aspland tells colleagues they need to broaden the discussion on their degrees away from course entry scores. “We, as the stakeholders, need to give the politicians something to run with if we don’t want them to run with the ATAR figure,” she says. (CMM yesterday). The teacher education lobby argues a minority of people enter their courses on the basis of a Y12 score and that there is no necessary correlation between a high score and becoming a good teacher
Good luck with that: But ATARs are exactly what the influential Grattan Institute wants on the election agenda, set out in its policy priorities Orange Book.
Grattan calls for a minimum 80 ATAR for entry to teacher education degrees. “Attracting more high-achievers would help raise the quality of teaching. People with good academic skills are more likely to make good teachers. … This would help to raise the prestige of teaching, and send a signal to young people that teaching is a socially valued career.”
But wait! There’s more for deans, and it’s worse. Grattan points positively to the work of Christopher Pyne’s Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group on entry requirements and literacy, numeracy and teaching, plus graduate performance outcomes, but the Institute suggests a review of teacher education will be needed in a couple of years to assess the existing reforms and consider;
* “consequences for universities who produce poor teaching graduates”
* sanctions against poorly performing universities, such as caps on student places, greater transparency on student pass rates, or performance-based funding of initial teacher education courses.
Departures at QUT and who gets to call the Boss boss at VU
Leadership changes at QUT
The university’s provost Carol Dickenson will retire at year end and DVC Research and Innovation Arun Sharma will leave on July 31. Dean of Law John Humphrey is also going, returning to private practise mid-June. Nursing school head Patsy Yates will be DVC R while a successor to Professor Sharma is recruited.
Vice Chancellor Margaret Sheil tells staff she expects the new provost and DVC R will be in place “for 2020”.
Changes at Victoria U roll on
Early this month Vice Chancellor Peter Dawkins appointed a new DVC R, Corinne Reid from the University of Edinburgh, and changed the titles of three top staff ( CMM April 4). Yesterday he announced a new PVC position to lead business and law, which will become an academic “cluster”.
Professor Dawkins has also reduced his direct reports, from all eleven members of the Senior Executive Group, to five. The portfolios in his VC’s Executive are, research, future students and planning, senior deputy VC, voc ed and pathways and COO.
Hon doc for the great Adam Goodes leads appointments, achievements
Of the day
Uni SA continues its practise of thoughtful hon docs. Next week AFL great Adam Goodes is honoured for his “human rights advocacy, his ongoing fight against racism and the support he gives young Aboriginal people.” The university already has a programme for high achieving Indigenous students named for Mr Goodes and his fellow Swans star Michael O’Loughlin. Nice that the ceremony will be in the university’s great hall, funded in part by a $5m gift from Swans chairman and Uni SA alumnus, Andrew Pridham ( CMM October 21 2016).
QUT appoints two new members of its council, former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda and medical researcher and technology innovator Susan Pond.
UWA reports the Perth Festival (which it founded and funds) has a new chair, businessman Tim Ungar.
And of the week
Julie-Anne White is the new CIO of industry grop BioMelbourne. Dr White has a doctorate in psychopharmacology and broad experience in pharma-med tech start-ups. She starts next month, replacing Krystal Evans who announced her departure last December.
Alan Davison becomes dean of arts and social sciences at UTS. He has been deputy dean, then acting dean since 2017.
Uni Queensland announces its student sports awards. Swimmer Lakeisha Patterson is sportswoman of the year and touch footballer Justin Cridland, is sportsman. Ms Patterson won two golds at last year’s Comm Games. Mr Cridland represented Australia at the 2018 Trans-Tasman championship.
The Australian Academy of Science announces its J G Russell Awards for early career researchers. Giulia Ghedini (Monash University) ecological communities responses to global warming, Yu Heng Lau (Uni Sydney) technology to control chemical reactions on nanoscale, Tatiana Soares da Costa (La Trobe U) herbicide development strategies for weed management and Qi Wu (Uni Adelaide) Artificial Intelligence (AI) agent that communicates with humans on the basis of visual input
Saul Newman will join Flinders U as Dean (people and resources) in the Humanities and Social Sciences college. Professor Newman will move from Goldsmiths, University of London. where he is professor of political theory.
Katherine Gibson will be the 2020-21 Whitlam-Fraser visiting professor of Australian studies at Harvard University. The chair is funded by the Australian Government. Professor Gibson is a feminist economic geographer at Western Sydney University.
Diane Herz is in-place as CEO of the ANU Enterprises subsidiary, the Social Research Centre. She joins from the Washington-based Mathematica Policy Research, prior to which she was a long-serving executive at the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. She replaces SRC founder Darren Pennay, who has retired. The SRC is widely-admired for the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching which it creates for the Commonwealth.
The Australian Business Deans Council announce panels for the 2019 journal review;
Accounting: Gary Monroe, (UNSW, chair). Neil Fargher, (ANU). Alan Lowe (RMIT). Anne Wyatt (Uni Queensland).
Info systems: Deborah Bunker, (Uni Sydney, chair). Alexander Richer (Victoria U of Wellington). Sabine Matook (Uni Queensland). John Venable (Curtin U).
Business and tax law: Julie-Anne Tarr (QUT, chair). Lisa Marriot (VU of Wellington). Brett Freudenberg (Griffith U). Jenny Buchan (UNSW).
Management, commercial services, transport and logistics: Ingrid Nielsen (Deakin U, chair). Neil Ashkanasy (Uni Queensland). Shayne Gary (UNSW). Jane Lu (Uni Melbourne). Tava Olsen (Uni Auckland). Adrian Wilkinson (Griffith U). Chris Wright (Uni Sydney).
Other management (sub panel): Ingrid Nielsen (Deakin U, chair). Jarrod Haar (Auckland U Tech). Gavin Jack (Monash U).
Economics: James Morley (Uni Sydney,chair). Philip Grossman (Monash U). Rasheda Khanam (Uni Southern Queensland). Pascalis Raimondos (QUT). Sandy Suardi (Uni Wollongong).
Finance: Stephen Taylor (UTS, chair). Millicent Chang (Uni Wollongong). Hazel Bateman(UNSW). Jerry Parwada (UNSW).
Marketing and tourism: Sara Dolnicar, Uni Queensland, chair). Geoff Soutar (UWA). Jungkeun Kim (Uni Auckland). Marianna Sigala (Uni SA).
The Australian Academy of the Humanities announces a reference group for its arts and culture lobby A New Approach; Rupert Myer (philanthropist) chairs, with members Kim Allom (video games developer), Jane Curry (publisher) John Daley (Grattan Institute),Genevieve Lacey (musician), Shelagh Magadza (Chamber of Arts and Culure WA),Damien Miller (diplomat), Alison Page (designer), Laura Tingle (journalist), Mathew Trinca (National Museum of Australia).