Not enough quids in at QUT

QUT staff got a 1.5 per cent pay rise in December, a downpayment on whatever is adopted in the new enterprise agreement – or rather the agreement which should be middle aged, what the one it will replace expiring last March. Since then, the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union tells members, “management has been frustratingly tight-lipped about detail of how they think the new agreement should look and have given no indication of what wage increase they plan to offer.” The comrades hope the arrival of new VC Margaret Sheil will speed things up.

Andrew Taggart walks on and out of Murdoch

Just weeks after HR director Michelle Narustrang left, Murdoch U has lost Provost Andrew Taggart. And the university is not mucking around replacing him. The job is only open to internal applicants and interviews are set for March 20. The university states it is looking for, “a recognised leader with an international reputation who holds a PhD, with a distinguished record of teaching, research, scholarship and service.” The new provost will be the VCs senior deputy and chief academic officer but will not oversight finance or operations.

Professor Taggart was a calming presence when he acted as VC after Richard Higgott’s departure and became provost in mid 2016, after Eeva Leinonen got the top job. Murdoch management says he is retiring after “an outstanding 40-year career in education and (a) valued contribution to the university.”

Most recently Professor Taggart fronted for the university in its long and stalled enterprise agreement negotiations. Which may, or may not, stay stalled after National Tertiary Education Union members meet on Wednesday. The mood of the campus comrades is said to remain firm and not inclined to accept a new agreement with lesser conditions than at the other three public universities in Perth. And Murdoch waters say union members are are not impressed by the university continuing court action against NTEU officials.

The stroller strides on

Andrew “the stroller” Taggart is famous for management by walking around, conducting business as he paced campus, so it is entirely appropriate that he spending his last leave before he departs Murdoch, hiking the Kumano Kodo heritage trail in Japan.

He tells CMM that 35 years in higher education was also a fascinating journey “and to teach and research and then lead a university is something that I will always treasure.”

Professor Taggart says he looks forward to consultancies and continuing his work on the board of Coodanup College in Mandurah, which last year celebrated its first ATAR students in 19 years . “New opportunities await,” he says.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning ICT guru Hugh Bradlow examines the implications of tech developments

Nowhere near take off

Talk of a TAFE-UniSA partnership with a private provider to train helicopter pilots is just that, the university advises. PVC IT and Engineering Simon Beecham says that discussions have occurred but if a deal is done it would take two years to develop a course.

Engineer honoured

UNSW water engineer David Waite is elected a foreign member of the US National Academy of Engineering. Professor Waite is one of 262 international engineers in the academy.

Music stays stopped

The ACT government has announced a new arts outreach programme designed by ANU’s music and art and design schools.  Head of the school of music Ken Lampl is said to be “delighted” with the arrangement, “which will continue to help (the school) grow from strength to strength.” Just not all of it – there is no mention of the Music Engagement Programme, which saw ANU staff work with community groups and which the Territory has stopped funding (CMM January 30).

ASQA appointment

Saxon Rice is the new deputy chief commissioner of the Australian Skills Quality Authority. The former Queensland LNP assistant minister for TAFE replaces sometime federal Labor minister Michael Lavarch.

Unpalatable possibilities: experts counsel against throwing policies into the political pot

While prominent people are talking up an all of post-secondary education review as a way of getting university funding back on the agenda, policy veterans counsel caution. For a start, one says, a review could end up with money being moved from higher education into training, which sector Labour says is a priority.

“You would want to be pretty certain that the outcome would not simply lead to funds transfer from one sector to another that was found, through the review, to be in a mess and under-funded,” says one.

As for the possibility of the coming Higher Education Standards Panel review of university roles recommending teaching-only universities; no VC would ever volunteer, another deeply informed observer predicts. While research intensive institutions love the idea of securing  research funds that now go to the other 20 public universities none of those will give up their research status. They would lose a competitive edge against non-university providers and find it hard to recruit academic staff who want to research, as well as teach.

Nor do observers, grizzled and otherwise, think all will be well, or at least better than it is about to be, if Labor gets a chance to act on its commitment to demand driven funding. Certainly, Opposition education shadow Tanya Plibersek said just before Christmas that Labor was fully-committed to the demand driven system,” a statement she repeated, sort-of, on Thursday, when she told Samantha Maiden on Sky TV, “we continue to be committed to a demand-driven system … we want a larger proportion of Australians to have post-secondary school education, whether it’s university or TAFE.”

Who says demand driven funding has to apply to higher education alone asks a policy veteran. “Labor will bank the Birmingham cuts and move to a moderated DDS.”