Sharing the announcement wealth

Good news has plenty of parents

Edith Cowan U reveals designs for its new $695m Perth CBD campus, which will include, “vast windows and galleries across 11 super-levels that expose cleverly stacked performance spaces, studios and state-of-the-art digital labs.”

It must be as impressive as it sounds – there are “quotes attributable” in the announcement to VC Steve Chapman and five state and federal MPs ministers.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Margaret Lloyd (QUT) on the sameness of happy on-line classes and the individual misery of those that aren’t. Sally Kift’s new selection for her celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

And with the ARWU released (scroll down) Angel Calderon (RMIT) explains where rankings (at least the ones that are heavy on stats) come from

With Merlin Crossley (UNSW). On the triumph of open science – humanity will think its way through COVID-19

Griffith U research is asking retrenched staff how they feel about it

Some are wondering why they are being contacted at their private email

At Griffith U, Ian Glendon is contacting former staff and continuing employees in different jobs about their experience of leaving/moving positions since January 2020. There are 900 who departed and 150 who switched.

In an email to people in the pool, Adjunct Aspro Glendon (he retired December 2019), explains the purpose of his project is to, “give voice to those GU staff who were most affected, whose experiences might broadly represent those of staff throughout the Australian university sector, and to some extent of others whose lives have been particularly affected by the COVID pandemic through changes to their employment status.”

He asks them to write an anonymous “personal narrative describing their own experience.” He plans to publish an analysis of what people write.  “My hope is that even if your recent experience was not entirely positive, there may be some catharsis in writing about it, plus knowing that it will be transmitted to GU management as part of a collective voice.”

And he will provide his report to GU management, which has, “expressed interest in learning more about the impact of 2020-21 departures and redeployments from an independent analysis of multiple personal perspectives, I hope that they will take account of your collective experiences in future HR decisions.”

The university is certainly assisting, providing personal email contacts for former staffers, without, at least in some cases, asking permission.

Which raises a research question in itself –  can GU use private emails in this way?

According to GU, it can indeed. The university’s Privacy Plan states its Ethics Committee must approve “collecting or using personal information in research” which Aspro Glendon sought and was granted. And it specifies a range of uses for personal information, including, “to ensure effective general HR and business administration.”

The university also points to the Queensland Privacy Act (2009) which allows personal information collected for one purpose to be used for another if, “the use is necessary for research, or the compilation or analysis of statistics, in the public interest” (Schedule Three, IPP Ten, 1f i).

No more elusive equity experts

The National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education publishes a stack of research, which is now easier to access

The NCSEHE has a new database searchable by a bunch of categories, including, authors, four equity initiatives, research sponsoring organisation, pub type (policy, practice, research) and 14 equity groups.

There’s always hope for educ exports to India

Trade Minister Dan Tehan announces an “update” of the India Economic Strategy, “to make it even more relevant”

Presumably Mr Tehan means now that there is talk of talking about free trade talks, again.

Which might, but probably will not, make a nice change for education – Peter Varghese’s report, commissioned by Prime Minister Turnbull in 2017 was not overly optimistic about the potential for Aus education exports.

And not much has changed since or looks like changing

Legislation in India that would allow foreign universities to set up there and repatriate profits could be coming, but so is Godot.

And as for mass on-line and hybrid learning, which Minister Tudge is keen on (CMM March 31), India, it will be interesting to learn in the update if anything has occurred to improve the chances of Australian VET in India. Mr Varghese warned, “the high volume, low cost model needed for India does not stack up economically for most Australian providers, who operate on a low volume, high cost structure,” (CMM July 13 2018).


Back to bargaining at Uni Queensland

Management has dropped the idea of asking to extend the existing enterprise agreement for 12 more months

The university floated the proposal on the grounds that an extra year “would provide staff with greater stability at a time of uncertainty.” To which campus commentators responded that it would also give management a better sense of what a post(ish)pandemic world will look like in terms of income and a chance to bargain accordingly for the next agreement (CMM July 21).

Whatever management’s motives, the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union responded by suggesting that a precondition of union support for an extension was management committing to new job protections (CMM July 23).

The university could have gone it alone on the all-staff vote needed to pass an enterprise agreement variation but has now decided not to. “As the unions have advised they will not support the proposed extension, the university will resume the bargaining process with a view to reaching a new agreement.”

This is understandable. The general experience at universities is that while the majority of staff are not union members they listen to the comrades on wages and conditions.

And if Uni Queensland management had provided extra job protections to win union support for a 12 month delay it would have created a higher base for the union’s log of claims next year.

Another UNSW win in top research ranking

Any funding impact of COVID-19 on research output does not show in the 2020 Academic Ranking of World Universities

Uni Melbourne holds its global position in the ARWU, released yesterday.  It is, again, the only local institution rated in the world top 50, at 33 – up from 35 last year and 42 in 2019. Uni Queensland follows at 51, marginally up its 54th position in 2019 and’20.

UNSW continues its climb, with a third annual improvement, from 94 in 2019 to 74 in 2020 and 65 this year. This, as the university was quick to point out yesterday, is a strong performance given it rated 134 in 2016. It adds to an already outstanding 2021 – UNSW had 36 per cent of its subjects in the ARWU world top 50.

The other Australian universities in the world’s top 200 are, * Uni Sydney, 69 this year, 74 in 2020, and 81 in 2019, * ANU 76 (67 and 76) * Monash U 80 (85,75), * UWA 96 (85, 95) and * Uni Adelaide 101-150 unchanged.

Griffith U, James Cook U and QUT also had wins, moving into the 201-300 band. And Uni SA made it into the world’s top 500.

Tomorrow: Angel Calderon (RMIT) analyses at all the local ARWU achievements




Hamish King will join the MRI formerly known as Walter and Eliza Hall Institute as a laboratory head, focusing on epigenomics and gene regulation. He will move from Queen Mary University of London.