UTS looks ahead

The university is spruiking short courses from its Futures Academy, (it’s in the business school). Surely they’re not teaching how to hedge the future value of subjects, a learned reader remarks.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Franziska Trede and Sonal Singh UTS) make the case for “concrete action to create university cultures that enable all students and dismantle structural inequality in higher education. This week’s selection by Commissioning Editor Sally Kift for her celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

plus, James Guthrie (Macquarie U) and Brendan Parker (RMIT) add an accounting perspective to the debate on using peer review in the next edition of Excellence for Research in Australia. Universities with staff publishing in the same journals can receive very different ratings –  they demonstrate.

and, Angel Calderon (RMIT) on  the QS subject rankings – Aus unis are ok, for now.

ARC CEO announced just 24 hours before election called

Judi Zielke has a five year term as chair of the Australian Research Council

Acting Education Minister Stuart Robert announced her appointment first thing Saturday morning, the day before the election was called and two before caretaker conventions kick in.

It was the last research-related decision made by ministers in the lead-up to the election being called (CMM April 8), including the appointment of the new ARC advisory committee, Mr Robert called for in December (CMM April 6, February 17).

Ms Zielke became acting ARC head at the beginning of the year, filling the gap caused the resignation of Sue Thomas, who chose to leave five months before her first term concluded. A career bureaucrat, Ms Zielke was previously COO of CSIRO and is well-versed in the politics of policy-making – she has successfully played the straightest of bats in Senate Estimates this year.

reaction: Universities Australia was quick to congratulate Ms Zielke, stating that as acting CEO, she has “has displayed a spirit of collaboration and consultation, and we look forward to continuing to work with her.”

“There is a significant opportunity to ensure the ARC has robust governance, robust peer review and real transparency in everything it does.”

The Group of Eight commented, “Judi brings  to the role a strong mix of  experience both  in the research community, across industry and government  which we hope will  ensure that we position the ARC to its rightful place as the premier  research funding  organisation in  the nation.”

As per its standard operating procedure the Eight used the opportunity to state its members’ research prominence and reiterate its call for a review of the ARC.

CMM comment: given the timing of the announcement, this is an appointment that Mr Robert should have left to whoever is minister after the election.

WA announces more of not much

Jove but the state government is media-efficient in announcing research spends

Minister for many things (including innovation and medical research) Stephen Dawson announces $2.1m from the Research Translation Projects programme. No the decimal is not too far left and there are no missing zeros. Among projects, UWA has funding to research antibiotic resistance and Murdoch U for strip-based paper tests for MS and Parkinsons.

The bonanza follows last week’s announcement of $8.6m over four years for the state’s health and life sciences industry strategy (CMM April 7).

Whatever the state government is funding with the GST bonanza,  research isn’t it.

Swinburne U loses pay-vote

The university put an enterprise agreement offer to its VET teaching staff which the workforce knocked back

Management is not revealing if it went down in a heap, or a screaming heap – CMM asked but there was no number in the university’s reply.  Whatever, a loss is a loss on a vital vote.

Apparent reasons for the defeat are, staff did not like the offer, notably a 2 per cent pa for the three year agreement and no increase to teacher super to bring them into line with the 17 per cent paid to university division employees. Plus union opposition – the National Tertiary Education Union was certainly opposed.

There are two lessons for VCs negotiating new agreements. One is proposed pay rises planned in COVID restrained times are a hard sell now the fourth rider of the apocalypse – inflation, is back. The other is managements who put offers to staff without union agreement generally lose.

Wins do happen – the last ones CMM remembers were Charles Sturt U, which had an agreement approved over NTEU opposition in 2013 (CMM September 22 2013) . CSU has just done it again last year – winning a vote to extend the existing EA (CMM January 17).

But management-only offers often fail. There’s a reason for that, while unions rarely represent half of a university’s staff,  on industrial conditions other workers assume the comrades know their stuff and trust them more than management.

As to what happens for Swinburne VET workers now, the university states, it “will keep staff informed of our position”  and “we will continue the work we are doing to ensure operations remain financially sustainable and responsible, particularly in light of lower than expected enrolments for this time of year.”

Management could try again with a new offer campus unions don’t back. But across town dual sector provider Victoria U tried that – and went down in a screaming heap and then just a heap as staff knocked back union opposed proposals  twice (CMM February 20 2019).

Curtin U’s Open Knowledge Initiative opens-up OA performance

Want to know where open access is happening? Check COKI

This remarkable resource counts OA research publications in 142 countries and 5118 institutions by analysing seven datasets.

COKI is keen to make OA performance known, because, “by providing timely, transparent and useful information on open access performance we aim to support advocates in making the case for change, to provide data to decision makers and to change our shared ideas of what makes a good university.”

On COKI’s analysis 40 per cent of research publications in Australia are open access, compared to 41 per cent in the US, 49 per cent in the UK, 38 per cent in Canada, 46 per cent in France and 40 per cent in Germany.

All are ahead of the People’s Republic of China, at 27 per cent. Taiwan is more open, but not by much at 30 per cent, while Japan is 39 per cent.

Among the two research-leading groups, ANU leads the Group of Eight, with 47 per cent of outputs being OA, UNSW trails at 37 per cent.

In the Australian Technology Network, UTS leads with 45 per cent and Deakin U is last, 35 per cent.



Torrens U CEO president, Linda Brown is EY (as in Ernst and Young) Entrepreneur of the Year

Griffith U insists it be reported that in-coming chancellor Andrew Fraser, starts in October, not September as GU announced last week.

Sarah Kelly (Uni Queensland) is appointed to the joint Commonwealth-Queensland governments organising committee board for the 2032 Brisbane Olympic Games.