We see what you did there

CQU is on track to further build a relationship with the Australasian Centre for Rail Innovation.” The university announces an MOU between the two yesterday.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

James Guthrie (Macquarie U) considers on the Victorian Auditor General’s report on 2020 university finances. “It is time for a public enquiry into the business model of Victorian public sector universities, which has relied upon fees from international onshore students and casualisation of staff to generate significant financial gains,” he concludes.

Plus, Lyndon Megaritty makes the case for keeping the live, in-person lecture. “Learning is better and more effective when everybody is ‘present’ in the room, feels part of the one group, and the teacher can respond to the moods, preferences and questions from the class.”

And Rhiannon Lee White (Western Sydney U) reports on the opportunities COVID-19 created. “the way we teach on campus and the way we teach on-line are not the same. Instead, we need flexibility; flexibility to create the best learning experiences, whatever they may be, however long they go for, and via whatever mode or platform works best for each activity.” It’s a new addition to Contributing Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed Now in Teaching and Learning.

Needed next: productivity magic

Just in to the heroic assumptions desk

Yesterday’s 2021 InterGeneration Report assumes labour productivity will meet the 1.5 per cent per annum increase over the last 30 years. Problem is, as the report recognises, it was but 1.2 per cent through the last complete cycle in the 2010s.

Not to worry, Treasury knows how to fix this, “government policies can assist in lifting productivity, including by helping individuals and businesses take advantage of new innovations and technologies.” Gosh, now who else would have thought of that.

But pray, how is it be done? “As technology continues to reshape tasks and occupations, ‘lifelong learning’ and continual re-skilling will be needed to ensure people have the skills to take advantage of new processes, jobs and occupations driven by technological change,” Treasury states

It’s a good thing all this will happen as if by magic – because as sub-par productivity growth demonstrates, nothing governments have done for decades has delivered.


At Uni SA Lloyd to lead longer: it means more change

David Lloyd will continue as Uni SA VC until 2027

Professor Lloyd arrived in 2013, inheriting from Peter Høj a university in good shape. It still is, coming through the pandemic all but unscathed. Lloyd warned staff as COVID-19 began to bite last year that he could guarantee nothing, that revenue could fall between $30m and $120m in 2020.  But while he did not rule out cuts he made it clear that the university would work hard to protect jobs. “We’ve got this,” he told staff (CMM April 2020).

What Uni SA also got is a comprehensive teaching restructure, with courses taught by “curriculum communities” rather than by academics organised in discipline silos and with support services reconfigured in support (CMM February 7 2019).

And now there is more to come.

The university has a target of 25 per cent of a 20 per cent larger student community studying on-line by mid-decade.

There’s a curriculum re-design, said to be on the schedule, plus a research and industry engagement programme. The new Academic Enterprise Plan is a pointer.

The solar-wind powered SA rumour mill powered up late yesterday with suggestions that this is somehow linked to a merger with Uni Adelaide. Hard to see for quite a while, Professor Høj, now newly VC at Uni Adelaide, has a bunch of local issues to deal with. But in the past Lloyd has suggested a bigger reform, a comprehensive SA post-school structure, including TAFE (CMM August 10 2020).

Professor Lloyd was appointed in 2013, his contract was extended in 2015, to run to 2022. That was extended in 2019 to ’25 and now to 2027 (CMM January 15 2019).

Nothing happening on translational research for new CRCs

While the feds talk up applied research, people who want to invest in it are waiting

Cooperative Research Centre Round 22 awards were supposed to be announced in March, when Karen Andrews was minister. But in the shuffle at month end she moved to Home Affairs and Christian Porter moved into her portfolio, Industry, Science and Technology.

And whatever was set to be announced wasn’t – leaving the five shortlisted bids waiting on word on funding which is supposed to start in October.

The waiting five are proposals for CRCs on * Longevity, * Digital Finance * Heavy Industry Low-carbon Transition * Marine Bioproducts * ONE Basin (climate and water risks in the Murray-Darling Basin).

And Round 11 of the CRC Ps (three years to solve a specific problem in the economy) closed in March with results promised “mid-year.”

There is no word on them either. As of yesterday, Mr Porter’s office, “is doing an excellent impersonation of a black hole,” a learned reader laments.

“Inviting companies to get involved with research and then leaving them waiting for the outcomes is damaging to Australian innovation. If these companies were told of the outcomes in a reasonable timeframe (even a tardy timeframe would do), the money they’ve budgeted would be redeployed to other projects in the new financial year,” the LR remarks.

Double plus good for Monash U free speech code

VC Margaret Gardner tells staff that the university’s code is approved by officials

Universities are obliged to have their free speech codes benchmarked, for compliance with the one drafted by Robert French, commissioned by previous education minister Dan Tehan. His successor Alan Tudge warns universities that are not aligned with the French code that he will “examine all options available to the Government to enforce it – which may include legislation,” (CMM, December 2 2019 and  June 3).

But Monash U is in the clear. Professor Gardner reports the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, “considers the university’s policies ‘fully aligned’ to the Model Code.”

Good news indeed for those who consider it appropriate for government officials to judge universities conformity to a code of free-speech.

Another Vic Gov investment in La Trobe U

La Trobe U has $10m from the Victorian state government for an “agriculture production platform.”

This appears to be very tech glasshouses and “applied industry-agriculture platforms”, which are plant phenomics growth chambers.

The new infrastructure will be at LT U’s Agribio Centre, on the Bundoora campus.

The announcement follows Spring Street committing $17m of the $23m needed for a “digital innovation hub” and a “bio-innovation hub” (CMM March 16).

In May VC John Dewar responded to a $350m university investment fund in the state budget, saying, he was “deeply grateful to the Victorian government for acknowledging the pivotal role universities play in assisting economic recovery; in educating and re-skilling the workforce and in conducting life-changing research for which we are globally recognised,” (CMM May 20).

And in June he contrasted the state government’s budget commitment of $101m to the La Trobe Sports Park with “no specific assistance” for universities in the federal budget, (CMM June 7).

Appointments, achievements

Rob Heferen is in-coming CEO of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. He moves from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

 Tamara Davis (Uni Queensland) will deliverer the Astronomical Society of Australia’s Robert Ellery Lecture.

At Uni Adelaide, Nick Warner continues as branch president of the National Tertiary Education Union. He was returned unopposed, as was branch VP (professional staff) Kent Getsinger.  The new VP (academic) Virginie Masson was also unopposed.

 Griffith U shuffle: Mario Pinto will leave the DVC R portfolio next month. After medical leave, he will become director of the university’s Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct. PVC Health Sheena Reilly will act as DVC R while the position is recruited. Analise O’Donovan (Dean of Health) will cover for Professor Reilly. Plus, (pause for breath) Griffith Enterprise and the GC Health and Knowledge Precinct both move to Vice President Peter Binks’ Industry and External Engagement portfolio. Yes, the Peter Binks who used to run the now no-more Business Higher Education Round Table.

Uni SA council: Chancellor Pauline Carr has a new four-year term, to 20206. Bill Muirhead (now SA Agent General in London) will join council in January.