There’s more in the Mail

New in Features this morning

Tim Winkler on what prospective students want to study in ’21. Got a joint degree in policing and health?


Chris Campbell (Griffith U), Kathryn Coleman (Uni Melbourne) and Melissa Cain (Australian Catholic U) wondered how teaches are coping with teaching on-line in the pandemic. So, they asked them. The news is good. This week’s selection by Commissioning Editor Sally Kift for her series on what is needed now in teaching and learning.

Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on the benefits of learning rather than googling.

Australian Catholic U staff say not so fast on cuts plan

The university’s Senate is set to sign-off but the union wants it to wait

Management’s October response to COVID-19 includes a $42m reduction in staff costs (38 per cent of total savings) by 2022 but rules out voluntary redundancies, which, “do not deliver the scale of savings required.” (CMM October 16).

Now 531 staff have signed a National Tertiary Education Union submission urging the university’s Senate to defer a decision when it meets today week because the “recovery budget” is acknowledged by management to be a worst-case response, which may not be necessary.

ACU staff have taken every opportunity to express their lack of confidence in, objections to, and distress about the “Recovery” budget prior to its demonstrated necessity,” NTEU branch president Leah Kaufmann writes senate members.

Dr Kaufmann adds deferring the budget, “also allows for prudent and collaborative recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 to be led by our incoming VC, Zlatko Skrbis.”

Unless, of course, outgoing VC Greg Craven has already run the plan past Professor Skrbis, who starts in January (CMM August 7).

Edith Cowan U expands targeted research, again

 The university announces nine research institutes and 40 research and support positions in-line with its major research themes, health, natural/built environment, society-culture and digital futures

It’s a new stage in a research plan VC Steve Chapman started when he arrived in 2015.  That year the university commenced recruiting 20 research professors, which took four years (CMM August 12 2015, CMM May 15 2019). Last year the university started hiring 40 four-year early/mid-career research fellows (CMM December 9 2019). And last week it appointed four leaders for each of the research themes.


Uni Newcastle management sent staff on leave: it shouldn’t have

As the COVID-19 crisis kicked in Uni Newcastle gave staff three paid days off after Easter but also directed them to take five days of their annual leave the week after, to “pause, rest and restore,” (CMM April 1)

This did not have the intended effect on National Tertiary Education Union officials who were mightily exercised by what they considered an imposition on staff, especially those whose leave balance went negative, they also said the university’s enterprise agreement forbade it.

While both sides later agreed that the university did not have the authority to send academics on leave, management and union differed on professional staff and teachers, (mainly ESL). And so, the matter ended up in the Fair Work Commission, long after the leave was taken.

Deputy President Booth  has now found that while the professional staff agreement allowed the university to send people on leave the clauses involved are “unreasonable in that they contain no obligation upon the university to engage with the individual employee so that their particular needs can be considered.” As such the clauses are contrary to the Fair Work Act and “have no effect”.

And so, staff effected get their five days leave re-credited.

It was, the deputy president concludes, all a result of rushed and siloed decision making by the university. “Some of the matters that would usually be had regard to when making a decision like this were missed. Unfortunately, the old saying ‘act in haste, repent at leisure’ appears apt,” Deputy President Booth concludes.

Good-o, but, how did the clauses get in the agreement in the first place?

The (sky) high price of research publishing prestige

What’s it worth to have an article published in Nature? The publisher thinks $15 400

Nature reports that from next year its owner, journal giant Springer will publish open access articles that make the editorial cut for its high-prestige research publications, like – Nature.

But there’s a catch – in fact €9500 (A$15 400) in catches. That’s the price Springer will want for an article in a paywalled journal to be open access.

Pay to publish is called gold open access in the trade, in this case it’s a barrel of bullion.

Nature says Springer’s plan is a response to the European Plan S, which requires papers based on publicly funded research to be OA.

But there’s another OA way for Plan S.

The European Commission has another way-more affordable idea for research funded by its Horizon 2020 and successor, €1bn Horizon Europe research programmes.

It’s launching Open Research Europe, a peer-reviewed, no author charge OA platform providing, “rapid publication times and publication outputs that support research integrity, reproducibility and transparency and enable open science practices.” The anticipated €780 cost per article will be paid to the EC.

Appointments, achievements

The American Association for the Advancement of Science announces 2020 Fellows, including Australia-based researchers, Rachel Ankeny (Uni Adelaide), Suresh K. Bhargava (RMIT), TJ Higgins (CSIRO) and Toby Walsh (UNSW/CSIRO).

The Council of Pharmacy Schools of ANZ has new office bearers, Debra Rowett (Uni SA) is president, Andrew McLachlan is VP and Mark Naunton (Uni Canberra) is treasurer.

At Uni Queensland, Karen Moritz will move in January from Director of the Child Health Research Centre to Associate Dean R of the medicine faculty. She will replace Elizabeth Eakin who has already switched to head of the university’s School of Public Health.

The Victorian Endowment for Science, Knowledge and Innovation announces its 2020 awards. Life sciences, Kay Crossley (La Trobe U). Physical sciences, Yi-Min (Mike) Xie (RMIT). Life Sciences fellows, Jody Gerts (Bee Scientifics), Caitlin Jenvey (La Trobe U). Denver Linklater (RMIT). Jennifer Perret (Uni Melbourne). Priscilla Prestes (Federation U). Julia Walker (Monash U). Physical Sciences fellows. Taimur Ahmed (RMIT), Andreas Boes (RMIT). Fatemeh Jalali (IBM), Conrad Wasko (Uni Melbourne). Ali Yavari (Swinburne U). Maggie Zhai (RMIT).

The 2020 Humanities fellows

The Australian Academy of the Humanities announces its 2020 fellows

Samer Akkach Uni Adelaide). Mark Andrejevic (Monash U). Katherine Bode (ANU). Bronwyn Carlson (Macquarie U). Sarah Collins (UWA).

Bronwen Douglas (ANU). Victoria Haskins (Uni Newcastle). Jakob Hohwy (Monash U). Carolyn James (Monash U).

Jon von Kowallis (UNSW). John Maynard (Uni Newcastle). Jo McDonald (UWA). John Newman (Monash U). Hans Pols (Uni Sydney).

Kane Race (Uni Sydney). Jack Reynolds (Deakin U). Evelleen Richards (Uni Sydney). Aileen Moreton-Robinson (RMIT). Paul Roche (Uni Sydney) Claudia Sagona (Uni Melbourne). Jane Simpson (ANU). Tim Winter (UWA).