Caught and bowled over

If Uni Melbourne management thought nobody would notice the decision to close its animal hospital at Werribee (CMM November 9) they were wrong

A protest made Nine Network TV News, with a reporter asking, “how will it affect the wider community, including anyone who loves pets?”  Unplayable spin.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Sunday was National Teachers Day in Vietnam, where people believe Người ta không thể làm gì nếu không có giáo dục is a statement to live by. Claire Macken (RMIT Vietnam) explains what it means and why it matters – here as well as there.

plus Angel Calderon on the new HiCi researchers list and what it means for some Australian universities on the next ARWU.

with Erica Wilson and Thomas Roche (Southern Cross U) on their university’s revolution in learning and teaching. Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s new selection for her celebrated Needed Now series

as well as Andrew Flitman (Wells Advisory) makes the case for an Australian international student credential blockchain, HERE

And in Expert Opinion

Samantha Hall (Campus Intuition) on students returning to campus, what they want, what they will do and why the UK does it different, HERE.

Australian Catholic U to cut 100 positions

Just weeks after committing to pay rises ACU reveals it is budgettng $30m savings for ’23, including 106 FTE fewer professional staff positions

The university attributes its “significant budget challenge” to “a range of factors,” including lower enrolments.

To balance the ’23 budget, management will reduce professional staff costs by $16.3m, a reduction of 106 FTE, accounting for 8.2 per cent of the workforce. This will align with the “academic staff profile and sector benchmarking.”

Chief Operating Officer Stephen Weller and Interim Provost Meg Stuart will oversee the “recovery transition.”

The university has a proposed enterprise bargaining agreement (CMM November 2) that includes a 14.55 per cent pay rise over three years plus improvements in conditions.

So, CMM asked what would the savings target have been with a different payrise?

The university did not answer, stating “the successful resolution of a new EBA after comprehensive negotiations has been factored in to the recovery transition program.  The EBA balances salary expectations, with high inflation and lower domestic enrolments. We will be approaching difficult budget decisions with the intention of achieving the same sort of fair, balanced and sustainable outcome.”

CMM understands the National Tertiary Education Union only learned of the savings plan last week, long after management’s final EB offer.  Branch president Leah Kaufmann said yesterday that the union, “will support members to ensure that the  approach taken by the university through the pandemic period, including a large number of new appointments, return to travel, and the reopening of the Rome campus, will not become a burden of staff via increased work resulting from a reduced workforce.”

Skills Minister tells VET private providers they need TAFE

“As a Labor Government, we are unashamedly supportive of the skills sector. We are also very clear that TAFE should always be at the heart of our skills sector”

Skills and Training Minister Brendan O’Connor made the case for TAFE to Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia yesterday.

But in the released text of his speech Mr O’Connor also explains what’s in it for private providers. “If we don’t lift the status and capability of TAFE, we cannot lift the status of independent providers – and of skills as a whole. … It’s not a binary choice, either. We can, and should, support both public and private VET providers, and adult and community education providers too.”

Mr O’Connor also called on private providers to add their voices and support to cracking down on “bad actors” “that sully your name and the name of the VET sector.”

“In return I promise that I will continue to stand up for your R(egistered)T(raining) O(rganisations) as well as TAFE, and the skills sector as a whole. “

Big changes coming for uni-staff negotiations

The Senate committee inquiring into the government’s IR bill reported yesterday – there’s not much in it for uni managements

The Australian Higher Education Industrial Association, which represents most universities, is unhappy with the possibility of multiple universities being included in one enterprise agreement, the possibility of unions stopping management pay offers being put to staff and a 24 month limit on fixed term contacts (CMM November 18)

Just about the only joy for managements in the committee report is the recommendation that the bill be amended, so that, “no party can unreasonably withhold agreement for a proposed enterprise agreement being put to a vote,” with the Fair Work Commission having power to resolve disputes.

However cross-bencher David Pocock did acknowledge one university concern, “while promoting security of employment is a worthy objective, this part of the bill may have a number of adverse unintended consequences on various sectors including in professional sports and university research.”  The government already proposes a 12-month delay on introducing the cap.

As for multi-employer bargaining, which really worries the Regional Universities Network (CMM November 14) it seems set to stay as is in the bill

Husic gives CRCs a big tick

The Cooperative Research Centre programme is “a proven model for driving industry-led collaborative research to solve problems, deliver real outcomes,” Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic says

Addressing an event by Cooperative Research Australia, the successor to the CRC Association Monday, Mr Husic also said, “there are many of you in this room that have made an immense contribution to innovation in this country and have maintained the faith.”

Adding reality to the rhetoric, he mentioned a soon to be released “impact evaluation,” which confirms the programme’s effectiveness. Presumably this is the decadal assessment, commissioned by the previous government (CMM April 26 2021).

And Mr Husic made a practical promise, for fixed dates for CRC applications, so bid teams can prepare, which will be well received.

What a difference a year makes. CRCs rated bare mentions in the coalition’s 2021 university research action plan.

Claire Field on what VET ministers announced, and didn’t


no mention is made of when funding agreements will be signed between the Commonwealth and the remaining jurisdictions for the one-year fee-free TAFE funding on offer next year

Let me start this week’s column by congratulating all of the winners at this year’s Australian Training Awards. They are a showcase of the talent and commitment of the students who choose VET, the staff working in VET providers, employers who engage with VET, and the many people working in other critical roles which make the VET system work.

As in previous years, the Commonwealth, State and Territory Ministers responsible for skills met earlier in the day before the Awards to progress VET reforms. The Communique from their meeting is as interesting is as interesting for what it omits as what it does say.

It confirms that:

* the new Industry Clusters which will have responsibility for Training Packages and employer engagement are still scheduled to commence in January (although there are still no details available, which must be stressful for all of the staff involved in organisations that have bid for this work)

* the VET sector should be preparing for a new “Industry Engagement Integrity Framework” and a new “Qualifications Framework” (it is unclear if this is the changes to the AQF or changes to VET qualifications to remove some of the excessive and prescriptive details in units of competency), there are no details available yet on either, and

* a review of the Australian Apprenticeship Services and Support has commenced which aims to lift apprentice completion rates.

Ministers also agreed to “priorities for collective national leadership over the next year” without yet being in a position to share precise details. More crucially, no mention is made of when funding agreements will be signed between the Commonwealth and the remaining jurisdictions for the one-year fee-free TAFE funding on offer next year.

At the time of writing only the Northern Territory and South Australia have reached an agreement with the Commonwealth.

In reflecting on why most jurisdictions are yet to sign on to the extra funding from the Commonwealth, despite being there only a few weeks left until the start of Semester 1, 2023, it seems to me that a recent change in the language the Commonwealth has been using to describe its election commitment (from “fee-free TAFE places” to “fee-free TAFE and community-based vocational education places”) combined with the fact that the bulk of the fee-free places are existing places already in the system, are likely to be two of the key factors in the delay in reaching agreement.

I have teased out how these two elements may be causing challenges for governments in a longer piece on my website.

 Claire Field is an advisor to the tertiary education sector. Earlier in her career she was seconded by the Commonwealth government to secure State and Territory agreement to a suite of VET reforms

Appointment, achievements

Michael Goodsite becomes PVC Energy Futures at Uni Adelaide. It’s an internal appointment.

Uni Adelaide announces the Stephen Cole the Elder Awards;

* Michelle McArthur (Animal and Vet Science) – teaching * Benjamin McCann (Humanities) – teaching * Adam Montagu (Adelaide Health Simulation) – teaching * Anna Szorenyi (Social Sciences) – HDR supervision

Uni Southern Queensland staff awards go to;

* Academic Integrity Framework Team (Daniel Chalker, Renee Desmarchelier, Luke Drury, Rian Roux, Jasmine Thomas) – Innovation and Change * Nikki Anderson (Library Services) – Diversity/Inclusion * Katharine Bigby (student accom) – Values-based leadership * Bryenn Birch (Engineering) STEMM teaching * Katie  Burke (Education) – Education leadership * Melissa Fanshawe (Education) – Education leadership * Melissa Forbes (Creative Arts) – Community Engagement * Lauren Humby (Law and Justice) – HASS teaching * Sarah Hunt (DVC R office) – research service * Introductory Statistics Education Team (Taryn Axelsen, Rachel King) (Mathematics, Physics, Computing) – Teaching * Rasheda Khanam (Business) – PGR supervision * Tek Maraseni (Sustainable Ag Systems) – Research * Sonja March (Health Research) – women in STEMM * Melissa Taylor (Nursing, Midwifery) ECR