Praised with faint damn

Monash U’s Faculty of Education tweets a 20-place rise in the new Shanghai subject rankings (CMM yesterday)

The faculty is now first in Australia and 15th in the world. To which news its dean, Viv Ellis, personally tweets, “rankings are weak proxies for actual performance in HE (the wealthiest universities always tend to do the best) but underlying any measurement like this is work. And absolutely outstanding work by academic and professional staff.”

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Merlin Crossley (UNSW) is not much fussed by rankings. “If the methodology of the league tables remains stable and if our optimisation is now done, there is not much more to do. The best strategy now is just to concentrate on being a good university, and we can put more effort into things that don’t count in the tables – good teaching, providing opportunities for students from different backgrounds, solving local problems via research.”

plus Angel Calderon (RMIT) on the new research ranking of 54 disciplines .

and Frank Larkins (Uni Melbourne) explains how some Vic uni 21 financials are better than they look – accounting practise is the reason. But the better than apparent numbers were a one-off.

with Trudy Ambler (Macquarie U), Jayde Cahir, (Macquarie U) and Anna Rowe (UNSW on the benefits of academic mentoring. New in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in learning and teaching.

Engineers Australia announces eight micro-credentials

While some are generic – comms and “ethical practice” – four point to the potential for specific skills development

The four are for railway construction and maintenance, with construction engineering to follow this year.

The programme is about validating skills rather than teaching them. According to Alexandra Sparvell, from partner-provider Engineering Education Australia, these micro-credentials are “based on assessment of knowledge and experience to a level of acceptable industry practice”

“That’s not something you can study for. That’s something you’ve got to demonstrate.”

Costs range from $750 for Engineers Australia members to $880 for others. The  mcs count towards competency requirements for chartered engineer status.

Bargaining blues at unis Canberra and Queensland

The National Tertiary Education Union moves towards industrial action over enterprise bargaining at both

At Uni Canberra members have agreed to ask for a  protected action  ballot, the first step towards any withdrawal of labour, over stalled talks with management for a new agreement.

The union’s ACT secretary Lachlan Clohesy says there is progress on “key areas” including teaching hours for education-focused academics and opt-outs from the  assistant professor scheme, controversial under previous management (CMM November 21 2019 ).

However other issues, including flexible work arrangements, are not resolved.

And pay is a problem for the union, which claims that management was proposing a 3 per cent cap wage increases under a new enterprise agreement but is now suggesting annual increases under a new agreement ranging from 1.75 per cent to 2.5 per cent, depending on CPI, to cover concessions.

This, Mr Clohesy says, is “completely unacceptable”

However Uni Canberra states it is committed to a 3.5 per cent pay rise for 2023 and continues to  negotiate “salary increases and improved terms and conditions of employment.”

At Uni Queensland union members dissatisfied with progress in bargaining have also voted for a protected ballot on industrial action.

The old agreement expired a year back and management had proposed an extension to, “provide staff with greater stability at a time of uncertainty”. The National Tertiary Education Union asked for job protections in return for a delay and management decided to resume the bargaining process “with a view to reaching a new agreement,” (August 16 2021).

However nearly a year on the view of a new employment deal remains distant and while the university did provide a 2 per cent pay rise in January this was before inflation kicked-off and the union’s national leadership upped its all-unis claim to a 15 per cent pay rise across agreements, or CPI plus 1.5 per cent.

Last night Uni Queensland responded that “UQ acknowledges the rights of union members to take industrial action, and will continue to bargain in good faith to finalise the enterprise agreement in recognition of the continued hard work and commitment of our staff.”


Values that academics stand for

The Association of Australian University Professors proposes an ethical framework, “to clarify and strengthen the ill-defined notion of academia as a profession”

It’s primary purpose is, “to identify and articulate the uniqueness and value of the academic role and to clearly differentiate academic leadership from managerial leadership in the modern university,” AAUP states.

The framework includes “four professional values.”

* altruism: by working for the advancement of knowledge for the benefit of society

* academic freedom and intellectual integrity: “by grounding their work in scholarship”

* professional autonomy: “in making judgements about their work, with support and advice from more experienced colleagues as required”

* collegiality: “accepting that informed critique and robust discussion are necessary to ensure rigour and to advance knowledge in a field; and mentoring less experienced colleagues.”

The statement is HERE.

United front on environment research

“Without wholesale reform that includes input from every area of knowledge the future of Australia’s natural environment and the wellbeing of its people is at risk,’ peak bodies warn

The Australian Council of Environmental Deans and Directors, the Australian Council of Deans of Science, and the Australasian Council of Deans of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities responded yesterday to the state of the environment report released this week by Minister Tanya Plibersek.

“Leaders from Australia’s scientific and environmental sectors will play an important role in rehabilitation and reform while those from an arts, social sciences and humanities background will provide the means for real changes to human behaviour,” the peak bodies state.

The science deans are firm friends to DASSH, backing humanities researchers when the previous government was less dismissing than ignoring them (CMM January 24).

Appointments, achievements

Of the day

 The Australian  Academy of the Humanities announces its travelling fellowships for ECRs and publication subsidies, both for ECRs.

Fellowships go to, * Levi Durbidge, (Uni Sunshine Coast, * Kristie Flannery, Australian Catholic U * Simon Graham, Uni Sydney * Angeline Leece, La Trobe U * Deirdre O’Connell, Uni Sydney * Michele Seah, Uni Newcastle * Yu Tao, UWA Beck Wise, Uni Queensland * Shensi Yi, UniSydney

Publication subsidies are for: * Diti Bhattacharya, Griffith U * Georgia Curran, Uni Sydney * Patricia Di Risio, Monash College * Andreas Dorrer, * Uni Melbourne * Benjamin Hegarty, Uni Melbourne * Kate Judith, Uni Southern Queensland. Both schemes are bigger on prestige than pelf. Fellowships are $4000 and subsidies are $3000.

Lauren Ball will move from Griffith U to Uni Queensland in October where she will become inaugural professor of community health and wellbeing.

Vicki Chen becomes provost of UTS in November. She moves from ED of Uni Queensland’s faculty of engineering, architecture and IT.

Of the week

The Australian Society of Microbiology’s Distinguished Service Awards go to Sarah Foster (Launceston General Hospital), Ulrike Kappler (Uni Queensland), Renato Morona (Uni Adelaide) and Lisa Shepherd (South Australia Pathology)

 Tracy Chalk becomes head of marketing and comms at UTS. She moves from Uni Newcastle.

Alan McKee starts as head of Uni Sydney’s School of Art, Communication and English. He moves from UTS.

 Renee Fry‑McKibbin (ANU) is one of the three-person panel appointed to review the Reserve Bank.

Jennifer Leigh Campbell (Griffith U) wins the Breaking Barriers Award at the 2022 Queensland Women in STEM prizes. Katrina Wruck (QUT) wins the Judges’ Award.

The short list for South Australia’s Scientist of the Year is, Corey Bradshaw (Flinders U) Maria Makrides (SA Health and Medical Research Institute), Peter Veitch (Uni Adelaide)

Studiosity’s Tracey Bretag Prize for Academic Integrity for 2022 goes to the UPASS team, from QUT and Swinburne U, Caslon ChuaSam CunninghamSarah DartEdmund Pickering, Rick SomersSheona Thomson