Jurassic campus

“Come and try our virtual reality simulator and walk with the dinosaurs!,” Australian Catholic University, promoting Open Day, via Twitter. Evidently the vice chancellor was not there in person.

More staff cuts at UNSW

200 more jobs are being disestablished

At UNSW, staff are contemplating the next round of job cuts in the university-wide administration restructure. According to a union message to members over 200 positions will be “disestablished” with big losses in faculties notably in medicine (58), science (34), engineering (31), arts and social sciences (27), and art/design (22). Law is expected to lose five positions and built environment (three).

Facilities management (around 20) is the latest central services provider to lose staff in this round, following IT, finance and media/marketing where 230 existing roles all up were targeted to go earlier this year.

A spokesperson for the university says “while this is a difficult time” for people whose jobs are “disestablished” they have “first opportunity” to apply for jobs being created in the new structure and that during the present restructure professional staff positions have grown by 4 per cent. Overall the university will create 8 per cent more jobs when the new administration model is complete in 2025. “To achieve our strategic goals, UNSW needs to change and future-proof the way it deploys its professional services.” 

Now with extra river!

With the plan for the Murray Darling Medical Scheme proposal still not decided sponsor Charles Sturt University is promoting the next best thing, its new Three Rivers Department of Rural Health. It is part of a national programme from the federal government to expand health services in the bush. The Three Rivers (CMM suspects the third is the Murrumbidgee) will provide practise placements for nursing, midwifery and dentistry students in CSU’s heartland. CMM has no idea if this will also be the basis of a consolation prize from the feds if the MDMS does not get up.

Star still shines at Southern Cross U

Star still shines at Southern Cross U 

Southern Cross University has not completely canned the constellation from its logo- there’s still a star (you just have to look)

Southern Cross University has a new logo, with the constellation gone, colours changed and “SCU” replaced with the full name.

Vice Chancellor Adam Shoemaker tells his community the initialism had to go because people could confuse SCU, with CQU, USQ or CSU. And the old imagery was a wretch to reproduce, especially in digital formats.

But there is still a star in SCU’s (sorry, Southern Cross University’s) new logo.

“If you look closely, you will see that a bright star is still there in the very middle of the new emblem. This symbolises the ‘pointer’ star in the Southern Cross constellation. And when you ‘reverse out’ the new design–as we are now doing on T-shirts–the shape of the full constellation is still indicated. So we have not gotten rid of the stars; it is just that the new design is more subtle and, I think, memorable,” Professor Shoemaker says.

As to ending the old slogan, “it’s all about U”? “Many people felt it was a selfish slogan, which did not line up with the progressive, ethical and engaged nature of the university” he adds.

Honoured by Curtin

Curtin University has named Kingsley Dixon and Steven Tingay, John Curtin Distinguished Professors. Professor Dixon was WA Scientist of the Year in 2016. Professor Tingay was WA Science Ambassador in 2012.

Birmingham’s big dollars question: if universities cannot afford cuts how they can promise pay rises

It is one the minister will ask cross bench senators

Days after CQU and the union signed-off on a sector-leading wage deal (CMM August 24) Education Minister Simon Birmingham has suggested “wage deals in excess of current private or public sector outcomes” … undermined the doomsday prophecies being spun about the Turnbull Government’s higher education reforms.”

CQU and the NTEU have agreed on a cumulative payrise of 10.5 per cent across the agreement. This compares to the last agreement, at UWA, where lower paid staff will receive 9.5 per cent and higher earners 5.9 per cent in cumulative rises.

““It defies logic to claim there will be mass sackings because of a reduction in the rate of growth in government funding but to then sign off on enterprise bargaining deals well in excess of current community norms,” Minister Birmingham said.

“This deal highlights that universities can succeed with our reforms. Our plan has been on the table for months and it is clear universities recognise they can still reward their staff generously with the slightly lower rate of growth in taxpayer funding that we’re proposing … (it) should signal the end of the scare campaign about claimed cuts and I hope everyone involved in the higher education debate will keep focused on the facts of our reforms.”

“It is clear that people should look at what universities are doing and spending rather than what some university leaders are saying or predicting,” the minister added.

By ‘people’ CMM suspects Senator Birmingham means cross-bench senators.

Utopia would include open access

Iconoclast economist Jason Potts (RMIT) and colleagues propose “a history-friendly approach to evolutionary socio-economic dynamics based around competition between five ‘utopias,’ ” capitalism, socialism, civil liberty, nature, and nationalism which people in a model variously support. The authors use this “to analyse certain aspects of socio-economic and political change in the US from the 1960s–present.”

And if you are curious about their conclusions, “the reader can replicate all simulation results presented in this paper by using the computer programme provided in the supplementary material. At least you can, if you have institutional access to the new issue of the Journal of Evolutionary Economics, or will pay the  €34.95 publisher Elsevier demands to read.

Ideas to expand university access

New research programme from peak equity agency

The snappily titled National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education, at Curtin University, has announced its 13 research grants for 2017. Lead researchers and projects are:

Natalie Lloyd (Curtin U): how communities in engineering can increase equity group participation in the industry.

Robin Barnes (UniTas): impact of positive community attributes on regional students participation in higher education

Bernadette Walker-Gibbs (Deakin U): aspiration and outcomes in low SES students first university assessment

Lisa Hartley (Curtin U): barriers and support in accessing higher education for people seeking asylum

Jenny Gore (Deakin U): role of communities in shaping student aspirations toward higher education

Sarah O’Shea (UniWollongong): a “digital story telling” exploration of attrition in a low SES regional cohort

Wojtek Tomaszewski (UofQueensland): socioeconomic outcomes of graduates from advantaged/disadvantaged students

Ryan Naylor (LaTrobe U): institutional culture and structural bias in support/retention of low SES students

Fiona Shalley (Charles Darwin U): Indigenous student completion rates at two regional universities

Andrew Harvey (La Trobe U): design principles to protect student equity in performance based funding

Matt Brett (La Trobe U): establishing baseline data on student demographics and outcomes of students enrolled via third party providers and non university providers as basis for analysis of performance funding, sub bachelor programmes and provider category reform

Deanna Grant-Smith (QUT): low SES participation in postgraduate study and outcomes after completion

Ian Li (UWA): comparison of equity/non equity student pathways after graduation

Dolt of the day

Yesterday CMM reported that universities must deliver information this week to the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency on what they will tell students about their new transparent entry standards. TEQSA says this is wrong; “Providers need to deliver a limited set of information in the new format to prospective students. The revised information they make available online will be reviewed by us, with the results forming our evaluation of sector compliance.”

Friends in the business: what characterises companies that partner with universitie

Australian businesses that work with universities are happy with the experience

A newsurvey of Australian business finds that 99 per cent of firms that cooperate with universities intend to either maintain or increase their involvement. However surveyed companies that do not work with universities assume they would not benefit from doing so.

The survey, report by Carolin Plewa (University of Adelaide), Todd Davey, Arno Meerman and Victoria Galán-Muros and published by the University of Adelaide and German partners finds; “businesses cooperating with universities have higher perceptions regarding their UBC capabilities, compared to businesses who do not cooperate.”

However, the gaps between the two groups are much the same on a range of factors which shape a willingness to collaborate, notably, university and business motivations, businesses perceptions of university awareness of opportunities, and lack of public funding for cooperation.

What is interesting is that some of the larger gaps between businesses that do/don’t cooperate with higher education institutions reveal more about the nature and aspirations of the firms surveyed than the reasons for university links, or their lack.

Firms that do not cooperate say they don’t have the money, don’t know who to talk to and have “limited absorbitive capacity.” In fact, what distinguishes firms that work with universities from those that don’t can come down to mind-set. “Businesses cooperating with universities also engage in broader cooperation efforts. Indeed, more than 70 per cent of businesses that cooperate with universities in relation to research and development or education and training also cooperate with other businesses in the same activity.