It’s all their fault

“One of the most prominent challenges facing universities is shifting the large cohort of staff who have anxiety about change, and a change resistant mind-set,” the Australian Higher Education Industrial Association’s new workforce transformation report.  (Scroll down for the story).

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning, Merlin Crossley (DVC-UNSW) on the  happy addiction of science research.

A risk the Go8 didn’t manage

The ban on arrivals from China is in place for another week, it’s especially bad news for Group of Eight universities

Group of Eight universities increased their exposure to any down-turn in enrolments of students from China. University of Melbourne higher education analyst Frank Larkins writes in CMM Features this morning.

In 2013, Chinese students accounted for 45 per cent of internationals at Go8 institutions, rising to 65 per cent last year.  Overall, the Go8 enrolled 39 per cent of all Chinese students in 2013 and 63 per cent in 2019.

“The high financial exposure should encourage university governing bodies to review their risk management policies and the narrowly focussed recruitment strategies that have led to such an extreme dependence of students from one country as a significant revenue source,” Professor Larkins writes.

Discussing for dollars

The Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes has held an inaugural meeting of fundraising and philanthropy staff at 27 MRIs. AMRI says it was a “brilliant day, thank you all for bringing such enthusiasm & big ideas.”


VC moves from Fed U to Sunshine state

In the third VC move of the week, Helen Bartlett is announced as the next VC of University of the Sunshine Coast. She will start in August, replacing Greg Hill

Professor Bartlett told Fed U staff Thursday that, “family considerations are at the forefront of my decision to return to Queensland, my former home state.

“While the timing of this move was not anticipated, I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to continue my passion for regional education and contribute to making a difference in another state.”

Professor Bartlett is a regional-specialist. She was appointed to Federation U in December ’16 (joining from Monash Malaysia). She had previously run Monash Gippsland, which is now part of the Fed U network.

It’s the second-time Bartlett has replaced Hill – she took over from him as chair of the Regional Universities Network in January last year.

This is a move-up from Professor Bartlett. While Federation U faces student-demand challenges, certainly in Gippsland and Ballarat, USC serves a growing region – it opened a new campus this week.

Her announcement follows news Peter Dawkins (Victoria U) and Michael Spence (Uni Sydney) are both leaving.

What the ATAR does not do

It’s months before the annual ATAR can be gamed stories start so UAC is getting in early to explain what it actually does

But in NSW the Universities Admission Centre’s Anthony Manny is getting in early to argue that the ATAR is a statistical ranking, not a private-school shibboleth.

Especially interesting is his finding that for people with ATARs over 70 there is “little difference” in applications to UAC across SES quartiles. However, for people with ATARs under 60, application rates from lower quartiles increases. “This may be reflective of policies around widening participation from low SES.

“The ATAR does not itself systematically discriminate against any SES group as subsequent performance is at the level predicted by the ATAR,” he suggests.

Can do better: what uni managements have in mind

The university managements’ peak IR organisation has surveyed members on workplace reform since 2016 and sets out what needs to happen now – which is quite a bit.

What’s accomplished: The survey for the Australian Higher Education Industrial Association identifies major benefits from “significant transformation projects,” occurring since early 2016; “capability uplift,” “increased workforce capacity,” and “efficient workforce structures”. Cost saving was a distant fourth.

What they are doing now:  The survey found universities are now; * prioritising, “expert facilitation and delivery of experiential learning. * skilling up staff (not necessarily academics) in teaching and research technology, * working on digital potential and the student experience,” and *more intensive and block-teaching modes

What’s next: * “addressing pockets of change fatigue and change resistance and developing mitigation action plans.” * leadership development initiatives * leveraging data to make proactive and precise decisions about, “the workforce and future workforce requirements.” * “learning from institutions that have been able to effectively navigate the industrial environment.”

But there’s a problem: “Some universities also cited a challenging industrial environment and a history of industrial reaction to change as a key challenge to realising reform objectives. This includes union-initiated proceedings in courts and the Fair Work Commission perceived to be in pursuit of dragging out the change process timeline rather than to address supposed procedural deficiencies.”

Queensland unis calm over COVID-19

Queensland unis want to minimise the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on staff, including casuals

The National Tertiary Education Union reports a “positive” meeting with University of Queensland provost Aidan Byrne, with talks to continue. Management is said to be looking to defer spending and encouraging people to take leave, rather than just lay-off casuals.

Word is the union expects the same from non-metropolitans, with no expectations of casuals being laid-off or hours reduced.

In Brisbane, Griffith U tells CMM, the COVID-19 travel restrictions, “will, in some areas, actually require more staffing resources to ensure we can best support impacted students. The university will continue to assess the financial impact and further required response.”

There are concerns at QUT for staff employment in its pathways college but last night Vice Chancellor Margaret Sheil told CMM that while ten sessional jobs are going this is not virus related but an already in-place change, established under the university’s enterprise agreement.

“There are an additional 24 new ongoing and six fixed term positions.  The increase in ongoing staff has reduced the need for sessional educators. We have also seen a decline in demand for some English language courses in the face of competition from private providers,” she said.

Warmer weather, cooler politics

Canberra has had a horrible summer, fire and smoke and hail, which extreme weather ANU’s Council assumes is exacerbated by climate change

And so, it endorses VC Brian Schmidt’s proposal to make campus greenhouse gas negative, and “further reducing the emissions intensity of its investment portfolio.”  Times have changed.

Back in 2014 when the university sold mining and energy shares, the Australian Financial Review wrote harrumphing stories and then VC, Ian “the gent” Young, was called before a Senate committee by Senator Leyonhjelm (Liberal Democrat) to answer questions about the sale, (CMM October 23 2014). It won’t happen now.

Appointments, achievements

Of the day

Katherine Andrews is confirmed for 2020 as director of Griffith University for Drug Discovery. Previous director Jennifer Martin moved to Uni Wollongong in 2019 as DVC R.

Joanne Arciuli joins Flinders U next month, as research dean for the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. She moves from Uni Sydney.


Of the week

 Marian Baird (Uni Sydney) wins the Association of Industrial Relations Academics in Australia and New Zealand achievement award.

La Trobe U confirms Joanna Barbousas as dean of education.

Claire Bowers becomes La Trobe U’s media and comms director. She has acted in the role since November, replacing Tim Mitchell.

Stephen Garton will act as VC at the University of Sydney if a successor to Michael Spence is not in-place when his resignation is in effect next January. Professor Garton is a DVC and previous provost.

Chennupati Jagadish (ANU) is the new editor-in-chief of Applied Physics Review.

John McDonald joins Charles Sturt U as executive dean, Arts and Education. He moves from Federation U.

 At Victoria UBronte Neyland is the inaugural PVC, future students and marketing. She moves from director of VU International.

Parshia Lee-Stecum is appointed assistant provost, learning and teaching in the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce at La Trobe U.

Kerrie Thornton joins the Innovative Research Universities as government relations manager. She is a veteran of both the Group of Eight and Universities Australia.