There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Angel Calderon (RMIT) on the new QS Employability ranking. “These multiple datasets are valuable tools to drive social and labour market policy reforms.”

Merlin Crosley (UNSW) On the aim for university teachers, to instil wisdom and capability. “Not every student has to be expert in everything. But every student has to be an expert in something.”

Mahsood Shah (Swinburne U) sets out students’ nine  expectations to improve teaching. This week’s contribution to Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

plusCorey Bradshaw (Flinders U) and colleagues have a fairer way than the H Index  to compare researchers at different career stages and across disciplines.

with James Guthrie (Macquarie U) who wants to know how many people Victorian universities actually employ – he finds that numbers change from data set to set.

Not much jobs joy for uni casuals

Casually employed staff at universities across the country who thought they met the new Fair Work test for conversion to continuing employment are getting knock-backs this week

Some rejections are not entirely informative, such as a form letter from Uni Melbourne which includes space for a reason for rejection, just not the reason itself.

“The university has assessed the hours that you have worked for us over the last 12 months and has determined that you meet the eligibility criteria for conversion, … However <REASON> the university has determined that this is reasonable grounds (in accordance with the legislation) not to offer to convert your role to a permanent position,” the letter states.

Uni Melbourne advises that 72 casual employees are eligible for conversion to permanent employment under the new Fair Work Act provisions. This is additional to 139 casuals already offered permanent employment this year. Writing in CMM, James Guthrie (Macquarie U) reports Uni Melbourne had 5563 casual employees last year.

However the small number of Uni Melbourne casuals covered by the new FWA provision is in approximate line with Uni Sydney where 69 people were offered conversion out of 4173 assessed, (CMM September 14).

As per the Act, criteria for conversion are 12 months with an employer, “a regular pattern of hours for at least the last six months and being able to work as a permanent staff member without “significant changes to the current employment arrangement.”

Private providers back compulsory COVID-19 shots

But some are more committed than others  

Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia surveyed members and 77 per cent supported mandatory vaccination of their staff.

It looks like the other 23 per cent are concentrated in states where COVID-19 lockdowns are not as regular. Support for compulsory vaccination was weakest in Tasmania (54 per cent plus), followed by SA (64 per cent) and Queensland 68 per cent.

But even in the plague states there are ITECA members who are are not on-board compulsory staff-jabs. Support is 82 per cent in NSW and 81 per cent in Victoria.

Overall 91 per cent of ITECA members are keen on a “gradual relaxation” of social distancing and on opening international borders when vaccine targets are met. Support ranges from 81 per cent in WA to 94 per cent in Victoria.

The survey occurred as ITECA discussed with government the implications for members of mandatory vaccinations. Student vax wasn’t on the agendas.

Cash for vax at Monash U

The university will require everybody on campuses to be double-shot vaccinated (ex exemptions) from November 5

And everybody who can be is expected to be back at work or in class then. Partially or not at all vaccinated staff and students can work/study on-line.

But there are incentives to encourage returns to campus,

* casuals and sessional staff rostered on from August to November can claim a $150 vax support payment

* there’s a $50 voucher for fully vaxed continuing and FT staff, which is good at campus retailers. They can also take sick-leave when getting jabs

* students can score a $20 voucher if they can prove they are vaccinated first-day back.

In May Vice Chancellor Margaret Gardner made it plain that she was not going to let COVID-19 get the better of her university. Australia needed “to put ourselves in a situation where we have more choices of what we can do and where we can go – not less,” she said.

She meant it (CMM May 31).

Ways through the weeds with the NCVER

The estimable National Centre for Vocational Education Research considers methodologies for projecting apprentice and trainee completions in a new paper

While no one will ever accuse authors Michelle Hall and Brian Harvey of writing for laughs, this is important stuff – like so much NCVER work it is essential for voced planning,

Which makes CMM wonder why the Commonwealth created the National Skills Commission rather than expand resources for the NCVER. Learned readers suggest it might be because this excellent agency reports to state and territory ministers as well as federal ones and the latter want data for negotiations they don’t have to share. Honestly! Some of you are such cynics.

Monash owes sessional teaching staff $8.6m

Vice Chancellor Margaret Gardner tells staff a review of payment records finds people were underpaid for tutorials

Just under $1m is owed due to timesheet errors, with the bulk of the money owing for “inconsistent descriptions of teaching activities.”

This admission only adds to the National Tertiary Education Union argument that universities fail to pay the rates for teaching as specified in enterprise agreements. The comrades appear to have a point.

UNSW estimates it has a “potential liability to the casual academic workforce” amounting to tens of millions (CMM June 3) and Uni Melbourne has announced it owes over 1000 past and present casuals $9.5m for work they were not correctly paid for (CMM September 10).

Un Sydney has announced it owes mainly professional staff $12.75m and Uni Queensland has a review underway (CMM 14 and 22).

This is starting to look like a system problem and the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency has got involved – convening a webinar for universities “on the subject of wage underpayments (CMM September2).


Appointments, achievements

Of the day

Kerryn Baker (ANU) wins the Australian Political Studies Association’s Carole Pateman Book Prize. Dr Baker wins for Pacific women in politics: gender quota campaigns in the Pacific islands (University of Hawaii Press).

 Sue Bennett is confirmed as executive dean of the Faculty of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at Uni Wollongong. She has acted since May.

 Ian Goodwin-Smith joins Flinders U as professor of soclal impact. He moves from Uni SA.

Ariadne Vromen is president-elect of the Australian Political Studies Association.

Of the week

 The Australian Society of Plant Scientists announces its 2021 awards. Joanna Melonek (UWA) – early career researcher.  Kim L Johnson (La Trobe U) – mid-career woman researcher. Xiaoyang Wei (Uni Newcastle) – early career researcher, travel. Ximeng Li (Western Sydney U) – best paper.

Jonathan Churchill starts at ANU as Chief Information Officer. He moved from James Cook U.

Danya Field is Griffith U’s new general counsel. She moved from legal and risk head at Virgin Australia

 Jane den Hollander (former VC of Deakin U and UWA) joins the board of WA Primary Health Alliance.

Livia Hool will lead WA’s first heart research centre, a partnership of Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, UWA and Wesfarmers.

Sarah McNaughton (Deakin U) chairs the National Health and Medical Research Council’s new dietary guidelines expert committee

 Lidia Morawska is one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2021. Professor Morawaska (QUT) is an air quality researcher who recognised airborne transmission of COVID-19 was the key in-door transmission issue.

Brent Ritchie starts today as dean of Uni Queensland’s Business School. He moves up from associate dean R in the university’s Faculty of Business, Economics and Law. He has the job for two years with the university announcing it will go to external recruitment “at an appropriate time” to either confirm Professor Richie or identify a new head of school.

 James Roffee starts at Federation U as Brisbane campus head. He was Global Education dean at Swinburne U.

Mike Ryan is confirmed as PVC R at Monash U. He has acted in the role since June.

Finalists for SA Scientist of the Year are Timothy Hughes (SA Health and MRI), Helen Marshall (Uni Adelaide) and Shizhang Qiao (Uni Adelaide).

At Federation UGabriele Suder is now Dean of the New Business Accelerator. She moved from RMIT.

Angus Taylor (Lib, NSW) is the acting minister for Industry, Science and Technology following Christian Porter’s resignation, yesterday. Mr Taylor’s substantive portfolio is Energy and Emissions Reduction.