Job security for U Tas casuals (just not many of them)

Observers suggest the recent employment conversion round (as required by the Fair Work Act) led to less than 10 per cent of casuals being offered continuing employment

They are right. The university advises 3121 casuals (including student employment) were reviewed under the new rules (12 months with employer and a regular pattern of hours for six). The result was 11 offers of continuing jobs. Another 15 had already converted, “through other processes.”

“The university will continue its efforts to increase security of employment for our people,” U Tas states.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

James Guthrie (Macquarie U) on Deakin U annual reports and what they reveal.

plus Susan Blackley and Lisa Tee (both Curtin U) argue students like campus life and blended learning is not a complete substitute. This week’s selection by Commissioning Editor Sally Kift for her celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

with Angel Calderon (RMIT) on the new QS employability ranking – universities with industry-aligned missions shine.

and Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on the true aim of a university education. Not every student has to be expert in everything but they have to be an expert in something.

Call for Audit Office to investigate Australian Research Council

The ARC’s brief ban on references to pre-prints in funding applications is gone – the damage done to the agency’s reputation continues

Green Senator Mehreen Faruqi wants the Australian National Audit Office to investigate the policy that saw research funding applications excluded from two recent rounds (CMM August 20 and umpteen subsequent stories).

Senator Faruqi tells the Auditor General, “the process was in some aspects irregular and not acceptable for an Australian Government agency.”

She adds, the rule was “developed and implemented through an inadequate process” and that its “application was not only unfair but inconsistent.”

The ANAO last routinely reviewed the ARC in 2019 and found its administration of the National Competitive Grants Programme to be overall ok (CMM August 2 2019).

Although the ANAO might be wondering now about its ’19 finding that the ARC has strategies to “effectively communicate with key stakeholders,” including “to provide information on NCGP guidelines.” The present mess was caused by researchers, many in physics, not knowing that the rule on referring to pre-prints in applications had changed.


Uni Adelaide proposes staff cuts

As expected (CMM yesterday) management has announced its draft change proposal, designed to address a projected budget shortfall of $22m next year and $47m annually from ’23

The plan is broadly as sent to staff in July (CMM July 9), reducing faculties from five to three and centralising administration, although the abolition of professional staff positions is down from 130 in July to a net reduction of 104 now.

However, there is no word on how many people will lose existing jobs, with new positions to be created for the new admin model. The university is also silent on the pay grades of new admin jobs compared to those that will be abolished.

Vice Chancellor Peter Høj tells staff, “we would rather not propose these measures and do so with regret, but we judge them necessary to ensure our university can face the challenges before it.”

Academics escape the axe for now. Any reduction in their number will be “a separate body of work” next year.

Colin Simpson’s EDTECH pick of the day

Learning Design (and Curriculum Design) as a discipline has come to the fore in the last 18 months as educators and institutions have accepted that teaching has fundamentally changed and new approaches are needed.

Good design practices create meaningful learning experiences, are evidence backed, and draw on the collective expertise of academic and professional staff alike. The ASCILITE TELedvisors Network and Learning Design SIG have a webinar today (Thurs 30/9 – 12 noon AEST) showcasing some exemplars of how this work is done. Featuring Drs Dewa Wardak and Andrew Cram from Uni Sydney, Michelle Riggs from Australian Institute of Business and Mitchell Osmond from UTS. Tune in at

Colin Simpson has worked in education technology in the tertiary sector since 2003 and is employed by Monash University’s Education Innovation team. For more from Colin, follow him on Twitter @gamerlearner

Flinders U targets two colleges for savings

The university says it “continues to respond to the economic and political environment”

Word is the new savings target is $10m with positions to be abolished in the colleges of Medicine and Public Health and HASS.

Last night the university said there is a proposal to change the MPH “staffing profile” and one for HASS, “responding to changes in student demand for courses in arts and languages.”

Observers suggest that that to make the savings target more jobs may go in the other colleges.

Peak lobbies welcome two bills on cyber-security

Unis groups weren’t happy with one bill to rule them all

what’s proposed: The parliamentary committee inquiring into the government’s expansive cyber-security legislation proposes splitting the bill in two. One needed now, to deal with imminent security needs. A second, to come, that addresses concerns, including expressed by universities, of anomalies and over-reach in the existing bill.

and why: The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security states it, “received extensive evidence in submissions and at public hearings that many companies, industry bodies or stakeholders did not feel like their input or feedback had been actioned or acknowledged.”

This certainly seems to apply to the higher education community where institutions and interest groups pointed out that the original legislation regulated them way beyond risks. As the Group of Eight put it. “The catch-all nature of the legislation as proposed for the higher education and research sector to be highly disproportionate to the likely degree and extent of criticality of the sector …  (CMM February 15).

how it happened: The highly-regarded PJCIS got involved in considering the existing Bill when then Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton introduced it into the House in December. Then Attorney General Christian Porter put a brake on what then looked like a quick passage by asking the committee to consider it.

what’s next: HE will be pleased if the government accepts the committee report – as it probably will. For the bill as it now stands to go to the Senate would likely attract the close and critical attention of the scrutiny of bills committee.

The Group of Eight welcomes the committee’s recommendation for two bills. “By splitting the urgent and non-urgent elements … Australia will have the capacity to respond rapidly to looming cyber threats, while enabling a thorough consultation process to take place between universities, business and government,” CEO Vicki Thomson says.

She particularly points to the committee recommendation that the second bill be designed in consultation with industry, to take account of regulatory impact, and “importantly, provides the best possible protections for Go8 research critical to Australia’s national security.”

The Australian Technology Network agrees, “the best outcome for Australia’s prosperity and security will be a risk-based and proportionate system, adequately supported by the Government, that builds on the risk management and protections universities already have in place. The recommendations of the PJCIS will will help ensure that the Critical Infrastructure Bill is fit for this purpose.”


The American Geophysical Union announces its 2021 Fellows, including; Andy Baker (UNSW), Stephen Rintoul (CSIRO) and Craig Simmons (Flinders U).

Chief Scientist on three challenges for women in STEM

 “I am, as Australia’s Chief Scientist, the most senior science and technology adviser in the country. Yet here I am talking about the challenges facing women in the workplace! “

Cathy Foley delivered the Helen Williams Oration yesterday, named for the first woman to be a permanent head of a Commonwealth Government Department.

In the distributed text of her address Dr Foley focused on three challenges.

* encouraging young women into STEM (physical sciences as well as caring professions)

“One of the solutions is to improve visibility of science careers – so you can see yourself in a career that makes sense to you if you study physics or chemistry, just as you can with, say, medicine or law”

* helping women stay in their careers

Dr Foley pointed to four issues to address.  Lack of support for flexible/PT work, and for non-linear careers. “The unhelpful alignment between the timing of university careers and the age when women have children” and “the way success is measured, which reflects an out-moded system of publication numbers and the like.”

* accelerating achievement by women in their 50s and 60s, (In my experience, this is when I have seen women’s careers accelerate”).

And that, Dr Foley suggested, means addressing age discrimination and “being aware of the challenges that can arise from menopause, and considering ways to ameliorate them”.

“The last thing we want to do is make skilled researchers, scientists and engineers feel the workforce has no place for them in those final decades of their careers.”

And yet, there was optimism

Dr Foley pointed out, the heads of the Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council are women, as are CSIRO’s Chief Scientist and the Defence Chief Scientist.

“So yes, change is slow. But there is momentum. Having women in these really senior positions is normalising.”