Working it out as they go along

At UNSW, Fiona Docherty, VP external relations, tells staff training is available for change management, “focused on helping us improv (sic) services,” internal briefing paper, last week.

Finkel’s seven steps to reform research

The Chief Scientist has set down seven rules to lift “the rigour and reproducibility” of research practice. Writing in Nature, Alan Finkel reports on ideas, arising from a research leader roundtable.

* “Accredited, practical and respected,” research training as part of PhD programmes. “Institutions must provide explicit instruction in research integrity, data management and professional expectations.”

* Training for PhD supervisors in mentoring and fostering “healthy research culture.”

* Mandatory reporting by supervisors of PhD students’ research impact and career progression

* Alternatives to “simple metrics” for assessing research performance. For example, “the rule of five,” best five papers over past five years, supported by an impact statement

* Completing accredited training programmes as preconditions for public funding. Applicants records in mentoring and peer-review included in assessment

* Journals to be “knowledge custodians” rather than “knowledge distributors.” Custodians do not publish and forget. They ensure that data remain accessible and prioritize concerns about research quality.”

* Grants and promotions are contingent on practice

A press of her own

“It is disturbing to hear in recent weeks the unthinking responses to Melbourne University Press changes, that books from the academy would not be worthy of general readership or publishing,” Monash VC Margaret Gardner told staff Tuesday.

We do not need to apologise for what we do, nor the importance of university research and education to the betterment of our society. But we are reminded that we cannot assume that the impact of what we do is well understood, and that we need to communicate this to a broad public.” Presumably she meant her university’s own list, combining peer-review with a general appeal.

Labor commits to academy for principals

Labor’s Tanya Plibersek promises that in government there will be a “principals’ academy.” “We want to help principals be the best they can be,” the shadow education minister says.

“Not enough principals are receiving the specialised training they need.  Fewer than one in four new principals complete training before they start,” Ms Plibersek adds.

The academy, will offer “standalone” subjects and programmes over a “couple of years” and “organisations with a proven track record in school leadership education” will be allowed to tender to deliver them. Presumably like Monash UU TasmaniaAustralian Catholic UU Notre Dame (Freemantle), UNSWQUT and CSU which all offer, or recently have, principal prep programmes (CMM July 28 2015).

People can already become w  certified practicing principals, a programme now managed by the Australian Council of Educational Research. The CCP is based on principals demonstrating they are “implementing practices” set out in the Australian Professional Standard for Principals.

A Uni Newcastle rose for Honeysuckle

Uni Newcastle is not mucking around with its plans to expand in the Hunter-side inner city. Last June it lodged plans for a development on its Honeysuckle site (CMM June   18).

Now there are details of a $25m building there, all transparent glass and landscaping “to draw people in to discover vibrant activity inside.” It will house an innovation hub and facilities for the creative industries faculty. There’s more to come at Honeysuckle, including talk of student accommodation. Honeysuckle is but a boulevardier’s stroll from the university’s flash NeW city teaching complex, making for a hip Hunter presence, perhaps with international appeal. It certainly will be convenient to the old city courthouse site, which Japan’s Nihon University intends to transform into a campus, where its students can study for a few months, ( CMM March 28 2017).

NTEU staff contemplate industrial action

The National Tertiary Education Union is involved in another drawn-out negotiation for an enterprise agreement – which isn’t unusual. What is, is that it’s at the union with NTEU leadership and staff going through the process.  NTEU workers, who are members of other unions, have voted to apply to the Fair Work Commission for a protected industrial action ballot.

Negotiations have been underway for a while. Back in November the union awarded staff a 1.8 per cent administrative pay-rise to compensate for a year without an increase, (CMM November 1 2018).

CMM hears management thinks a 1.85 per cent rise reflects realities in sector pay but observers suggest negotiators for staff want 2 per cent pa over the agreement. A range of workplace conditions is also in-dispute.

If the FWC approves a ballot and if members subsequently vote for industrial action work bans are likely. Unless of course terms are reached at a bargaining meeting before then.


Sally Kift is the 2019 visiting professorial fellow at the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education.