A please explain for James Cook U

James Cook U staff have agreed to defer a pay rise as part of management’s COVID-19 savings plan  

But there could be a problem with the drafting of the Enterprise Agreement Variation staff accepted. (CMM September 28).

The National Tertiary Education Union suggests that as written the deferred payrise would not need to be paid at all.

It’s an issue the Fair Work Commission, which has to approve the EAV, wants to consider. Commissioner Johns has told JCU to “file and serve evidence.”

There is a directions hearing this morning.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Universities must always, always, pay casuals the right rate for the job – Roger Burritt and James Guthrie make the case. 

Dawn Bennett (Curtin U) on why STEM isn’t the solution to everything in HE funding – new this week in Contributing Editor Sally Kift‘s series on what is needed now in teaching and learning.

Frank Larkins and Ian Marshman (Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education) propose nine ways needed to save research.

The COVID-19 jobs crisis

What’s happening now and what managements will do next

The COVID-19 funding crisis will end 5 600 FTE continuing appointments in universities, according to Elizabeth Baré, Janet Beard and Ian Marshman from the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education writing with Teresa Tjia.

In CMM this morning they estimate a further 7500 FTE positions will be lost in the casual and fixed-term research workforce. This figure alone could translate to 17 500 people.

Overall, they report the pandemic’s revenue impact on universities for 2020 will be $3.8bn.

They also analyse the range of management responses to the crisis and the six workforce challenges universities will face, here.

Claire Field on Australian opportunities for international HE providers


There was quite a response to last week’s article on the private university/non-university higher education sector

One colleague asked the very good question – why is Carnegie Mellon University included in Australia’s higher education statistics but not New York University?

The answer is that unlike NYU which has a study-abroad focus in Sydney, CMU offers masters and graduate certificate programmes in Australia (as well as study abroad). It is therefore regulated by TEQSA, albeit with full self-accrediting status.

So, unlike NYU, CMU is directly involved in the Australian postgraduate education landscape.

It is also not the only major overseas higher education institution in Australia.

Earlier this year Torrens University and Think Education passed from one overseas owner, Laureate Universities, to another, US-based Strategic Education.

Among the non-universities there is also considerable overseas ownership – as both educators and investors recognise the opportunities in the Australian tertiary education sector. They include:

  • US-owned Kaplan Higher Education and Kaplan Business School
  • Indian-owned SP Jain School of Global Management
  • Study Group (started in Australia and now headquartered in the UK)
  • Top Education Group (listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange)
  • EduCo Global (owners of CIC Higher Education)
  • NZ’s UP Education (owners of International College of Hotel Management)
  • China Education Group (owners of Australian Institute of Business and Management)
  • LCI Melbourne (part of the LCI Network, headquartered in Canada)

A number also operate pathways colleges for various Australian universities.

What does this mean for the public university sector?

If the Job-Ready Graduates legislation passes then student contributions of $14,500 pa will make private institutions more attractive. If the legislation fails then these institutions are well placed to meet the expected levels of unmet demand for tertiary places.

Either way, these institutions are a significant, growing part of the Australian tertiary education landscape.

Claire Field is an advisor to the tertiary education sector

The jobs Victoria U wants fewer people doing

When talks with the union on savings measures failed VC Peter Dawkins said there would need to be more voluntary separations than if agreement had been reached

Under the plan that did not work out, staff would have agreed to a leave purchase scheme and accepted a deferred pay rise. In return management promised to reduce job losses by 90 and ask for 100 voluntary departures (CMM September 24 and 25).

But with no deal done the university told staff yesterday it wanted 190 voluntary departures over two years.  The VC told staff management’s priority classifications to go are professional staff, senior academics with research and teaching and research only workloads.

Those who can’t apply to exit, for now, include teaching-only academics and fixed term and casual staff. VU polytechnic teachers aren’t in the frame.

And there may be more to come. “The university will seek to avoid involuntary redundancy as far as possible” and will “consult with affected staff … if it decides it is necessary to implement (an) additional selective and targeted redundancy process at a later time.”

Unis Aus politically potent research sell

Timed beautifully for the budget there’s a new burst of Universities Australia’s research comms campaign

The new spots feature research helping a young woman with Huntington’s Disease and a website for people who spent childhood in care to discover their life stories. They build on the first two bursts (CMM December 14 and July 23 2019).

This is way more relevant to the way we live now than research campaigns that explain how much more money is needed to address issues that are abstract to people’s daily lives. Instead UA makes the case with a simple message pitched at all of us, “university research changes lives.”

Simply produced politically potent.

Bradley Smith says so-long to SEO codes

By Bradley Smith

The Australian Bureau of Statistics is advising universities they do not have to report data by socio-economic code for biennial Higher Education Research and Development reports

While SEOs are used for some grant applications, including to the Australian Research Council, they have never been taken that seriously in the sector.

It is interesting, although no doubt mere co-incidence, that the ABS advice comes a couple of weeks out from final submissions for the ARC review of Excellence for Research in Australia and the new Engagement and Impact measure. There was an argument, (including a specific question in the ARC discussion paper), about whether it would be better to use SEOs for EI rather than disciplinary Fields of Research, which are the primary research classification.

A reason to consider that change is SEOs would be better aligned to the policy/political intent of university accountability in generating social, economic, environmental and cultural impacts outside the academic field. This decision may kill off that thought.

The ABS decision saves work for it and universities, but is another example of the declining scope of the ABS data portfolio due to steady, unrelenting budget constraints. It also comes a mere three months after the updated research classifications, including SEO, were released by the ABS and Stats NZ after a long period of consultation.

An additional outcome is universities may choose to cease recording SEO codes in their publications repositories.

Bradley Smith is senior research policy advisor at James Cook U

Voluntary redundancies approved at Uni Melbourne

The university had to ask the Fair Work Commission

The university wants to run a voluntary redundancy round (CMM Monday) but there’s a problem with the wording of the enterprise agreement’s clause 1.41.6 and its reference to clause, (if you are that keen, it’s all explained here ).

Management and the National Tertiary Education Union agree on what needs to be done and so does FWC Commissioner Yilmaz.

Now CMM understands what VC Duncan Maskell meant when he said last week, the VR proposal was “dependent on a decision from the FWC”.

Dirk Mulder on the big issue for international student arrivals

By Dirk Mulder

We need two things to kick-start international arrivals: political will and a model that makes their coming safe

Much of the world continues to open and then restrict their nationals’ movement without too much thought given to quarantining measures.

But some do.

While Singapore citizens, permanent residents and people with “long term passes” can travel there, they can apply to opt out of government quarantining by wearing an electronic monitoring device.  Hong Kong is also using the technology while other countries are deploying it with arrivals who might break quarantine.

The approach has issues – monitoring can be expensive and there are privacy concerns.

But as the chorus continues for bringing back international students to Australia surely all options must be on the table.

Not least because the chance to do it could be coming closer. The prime minister’s priority to get Australians offshore home should, all things being equal, be achieved by Christmas. More places in hotel quarantine and the states’ capacity to handle more arrivals goes some way to demonstrate borders can be managed.

However, this is not to mass international student scale –which makes electronic monitoring worth looking at.  Such as app-based goPassport, which is developed by Australians with backgrounds in travel, border security, medicine, education and real-time data management.

Developed in conjunction with ELICOS peak-body English Australia, goPassport seeks to provide a safe, scalable solution, using a risk-mitigation model that manages much of the health risk before the student boards their flight to Australia.

It works on five key elements:

* capturing the pathway – being able to ascertain information on where the student is coming from and pre-screening (for Covid-19) prior to embarking

* guiding compliance – being able to provide the individual with the clearest of information to ensure the student understands their responsibilities

* real time location-based activity monitoring

* an alert trigger –which can escalate quickly

* escalation – providing information on movement and contacts

They hope the model will have a sympathetic hearing from government, which ultimately will determine on a political level just how students may fit into a scenario which balances safety with cross border movement.

Dirk Mulder is CMM’s international education correspondent

Ranking on research output: it’s harder than it looks

In displays of admirable restraint vice chancellors and research lobbies are selflessly pointing to their organisations’ reputations as reason to receive a big share of the funding expected to be in the budget

But working how to rate research reps isn’t easy. Xin Gu and Karen Blackmore (Uni Newcastle) demonstrated why in a 2017 analysis of science research performance over time of three un-named Australian universities, which could be a sandstone, a pre-Dawkins and a regional

They found research output across the three converged and that increased publication rates were not accompanied by a decline in the status of the journals where people published. However, publications by people at the elite institution did have higher citation counts.


Dolt of the day

In yesterday’s email edition CMM inadvertently broke embargo on the appointment of Libby Lyons as chair as inaugural chair of Science in Australia Gender Equity. Misread a date – bad mistake. Ms Lyons commences in the role today.

Appointments, achievements

Stephen Bartlett (Uni Sydney) is elected a fellow of the American Physical Society, (it’s for physicists).

Peter Binks joins Griffith U as VP Industry and External Engagement. He is a previous CEO of the Business Higher Education Round Table.

 Chris Leishman is appointed professor in property and housing economics at Uni SA. He moves from Uni Adelaide.

Recently resigned federal LNP MP John McVeigh becomes director of the University of Southern Queensland’s Institute for Resilient Regions. Dr McVeigh’s former seat covers USQ’s Toowoomba campus. The university states his appointment, “follows a rigorous USQ selection process.”