Scuba students

“Australian university students could be key to delivering nuclear submarines as part of the AUKUS deal,” Laura Jayes, Sky News, Friday. At least until there’s a big enough drone.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Individual assessment tasks don’t necessarily support the development of higher level graduate attributes or employment outcomes,” argue Nicholas Charlton (Griffith U) and Richard Newsham-West. What’s needed is a focus on programme, rather than course, learning outcomes. New this week in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

plus Merlin Crosley (UNSW) on the big Accord issues – access and research funding. “We don’t know where the next Einstein will come from, but we don’t want to miss her.”

Students not sold on U Tas move to CBD

In March the Tasmanian University Students Association decided to oppose the city-move unless university management improved comms with students and demonstrated how the new location would be in their interests

TUSA now says the university has made a “re-invigorated effort” to engage and “capture the diversity of the student voice in opinions and experiences relating to the city move.”

“Our position remains that the Hobart city campus move should not go ahead, but we are open to re-evaluation of our stance if the universities’ consultation practices improve, and student feedback toward the move becomes more positive,” the association announces.

That students are less offside than they were, but still not supportive, is bad for management’s pitch.

The city move is supposed to make it much easier for students to get to campus by public transport than the present Sandy Bay site. The CBD is supposed to be way hipper and happening than the Bay. Plus Uni Tas promotes its flash new teaching facilities in town.

And yet students are not sold.

What works at work

After all the pandemic pain it’s time to work through the lessons of lockdown and build better HE workplaces

HEjobs invites you to an in-person event to talk, listen and learn about work that is better


Deakin U makes staff an offer the union already refuses

Management and NTEU are split on terms but there’s one thing they agree on

The university’s Stacey Walton told staff Friday that negotiations for a new enterprise agreement with the National Tertiary Education Union are “at an impasse.” Union officer Ridian Thomas is of the same view, “after four or five months of meandering negotiations … we are at an impasse,” he told members on March 23.

To move things along in their preferred direction, union members have voted for a series of work stoppages, to which Mrs Walton responded Friday, “we believe we have discharged our good faith bargaining obligations.”

“It’s time to hear from you directly,” she said, advising the university’s offer will be put to a staff vote next week, without union agreement.

The big issues are payrises under the new agreement, continuing jobs for casual staff and academic workloads.

The university points to administrative pay rises of 1.5% and 3.75% between June ’21 and now, which were not part of the last (2017) agreement. And DU is offering a 3 per increase from start date of a new agreement, with 3 per cent more in March ’24 and ’25 which union branch president Piper Rodd says is “grossly inadequate given the cost of living crisis and excessive inflation and rising interest rates.”

This is a courageous move by management – perhaps of the Appelby kind. In general big majorities of universities staff are not union members. But they listen to the comrades on matters of wages and conditions and generally vote no offers made by managements acting alone. However DU may be encouraged by Charles Darwin U staff backing a management offer in December – which the NTEU fiercely opposed.

Dr Rodd tells CMM the union is “deeply disappointed,” that the management offer, “provides no meaningful improvement of working conditions, workloads or job security.”

“ We want to keep bargaining,” she says.

Management IR lobby wants employment to be an Accord issue

Employment costs and conditions are the industrial elephant in the Accord room, according to the peak IR organisation for most universities

The Australian Higher Education Industrial Association’s submission to the O’Kane accord panel warns, that HE change is, “inextricably linked to the need for reform to the industrial settings that apply across the sector.

“ The current model is not sustainable and further reforms of the sector, without addressing the industrial settings are unlikely to yield any proposed benefit, “AHEIA advises.

The association points to it’s essential issues including;

* employment conditions for continuing-staff

* risk to research from changes to fixed-term employment terms

* deciding what workforce level of casual staff is “appropriate” and how funding and workload allocation models, “might support a modest reduction in casual staff.”

And it calls on the Accord panel to establish, an IR “element,” including employers, the National Tertiary Education Union and unions representing professional staff, plus government representatives from education and employment portfolios.

To help establish a context for any such element, AHEIA argues, a guaranteed five year Commonwealth grant to universities, “would play some role in creating the financial security that would assist universities in making decisions about longer term employment.”

So what you ask, does the NTEU think about the Accord? It has surveyed members (CMM April 3) and advice on its submission is said to be imminent

Happy to be at work today?

If you work in HE, we really want to know – about your week, your year and your working life in general

Twig Marketing and CMM are collaborating to survey Australian higher education staff over the next month, to get a better understanding of why you do what you do, and how you are enjoying your job.

There’s a random prize draw for a $250 gift card if you choose to leave your details at the end (all results will of course be de-identified) and we are going to use the results to provide some insights into where the HE sector is headed.

The survey should only take 2-3 minutes, based on early respondents, and will really help get new discussions underway on a whole range of issues that usually fly under the radar.

Please dive in and share your thoughts: HERE

Research is SA’s best chance to grow economy  

The South Australian Productivity Commission has not endorsed a merger of Uni Adelaide and Uni SA – but it might have, if it had been asked  

Submissions closed Friday for the PC’s inquiry into, “turning research into economic competitiveness.” The commission draft report states that the proposed merger of the two universities was not in its terms of reference, but,

“we would note that a merger, if designed and implemented competently, could create a catalyst for broader cultural change in the merged institution making some of our suggested reforms more likely to succeed. The merger could also potentially create cost savings for example through removing duplications of assets enabling more efficient use of facilities. If any such savings were used to fund applied, industry focused, research in the spirit of our reforms then the potential for the universities to drive improvement in the state’s economy would be further enhanced.”

As it stands, the commission’s draft report states SA underperforms on productivity and that universities are important to changing it – but it will take work.

“Universities have some significant areas of research strength, but links to industrial outcomes are weaker limiting the economic value created from this research strength.”

However they are the best resource the state has and because private sector R&D is small and insular university research, as the supply side of innovation, should be the driver.

And so, in part, the PC proposes,

* reforming IP ownership: “the equity shares currently taken by South Australian universities risk diluting the incentive for on-going participation by inventors”

* ensure academics can get recognition for engagement: workload models should allow for sufficient resourcing

* new model for translating research: “best done by funding research undertaken with industry targeted at addressing key business problems”

The Commission also has an idea which might appeal to Premier Malinauskas, who appears to have an elevated awareness that SA’s public universities are creatures of state legislation; “make impact and engagement one of the central statutory objectives.”

On-line, on campus: where students want to study

The big three choices for study selection are course (37 per cent), location (20 per cent) and flexibility between on-line and on-campus (14 percent)

The finding is in a survey by academic support adviser (and CMM advertiser) Studiosity for its new Student Wellbeing Report (chapter II, here).

On-line particularly appeals to older students with more commitments than campus. Those 24 plus, part-timers and parents/carers are two to nearly three times more likely to value flexible study than other groups.

As do regional students, 23 per cent compared to 11 per cent for metros.

Preference for in-person connection with fellow students also declines with age, from 80 per cent plus among 18-21 year olds, to 52 per cent for those 30 plus.

As to what attracts people to campus, 59 per cent of total responders cite friends, 53 per cent mention “incentives – free food, merchandise, concerts” and 49 per cent want free parking.


Kerri-Lee Krause becomes interim VC of Avondale Uni, moving up from provost. She replaces Kevin Petrie, who resigned last month, citing a difference with council over vision for the university (CMM March 27). Professor Krause joined Avondale U In April ’21.moving from Uni Melbourne, where she was DVC-Student Life. 

 Ben Wilson moves from Uni Canberra to University of Southern Queensland to become head of the College of First Nations.