Silence on skill suggestions

Research could show reading about voced reform cheers people up

So why is the Victorian Government denying us the pleasure of submissions to Jenny Macklin’s inquiry into Skill’s for Victoria’s Growing Economy?

The closing date was a fortnight back but the only ones available are those released by authors, (as the Victorian Trades Hall Council did the other day).

Bob Katter calls for inquiry covering Uni Queensland

It looked like things could not get worse for the university over its misconduct case against Drew Pavlou. They have

Federal MP Bob Katter is calling for a “full-bloodedparliamentary inquiry into Chinese Government influence in Australian universities. “

Mr Katter announced his plan yesterday, in company with Drew Pavlou, the Uni Queensland student campaigner for human rights in China and critic of the university’s connections with the Chinese Government.

The Nine Network’s 60 Minutes programme critically covered the university’s misconduct findings against Mr Pavlou on Sunday (CMM July 20).

Mr Katter said he “could not believe” what he saw on 60 Minutes. “I am very confident we have the numbers for a proper inquiry,” the independent member for the north Queensland seat of Kennedy said.

Uni Adelaide alternative to forced redundancies

Management proposes cutting conditions to protect 200 FTE jobs

What this is about: The university expects to be down $220m on 2019 revenues this year and next. Acting VC Mike Brooks tells staff that with savings and borrowings it can cover 2020 but he expects an unfunded $60m next.

One way of meeting this would be cutting 400 FTE positions, however he points to temporary reductions in staff conditions that could reduce the job loss by half.

What staff could give up: Professor Brooks signals: savings from halting annual leave loadings paid at end of employment and due for staff this December, * a 3.5 per cent pay cut from fourth quarter to July 2 next year, (super and the first $30 000 in income exempt) * deferring the 1.5 per cent pay rise due in March to next July and *staff buying 15 days leave to be taken this year and next.

What manage would commit: This would still leave $30m to save, including through staff cuts. However, Professor Brooks adds the university would commitment to, “realise these reductions without resorting to forced redundancies and significant restructuring of the university, instead utilising natural staff turnover, voluntary redundancies and early retirement programmes.”

What’s next: The university is talking about these savings with the National Tertiary Education Union and if there is an agreement, a proposal to vary the university’s enterprise agreement would be put to a staff vote.

Sounds familiar:  This is in-line with the job-protection framework created by the NTEU and four vice chancellors.  While the model is rejected by around half the country’s universities it, or local variations, are already approved by staff on campuses including, Monash U, UWA, Uni Tas, La Trobe U and Western Sydney U.

CQU dean lays down the law

“We need to collectively see our roles and contributions in a different way, “says Lee Di Milia

Professor Di Milia sets out challenges for what is now the School of Business and Law, as the university moves to a new structure, with new goals;

* reduce attrition by “reviewing curriculum, assessment and ensuring we provide the best student support.” With attrition “about 30 per cent,” “this is a task we need to solve,” Professor Di Milia says

* embed VET competencies into undergraduate programmes, “this cannot happen in the current model”

* grow enrolments – to address the loss of internationals and meet “intense competition from our competitors”

* “build scale and focus” in publications, external income and research higher degree supervision. Professor Di Milia sets out specifics why this needs doing and alludes to the coming government requirement that universities must undertake world standard research in half the discipline fields they teach (CMM December 11 2019).

“In the short-term we may need to consider academic profiles for staff with a profile that requires consistent publications but have not met the goal,” he says.

Lining up costs and revenue at UNE

Brigid Heywood announces a restructure at UNE – three years since the last one

A year into her appointment, Vice Chancellor Heywood told staff yesterday, there is a “costs versus revenue misalignment.”

“The triple burden of long-term drought, bushfires and COVID-19 have created significant operational issues,” the university warns. This means what was projected to be a break-even budget this year is now a $25m deficit.

The university will now look to reduce annual costs by $20m, in part by “managed workforce efficiencies”, in the “first stage” through voluntary redundancies. University observers suggest 200 staff, 15 per cent, could go. There will be “a major organisational redesign” by January with new portfolios led by “executive principals”.

“It’s overkill” says an observer.  “The last restructure ended up in the Fair Work Commission. People wonder what the union will do about this one.”


Deborah Terry’s last commentary from Curtin

Curtin U’s outgoing VC is moving to Uni Queensland. She talked to the Australian Technology Network’s Luke Sheehy about where universities are and where they are heading

 On teaching in plague times: Universities moved courses on-line “quite quickly” and they should be “absolutely commended” for the way they have embraced the “technological advances that have occurred,” she says.

But “we are not doing it in a particularly joined-up way,” and “it’s caused us at Curtin U to reflect on what we could do a lot better in terms of on-line delivery.”

The move to on-line learning also raises the “value-add of the campus experience and how you deliver … genuine blended learning.”

“We will come out of this period better able to ensure our educational offerings are absolutely driven by what is available from a technical perspective” to create “a better experience for students in the future”

Community respect for research: COVID-19 has created awareness of research by government and media. “The community has understood why our research endeavour, particularly in health is a good thing,” Professor Terry says.

“Our challenge now, working closely with government, is to have the same impact across the broad range of areas that our universities and research institutions engage in. We have got to get better at telling those stories.”

And that means “narratives the community understands,” for example, on climate change.

On courses and quals for the times: “We are all concerned by the numbers of people in different sectors who are facing uncertain employment, everything we can do to ensure there is hope for the future is absolutely critical,” Professor Terry says.  And that hope includes the opportunity to up-skill, re-skill and cross-skill. “The ATN is very well positioned to play a really critical role as we move into a recovery phase.”

And for the future: “Universities will continue to play to their strengths and this will inevitably lead to more specialisations – whether there will be more mergers more partnerships will be in the medium term.