Unis Australia’s efficient budget ask

Universities Australia has called on the Morrison Government to reinstate demand driven funding of undergraduate places in the budget.

“The demand-driven system (DDS) has been key to ensuring all Australians with the capability to undertake a university education had the opportunity to do so. The introduction of the DDS saw an increase across the board in students from under-represented groups … now that the DDS has effectively ended, it is unclear how such diversity and opportunity will be supported into the future,” the lobby states.

UA also calls for restoration of the $328m December cut in block grant funding for research infrastructure and act on calls for a premium rate to apply for industry-uni collaboration under the R&D Tax Incentive scheme.

No faulting UA for optimism, or efficiency. If there is no joy in the budget the ask can be re-issued for the election.

The show goes on for Griffith U arts research

Griffith U is consulting staff about closing its Centre for Creative Arts Research, although it does appear management has made up its mind. “As a collective, the centre’s capacity to attract external funding does not exceed national averages nor is it financially sustainable. It is acknowledged that the opportunity for the research centre to amplify the profile and performance outputs of its individual members has not been realised.”
While two jobs are lost under the proposal it seems academics, and research students will go to the Griffith Film School and Queensland College of Arts.

Health and med science lobby’s election prescription

Rather than worry about the budget, the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences has gone straight to its election wish-list. This maybe because its ambitions are mainly un-costed or perhaps it expects Labor to win and is getting in early for a mini-budget.

“In a statementahead of the forthcoming Federal election,” the academy wants:

* total (not just medical science) research spending to rise from 1.88 per cent of GDP in 2015-16 to match the OECD 2.36 per cent average, with a target of 3 per cent

* “a culture of collaboration and commercialisation, which values mobility and interaction between sectors, with targeted support where the commercialisation pipeline most often fails. “

* embedding research in the health system through electronic access to the health record system and “streamlining regulation and governance”

* “reverse the current trend of rising health inequalities

* diversity and inclusion in the workforce equipping it “to meet the interdisciplinary demands of the future

TEQSA says, done well, will do better

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency has released its Commonwealth required performance report, based on a survey of higher education providers and industry and student groups. TEQSA reports it has “achieved” five of six KPIs, but the per centage of survey respondents rating the agency’s performance as “good or excellent” declined on all of them.  The agency explains what it is doing to address all declines.

The “partially achieved” rating is for the first KPI, “regulation does not unnecessarily impede the efficient operation of higher education providers,” which dropped from 66 per cent in 2017 to 56 per cent last year. “Although the agency continued to develop and implement initiatives to further reduce unnecessary regulatory burden on providers during 2017-18, the continued turnover in case managers contributed to a decrease in the percentage of providers that rated the agency as good or excellent.” TEQSA assures and explains.

The agency adds that its corporate plan has, “measures in place to streamline aspects of regulation, cut response times, improve its case management model and enhance consultation on key changes.”

Back in October TEQSA’s annual report stated 87 per cent of “low-risk” providers rated its performance as good or excellent, (CMM October 22).


Zelinsky picks new chief for Uni Newcastle international

There is new international operations leadership at the University of Newcastle, with recently arrived VC Alex Zelinsky appointing Kevin Hall senior DVC- global engagement and partnerships. Professor Hall moves from DVC R. He was acting VC between Caroline McMillen’s departure and Professor Zelinsky’s arrival at the start of November, securing a successful enterprise agreement after long-stalled talks, (CMM October 31).

“This portfolio will coordinate activities and identify opportunities between international student recruitment and on-boarding, domestic student global mobility, and research and innovation partnerships with leading global universities, institutes, businesses and industry,” Professor Zelinsky tells staff.

Hall replaces previous DVC International and Advancement, Winnie Eley who left for the University of Southampton, in September.

Uni Canberra assistant profs say job terms a health risk

Assistant professors at the University of Canberra have lodged a workplace health and safety notification over terms of their employment. According to the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union, “psycho-social risk factors” are associated with a scheme which gives them seven years to produce a tenure-winning research record.

The assistant prof scheme isn’t just unpopular among incumbents. The union has made it an enterprise bargaining issue and in October, 30 or so UniCanberra professor and ASPROs wrote to Vice Chancellor Deep Saini warning the scheme, “causes undue stress and anxiety for many assistant professors, due to the uncertainty about the outcome following a lengthy period of contingent employment,” (CMM October 19  2018).

In December Professor Saini announced a review of the scheme, although he added he could see “no compelling reason to abandon it.”

Appointments, achievements

Of the Day

Anthony Kelleher is the new director of UNSW’s infectious diseases researching Kirby Institute. He has worked at the KI since 2001 and is now head of immunovirology and pathogenesis. Professor Kelleher replaces the late David Cooper.

Derek Abbott (Uni Adelaide, electrical and electronic engineering) wins the National Measurement Institute’s Barry Ingis Award for (who would have thought), measurement research. The uni says he is the third staffer to have won the Inglis award in its ten year history.

University of Adelaide VC Peter Rathjen this morning becomes deputy chair of the Group of Eight.


Of the week

The Australia Day Order of Australia announcements included six higher education people receiving ACs.   Gillian Broadbent, chancellor, Uni Wollongong. Elizabeth Dennis, genomics, UTS. Peter Hoj, VC, Uni Queensland. Richard Larkins, chancellor, La Trobe U. Kathryn North, genetics, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. (The late) Patrick Troy, urban planning, ANU. The all-hons list was in CMM on Tuesday.

Renee Hindmarsh is leaving the Australian Technology Network where she is now executive director. She will become the South Australian government’s Training Advocate next month.

Michelle Colgrave joins Edith Cowan U to study proteins in agriculture and food science. This will be a joint appointment for Professor Colgrave, who will continue at CSIRO.

The Australian University Safety Association has elected its new executive committee, including, president Stephen Ween (CSU) and VP Julia Cohen (Uni Sydney), both second terms, Xin Li from ANU is secretary, – Colin Chua (University of Sydney) is treasurer and Glenn Blackley (UTS), Bonnie Meiselbach (RMIT) and Mikhail Farid (UNSW) handle comms.

The Regional University Network has a new chairFederation U VC Helen Bartlett. Professor Bartlett replaces Greg Hill (VC, University of the Sunshine Coast) whose two-year term expires today.

LeRoy Poff (distinguished professor, Uni Canberra, also at Colorado State) wins the 2019 excellence award from the Society for Freshwater Science.