Who gets what, where?

As enterprise bargaining grinds on it seems every management thinks they are generous to their staff while union negotiators believe the reverse. Inevitably it depends where you sit and what you want the stats to show. Data on salaries at public universities  for Level C academics put Victoria University, Swinburne and Ballarat at the bottom of the heap, around $112,000 while Macquarie, Sydney and UNSW top out the table at $123-125,500.  The average income of $117,500 (or thereabouts) is exceeded by universities in Queensland, Western Australia and New South Wales. In fact, inner city Sydney dominates overall with four of the top five payers (the other, at number four, is the University of Melbourne). Surprisingly, well it surprises me, ANU is well back in the pack being 27th, paying $115,000. Of course such stats make different points to different negotiators. Level C salaries do not reflect the overall experience of everybody on a campus and Sydney’s notorious property prices surely shape what people are paid. Then again Melbourne (the city that is) isn’t cheap either, which must aggrieve staff at RMIT and Monash (to name but two) who earn well below Level C scholars at UTS and Macquarie. And these are academic salaries not what, professional staff are paid. In any case, an average does not prove anything much.
Still, there is ample ammunition in the stats for both sides of the arguments at the 34 institutions where talks are progressing, or not. As for Ballarat, where the union says and management rejects, staff are poorly paid the 3 per cent pay rise awarded last week, rocketed them up the list to 13th from the base, although this still leaves them below average. Where they are in a couple of months time depends on increases negotiated elsewhere – unless of course the union extracts more money from UB.
To expand the issue, last night the National Tertiary Education Union reported the gender gap for general staff pay is 8 per cent in the favour of men and that while the number of women in senior non academic roles has doubled in 15 years only a quarter hold top jobs.

Oh, go on

Last night Universities Australia called on the major parties to release their higher education policies. If they do CMM suspects they will not be long nor full of figures, at least figures accompanied by +$ signs.

Teaching opportunities 

Teacher education degrees are expensive to deliver well (especially if the university pays for the practicum) even so they are a great source of revenue in this age of open access, where universities can enrol as many students as budgets require.  But aren’t they churning out more teachers than the schools need? Not at all says Sheena O’Hare, from Swinburne University Online, which is launching a new four-year, full-time on-line primary teaching degree. “There is expected to be high demand for primary teachers as many teachers in the workforce near retirement age,” Ms O’Hare says.
But perhaps not until the existing strong supply of new graduates finds work. According to 2011-12 figures from the feds; “the majority of state education departments report that there is either an adequate supply or an oversupply of primary school teachers for government schools, except in a small number of geographic locations. This is evidenced by the substantial number of primary school teachers who are on standby for positions in metropolitan areas and by the relatively large number of suitable applicants per vacancy.” The non-government sector similarly reports 11 qualified applicants per vacancy. As for replacing retirees, it looks like teaching is in the same position as all sorts of other work with the median age for primary teachers being 41 compared to 40 for all occupations. However Canberra also estimates there will be at least 50,000 primary teaching jobs available between 2012 and 2017 (a third of the total workforce).  Who knows how this translates for individuals. CMM guesses, the better the degree the better the chance of a good job.

Everybody’s a critic

ACBI, (the Australian Centre for Broadband Innovations) in association with CSIRO and NICTA (National Information Communication Technology Australia) plus a bunch more initialed organisations has announced the winners of the Apps4Brodband, competition. To CMM it all sounded like a bunch of publicly funded organisations piggybacking on developers but at least some of the apps are interesting. Like the winner designed to send lessons to students in their homes and the phone app that manages smoke alerts and false alarms. But the app that puzzles CMM is the winner of the prize for making blokes feel old and out of date, (alright I made that up), called  Pass the Popcorn. The official announcement about this winner is not enormously informative but the Youtube sales pitch is. Basically Pass the Popcorn is an Ipad app for people in different locations who want to watch on-demand TV together (while apart) and share their opinions about it in real-time. “It’s a fun way to make TV social again,” the designers say. Good-oh, but here’s a scary thought, what works for TV could work for lectures.

Spence strikes back

Good as his word, well warning actually, University of Sydney Vice Chancellor Michael Spence withdrew his offer to backdate the 2.9 per cent salary to July 1 when the local NTEU did not meet his Friday deadline.  CMM is not entirely convinced by the reasons Dr Spence used to end the offer; “given that we do not know how long the negotiations will continue, and in the face of an uncertain political and economic climate, it would be irresponsible for the university to make this commitment unless we were absolutely certain we had the financial capacity to fulfil it.” Surely the university’s circumstances would be no more secure if the union had agreed.
Whatever, the 2.9 per cent remains on the table plus employment conditions already agreed. According to Dr Spence “it’s a good deal” which “allows us to continue to be the Australian university with pay, conditions and benefits that lead the higher education sector.”
Whether or not it is a good one it looks like the only deal the VC is going to offer – so what will the NTEU do?

Prediction at the pointy end

La Trobe University’s Ian Tulloch has called the election in the seat of Bendigo. It is safe-ish seat for Labor he says. While the Liberals have spent up in the electorate he thinks Labor’s Lisa Chester will get over the line. Makes a change from the usual qualified calls and one at this last stage he will have to stick to.

The Swinburne saga 

Swinburne is set for industrial action tomorrow with NTEU official Josh Cullinan saying, “our peaceful community assemblies will shut the Swinburne Hawthorn campus.” According to Mr Cullinan, “members will be strongly supported by others from the community who have expressed their desire to support our campaign for quality and fairness at Swinburne.”  “Others”? Last Friday night Mr Cullinan tweeted “Support immense to shut @swinburne on Wednesday!” The message included a Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union logo.

Better than expected

Joe Lane is a long-time analyst of indigenous engagement with higher education and he has noticed an intriguing adjustment by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. While he counsels caution in interpreting the data from 2011 he says the ABS indicates there could be well over 40,000 Indigenous Australians who are university graduates – two-thirds of them women. While the gender divide is a worry the rate of growth Lane points to is surely a good thing.  “I look forward to the day when any of the Indigenous higher education elite ever cite actual figures, rather than continually down-cry Indigenous participation, as if, implicitly (and with a slight racist slant), it’s not really possible,” he says.