Underwhelming Swinburne ceremony

An on-line graduation could have been much more

A learned reader sends  a link to the university’s ceremony for the Faculty of Health, Arts and Design and the Swinburne Research stream.

An experience to remember it isn’t.

It begins with the chancellor speaking at a graduation when the university’s leadership could assemble on-stage and in-person and then the names of  graduands are read out as they are scrolled down the screen for the better part of an hour. “There’s more compelling footage of ice melting” the LR laments.

There’s also a PDF of the programme, and an Instagram post, but that appears it.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on the  pleasure and pride of routine lab work done well @

Lucy Montgomery (Curtin U) on open access– it’s now the new normal which means, “universities can radically alter the visibility and recognition of their research in the community.”

Margaret Bearman (Deakin U) on why more money for research into HE is what is needed now in teaching and learning. It’s contributing editor Sally Kift’s new selection in her series, “needed now in teaching and learning.

Nearly enough UG places

The government has gone big on announcing more places to meet undergraduate demand and there might be enough

Policy people at the Innovative Research Universities suggest that the 39 000 increase in Commonwealth Supported Places by 2023, “will just be sufficient” to meet demand for HE from the 15-29 year-old cohort. But the total 100 000 new places planned by 2030, “is a useful step,” but “will almost certainly fall short,” by 15 000.

While the government’s projections are based on population growth in the 15-29 cohort the IRU argues it underestimates, “the steady consistent rise in participation” in HE and VOCED and, “the need to re-skill or up-skill for people further into their working lives.”

All of uni approach ordered for Deakin U discussions

The Fair Work Commission says management must consult on job cuts university-wide not by operating units

University management proposes reducing staff by 300 and not filling 100 vacant positions and had been talking to staff in each of 15 effected operating units (July 6,9).

The campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union, argued the separate consultations are part of one plan, that consultation should occur at a whole of university level and without such management is in breach of the change management requirements of Deakin U’s enterprise agreement.

The Fair Work Commission agrees. Yesterday Commissioner Bissett said the university, “should embark on consultation with the NTEU and affected staff at the university-wide level.”

“I am satisfied that the 15 … proposals all arise from one issue and one decision of the university – that is, how to contain costs in the COVID-19 environment where income for the university is adversely affected. The proposal put out by the university is a single proposal broken down into convenient portfolios within the university but done in such a way that there is, realistically, no opportunity for meaningful consultation on the overarching aspects of the proposal – the number of positions lost, how to manage vacancies, how to manage staffing reductions and so on.”

This decision will give the union the chance to argue that management’s proposed staff reductions are not the only way Deakin U can deal with its COVID-19 revenue loss.

ANU on savings track

The university expects to have cut expenditure by $75m by year end

Vice Chancellor Brian Schmidt tells staff ANU is on-track to be cash positive at year-end, with $238m on-hand, compared to the $250m the university council wants. However, cash projections include $77m in international student income, which may not all arrive. Other in-comings, loan funds and payments from insurers are committed.  In June staff voted to defer a scheduled pay rise, which will save the university $6.75m this year.

Charles Sturt U cuts unstudied courses

Vice Chancellor Andrew Vann (now on leave, prior to his departure) told staff there would be changes to what is taught and where (CMM April 3 and May 5) and now acting VC John Germov announces them

There are changes at all campuses, with degrees variously to be taught-out, available at fewer campuses, withdrawn to be “revitalised”, moved on-line, combined and have majors changed.

All up 20 course offerings with no enrolments will “be phased out,” which should not take long, 28 “entire courses” with low enrolments will be taught-out and seven will be “revitalised” to be “more attractive to prospective students”

Professor Germov says the changes ensure “academic staff do not invest effort in course offerings that are not resonating with our students and communities.” He adds 4 per cent of current students are enrolled in courses effected.

The university does not mention any job losses the course cuts could bring. Perhaps this will follow the coming two-stage organisation review, with services first, to be followed by faculties. Last month Professor Germov says 100-110 FTEs “are identified for potential redundancy,” (CMM June 19).

Innovation and Excellence awards

The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering announces its 2020 awards

Entrepreneurship: Mark Sullivan, (Medicines Development for Global Health) – eliminating river blindness

Innovation: Alison Todd and Elisa Mokany, (SpeeDx Pty Ltd) – personalised medical diagnosis

Knowledge Commercialisation: Grant Douglas, (CSIRO) – solution to toxic algae

Batterham Medal: Pauline Pounds, (Uni Queensland) – precision drones

ICM Agrifood Award: Michelle Colgrave, (Edith Cowan U and CSIRO) – ultra-low-gluten barley

ICM Agrifood Award: Greg Falzon, (Flinders U, ex UNE) – AI transforming agriculture

Ezio Rizzardo Polymer Scholarship: Charmaine Hee, (UWA) self-assembling polymers for personalised medicine

David & Valerie Solomon Award: Gang (Kevin) Li, (Uni Melbourne) – capture greenhouse gases

Appointments, achievements of the week

The British Academy announces new corresponding fellows in Australia, Anne Cutler (Western Sydney U) and Ngaire Naffine (Uni Adelaide).

 Garry Carnegie (RMIT) wins the Hourglass Award from the (US) Academy of Accounting Historians. It’s for, “a demonstrable and significant contribution to knowledge through research and publication in accounting history.”

The Higher Education Research and Development Journal announces its 2019 article of the yearPeter KilgourDaniel ReynaudMaria Northcote (all Avondale University College), Catherine McLoughlin (Australian Catholic U) and Kevin Gosselin (Honor Health Research Institute, Scottsdale Arizona), “Threshold concepts about on-line pedagogy for novice online teachers in higher education”

Three Australian-based academics will work on the report that pulls together all Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Sixth Assessment Cycle research papers.  ANU researcher Frank Jotzo is lead author and his colleague Mark Howden will review. Malte Meinshausen (Uni Melbourne) is a member of the “core writing team.”