Goodish news on the gender pay gap in education

The gender pay gap in education and training improved  marginally over the last year, according to new data from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency. Across the board women in the system now earn 9.7 per cent less than men, the third narrowest gap in the country, behind wholesale trade, sorry no idea, (8.5 per cent) and public administration and safety (4.9 per cent).  Some 52 per cent of education and training managers are women, way behind healthcare’s 70 per cent but still the second best figure across the economy. So its all goodish, except that women making up 63 per cent of total E&T staff.

Western Sydney U’s textbook solution for digital delivery

The Copyright Agency wants changes to the way universities pay for what they reproduce, saying “the explosion of digital content has radically changed the way universities provide educational content to students,”  (CMM Tuesday).

Presumably including the way Western Sydney U provides first year students free digital copies of textbooks.  Last year and this WSU, gave first years at the university and its pathway college digital textbooks, good for the life of the relevant unit. The university says it will run the scheme again in 2019.

Access was originally arranged via content company ProQuest and WSU says, “with the average cost of a text book being $100 per book, our commencing students will receive up to $800 worth of value.” And no, WSU does not use students own money, from the amenities fee, to pay for it

This is very smart indeed.  Every university bangs-on about assisting students but WSU is actually doing something practical.

It is also a gust in a gale of change to come. Textbook cost was a third-order issue for Obama-Biden in the 2012 US presidential election and there all sorts of textbook access options there, not all entirely respectful of copyright conventions, (CMM September 3 2017).

The WSU deal has to be a model for publishers to pursue – it may not make them as much money as the princely profits of print, but it will be better than the pirates will pay.

Victoria U staff up industrial action

Victoria U management had a big win the other week, announcing a flash new teaching tower in Melbourne city (CMM May 5) but the news on campus is not so good, First staff voted down the University’s proposed enterprise agreement by a thumping margin, 77 per cent of the poll (CMM September 25). And now National Tertiary Education Union members have voted to take Fair Work Commission approved industrial action over bargaining, including caps on hours for teaching, transmission of student results and other functions.

Department says its consulting on growth places

When Simon Birmingham announced a freeze on Commonwealth Supported Places last December he said when growth resumed in 2020 it would be based on performance metrics, worked out in consultation with universities but which could include student experienceattrition and completion rates and graduate outcomes. “We have two years to get this right,” the then education minister said, adding, “there is ample time to consult” with universities, (CMM December 19 2017.

There’s a lot less time now, but all the Department of Education and Training will say is, “consultation with the sector on performance-based funding is ongoing.” It must be ongoing very quietly because DET has not been talking about this to anybody in the higher education community CMM spoke to yesterday.  Still, not to worry, the department advises – “a formal consultation process will be announced in due course.”  Just a brief one, if universities are going to incorporate whatever the feds have in mind into planning for 2020  planning.

Senate wants to see ARC brief to Tehan, this morning

Kim Carr continues to campaign for the independence of research selection. On Tuesday the Senate backed his motion that the government reveal why it blocked 11 Australian Research Council grants to humanities academics. It also ordered the government to produce the ARC’s in-coming brief to Minister Tehan, presumably for what it might reveal. The government has to 9.30 today to deliver, or come up wth some half-plausible excuse.

The only way is up for new student loan admin fees

Universities are upset at the new charges the government intends to recoup costs in administering student loans.  “A demonstrably pernicious policy” is what the Group of Eight calls it. People considering the cost recovery implementation statement add another p-word, petty.

In a consultation paper now out the Department of Education and Training presents  costs it will pass onto different providers, including $155.54  to “register and process a new FEE HELP Provider application” and $26 207 flat, per university for “provider management, compliance and financial viability.”

There is more, across a range of activities,  which will provide all sorts of entertainment (charged at lord knows what hourly rate) for university staff trying to follow the feds’ figuring.

What is impressive in the document is the way DET makes a case for cost recovery as equity and efficiency measures.

“Recovering the costs of these regulatory activities promotes equity, as the recipients of the activity meet the cost of its delivery. It is expected that cost recovery will encourage higher education providers to offer more comprehensive information for students to reduce the volume of enquiry services required by the department. Charging, via cost recovery, can also increase the efficiency, productivity and responsiveness by the department, as service levels can be streamlined where possible.”

But what is less amusing and more alarming, especially for non university providers, is the way the department explains charges will change.

“To mitigate these risks, cost drivers for the application activity and ongoing monitoring, compliance and management activities will be reviewed on an ongoing basis. This will ensure that the application fee and annual charge rates reflect the efficient costs, the drivers of those costs and will include consultation with stakeholders. In the event of revenue not being aligned with actual costs, the department will aim to review its processes and prices; and reconcile this difference in the following year’s charges.”

Which may end up meaning that in general the only way is up.  Responses to the proposal are due Friday week.

A million from McLennan

Funds manager Matthew McLennan has donated $1m to the University of Queensland for collaborative learning spaces in its law school. The UoQ graduate works for US equities fund First Eagle and has $80bn in funds under management.

Appointments, Achievements

The medical research funding Viertel Foundation has announced $3.75m in mid-career fellowships, for Kim Jacobson, Monash U Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Laura Mackay, University of Melbourne’s  Doherty Institute and  James Ward from the  South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute and Flinders University. There are also five one year clinical investigation scholarships ($85 000 each) which go to, Claudia de Bella (UniMelbourne), Gareth Gregory (Monash U), Piero Perucca (Monash U), Charlotte Slade (Melbourne Health) and Craig Wallington-Beddoe (Flinders University).

The UTS learning and teaching awards are announced.

Team teaching: Helena Asher-Chiang,Alex Thomson, Naomi Koh-Bellac from UTS Careers and Science. Individual teaching: Catherine Gorrie, Science. Early career teaching: Simon Knight, Transdisciplinary Innovation. Casual teaching: Amir Armanious, Business. Learning.futures award: Donna Rooney, Ann Reich, Nick Hopwood, Gregory Martin, Amanda Lizier, Annie Agnew, Jacqui McManus, Catherine Rafaelle, Amy Thomas, Arts and Social Sciences. Learning.futures award: Nicole Sutton, Raechel Wight. Business. Model of Learning award: Julia Prior, Engineering and IT. Social impact: Jane Hunter. Arts and Social Sciences. Indigenous Professional Capabilities (high commendation): Campbell Drake, Allan Teale, Michael Day. Design, Architecture and Building.