Watch out for-profit publishers

For-profit journal publishing is doomed – Sydney’s friend of the people, the Daily Telegraph is a wake-up to the business model.

In an harrumpathon about research he does not think much of Jack Houghton is aghast that, “despite Australians forking out millions of dollars to fund the research, in some cases, the final products are often being put behind paywalls and cannot be accessed by the general public without paying a fee.”

Yes, Mr Houghton’s copy is pay for view but CMM very much doubts that the Australian Research Council funded him to write it.

QUT leaves the ATN lobby

In a major loss for the Australian Technology Network, QUT is leaving the lobby of applied science research universities. “QUT’s strategic direction has evolved significantly since joining the ATN, and today we find ourselves on a trajectory we feel best able to pursue in our own right,” Vice Chancellor Margaret Sheil said Friday.

“While we still have much in common with the other members of the ATN and will continue to work closely with them, QUT also has a range of joint projects with other higher education institutions both in Australia and overseas. We feel it is best to pursue these collaborations independent of a sub-grouping affiliation.”

However, Professor Sheil also said “no other network affiliation is on the agenda”.

In a separate statement released by the ATN she also said, “QUT will focus its advocacy effort in Queensland and through Universities Australia while continuing to build on strong connections with individual institutions.”

With QUT gone the ATN  consists of UTS, RMIT the University of South Australia and Curtin U.

ATN chair, RMIT VC Martin Bean thanked QUT “for its many contributions,” adding that collaborations between the university and network, “would undoubtedly continue.”

Unanimity at USQ

The University of Southern Queensland has an enterprise agreement, with 97 per cent of staff voting approving the deal, jointly recommended by USQ management and the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union.

Teacher-only academics to expand as Flinders U rolls-out long-expected plan

Where this came from: Flinders VC Colin Stirling plays a long game. In 2015 he started pushing for staff to either lift research outcomes or move to teaching-only roles (CMM May 19 2015) and now he moving to change the make-up of the academic workforce, with the first of a series of change proposals, presented to staff in the College of Nursing and Heal Sciences.  It’s the culmination of a plan which the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union has long seen coming. In 2016 the union feared that management would try to force staff on the standard teaching-research-service model into teacher specialist roles. The two-sides ended up in the Fair Work Commission, where there was an agreement that teaching specialist positions could be continuing positions, once the university’s academic re-structure was in place, from this year. (CMM August 23 2017).

But by March the NTEU was worried that if management moved to have 50 per cent of staff in teaching-specialist positions, “any wholesale reconfiguration of the academic workforce will mean job losses and hardshipTeaching-only positions may be presented as shiny new opportunities, but the reality is more sinister.” ( CMM March 14 2018).

Which deterred Professor Stirling as much as not at all. In August he had his staff restructure ducks in a row, announcing that as the union had wanted a formal process for staff change, this is what he would deliver; “the university intends to implement teaching specialist positions and so is examining the best options to meet the union’s requirement for a restructure,” he said (CMM August 9).

Which is where we are now. Last week Professor Stirling set out his objectives; “the university aims to double its research performance, both in terms of research income and high calibre outcomes. In parallel, we will achieve international recognition as a leader in contemporary education by simultaneously increasing the academic staff resources dedicated to providing exceptional educational experiences for our students.”

In an all-staff message, Professor Stirling assured the Flinders community “there will be no reduction in the number of continuing academic staff in any college. On the contrary, the number of continuing academic staff at Flinders University is expected to increase through this process.”

What’s next: The university is now consulting with staff in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences on proposed changes, including the creation of new teaching specialist and separate research positions. Some 44 staff already in specified research or teaching positions are “out of scope” meaning it is identified academics in continuing teaching and research roles who will need to apply for teaching or research specialist positions.

But the union is not having it. Branch president Andrew Miller  says the plan’s purpose is ‘to cull staff” and will put people “through a distressing and humiliating process.” It is also unnecessary, management has the capacity under the existing enterprise agreement “to transition willing staff into these roles.” The key word is willing.

What’s next looks to CMM like another visit to the Fair Work Commission.

ACARA exit

Robert Randall, CEO of the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority will leave the role in February. Education Minister Dan Tehan announced Mr Randall’s departure Friday, in a statement which was a model of brevity, including, “I look forward to continuing to work constructively and cooperatively with Mr Randall until February.”

One-stop shop for international student services

International students have to do more than study – they have to learn how to live in cities that work to different rules, which locals struggle to understand (morning power providers, hello realtors). Which makes insurer Allianz Worldwide’s new PAGE product a great idea.

PAGE is a platform of services students moving to new country’s will need across, banking, telcos, heath cover and etc. It’s available via participating education agents, initially working in the Australian market. Providers fund it via commissions.

Good for agents, in that it makes support work easier. Good for students, or parents more like, in getting lives organised. Good for Allianz – it builds the brand beyond a single product provider.

Appointments, achievements including the new NHMRC council

The Australian Psychological Society’s new distinguished contribution award goes to Herb Marsh from the Australian Catholic University.

 Lisa Hunt (UniAdelaide) is awarded the Australian Academy of Science’s Moran Award for History of Science Research.  Grace Muriuki (UoQ) receives the Academy’s 2019 WH Gladstones Population and Environment Fund.

The new council for the National Health and Medical Research Council is announced.

Bruce Robinson continues as chair. Ingrid Winship (UniMelbourne) chairs the health ethics committee.  Steve Wesselingh chairs the research committee. Professor Wesselingh, from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, chaired the NHMRC’s recent structural review of the NHMRC’s grant programme.  Sharon Lewin (Peter Doherty Institute) is a continuing council member. She chairs the health translation advisory committee. Katherine Woodthorpe (non-executive director of oncology company Sirtex Medical) chairs the health innovation advisory committee.

Other members are: Sandra Eades (Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes), Judi Moylan (chair of Diabetes Australia), Brendan Crabb (Burnet Institute), Ian Frazer (chair of the Translation Research Institute Foundation Board), Ingrid Scheffer (Universuty of Melbourne), Michael Gannon (obstetrician and gynaecologist), Caroline Homer (UTS), Maree Teesson (UNSW), Carol Pollock (University of Sydney), Alison Venn (University of Tasmania).