Wet is all it meant

Uni SA tweeted video footage of yesterday’s heavy rain on its City West campus

An omen for the proposed merger with Uni Adelaide, wondered CMM. But can you believe it, when CMM looked to find out-out he found Uni SA does not have a Hydromancer on staff! Coalition funding cuts are probably to blame.

People at both unis need to chill – they will know in three weeks.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Uni Wollongong VC Patricia Davidson and colleagues on right-structuring UoW’s administration to serve its communities. The last in a seven part series on comprehensive change in a big uni admin, anchored by DVC Sean Brawley,  HERE.

plus We will suffer from being out of shape. Melissa Day, Sarah Midford and Anna Kosovac on the at-risk future for the social sciences, humanities and arts for people and environment. SHAPE disciplines teach the skills society to deal with global crises but burn-out and attrition puts the SHAPE workforce at risk, HERE.

with Merlin Crossley who goes the full Benjamin Franklin, calling for using shared news and views as ties that bind against the auld enemy of ignorance. As Dr Franklin said (although he meant it literally), “let us hang together, lest we hang separately,” HERE

and Angela Carbone and Luana Spadafora (both Australian Awards for University Teaching) on why it’s time to elevate teaching in universities and how it can be done. New in Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning. HERE

joined by Andrew Harvey (Griffith U) on how schools streaming students from Year 9 could defeat the great Accord ambition to expand HE participation. Another selection from the celebrated Sally HERE

A future funder for medical research

Combining admin of National Health and Medical Research Council and Medical Research Future Fund grants will create a kilolitre of cash

And with a new options paper from the feds, it appears that one way or another there will be a single allocation system for the combined $1.5bn  a year now in the two different-tasked funds (CMM June 5).

This creates enormous opportunities for medical research lobbies to suggest ways in which a new system could work in their and the national interest (which are of course synonymous).

So an A (for admirable restraint) goes to the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences for its quick response to the Commonwealth’s three proposals, citing its 2022 report in which it  called for “better harmonisation and coordination of funding” and “more clearly defined roles” for Fund and Council. Sets an elevated tone – which may, or may not, last.


For NSW unis China is the market that still matters

“this creates not only a concentration risk for each university, but for the NSW university sector as a whole”

Universities Australia is pleased indeed with national figures on earnings from international students. “Exports underpin Australia’s economy, and education is the biggest one we don’t dig out of the ground,” UA’s Catriona Jackson says.

Education is certainly up there with iron ore in economic significance and according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, international students here are now at 94 per cent of pre-Covid.

Problem was, then, and is now, we relied on a big customer for both. In the March quarter China provided 22 per cent of students, that’s 127 000.

‘Twas ever, at least in recent years, thus.

According to the NSW Auditor General, in 2021 China was the biggest source of international students for seven of the state’s ten public universities and it accounted for 80 per cent of export ed revenue at market leaders, the universities of NSW and Sydney.

“This creates not only a concentration risk for each university, but for the NSW university sector as a whole,” the NSWAG warned (CMM June 28 2022).

The risk continued last year, in part because Covid caught Chinese students at home, where they stayed studying with Aus providers and in 2022 seven out of the ten public universities, recorded China “as the leading source of overseas student revenues.”

“This creates not only a concentration risk for each university, but for the NSW university sector as a whole,” NSWAG warned last week.

So what, if anything, is to be done  Former education minister Alan Tudge was keen on diversifying country and product markets and extra-interested in  off-shore delivery (CMM March 31 2021). But growth offshore takes time, demonstrated by the years it has taken Deakin U and Uni Wollongong to get small-campus starts in India.

Perhaps government will make changes for universitiesThe Australian reports, “caps on international student numbers are being canvassed” as part of the Accord – which could make for interesting discussions for the trade minister if officials in Beijing decided their students were being quota-ed out.

The obvious response to such is that the market will sort it out in the long-run. NSWAG might differ.

CMM’s still standing (just not for long)

Final issue is June 16

After ten years the end is near for CMM – thank you all for reading and giving me a reason to report the always fascinating, endlessly entertaining and often inexplicable alternative universe of tertiary education.

So fascinating that I will stay engaged – as a writer for hire.

Reporting and writing, editing and presenting – got a comms project challenge? I will have a solution @ [email protected]

Bargaining argybargy not all-over at Uni Sydney

There’s a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, it’s for National Tertiary Education Union members to consider a proposed enterprise agreement

After two years of negotiations (it just seems longer) there is a proposal (headlined by an 18 per cent payrise  over the agreement) that union negotiators recommend to members. Management offers need approval by NTEU members and those of the other campus union, the CPSU, before they can be put to an all-staff vote.

So a matter of comradely congratulations on a long negotiation you think? Think again. The university Casuals Network makes a case for a no vote. “Casual staff deserve pay for all hours worked and an end to exploitative casualisation, not more of the status quo,” is one of their arguments.

A vaccine industry of our own: we are all Chifleyites now

Manufacturing used to mean cars now it means medicine

Uni Queensland announces a partnership with Emory U, in Atlanta GA, to work on “rapid progression to clinical trial  … of vaccine candidates.”

It extends on a deal last year with vaccine manufacturer Sanofi and UoQ Deborah Terry says they are “crucial step(s) in getting new vaccine candidates from the lab to the community in the shortest possible time.”

This adds to manufacturer Moderna’s 100-million vaccine doses per annum plant, under construction at Monash U (CMM December 8 2022) and it goes to the heart of how the pandemic has changed Australian’s attitude to manufacturing.

We found ourselves at the end of global supply-lines and many of us did not like it. And as the PM points out, we are vulnerable for global shocks that we do not see coming” (CMM May 15 2023). After WWII Labor treasurer and then PM Ben Chifley used the same situation to help create a car assembly industry and so we will now have a drug research and manufacturing one.

Free traders (morning the two of you) will rightly point out that we lack economies of scale, and are way distant from export markets for time-sensitive, refrigeration requiring, medicines, that research and manufacturing will be subsidised by the taxpayer. Voters for at least two more elections will respond they do not care – that they want to be sure their families are safe.

Future Campus: what to expect when you’re not expecting anything


even the most hardened cynics in the sector are going to be surprised by the number of staff who are intending to move on from their current job before Christmas 2024

The first four editions of Future Campus will carry links to detailed insights from our survey of more than 3000 higher education staff, conducted in April – including the number of staff looking to move.

The first hint of the need for Future Campus came after I did a simple LinkedIn post, asking for responses to the survey – and had 900 within a couple of days, including many extended responses to key questions.

The sector finds itself in an environment of rapid and extensive change and we really need insights and conversations about new challenges and opportunities across many fronts.

The new Future Campus publication didn’t emerge as an essential proposition until later, after conversations with Stephen Matchett, when he revealed that the era of Campus Morning Mail was coming to an end.

Future Campus was born out of necessity, and while it won’t replace CMM, it will carry a weekly news digest and regular articles and interviews from Matchett as well as insights from other thought leaders across the sector.

We want to bring the voices that you may not hear otherwise – as well as the best of the voices that you regularly hear. We want to encourage new insights and understanding about the sector, because we are passionate about contributing to a stronger future for the sector, and understanding how we can each best contribute to it.

We are looking forward to launching on June 22 and are humbled that thousands of HE staff have already signed up, supporting our fledgling enterprise.

Join us on the Future Campus journey – it’s free and I can tell you more about the number of your colleagues getting ready to move in the first issue.

Subscribe free to Future Campus: www.futurecampus.com.au

Appointments, achievements

Cooperative Research Australia announces two new board members, Michael Stewardson (One Basin CRC) and Steve Gower, Sovereign Manufacturing Automation for Composites CRC.

Sergey Shabala moves from Uni Tasmania to Uni WA, where he will be professor of plant physiology.