Not this best of all possible worlds

ANU researchers are launching a network for Utopian Studies. Quite right Utopia was terrific television.

There’s more in the Mail

In Campus Morning Mail features

Peter Goodyear (Uni Sydney) on teaching as design for learning.

Merlin Crossley (UNSW) makes the case for eradicating COVID-19 before opening the economy.

Practitioner-experts on building on-line learning communities.

How many people, not EFTS, people have jobs at risk, asks the Australian Association of University Professors.

Inger Mewburn argues enough with austerity.

Union leadership lines-up support for job-saving negotiations with VCs

With no hope (at best) of a government picking-up a proportion of HE salaries the impetus increases for a universities-union agreement on cutting staff conditions to save jobs

Vice chancellors are starting to mention the possibility. And the federal leadership of the National Tertiary Education Union has the numbers, certainly at a national level.

NTEU national council has backed a proposed a jobs protection framework.  The proposal is for time-limited concessions including, on pay-rises and promotions, management directions on leave and working other duties. In return the union wants managements to commit to “restrictions on compulsory redundancies,” first-offer protections for existing/recent casuals, among other protections and guarantees.

The big union ask is “no stand-downs without pay. Where a stand down must occur, minimum living wages to be maintained.” Perhaps this was proposed before the Treasurer excluded almost all universities from JobKeeper, (by excluding government grants from the revenue loss test).

Members of the union’s national council meeting on the proposal voted 85 per cent in favour.

However, there is opposition at branch level, notably at RMIT and the universities of Melbourne and Sydney.

ANU research heritage now on-line

Some 2700 ANU-published works are digitally opened for all to access, courtesy of the HathiTrust.  

The collection covers 70 years of ANU scholarship, including publications from the University press and the research schools of Social Sciences, Pacific Studies and Strategic and Defence Studies.

The HathiTrust was established in 2008, in California. It digitises texts held by member institutions, in this case via the Google Books project.  The ANU collection is on the Trust website, with access via ANU’s library to come, which will include a search function for the whole collection.

Monash U’s finances: horrible this year and next

Vice Chancellor Margaret Gardner tells staff 2020 the university is $395m short this year and faces a “continuing shortfall” next

What’s goneWith enrolment figures in for first semester Professor Gardner expects full year student fees to be down $220m with a further $130m decline in research and commercial income. She adds the university is also up for another $40m to support pathway provider Monash College (where income is down 40 per cent) and $15m to assist students.

Some savings: The VC identifies savings – $100m on capital works and “around” $200m in reduced operating costs. This includes $80m from a recruitment freeze, the 20 per cent pay cut for senior executives and, “the reduction in casual and sessional staff (which we have tried to minimise”).  But she adds Monash U is drawing down on cash and increasing borrowing, “to pay for day-to-day operations this year.”

But more needed: Professor Gardner tells staff, “we are part of the national discussions with the National Tertiary Education Union about ways to reduce other salary-related costs, through voluntary and involuntary measures, to minimise the scale of job loss.” (Professor Gardner is a member of the original group of four VCs in talks with the union, CMM April 2).

If anything is agreed with the NTEU, the Monash community will have to get used to it; “These measures will be necessary to deal with the continuing shortfall we will face in 2021,” the VC says.

Another ask

“By working from home, Australian university staff, including exploited casuals, are donating electricity, personal IT/internet & workspace to employers. We need a dollar figure on this: it’s money that’s owed to us. Why isn’t NTEU National even talking about this?” Uni Sydney “activist and linguistic academic” Nick Riemer, via Twitter yesterday.

Flavour of the month – cooking courses are big in VET, again

February international student data reveals a swing from HE to VET (CMM yesterday) and cookery courses are a big part of it


International student enrolments in VET cooking courses have nearly doubled from the top of the last boom in the subject. In 2010, there were 10 117 cookery students, in February national figures report 19 814, up from 11 888 in February 2019.

Cookery is especially popular with students from India, 6,473 of them are studying it – an increase of 12.75 per cent on 2010 and up from 2,736 in February 2019.

Cooking’s popularity is pronounced in Victoria. Overall overseas students studying it at VIC VET providers is 8426, up from 5071 same time last year and from 2148 in 2010.

Indians enrolled in cooking enrolments now number 3353, an increase of 244 per cent on 2010. But students from other countries are also keen. Enrolments from Nepal are 1072 up from 443 last year and 334 in 2010. The Philippines’ figure is 828 up from 236 last year and five in 2010 while there 732 Sri Lankans in February up from 446 last year and 94 in 2010.

Good-o, as long as the lessons of 2010 are remembered. Back then cookery was at the heart of a quality-control crisis in VET. There were issues in teaching standards, inadequate facilities for numbers enrolled and classes conducted nowhere near to colleges.

No-one wants a repeat of that. Surely regulator ASQA will be paying socially-distanced visits to colleges offering cookery, especially in Victoria.

Dirk Mulder is CMM’s international education correspondent

Course of the day

Uni Melbourne announces a short-course to give health workers answers to hard-questions

“Deliver digestible, focused core knowledge on COVID-19, drawing on epidemiology, clinical science, ethics and legal expertise,” is the promise.

The ten on-line hours are open-access, free and joins other Uni Melbourne COVID-19 quick courses, including a 30-hour programme for medical, nursing and para-med people on how to perform a lung ultrasound (CMM April 6).

Appointment, achievement

Tina Brock (Director of Pharmacy Education at Monash U, wins Proctor and Gamble’s national leadership award for pharmacy education.

Ann Keep is announced as director of Uni Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies unit. She takes-over next month.