There might even be cream for voced cats down the track


Yet another senior scholar resigns from Deakin Law School


plus the Melbourne model survives for existing students. Same at UWA


 Ian Jacobs discovers not everybody admires universities, but not to worry, he’s on to it


and a new restructure at Western Sydney U


Silence is golden

John Hattie (chair, Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership) Twitter followers: 6827. Number of tweets: O. Twitter headline: “know thy impact.” (Thanks to Scott Eacott).

 Melbourne model

Glyn Davis says the Melbourne model will continue for existing students.

The budget includes a new scholarship scheme (so much nicer than “voucher”) for professional masters degrees. Funding will follow students rather than attached to institutions. This system means the end for the existing arrangement at the University of Melbourne, where students studying for a range of professions have Commonwealth funded places both for undergraduate degrees, plus the masters they need to qualify for practise.

However last night the UniMelb VC reported he is assured by Education Minister Simon Birmingham that the university’s curriculum will continue for all current undergraduates and 2018 starters. “This pledge from the federal government ensures the Melbourne Curriculum is protected in the short term,” Professor Davis said.

“In the minister’s words, this approach will allow a relatively early transition to demand driven arrangements for bachelor places and full participation in postgraduate scholarship arrangements.”

CMM understands the same arrangement will apply at the University of Western Australia, which has a similar teaching structure.

Gosh we’re great, just ask us!

UNSW VC Ian Jacobs reports there are people who just don’t get what an important job universities do. “There is a troubling perception that universities are run by financially driven leaders, intent on maximising profit, which is wasted on pointless academic research, expanding unnecessary bureaucracy, constructing wasteful buildings, and delivering useless degrees,” he tells staff in his monthly newsletter.

But not to worry, Professor Jacobs is on the case. “I will continue my efforts to correct this perception in collaboration with colleagues at Go8, UA and industry organisations like the Business and Higher Education Round Table.” Sorted.

Another resignation from Deakin Law School

Another disastrous loss for Deakin Law School with Julie Clarke to go. For months CMM has reported departure after departure at DLS, around 25 to date with many resignations attributed to dean Sandeep Gopalan’s teaching and research strategy. Professor Gopalan, stepped down as head of school early this month, but is staying at the university (CMM May 3).

Last night 17-year veteran Associate Professor Julie Clarke told colleagues she is moving to Melbourne Law School in June. “This is a significant loss for Deakin law students but a good gain for their counterparts at Melbourne,” one of her many admirers said last night.

Less croc more kitty

Bruce Chapman says if the Pyne deregulation package was a person-eating crocodile, the Birmingham proposal to cut funding and hike HELP repayments is a pussy cat. “Not a welcome or pretty pussycat, it should be emphasised, just not frightening.” The father of the income contingent loan suggests Senator Birmingham’s scheme should be met with “a collective sigh of relief from the sector, particular because this is the first budget of a likely three-year term, when the worst is always expected.”

Yes, he says, the funding cuts are real, in fact they are worse in the short term than the Pyne plan. Professor Chapman suggests Minister Pyne’s fee deregulation would have led to universities increasing what students paid, recouping the proposed 20 per cent in government funding, and then some. But, he suggests, that could have led to a “further round of outlay cuts in ensuring years, ending where we don’t know.”

As to the increase in student repayments Professor Chapman thinks that; “while there might be small changes in some labour supply behavior, there won’t be discernible effects on university applications or choices about discipline, because in empirical financial terms these changes are small.

“The 7.5 percent increase here will have no aggregate effects on anything except the revenue stream enjoyed by the Treasury,” he concludes.

And by reducing the repayment threshold to $42 000 the feds may have even done the VET sector a favour because this is more like the income most people in training start on, meaning they would begin repaying income contingent loans much faster that at the old $55 000 graduate threshold. There is, Professor Chapman admits, no reason to think this is part of a plan for a universal tertiary HELP loan system but, “it can be argued that the institutional machinery is now much closer to realising the desirable goal of the removal of all direct charges in Australian tertiary education and their replacement with HELP across the board.”


Lots of talk not much progress at WSU

Western Sydney University management has picked up the enterprise bargaining pace, leading to shorter gaps between meetings that go nowhere.

According to the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union after six of a scheduled seven full day discussions, “there is an extraordinary backlog of un-agreed clauses.”

The big divide is on dealing with misconduct and unsatisfactory performance in a new agreement. The comrades claim management wants an end to review committees and appeals, with management able to sack staff with the only over-sight being university management’s chain of command. “This denies staff the elementary rights of natural justice and due process. … As always, these dramatic excisions were accompanied by the now-ritual invocations of ‘simplification’, along with claims that due process is too expensive for the university to afford,” the union warns.

This dispute is in-line with the push by university managements across the country for short and simple statements of staff rights in agreements, replacing the complex, codified arrangements now in-place.

Except at Deakin University, the only university where union and management have agreed on terms which staff will now vote on. At Deakin the existing misconduct review committee will be replaced by a single, agreed arbiter but the principle of independent oversight remains. The union is said to have dug in on this as a core protection of academic freedom. The Australian Higher Education Industrial Association says the Deakin deal sets no precedent on wages and higher superannuation for fixed term staff, which may well be so  – but perhaps it does on employment conditions.

Other things on their mind

Perhaps WSU managers aren’t focusing on wage and conditions of workers they want to be rid of (above). Professional staff worry what is in the Project Essex plan for a structure and now the university has announced the start of a discussion-green-white-paper process for a new academic model. A final plan is scheduled to be with the university executive by mid September.

Same when he started

Chair of the Cooperative Research Centres Association, Tony Staley is standing down after 20 years. Association CEO Tony Peacock looked up issues on the agenda for Mr Staley’s first meeting to find they included; applying the 150 per cent R&D tax concession to centres; intellectual property licensing; university funding formulae; performance indicators for CRCs and public good benefits of CRC research. The new chair urged CRCs to talk more to their local MPs. The more things don’t change …

Changes at NSW

The restructure at UNSW rolls on, if not especially smoothly for all.

Vice President Finance and Ops Andrew Walters tells staff that IT “has been under considerable strain as it attempts to cope with business as usual activity and undertake a transformation.” Mr Walters identified the sources of the strain, ensuring IT has the people it needs, gaining “customer confidence” and “building excitement” among IT staff. The last might be hard, given “directly affected staff” now face the prospect of applying for the 75 new “and vacant” positions in the new IT structure.

Some finance people might not be excited either, given what management apparently thinks of them. “Changing needs” on campus mean a group from finance are being sent to work in “exciting new premises” in the CBD. So is central philanthropy, whose staff may wonder what this means for their place in the pecking order, given faculty fund raisers stay at the Kensington campus, where the power is.

Moves at UniMelbourne

University of Melbourne Provost Marget Sheil reports law school head Carolyn Evans is appointed DVC and deputy provost for graduate education. She also advises the university’s dean of engineering Iven Mareels will step down early next year after two five year terms. He will return to research, at the university.

Professor Sheil adds the search for a replacement for dean of the Graduate School of Education Field Rickards “is well advanced” and she will speak with staff regarding new deans of law and engineering “in coming weeks.”

Service not strategy

Back in the Shang Dynasty CMM asked various Australian universities with Confucius Institutes whether they ever felt pressured by the Chinese government. But instead of a good-lord-certainly-not chorus there were no responses. But now Flinders U researcher Jeffrey Gil says there is nothing to worry about, “it’s not so much that China is pushing something on overseas countries but providing a service people want.”

“It’s generally acknowledged by those involved that Confucius Institutes are providing support for Chinese language learning and teaching which is clearly in demand around the world.”

Dr Gil acknowledges allegations that CIs are an agency of Chinese Government soft power in his new book, (from a publisher based in Bristol in the UK) but says the “cultural and linguistic benefits … outweigh concerns they pose a risk to political and academic freedom in western countries.

Sorry conspiracists, Flinders U is not home, to a CI or in partnership on Chinese language teaching with any university that is.

Marrone to Monash

Fabian Marrone is Monash University’s new chief marketing officer. He replaces Margot Burke who moved to the University of Leicester at the end of last year. Mr Marrone is now with education consultants Hobsons.