Soon, but not yet

Science and Technology Australia announces “leading Australian women in business and science join superstars of STEM as mentors.” One of them is “Vice Chancellor at Adelaide University Professor Tanya Monro.” Good-oh, except the acting VC of the University of Adelaide is Mike Brooks and the VC designate is Peter Rathjen. Tanya “photon girl” Monro is a DVC R down the road at the University of South Australia. Although, it will not be long until she is a VC somewhere.

Waiting game on enterprise bargain at James Cook U

James Cook University has increased its enterprise bargaining offer with a further 2 per cent increase in 2021. However, the National Tertiary Education Union isn’t impressed, “it is hardly putting money into people’s pockets once you take price rises into account,” says Queensland state secretary Michael McNally. He adds management continues to ignore staff concerns on working conditions.

Management is confident that it is in touch with campus opinion, believing that if they can get people to vote the JCU community will back management’s offer. The university put its previous offer to staff in a union-opposed ballot in September, losing with just 42 per cent of a 54 per cent turn-out. At the time DVC Tricia Brand said there were still many staff “still on the fence” and rumour hath it management is keen to try a second vote. But not so, as DVC Ms Brand tells CMM, “the university has been waiting on further feedback from the bargaining group representatives, and no decision to proceed to any vote has occurred.” She adds that while the university also wants the two unions on campus to consult with members, “we wish to provide staff with clarity and certainty in relation to the enterprise agreement as soon as possible.”


U Tas and RMIT lead at environmental awards

The University of Tasmania and RMIT lead the winners in this year’s green gowns and awards for excellence, announced last night by Australasian Campuses towards Sustainability.

In the Built Environment category the winning project is student apartments at the University of Tasmania’s Inveresk campus, which ACTS describes as “sustainable in every sense.” The project was funded in part by the Rudd Government’s National Rental Affordability Scheme.

Other winners are:

Creating impact: UNSW for a battery recycling project

Community: University of Tasmania for a programme on education for sustainability

Continuous improvement, institutional change: University of Southern Queensland for embedding sustainability practise

Facilities and services: RMIT, for converting a basement car park into a bike hub. There’s space for 400 plus showers and change rooms for riders plus repair stations and e-bike charging

Learning, teaching and skills: RMIT’s study tour of UN sustainable development goals in Vietnam

Student engagement: University of Adelaide for the student created and run Sustainability Association

Staff excellence: Rachael Goddard, environment and sustainability manager at the University of Waikato

Student excellence: Sophie Lamond, for “creating a community of practice working on transforming campus food environments” at the University of Melbourne

Another school policy appointment for Greg “top of the class” Craven

As vice chancellor of one of the top three teacher education universities in the country Australian Catholic University’s Greg Craven has an interest in schools – which the government is keen to encourage. Professor Craven chaired the teacher education ministerial advisory group and is presently the NSW vice chancellor committee representative on the state’s initial teacher education committee. As of yesterday, he is also a member of the federal government’s new body the school resourcing board.

Best western: WA science awards

The West Australian Young Tall Poppy science awards were announced last night, including: Monika Murcha (UWA, molecular biology), Natasha Hurley-Walker (Curtin U, astrophysicist), Nicolas Hart (Edith Cowan U, oncology and carcinogenesis), Sofie De Meyer (Murdoch U, agricultural microbiology), Nadim Darwish (Curtin U, nanotechnology)

The 2017 Mitsubishi Innovators of the Year for Western Australia are also announced. The overall winner is a Curtin University research team led by professors Zora Singh (Environment and Agriculture) and Dr Alan Payne (Chemistry). They and their colleagues are honoured for ethylene blocking compounds that can extend the storage and shelf-life of horticultural produce.

Casual staff have no reason to relax says UTS union

There is nothing relaxed about the argument over casuals at UTS. The campus branch of the NTEU estimates 75 per cent of the university’s workforce are casuals or on fixed term contracts (CMM Tuesday). To which a learned reader responded that the union would have to include students working part-time, people with seasonal jobs and professionals who teach as part of their practice (CMM Wednesday). And now the union returns fire to the returned fire; “no matter which way you look at it, having 5000 of your 8000 staff on casual contracts and another 1000 or so on fixed-term contracts doesn’t add up to job security. … Every year hundreds of staff on casual and fixed-term contracts at UTS wait in the hope their contracts are renewed. Many of them have been in this situation doing the same job for years.

UTS and the sector are completely at odds with the wider economy where around 65% of workers have permanent employment (either full-time or part-time),” UTS union president Vince Caughley says.


APPlause of the day

Is the new app for beginning teachers from the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. “It provides beginning teachers with easy access to a variety of resources including videos, tips, simulations, quizzes, challenges and a question bank to support their daily work and professional growth.” Free via iTunes.

NCVER promises data tools the training industry needs

The estimable National Centre for Vocational Education Research has a new plan to make it; “a leader in advanced data systems and infrastructure, big data analytics, data linkage and surveys, all deeply integrated with research.” As if it isn’t already in training!

But according to the agency stakeholders now; “want closer to ‘real-time’ data and integrated analysis of training activity. They require pertinent information to better inform policy development and the management of jurisdictional and national VET systems.” Which is what the NCVER wants to give them; “we need to develop fully integrated and intelligent digital services and products that help people make use of our data in meaningful ways.”

The NCVER is not precise on what this involves and how it will be done, but its fans can be assured there will be a bunch of pro-activity, credibility, accessibility and transparency, (funnily enough there is no mention of clarity, not always present in reports). And pages 12-13 of the plan provides specifics on the needs of nine stakeholder groups the centre must meet.

As to how all this will be done, the centre has that covered as well. It will “secure the necessary funding and resources and deliver all outcomes in accord with contracts, whilst adapting to NCVER’s changing environment.” But how much more, and from whom?


HEADS UP: wins at work this week

Edith Cowan U has appointed a retired air vice marshal to lead its “push into the defence sector.” Andrew Dowse is the first director of defence research and engagement.

The University of Queensland 2017 awards for teaching excellence go to: Chris Landorf (architecture), Barbara Maenhaut (maths and physics) and Timothy McIntyre (maths and physics)

The ACT Tall Poppy scientists of the year are Julie Banfield (ANU astrophysicist) and Dave Pasalich (ANU child psychologist). Others awarded are Niruthikha Mahendranm(University of Canberra neurological physiotherapist) and Kai Xun Chan (ANU plant scientist) – he is also ACT scientist of the year.

The federal government has appointed Kylie Walker chair of the Australian commission for UNESCO. Ms Walker is CEO of the lobby Science and Technology Australia.

Engineering at the University of Sydney has created a new engagement role with robotics professor Salah Sukkarieh appointed associate dean industry and innovation.

Anna Reid is elected for a five-year term at the Beijing based Global Music Education League, established in September. Professor Reid is head of school at the University of Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music.