plus Western Sydney U’s brilliant textbook giveaway

and UniMelb leads another biz school ranking


A very merry Christmas

“Spoil yourself this Christmas with an ACEL membership,” the Australian Council of Educational Leadership suggests. Ye gods, does hedonism know no bounds?

Murdoch a model for many more arguments

The dispute between Murdoch University and the National Tertiary Education Union is escalating, with implications for universities across the country.

Murdoch U has asked the Fair Work Commission to abolish its now expired enterprise agreement (CMM yesterday) because there are conditions in it which management wants out of a new deal. “ It appears to be an inflexible starting point for negotiations … employee bargaining representatives feel unable to agree to a proposal by Murdoch which removes an existing entitlement for employees,” Chief Operating Officer Darren McKee submits to the FWC.

The move is part of Murdoch’s negotiating strategy for a new enterprise agreement with far fewer codified conditions of employment. As Provost Andrew Taggart puts it; “for the university to be successful in the rapidly evolving higher education environment, it requires employment conditions which provide for flexibility and agility to take advantage of new opportunities.”

Very flexible and agile indeed. Yesterday the union responded with a three-page list of conditions it warns will no longer apply if the old agreement is terminated and which management presumably will not accept in a new one.

Some involve money, quite a few are about entitlements, abolition of paid parental leave for example, but overall what management wants to do is end the regulatory culture which codifies everything from discipline to promotion. Specified terms on academic workloads, taking dispute settlement to the FWC, grievance proceedings and academic promotions are all out of the management plan, according to the NTEU. This is a very big deal for the union, which uses employment conditions to assist individual members. It is also a very big deal for the Australian Higher Education Industrial Association, which is advising WA universities, including Murdoch as part of its push (CMM February 4) for more flexible working conditions. So is this a proxy for similar disputes at a mass of other universities? Looks like it to CMM. The union is organising a protest at Murdoch for tomorrow.

Last night the national NTEU brought into the argument, with general secretary Grahame McCulloch warning all union members that Murdoch U’s “is an unprecedented act never seen before in the university sector.”

For she’s a jolly good fellow

ANU DVC Marnie Hughes Warrington is appointed a principal fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy. ANU was the first Australian institutional member of the HEA and VC Brian Schmidt became a senior fellow last year (CMM April 4). Yesterday he complimented Professor Hughes Warrington on her appointment, which was good-natured of him, what with her principal fellowship ranking his senior one.

WSU’s brilliant ebook buy

Western Sydney University will provide e-copies of first year textbooks to 10 000 students in 700 courses next year, worth up to $800 each. The texts are being sourced from 100 participating publishers via digital partner Proquest. The scheme replaces a previous WSU programme which provided 50 000 commencing students with their own iPad in 2013-15.

This is just brilliant, textbooks are not cheap (their cost was a third-order election issue in President Obama’s 2102 re-election campaign) and it is outrageous that young people have to pay a poultice for print when low-cost digital delivery is possible.

Cash for Krygier

UNSW law professor Martin Krygier has won the $50 000 Dennis Leslie Mahoney prize for legal theory. The award is presented by the University of Sydney for research that advances the thinking on law and society of long-time UniSyd legal scholar Julius Stone.

Go8 delivers a placement programme to bank on

The Group of Eight and Westpac are rolling out an elite placement programme for PhD STEM and medical science students, combining study with work in the bank. According to the Go8, this is the first programme of its kind in Australia. It appears in-line with recommendations in last year’s Australian Council of Learned Academies report into the research training system, which proposed PhD students having opportunities to collaborate with industry partners, (CMM April 14).

The Westpac programme, based initially in Sydney, starts in February with up to eight PhD students rotating through bank units over two years. This is a big deal indeed, creating elite-end industry-university links.

Bloomberg’s best biz schools

IT would not be Christmas without a ranking story, then again it would not be Easter, the Queens Birthday weekend or Grand Final eve without a league table of universities. Today’s, from Bloomberg Business Week is for international, that is not US, biz schools. The ranking is based on survey results of employers, students and alumni and on salaries and job placement. London Business School leads followed by INSEAD, Oxford, Cambridge and the IESE school at the University of Navarre. The Melbourne Business School is ninth. The only other Asia-Pacific qualifiers are the National University of Singapore (21st) and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (29th).

What will Deakin Law’s new arrivals do

Friends of Deakin law school say they were pleasantly surprised by yesterday’s CMM report of international scholars arriving to replace some of those who have resigned, said to be 17 this year. “Given that the 2017 teaching year is at hand, urgent, concrete information about the teaching and other work assignments of the new staff members will be helpful,” one says. People are also curious as to what the arrivals will do to develop dean Sandeep Gopalan ambitious research strategy. Will they want to publish on Australian law in local journals or go for prestigious US publications?