The only way is up

“The Australian Space Agency and Northern Territory Government have signed an MoU to propel NT into space,” the ASA tweets Friday. ““We are in the space race, and we are in it to win it. It will mean more investment and more jobs for Territorians,” NT chief minister Michael Gunner says. NASA, you are warned.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Margaret Bearman (Deakin U) on why more money for research into HE is what is needed now in teaching and learning. It’s contributing editor Sally Kift’s new selection in her series, “needed now in teaching and learning.

Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on teachers learning. “Many enthusiastic and inspiring teachers are already reaching out and forming their own communities. With just a little effort it is possible for universities to establish stable frameworks and opportunities that will enhance and sustain these collaborative networks.”

Execs out at UNDA

Five months into the job, University of Notre Dame Australia VC Francis Campbell has re-shaped his leadership team

DVC A Margot Kearns has taken redundancy and two PVC roles are abolished with PVC I Peta Sanderson and PVC R Gregory Blatch redundant. Their functions will be merged into the new position of provost, which will be “the university’s senior academic officer.”

Professor Campbell also tells staff UNDA will be in deficit this year, “amplified by COVID-19.”

The why of where student growth places will go

Overall government funding for growth in student numbers will meet demand over the next three years, just

Policy people at the Innovative Research Universities group have crunched the numbers to work out where funding for increased demand will go. They find the government’s model done makes “the population growth factor somewhat random in effect.”

The government will increase universities funding base by three categories.

*  regionals, accounting for 14 per cent of load in 2018 (everywhere ex the mainland state capitals, Geelong, Wollongong, Newcastle and the Gold and Sunshine coasts) – 3.5 per cent growth funding

* metro high, 20-29 year-old population growth metro areas, making up 35 per cent of load – 2.5 per cent growth funding

* metro low – all others, with 52 per cent of load in 2018 – 1 per cent growth funding

The problem in the split between metropolitan providers is that population growth does not always align with campus location, “which makes the population growth factor somewhat random in effect. Many of the high-growth areas have few to no campuses so that the majority of current load by campus in in metro low-growth regions,” the IRU argues.

This could create mixed results for similar institutions. On the IRU’s calculations Uni Melbourne will receive a 1 per cent rise, while Monash U’s will be 2.3 per cent. Uni Queensland funding will grow 1.2 per cent, compared to 2.5 per cent for QUT.  In WA, UWA and Curtin U will be up 1 per cent, with Edith Cowan U fractionally higher while Murdoch U will receive 2.5 per cent more funding.

South Australia has the lowest growth in funding for places (1 per cent) compared to the highest for  the NT (3.5 per cent) and Tasmania (3.4 per cent).

Overall, the IRU concludes, “the planned growth is barely sufficient to meet likely demand over the next three years and will be shorter again in following years.”

QUT staff vote on conditions cut for jobs saved

The proposal is from management and the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union

It is based on written assurances that the cuts are commensurate to the cash crunch the university faces.  An independent panel, including reps from the union and managements’ industrial-relations association, assure staff the reductions in staff benefit “are proportionate to the magnitude of the financial challenge that the university faces,” and that “the university has considered and where appropriate sought to use other available sources of funds.”

This is straight out of the accord written by the union’s national leadership and four VCs to minimise job losses by maximising savings, with redundancies as a last resort.

The accord has been rejected by 20 or so universities, largely because leaderships did not like the union over-sighting savings. And the union’s leaders have copped caustic criticism from members who want to hold the line against cuts to conditions.

But it appeals to pragmatists. So far, all universities that have adopted the accord, or variations of it, have had their proposals approved on staff votes (CMM July 15).

Casuals not signed at RMIT

There was a flap last week when people noticed there are not enough staff to teach second semester courses in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies

Casuals, who do much of the teaching had no contracts and the word from on-high was no sessional in such a state could teach. At least until word descended from even higher was that casuals could start teaching before contracts were sorted. In cases where casuals decide to wait until they have it in writing classes will be cancelled.

It’s not that RMIT is short of the readies. Word is with field-trips off more students are signing up for classes that need casuals.


But wait, there’s less!

The Treasurer’s “Economic and Fiscal Update” handed out a bucket of money, more or less – the less being for higher education

Learned readers point to page 127 where a table shows funding increases by $203.9m this financial year and $202.2m next. But, it is down $116.6m in ’22-’23 and $321.6m in 2023-24. Gosh, this couldn’t be where some of the $200m or so per annum for the National Priorities and Linkage Fund will come from?

More to make some La Trobe U staff nervous

Academics in business-related disciplines are asked to complete “career success goals”. Just filling in the forms will be an achievement

Staff are invited to complete the forms are ahead of discussions with department management. There are mandatory performance and cultural indicators in teaching, research and career categories.

Some look less indicator than instruction. For example, “I will demonstrate that I care about the future employment outcomes of my students by arranging for five practicing professionals to each mentor one of my students through the La Trobe Industry Mentoring Scheme.”

There are also publication and income targets per discipline for people with various research loads and staff-levels. Plus, service indicators including, “up to 80 hours service to the university as agreed with or directed by the head of department.”

Performance targets are a bit alarming for some staff, worried about their jobs and still unsettled by last month’s (incorrect) speculation in The Age that LT U was in imminent financial strife (CMM June 2).

Appointments achievement

Garry Carnegie (RMIT) wins the Hourglass Award from the (US) Academy of Accounting Historians. It’s for, “a demonstrable and significant contribution to knowledge through research and publication in accounting history.”

 Three Australian-based academics will work on the report that pulls together all Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Sixth Assessment Cycle research papers.  ANU researcher Frank Jotzo is lead author and his colleague Mark Howden will review. Malte Meinshausen (Uni Melbourne) is a member of the “core writing team.”