They’ll drink to that

Springer Nature announces, “our brand new open access journal, Discover Water is accepting submissions (via Twitter yesterday).  Subjects shouldn’t be hard to find.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Martin Betts  on the exciting future for education and learning.

 Jack Goodman (Studiosity) has read all of the Prohibiting Academic Cheating Services Act. What he likes about it is in Features this morning.

Jay Cohen (Charles Sturt U) wants teaching on-line to work in the way people learn in life, through self-direction. It’s this week’s piece in commissioning editor Sally Kift’s series on what is needed now in teaching and learning.

Steve Larkin, makes the case for Batchelor Institute – First Nations ways of doing, informing western education. A new contribution to a series by Indigenous academics and policy people from commissioning editor Claire Field

James Cook U staff to vote on savings plan next week

JCU management does not muck around

Mr Rogers promised: On Tuesday HR director Geoff Rogers told staff savings talks with unions had failed and the university would advise staff on what would happen next, “shortly.” (CMM yesterday)

The VC delivered: It was a short shortly. Yesterday Vice Chancellor Sandra Harding announced a staff vote on an enterprise agreement variation for Thursday-Friday next week.

“As we are unable to achieve agreement with the unions about how to save jobs, it’s important you have an opportunity to provide your view on the EAV in a vote,” Professor Harding said.

The core of the proposal is deferring the pay rise due this month to December 2021, more compulsory leave at Christmas and a voluntary leave purchase.

The vice chancellor adds “the issue around leave loading, which I know was problematic for many” is “gone” (Mr Rogers did not mention it, Tuesday) and that the university has “recommitted” to the June 2021 enterprise agreement pay rise.

“While there are no quick fixes or easy options, I believe the enterprise agreement variation reflects a considered and pragmatic step towards saving jobs, managing our budget deficit, and ensuring JCU comes out of a global health emergency in the best shape possible. We can do this if we set our minds to it. I am sure of it.”

Professor Harding makes no mention of how many saved jobs voting for the agreement will be a step towards.  But late yesterday Mr Rogers sent staff another message assuring them there would be no forced redundancies under the EAV, (ex restructures already underway).

To which people respond: The National Tertiary Education Union tells members this, “is a grab for your hard won pay and conditions.” The NTEU calls for a shorter pay-rise deferral, to mid ’21 with any extension by agreement.

Learned readers also ask why management does not set a specific date before which there will be no forced redundancies.

Peter Rathjen under scrutiny at Uni Tasmania

The university has appointed an independent investigator

Uni Tas is investigating whether “there are unreported or undetected issues arising from Peter Rathjen’s term as VC.” Dr Rathjen was vice chancellor at Uni Tas 2011-2017.

Melbourne barrister Maree Norton is appointed as “point of contact” for anyone “who is not comfortable talking with the university directly,” Vice Chancellor Rufus Black tells the university community.

Professor Black adds, this includes “people who may have previously reported their experiences and not being satisfied with the university’s response.”

Ms Norton is also briefed to advise Uni Tasmania “on measures it should take in light of any complaints and make recommendations on appropriate actions to prevent any future events.”

This includes where its policies stand with regard to recommendations South Australia’s Independent Commissioner against Corruption made to the University of Adelaide following his investigation into Dr Rathjen’s behaviour while vice chancellor there. Commissioner Bruce Lander found Dr Rathjen committed acts of serious misconduct in his behaviour towards two women on staff. Mr Lander recommended Uni Adelaide review its policies, procedure and guidelines on sexual misconduct, “with a view to introducing a policy or policies that are understandable,” (CMM August 27).

Last week University of Melbourne Vice Chancellor Duncan Maskell confirmed his university had cooperated with SA ICAC over its own investigation of sexual misconduct allegations against Dr Rathjen. He added Uni Melbourne would also check its sexual assault/harassment policies against the ICAC recommendations.

Uni workers taking pandemic hard

COVID-19 has upset everybody but uni staff are taking it hard

Voice Project runs employee employment surveys, including for many universities and has now asked people in 140 organisations across the economy how they are coping with COVID-19.

Early results, from 12 000 staff at eight universities, indicate that HE is doing things hard. Responses include;

* uni staff are 24 per cent below the average for expressing confidence in the future

* there is a 9 per cent lower than average response on whether workloads are manageable

* university staff are also 6 per cent down on the average on thinking they are able to support customers

Drilling down, Voice reports HE people working in student-contact service roles reported responses on work-life balance (5 per cent lower) and involvement (18 per cent) than senior management.

What Murdoch U wants workers to give up

Management has told staff what they might need to give up to make salary savings this year and next

What’s on the table includes;

* cancelling the Enterprise Agreement pay rise set for October

* no annual leave loadings this year and next

* staff required to reduce annual leave balances

The university will need a staff vote to vary the enterprise agreement to make the savings

In return for which, staff will get as much as nothing.

The way these proposals generally work is that management specifies the number of FTE positions it wants to cut and offer undertakings – a commitment not to abolish a specific number of jobs, a promise to go to voluntary before forced redundancies, for example, if staff accept temporary cuts to conditions.

But not at Murdoch U, at least not yet. Perhaps there will be more information in staff meetings. “People are fuming,” a learned reader remarks.

Now for the hard part at UNSW

Everybody willing to go is going, which means ….

Vice Chancellor Ian Jacobs tells staff that the voluntary redundancy programme has closed, with 47 per cent of “necessary savings on posts” achieved. In July, the university announced 493 FTE jobs had to go (CMM July 16).

What happens next will be in the workplace change proposal being released next Wednesday for discussion at faculty and division meetings.


Appointment, achievement

Marnie Blewitt (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute) wins the Ross Crozier Medal from the Genetics Society of AustralAsia

Christopher Sainsbury (ANU) receives the inaugural National Luminary Award at the Arts Music Awards. Dr Sainsbury is founder of the Ngarra-Burria: First Nations Composers programme.