To the stars!

With admirable optimism, Brian Schmidt speaks this morning on, “the future of the university”

No, not ANU, all of them. He’s on a panel with Michael McRobbie (Indiana U) and Lily Kong (Singapore Management U).  It’s on at 10.30 AEST this morning, register to listen here.

There’s more in the Mail

This morning in Features

Frank Larkins and Ian Marshman set out the financial future for universities – even the ones in the best shape are in terrible trouble. They warn the crisis could mean the end of the unified national system .

Sophie Arkoudis (Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education) argues student comms skills are not always explicitly assessed. They need to be. It’s Contributing Editor Sally Kift’s selection this week for her series on what’s needed now in teaching and learning.

The Australian Association of University Professors wants more support for international students now and less reliance on them for future uni funding.

Union digs in at Uni Melbourne

Staff vote on managements saving plan today week opponents are campaigning hard

Vice Chancellor Duncan Maskell’s headline proposal is for staff to give back this year’s 2.2 per cent pay rise, to save the university $30m in return for voluntary separations before redundancies.

But it’s part of a package that the university would take to the Fair Work Commission to amend the enterprise agreement, if staff approved.

And opponents argue that for staff conditions, there is devilment in the details. Law professor Joo-Cheong Tham argues there are five specifics which would leave staff worse off, in a document and here.

University management and National Tertiary Education Management officials are also deep in the IR weeds, arguing over what management wants, and does not, for staff.

At this stage, the university is losing the politics of perceptions. NTEU members on campus voted against the plan last week (CMM May 29), which isn’t good for the university’s case. The union does not speak for a majority of workers at Uni Melbourne but staff will pay attention to its opposition.  Just as they did at Victoria U, where management lost two all-staff votes on enterprise agreements which the local union vocally opposed, (CMM February 20 2019).

Filed under A (for agility)

The Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency is tendering for a, “records management solution that can capture and classify records from multiple sources into a single searchable asset.” It also has to be “agile.” Make a change, cynics suggest, but what can you expect from cynics?


New Monash U strategy, (including classes in China)

Last night Vice Chancellor Margaret Gardner told staff, “the reactivation of the campuses will be slow” and require operating changes


* “a mix of face-to-face and on-line across the semesters”

* week-on/week-off, in-person schedules for most students

* “not all our enrolled students can come back to campus this year, and so our blended learning needs to be more flexible

Dates change

* two-week mid-semester break (September 21 – October 2), “to allow staff time to step away from the intensity of the semester schedule for long enough to provide a respite.”

* a November intake, “reacting to Northern Hemisphere timetables, and providing a means to examine new ways of spreading the intakes of students across the year.” This will allow some students, “to complete their first semester on-line”

Teaching in China

* “Our Suzhou campus will become a new learning site for some commencing Chinese students who may be able to transfer to other Monash campuses in 2021.”​​​​​

NTEU divides on deal at La Trobe U

La Trobe U wants staff to endorse the cuts-for-jobs framework previously proposed for all unis. Union members are divided

Vice Chancellor John Dewar was one of four VCs that negotiated the now dropped national deal and is still keen to see LT U staff support it, “to ensure we can protect as many La Trobe jobs as possible,” (CMM May 29). The national plan was for a vote of all union members, before all staff at each university voted on individual versions.

This is still happening at La Trobe U – but there is a problem for university management – the campus branch of the union is split. The branch leadership backs the accord and will put it to an all member vote Thursday-Saturday. However, a meeting of members has already voted against it, narrowly, on the substantive motion.

An all-union member yes will be a good sign for the LT U-wide vote, which the university is committed to occurring, whatever the comrades decide. But defeat will be a loss for the local NTEU leadership and a risk to the  deal Professor Dewar wants.

CSU expands its early entry Advantage Scheme

It launched last year for around 50 courses, now it’s 77 (CMM July 10 2019)

Offers are made on the basis of an individual’s soft skills, “those personal attributes we value and believe you really need to succeed at study – and life. Things like: resilience, empathy and motivation to create a world worth living in.”

Charles Sturt U will decide if students suit, on the basis of; “short answers to three questions to show us you have the soft skills we are looking for.”

People who are accepted will get a conditional offer in mid-September plus, “an adjustment to the ATAR you will need to achieve for most Charles Sturt courses.”

The programme is open to people returning to study. Last year 700 people got an offer.

Uni Queensland student union wants old quality but no new costs

Its members and university staff should not suffer from revenue shortfalls

It also opposes, “any attempts to make up the shortfall in revenue by imposing costs on students and staff, whether in the form of course cuts, staff cuts, fee increases, or attacks on the student union.”

And the student union wants campus classes back. It “opposes attempts to permanently shift elements of learning online or the introduction of ‘blended learning’, recognising that face-to-face contact and smaller class sizes provide more quality education.

The union is demanding an open Q&A with Vice Chancellor Peter Hoj.

ACU doubles down on OpenLearning

After six months, the university wants more

In November, Australian Catholic University invested $1m in the float of Sydney based OpenLearning. Now ACU announces a three-year agreement for the platform provider to deliver ACU short courses, micro-credentials and staff professional development.

Flinders U announces Reconciliation Action Plan

VC Colin Stirling says it is to, “ensure Indigenous perspectives are embedded across our activities”

Implementation will be led by inaugural PVC (Indigenous), Simone Ulalka Tur. It will incorporate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in university policies and procedures, and leverage the Flinders University Museum of Art’s extensive Indigenous art collections.

More Elders will also be appointed to, “contribute to the university’s new Indigenous governance structures, enhancing Indigenous perspectives, and student and staff recruitment and support.”