Digital drovers

Just in from CMM’s yippie yi o, yippie yi yay correspondent

CSIRO announces drone technology to heard buffalo and cattle loose on the Northern Territory range.

Satellite GPS-tracking tags are attached to the animals’ ears to deliver real-time, real-place data into herd density, accessibility, and transport costs. Better than ghost riders in the sky.

Casual and fixed-term academics: essential not expendable

A flexible future for university teaching will need new ways of working

Reducing casual numbers is an easy source of savings for universities. But it will create problems now and it ignores opportunities to transform the way teaching and learning is organised. Liz Baré, Janet Beard and Teresa Tjia make the case in CMM this morning.

There’s more in the Mail

In CMM this morning

IDP’s Andrew Barkla on three steps to save Australia’s international education industry.

Sonal Singh argues there are digital literacy skills low SES students need now. It’s this week’s pick from Contributing Editor Sally Kift.

Plus, Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on the

 boss-less life of lab leaders.

ANU suggest savings to staff 

VC asks staff if they really want to keep the coming pay rise

The university’s 2020 income will be down $175m and spending up $75m this year. Vice Chancellor Brian Schmidt told staff yesterday that while the revenue loss is largely due to COVID-19 (cruelling international student arrivals), the increase in costs is due to the hail-storms and fires that afflicted ANU early this year.

After savings, and borrowings, he says ANU is $100m short this year, with anticipated income down $150m next year, “and we can expect ongoing savings of this magnitude are likely in 2022 and beyond.”

So, what is to be done? Operating units will, “re-work budgets” and there is a website for, “thoughts, ideas and suggestions.”

But there are two big-ticking savings which Professor Schmidt put on the agenda yesterday.

* “how a voluntary separation scheme might work best for the university”

* the enterprise agreement pay rise scheduled for July. The vice chancellor says he would, “welcome your honest feedback on whether now is the best time to take on this additional cost that could be part of our savings.” The rise is in-line with National Tertiary Education Union negotiated pay-hikes at universities across the country.

A separate statement sets what’s on the employment agenda

* the university states that in first semester it committed to maintaining casual and fixed-term contracts. “However, with reduced student numbers and the possibility of the reduction of some research activity, we need to look at our staffing profiles and match them to the work required.”  Decisions on continuing/renewing contracts will be made by college deans, school directors and portfolio heads.

* “increased scrutiny on workforce decisions – such as the continuation or extension of casual and fixed-term contracts, and the replacement of vacancies occurring through resignations and the renewal of loadings”

* no stand-downs

* no JobKeeper payments (even if ANU was eligible “we do not envisage needing access).

Reaction  The NTEU’s ACT secretary Cathy Day was quick to point out that changes would require a staff vote to vary ANU’s enterprise agreement and that the union will opposeany measure that targets staff jobs”.

As to giving-back the recent salary lift; “staff are being asked to give up their well-earned pay rise in exchange for nothing more than a warm fuzzy feeling of helping ANU management. Warm fuzzy feelings don’t pay the bills,” Dr Day said.

Signed on the cyber line

UWA VC elect Amit Chakma likes what he hears

Professor Chakma has backed UWA scientists Barry Marshall, (yes, the bloke with the Nobel Prize) and Jon Watson, who advocate everybody downloads the COVIDsafe app. Chakma tweets, “I fully agree with their reasoning and intend to download it myself as soon as I get to Perth.” Something to put on his pass-the-quarantine-time list.

Uni Melbourne management counting heads

The university is not mucking around when it comes to considering people and pennies

Learned readers say contract staff are being advised by faculty managements that only “essential” roles will be renewed when contracts expire.

What that means for academic staff is up to the provost, Mark Considine. The university advises he approves all fixed-term academic positions. “This is one of a number of measures that the university has introduced in response to COVID-19.”

Uni Wollongong goes from five faculties to four

Jove that was quick. The announcement comes a day after management said it would use its own savings plan rather than the proposed pay and conditions cuts for jobs national accord

The university will “realign” schools in three existing faculties to make two as it, “is reshaped in response to the irreversible changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Faculty of Law Humanities and the Arts will be broken up with the schools of arts, English and media, liberal arts, and humanities and social inquiry joining what is now the Faculty of Social Sciences. The law school joins the Faculty of Business, which will be renamed.

The medicine and engineering-information science faculties are unchanged.

“The realignment will not impact front line academic teaching or research roles, but will create efficiencies at senior executive and senior management levels,” VC Paul Wellings says.  

Last November Macquarie U announced a similar sort of restructure, to close the Faculty of Human Services and distributing its constituent schools.

While there is no comparison between that and the Uni Wollongong announcement, Macquarie U said its closure would save $4m (CMM November 15).