Clamour for grammar

Roslyn Petelin’s MOOC English Grammar and Style (Uni Queensland via edX has 704 000 enrolments to date since it started in 2014. The new run starts Tuesday. (The excellent headline is Aspro Petelin’s).

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

James Harland (RMIT) on the on-line lab. It will never replace the real thing but it adds to the learning mix. This week’s addition to Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

James Guthrie (Macquarie U) analysed the University of Tasmania’s financial statements – here’s what he found.

Shot in the arm at Macquarie U

The university “envisages” paying casual staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19

VC S Bruce Dowton told staff Friday the university is working on a plan “to encourage our current casual cohort” to get the jab.  Continuing and contract staff can take time during the work day, or use sick-leave.

Professor Dowton added MU is “actively exploring options of how we can support the wide public vaccination programme” and that he is “in discussions” with other VCs on how campuses can be “vaccine hubs.”

Dosh of the day

Queensland’s lottery provider is promoting its support for Uni Queensland’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences research on funnel web spider venom for heart attack and stroke patients. Late last month the Lottery kicked in $500 000.

“A lot of Australians don’t realise that when they play Australia’s Official Lotteries – they’re contributing to important things, like research that could mend damaged hearts” the lotteristas announce.

“Not that worse odds than NHMRC grants” cynics suggest.

He’s got mail: Uni Sydney casuals’ message for new VC

Mark Scott suggests students email their teachers

Mark Scott wrote to students Friday advising second semester classes will be on-line during the present unpleasantness and suggesting ways to replace the “face to face chats that you may have with your teachers in and around class.” He recommends email, “the most common mode of communication at Sydney.”

To which the Uni Sydney Casuals Network responded, “this is also asking casual teachers to do even more unpaid work. If the new VC is serious about helping students to learn effectively, he should engage with the” (NTEU and them) “about paying staff properly for this work.”

Just a week-in Professor (of practice) Scott may not have got to the file about casuals being paid the enterprise agreement rate for tasks but not for all of the hours needed to do them (CMM May 19).

As Yaegan Doran from the Uni Sydney Casuals Network  told a Senate inquiry on March 10, if casual academic staff  worked the hours paid for, “we basically, wouldn’t be able to do our job.” Among things that would not get done, “we wouldn’t respond to students’ emails.”

The price of time at Uni Queensland

Management wants to delay enterprise bargaining for a year 

The university told staff last week that keeping the expiring agreement for 12 more months “would provide staff with greater stability at a time of uncertainty,” plus the university would add a 2 per cent pay-rise (which is probably what staff would get in a new agreement). (CMM July 21 and 23).

To which the campus membership of the National Tertiary Education Union responds, nothing doing, unless …

The unless is “there are commitments for improved job security for all categories of staff.”

And because extending the existing agreement requires an all-staff yea the union adds, “it will vigorously campaign against any proposed non-union variation.”

Management can still ask staff to vote for a 12-month extension without union support but job security would be the issue of the campaign.

Uni Adelaide plan: union warns, more work for staff who aren’t disposable

Academics must teach more, research more, and take on more administrative load, as professional staff are once again being treated as disposable,” the NTEU’s Virginie Masson tells staff

The way VC Peter Høj presented the message of more savings to come went down well with the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union. Dr Masson, VP acknowledges his “transparency and forthcoming speech at an open meeting (CMM July 9). And she refers to the “inevitable structural change” brought by COVID-19.

But she isn’t happy with what has followed as management gets into the details.

For a start, she suggests the announced on-line briefings, “are not conducive to providing a means for staff to provide considered feedback.”

Of which they will have a bunch.

Dr Masson points to conflicting advice on teaching, “teach more, research more, followed by teach face-to-face, teach online. Which advice takes precedent depends entirely on the document being circulated.”

And she argues management wants more teaching from staff, with the same, or increased, expectations of research output.

As to faculty mergers, with Arts and Professions expected to management’s first pic, “those on the ground know how different these faculties operate and how difficult a centralised approach would be. It also ignores the fact that as it stands, areas with high students’ numbers find it difficult to provide adequate support”

And there is the state of university administration in the aftermath of last year’s voluntary redundancies, when 119 of the 157 people who left were professional staff (CMM February 18). “While senior management may have congratulated themselves in cutting costs of administrative services, they in effect just pushed the work onto academics, who despite their best efforts, would never be as efficient as their professional colleagues in running the business.”

Appointments, achievements

James Arvanitakis (Western Sydney U) is the new ED of the Australia-American Fulbright Commission.

James Brown becomes an adjunct clinical aspro with Monash U Rural Health in Gippsland. He is medical education advisor at the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

Geographic information system tech provider Esri announces two special achievement awards to Australian organisations.  The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare wins for interactive mapping of mental health stats by region, groups of people, age and behaviour and risk factors. Victoria’s Northeast Water is awarded for its digital visuals of its infrastructure with a near real-time data on the state of stuff.

Hanna Kurniawati (ANU) wins the Test of time award at the Robotics Science and Systems Conference, with David Hsu and Wee Sun Lee (both National Uni of Singapore). The award is for a 2008 paper that contributed to efficient point-based POMDP planning via the SARSOP algorithm,” (sorry, CMM has not clue).

Ann Bonner (Griffith U), Raymond Chan (QUT), Alison Hutchinson (Deakin U), Debra Jackson (Uni Sydney) Jane Phillips (QUT) are inducted in the International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame of Sigma Theta Tau International Honour Society of Nursing, (Sigma to its mates)