Monash U in the market for a provost

Marc Parlange is off to Uni Rhode Island

URI announced his appointment as president yesterday morning (AEST). CMM had previously reported Professor Parlange looked a certainty for the job. The URI Board of Trustees approved the appointment Monday.  He will leave Monash U in June.

Professor Parlange will notice more differences than the weather, Monash U has 85 000 students at 11 campuses and teaching venues, URI has 17 000 students at five.

Monash U VC Margaret Gardner says “staffing arrangements” for the provost position will be announced “in due course.”




There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Claire Macken (RMIT) on the last chapter of the tome-like textbook, and what can replace it.

Mitch Parsell (Uni Tasmania) on the good the bad and the ugly reasons to keep the lecture. This week’s addition to Sally Field’s long-running series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

Plus Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on what to do when there is not enough good data. “When you really don’t know, it is better to be like Socrates, and admit you don’t know. Then in shared ignorance you make a good faith agreement rather than a decision. The group agrees which way to go, rather than the leader insisting that they are Moses and can lead everyone out of the wilderness.”

How to help the vast uni workforces that managements under-count

The NTEU wants universities to report the number of people they employ and give causals continuing jobs

A select committee of the Senate is inquiring into job security (no the inquiry into unlawful underpayment of workers (CCM March 10)) and the National Tertiary Education Union submits that two-thirds of university employees do not have continuing employment.

The NTEU gave evidence to the committee yesterday, as did representatives of the Casualised, Unemployed, and Precarious University Workers group.

“Universities have largely concealed the true nature of their workforce composition through vague reporting, and usage of outdated Full Time Equivalent measures,” the NTEU argues

They’re not wrong Narelle.

Tom Smith and James Guthrie (Macquarie U) analysed a bunch of sources to conclude there are nearly 100 000 casual employees at Australian public universities accounting for up to 68 per cent of people working at them (CMM January 27).

“Publicly funded institutions should publicly report full employment statistics, including head counts of staff by employment type and gender at regular intervals,” the NTEU submits to the committee.

“Universities should also acknowledge that casual staff are not that, they do work which is needed on an ongoing basis. Casual employment is used primarily to deny people the rights that come with continuing employment, to create a compliant workforce, and to cut costs.”

So what is to be done? “Industrial reforms are needed that will address the sector’s approach to insecure work, particularly in relation to casual and fixed term work. Casual employment should be limited to work which is genuinely casual in nature, and employees should not be employed on a fixed term basis for years on end, or where there is an ongoing need for the work they do,” the NTEU proposes.

Innovating ATN

The Australian Technology Network’s “Innovation driven future” on-line conference is on next week, with three-themes covered over three days, collaboration, innovation ecosystems and globalising them.

There are bunch of ATN speakers, plus high-profile policy people including Chief Defence Scientist Tanya Monro and Education Minister Alan Tudge.  Want to know how the Europeans do it? Sign-on for the 6pm session on Tuesday with Arno Meerman, from the University-Industry Innovation Network.

Claire Field on the challenge to skill-up aged care


There are huge changes ahead for tertiary institutions delivering education and training for the aged care sector

Last month I worked my way through the first volume of the final report of the Aged Care Royal Commission (a not insignificant 340 pages). Significant changes, including better pay, are needed if the sector is to attract the 80,000 additional workers it needs by 2030 and the 180,000 extra required by 2050.

This week the Australian Aged Care Collaboration published its response to the Royal Commission. Collectively the Collaboration represents approximately 70 per cent of providers in the aged care sector. Their response indicates support for the Royal Commission’s recommendations related to the education and professional development of the aged care workforce.

Those include:

* introducing a national registration scheme which includes mandatory minimum qualifications and on-going professional development requirements

* reviewing undergraduate curricula for health professionals: nursing, medicine, audiology, optometry, dietetics, dental practice, psychology, social work, occupational therapy, osteopathy, podiatry, physiotherapy and speech therapy

* the Aged Care Services Industry Reference Committee reviewing the content of the Certificate III and IV qualifications to determine if they should contain more core units

* introducing mandatory dementia training, and for those working in residential aged care, mandatory training in specialist palliative care

* introducing training in cultural safety and trauma-informed service delivery

* targets for the training and employment of Indigenous people

* the Skills National Cabinet Reform Committee fast-tracking development of accredited nationally recognised short courses, skill sets and micro-credentials.

In summary, there are huge changes ahead for tertiary institutions delivering education and training for the aged care sector.

For all of our sakes we need to hope there is sufficient money in the Federal Budget to enact these and other critical changes recommended by the Royal Commission. And then the work on their implementation begins in earnest…

 Claire Field is an advisor to the tertiary education sector


Rivers of gold to drown drought

Charles Sturt U at Wagga has $8m from the feds for a “drought resilience adoption and innovation hub.” So does Uni Tasmania’s Institute of Agriculture – both were announced yesterday

They follow Uni Southern Queensland (CMM Monday).

There are five more to be announced, for regions around the country which generally have a university to host.

Except perhaps south-west WA, where Edith Cowan U does not teach ag or environment science at its Bunbury campus nor UWA at Albany.

How the other half live at Uni Melbourne  

In the post from Parkville comes news Uni Melbourne is ready to launch the very flash-indeed Melbourne Connect project, “connecting people, places and possibilities,” on the site of what was the site of the Royal Women’s Hospital. It’s an innovation precinct JV with a property developer Lendlease-led consortium and dates from the reign of Glyn Davis who was keen to embed the university in its local community, at least the hip bit (CMM November 21 2017).

In contrast, down on the ground, there is a protest tomorrow in support of those Uni Melbourne grounds-staff whose jobs are set to be outsourced, apparently as part of the Professional Services Redesign (CMM February 22 and March 25)

Australia risks no-speaks with the neighbours

In the early ‘90s government and universities recognised Australia’s future depended on Asia – which required investing in language learning. But Kate McGregor (Uni Melbourne) warns, attention has drifted and shortages are emerging, of graduates and researchers with high level Asian language skills.

“Currently Australia lacks a national strategy to promote the learning of Asian languages. As a result, the teaching of key Asian languages has been in long-term decline at both schools and universities,” Associate Professor McGregor, president of the Asian Studies Association of Australia, says.

Her warning comes as La Trobe U confirms its decision to teach-out Indonesian (CMM yesterday) and Swinburne U advises the Commonwealth has approved its closing Japanese and Chinese courses.

“We acknowledge that these closures occur in the context of the acute financial pressures on Australian universities (but they) represent a marked acceleration of a trend that may have far-reaching consequences for understanding our region of the world,” Aspro McGregor warns.

With Indonesian soon to be taught at only 12 universities “entire states” will lack course in the language, she says.

And it is short-sighted for tech-focused Swinburne U to drop Japanese and Chinese, “the languages of two of the world’s leading scientific and technological innovators.”

However she fears the feds are not fussed. Aspro McGregor says Asian languages are no longer specified as strategic in university funding agreements, “weakening the case for government protection of these programmes from closure.”

Appointments, achievements

Denis Altman (La Trobe U emeritus) receives the eminent scholar award from the LGBTQA caucus of the International Studies Association.

Julia Gillard commences as chair of UK health and medical research foundation, Wellcome.

James McCarthy joins the medical research organisation formally known as the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. His lab team will work on malaria.