Typographical arrer

Uni SA draped banners off its multi-story City West Campus in Adelaide last week, promoting its School of Design. The slogan was meant to be “success will be of your own design” but somebody typed the s as an a, so it read “auccess …”

“Ahit happens” the university posted to Instagram.

By yesterday there was a new, correctly spelt, LED message on the building, wishing all a happy Lunar new year.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning   

The pitch for merging Uni Adelaide and Uni SA is it would, “unlock benefits far beyond collaboration and scale, making transformational investments in both teaching and research,” (CMM December 8). It might well work for research – as Nicholas Fisk and Daniel Owens (UNSW) explain HERE.

plus Robert Vanderburg and Anthony Weber (both CQU) on students as partners against cheating. Sally Kift’s first 2023 selection for her series, Needed now in learning and teaching, HERE.

and Amanda Janssen (Uni SA) and Amy Milka (Uni Adelaide) report on academic integrity experts responding to the challenge of ChatGPT, HERE

with invigilated exams are not all that Merlin Crossley cracks them up to be, argue Raoul Mulder and Sarah French, (Uni Melbourne, Centre for the Study of Higher Education). They make the contra case, HERE.

Lifting on-line teaching to meet learning standards

The pre-pandemic education standards HE providers must meet are still fit for purpose but on-line delivery needs updating

The Department of Education commissioned a Uni Queensland team* to investigate what the move to mass on-line learning and teaching will mean for conforming to the Higher Education Standards Framework.

Their report addresses pressures on on-line delivery across the seven HESF domains, including;

* entry standards, student support and outcomes

* needs of equity-groups

* academic leadership and staffing, “for which there are currently no clear answers”

* academic integrity

* a “problematic” lack of a sector-wide approach to innovation

Overall, they find practise is in front of policy;

“the discussion and language used to describe modes of delivery in Australian higher education remains too crude to capture the evolution of hybrid modes and other modes of delivery that are emerging. The discussion and policies still largely reflect an internal vs. external/online model that no longer reflects the reality for higher education staff and students.”

* Jason Lodge, Kelly Matthews, Matthias Kubler, Melissa Johnstone, Modes of Delivery in Higher Education

Explaining the inexplicable

UNSW pumps out research stories – few of which come close to the clarity of its holiday season announcement of quantum computing research progress by Will Gilbert and colleagues

The university release (Wilson da Silva is the contact)explains what researchers found and why it matters, in terms CMM followed.

Makes a change from promotions of quantum computing which are bigger on spin than lay-person explanation.

Rave review for CRCs

The Cooperative Research Centre programme is “working well, delivering on objectives, and meeting an identified need,” so well it only needs “ minor adjustments” and should continue – with more money

A review, commissioned by the Commonwealth from consultants ACIL Allen, also finds that while it is too early to tell, “indications” for the newish, shorter-term CRC Project scheme, “are very promising.”

The overall conclusions are broadly in-line with the 2015 Miles Review of CRCs, and suits the circumstances, then and now, of governments focused on applied research (CMM May 20 2015).

Among changes the new review suggests are;

* a larger committee advising on applications

* liaison officers to improve relationships between industry and research partners in CRCs

* maximum 12 months between applications closing and round winners announced

The report also proposes 15 years of funding, instead of ten, “where a longer funding period is desirable to secure the best return on investment.”

New CRC Ps

Round 13 was announced Thursday, with 21 universities participating in 19 projects. CMM faves are, a COVID 19 vaccine patch (Uni Sydney, Uni Queensland and partners), crypto-currency secure transaction (RMIT participates) and a collision avoiding smart helmet for motorbike riders (Macquarie U, Uni Canberra, Western Sydney U).

Applications open

CRC Round 24 applications close March 7 and CRC P Round 14 on March 2.

How Uni Melbourne intends to reduce reliance on casual staff

Last year management committed to “overhauling its employment model” – so how’s that going in enterprise bargaining?

The university’s proposal for a new agreement addresses payment of casual academics – getting this right has been a problem at the university in recent years (umpteen CMM stories, for example, September 10 2022)

It also includes a provision, “where the university intends to offer further employment to a casual employee” it will be for a minimum 0.4 FTE.

Which is way short of the National Tertiary Education Union demand for 80 per cent continuing employment at the university, and the precedent set by Western Sydney U and Australian Catholic U, which made specific numbers of new continuing positions for academic casuals part of their new enterprise agreements, (CMM July 26, 27 and August 19 2022).

The WSU/ACU lead could be a way for Uni Melbourne, to act on its acknowledgement that its reliance on casuals is “neither desirable, nor sustainable,” (CMM November 15 2021). Last June Provost Nicola Phillips stated the university would “overhaul its employment model”, (CMM June 10).

But for now Uni Melbourne tells CMM, “we have a shared interest with the union to address the reliance on casual and short duration fixed-term employment and note that developing a genuine and enduring solution is a complex matter.

“We look forward to continuing Union and staff bargaining discussions on practical and sustainable proposals to support and enable the work underway to reframe the University’s workforce towards greater continuing employment,” the university’s statement adds.

Which may mean there is enterprise bargaining on details for casual conversion to come – perhaps linked to pay, which is yet to be negotiated. The WSU agreement included a marginal pay rise reduction as part of the casual conversion.

Or maybe it doesn’t.

Campus observers suggest management has no appetite for anything that reduces their authority to decide how many new continuing jobs are created and when.

Which could be courage of the Sir Humphrey. For two years universities with high proportions of casual staff have copped criticism in parliaments and media for relying on staff who languish for years in insecure employment. Critics could well turn to Uni Melbourne’s submission to last year’s Senate Select Committee on Job Security,

“our goal should not be to eliminate all use of casual or fixed-term contracts, as they are in some instances and for some people entirely appropriate, but rather to make sure that their use is confined to very well-defined circumstances, and that we achieve a significant shift of practice and culture such that our predominant contractual basis for employment rests on continuing and longer fixed-term arrangements.”

More of the similar for bushfire research

Western Sydney U is to lead a collaborative research centre on bushfires and natural hazards

The new organisation is funded by the NSW government and takes over from the Uni Wollongong led Bushfire Management Research Hub (WSU was a participant).

Sound familiar? It isn’t.

The new operation is separate to the federal Natural Hazards Research Australia, which is the successor to the Bushfire CRC (2003-2014)and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC (2013-2021), (CMM, August 1 2022).

Ah, federalism, aint it grand!

Sunk costs in shipbuilding skills

Opposition SA senator Simon Birmingham says the Naval Shipbuilding College, based in Adelaide is set to close

This, he says, is a bad thing, because, “one of the biggest risks to successful naval shipbuilding in Australia are workforce challenges.”

CMM asked the Department of Defence if the closure claim is so, but alas, DoD did not respond.

But if the senator is correct he has a point, just not one the college ever did much to address – not teaching anybody how to build anything.

The Naval Shipbuilding College was supposed to start training people in 2018 (CMM November 15 2017) but instead “supports job seekers through providing personalised career and training advice, to help you secure employment” (CMM September 5 2022).

Whether or not the college is officially sunk, it is not much use to the Navy’s skills-needs, what with a big surface-ship building programme and the need to plan for maintaining (at least) nuclear subs.

In September SA Premier Peter Malinauskas proposed a defence manufacturing workforce plan, which the feds have backed (CMM September 5 2022). It will, “make recommendations on key defence industry workforce and skilling issues in South Australia.”

Good – o, but perhaps the new plan might suggest picking up the pace on institutions and courses to do the skilling.

Appointments, achievements

Michelle Bellingan starts as DVC Academic at Central Queensland U. She moves up from dean of health, medical and applied sciences.

At Uni Melbourne, Tony Birch is appointed to the Boisbouvier Chair in Australian Literature, (“advancing the teaching and public appreciation of Australian literature”). Mr Birch is an “an acclaimed local First Nations” novelist and poet.

Ngiare Brown will become James Cook U’s chancellor in April. Professor Brown was foundation CEO of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association and is chair of the National Mental Health Commission.

Exercise and Sports Science Australia announces its two research grants for this year. Bernie Bissett, Mary Johnson (Uni Canberra) and team for exercise physiology in COVID recovery. Annette Raynor and team (Edith Cowan U) for an exercise programme for aged care facility residents with Parkinson’s Disease.

Cathy McGowan (yes, the former Independent member for Indi) is named chair of AgriFutures Australia, (one of the federal government’s agriculture research and development corporations).

Trina Myers is in-coming head of Deakin U’s School of Information Technology. She will join from QUT.