Too right

“Always such a pleasure to listen to Kwong Lee Dow. Measured, thoughtful, insightful. Perspective. Conscience. Wisdom,” – conference delegate via Twitter, yesterday. Damn straight. If there is a father of Australian higher education policy it’s Professor Lee Dow.

Free kick at Flinders

Andrew Miller was on ABC Radio Adelaide yesterday warning against the dangers of teaching-specialist positions, especially at Flinders University, where he is NTEU branch-president. While he acknowledged “well-designed” schemes were useful he worries that teaching-specialists could be denied the time to keep their scholarship current and that managements could use them to reduce overall staff. It was standard stuff for a campus audience and a case Dr Miller had no problem making, not least because nobody from Flinders management was on-air with him. The ABC said it asked but Flinders said no one was available. Apparently, it was graduation day and the VC and deputies were busy.

There’s more in the Mail

David Myton’s pick of the five HE international issues of the week is live on the CMM site this morning.

Big new teaching toolkit launches this morning

Today the Innovative Research Universities launches an enormous new resource to support students and graduates, created by IRU VC Fellow, Associate Professor Jessica Vanderlelie.

The National Innovation Case Studies Collection is an anthology of programmes and practice “to provide a mechanism through which to encourage cross-sector collaboration and save institutions from ‘reinventing the wheel’.”

Which it does, with a 100 plus DIY guides across 20 categories, created by staff at the six IRU universities, presumably with more to come from new member Western Sydney U.

This is work from the engine room of education, student-centric, outcome focused and built to be used by academics to benefit students everywhere.

While university lobbies loathe Simon Birmingham’s plan for performance based funding emphasising student outcomes this is surely the sort the sort of resource he will want.

Marvellous Melbourne

The University of Melbourne and Group of Eight are hosting an international conference on research-intensive universities engaging with their communities. It’s on at Parkville tonight and tomorrow. There are speakers drawn from 25 participating universities. With Melbourne named The Economist’s most liveable city in the world seven years straight presumably the internationals are here to take notes.

Back to the beginning

The University of Sydney is awarding Bob Brown an honorary doctorate tomorrow, the supreme green last collected a degree from the university in 1968, when he graduated in medicine.

The Murdoch ruling – what will the union do?

The NTEU is running a national live-feed on Tuesday, with General Secretary Grahame McCulloch talking about the cancellation of conditions under Murdoch University’s old enterprise agreement. The decision by the Fair Work Commission last month means Murdoch staff will be covered by the safety net award and the union cannot use the last agreement as a base for negotiating the new one.

While no other university has adopted Murdoch’s tactics they could and the NTEU warns it; “is an unprecedented attack which could threaten the pay, working conditions and livelihoods of all university staff.” The union says it is, “overwhelmed with correspondence from university staff around the country concerned about the implications.”

Staff attending on Tuesday will be able to ask questions about what the decision could mean on their campus, but there is a big question for the union, everywhere. Is it appealing the decision.

Where there be wombats

“Find out how we are involved with a giant statue of a Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat called William,” Western Sydney U makes an impossible to refuse offer yesterday. It is using the statue to promote its womsat, wombat tracking programme. Nothing muddle-headed about these wombats.

Victoria U centralises research

Victoria University continues its “strategic transformation” with the establishment of a central research department, which will supervise research and manage research training. The university’s six HE colleges and twelve research centres and institutes now manage their own research.

Present higher degree students will join VU Research but the university assures them it is “committed to maintaining their existing arrangements” but in future, “the university will provide a highly focused research training programme to higher degree students within its HDR priority research areas.”

VU adds its existing research priorities “will continue to thrive and develop.” The present flagship programmes are in sport, health and active living, sustainable industries and liveable cities. VU is also home to the high-profile Australia Health Policy Collaboration and the VET research Mitchell Institute.

According to PVC R, Warren Payne the new structure will allow “exciting multidisciplinary research” and support “a stronger intellectual climate and research community.” Allthough, he also mentioned the new centre “will make an important contribution to the university’s financial sustainability objectives.”

Big win

Cordelia Fine is the winner of the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize for Testosterone Rex: unmaking the myths of our gendered minds. The University of Melbourne professor of moral psychology and neuroethics receives £25 000.


UoQ pushes for more fixed term staff

UoQ Provost Aidan Byrne has broken cover on enterprise bargaining negotiations telling staff that weekly meetings are making “steady progress” on the university’s “long and complex agreement.” Professor Byrne also reports the university wants to be able to employ more fixed term professional staff than the present agreement allows. “This has meant that casual employment is often used more than we would like.  To provide for greater job security for some staff currently employed under casual arrangements, the university is seeking less prescription around the use of fixed term contracts for professional staff.”

This can be worked out, he adds, “With good will from bargaining representatives,” he’s looking at you, union reps.

Playford to Pauli

European Entrepreneur Gunter Pauli will tell a University of Adelaide audience today how his “Blue Economy” model of self-sustaining eco-systems, “can create jobs, build business, and drive sustainability in South Australia.” There’s an election next year if he fancies staying-on and becoming premier.

New Zealand leads for education future-proofing

New Zealand leads the world in educating students for the future, according to ranking by the Economist Intelligence Unit. It’s top spot is dues to “university-industry collaboration, a curriculum framework that takes into account skills for the future and high quality of teacher education.” The rest of the top ten NZ is Canada, Finland, Switzerland, Singapore, the UK, Japan, Australia, the Netherlands and Germany. The US is 12th. Making a change from warnings that China is overtaking the west in education, the PRC rates 31st, due to “poor quality of teacher education and low government expenditure on education as a share of GDP.” Iran is last at 35.