Ashes to ashes dust to dust. If CQU quits smoking then James Cook must

With CQU University declaring itself smoke-free before James Cook U CMM confidently awaits JCU’s response – a similar ban, plus declaring no-sugar campuses.

Fed U explains attrition: reporting error plus we’re working on it

Federation University’s appalling attrition rate with just 36 per cent completions among students starting in 2010 (CMM Wednesday) is more apparent than real, the university says.

“Completions relating to 2015 were under-reported to the Department of Education and Training due to a change in internal reporting systems. The university has now reviewed and changed its method of gathering student completion data. The department was notified of this under-reporting.”

Good-o, and Federation U does serve a market associated with high attrition, with a catchment of low SES and regional students. This is probably why the university has established “a very successful mentor program, as well as tutoring and counselling services, to assist students to adjust to university life.”

But the university does appear to have work to do. Federation U in the national top ten for overall experience in 2015 but the bottom five last year in the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (CMM April 12).

La Trobe proposes performance pay for all

La Trobe University is linking a staff bonus to improved student satisfaction, as measured by the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching. Management makes the offer in its new enterprise bargaining proposal.

“La Trobe’s national ranking (in) the Student Experience Survey is low in comparison to most other Australian universities. While some discipline areas and campuses perform better than others, the university’s results need significant improvement. Improving student satisfaction with their ‘overall educational experience” is everybody’s business,” the university tells staff.

University management has set “an ambitious target” of 12th in Australia and first in Victoria for student satisfaction by 2022 with “recognition payments of 0.1 per cent in ’18 ’19 and ’20 for 1 per cent lifts in QILT measures of student satisfaction in each year.

The overall pay proposal ex performance bonuses, is a $1500 salary uplift on signing a 1.5 per cent increase in December 2018, $1800 in July ’19, 1.6 per cent in July 2020 and again in July 2021.

The fixed-sum payments ensure lower paid staff receive the biggest per centage increase, with a HEW Six administrator picking up 2.36 per cent per annum, compared to 1.69 per cent pa for a senior academic on Level E.

There is no mention of changes to working conditions in the agreement, avoiding a cause of conflict which bedevilled negotiations at some other universities. The principle of performance pay is not unprecedented, the University of Canberra under Stephen Parker had a bonus scheme. But acknowledging the university needs to lift its game on student services and giving all staff an incentive to do it is a bold move by Vice Chancellor John Dewar.

Five principles to make demand driven funding work

Suggestions that the demand driven system is unaffordable are flat-out false, according to post-secondary education funding expert Mark Warburton. “The demand driven funding system is sustainable if managed correctly,” he told a Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education/KPMG seminar in Melbourne this week.

“The trick to preserving the demand driven system always was to work out how to ride out the first couple of years – let the players get over their youthful exuberance and take steps to reinforce mature behaviour,” he said.

For the future, Mr Warburton says, adopting five principles can make the  system sustainable.

# Stronger public accountability, more effective regulation. “We should expect and demand responsible mature behaviour from any provider in receipt of public funding.” But reputational risk and public censure make performance funding unnecessary.

# Common regulation and resourcing of higher education and VET. “I cannot see that there is any basis for having funding arrangements that privilege the higher education sector over the VET sector.”

# Resourcing and regulation that is ready for disruptive change: “Our funding arrangements and regulatory systems should not entrench the status quo.”

# Funding for student places should meet tuition costs but not support research: “The benefits of research do not primarily accrue to students.  “There is no policy justification for making domestic students more responsible for Australia’s research effort than other tax payers. This clarification is necessary to achieve equitable funding of student places across higher education and VET.

# Recognise limits on financing through income contingent loans and limit student borrowing: The days in which HECS and HELP provided easy extra finance for the sector are over,” Mr Warburton argues. But demand driven funding is not in consistent with government setting expenditure priorities; “Should a retired baby boomer interested in literature be able to study for free utilising a loan they will not repay, while a disadvantaged young person is required to make up-front payments for their training?”

Read Mr Warburtons full analysis in CMMs Feature for this morning 

Innovation in Australia is not what it was

“Fewer entrepreneurs are entering, and those that enter are increasingly likely to fail and exit. The trend is shared among almost all industries and sectors,” Sasan Bakhtiari writes in a new data analysis for the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. There is good news for researchers – just not much. Dr Bakhtiari says the “share of entrepreneurship” of professional, scientific and technical services increased by 1.6 per cent between 2009 and 2015.

So what is going on? Dr Bakhtiari points to five factors.

Resources Boom: good for mining entrepreneurs, but drained investment away from other industries

Cost of Capital: small companies pay more for more money

Globalisation: “as trade barriers disappear and global value chains become more of the norm, Australian firms feel added competitive pressure”

Demography: “Australia is becoming an older country and a decline in the number of people in the prime entrepreneurial age can have an adverse effect on the number of entering entrepreneurs.”

Monopolism: “an increasing concentration of economic activity in the hand of a few large firms corrodes the entrepreneurs’ ability to compete and to protect their rights. … Australian industries are getting more concentrated, there are reasons to believe that entrepreneurship should also fall.”

Dr Bakhtiari adds that entrepreneurs will always be game to go, which is good news, given “advances in automation and artificial intelligence making more and more occupations obsolete.”  “Subsistence entrepreneurship holds the key to autonomous job creations for the displaced workers,” he suggests.

Which does not sound quite like what universities investing in innovation and entrepreneurship programmes have in mind.

HEADS UP: winners of the working week

UNE lecturer Erica Smith is the Royal Australian Chemistry Institute’s educator of the year. Dr Smith is honoured for her university lecturing and high school outreach.

Alan Peters is the new head of the University of Adelaide School of Architecture and Built Environment. Professor Peters will join UniAdelaide from UNSW in February.

Sarah Walsh is Flinders University’s new marketing directorMs Walsh joins from Brand South Australia where she was credited with the “I choose SA” campaign (“whenever you choose South Australian you are helping that company employ people”).

Mark Considine will become provost of the University of Melbourne in February, replacing Margaret Sheil, who is moving to be vice chancellor at QUT. Carolyn Evans will add international to her portfolio in January, while a DVC I is recruited. Professor Evans is also deputy VCdeputy provost for graduate programmes and assistant VC for advancement.

La Trobe University announced staff awards this week;

Teaching excellence: Sara James, Sarah Midford, Quinn Eades (arts, social sciences and commerce)

Outstanding contributions to student learning: Rob O’Shea and Elvan Djouma (life sciences), Louise Lexis and Brianna Julien (science, health and engineering), Sara James, Sarah Midford, Quinn Eades (arts, social sciences and commerce), Phillip Edwards (arts, social sciences and commerce)

Research excellence, early career: Sarah Hayes (historical archaeology), Angie Haslem (human impact on native species and ecosystem),

Research excellence, mid career: Suresh Mathivanan (exosomes in cancer/intercellular communication), Kerstin Steiner (Southeast Asian legal systems)

Delivering/contributing to outstanding student experience: Kym Barbary (education),

Improving student employability: Leigh Drake, Sue Davies, Jason Brown, Irene Manzo, Rylan Gan (Career Ready Employability Project Team)

Improving student employability: highy commended: Andrew Butt, Katharine McKinnon, Julie Rudner, Melissa Kennedy (Bendigo Community Planning and Development Team)

Delivering/contributing research excellence: Tall Poppies team, Tony Gendall, Caroline Bathje, James Hunt, Mathew Lewsey (poppie yields)

Contributing to operational excellence: Linda Robertson, Rob Trentin, Alia Richardson, Lisa White (Injury management services team)

Customer service excellence: Alex Lugg, Sejal Kendal, Catherine Hayden, Georgina Caruana, Rosa Ward, Deepa Balakrishnan, Simon Kerr, Andrea Ramirez Garcia (Research office grants team)

Customer service excellence: Natalia Alvarez-Lopez (Industry partnerships)

Living the La Trobe cultural qualities: Andrew Harvey, Naomi Tootell, Lisa Andrewartha, Michael Luckman, Hannah Beattie, Giovanna Szalkowicz, Beni Gakitaki, Mark Mallman, Bret Stephenson (all Centre for higher education equity and diversity research), John McDonald and Pamela Burley (Social partnerships programme), Siobhan Lappin (Equity & diversity), Campbell Hulme (Admissions), Tess Noone (Scholarships), Anne Lyon and Emma Fox (Student Development Advising Programme).