“Was just asked (again) whether I made the voice recordings used in the UTS Engage  lifts to announce “going up” “going down” etc. Surprisingly, that’s not in my job description,” UTS DVC (Education and Students) Shirley Alexander, via Twitter yesterday. Doubtless, she would be great if she did.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features today

Ian Marshman and Frank Larkins on the Tehan package; “Vocational education has triumphed. Undergraduate education is now more narrowly about training for a job, no longer laying the foundations for careers of the future. Their analysis is here.

Nina Fotinatos on five team functions for learning and teaching success. It’s Contributing Editor Sally Kift’s new selection in her series on what is needed now in teaching and learning.

Merlin Crossley (UNSW)  on the two golden rules for selection committees in research (and elsewhere).

Tim Winkler on the way the ATAR and tertiary admissions centres work, or don’t, for school leavers.

Up and ATEM

Entries are open for the Association for Tertiary Education Management annual awards. They are due by August 27 with winners announced (COVID-19 permitting) live at the awards night in November. Where CMM as a sponsor, hopes to be.

La Trobe U staff back VC

Staff have voted for his savings measures

A solid majority of La Trobe U staff have voted for temporary cuts to wages and conditions in return for job protections. Turn-out was 64 per cent, with 66 per cent of them supporting the proposal.

This is a big win for Vice Chancellor John Dewar, who campaigned hard for the proposed variations of the enterprise agreement, warning LT U is in COVID-19 catalysed financial strife.

Professor Dewar does not disguise there will be involuntary redundancies but says the new deal will save “the financial equivalent of around 225 jobs.”

La Trobe U follows U Tas and UWA in securing an enterprise agreement variation from staff and with hefty majorities. In all three cases, management worked with campus union leaders and put the proposal to their members first. In contrast, Uni Melbourne and Uni Wollongong decisively lost savings proposals which were opposed by unions.

Savings-jobs deal delivers for three VCs who backed their judgement

Last month four vice chancellors joined union leaders to create an accord for universities to cut costs and save jobs. Three now have the agreements they needed

Within days over half public universities explicitly rejected the framework for individual institutions, mainly because it did not suit their circumstances but also because one element was unacceptable – an independent committee, including a union representative, to oversight savings plans.  The NTEU recognised defeat and pulled the plan – but three of the four VCs who worked on the accord went ahead.

John Dewar (La Trobe U) has decisively won agreement from staff to make savings via enterprise agreement variations. Margaret Gardner (Monash U) and Jane den Hollander (UWA) have had their proposals endorsed by union members, which are expected in both cases to be followed by all-staff endorsements.

But what about the fourth? That was the VCs’ lead in the negotiations, Andrew Vann from Charles Sturt U. Professor Vann, did not get a chance to put the plan in place, CSU’s council rejected it as, “complex and required compromise not acceptable to the university,” (CMM June 9).

Praised with faint damns: Uni Queensland VC responds to Tehan package

 “While it is good news that some students will be paying less for their studies, it is very disappointing that others will be paying significantly more,” Peter Høj says

 In a message to students yesterday Professor Høj also identified other positives, the planned increase in domestic enrolment, increasing participation for Indigenous remote and regional students. He also assured undergrads that they will largely be exempt from the new higher and lower fees, which do not kick-in for three years.

The vice chancellor also liked another part of the package. “What is encouraging from Friday’s announcement is the minister’s commitment to working with the sector to provide a sustainable pipeline of funding for research. Addressing this long-standing issue will be essential to underpin the growth of a smart economy and assist Australia’s economic recovery, future prosperity and social cohesion.”

Uni Tasmania agreement gets the big tic

The Fair Work Commission promised to not muck around on COVID 19 amendments to enterprise agreements.

The FWC has approved variations to the University of Tasmania’s enterprise agreement. Yes, the changes 90 per cent of staff who turned out voted to accept last week (CMM, Friday).

The major changes are the scheduled 2 per cent pay rise is off and pay rises accompanying promotions are deferred. In return the university commits to no pay cuts, and consultation on changing staff numbers, plus other protections.

The variations run until June 30 next year, unless management and unions agree to change the end-date, but they can apply no later than December 31 2021.

Back in April FWC president, Justice Ross said the commission would “expedite” agreed variations to agreements to deal with COVID-19. U Tas is expedited.

RMIT proposes voluntary redundancies

But there could be worse to follow

Vice Chancellor Martin Bean announces staff and union consultations on voluntary redundancies. “We tightened discretionary spending, froze recruitment and external consultant spend, paused enterprise and capital projects, and asked our senior leaders and staff to make voluntary contributions. However, there’s more to do.”

In a message to staff yesterday Mr Bean warned projected revenue is down $175m this year and $120m next. “Even with the savings we have made to date, we still need to find cumulative savings of more than $200 million as we head into 2021.”

If VRs go ahead after the consultation they will open mid-July with outcomes “shared confidentially with applicants.”

The vice chancellor adds that, VRS are being explored, “before we consider forced redundancies.”


Into the Tehan detail

First scrutiny over the weekend focused on the eye-watering hike in the cost of humanities studies for students. But analysts are now venturing deeper into the weeds

The very learned Andrew Norton suggests that the feds may have mucked up Table Ten in Friday’s briefing paper, which set out course costs by field. He suggests that five, not 15, disciplines could end up with course costs that exceed funding rates.

And wonks (the wonkiest) at the Australian Technology Network have looked more at what the new funding model will mean for their members, (initial response was in CMM on Monday).

The ATN now raises three issues.

*  the “overall reduction in the funding universities get for teaching each of our students … particularly in priority areas like engineering and science

* funding growth rates tied to campus location. “While many ATN universities are located in the centre of our capital cities, we teach a diverse range of students, many from our growing outer suburbs and regions.”

* ATN “welcomes” the National Priorities and Industry Linkage Fund and Transition Fund, but adds, “we will want to see these funds properly enshrined in legislation and are designed in way that ensures both equitable and effective use of funding.”