When Lismore flooded Southern Cross U stood-up. It still is

SCU’s campus there will be home to hundreds of people still in need of a home, with the NSW Government locating housing pods on campus. It adds to the university community’s efforts during and after the March disaster (CMM March 10).

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on the magic of the in-person conference. “Their value is being sensed by all those who are again coming together at these meetings. I predict that many conferences will simply snap back to their pre-COVID formats.”

plus Angel Calderon (RMIT) on the reputational challenge for Australian universities and how demonstrating commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals can help.

and Frank Larkins (Uni Melbourne) on 2020 Higher Education R&D. Overall outlays were up but universities reduced general funding allocated to research as international student income fell.

with Michael Healy, Jason Brown and Candy Ho on  career employability support for students – it’s a professional service that universities should properly resource. This week’s selection by Commissioning Editor Sally Kift for her celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

Late CRC win for Uni Melbourne

The last Round 23 Cooperative Research Centre is announced

The third winner is the OneBasin CRC which will work on climate and water risks around the Murray-Darling.

Uni Melbourne leads with ANU, Charles Sturt U, Flinders U, Uni Adelaide and Uni Sydney among the partners.

The previously announced Round 23 winners are the snappily titled Sovereign Manufacturing Automation for Composites Cooperative Research Centre (UNSW) and CRC for antimicrobial resistance (Uni SA) (CMM May 12).

Round 23 was selected before caretaker conventions kicked in (CMM April 6) and this announcement must surely be the last research funding of the third Morrison Ministry.

Then again, there is still a day to go for regional education minister Bridget McKenzie to find a regional uni grant, approved before caretaker, down the back of the sofa (CMM, yesterday).

Maybe a way to help Western Sydney U casuals

At WSU there’s been talk of creating continuing positions for academic casuals, question is will it be more than talk

WSU observers say the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union is in favour and management does not completely hate the idea of turning a bunch of casual positions into continuing ones.

VC Barney Glover is certainly on the record that while universities are in “very difficult” financial positions, “we do need, both at an institutional level and where possible across the sector, to develop new approaches to reduce high levels of casualisation,” CMM October 1 2021).

There are suggestions that 150 continuing positions for now casuals, working their existing hours at WSU, could cost $7.5m pa or so. The university could fund half with non-staff cuts and the rest could come from a reduced payrise in the next enterprise agreement.  A back of the envelope estimate is shaving a max 0.3 per cent off a pay rise would do it.

Word is the figure has come up in enterprise bargaining, now underway.

It would be nationally significant if union members and management agreed to make it happen.

To date universities around the country have not been impacted by a Fair Work Act requirement that casuals who work a regular pattern of hours can qualify for continuing employment. But last week a Fair Work Commission ruling made the time test potentially more applicable. However, the commission gave an employers another out – that universities would not have to offer continuing jobs if  it required a “significant adjustment” (CMM May 16).

If Western Sydney U finds a way to significantly adjust, it would make it harder for other managements to keep ignoring long-term casuals who would love the conditions that accompany continuing jobs.

It would certainly be harder for Uni Melbourne, where management acknowledged last year its reliance on casual staff is “neither desirable nor sustainable,” (CMM November 15 2021).

So what’s to stop a change at WSU? Inflation might. Last month the federal leadership of the National Tertiary Education Union anticipated inflation increasing by jacking up its all-unis pay rise bid for the current round of bargaining, from 12 per cent to 15 per cent over three years (CMM April 21).

Even if WSU management wants to convert more casuals to continuing positions working existing hours, it might decide it cannot afford to if, it has to meet an increased pay rise.

Bized students not sold on study

The longer they learn the less their confidence that degrees deliver

Dawn Bennett and colleagues* wanted to know how bized UG perceptions of their employability change through stages of study – so they asked 6004 students at 32 Australian universities.

They found two interesting results, propose two response and set a challenge for academics.

Firstly, women are more confident about study and more self-aware of their own work-potential strengths and weaknesses.

Secondly, the longer people study the less confident they are about their degree making them employable. While they feel better in fourth year this might be because they decide their futures are up to them, that they need to develop experience and credentials beyond their course.

So what is to be done?: create a context for students’ thinking about their work futures by providing self-assessment tools across study which can “assist with overall confidence and more realistic self-appraisals. And help them create their own career and competencies narratives of formal courses and soft-skills.

“It may be that higher education needs to focus more overtly on communicating that it is delivering lifelong employability skills,” they write.

*Dawn Bennett (Bond U), Subramaniam Ananthram (Curtin U), Sophie Lindsay (St Mary’s U (UK) and Monash U), Kelly Benatti and Colin Jevons (Monash U), “Employability beliefs of business students by gender and year of study,” International Journal of Management Education, 20 (2022)


Time short to attract elite international students

The Group of Eight has advice for whoever is minister on Monday

In a last pre-election paper the lobby urges the new government to keep Australia connected to the global talent supply chain.

“We should create a new paradigm where international students are not seen in economic terms but increasingly as a rich reservoir of much valued and much needed talent.”

Specific ways to accomplish this include,

* a new visa for “high potential individuals” from “top global universities” who are graduates “in areas of workforce need

* a scholarship programme for “high performing” students from a diverse range nations,” in disciplines such as engineering and IT

“We are behind other nations in re-establishing both our international sector and our post-pandemic engagement with the world, the Go8 warn.


Uni Sydney expects scheduled strike to happen

Provost Annamarie Jagose tells staff she wants no repeat of what she says was “ harassment, intimidation, and assault experienced by some of our staff and students, whether picketing or seeking to come to campus” during National Tertiary Education Union strikes last week.

Professor Jagose adds that the university will be open but, “ recommends that staff who can perform their duties remotely—including academic staff who are able to switch their classes to on-line delivery—do so in order to minimise student and staff disruption.”

The strike relates to enterprise bargaining now underway.

Appointments, achievements

of the day

Graham Brown is Charles Sturt U’s new DVC A. He moves from PVC A at UWA.

Julia Hamilton will be a lecturer in Egyptology at Macquarie U from September. She moves from Leiden U.

of the week

 Lisa Adkins is confirmed as dean of Uni Sydney’s Faculty of Arts and Social SciencesShe has been interim dean since October, prior to which she was deputy dean and head of the Social and Political Sciences school.

The Asian Studies Association of Australia awards the Reid Prize (“exemplary contribution to the understanding of Asia”) to Assa Doron (ANU) and Robin Jeffrey (La Trobe U). It’s for their, Waste of a Nation: Garbage and Growth in India (Harvard UP).

The 2022 Australian Council of Graduate Research Excellence in Graduate Research Education Awards include, * Lauren Ball (Griffith U):  supervision * Dani Milos (Flinders U): leadership *  Uni Melbourne’s ARC Centre for Medical Implant Technology, (including, David Ackland, Meg Belmonte, Jia-Yee Lee, Peter Lee): industry engagement

Caitlin Byrne becomes PVC Business at Griffith U in July. It’s an internal appointment.

Josh Byrne becomes Dean, Sustainable Futures in Curtin U’s humanities faculty.

Nigel Curtis (Murdoch Children’s RI) wins the European Society for Paediatric Diseases’ award for clinical practice, teaching and research.

Chris Dixon is appointed Interim Executive Dean of Macquarie U’s arts faculty. He replaces Martina Möllering who leaves at month’s end.

Véronique Duché, (Uni Melbourne professor of French) is awarded France’s Order of Merit.

Simone Heald (Sunraysia Community Health)  is the new chair of La Trobe U Mildura’s advisory board.

Michael Healy wins the Career Development Association of Australia’s 2022 award for  research.

Anita Heiss (Uni Queensland) wins the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for Indigenous Writers. It’s for her novel, Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray (Simon and Schuster).

At Flinders U Jaqui Hughes is the inaugural clinical research professor for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Advancement

Michael Milgate becomes CEO of Sydney International School of Technology and Commerce. He moves from Polytechnic Institute Australia.

Uni Melbourne presents the Marles Medals (“excellence in research impact”) for HASS to Sharon Goldfeld (children’s health and wellbeing) and Jane Pirkis (mental health).

Uni Melbourne’s Council is in the market for a new chancellor. After six years in the role Allan Myers does not want a new term.

National Computational Infrastructure announces the Australasian Leadership Computing Grants go to, Igor Bray (Curtin U), Evelyne Deplazes (Uni Queensland) Richard Sandberg (Uni Melbourne). They have research time on NCI’s Gadi super computer.

Teresa Tjia becomes CEO of the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre. She moves from dean of students at Federation U.

The WA Government announces $2.3m for four fellowships, “aimed at increasing uptake of research findings into health care.”  * Fenella Gill (Curtin U) * detecting/responding to “clinical deterioration of children in hospital, * Mary Kennedy (Edith Cowan U)  nutrition/exercise for cancer patients in regions * Ivan Lin (UWA) “communication between clinicians and Aboriginal patients” and *Suzanne Robinson (Curtin U) “real-time view” of regional health system

Monica Whitty has joined Monash U from UNSW, as a professor in the IT faculty. She will become head of the Software Systems and Cybersecurity department from July.