Survival of the Swinburniest

“The future of work is changing. Will you thrive and survive? Or shrivel and die?” Michelle Macgregor Owen, Swinburne U’s ED Advancement, puts the question to alumni. How fortunate for them that Swinburne is hosting events on how to deal, with presumably murderously inclined artificial intelligence

UA backs government twice in two weeks: this has to be a record

For the second time in a fortnight Universities Australia  has backed a government bill.  UA was previously pleased with the revised foreign interference legislation (CMM June 18). Now the peak body backs new copyright legislation that protects education institutions for copyright breaches that occur on their networks, without their knowledge or control. Such protection now applies to “carriage service providers”.

“”The changes now mean universities have the same legal certainty and protection that has previously only applied to commercial internet service providers,” UA CEO Catriona Jackson said.  She went on to thank the government for “leading these important reforms”.  CMM suggests ministers should not get used to this.

Where to file research

The decadal review of the ANZ Standard Research Classification is announced, with planning underway for a 2019 start. The review will be carried out by the Australian Research Council, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Statistics New Zealand and the NZ Ministry of Business. The classification is used in R&D measurement and analysis.  The three categories are field of research, type of activity and socio-economic activity.

Noonan to lead AQF update

Education Minister Simon Birmingham has appointed a panel to review the Australian Qualifications Framework, in particular whether it “continues to meet the needs of students, education providers and employers.”

Veteran education policy expert Peter Noonan (Bradley Review, now at Victoria U) chairs the panel of Sally Kift, adjunct professor, at James Cook University, Megan Lilly, Ai Group and Elizabeth More dean of the Australian Institute of Management business school.  They will be joined by a nominee from the COAG education council and another from the COAG skills council.

The “review will ensure the Framework works as a tool used by employers and supports quality and transparency in our education system,” Senator Birmingham says.

A bunch of background is ready for them with a PhillipsKPA briefing paper for the panel (CMM June 15) suggesting the AQF is seen as a hierarchical training model which has not kept up with industry interest in flexible training pathways.


Earth to AITSL

Education academics arced up as word on the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership got around (CMM yesterday). As one learned reader put it; “the mountain of red tape heaped upon education schools looks a lot like Olympus Mons: enormous beyond meaningful comparison with anything on Earth, oxygen stifling for everyone involved, and off the planet. Maybe the new space agency could help navigate a way around it?”

Interminable enterprise bargaining

Unions at the University of Wollongong say 20 meetings into enterprise bargaining nothing is agreed and management is, “pursuing proposals that threaten to significantly diminish out rights at work.”

“If management does not swiftly alter its strategy, negotiations are fast approaching the point of break down,” Georgine Clarsen (NTEU) and Sian O’Sullivan (CPSU) warn.

The university replies, that it “is keen to continue progressing negotiations and eagerly awaits tabling of clauses by NTEU representatives.”

Yesterday was perhaps not the best day for the unions to issue their statement, what with them cancelling a meeting today.

But the time bargaining takes is becoming an issue within the NTEU. Michael Thomson (NTEU NSW state secretary) and Colin Long (same for Vic) both argue that enterprise agreements are trial by ordeal.

Which union members at the University of Newcastle are sick of. Bargaining began there 12 months ago and NTEU branch president Tom Griffith says “reasonable claims are yet to be progressed satisfactorily.” Union members have voted to take “low level” industrial action, “in an effort to progress enterprise bargaining,” starting next Wednesday.

Appointments, achievements

Shelley Wickham from the University of Sydney has a Westpac Research Fellowship to research the nanoscale study of cells. So does Vini Gautam (ANU) who will work on neuro-prosthetics to repair brain damage. The fellowships fund researchers for two years.

UNSW has a new head of the School of Information Systems and Technology Management. Lemuria Carter joins from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Lesley Seebeck is moving to ANU as inaugural CEO of the Cyber Institute, which will address security issues at the “intersection of people, technology, organisation, society, economics and security.” Dr Seebeck is now chief investment and advisory officer at the Commonwealth’s Digital Transformation Agency, (“to make it easy for people to deal with government.”)

Also at ANU, Catherine Bridges joins the National Security College as cyber adviser. She is seconded from PM&C.

QS rates online MBAs

In the age of MOOCs and micromasters the online MBA might look like an expired innovation, but probably not to the universities that make it onto the QS selection of the world top 50, announced last night. The ANZ achievers are: the AGSM at UNSW (eight), Deakin U (=15), Uni Otago (=34), Curtin U (=42) and LaTrobe U (=46).


Bernardi’s big idea for performance metrics

The bill to reduce the base incomes for university student loan repayments to $45 000 is still stuck in the Senate, where the government is generally assumed to have the numbers. The debate to date there has not added anything much to arguments pro and con already out there but senators did use the opportunity to provide wide-ranging (rambling is such an unkind word) commentaries on higher education.

Cory Bernardi (Aus Con- SA) had an idea that might appeal to the government as it works on the plan to allocate undergraduate growth places by performance, a report on the time it takes for graduates in specific disciplines to get a job, by university.

“It would produce some accountability. It would mean that universities don’t just pick the cheapest degree to provide—let’s say it’s a law degree, for argument’s sake—and graduate hundreds of students who all expect a glittering legal career and are unable to find work in that sector.”

CMM does not know whether Minister Birmingham was in the chamber but law school lobbies best start preparing briefs explaining why this is a bad idea in case he was listening.