Moodys blues for Macquarie U 

The ratings agency changes its outlook for the university from stable to negative

“The negative outlook reflects increasing risks related to the university’s elevated debt burden and lower levels of liquidity compared to similarly-rated universities, at a time when the university faces a substantial shortfall in student enrolments that would prompt challenging adjustment measures,” Moodys says.

The agency adds that management responses mean “the university will incur material restructuring costs before the measures translate into permanent savings.”

However, Macquarie U’s Aa2 rating is unchanged. “The university’s strong brand will support student demand over the medium to long term, notwithstanding the pandemic-related shock.”

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Universities must always, always, pay casuals the right rate for the job – Roger Burritt and James Guthrie make the case. 

Dawn Bennett (Curtin U) on why STEM isn’t the solution to everything in HE funding – new this week in Contributing Editor Sally Kift‘s series on what is needed now in teaching and learning.

Frank Larkins and Ian Marshman (Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education) propose nine ways needed to save research.

And the winner is, everybody! Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on how prizes serve society

Uni Adelaide asks staff what they value in a new VC

Not the actual requirements mind, council has already signed-off on them – just which ones matter most

Chancellor Catherine Branson says staff and student responses are wanted, “to help determine – with your input- what our university community values most.”

The 12 criteria are now ranked from “Uni Adelaide asks staff what they value in a new VC” first, through to “accessible, visible and approachable, with a commitment to the principles of collegiality.”

Responses are due Thursday with the position advertised in October.

At the University of Sydney, the association of professors has gone further to help its senate select the new VC, setting up its own search committee, (CMM September 21).

Light-speed management at Southern Cross U  

Tyrone Carlin became VC at SCU today and immediately announced two appointments

They are Erica Wilson, who becomes PVC Academic Innovation and Thomas Roche now PVC Academic Quality.  Wilson and Roche join the VC Executive.

Both are new appointments, which, “will have carriage of the core elements of the university’s academic portfolio.” This will include the university’s new academic model – a six-study period year, with students completing one or two subjects per a session (CMM June 18). This was announced by former VC Adam Shoemaker, who moves to lead Victoria U in December.

Theatre of protest at Monash U

Performance students make a well-produced case

Monash U has nominated where it wants to 277 voluntary redundancies to come from (CMM September 17). While the overall proposal is entirely in-line with the savings agreement management reached with the union, it does not diminish the impact on staff – and students.

Especially students in specialist disciplines which the head-count could cripple. Such as some of those in the Centre for Theatre and Performance who warn the university wants three of four staff in the centre to go. If this happens, “we would not be able to finish out degrees to the standard promised by Monash when we enrolled,” they warn on a polished campaign site.

They propose either broadening the pool for redundancies or rolling the Centre into the School of Music.

“This would protect the theatre and performance major, and the world-class research output, whilst simultaneously eliminating the administration expenses of running two similar yet distinct schools.”

Macquarie U calculating courses to cut

Experts took two years to build the new curriculum –  now management is changing what will be taught next year

It started a couple of weeks back when VC S Bruce Dowton told staff that courses with what was decided to be not enough students had to be “rested.” The resting will start first semester next year (CMM, September 15 and 25).

What this means quickly sunk in.  There are campus protests over courses to go, in STEM and especially in Arts, where there are estimates 50 plus majors will not make the cut-off under management’s “course viability and efficiency schedule.”

Just how many courses depends on university management’s not-especially understandable formula, which includes;

“four is the maximum number of units permitted in a ten-credit point option set. For each additional 50 enrolments, a course can consider having an additional major/specialisation, with 20 being the maximum number of majors/specialisations permitted (with 1000 commencers).”

There are other numbers worrying MU people – how many staff will be surplus to the needs of the smaller suite of courses.

Uni SA graduations – live and in-person

The university holds the first of 12 small ceremonies today

It means 1000 plus graduands will get their time on the stage this week, with people they love in the socially-distanced audience. People who graduated in May but want to be part of a ceremony are involved.

In July, the university asked students graduating this year what they wanted and “almost 100 per cent responded that they believed a physical ceremony was a significant milestone.”

Which they are getting at Uni SA.

Staff set to leave UNE, more will follow

UNE will accept 138 voluntary redundancy applications, as part of the restructure announced by VC Brigid Heywood (CMM July 30)

The split so far is 46 academic and 92 professional staff. This is expected to save $18.8m. But management wants more and has called a second VR round with a $5-$6m target. Applications close October 26, as do consultations on the new admin structure.

Management will commence consultation in October on a new, hours-based academic workload model, for full implementation first term next year. This appears to be as per the recent enterprise agreement, (CMM January 20).


Toni Hay, Denuja Karunakaran and Samantha Nixon win the 2020 Queensland Women in STEM awards. Ms Hay works on community climate change adaption programmes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland and NSW. Dr Karunakaran and Ms Nixon are at the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience.