Profligacy that knows no bounds

“25 million free downloads from QUT eprints is being celebrated with free cake,” QUT via Twitter, yesterday. Jove, cake!

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning David Myton checks out what the OECD has to say about Australia’s gender pay gap.

Open Access: the movie

There is a documentary about for-profit journal publishing, and no, it is not pay-for-view. US journalist and academic Jason Schmitt has made PayWall: the business of scholarship, which makes the case against the pay-to-publish/pay-to-read publishers. A few supporters of the existing model get a go, but this is advocacy reporting.

There is nothing in PayWall that supporters of Open Access don’t know but it makes a strong case for the principal of OA and it will likely surprise people who have no idea how big are the bucks made by the for-profit publishers.

The commercial journal companies run a three-segment strategy against the OA argument. They protect their business model by making access to it ever-more indispensable, with new analytic and research tools, they make limited concessions to expanding access and they ignore OA as much as they can. The first two might work, that there is now an hour-long doco about the industry on the internet indicates the third is failing.

Macquarie U engineers out of the man cave

Macquarie U Engineering has emerged from its “man cave,” with “an ambitious drive to seek-out and recruit talented females.”

But the school has not used women-only recruitment for positions. Instead, Dean Darren Bagnall tells the MU community, ““We’ve used our networks to identify promising candidates and then encouraged them to apply. … “We took extra special care when forming long-lists and then committed to interviewing all the women on those long-lists.”

Eschewing social engineering (sorry) generated what MU calls “remarkable” results. Next month the school will have eight women on staff, 20 per cent of the total. And it “will potentially reach” 25 per cent in January.  What’s more the dean says, all six 2018 hires are women, chosen from a field of 300.

Progress for sure. Back in 2016, adjunct and honorary appointments aside, there were only three women academics in Macquarie engineering and all eight appointments announced that October were men. (CMM December 15 2016).

But a learned reader suggests that 25 per cent is nothing to aspire to, what with the House of Reps having 28 per cent women members – a figure widely considered ludicrously low.

What the minister wants

Higher education minister Dan Tehan broke cover the other day, going on the Alan Jones radio programmeMr Tehan got some, just not many, words in, including expressing concerns about free speech on campus. He is expected to discuss the issue with Group of Eight VCs today.

As to his objectives, the minister told Mr Jones “I want to get the focus back on people getting degrees.”  Perhaps it was in his brief from the PM.

A charter of rights for casual academics

A charter of rights for casual academic staff has been nailed to the door (yes, literally) of the iconic Forgan Smith building at the University of Queensland.

“We are casually employed but there is nothing casual about the injustice of our situation. We are dedicated teachers and committed researchers. We are the backbone of the university system in Australia, but this system is inefficient and unfair for everyone. We deserve better than this,” it states.

The charter calls for casuals to be paid for all the hours they work but demands are not financially focused, addressing the way people in the precariate are variously ignored and under-valued in the university community. Many, most, of the demands in the charter would have no, or marginal financial impact, such as participation in academic operating unit governance, and access to libraries and IT resources. And others are based on the needs of workers as opposed to the convenience of budgeters; “work performed by casual academics must be made as stable and predictable as possible.”

All up the contents of the charter constitute a question for UoQ management, if the demands cannot be enacted, why not. Maybe they could nail a reply to the door of Forgan Smith.

New campus for Queensland

University of the Sunshine Coast will today break ground on the first Queensland greenfield build for 15 years, at Petrie in Brisbane’s outer north. The feds have promised USC 1200 new undergraduate places to get this new Moreton Bay campus going.


Plus ca change

On this day in 2013 the administrative orders for the new government came out and CMM was puzzled by Prime Minister Abbott taking VET out of the education portfolio, locating it in industry (CMM September 19 2013). Scott Morrison has not repeated this odd organisation, making his own even odder arrangement – VET is now in Michaela Cash’s small business portfolio.

A queue will form

“There’s a certain feeling you get from working at Monash University. It’s the feeling that you’re a part of something special. Something significant” – reads a Monash U job advert. Apparently, the successful applicant will also be “inspired every day” and “enjoy the freedom to discover something new.”  There’s more but you get the idea.

Germany’s head-start in the India training market

Back in 2015 then training minister Simon Birmingham suggested India was a big opportunity for Australian VET, what with it needing 70 000 new trainers then, with 20 000 per annum to follow (CMM May 12 2015). But nothing much seems to have happened since. Peter Varghese explained why in his July report on doing business with India (CMM July 13). “The high volume, low cost model needed for India does not stack up economically for most Australian providers, who operate on a low volume, high cost structure.”

Sadly, nobody seems to have told the Germans that India is tough for voced markets. The countries have just agreed to establish training based on the German model with Indian qualifications recognised in Germany.