CMM just made it this morning

Short issue due to major tech problems. Fingers-crossed for tomorrow

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

To verify international student credentials build a blockchain. Andrew Flitman (Wells Advisory) makes the case. “Rather than relying on individual institutions to implement blockchains, we should embed a nationally supported, and independently facilitated and verified blockchain, within our visa and institutional enrolment processes. In essence, creating a user rather than supplier oriented blockchain.”

plus Australian universities have 850 on-line courses they partner with private providers – which makes quality control a thing. Mahsood Shah(Swinburne U) and Fion Lim (UTS) on what needs be done.

and Lydia Woodyatt on burnout and what leaders can do to help staff. No, “awkward cake” in the lunchroom isn’t part of it. A new contribution to Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in learning and teaching.

and in Expert Opinion Bob Gerrity (wearing his Council of Australian University Librarians) hat  explains CAUL’s big deal with Elsevier. A big step on the long march to open access research.

Monash union demands: many more continuing jobs for now casual staff

The university branch of the National Tertiary Education Union opens enterprise bargaining negotiations with a demand for 80 per cent of staff to have continuing employment, by the end of 2024, “not casual, not periodic, and not fixed term. Secure, ongoing employment.”

“There is nothing casual about being a casual at a university. Some staff have been teaching the same subjects for 15 plus years, reapplying every few months for the same job, year after year,” the union states.

The comrades are correct. In a test case this year, Flinders U casual academic Toby Priest demonstrated that he had worked 11 straight semesters “in a predictable and on-going fashion”, one of the things that the Fair Work Commission requires for casual conversion.

But FWC knocked him back on the grounds that converting him to continuing employment would mean “a significant adjustment” for the university – which leaves enterprise agreements as the only path (CMM May 16)

Hence the NTEU’s Monash U move. It follow their colleagues at Western Sydney U, who negotiated the creation of 154 continuing academic jobs for current casuals in the new agreement to be put to staff for approval (CMM July 26).

But including casual conversion in enterprise agreements may not be the only way to help long serving casuals doing the same job year after year. The government’s “Secure Jobs, Better Pay” bill proposes prohibiting third fixed term contracts for employees who have previously had two consecutive contacts for the same/similar work.

Cash for kit from the Australian Research Council

The Australian Research Council announces $39m for 21 universities 

The money comes from the fund that makes the applied research Linkage scheme happen, Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities.

Successful applicants got pretty much what they wanted ($39m of $42m requested).

ANU did best, with six approved projects, followed by Uni Adelaide with five and Uni Sydney and UWA four each. All up Group of Eight institutions won 28 of 45 awards.

Most awards are for super-sciencey kit incomprehensible to the likes of CMM, even with ARC approved National Interest Test statements.

As to a CMM fave Murray Wesson (UWA) and colleagues have $319 000 to digitise the drafting process for the Australian Constitution. “The expected outcomes of the project are an open access, online archive that consolidates, corrects and enhances the digital record of the Constitutional Conventions and the processes associated with them.” Maybe they will do a Toby Zeigler.

Clare announces the Accord team

Mary O’Kane will chair the Government’s review of higher education. Education Minister Jason Clare announced her appointment last night

Professor O’Kane is a former VC of the University of Adelaide and a previous NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer. She is now chair of the NSW Independent Planning Commission, and highly regarded as an independent policy consultant.

She is joined by,

* head of UTS’s Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research and professor of law Larissa Behrendt

* Western Sydney U VC Barney Glover

* former Labor cabinet minister Jenny Macklin

* former National Party minister and present Regional Education Commissioner Fiona Nash

* Macquarie Group CEO Shemara Wikramanayake

Key areas include

* new targets and reforms for lifelong learning

* “greater access and participation for students from “underrepresented backgrounds”

* funding and contributions, including a review of the coalition’s Job Ready Graduates programme

* regulatory and workplace relations

* VET and HE connections with an emphasis on student experiences

* a competitive international education sector

* the research pipeline and collaboration between universities and industry “to drive greater commercial returns”

“A key aim of the consultation process will be to ensure the voices of First Nation Australians and people from underrepresented groups are heard and reflected”

The panel will report progress in June and file December 2023.

Early reaction: The Australian Technology Network nailed it; “this is big ticket reform – which is very much in the Labor tradition and will be as important as the Bradley and Dawkins reviews were in their eras.

More tomorrow.