Back to business

As COVID-19 kicked in last year, universities, including La Trobe U, U Tas and UWA struck deals with the National Tertiary Education Union to protect some jobs in return for workers accepting temporary cuts to various employment conditions. As approved by the Fair Work Commission, terms  were to “lessen the number of job losses that would otherwise occur.”

The agreements ran to the end of June. This month all three have announced proposals for job reducing restructures.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on  student cheating and what to do about it.

“Given limited resources we will have to prioritise. One possibility is that we might prioritise investing more in programmatic – senior year – assessments, and rely on “assumed knowledge” in the early years. It may be foolish to attempt to grade everything, and certify every learning outcome in each educational snack from cradle to grave.”

Kirsty Abbott and Amanda-Jane George (both CQU) explain what’s in the government’s new patent box for university researchers. Perhaps not a lot, ‘The general conclusion from existing research,” they warn, “is that similar schemes often do not achieve their desired effects of encouraging innovation or local research and development,” they suggest.

PlusJames Guthrie (Macquarie U) crunches the numbers on Uni Wollongong’s tough 2020 – a financial loss and jobs gone.

AndMatt Bower (Macquarie U) and Penny Van Bergen warn the Federal Government has abandoned innovation in learning and teaching. Their’s is this week’s piece in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift‘s celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

UWA risks becoming “an outlier”

Sociologists join anthropologists in criticising the UWA proposal to shut down the disciplines

The Australian Anthropological Society calls the prop “intellectual vandalism” (CMM July 14) and now the Aus Sociological Society, with the Council for HASS, says deleting the disciplines, would make UWA, “an outlier among the Group of Eight and its global peers.” “A move to discontinue broad-based undergraduate majors offering key methodological and conceptual skills for the study of human society would run counter to an emerging consensus that the evolving labour market make such skills more valuable,” Alphia Possamai-Inesedy (Sociology) and Dan Woodman (C HASS) warn UWA Chancellor Robert French.

“Universities that have built their current strength and reputation on understanding and serving the communities in which they are based have large and vibrant sociology programmes … To reduce such outreach and impact would run counter to your mission of providing world-class education, research and community engagement,” they say,

Months of job pain at UWA

Up to eight schools face a cost-reducing restructure in a six month process Vice Chancellor Amit Chakma says

Professor Chakma fronted ABC radio in Perth Wednesday as uproar continues over staff cuts that will effectively end teaching and research in anthropology and sociology (CMM July 12 and 14).

The vice chancellor told Nadia Mitsopoulos this was necessary to address a decline in enrolments since 2012. “The key criteria is student demand, unfortunately the programmes in question have not been able to attract a large number of students,” he said.

Professor Chakma indicated most of the university’s 21 schools will make staff savings through attrition and early retirement, but up to seven or eight, face “a formal restructuring process” over six months.  However, he declined to identify them, saying, “it would be irresponsible of me to announce on the ABC the schools we are looking at.”

The VC says the university still needs to make $40m of his original $70m savings target, (CMM September 28 2020) and “we cannot deal with these sorts of problems when 70 per cent of our budget is tied to salaries, without impacting people.”

Garry Carnegie (RMIT) and James Guthrie (Macquarie U) had a close look at UWA finances in CMM last year (October 28 2020).

They like a review at USQ

Uni Southern Queensland management is considering yet more operating change

The university is reviewing the Financial Services Portfolio, in part to consider “the alignment of traditionally non-financial services,” – including catering.  This appears to be about re-allocating operating units into more similar-function portfolios. And a related review is looking at the Planning and Performance Support Services. First-round submissions for both are due next week with new structures scheduled for October.

They like a review at USQ.  While 2020 was a bit quiet, in 2018 there were restructures of on-line learning and teaching, the library, higher degree administration, and the travel office. There was also much discussion of the relationship between the creative arts academic unit and the Artsworks service provider.  And in 2019 campus services were restructured.

Back on-line at Uni Wollongong

UoW is ahead of any NSW Government lockdown extension

The university has announced all classes will be on-line for the first month of the new teaching session, (through to August 20). Not that it will make that much difference. A month back the university announced it would be “boosting” on-campus classes but 535 lectures would stay on-line with 230 being live on-campus (CMM June 10).

Make that 765 on-line, for at least a month.

Campuses outside the Sydney and region lockdown will open as per what used to be known as normal.

Appointments, achievements, exit

Of the day

 Heather Cavanagh (recently departed DVC Research and Engagement at Charles Sturt U) is the new chair of the NSW Mid North Coast (where CSU has a campus) Local Health District Board. She replaces Warren Grimshaw. Yes, that Warren Grimshaw, the former head of NSW TAFE.

 Ecological Society of Australia names its 2021 Gold Medalists; Kristine French (Uni Wollongong) and Richard Kingsford (UNSW).

Mahul Shah is retained by Victoria’s trade agency to consult on education and training partnerships in Kenya.

ANU VC Brian Schmidt, joins the board of Research Australia. (It’s a peak body for medical research, not absolutely everything.)

Tanya Rhodes Taylor (Vice Principal, External Relations) will leave Uni Sydney in February. She will return to the UK.

At Uni Melbourne, new Redmond Barry Distinguished Professors include, Aleks Owczarek and Kari Vilonen (both Maths and Stats)

 Of the week

 Rosalind Archer is in-coming head of Engineering and Built Environment at Griffith U.  She moves from Uni Auckland and will start in December.

The Astronomical Society of Australia announces its awards, Geraint Lewis (Uni Sydney) wins the David Allen Prize for his search for meaning in our cold, dark universe. Madeleine McKenzie (ex UWA now ANU) has the Bok Prize for studying ancient stars as fossils. Keith Bannister (CSIRO) is the Anne Green Prize winner for developing a way to trace the origin of fast radio bursts. Colm Talbot (formerly Monash U now Caltech) receives the Charlene Heisler Prize for models of how binary black holes form. Joseph Callingham (Leiden U) takes the Louise Webster Prize for discovering the most distant stellar object. Tamara Davis (Uni Queensland) will be the society’s 2022 lecturer.  Matthew Bailes (Swinburne U) delivers the 2019 lecture at next week’s annual meeting. (No lecture last year, due to COVID 19).

The Australasian University Safety Association announces its new executive committee and branch leaders (CMM Wednesday).

The Australian Academy of the Humanities announces travelling fellowships for humanities scholars to undertake research overseas (CMM, Tuesday).

Peter Bellwood (emeritus professor, ANU) receives the 40 million Yen (A$485 000) 2021 International Cosmos Prize, from Japan’s Expo90 Foundation. The award is for research that contributes to understanding harmonious relationships between nature and humanity.

Jenny Beresford (numerous roles including at Swinburne U) is the new CEO of the Council of Australasian University Directors of IT.

Megan Davis (UNSW) becomes chair of the UN Expert Mechanism on the rights of Indigenous people.

Lisa Farrar is confirmed as Chief Operating Officer of the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute.

Natasha Harvey becomes director of the Centre for Cancer Biology at Uni SA. She steps up from a lab head role.

Rob Hyndman (Monash U) receives the Statistical Society of Australia’s highest honour, the Pitman Medal. Professor Hyndman became a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in May (CMM May 26).

 Graeme Maguire becomes associate dean of Curtin U’s medical school. He joins from Western Health in Melbourne.

Consultants Nous report two appointments. Barbara Messerle (ex Uni Sydney provost and Macquarie U science dean) joins as a senior adviser. International ed expert at ANU and in the federal department, Anne Baly becomes a principal.

Sharon Pickering is confirmed as DVC E, at Monash U. She has been acting in the position for a month, when Susan Elliott moved to provost.  VC Margaret Gardner says Professor Pickering’s is appointed, “following interviews conducted by a University Council-approved selection committee.” Professor Pickering’s previous substantive position was dean of arts.

 At Charles Darwin U, Ian Wronski becomes the inaugural DVC for Northern Australia Medical and Health Development. He moves from James Cook U.