All the news that’s fit to print

“If you can believe what you read in Campus Morning Mail …” Uni Adelaide VC Peter Høj addresses staff, yesterday. You can, including bad news from North Terrace (scroll down).

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

James Guthrie (Macquarie U) on the corporatisation of public universities – it should stop.

Plus, Les Kirkup (UTS) makes a (strong) case for the textbook. “A good textbook represents a coherent, lucid and authoritative distillation of years of consideration by the author(s) of – let’s not shy away from the phrase – discipline-focussed content.” This week’s addition to Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in Teaching and Learning.

And, Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on education-focused academics    “As I have watched the initiatives unfold in my institution I have been delighted again and again by the intended and unintended consequences.”

From the get-go at Uni Wollongong

At Uni Wollongong new VC Patricia Davidson’s priorities are plain

The university announces three new deans in Research and Innovation division.

Paul Di Pietro becomes, dean, Research Knowledge Exchange and Translation. The university’s Innovation and Commercial Research unit and its business development programmes are part of the portfolio

Sharon Robinson and Melanie Randle will share the position of dean, Researcher Development and Integrity. Professor Robinson will focus on research leadership, development, recognition, and diversity in research. Professor Randle will lead human and animal research ethics, gene technology and biosafety, foreign arrangements, defence export controls and ethics/integrity training.

They are all internal appointments.

On Tuesday UoW announced two new DVCs, David Currow (now UTS) becomes inaugural DVC Health and Sustainable Futures, starting November. Eileen McLaughlin moves from Western Sydney U to become ED, Science, Medicine and Health, starting September.

Uni Adelaide job cuts to deal with deficits

The pandemic will have a “long effect” on international student enrolments VC Peter Høj warns staff

The problem is: Vice Chancellor Peter Høj warns staff the university faces continuing deficits, $22m next year and $47m in 2023 on present trends. Management plans to make up the shortfalls with $30m in savings and $20m in new revenue.

“We have to act decisively now to not be in a position we can’t retrieve,” he told staff.

International student fees make up 35 per cent of revenue not tied to a specific purpose and their numbers are expected to fall from over 4500 now to just over 2500 in 2025.

The solution: Proposals for savings include 130 professional staff positions, merging the existing five faculties into three and “exploring efficiencies in administrative services”.

There will also be a review of the academic workforce, “understanding staff activity relative to revenue generation” but no target is set.

The VC and COO Bruce Lines took staff questions at a hugely attended staff forum yesterday,  100 or so in person and a reported 1500 on-line.

Pain to come:They did not respond definitively on specifics – the formal process is not expected until September.However, Mr Lines did make it clear there would be more happening than last year’s VRs. “With the number of staff we lost through the voluntary rounds things are very stretched and if we go through another voluntary round we will again lose people from areas that we have no control over and we will risk unbalancing the university. Unfortunately, the time has come to be more targeted and more deliberate about how we are going to go forward.”

Last year 119 professional staff took voluntary redundancy, out of 157 VR departures.

Professor Høj put the best spin he could on what is coming, “If we deal with this matter well I hope the institution will emerge from a very difficult period in a position of strength relative to other universities to continue very proud 147-year history of serving the people of South Australia.”

But it’s the Feds’ fault: To which the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union responded last night; “after the sacrifices that staff made last year as part of the Enterprise Agreement Variation (EAV), it would be an understatement to say that staff are disappointed with the news presented by the university at the forum today.”

However, the union blames the Federal Government, which has, “quite deliberately cut funding to the university sector, along with actively excluding Universities from JobKeeper support last year.”

“The NTEU, acknowledges that the university has been upfront with staff about the situation and has committed to further, extensive consultation with staff. …We believe that listening to the views and ideas of staff is the only way for a path forward that minimises the pain that job losses will bring.”

Priority parking at Uni Sydney

Staff who got sick of not finding parking places at the health and medical discipline car park might be feeling better

When management opened spaces at the Susan Wakil Health Building to students some seized them and stayed – parking around the clock instead of after 3pm, as under the old rules.

This did not impress commuting workers and the campus branch of the Community and Public Sector Union sought more staff-only (CMM April 8) spaces.

Which has happened – making another car park staff-permits only from 6am to 3pm weekdays. This is intended to “alleviate parking pressure” at the Wakil site.

The university says a campus-wide review of parking continues and it recognises, “this change will not resolve all of the current parking issues.”  ‘Twas ever thus

Not so big TEQSA tick for Murdoch U

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency has re-registered Murdoch U, but for four years – instead of seven, which is the norm for universities

What’s happened: TEQSA states that on the basis of the university’s June 2020 renewal application it concluded, “Murdoch was at risk of not continuing to meet the relevant requirements” of legislated performance standards that apply to all universities.

TEQSA’s specific concerns are with university governance, “to the extent which”;

* “Murdoch’s governing body has sufficiently managed and mitigated material risks identified in its operations

* “the Academic Council adequately identifies, mitigates and maintains oversight of material risks that impact teaching and learning quality at Murdoch.

* Course review and improvement activities (Standard 5.3.4) and the extent to which Murdoch has established systematic benchmarking of student performance data across comparable courses.

TEQSA states it considered placing conditions on the university’s registration but “will afford Murdoch the opportunity to undertake the necessary actions to address these risks through a voluntary undertaking.”

However, the regulator appears intent on monitoring progress. “The voluntary undertaking sets out the actions Murdoch intends to take to address most of the identified risks. It will also provide a suitable framework for Murdoch to demonstrate on-going improvements to its corporate and academic governance arrangements and the monitoring, review and improvement of its courses.”

The university also attracted TEQSA’s attention before its last registration expired. The agency undertook a long “compliance assessment” following allegations on ABC TV’s Four Corners in May 2019, about international student standards at a number of Australian universities, including Murdoch U, which MU strenuously rejected.

“TEQSA found that Murdoch had been at risk of non-compliance due to an inconsistent application of its own admissions practices, which resulted in the admission of some international students (in 2018) who were ill-equipped to progress through their course of study.

However, the regulator accepted the university’s responses (CMM October 12 2020).

The last university to be renewed for four years was Charles Sturt U (CMM May 6 2019).

Murdoch U responds: Last night Vice Chancellor Eeva Leinonen said re-registration was, “an important decision confirming Murdoch University’s status as a Higher Education Provider.”

“Our voluntary undertakings set out the actions we will be taking to address the identified risks and allow us to demonstrate on-going improvements to our corporate and academic governance arrangements and external benchmarking of student performance across courses.”





Another day in NSW: bad news now and maybe more later

Macquarie U writes off lectures for second semester

As the NSW Government extends the Greater Sydney lockdown, MU says existing on-campus restrictions stay.VC S Bruce Dowton tells staff, all large group lectures will continue on-line only, with mandatory masks for “small group” in-person learning. The university will “reassess this guidance” at mid-semester break in September.

Professor Dowton says “lockdown conditions” “may mean fewer shifts” for casual staff. But he adds, “some casual staff may now qualify” for a federal government disaster payment. Which will cheer-up as many as no people looking at weeks without pay.

Next semester at Newcastle will be face to face, for now

While Uni Newcastle’s NSW central coast campuses are within the plague pale, Newcastle- city campuses are open, “however the minimal staffing approach” in-place continues. And while management wants Semester Two to “be fully face-to-face” it does not sound confident, warning “staff to be prepared to switch to study-from-home mode potentially from week one.”

Appointments, achievements

Of the day

 The NSW Smart Sensing Network announces new board appointments, Jill Freyne (CSIRO), Ian Oppermann (NSW Chief Data Scientist) and Sally-Ann Williams (“deep-tech incubator” Cicada Innovations).

Anna Phillips is incoming Chief People Officer at Australian Catholic U. She moves from Austin Health in Melbourne and before that was Director, Capability at Uni Melbourne

Of the week

Duncan Lewis joins ANU’s National Security College. Major General Lewis was DG of ASIO, 2014-19. Heather Smith also joins the NSC. Dr Smith was secretary of what was the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

The Australian Research Council announced the 17 2021 Laureate Fellows, including Sundhya Pahuja (Uni Melbourne)  receiving the Kathleen Fitzpatrick fellowship and Yun Liu (ANU) the  Georgina Sweet.

At Uni Wollongong, Marijka Batterham becomes head of the National Institute for Applied Statistics Research Australia

Historian André Brett (Uni Wollongong) wins the Australian Academy of Humanities’ Max Crawford Medal for outstanding achievement by an early career scholar.  

CAUDIT (as in the Council of Australasian university directors of IT) announces the short-lists for its (generally teams) awards. Nominees in the emerging leader category are, Mark Brodsky and Louren David (both Australian Catholic U),  Fadi Alja’fari (Deakin U) and  Irene Pridham, (Western Sydney U)

Brendan Crabb (Director of the Burnet Institute) will chair the Australian Global Health Alliance (“Australia’s pre-eminent peak body for global health organisations”).

Barbie Panther (Deakin U) and Rowena Harper (Edith Cowan U) join the committee of the Council of Australasian university leaders in learning and teaching.

David Doepel (Murdoch U’s, Africa Research Group) is the new chair of the WA Government’s Peel Development Commission.

 At Flinders ULuke Havelberg becomes CIO, he has acted in the post since November ’20. Mark Schultz will become Director, People and Culture, moving from a similar role at the SA Department of Education.

Boris Gurevich (Curtin U) wins the Reginald Fessenden Award, (exploration geophysics) from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists.

Ian Harper (Uni Melbourne) is reappointed a part-time member of the Reserve Bank board.

The Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australia announces 2020 awards, including

Heroes of HEJane Coffey (Curtin U), Sarah Hattam (Uni SA), Michael Mehmet (Uni Wollongong) Olivia Rajit (UTS), Cate Thomas (Charles Sturt U)

Reviewers of the yearNicole Crawford (Curtin U), Guy Curtis (UWA), Emily Danvers ( Uni Sussex)

Best articleKerry RenwickMark Selkrig, Catherine Manathunga & Ron ‘Kim’ Keamy for “Community engagement is … : revisiting Boyer’s model of scholarship”, which appeared in Higher Education Research & Development, 39:6, 1232-1246.

 Hazel Bateman (UNSW) is the inaugural chair of the International Pension Research Association. John Piggott (also UNSW) is a member of its executive committee.

At Murdoch U Romy Lawson will move from provost to interim VC at the end of the month. She will replace Eeva Leinonen who is leaving to become president of National Uni of Ireland Maynooth.

Riitta Partanen is confirmed as head of Uni Queensland’s Rural Clinical School. She has been interim head since April 2020.

David Sadler, UWA DVC E joins the board of UK higher education charity Advance HE.

Mark Taylor is leaving Macquarie U to become Victoria’s Chief Environmental Scientist at end July.  

Uni Wollongong announces David Currow will become inaugural DVC Health and Sustainable Futures, starting November. He joins from UTS. Eileen McLaughlin moves from Western Sydney U to become ED, Science, Medicine and Health, starting September.

Ross Young becomes DVC Research and Innovation at Uni Sunshine Coast. He moves from health executive dean at QUT.