Union says it is prepared to moderate demands but Murdoch management wont talk

TEQSA could up pressure on poor-performers

ARC reveals research areas for the engagement and impact trials

plus Victoria U’s booking blunder

Week of the week

It is love your data week, created by North American data scientists. Why researchers should is well put by QUT’s Tony Beaton. “Given clean, accurate data, a researcher can look for patterns that explain human behaviour. … The truth is in the numbers which manifest in the data.”

Murdoch U goes for broke

Murdoch University is hanging tough in enterprise bargaining. It is pushing on with its application in the Fair Work Commission for an end to conditions in the now expired enterprise agreement, which is rich in complexity on staff rights. It is a way of making the university’s point that it wants a much simpler set-up in a replacement agreement. But the National Tertiary Education Union is outraged, suggesting it is a move to strip conditions from staff.

The comrades are also upset because they are happy to talk to the university about terms in a new agreement but management isn’t. As NTEU General Secretary Grahame McCulloch puts in a letter to the university’s HR director Michelle Narustrang, “the NTEU has also foreshadowed its willingness to make substantial compromise offers on the key outstanding matters in the expectation that Murdoch will reciprocate with genuine good faith compromise responses.” Mr McCulloch adds that the union has advised the university that, “the union is cognisant of the university’s financial situation and would be substantially modifying that position after the receipt of further information.” “I reiterate the union’s desire for further face to face negotiations, supplemented where necessary, by the assistance of the Fair Work Commission,” he adds.

It looks like Murdoch is in no mood to bargain, and is going for, ahem, broke to get the deal it wants. Which it must want very badly to hold out when the union says it understands the university’s finances and is prepared to “substantially revise its wage claim.”

Goodwill at Notre Dame

In contrast to Murdoch U (above), peace prevails at the Fremantle campus of the University of Notre Dame Australia, where the Fair Work Commission has now ratified a staff approved enterprise agreement. The deal provides staff with a three per cent pay rise for this year plus improved conditions, including paid family violence leave.

Higgins to ACU

Daryl Higgins starts work today at Australian Catholic University as director of the of the Institute of Child Protection Studies. He moved from the Australian Institute of Family Studies, where he was deputy director.

Unforced error

On Friday the anti-Islam Q Society held a function at a Victoria University facility in Melbourne. This appalled campus National Tertiary Education Union president Paul Adams who says “the booking was clearly out of kilter with the values of most staff and students and stated values of the university in its strategic plan.” Not to mention the booking policy for functions, which exclude; “activities that are in conflict with or deemed incompatible with the university’s values or strategic direction.”

VU management agreed, using the university’s Twitter account yesterday to assure everybody; “VU is well recognised for its commitment to cultural diversity & prides itself on being an inclusive & supportive institution for all … Please be assured that the views of the Q Society are completely at odds with VU’s values & we are reviewing our premises booking process.”

But it seems tweeted remorse did not cut it and yesterday Vice Chancellor Peter Dawkins issued an all-staff email stating, “VU deeply regrets that it inadvertently took a booking for this event and apologises for any distress caused to our staff, students and other stakeholders.”

TEQSA toughens up

People considering where to study will have improved access to information on institutions under a proposal from the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency. TEQSA says it is considering announcing rulings on higher education providers when made rather than waiting until the application period for a review has expired or one is completed. Information involved includes a provider’s registration and accreditation status and whether TEQSA has imposed conditions.

“The reason we are proposing to publish rejections, in addition to publishing information faster and in a more prominent way, is a desire for transparency in our operations in light of public, and particularly student interest,” TEQSA CEO Anthony McClaran says.

“The changes would enhance the reputation of Australia’s higher education sector,” he adds.

Smart move – yes, it will harm the reputations of providers who have a negative ruling published which is then dropped on appeal. But after the VET quality control disaster all post secondary education systems need to be clearly and rigorously regulated.

Research impact and engagement pilots to fly

The Australian Research Council is making progress on the pilots for the engagement and impact surveys, scheduled to roll-out with the 2018 iteration of Excellence for Research in Australia. CMM is told there will be test runs in May. The Engagement exercise will require quantitative indicators plus narrative statements for research in chemical sciences, medical and health sciences, history and archaeology and philosophy and religious studies. The impact study will use case studies and quantitative data for environmental sciences, agricultural and veterinary sciences, engineering, education, creative arts and writing and language, communication and culture.

Wondering scholars

The EU’s student exchange Erasmus + programme is generally considered a great idea – it’s just that it does not work real well. A survey of participating institutions and nations finds that the latest version is an improvement on predecessors. But and it is a very big BUT indeed; “there has been no real simplification and flexibility has not improved and the administrative burden has increased rather than diminished.”

McQuade to Adelaide

The University of Adelaide has appointed Bev McQade IT chief, she joins from SA Water. Ms McQade replaces Mark Gregory who moved to Flinders U to become VP corporate services.

Sell what you’ve got

A learned reader points to the Victorian training system’s new branding strategy, “TAFE will take you there,” “TAFE can kickstart your career or create a pathway to university” Good-oh but selling training as a start not a solution doesn’t challenge the popular perception that voced is inferior to higher educ. Western Sydney TAFE tackles this direct in its “fact or falafel” campaign (CMM February 9).

Dolt of the day

Is CMM. Who mixed up Queensland state ministers yesterday. Jackie Tradd had international education in her trade portfolio before she moved to transport. Kate Jones continues in education.