What a difference a day doesn’t make

At least according to University of Notre Dame Australia

Staff who expected to be paid Thursday weren’t – apparently somebody put the wrong day’s date in the system. PVC People and Culture Jane Street told staff its bank would process pays as a priority, “just a day later than normal” – and yes people were paid Friday.

Lucky UNDA officers did not enter the wrong month, or year.

There’s more in the Mail

In Expert Opinion

Tim Winkler (HEJobs) talks to Mike Thelwall (Uni Wolverhampton) about the compounding power of research citations and why young researchers should pal-up for publications with hi-cited, if not particularly productive authors, HERE.

Plus Mr Winkler considers their conversation,HERE.

And in Features

International Women’s Day offs and Dawn Gilmore (RMIT) sets out issues and options for university women. Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s new selection, HERE

plus Paul Harris from the Innovative Research Universities makes the case for another impact and engagement exercise HERE

with Sean Brawley and Richard Cook (Uni Wollongong) on restructuring services for continuous improvement, HERE

and International students enrolling in universities and then switching to lower cost providers is costing unis $60m, Mahsood Shah (Swinburne U) and James Collins (Education Centre Australia) report on how it happens and what needs to be done HERE

joined by Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on why universities should  speak up for the Voice to Parliament.

Where flags fly at ACU

There are staff at Australian Catholic U who are puzzled that management does not mind people having the Rainbow flag on their desks – but it flies at no university building.

That’s because ACU policy allows public display of National, State, Aboriginal, Torres Strait, ACU and Vatican colours.

Uni mergers: opposed in WA but in SA the premier is pleased

Catherine Moore of the WA branch of the National Tertiary Education Union says the state government’s inquiry into the public university system is, “mistimed, misdirected and lacks transparency”

Premier McGowan has commissioned a review of “structural change” (it more than likely means “merger”) of the four public universities  and how it “could strengthen the local university sector and delivery for students.”

To which Dr Moore responds that any form of merger to create a “super-institution” is “at best, naive.”

“It’s hard to see how any merger or amalgamation proposal could exist without mass job losses,” she adds.

The four vice chancellors might not agree with Dr Moore that what needs reviewing is, “governance including budget mismanagement and how high-paid, plum jobs are handed out to senior executives.” But three of them responded to the review with support for the status quo and probably would not be unhappy if the premier accepted Dr Moore’s suggestion that he “rule out examining merging the state’s universities as a result of the review.”

The fourth VC, UWA’s Amit Chakma welcomed the review, “in the interests of maximising education opportunities and the integral knowledge, expertise and research-driven contribution that our universities,”  (CMM February 24).

In SA the premier likes the idea of combining unis

On Friday Mr Malinauskas issued, for no apparent reason, an announcement headed, “we are at a defining moment in South Australia’s history,” perhaps the Churchill pills kicked in.

Among other things that define the moment, the premier stated “we are implementing our comprehensive plan for education – from three-year-old pre-school through to technical colleges, fee-free TAFE courses and a nation-leading combined university.”

Late last year Peter Høj (Uni Adelaide) and David Lloyd (Uni SA) committed to a  creating a proposal to merge their two institutions in six months (CMM December 8 and 9). Sounds like the premier thinks they already have.

Recent grads hammered by HECS

Women who are registered nurses and primary school teachers pay the largest totals of HECs debt to government

The findings are in a new analysis of the Higher Education Loan Programme, still colloquially called HECS, by Mark Warburton, (Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education).

Mr Warburton reports that a lower repayment threshold from 2019 led to women paying two-thirds of the total additional return to the government

Plus debts for young people are way higher than the $25 000 system-total average. For current completers it is more like $60 000.

This means recent graduates “are spending a significant part of their working lives repaying these debts, a situation that was not the case when HECS was introduced in 1989,”

Which is bad for life-choices, “they continue to pay the higher effective rates of tax associated with repaying debts well into their 30s. By this time, they are forming families and having children in much greater numbers than when debts were small and repayment times short.

“Many desire to purchase a house. Their ability to obtain a loan depends on their disposable income which is reduced by their student debt repayment obligations.”

Mr Warburton warns, the vast expansion of student loan schemes, since HECS was introduced for a much smaller cohort of undergraduates 30 years ago, has created a situation where they “now contribute to structural inequities in Australia’s taxation system, its intergenerational unfairness and women’s economic disadvantage.”

He adds that data on debt is inadequate to the extent that those currently being incurred by particular qualifications can’t be determined and “there is little available data on how debts are distributed based on the characteristics of completing students or how factors, such as family formation, may affect their ability to make repayments.”

UNSW’s inaugural provost announces exit

Professor Simmons returned from leave last month, to advise the university community that she had decided she could, “not continue to work in the same way and at the same level unto the future”

She went on leave last week and will return for a hand-over when acting arrangements are made.

To which VC Attila Brungs responded that since becoming provost in 2019, Anne Simmons, had “given everything to the role, acting as a tireless advocate for UNSW and continuing to improve our broad academic endeavours which are at the heart of our existence.”

He added he would “work-through” and advise on an interim arrangement for an acting provost.

Professor Simmons announcement is unsettling for the UNSW community, given her near 25 years of service, during which she led two engineering schools, before becoming PVC Academic Excellence in 2018 and the university’s inaugural provost in 2019.

Aus-India recognising quals: now for the harder part

The trade agreement includes mutual recognition of each other’s education awards – now for professional qualifications

This is important, “so Australian and Indian graduates will be able to practice professionally in either country,” Education Minister Jason Clare said in Delhi, Thursday.

The trade agreement requires governments to create a professional services working group to “engage respective professional service bodies to negotiate mutual recognition for “qualifications, licencing and registration.”

This, according to a Prime Minister and Cabinet assessment is good, as there are now “a limited number” of mutual recognition agreements. PMC points to law, engineering, accounting and architecture as fields where Australian “professional services stakeholders” would welcome mutual recognition of qualifications.

But professional bodies notably pharmacists, nurses and midwives, will want to maintain “existing processes … to assess the competencies of individuals trained overseas.”

CMM suspects doctors’ lobbies will likely also have views on this.

Professional associations could certainly be difficult, if the way some deal with accrediting university courses in Australia is an indication.

As a report to the feds by consultants PhillipsKPA put it, “there is a perception in some professions that accreditation is about controlling numbers who enter the profession rather than societal or economic need.”

And some use accrediting power to do it.

“the aggregate effect of coping with idiosyncratic and excessive or unreasonable demands for information and compliance from some accrediting agencies is significant, expensive and problematic,” (CMM November 8 2017).

If any industry bodies are inclined to argue about recognition, the professional services working group will need to get cracking, the trade agreement requires recognition within 12 months of it starting, on December 29 last.

Still, there are already signs, albeit small Australia is onto recognition of India’s professional services, DFAT advises there is new market access “for culturally significant occupations, – 1800 qualified traditional chefs and yoga instructors.”