“Marcus Aurelius to the minister’s office please”

“Then we have university education. It is the sort of rolling crisis that beset the late Roman Empire,”  the ever-understated Greg Craven in the Weekend Australian. No pressure on Jason Clare’s Accord team (scroll down).

There’s more in the Mail

in Features this morning

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.

plus Fion Lim (UTS) on the big markets for Australian trans national education – India is not about to replace China.

and Merlin Crossley on how journal eLife picks up the pace on peer reviewing and why it matters, really matters.

Clare to announce HE Accord process

Education Minister Jason Clare tweets, “he will make a major announcement about universities” this week

“The terms of reference and panel of “eminent Australians” to report on an accord between government and universities?” CMM asks. “Does the pope wear a beanie?” HE insiders reply.

As to where and when – Mr Clare is speaking at Uni Sydney on Wednesday evening. He’s delivering the Bradley Oration, in honour of the late Denise Bradley, whose 2008 review of HE led to the demand driven system and the creation of TEQSA.

Mr Clare has Bradley-like ambitions for his accord, “I want the outcome of this accord to define Australian higher education as one of the most accessible, equitable, integrated, quality systems in the world,” he said last month (CMM October 14).

What we learned about Indigenous leadership in HE

An audience from across Australia enjoyed fresh insights and new ideas at a Poche SA+NT conference hosted by Twig Marketing last week Are you ready, Australia?  The future of Indigenous leadership in Australian higher education.

The conference covered a broad range of topics, ranging from community collaboration in research to the culture required to attract and retain staff.

For more information about the website and resources from the conference visit www.indigenoushe.com.au

New uni workplace rules: what managements don’t want and one they could settle for

As it stands the government’s proposed enterprise bargaining changes give university managements conniptions -here’s what could calm them

The government’s bill now to go the Senate connipes VCs on two grounds:

* the requirement that fixed term staff can convert to continuing after two contracts worries managements focused on research. While it would be good for researchers who want job security observers suggest it would stop universities funding high-risk high-reward work, lest they end up having to employ people permanently who were working on discoverer projects that did not deliver.

* managements are less unhappy than apoplectic with the requirement in the bill that enterprise agreement offers can only be put to staff if negotiating union(s) sign off.

But there is one controversial clause that some managements may be willing to live with: that’s the bargaining “common interest test” whereby universities deemed by the Fair Work commission to be similar could be required to negotiate a deal with unions that applies to all institutions.

Whose listening?: observers suggest that representatives of groups of universities had good access to independent MPs and senators last week and that ministers’ officers heard their concerns. In the upper house newly elected independent senator David Pocock is said to be across the detail of universities issues and word is their concerns are heard in the offices of Tasmanian senators Jacqui Lambie and Tammy Tyrrell.

So what happens now

on fixed term conversion: while a carve out for research would suit research university managements, their best hope might be for a three-year delay

on union approval of management wage and condition offers: dropping this might be too much of an ask for the government so pragmatists might ask for employers to be allowed to put a final offer direct to staff, when negotiations are stalled and be approved if a majority of employees vote for it. If they don’t the Fair Work Commission would arbitrate.

but university reps divide over “common interest” bargaining, where unions could require similar enterprises to negotiate wages and conditions that apply to all involved.

The Regional Universities Network is agin it, warning its members could be lumped in with larger metros and thus caught in big-city industrial disputes. “The bill being considered potentially enables universities that are fundamentally different to be treated as if there were no differences,” RUN submits to a Senate committee inquiry.

And “common interest” as presented in the bill, could mean whatever a union looking for a multi-enterprise agreement convinced Fair Work Australia it meant; “geographical location; regulatory regime; the nature of the enterprises to which the agreement relates, and the terms and conditions of employment in those enterprises.”

For “common interest” to work in HE, observers suggest the test for common characteristics would need to include, student and staff numbers, financial resources and capacity to pay and maybe even existing affiliations.

This last would be harder than it looks – what the big five members of the Group of Eight could pay, (Uni Queensland, Uni Sydney, UNSW, Monash U and Uni Melbourne), may be beyond ANU Uni Adelaide and UWA.

However there might be cases where universities were willing to bargain together – industrial folklore hath it there was once consideration of the three SA public universities having a common enterprise agreement

Managements might even prefer common interest bargains if they were negotiated by state and national union officials, rather than campus activists.

Symbiotic relationship

The Regional Universities Network is working with the Council of Rectors of Chilean Universities to present shared purposes.

Yes, RUN is working with CRUCH.

VET is VET and HE is HE, but the twain can meet

Post-school policy expert Tom Karmel calls for a new type of post school education

Dr Karmel warns on present trends, “VET will be left as a provider of lower level training to meet short term industry needs” while “university education, with its emphasis on research and theory, will be the only game in town in the delivery of training for professional occupations.”

However the former MD of the National Centre for Vocational Education Research and present director of the Mackenzie Research Institute suggests a new type of tertiary education can “address the decline … in practice based education.”

In a submission to the Productivity Commission he proposes teaching and practice institutions, delivering certificates, diplomas and bachelor degrees to cross the different VET and HE regulation, qualification, funding and fee systems.

“We need to rejuvenate vocational education so that there is a direct pathway into higher education. We need applied universities that offer qualifications from lower level VET qualifications to bachelors and applied masters degrees,” he writes.

Specific reforms required would include;

* changing the Australian Qualifications Framework so it is “agnostic” on whether a bachelor degree comes from VET or HE

* amalgamating regulators ASQA and TEQSA

* rebalancing funding so the states support certificates one to four and the Commonwealth diplomas and up

* a VET emphasis on general education “so that a student had multiple options to both acquire technical skills and leave open the possibility of higher level study.”

“There are very good reasons for VET to embrace bachelor degrees as a key element of vocational education, so that we can create a genuine competitor for universities,” he writes.


Appointments, achievements

The Australian Business Deans Council announces its 2022 Network Awards. Individual winners and team leaders are, * International Education: Sagar Athota and Sean Kearney (Uni Notre Dame) * Professional management: Lauren Richardson (Uni Wollongong) * Learning and teaching: Katrina (Mohamed) Johnson * Research: Simon Angus (Monash U) *Climate action: Jean Canil (Uni Adelaide).

Harley Connolly is named head coach of Swimming Australia’s Paralympic Hub, at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Emmanuel Mastio joins the Uni Newcastle and UNSW Australian Trailblazer for Recycling and Clean Energy as executive director. He moves from the Future Fuels Cooperative Research Centre.

 National Library of Australia 2023 Fellowships go to, * Lorinda Cramer (Australian Catholic U) * Alice Garner (Uni Melbourne) *Eleanor Hogan (independent researcher) * Tets Kimura (Flinders U) * Mei-fen Kou (Macquarie U) * Wesley Lim (ANU) * Dierdre O’Connell (independent researcher) * Adam Sundberg (Creighton U, Omaha, Nebraska) * Deane Williams (Monash U)

Susan Rowland will become Uni Sydney’s vice provost in February, moving from Uni Queensland.