No rush to recruit at Uni Adelaide

The uni is in the market for a new VC

The need arose when ex VC Peter Rathjen resigned in late July. It continues, with acting VC Mike Brooks ruling himself out.

But Chancellor Catherine Branson told a press conference Wednesday, “Council has decided to appoint a committee to oversee the selection. It has not yet met.”

Perhaps the university wants to give people interested time to digest all the detail in the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption’s statement on the serious misconduct finding against Professor Rathjen (CMM yesterday).

There’s more in the Mail

New in Features this morning

Angela Barney-Leitch (QUT) asks, why Indigenous Australians are still excluded from Higher Education “in the era of reconciliation plans, key performance indicators and employment strategies.” It’s the first in a series by Indigenous academics and policy people from commissioning editor Claire Field.

Sara Topfer, from the Crossley Lab (UNSW), on virtual conferences – they make a great night in.

Uni Melb admin: once improved, now being re-set

Management does not want many ways to do the same thing, but not necessarily just one

Back in 2013-14, the University of Melbourne community endured, sorry enjoyed, the Business Improvement Programme, which was supposed to decentralise services to reduce admin costs and improve admin support for students and staff. It was also intended to reduce the need for some hundreds of professional staff positions.

Times change and now there is the Pandemic Reset Programme, which is “examining the extent to which transactional and advisory services should continue to be delivered by individual divisions as opposed to via the shared functions.”

What re-centralising things? Heavens no, maybe, perhaps.

Provost Mark Considine and DVC R James McCluskey tell staff, “put simply, this means extending shared services so that we don’t have multiple ways of doing the same thing. However, this is not about moving to a centralised services model in which all services are necessarily standardised or homogenous.

“The model is being designed to take into consideration the differing needs of our academic and business divisions, and the process of developing an effective and lasting design of our professional shared services is being underpinned by a commitment to a high level of collaboration.”

The complex explanation must put the B in baroque.

QUT keen to pay the right rate

The university branch of the National Tertiary Education Union has lodged a dispute with management over staff payments

The union alleges classes in the Creative Industries Faculty, previously classified as tutorials are now called “workshops”, which attract a lower pay-rate for casual staff. Questions of work classifications have been contentious at universities across the country over the years and in some cases, took years to sort out.

But not at QUT.

“’QUT wants to ensure that all staff are paid correctly and reviews any matters brought to our attention. We encourage any staff member who is concerned that they may have not been paid correctly to please let us know so we can investigate and take appropriate steps. QUT continues to work with the NTEU on an appropriate resolution,” the university tells CMM.

Very wise given a Senate committee’s interest in underpayment of staff at other universities.

Commercial in confidence

UNSW issued a statement yesterday about a pilot agreement for biotech business to occupy space on the Kensington campus

Seems sensible, a staff survey last month found 68 per cent of staff want to be on campus two or three days a week post pandemic – creating spare space which could be used for “income-generation, “(CMM July 22).

But Learned Readers report details had disappeared when they clicked on the link to learn more. Perhaps management does not want anybody at UTS or Uni Sydney getting ideas.    

Universities Australia accentuates the positive

UA isn’t endorsing the government’s student place funding (and related) bill, but it isn’t building a barricade against it

Australia’s universities are pleased the government has heard the sector by making changes” Chair Deborah Terry says. She points to positives, including;

* “legislative protection” for funding of student places

* a three-year transition fund

* “adjustment in fees for psych and social work students

“Education Minister Tehan has recognised the need to meet an increase in demand for student places,” Professor Terry (Uni Queensland VC) adds.

Neatly done. It’s enough for the minister to use with cross-benchers but not so much as will upset every HE lobby which thinks the bill is a bunch of bad ideas.

UA follows, up to a point, the Regional Universities Network which, “fully supports the timely passage of the bill,” (CMM August 26).

The same shape of learning to come at Uni Queensland

On-line classes will continue in first semester next year

DVC A Joanne Wright tells staff flexible learning will stay, with executive deans making the decision on which students get what sort of class – internal, external and/or flexible.

But there won’t be much face-to-face in the in-person, on-line option, which will be for activities that, “cannot be replaced by on-line experiences, e.g. practical/clinical aspects.”

“Other activities will be on-line for the whole semester (e.g. lectures).

As to the external mode, it will be “all teaching conducted completely on-line.” This is the only option for students outside Brisbane. Learned readers warn this will continue a problem staff have found this year, that for such classes to be most effective they would need to be team-taught, with a lecturer working to camera and a tutor keeping zoomers engaged.

The flexible option, is exactly that. Tutorials will be on-campus and attendance is required but lectures are on-line for the whole semester. “This mode will increase or decrease the mix of on-line and on-campus activity depending on restrictions.”

Overall this looks like the university is writing-off the possibility of big-numbers of internationals coming back for first semester. Even if tutes are in-person lectures will be on-line – and it does not matter where students and their laptops are.


Appointments, achievements

Of the day

 Raj Shekhawat joins Flinders U as professor of audiology. He moves from UCL (which used to be named University College London).

CQU names winners of its awards for exemplary practice in learning and teaching;

* Michelle Roberts, (Education and the Arts)

* Vincent Dalbo (Health, Medical and Applied Sciences)

* Susan Richardson, Miriam Ham, Craig Richardson, (Third Space ISL Teaching and Learning Environment Team)

* Jacqui Sprenger, Viv Stevens, (Education and the Arts)

* Robert Vanderburg, (Education and the Arts)

* Jay Sul (Engineering and Tech)

* Victoria Walters (Access Education)

Of the week

 At Swinburne U, Matthew Bailes moves from astrophysics to lead the Data Science Research Institute. Biomedical manufacturing/engineering researcher Sally McArthur takes over at the Manufacturing Futures Research Institute.

Mel Dodd will become Monash U’s head of the Department of Architecture in January, replacing Naomi Stead. Professor Dodd joins from Central Saint Martins in London.

The NSW Deans of Education has a new executive:

president: Mary Ryan (Macquarie U)
VP: Sue Bennett (Uni Wollongong)

secretary: David Smith (Charles Sturt U)

treasurer: Michele Simons (Western Sydney U)