Keeping calm as others carry-on

Uni Newcastle lays down the law on how it’s done

“Have you ever been in the position where you need to manage a dispute? Have you encountered people who do not seem to behave in a rational way? How might you respond to stressful, high-conflict scenarios?”

As none of these situations ever arise in VET and HE, Uni of Newcastle must be looking for a broader audience for its new MOOC, “High conflict in law: personality orders and disputes,” via edX. It starts tomorrow.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Angel Calderon (RMIT) on what two new performance rankings report and what the Nature Index reveals over time.

Dawn Bennett and colleagues  wondered what bized students want so they asked 6000 of them.

Kylie Austin on widening HE participation – we need a national collaboration and not an institutional focus. It’s Contributing Editor Sally Kift’s selection this week for her series on what we need now in teaching and learning.

The cash before the stormGarry Carnegie and James Guthrie on the NSW Auditor’s report on 2019 university financials.

Merlin Crossley on the long path to publication. Why it takes so long, why it is tough on young researchers and how it could be done a bit better.

Vann to leave Charles Sturt U

CSU is recruiting for a new vice chancellor. Incumbent Andrew Vann’s contract runs to December 2021

According to the recruitment blurb “the university is now entering a critical period of transformation,” which is something of an understatement.

The university projects a “significant deficit and revenue loss” for this year and is working on a new structure, involving changes to what it teaches and on what campuses courses are taught, (CMM, April 3, May 5, June 9).

This has not gone down well in CSU’s NSW heartland, with local state and federal MPs asking about the university’s finances (CMM June 3).

Sparkling statement

It was International Cleaners Day, yesterday, good-on ATN for noticing

“Our universities could never sparkle as much as they do without all the important people behind the scenes. You might not always see them, but you know they’ve been making a difference,” Australian Technology Network, via Twitter

Tehan acknowledges: more students next year

But how to fund them when there are “huge demands on the budget”

On RN yesterday Education Minister Dan Tehan acknowledged demand for UG places will be up for next year as a result of the COVID-19 jobs turndown. “This is something we will continue to discuss with the university sector.”

Mr Tehan added that the “overwhelming success” of the short-courses the government is funding for people to up-skill during the COVID-crisis, “points a way to how we can work together to make sure we can deal with this extra demand.”

As for more money to fund more UG places, the minister was not for drawing but he did keep coming back to the short-courses, “which point the way to the direction we can go” to meet increase demand. “Understanding, of course,” he added “there are huge demands on the budget.”

So how could the minister pull a places rabbit out of an empty budget hat?

Learned readers suggest two approaches

Perhaps by using the funding foundation of the short courses, which supports places at less than the rate for Commonwealth Supported Places.   The government could argue universities budgeted domestic enrolments on the basis of funded places, so that additional students on top will not need to make a contribution to fixed costs.

Or the government just increases maximum funding for places and leaves it to institutions to allocate them.

One problem with the first is that specifying places per a designated course would require parliamentary approval, which the Opposition could oppose,on general principle.

As for the second, however much more money was provided it would not be enough for HE lobbies and the government would be blamed.

Whatever Mr Tehan has in mind may be revealed on Friday, when he addresses the National Press Club Friday. The subject is,  universities, “crucial role in producing the job-ready graduates that Australia will need to drive its post COVID-19 recovery.”

Spot the difference at Uni Adelaide

There are changes at the Waite Campus

The University of Adelaide’s School of Agriculture, Food and Wine is to have a new three-department structure; Agricultural Science, Wine Science and Food Science.

The old three-department structure was ag science, plant science, plus wine and food science.


Full time at Southern Cross U

It’s all-over for the university’s Football Centre, which includes the Liverpool FC Academy, established there in 2016, (CMM April 7 2016)

The university announced in December it was expanding with a “football excellence programme.”

It was for students to learn to coach and play “the Liverpool Way … delivered under the expert guidance of LFC International Academy accredited coaches.”

But not for long, with the university now stating that, “a review of university operations has highlighted that in the current climate it is unsustainable for us to continue to underwrite its activities.”

Policy mavens Frank Larkins and Ian Marshman name SCU as one of seven universities that do not have reserves to cover predicted shortfalls in international student revenues and will have to, “undertake drastic cost-savings measures,” (CMM May 31).

Staff votes on cuts

Staff at ANU, UWA and WSU are voting on proposals to vary the respective universities enterprise agreements

Managements at all three propose staff take a financial hit to preserve jobs. There are pay-rise freezes on the agenda at the Australian National University and University of Western Australia and a more clement leave-purchase proposal at Western Sydney U.

The ANU branch of the National Tertiary Education Union oppose the proposal there. At Western Sydney U, there is a unity ticket of management and the leadership of both unions, the NTEU and CPSU, on the proposal, although a grass-roots opposition campaign is vocal. At UWA where NTEU leaders worked on terms with management, the opposition “NTEU Fightback” group is calling for a no-vote.

No closing on open access at MIT

Elsevier’s make-nicer strategy stalls

Under new(ish) CEO Kumsal Bayazit the for-profit journal-giant has modified its open access strategy, from adamant opposition to accommodation (CMM November 13 2019). The company has reached agreements across Europe and North America, with one major failure – the University of California network.

Make that two. Now MIT-Elsevier negotiations for a new journal contract are over. MIT appears prepared to accept something along the lines of gold (pay to publish open access). It’s base-line terms for publisher contracts, specifies paying “a fair and sustainable price to publishers for value-added services, based on transparent and cost-based pricing models.”

But MIT also requires no waiver of open access to publish in a journal and content being released to institutional repositories on publication. “Control of scholarship and its dissemination should reside with scholars and their institutions, and aims to ensure that scholarly research outputs are openly and equitably available to the broadest possible audience,” MIT states.

As for resuming negotiations, “We hope to be able to resume productive negotiations if and when Elsevier is able to provide a contract that reflects our community’s needs and values and advances MIT’s mission,” MIT Library Director Chris Bourg says.

Which might happen, “we see MIT’s framework as a strong roadmap for progress of science and the public good. We regret that MIT has decided to end our negotiations at this stage but hope to find the path forward together in the interests of the research communities we both serve,” Elsevier responds.

Or might not, at least for a while. Negotiations on terms for a new subscription-publishing contract between Elsevier and Uni Cal failed over a year ago (CMM March 4 2019) and despite both sides talking about talking more it hasn’t happened.