Brace for impact

University of Adelaide management is starting staff consultations on a new strategic plan. Good use of planning resources not needed for the merger that never was.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning, David Myton examines a new report that contends investment in human capital is a ‘no regrets’ policy

La Trobe holds the line on teacher educ restructure

Education academics at La Trobe U continue to campaign against management’s plan to spill anything up to 40 of 54 jobs in the school of education and restructure its teaching at regional campuses. Management says government requirements and declining enrolments “threaten the sustainability” of the school.

Academics respond that staff will lose jobs and students will be worse off and say they have proposed a better plan, “our approach would ensure that the quality of education delivered by the university did not decrease from our current high standards, or introduce a period of destabilisation of the school as staff are ousted.  In addition, many of our ideas would either save money or generate additional income, says SoE academic, and union official Cathleen Farrelly. But she adds management is not interested.

To which L T U responds, ““we are proposing changes to the way we offer our teacher education qualifications and are currently consulting directly with our staff to gain their feedback on our proposal.”

To boldly bill

Barely six months since the Australian Space Agency launched it has landed on the serious business of cost recovery. A draft statement sets out goverment charges for activities ranging from $5979 for assessing an overseas payload permit to $257 000 for looking at a launch facility licence. The agency accepts that some charges may be too much for small businesses and academics and is asking for feedback. Still, the feds are not going to need a starship to transport the cash, this year’s fee income is $20 100 – all up.

Sound familiar to you? Sounds to CMM like the feds plan to bill higher education providers for the costs of government admin of loan schemes, (CMM November 15).

Finally, MPs notice the need for research open access

The Europeans are taking on the for-profit journal establishment, (have a look at Plan S), here, however, not so much. But at least the recent House of Reps inquiry (CMM November 27) into research admin wants something done.

“While there are moves internationally and locally within Australia to shift to open scholarship, Australia lacks a national coordinated approach,” the committee reports. It endorses a proposal from the Australian Open Access Strategy Group for a five-year funded body to establish an open-access strategy.

The Council of Australian University Librarians and colleagues already have a F.A.I.R. ((Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) Policy Statement, which would make “an essential foundation for any open access policy statement.”

Good-o, but will it happen and would it work? Probably not, unless the government backs it as a matter of policy.

Funding agencies are already in favour of open access, but only up to a point. The NHMRC, “strongly encourages researchers to take reasonable steps to share research data and associated metadata arising from NHMRC supported research” (CMM January 30 2018). The ARC says research it funds must be open-access within 12 months, unless “legal or contractual obligations” prevent (CMM August 30 2017).

CAUL estimates that 60 per cent of research outputs held in university repositories  is open access. But CMM suspects the 40 per cent that isn’t includes much STEM and medical research in areas where the science moves fastest

Uni Wollogong ed export award

A University of Wollongong subsidiary has won the education category at the Australian Export Awards. UoW Global Enterprises operates the university’s campus in Dubai and the UoW colleges in Australia and Hong Kong. Last month UoW expanded into Malaysia.

The teaching workforce: UTS conference to explore how it has changed and why it matters

UTS is hosting a conference day Wednesday on “the emergence of education-focused academics in universities.” It will focus on a report from the now abolished Office of Learning and Teaching on education-focused academics, both teaching fellows and casuals. “Non-secure staff now comprise at least 46% of the FTE academic workforce in Australia; the bulk of face-to-face teaching is now delivered by casually-employed academics,” conference convenors state. Details here.

Get out of town! How to convince, and not, internationals to enrol in the regions

Education Minister Dan Tehan asks universities how to get international students to study on regional campuses (CMM October 10) and the IRU lobby has a plan, which includes the feds butting-out.

“There is no place for directing students to particular destinations, which would only have the negative impact of deterring students from coming to Australia at all. Amendments to the visa system to create incentives for students to study in particular locations could be considered but need to work with the broader immigration framework,” the Innovative Research Universities argue in a new position paper.

Instead, the lobby suggests all-of-industry approaches, including state and local governments should develop regional strategies – IRU points to the Queensland study cluster strategy and Study Geelong.  It also proposes universities with city and country campuses create opportunities for students to move across their networks. There is also a challenge for regional universities, with figures in this plan showing RUN institutions having 12 000 international students at metro campuses, compared to 7 000 outside cities.

The IRU also argues more research infrastructure in regions would attract international postgrads. “Research students are primarily attracted by potential supervisors and research expertise, relevance to the research issue, rather than the location or even the institution itself.

However, the IRU cautions against any specific sell of regional study. “Promoting areas of Australia as ‘regional’ to international (or indeed Australian) students could well prove counterproductive. Prospective students need to learn about the particular cities and institutions and what they offer. Any sense of encouragement to areas that are implied to be less attractive or interesting but needing a boost will not be effective.”

Seats of their own

Three new Victorian MPs are graduates of the University of Melbourne’s pathways to politics for women programme. It’s for women interested in elected office but not versed in the process, (CMM March 16 2017). Juliana Addison and Kat Theophanous have won seats for Labor and Bridget Vallence for the Liberals.

The unis that rate for tech

The new Times Higher discipline rankings for engineering and technology are out. The list of 900 or so institutions around the world uses the same methodology of THE’s all-of-university ranking and covers multiple engineering disciplines.

The list is not the usual Group of Eight then daylight, with a couple of universities that have strong specialisations scoring higher than older and richer competitors.

Some seven ANZ universities that make the global top hundred; Monash U (=63), Uni Melbourne (70), UNSW (71), ANU (=76), Uni Queensland (85), Uni Wollongong (87), Uni Sydney (93).

Institutions that follow are grouped alphabetically in bands.

101-125: Uni Adelaide, UTS,

126-150: Uni SA, Victoria U, UWA

151-175: Deakin U, Griffith U

176-200: RMIT

201-250: Uni Auckland, Curtin U, Edith Cowan U, Uni Newcastle, QUT, Swinburne U

251-300: CQU

301-400: James Cook U, Massey U, U Tas

401-500: Murdoch U, USQ, Uni Waikato, Western Sydney U

501-600: Uni Canterbury

601-800: Auckland UT


Director of the Australian Synchrotron, Andrew Peele, and RMIT research fellow, Victor Del Rio are on a panel of six scientists to advise on the development of a synchrotron in Mexico, which will have an, “order of magnitude in power improvements.”