Spot the flaw

The Rumsfeld Award for January goes to NSW TAFE, which asks, via Twitter, “Is the unknown stopping you from enrolling?”


Curtin U’s MOOCs of the morning

Curtin U adds to its micromasters collection with a new Cisco-supported MOOC series on the Internet of Things (via edX). Iain Murray, Nazanin Mohhammadi, We-Juet Wong, Johannes Herrmann, Aloke Phatak, Valerie Maxville and Eleanor Sandry each teach some of the six units, which start at the end of the month and run to November. Individual units are free but the micromasters credential is available to completers for $599. This is a great deal for people who want to move from micro to complete Curtin electrical engineering masters – the six units are worth 25 per cent of the on-campus course. However a bachelors of engineering is a pre-req for qualifying.

“Verified learners” can also access Cisco Network Academy resources. But not if they are in Cuba or Iran, whose residents for barred from participating by US sanctions.

Ferals for the flick

The University of Otago is backing a campaign to free New Zealand of predators by 2050 – no, this does not refer to Australians, at least not human ones.


Good oil on government

ANZSOG’s 50th title with ANU Press is out – a collection of papers on budget and financial management reform in Australia, Taiwan and China. Its $55 in print and free to download. The ANZ School of Government is getting the word on its work out there. It’s library of 200 case studies of public policy and management is now open access, with teacher notes also available.

The Miles Davis of higher education

The Miles Davis of higher education

“Need to beat the heat today? Pull up a chair, hopefully under the air-con, and revisit Glyn Davis’s cool keynote from the TEQSA 2017 conference ,” TEQSA tweeted Friday. Apart from being cool cats, CMM does not think they are related.

Smaller pay rises and existing arrangements in enterprise agreements

The MYEFO funding cuts mean peak pay has passed, says higher education consultant Andrew Dempster, who suggests that universities still to reach new enterprise agreements will not match last year’s salary increases. 2017 pay deals ranged from 2.4 per cent per annum at Swinburne U to 1.5 per cent at Curtin U, with an 1.9 per cent median for a staffer on $100 000, across the eleven universities who settled on terms.

“As CFOs process the real and potential impacts of the cuts and factor them into university budgets, it’s difficult to see wage outcomes achieved last year holding up throughout 2018,” he says.

Otherwise it looks like being business as usual, with managements not pushing for simplified employment conditions in agreements. While there was tough talk 12 months back, a range of universities did not push the National Tertiary Education Union to make it easier to discipline staff and to change working arrangements. “The takeout for universities bargaining this year is that the productivity gains are there to be made but they won’t come easily,” Mr Dempster predicts.

But this does not mean managements will leave the union unchallenged. Dempster expects to see more universities engaging direct with staff, by putting issues to workforce votes, “rather than relying on claims and assertions made at the bargaining table.”


Sandra Eades starts next month at the University of Melbourne as associate dean (Indigenous) in the Centre for Epidemiology & Biostatistics & School of Population & Global Health.

Stephen Kirchner is director of the United States Study Centre’s trade and investment programme and Ashley Townsend is confirmed as director of its foreign policy, defence and strategy programme.

Barbara Miles is the ANU’s first VP of Advancement. She will join from the University of British Columbia in May.

Dean of built environment at UNSW Helen Lochhead is the new chair of the state government’s Sydney South Planning Panel, she has also joined the NSW Planning Assessment Commission.

They are the champions

UTS is the 2017 sport champion university, with eight gold medals at the Australian University Games and first placings at the university triathalon championships. Bond U is the per capita champion (wins by enrolments).

Next policy prop is up to unis

Universities are keen to get back into the policy game, which Education Minister Simon Birmingham shut down via MYEFO, replacing demand driven funding for undergraduate places with a future system allocating student growth according to metrics decided by the government. Universities Australia president Margaret Gardner says she wants her members to participate in a national debate on the future of post school education, which she will kick off at UA’s March conference.

Understandably so. Higher education veterans unhappily remember the old days when universities and discipline groups that lobbied longest did best and public servants allocating places on a best guess of national need basis.

But a bare decade after the Bradley Review, which proposed the demand driven system, there is not a ravenous appetite for another full-scale inquiry. Instead, policy people suggest the Business Council of Australia’s October paper could be the basis for a new tertiary education-funding model. The BCA proposes a post-secondary sector, which students access via “a lifelong skills account” (consisting of a subsidy and an income contingent loan).

Good-o, but even BCA plan admirers acknowledge the government will not want to sell the scheme, what with its last three change proposals being howled down. If the higher education community wants policy change it is going to have to come up with proposals and build a coalition in support.