Where the rubber hits the research road

Cooperative Research Centre, IMOVE (transport tech) offers $1m to (ahem) “accelerate the development of ground-breaking technology, products and services.” Two grants are on offer.

A rounding error to be sure for the vast translational research programmes – but at least the money isn’t shared with expensive partners. There is, “no requirement to partner with an academic institution.”

Western Sydney world number one in new global development ranking

Times Higher Education rates universities on their contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals

WSU is followed by Uni Tasmania (global fifth) and RMIT (seventh) in the all-goals category, which is good, but not as good as Canada – with four world top tens.

There are another six Aus institutions in the top 50 , UTS (=14), UNSW (=18), Monash U (21), Uni Newcastle (28), Uni Sunshine Coast (=29) and Macquarie University (39)

All up Australia has 15 universities in the world top 100.

In Features this morning Angel Calderon puts the Australian performance in context HERE

Latelab can’t come too soon

It will be at Swinburne and no it’s not already behind schedule

It’s part of plan for the Hawthorn campus, scheduled for ’25 – there’s a latelab already but the new one will be 20 per cent bigger.

The lab is a place for students to study and socialise, with space to eat and cook for themselves and do it all when suits, 24/seven.

Smart move Swinbunnies – universities all bang-on about getting students back on campus. The challenge is making people welcome when it suits their studying, working and private lives. It’s why libraries are now the place to go. As campus planning expert Samantha Hall puts it, “students want flexibility in how they learn: alone at a secluded desk; alone together at large tables; group work with a white board; casually catching up with friends over coffee; late night sessions after work,” (CMM October 10 2o21).


In NSW 2000 uni staff weren’t paid all they earned last year

CMM’s ”for fudge sake”” correspondent files 

The NSW Auditor General reports that public universities in the state made $110m in provisions for “wage remediation” last year – more than double the 2021 figure.

And there were new cases, involving 2000 people at six universities.

In 2022 ! Years after problems, particularly in Victoria began to be raised.

The Auditor General, being celebrated for whatever passes for trusting natures among accountants, attributes the problem to “complexity in enterprise agreements and inconsistent interpretation of the terms within those agreements.”

The AG recommends universities, conduct a comprehensive assessment of their employment agreements and historical pay practises including,

* “payroll system configuration for different wage types”

* “adequacy of manual payroll processes and controls” and

* “interpretation of enterprise agreements on employee entitlements”

If any aren’t on to this they might also want to prepare an explanation for the Fair Work Ombudsman, who takes a dim view of underpayments.

La Trobe U proposes more: pay and working hours both

Plus there is a cash for super trade-off

Vice Chancellor John Dewar tells staff that after seven months of “productive negotiations” all enterprise bargaining proposals are discussed.

including pay: the university offers 13.6 per cent, 2023-25, on top of the 2 per cent administrative pay increase  awarded last July.  But 3.6 per cent of the 15.6 per cent is to cover “a proposed adjustment to work hours.” Management wants to increase them by 3.57 per cent, from January, to bring LT U, “in line with the rest of the Victorian HE sector.”

and security for some casuals: there are 60 FTE positions for academic casuals in the form of (unspecified) continuing positions and fixed term fellowships

plus a cash for super trade-off: staff can elect to reduce their 17 per cent super to that which the rest of us get (now 11 per cent) and take the difference as pay.


Just the facts in black and white

CMM’s prize for annual reports goes to Western Sydney University (CMM yesterday)

It’s free of glossy shots of students with big dollar dentistry and light-on for the spin that many universities around Australia mistake for an account of what they got up to. WSU’s is so unadorned it could come from Queensland, where university annual reports are all praiseworthy plain.

Political pain of student debt

The National Tertiary Education Union has crunched the debt numbers to demonstrate how HELP does precisely not that to new graduates chances of buying a home

The study’s worst cases (and they are grand on the gloom) are based on loan indexation and the previous government’s thumping increases to student contributions to business and HASS degrees.

“Our modelling shows that many students graduating under these new higher fees will likely take decades to pay off their … debt. It is inevitable that the number of people who are simply unable to pay off their debt over their lifetime will also skyrocket,” the union warns.

This is a big political problem for the government. Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi has long been on the case and Dai Lee, independent member for the once rock-solid Labor outer Sydney seat of Fowler, has raised it in the Reps. But the government has no option but to stick with HECS as is. Concessions on repayments or paying a bigger share of Commonwealth Supported Places are not budget options – have you seen the price of submarines?

Plus there is the equity argument, that Education Minister Jason Clare made well on Sydney Radio 2GB yesterday. “If we were to make a change to this today, it would cost taxpayers money. It would cost the people who are your listeners, who may not have a university degree, they would have to cop the bill. And it would not mean one extra dollar in the pockets of students today to help with those things, like paying for food and rent.”

Lest anyone miss the point Mr Clare added,  “the cost of degrees is important, but the cost of kids in western Sydney missing out in going to university at all is a massive problem. And if I’ve got more money to invest in higher education, that’s where I want it to go, to more kids from poor backgrounds to go to uni.”

It could be an existential one for universities Universities Australia’s Catriona Jackson has been making the case for HELP since inflation pushed up the debt indexation rate, explaining how the loan system works well for individuals and Australia. She was doing it yesterday, on ABC Radio in Cairns, “we have a system that balances the contribution of the student and the taxpayer. We’ve been able to democratise and open up universities to a hugely larger number of people – that’s been really good for the country,” she said.

Ms Jackson also pointed to the previous government’s reductions in what the Commonwealth contributes to the cost of HASS and business degrees – leaving students to pay more.

But what never comes up in such discussions is why universities don’t reduce what they charge, lest prospective students decide degrees may not be value for money – and switch to VET, or do a course with Google or Amazon – or (way worse than any choice) not study at all.

If the price of study itself becomes an issue universities will have a lot more explaining to do.

ANU payrise: what’s on offer depends on who you ask

The university offers a “cumulative pay increase” of 16.99 per cent over four years

“In other words” Chief People Officer Kate Wittenden is at pains to make clear, “your salary will be almost 17 per cent higher on the first pay day of 2026 than it was in January 2023.”

The offer includes the 3.5 per cent paid in February, with four more increases to come through to January ’26. Plus there will one off payments of $1250 and $1000, depending on pay grade, when the agreement kicks-in.

To all of which the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union does not say “stuff” nor “and nonsense” but that appears the general idea.

According to the union’s Lachlan Clohesy and Milan Pintos-Lopez the new 12.5 per cent annualises at 3.2 per cent a year, “among the worst in the sector in percentage terms if accepted.

Union members are now voting on protected industrial action, “if you haven’t, hopefully this low ball offer will serve as additional motivation to vote,” they tell members.

VC pay: “nothing over the top” says minister

Education Minister Jason Clare was asked about VC pay rises while universities are making losses, on Sydney Radio 2GB yesterday

“They earn a lot of money, a lot more money than I do, or you do. I want to make sure that they’re paid a decent wage but nothing over the top,” he replied.

Good-o but how pray is he to do that?

And if he doesn’t (hard to see how he can) union activists and Greens MPs will helpfully remind him.

And if he doesn’t (hard to see how he can) union activists and Greens MPs will helpfully remind him.

Appointment, achievements

Dieter Hochuli (Uni Sydney) and David Keith (UNSW) are awarded Gold Medals by the Ecological Society of Australia

Stephen Rodda will join UNSW as inaugural PVC Industry and Innovation. He moves from Uni Adelaide.