UNSW calmer on student conduct

UNSW has toned down the proposed update of its student code of conduct. In last week’s draft the university had a clause in Section 3.3 (“Equity, respect and safety”) stating, students must “express political and religious views in a lawful manner which do not risk the safety of individuals and/or unreasonably impinge on university business or the reasonable use of university resources.” (CMM October 25). Funnily enough, students kicked up. The clause is gone in the current draft.

The case for uni: QILTs got it covered

The QILT graduate outcome survey, covering 2015  graduates through to 2018 is out this morning, demonstrating the improving employment power of degrees as the echo of the GFC falls silent. As Catriona Jackson from Universities Australia comments, a “university degree expands your horizons, challenges you and remains one of the surest ways to find fulltime work, even when the labour market has been doing it tough,” Scroll down for details of the new work from the utterly admirable Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching.

Deal definitely done at the University of Newcastle

Management and the National Tertiary Education Union at the University of Newcastle have reached enterprise bargaining agreement, with the Fair Work Commission helping the parties over the line yesterday.

The Community and Public Sector Union is believed to have already ticked the terms and last week management thought the NTEU was also on-side. It wasn’t, with that union and management disagreeing over what was agreed on academic probation and managing staff performance (CMM October 25) However yesterday a deal was definitely done, “we thank the Fair Work Commission for its assistance to resolve outstanding matters with the NTEU in Newcastle this afternoon, and bargaining has now concluded,” acting vice chancellor Kevin Hall told staff yesterday.

The terms now go to NTEU members and the union’s national leadership for approval, with an all staff vote to follow. It should reach the Far Work Commission for ratification before year end.

But what was the FWC doing conciliating and informally arbitrating, it sounds like to CMM. Now where has CMM heard that before ?

It wasn’t us

For all the seasonal sun, the mood on North Terrace is frosty, with University of Adelaide management taking to the pages of The Advertiser to explain they had no overweening ambition in merger discussions with the University of South Australia. Chancellor Kevin Scarce and VC Peter Rathjen, state representations that “we were seeking a takeover and that we wanted our leadership to dominateare not true. They go on to make the case for a “truly great and well-run, merged university.” Watch out Flinders U.

NSW Science awards announced

Nick Talley is NSW Scientist of the year. The University of Newcastle neurogastroenterologist is awarded $60 000. Professor Talley is the fourth UniNewcastle winner in the award’s 11 years.

University of Sydney researchers also did well at the NSW Premier’s Prizes for Science and Engineering, winning five of the other nine $5000 awards which went to;

Maths, earth sciences, chemistry, physics: Dietmar Müller (UniSydney). Biological sciences: Alex McBratney UniSydney. Medical biology: Richard Harvey (UNSW). Engineering/ICT: Branka Vucetic (UniSydney). Energy innovation: Xiaojing (Jeana) Hao (UNSW). Early career researcher: James (Mac) Shine (UniSyd). Innovation: Anthony Weiss (UniSydney). Innovation in public sector science and engineering: Cathy Offord (Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust). Innovation in science and maths teaching: Heidi Hammond (East Hills Girls Technology High School)

Vice Chancellors unite to condemn Birmingham research veto

Universities have combined to condemn former education minister Simon Birmingham’s veto of 11 Australian Research Council recommended grants (CMM Monday and yesterday). “A ministerial veto decision in the research grants system erodes global confidence in Australia’s research program and our reputation for research excellence. … Such a veto also undermines academic freedom, by opening the door to any minister deciding they don’t like a research topic – irrespective of its merits – that could transform knowledge in a field,” Universities Australia stated after yesterday’s meeting of vice chancellors.

The VCs chose to focus on the minister, not pursuing La Trobe U VC John Dewar’s complaint that “the minister’s actions were concealed, both by the minister himself and by the ARC,” (CMM Monday). “ARC staff have also been placed in the invidious position of having to give feedback to applicants whose projects were recommended for funding but then vetoed – without a public explanation from the minister,” UA stated.

The Economist approves

Oh good, another ranking – todays comes from The Economist, which thinks Australia has just about the best run economy in the world but is less impressed with MBAs here. This year three universities make the list, same as last Melbourne Business School (23) UoQ (38) and the Macquarie Graduate School of Management (79).

The stats show it: degrees deliver opportunity (but not as much money for women)

The Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching employment and income graduate survey results are out and they demonstrate the power of education. These results cover the class of 2015,  who all enrolled during the demand driven system and they show that education expands opportunity, with a larger class of graduates getting work they studied for and earning more.

Employment:  QILT reports 67 per cent of 2015 bachelor-level graduates were in full-time employment four months after completing their course, but three years later 89 per cent were working FT. The growth for postgrad coursework completers was 81 per cent in FT work in 2015, rising to 92 per cent in ‘18.

By 2018 overall employment of ’15 graduates averaged 92.4 per cent for all universities. The range was 86.4 per cent for those from UniMelbourne to 96.7 per cent for those of Murdoch U.

Earnings: In 2015, among graduates in full-time employment four months after their course, the median salary level was $56,700. Three years the median salary level of the same cohort of graduates in full-time employment had risen by 23 per cent to $70,000.

Gender gap: QILT demonstrates women grads earn less, both overall, and within disciplines. “Notwithstanding research suggesting that females tend to graduate from fields of education with lower salary levels, female graduates within fields of education or study areas still earn less than their male counterparts both immediately upon graduation and three years following graduation. … Beyond subject choice, the gender gap in median graduate salaries persists due to a range of other factors such as occupation, age, experience, personal factors and possible inequalities within workplaces,” QILT states.

The same applies to postgraduates; with the exception of engineering, agriculture and environmental studies, women from the class of 2015 were earning less than men three years later.

Skills: Some 76 per cent of all employed graduates reported their qualification prepared them well or very well for their job. QILT adds, “even if graduates are not yet working in their area of content specialisation, they acquired core skills as part of their university qualification that were relevant to an effective engagement with the workplace.”

University-specific outcomes: “It is important to acknowledge that factors beyond the quality of teaching, careers advice and the like, such as course offerings, the composition of the student population and variations in state/territory and regional labour markets, might also impact on employment outcomes. Nevertheless, it appears there is differentiation among universities with some achieving higher rates of full-time employment over the medium-term than others.”

By 2018, universities with high full-time employment rates for UGs included Charles Sturt University, (93.6 per cent), Murdoch University, (93.2 per cent), UTS (92.7 per cent), ANU (92.2 per cent) and UniSA (91.8 per cent).

Universities with median full-time undergraduate salaries between $75-$78 000 three years out included Charles Sturt U, UNSW, CQU, ANU and UTS.

OUA improving

Open Universities Australia has just turned 25 and reports enrolments are improving, with student starts up 17 per cent, YTD last-month. (CMM September 17). They need to be, newly available federal figures, show OA’s EFTSL was 7,369 in 2017, down 24 per cent on 2016. The 2016 figure was down 15 per cent on 2015. There were drops in all discipline areas last year, except education, which was up 9 per cent.

Appointments, achievements

Naomi Dempsey is Victoria U’s new PVC Students. She is promoted from student services director at VU.

Curtin U planetary scientist Katarina Miljkovic receives a L’Oréal-UNESCO Women in Science Fellowship.

Xuemei Bai from ANU has won the Volvo Environment Prize for her research on the causes and consequences of urbanisation.

Virginia Haussegger is the ACT Australian of the Year. She leads the University of Canberra’s 50/50 by 2030 Foundation which works for gender equality in public-sector leadership.

Dolt of the day

Is CMM who left Swinburne U out of yesterday’s report on attrition stats in the email edition. The Swinburne figure is on the website now.