Good-on Monash U

The university is helping 11 Afghan youth leaders and women’s rights activists, evacuated with family members from Kabul. “We have an opportunity and a responsibility to support them through this difficult time,” DVC E Sharon Pickering tells the university community in a fund-raising message to staff.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Susan Blackley and Lisa Tee (both Curtin U) suggest students like campus life and blended learning is not a complete substitute. This week’s selection in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

plus Angel Calderon (RMIT) on the new QS employability ranking – universities with industry-aligned missions shine.

and Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on the true aim of a university education. Not every student has to be expert in everything but they have to be an expert in something.

SURFs up on northern rivers

It’s Southern Cross U’s turn for funding from the feds’ Strategic University Research Fund

The university has $2m for the Northern Rivers Regional Circular Economy Accelerator. It will be based at SCU Lismore and be “a broker” to get circular economy things happening.

This SURF is closer to water with waves than other funded projects, micro-processing at Uni Southern Queensland, Toowomba and a digital manufacturing hub at La Trobe U, Bendigo, (CMM September 20).

Ready and set to go on international arrivals in NSW – again

Some 500 fully vaccinated students could arrive in December, under a state government -uni plan approved by the Commonwealth

It appears in-line with the one the state government and the NSW public universities had ready to roll in June – which included a custom-built portal for international students, agreed allocations of numbers per institution and priority lists of students by discipline and stage of course (CMM June 15).

If students arrive in December they will serve their quarantine in a 650-bed COVID-kitted accommodation in Redfern.

The announcement comes just about bang-on the anniversary of NSW Jobs and Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres (in charge of the state quarantine programme) announcing that NSW could be open to students, “sooner rather than later,” (CMM September 24 2020).

No faulting the state government for tenacity.

Elsevier positive on pre-prints

The for-profit publisher announces that pre-prints on one of its subsidiaries, SSRN, are now cited on another of its subsidiaries, database Scopus

“This development comes in reaction to feedback and requests from the researcher community, as demand for and use of preprints has jumped in recent year”.

Apparently, there is an 148 per cent increase in researchers publishing preprints on SRN over five years, with fastest growth in medical science and economics.

There’s also a bit in the announcement somebody should have told the Australian Research Council before it introduced (its now-ended) ban on citing pre-prints in grant applications (CMM August 20 and umpteen subsequent stories). “As evidence of how important they are becoming, preprints are increasingly included in formal evaluation processes for grant proposals and faculty reviews,” Elsevier states.

More Vic Gov money for Monash U

Its $17.5m for Victoria’s Health Innovation Centre, which will include a cardiovascular research accelerator

No, this is not old news, you might be thinking of the separate $21m from the state government’s HE State Investment Fund for capex on Monash U’s medicines manufacturing innovation centre, cancer therapies hub and digital manufacturing start-ups (CMM September 2).

The Andrews Government has been dishing out dosh to the state’s public universities since May – to the particular pleasure of vice chancellors, who are happier with Sprint Street than Capital Hill.  Its cost-effective coverage, with the state government praised for a package which would barely cover half a year of ARC/NMHRC grants.

Flinders U faces allegations it underpaid casual staff

The campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union has notified a dispute with the university, claiming three kinds of breaches of pay rates set by the enterprise agreement.

One alleges incorrect pay rates for tutorials, “which involve the exercise of autonomous academic judgement.” The second is the same for marking that requires academic judgement. The third claim is that casual academic staff are paid for less marking time than continuing and fixed term staff.

These issues are similar to those raised by the union in disputes at other universities which have accepted that casuals were not paid the enterprise-bargaining specified rate for jobs and are making good. The problems are generally due to casual academic staff being paid the lower rate for work, which applies when tasks are routine,  in cases of work where academic judgement is required.

The NTEU wants Flinders U to invite casual academics teaching second semester ’19 and later to seeks a review of tutorial and marking payments, “if they suspect underpayment.” The union calls for any such review of rates paid for actual work to be done by an independent party and; “all staff responsible for contracting casual academic staff or administering the employment relationship will undertake mandatory training on application of the casual academic paid rates, with a particular focus on tutorial and marking payments.”

CMM asked Flinders U for comment and was told the union’s letter was received but “lacks sufficient details and we have since requested further information from the NTEU, so we can properly consider their concerns. Flinders always encourages and enables staff members to raise concerns individually or through the NTEU by providing relevant information.”

Dolt of the day

There was outrage Friday over the CMM email edition referring to the Australian Political Studies Association as the APScienceAssociation.

Cash for campus vax a start

Monash U incentives for staff to be vaccinated are welcomed by the state branch of the National Tertiary Education Union (CMM September 24).

In particular, the university’s promised $150 payment for casuals, “is a step in the right direction,” Victorian assistant state secretary Sarah Robert says.

However, she adds that a “nationally coordinated approach” to campus vaccination is needed.

“The Commonwealth government has vacated the space, allowing for institutions to select their own approach. This will mean inconsistencies in both the staff and the student experience across our institutions, which is unfair and unnecessary.

The Government needs to immediately call consultative meetings with all stakeholders in the sector to set guidelines for vaccination and return to campus,” she says.