“Alight at Monash for university”

The University of Melbourne wants the station near it on the new metro rail being built called (wait for it) University. CMM thought this was settled way back, when a learned reader proposed naming the university stop after a former vice chancellor, General Sir John Monash.

Simon Birmingham says there’s no plan B but watch-out for a Plan A Plus

The Education Minister says he will put his higher education changes to the parliament as soon as possible and, “there’s no Plan B in the backpocket.”.

But it seems there is another plan in the minister’s mind. The senator said once his package was in place he wanted to “get on (with) working cooperatively with the sector in other areas of reform, in terms of how they become more efficient and adaptable in the future; how they engage in innovation in a better way; how they indeed modernise.” Senator Birmingham also mentioned the need for a change involving to the standard teaching-research academic employment model.

“In a modern world, where we see modern universities teaching record student numbers – far beyond what was ever envisaged when many of these industrial arrangements were put in place – universities should be able to recognise the reality that not every one of their academics is actually undertaking research, and they should be able to structure their industrial arrangements in a way that reflects the reality.”

Certainly, Senator Birmingham says, he wants ,”academics who are undertaking valued research (to) have the time and scope to be able to do so … But for those where the focus is on teaching and learning, that should also be reflected in the way things are arranged, too.”

Hard for vice chancellors who are pushing teaching-only roles to argue with that, but as for staff happy on traditional teaching-research-service models, not so much. Probably not at all.

Uni Tas sets course for Sydney

The Australian Maritime College will offer two masters at the National Maritime Museum at Darling Harbour-side Sydney

From next year the University of Tasmania’s AMC will offer a masters in maritime engineering and an MBA in maritime and logistics management at the NMA. Sydney based students will do project and laboratory work at the AMC’s Launceston base. This, museum CEO Kevin Sumption says, “will provide unique opportunities for the museum to use our historic fleet, collection and stories to connect with the future leaders of our maritime industry.”

But why the museum? “Darling Harbour is an iconic location for the national maritime sector and Sydney is the centre of operations for the Royal Australian Navy, offering AMC prominent exposure to recreational, commercial and naval activities in the area,” U Tas states.

That’s not a gauntlet, this is a gauntlet!

With enterprise bargaining stalled at James Cook U management and union are laying down challenges  

At JCU the university says it’s pay offer (which it did not detail yesterday) is “fair and reasonable” given it is based on the federal government’s funding index. Plus it is offering “generous entitlements.” DVC Services and Resources Tricia Brand says, after 41 meetings, “we want staff to have their say on the proposed enterprise agreement.”

Yesterday the university told CMM “We have asked the unions for their written feedback on the updated enterprise agreement that we produced on the back of negotiations Tuesday, and we have asked for their support for the proposed enterprise agreement to be put to staff so they can have their say.”

Last night the NTEU replied that members had resolved to “campaign against any push for a non-union agreement, and force management back to the negotiation table.”

Management’s refusal to schedule another bargaining meeting and their indication that staff should be asked to vote on an agreement that contains an insulting pay offer has only strengthened the resolve of our members to escalate our industrial action,” union branch president Jonathan Strauss said.

Dr Strauss called the university’s “6.6% pay offer by 30 June 2021” “cut-price” compared to the 10 per cent agreed at neighbouring CQU.

The union promises, at this stage, low-level stop works.

This is a bigger deal than it may seem. If the university does put its offer to a vote and loses the cost of a deal will inevitably increase. However if the proposal is supported by staff the union’s standing on campus will take a big hit.

Glyn Davis’s “simple plan” for demand driven funding

The UniMelb VC says there is a better way to organise where undergraduates study

The “Melbourne model” of publicly assisted undergraduate degree-plus professional masters will go under the government’s proposal for student-centric masters funding. But that’s not the big reason University of Melbourne VC Glyn Davis thinks it is a stupid scheme.

As well as anthology of operational issues, the scheme is “just another marginal measure to deal with the great unmentionable,” (except by Group of Eight vice chancellors, CMM adds) “Commonwealth concern about the cost of the demand driven system.

“To avoid an argument about the affordability of the demand driven system, government instead finds savings in the margins – another shaving of funding rates, a lift in student debt, cutting the number of supported places for graduates.”

“These are incremental savings designed to avoid dealing with the real issue. They are cuts you make when you do not want to confront the underlying challenges of paying for the demand driven system. If the demand driven system is unaffordable, we should say so and agree a sensible way to preserve equity and quality yet contain overall spending,” he said yesterday.

And Professor Davis just happens to have a sensible way, which he explained yesterday at the AFR conference.

“The Commonwealth should negotiate a Commonwealth Supported Places envelope with each university. This would allocate a maximum number of CSPs available to an institution, following a dialogue about community needs, local labour markets and university goals.

In return for accepting constraints on further growth in domestic student numbers, such institutions would be allowed to allocate their Commonwealth places in whatever configuration works best.

Let each university find its optimal mix of sub-bachelor, diploma, bachelor and graduate programs, refining these over-time in response to market signals, including areas of national priority and workforce demand.

Such an arrangement would require no special deals, but empower every university to produce a course profile that best serves their public.

For institutions in communities not yet at a 40 per cent participation rate, the demand driven system must continue its important work. Outer metropolitan institutions, and those in regional Australia, should continue growing but also be empowered to configure their load in ways that best serve their area. If more sub-bachelor pathways make sense for one institution, and more graduate programs for another, let them so decide and act.

This simple policy change preserves the objective of the demand driven system, while dealing with its financial implications. It would allow each institution to configure according to its own strategy without undermining Department of Finance budget estimates.”

The government call them “compacts”.

Like with like

The University of Western Australia Business School Board has new members, much like the old ones

Shell Australia’s chairman Zoe Yujnovich joins the board replacing a member who is standing down, former Shell Australia Chairman Andrew Smith. Incoming Wesfarmers managing director Rob Scott replace present Wesfarmers MD Richard Goyder. And CEO-elect of grain coop CBH Group Jimmy Wilson rejoins the board.

Watch for a win-win in the west

After Tuesday’s defeat in the Fair Work Commission the National Tertiary Education Union needs a quick win-win in the west. They might get it at Edith Cowan U

Enterprise bargaining negotiations are close to concluding at Edith Cowan where management has offered flat $1400 payments for all staff next January and in January 2021, plus two increases, of 1.5 per cent and 1.6 per cent.

The university has also followed the lead of universities that have already struck deals by agreeing to the union call to extend 17 per cent superannuation to fixed contract staff, who now receive the legislated 9 per cent. The major outstanding matter is conduct and performance matters. In line with other universities ECU management is looking for a simplified system, stripping out the complex codification of procedures the union prefers. However the deal at Deakin U offers a model which may appeal, while review committees are replaced there by an individual acceptable to union and management, the principle of independent review remains (CMM May 16).

The National Tertiary Education Union is unlikely to fight hard on the issue at ECU. On Tuesday, the Fair Work Commission backed Murdoch U, which had applied to cancel the previous enterprise agreement there, which effectively stops the union using the wages and conditions it set as a basis for new negotiations. This was a big loss for the union and it needs to demonstrate it is still capable in WA of securing deals through constructive negotiations.