Position open: will suit the crazy-brave

The Australian Research Council is in the market for a chief research officer

“You will be a flexible and collaborative leader who is prepared to take calculated risks to inspire confidence in a changing environment,” is the pitch. After Jason Clare’s demolition of much of the ARC edifice  last week, it’s maybe a matter of less “changing” than starting from scratch, on research performance metrics.


There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

The Australian Collaborative Education Network Board on quality outcomes of work integrated learning and why it must involve students. New in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in learning and teaching

plus Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on why knowing stuff matters and why Google isn’t everything.

and Frank Larkins (Uni Melbourne) on the WA public universities 2021 financials – they had a very good year.

with Mahsood Shah (Swinburne U) on the message in international student satisfaction survey scores. Institutions must do better.

Regulator warns: COVID impact not over yet

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency expects international enrolments will be down 25 per cent on 2020 levels by 2025

“While initial restrictions and border closures have ended, emerging variants pose threats, including, staff and student absences due to illness, the effects of long-COVID, concerns about face-to-face engagement and the impacts of pandemic workplace restrictions on work integrated learning,” the regulator warns in its 2022-2026 corporate plan.

“The financial viability of many providers has been challenged, with impacts yet to be fully realised,” TEQSA states.

TEQSA also predicts new products and providers over the next ten years, working “in specialised fields or in new markets that have traditionally been under0serviced by larger institutions. Online, offshore and third party offerings may increasingly challenge more traditional face-to-face, on campus learning, teaching and research and support services.”

Uni Melbourne expanding in India

Aus uni ambitions are not on the formal agenda for the Australia-India Leadership Dialogue tomorrow – but they will be talked about

In India, News18 reports  the Uni Melbourne will establish a “micro-campus” next year offering joint degrees taught in India and Aus, micro-credentials and “professional courses.” Student in India will be taught by staff from Australia and Indian academics.

Uni Melbourne DVC I Michael Wesley is quoted as saying the university wants to reach student groups separate to those that travel to Australia.

The micro-campus appears in-line with what Uni Melbourne describes as its “blended academy” model, offering “innovative curriculums” which it quality-controls.

Uni Melbourne announced in April a diploma and bachelor of education to be taught with Savitribai Phule Pune University.

Charles Darwin reports underpaying staff

Back in March CDU announced an “issue” that may have led to casual staff being underpaid

An investigation would take 12 months to complete but any underpayments discovered would be “rectified,” was the word then,

Underpayments must have been easier identified than expected because CDU discretely reports (p65 of the Annual Report’s financial statements) an “initial estimate” of underpayments over six years of $2m to $4m.

The cause is staff being paid for one hour, when the minimum was three (it’s not stated but this is probably required under the university’s enterprise agreement). This particular problem is now fixed and CDU is reviewing records to determine “a more accurate underpayment liability and rectify the issue.”

It’s a common problem – most recently, Charles Sturt U and Newcastle U both admitted similar underpayments (CMM August 31).


International grads welcome to fill skills gap

Education Minister Jason Clare announces increased post study work rights for international students graduating with “select” degrees “in areas of verified skills shortage”

PSWR for bachelors will double to four years, and increase by two for masters (to five) and PhDs (to six)

A working group will advise Mr Clare and Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil, “on the development of this and other relevant issues.”

Presumably including student working hours

The cap was “temporarily relaxed” in January but will be reinstated in June ’23. “The number of hours will be subject to consultation with a view to striking the right balance between work and study”

Advice will come from

The working group will include Commonwealth officials, industry group the Council of International Education, Universities Australia – and the National Tertiary Education Union. Yes, the comrades are in the policy tent.

They will advise next month.

Extended PSWR: good for Australian employers, maybe not all graduates  

If “verified skills shortage” refers to IT this will be a win all round.  In a new paper Ly Thi Tran (Deakin U) and colleagues report IT grads with PWSR get jobs that utilise their skills. There’s more to it than in-demand and transferable skills – IT is global game, with a cosmopolitan workforce.

But not so much for those with engineering and bized degrees, fields where employers prefer to hire people with permanent residency so that grads on PSWR can languish in work below their skills level.

New (hopefully improved) plan for shipbuilding skills

At the Jobs and Skills Summit South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas proposed  a defence workforce plan – which he will get. There’s already a model of how not to do it

The Commonwealth backed the premier’s proposal. Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy says the SA shipbuilding workforce will triple to 9000 by 2037 (with no mention of nuclear submarines) and that a workforce taskforce, “will bring together key stakeholders from government, unions, universities, training providers, business and industry to develop solutions to the most critical challenges.”

The two ministers are not the first to focus on expanding a skilled defence manufacturing workforce for SA.

In March ’17 then Defence Industry Minister Chris Pyne announced what was originally to be called the Maritime Technical College, “to ensure that Australia’s future shipbuilding projects have the skills available when they are required.” It then evolved into the Naval Shipbuilding College, charged with identifying needed skills and working with institutions that teach them (CMM February 18 2019).

So how was that going then senator Rex Patrick asked an official the next year who replied, “the name perhaps is a slight misnomer”  (CMM March 2 2020). Perhaps more than slight “the Naval Shipbuilding College supports job seekers through providing personalised career and training advice, to help you secure employment,” its www states.


Appointments, achievements  

ANU announces two new professors in the practice of politics, Natasha Stott Despoja (former senator and leader of the Australian Democrats) and former speakers of the House of Representatives, Tony Smith.

Quin Chang (La Trobe U) is re-elected chair of Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia

Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia’s ’22 awards include,

* Monash U, Additive Assurance (3D printing) * Erin Rayment (QUT) commercialisation professional of the year  * QUT robotics for manufacturing,  * QUT Banana Biotech Programme  and * UTS sensor for point of care disease tests

Alexis Bergantz (RMIT) wins the NSW Premier’s Australian History prize for French Connection: Australia’s Cosmopolitan Ambitions, (published by New South). The General History prize goes to Mina Roces (UNSW) for The Filipino Migration Experience (Cornell UP).

Andrew O’Neil moves from Griffith U to Australian Catholic U to become ED of Law and Business