Games unionists play

“Paper petitions are sooo 2019 and our petition to the VC will be ceremoniously delivered via a jigsaw,” how the National Tertiary Education Union (on Twitter) sends a message on HE job losses to U Tas’s Rufus Black.

Given the university’s property developments in the Hobart CBD they should have adapted a Monopoly board.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

James Guthrie on Macquarie U’s finances and the impact of savings on staff and students.

And Rachel Sheffield and Dale Pinto (Curtin U) on the need for university teachers to be part of a community and how their university works to create one. Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s new selection for her celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

Plus, the Research and Development Tax Incentive is indestructible. Kirsty Abbott (CQU) considers what it does and ways it could be better.

Helping students get what they pay for

There’s a review of the tuition protection service

The Commonwealth has commissioned a review of its TPS, originally created for the international education sector, which expanded last year to cover domestic VET student loans and this year to private HE.

The service assists students when providers default, by making it possible for them to transfer to another institution or receive a refund for unspent fees.

It is funded by provider levies with the government managing programmes.

The review’s work includes identifying admin improvements, possibly extending protection to VET students who pay up-front and (ominously) the impact of the pandemic, “particularly with regards to the sustainability of the TPS Funds.”

The extension of the international-student scheme to locals was strongly supported  when it happened (CMM August 20 2018).


TEQSA prepares for the worst to continue

Last year and this the regulator has met with HE providers to learn if it could help them deal with COVID-19

The clinics will continue into ’22. “Restrictions continue to affect providers delivering to both domestic and international students, due to border closures and the need to periodically shut down campuses and deliver on-line.”

Education networks: trusting to a cyber fault

The Australian Cyber Security Centre reports an unnamed university “was compromised” in February by a ransomware attack

The university shut down its network, contained the attack and advised the ACSC there was no evidence of a data breach.

Which is good. What isn’t is that the ACSC warns cyber baddies use education networks as a path into other universities, research centres and government. “Once on a network, cyber actors can easily exploit trusted relationships by using compromised accounts.”

ACSC does not name the university attacked in February but that month RMIT shut down student-used systems, telling them it was “working to resolve some issues that have impacted access.” A university statement later added that security was not breached (CMM February 22).

Uni SA also went shields-up, in May when “technical issues” became a security incident with computers disabled as “a security precaution” and email down for over a week, (CMM May 19, May 26).

Not bunches of help from the ARC

The Australian Research Council has backed down on its ban on references to pre-prints in future funding rounds (CMM yesterday)

Which isn’t a bunch of help to researchers whose applications were deleted from recent rounds for what was until Tuesday a cancelling offence.

But the ARC says there is an appeal process they can use, “designed to ensure that the applicant has been treated fairly and consistently in the context of the selection procedures.”

Which given the pre-print ban was in the rules, just not widely known to be there, will not be a bunch of help either.

However, the independent appeals committee, “considers appeals against National Competitive Grants Programme administrative processes and makes recommendations to the CEO. The committee may also make recommendations to the ARC about possible improvements to its documentation and processes” – which would only be a bunch of help for excluded applicants if the committee recommended that excluded applications be considered on their merits and the ARC sent them for assessment by the original selection panel.

CMM asked the ARC if this could happen and was told, “the ARC will need to allow the independent appeals processes to be completed for these cases, before determining an appropriate course of action if an appeal is successful. Noting that any action must be in accordance with the Australian Research Council Act 2001 and the Australian Government grants policy framework.”

Which isn’t a bunch of help either.

Arts of optimism at Federation U

HASS student numbers are down – management and union disagree on what to do

Federation U wants to cut six FTE positions in humanities and social sciences, citing a continuing decline in on-campus and on-line EFTS studying BA courses since 2016.

To which the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union responds this is due to management changing courses, “without properly consulting staff.” The union adds management also ignores that staff teach “hundreds of students” in other programmes.

According to the union, reductions will make worse declines in student numbers. It proposes other savings including, reducing management staff, an external review, “or waiting to assess the impact of new marketing initiatives.”

Appointments, achievements

Nicolas Hart is appointed deputy lead of Flinders U’s Caring Futures Institute, for “a future where the highest standard of health and care is available for all.”

Eleanor Huntington is leaving ANU for CSIRO. The dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science will become ED of Digital, National Facilities and Collections there.  She leaves ANU on October for a November start at CSIRO. Also at CSIRO, Jonathan Law moves from the Mineral Resources Business Unit, to become ED, Growth.

David Lancaster is the inaugural EOS chair in laser physics at Uni SA. EOS is Electro Optical Systems Pty Ltd.

Uni Queensland announces its 2021 research awards: Joel Carpenter (Engineering, Architecture and IP). Gary Chan (Health and Behavioural Sciences). Loic Yengo Dimbou (Institute for Molecular Bioscience). Camille Guillerey (Medicine).  Jody Peters (Science). RuiRui Qia (Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology). Marnee Shay (Education). Ya-Yen Sun (Business, Economics, Law). Susannah Tye (Queensland Brain Institute).

The 2021 Young Tall Poppies of Science for WA are announced, including Christopher Blyth (UWA), Mark Hackett (Curtin U), Joanna Melonek (UWA) Eleanor Sansom (Curtin U), Billy Sung (Curtin U), Alexander Tang (UWA), James Tweedley (Murdoch U)