(Yet more) huzzahs for Lidia Morawaska

The QUT air quality scientist is the L’Oreal-UNESCO 2023 Women in Science laureate for Asia-Pacific

Professor Morawaska (QUT) is honoured (again) for her work on air quality – she had the science to show Covid-19 was airborne when the orthodoxy was shaking hands could kill you. This is yet another in an anthology of achievement for a researcher whose work helps keep people alive (CMM March 15, 2023, August 30 2022, July 14 2022, September 24 2021)

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Danny Kingsley (Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science) and Hero Macdonald (Deakin U) on how Australia can and why it should, “modernise and right-size its approach to research assessment,” HERE.

with Dirk Mulder on the international education market with huge potential that isn’t India HERE


The final count-down for Campus Morning Mail 

Last issue June 16 but Stephen Matchett will write on

After nearly ten years the end is near for CMM – thank you all for reading and giving me a reason to report the always fascinating, endlessly entertaining and often inexplicable alternative universe of tertiary education.

So fascinating that I will stay engaged – as a writer for hire.

Reporting and writing, editing and presenting – got a comms project challenge? I will have a solution @ [email protected]

Schools could doom the great Accord challenge

Jason Clare is determined to lift HE participation rates-it might be harder than he hopes

In the Reps last month Education Minister Jason Clare answered a question about the impact of HELP indexation on graduate study debt, responding his focus was expanding university enrolments from disadvantaged groups. “This is what we’ve got to fix. The cost of university degrees is important, and the cost of living is important, but the cost of those kids from those communities missing out is important too. This is what we’ve got to fix. This, at its core, is what the Universities Accord will be all about.”

It won’t be easy. In CMM this morning Andrew Harvey (Griffith U) warns schools separating students into vocational and ATAR streams has a lasting impact on opportunities, HERE

“Students who are Indigenous and/or from low socio-economic status backgrounds are highly over-represented in the non-ATAR streams, which themselves rarely lead to university. Increasing the proportion of low SES students and Indigenous students in higher education is thus unlikely to happen without school reform.”

It’s a new, and alarming, selection for Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in learning and teaching

Future campus: a new guide to getting there


With CMM about to be gone there’s a new way to discover what’s happening, and needs to, in tertiary education

Future Campus will  bring you news, analysis and fresh voices – from the sector, for the sector. Publishing weekly, plus regular updates, it will be a focus for voices that need to be heard more often – Indigenous thought leaders, young staff who hold the future of the sector in their hands,  innovative researchers and teachers, as well as professional staff, who are often overlooked in their contribution to shaping the sector.

Plus it will include regular print and video contributions from Stephen Matchett, who is keen to keep on reporting what’s going on.
In my 24 years in the sector 21 years, I have worked in 24 universities and about a dozen VET sector institutions, either in-house or as a consultant, and I know just how important it is to share insights and fresh perspectives.

Better understanding and better connection leads to better management decisions, better hires, and a bit more satisfaction that your daily labours have a chance of adding up to something meaningful.

Sign-up to Future Campus @ www.futurecampus.com.au.

Here they go again at Uni Newcastle

The Fair Work Commission schedules a second week of arbitration between unions and management

Talks last week on terms of a new enterprise agreement (CMM May 31) evidently got nowhere far enough – with FWC Deputy President Saunders convening four more days of meetings this week.

The division is said to be between management and the National Tertiary Education Union, which opposed the university taking the dispute to the commission. The Community and Public Sector Union (the smaller of the two) has told members that management’s final pay offer (13 per cent over three years) is “nothing to sneeze at” and it wants a staff vote on the university’s overall offer.


RMIT ups Vietnam investment

There’s $250m for teaching, research, infrastructure and partnerships

RMIT set up in Vietnam 20 years back and claims to be the first foreign owned university in-country, now teaching 12 000 students at Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and a language centre in Da Nang.

The first commitment of the new fund is an industry and innovation research hub in Hanoi, which will also offer “short-form education solutions and workforce training.”

Prime Minister Albanese opened the Hanoi hub, Saturday, calling it “a vote of confidence in Vietnam’s future. And in the strength and the potential we see in joining forces on education.”

Or, as RMIT’s PVC for Vietnam Claire Macken put in in CMM HERE, “the higher education sector in Vietnam is one in which there is an optimistic and positive attitude to the role education can play to change and improve self, position, society, and the economy. As higher education providers in Vietnam and the region, it is our responsibility to deliver.”

Makes a change from the industry obsession  with China and India

Up for grabs: allocating the biggest buckets of medical research money

There’s a webinar today on “improving alignment and coordination” of the two peak agencies

It’s for comments on a well thought-through discussion paper on how the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Medical Research Future Fund can better work together in awarding their combined $1.5bn annual grants.

The paper sets out three options;

* separate management of the two bodies funds but with “an overarching coordination mechanism”

“While better coordination of funding decisions, policies and administrative processes would create efficiencies for grant recipients, it does retain parallel organisational structures. This model has low implementation complexity”

* NHMRC manages both funds

“The NHMRC CEO would be expected to oversee coordination of policy and processes to address stakeholder concerns about duplication, administrative burden and confusion between processes”

* merge the funds into one grant programme managed by the NHMRC

A national strategy would be developed to articulate a vision for the future of health and medical research, informed by the health needs of the Australian community, and to outline an investment strategy for a flexible merged grant programme/s”

From the start of the MRFF, there were concerns about funding decisions being made separate to the NHMRC. IN 2015 a minority report from Labor senators on a MRFF creation bill argued that its funds should be disbursed by a new committee, added to the existing NHMRC structure.

“ Labor Senators believe that establishing a new process entirely independent from the NHMRC has the potential to undermine the NHMRC as the preeminent, independent, independent institution from which governments takes advice about health and medical research and health and medical research grants funding is administered.  Duplicating this process is also likely to be costly and inefficient,” they said.

A task for TEQSA: call for university councils to step up oversight

The Fair Work Ombudsman says they should – but gosh, how to encourage them to get more involved

In a letter to Accord chief Mary O’Kane, tabled in the Senate’s Employment and Workplace Relations Committee, Deputy FWO Rachel Volzke suggests a process. (Thanks to the learned Claire Field for the pointer).

Ms Volzke raises the role of  university governing bodies and suggests things they could look at.

good-governance requirements on staff pay, including;

* “a direct line of sight between what occurs at a workplace level and at a corporate governance level”

* payroll compliance regularly considered by internal audit

* regular notification of compliance risk at school level

* “priority being given to fixing problems when they are identified, rather than allowing them to continue until broader reviews or upgrades are conducted“

* IR functions not quarantined from payroll function

And then there is an issue to address that is alarming that it needs be raised;

“remuneration structures where non-compliance is not indirectly incentivised, for example, not rewarding meeting labour budgets where the work required to be done objectively requires more human effort than budgeted leading to an increased likelihood of non-payment of hours worked or overtime”

and necessary support for international students

“There is the opportunity for many universities to do more to increase awareness of international students’ workplace rights, particularly as universities are the main point of contact and support for international students in Australia”

good-o but how to get councils off their coccyxs?

Ms Volzke suggests a context for the Accord team to encourage governing bodies to act, “universities’ obligations under the Threshold Standards and general requirements for good corporate governance.”

“What,” you ask, “the threshold standards set out in the Commonwealth’s Higher Education Standards Framework?”

“Those are the ones,” CMM replies.

“You mean the standards overseen by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency?” you add. “The very same” says CMM.
TEQSA has hammered universities over-performance on pay for years.

But it appears the FWO would like Professor O’Kane and colleagues to demand the agency hammer unis harder.


Quitting time for Kelso at NHMRC

Steve Wesselingh will take over at the National Health and Medical Research Council

Anne Kelso will step down as council CEO when her second term expires, end July.

Professor Kelso stepped up in 2015, replacing the frankly spoken Warwick Anderson (CMM February 12 2015) and throughout her terms she was publicly discrete and diplomatic. It was a handy style given the great controversies on her watchfew and farer between opportunities for young researchers, and gender imbalances of awards.

There was never much Professor Kelso could do about the overall funding pool – the creation of the Medical Research Future Fund meant governments could, and can, claim they are spending heaps. However under her leadership the NHMRC confronted grant distribution by consulting, consulting and consulting some more. A new grants scheme was announced in 2017 (CMM May 26) and the council kept working on who gets what. This was and is hard and thankless work – more grants for vocal young researchers inevitably annoy the old and influential.

The NHMRC also embraced the way lower profile but equally intractable issue of research open access. It proposed requiring publications based on research it funds to be immediately open access in March 21, which did not impress all it stakeholders (CMM November 2 2021). But in less than a year the council either had sufficient support, or no longer cared about critics and announced that all new papers based on peer-reviewed research it funds must be open access from pub date (CMM September 20 2022).

Professor Kelso is a hard act to follow – which as an NHMRC insider Steve Wesselingh surely knows. He is present chair of the council’s research committee and now ED of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute.