Murdoch U bized’s got rhythm

“For some academic staff, this means moving to a new teaching rhythm” Murdoch U bized management goes the whole Technotronic  “get to the base and shake up the place,” (scroll down).

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Airdre Grant (Southern Cross U) argues Master Chef has the student assessment recipe. On Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s menu this week for her series, Needed now in Teaching and Learning.

Warren Bebbington (Uni Melbourne) on the transformation of teaching and learning the pandemic the pandemic has imposed.

Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on why Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna deserve their Nobel Prize in Chemistry and what CRISPR does.

David Kellermann (UNSW) on creating a serious solution for on-line lecturing. Curated content from Microsoft.

Murdoch U biz degree in two years

A block-teaching model for commerce

The business school will, “differentiate itself within the market and offer contemporary, industry-connected and flexible study options for students” Interim PVCs Andrew Webster and Grant O’Neill tell staff.

The B Comm will be offered fast-track, with students able to take four units a semester and a four-week summer term. Each unit will take four weeks. With a course-long Professional Business Practice co-major the degree can be completed in two years. The profession practice course is, “to develop real-world industry skills and to experience practical working contexts.”

“For some academic staff, this means moving to a new teaching rhythm to deliver these revised course offerings,” O’Neill and Webster tell staff.

James Cook U still wondering whether pay rise stands  

Staff agreed to defer a pay-rise but there’s a problem with the agreement’s wording

The Fair Work Commission is having a look at the way James Cook U worded an enterprise agreement variation to defer a pay-rise due this month. Staff agreed but the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union argued that the EAV was badly worded to the extent that the rise need not be paid when the deferment ended (CMM September 25).

So, staff are being paid the increase – as the FWC considers whether the agreement as written should stand. The university was hoping for a decision Thursday (CMM October 1). Which did not happen, “so we will all have to wait a little longer to know what the next steps are in managing the deficit in 2020 and 2021 and saving 70 jobs critical to the Northern Queensland economy,” VC Sandra Harding told staff Friday.

The research it takes for unis to stay unis  

The Senate has referred the HE provider category standard bill to a committee

The Senate’s Selection of Bills committee wants to an inquiry, to focus on “implications” of the provider category standards bill on “universities maintaining their university status.”

The bill’s origins are in Peter Coaldrake’s review of HE provider category standards, which recommended universities must undertake “world standard research” in at least half the fields they teach if they want to keep the title, (CMM December 11 2019). The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency will do the assessing. Committee hearings are unlikely to be argumentative – there is not a university in the country that is going to complain they do not do and should not be expected to do, enough research to get a tick from TEQSA.

In any case, if TEQSA adopts Australian Research Council classifications, meeting “world standard” should not be too hard – it is the average category in the Excellence for Research in Australia report.

And won’t the secretariat of the Senate Committee on Education and Employment Legislation be pleased. After processing the marathon of content in sprint timing involved in the report on the new HE student funding legislation, staff were probably dreading the prospect of getting some sleep.

Regulator releases assessment of Murdoch U international admission standards

Last week Murdoch U reported it had “satisfied a TEQSA compliance assessment”. Here’s what the regulator stated

The assessment followed allegations on ABC TV’s Four Corners in May 2019 regarding the university’s application of academic standards among international students, allegations which Murdoch U strenuously rejected.

Last week VC Eeva Leinonen told staff (CMM October 8); “during the course of the assessment, the university self-identified a number of areas that would benefit from improved document management, record keeping and other processes which we have implemented. Our analysis found there was no systemic misapplication of admissions criteria, however, there were some specific cases identified and we immediately implemented remedial changes.”

“I ampleased TEQSA acknowledged Murdoch’s continuing improvement agenda and the co-operation it has received during the process,” she said.

Late Friday the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency issued its statement of findings; “in light of the general public interest in the matters covered by the assessment.”

“TEQSA found that Murdoch had been at risk of non-compliance due to an inconsistent application of its own admissions practices, which resulted in the admission of some international students (in 2018) who were ill-equipped to progress through their course of study.

TEQSA is satisfied that Murdoch responded appropriately in addressing these issues, having:

* identified the causal and contributing factors that resulted in the admission of this cohort in 2018, and having implemented comprehensive changes to mitigate future risks

* subsequently demonstrated continuous improvement in relation to its international admissions practices in 2019 and 2020

* ensured the international students impacted were adequately supported.”

Union disputes Uni Melbourne job cut plan

NTEU demands to see numbers that show its needed

Last month Uni Melbourne floated voluntary redundancies and early retirements, presumably to make a (relatively painless) start on the 450 FTE positions its COVID-19 savings plan requires it to cut (CMM September 28). The process got off to a slow start, when a problem was discovered with the wording of a relevant clause of the enterprise agreement ( for anybody interested). But management and the National Tertiary Education Union agreed on what needed to be done, the Fair Work Commission approved and all was well (CMM September 30).

Just not for long.

The university set out the case for the job cuts in a consultation paper last week and on Friday the campus branch of the NTEU notified management of an industrial dispute, stating the paper; “does not provide a full, meaningful and forthright presentation of the financial situation the university says is the reason for its proposal,” as required by the Uni Melbourne enterprise agreement.  Nor, the union argues, is there clear information on “the target financial savings proposed” and “the likely impact of the change proposal on remaining staff.”

To deal with the dispute the union asks for information on 16 issues, including actual and projected 2020-21 revenues and enrolments, casual and fixed term staff already gone and what management proposes to do about “work overload” post redundancies.

People at Parkville suggest the union’s approach is not entirely surprising, given the way management’s statement of Uni Melbourne’s financial circumstances were not accepted by a majority of staff voting on the proposal to give up a pay rise. (CMM June 12).

Since then the union has demanded management “open the books” to demonstrate alternatives to shedding staff (CMM, July 24, August 18). VC Duncan Maskell has made a financial case for staff cuts, (CMM August 6), but evidently not in enough detail for the union.