Few still standing

“We must cut non-salary costs significantly below what they were in 2019 (our last year of full operation)” Monash U VC Margaret Gardner exhorts staff to ever-greater austerity, CMM Wednesday. “There can’t be many casuals left to let go,” a Learned Reader rues.

Managements asking who wants out

Macquarie U wants to hear more from staff about VR

Last week management asked staff if they want a voluntary redundancy scheme. It’s still asking, extending consultation to September 6. Learned readers suggest the question staff want answered is how many VRs would it take to stop compulsory redundancies.

UNDA wants people to go but no word on how many

 University of Notre Dame Australia needs to save $15m on recurrent salaries and proposes a VR scheme. Its subject to consultation with staff and the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union, but management is keen to get going – hoping to open it on Tuesday.

There is no faulting VC Francis Campbell for frankness. He does not use COVID-19 as cover for cutting but says UNDA has the highest staffing budget in HE, 67 per cent of turnover last year and he wants it down. A $15m reduction will reduce the salary spend “closer to” 60 per cent in 2021 – the HE sector average is 54 per cent. “We must do more to ensure our future financial sustainability in the coming years,” Professor Campbell says.

Union says UNE needs “fair funding”

The NTEU demands the VC demand it

Last month UNE’s newish-VC Brigid Heywood delivered a grim state of the uni report, “UNE is not heading in a positive direction, or at a pace that keeps the institution ahead of an ever-growing set of competitors.”

She proceeded to set out in great detail what is wrong with the university’s structure and what she is going to do about it, (MM July 30). She had already advised staff that “thetriple burden of long-term drought, bushfires and COVID-19,” meant 200 jobs have to go (CMM July 23).

To which the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union now responds, “fund UNE fairly – no staff cuts.” The union argues the university’s problems are due to “decades of federal government policy,” “which, “have left the higher education sector in a permanently deteriorating crisis.” Professor Heywood’s plan, “shifts the suffering imposed by government policy onto staff and onto students,” the NTEU argues.

Instead, the comrades say, she should, “demand UNE receives the fair funding it needs.”

Shoemaker moving to Victoria U

Southern Cross U VC Adam Shoemaker will replace Peter Dawkins as VC of Victoria U

The move was announced yesterday, with the hand-over in mid-December. Professor Dawkins announced his departure in February.

While there is vast difference in scale, VU and Shoemaker could suit each other. The university has adapted to meet the education needs of its market with the short-subject, intensive-learning block teaching model. And Professor Shoemaker has set a new course for SCU, adopting block teaching as part of his “business as unusual” plan for growth in student numbers (CMM July 18).

But there’s something else both institutions share, are at times fractious industrial relations. Professor Shoemaker lost a staff vote on a COVID-19 savings plan last month (CMM July 13) and the union at VU has a history of making life difficult for VCs when riled.

No time wasted at Southern Cross U

Tyrone Carlin is announced next VC

Chancellor Nick Burton Taylor announced the appointment in the staff message that advised Adam Shoemaker’s departure. Professor Carlin is DVC A at SCU, where he has worked since 2016.

Mr Burton Taylor said Carlin’s appointment followed a meeting of the university council earlier yesterday.

“Early last week I was advised by Professor Shoemaker that he would be accepting the vice chancellor role at Victoria University. The sub-committee of Council responsible for these matters met the same day, accepted his resignation and resolved to recommend to Council the appointment of Professor Carlin,” the chancellor told staff.

Professor Carlin is a former DVC (Registrar) at the University of Sydney. He is also a former president of CPA Australia, where he worked with controversial CEO Alex Malley (CMM September 10 2018).

Pre pandemic problem

The Senate yesterday passed the bill cracking down on academic cheating, to all but no applause. This used to be a very big issue – still is, it’s just that COVID-19 is way bigger.

Serious misconduct finding against ex Uni Adelaide VC

“I have rejected the vice chancellor’s evidence in every respect where he sought to disagree with the account given by the two women or to minimise his conduct,” says ICAC Commissioner

Former Uni Adelaide VC Peter Rathjen made unwanted and unwelcome advances that were sexual in nature to two women on the university’s staff, South Australia’s Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Bruce Lander has found.

Mr Lander states, “in my opinion his conduct, having regard to the serious power imbalance between him and the victims, amounted to serious misconduct for the purposes of the ICAC Act.”

Mr Lander has not released his report, to protect the identity of the women, but yesterday issued a statement outlining his investigation and conclusions.

The narrative also covers the university’s inquiry into the VC’s behaviour, including events leading up to and following then chancellor Kevin Scarce’s decision to report the matter to ICAC in March, nearly a year after the events that led to the complaints.  Mr Lander finds that the chancellor was advised by members of council that he should resign, which he did on April 27, three days before the VC was told of the ICAC investigation and went on leave.

“I do not think that the chancellor should have been put in the position in which he was put. I do not think my investigation could have embarrassed him or the university such that he needed to resign. However, he elected to put the university’s interests above his own by resigning,” the Commissioner states.

However, present chancellor, Catherine Branson told an Adelaide press conference yesterday,” I did not, nor did my colleagues, think the former chancellor should stand aside because he had done something wrong. It was for the ICAC to form a view whether he had done something wrong. We sought to encourage him to consider his position to preserve the integrity of the ICAC inquiry and to avoid embarrassment to any staff or council members who would be required to give evidence to the ICAC.”

Overall Mr Lander finds, “the university responded to the complaint when it was made appropriately” but in recommendations, he suggests it review its policies, procedures and guidelines on inappropriate sexual conduct/harassment, “with a view to introducing a policy or policies that are understandable.”

In a statement issued last night Ms Branson, said the university, “regrets the initial handling of this incident, which followed external legal advice given to the university. While Professor Rathjen’s actions were his own, we acknowledge that the way in which the matter was initially dealt with by the university was not appropriate.”

“The conduct of the former vice-chancellor as outlined in the ICAC statement is unacceptable and does not represent our values or expectations of behaviour at the university from any staff member, especially our most senior leader.”

The Chancellor adds, “the University accepts and will adopt all of the recommendations made by ICAC to improve our processes” and will establish, “an independent review of our processes and our checks and balances, in relation to the accountability of our most senior leadership.”

The ABC in Adelaide reports Professor Rathjen stating ICAC’s serious misconduct finding, “is disproportionate to the conduct found.”

China’s role in research: it’s no secret

Australia’s China research connection is not hidden, and it’s huge

As Lucy Montgomery (Curtin U) makes clear, China is Australia’s largest research publishing partner (CMM August 18).

The top source of funding for published research which has Australian authors is the Australian Research Council, the second is the National Natural Science Foundation of China. More Australian research articles acknowledge funding from China than from the National Health and Medical Research Council.

All up, Associate Professor Montgomery states, 15 per cent of research publications from Australian universities acknowledged funding from China last year, compared to 11 per cent from the US.

This should not be especially surprising. As Kim Carr (Labor-Victoria) pointed out in the Senate Monday, China is making enormous investments in R&D, so, “it can be a global leader in advanced manufacturing. It simply doesn’t want to accept the old division of labour that has been assigned to it.”

And while there is no hard evidence that this investment includes enlisting researchers and outright industrial espionage in Australian universities, this is probably because agents of China are ahead of our intel.

But the bigger problem does not need sleuthing.

Aspro Montgomery sets it out; “as Australian governments re-consider how much funding they make available for research, they must also consider whether the majority of the nation’s brightest minds are still going to be focused on the nation’s top research priorities.”


The NSW Deans of Education has a new executive:

president: Mary Ryan (Macquarie U)
VP: Sue Bennett (Uni Wollongong)

secretary: David Smith (Charles Sturt U)

treasurer: Michele Simons (Western Sydney U)