A flash new city site and job losses are unsettling staff


UWA and Curtin dominate state science prize shortlists


Academic restructure on the way at UNE


ACU survey finds teachers love their jobs for the right reasons

Skills for the job

QUT robotics student Rob Patterson smashed the semi-finals on Ninja Warrior the other night. But does he have the speed and flexibility to make it on the VC obstacle course when Peter Coaldrake retires?

The shock of the new

Change is unsettling staff at the University of Newcastle

Back in June the University of Newcastle announced the first round of administrative cuts as part of the Organisational Design Project, with 30 jobs to go over two years. But announcing is not implementing and the National Tertiary Education Union is now asking management how financial services can absorb any more staff cuts after the last restructure which it calls, “one of the most ‘brutal’; and concerning in recent times (especially when age demographics are also factored in).”

While just four jobs are set to go now the NTEU worries more positions will be effected, with the possibility of the finance team being required to pick up more work as other operating units are restructured. And official Lance Dale suggests that staff are not buying management’s case for cuts.

“We note the rationale for this change relies repeatedly on external factors (e.g. federal budget, ‘higher education on the move’) to justify the need for further restructuring and staff cuts. This is at a time when the university is making healthy financial surpluses and investing more and more into multi-million dollar building construction and refurbishment and other priorities such as the expensive new branding campaigns.”

In June Vice Chancellor Caroline McMillen announced a new marketing structure adding, ““we have underinvested in marketing capacity and capability.” (CMM June 6).

The university’s $95m NeW Space “landmark education precinct in the heart of Newcastle’s CBD, harnessing the latest in technology and innovation in teaching and learning to deliver a world-class student experience,” is also the cause of much campus comment. While the three regular campus student recruitment events are on next month this Saturday sees a big open day under another name – “community day” – at NeW. University management is heavily invested in the NeW project and it is unsettling some staff

Bigger pay day

The University of Tasmania is giving staff a pay rise without an argument

It’s taking a while to get enterprise bargaining going at UTas but it seems management does not want staff thinking it is being mean and is providing an administrative pay rise. “The bargaining process has continued longer than was hoped, and the patience, understanding and continued excellence demonstrated by our staff during this period has been greatly appreciated,” Vice Chancellor Peter Rathjen has told the university community. They will get a 1.5 per cent pay rise this month.

WA science prize contenders announced

UWA and Curtin lead in the shortlist for the Premier’s science awards

Scientist of the year: Ravinder Anand (CSIRO), Donna Cross (Telethon Kids Institute), Zheng-Xiang Li (Curtin U), David Mackey (UWA), Harvey Millar (UWA), Una Ryan (Murdoch U), Christobel Saunders (UWA).

Early Career Scientist of the Year: Asha Bowen (Telethon Kids Institute), Wensu Chen (Curtin U), Jun Li (Curtin U), Anais Pages (CSIRO), Daviod Gozzard (UWA), Patrick Hayes (UWA), Jessica Kretzmann (UWA), Ryan Urquhart (Curtin U),

Science engagement initiative of the year: 60 second science (Telethon Kids Institute), CoderDojo WA (Fogarty Foundation), Old ways, new ways – Aboriginal Science Outreach Programme (Edith Cowan U), Traveling geologist (Curtin U),

Open Days of the Day

Deakin University tried and failed to give its Warrnambool campus away but it’s still having a go at keeping it open

Bells and whistle wise there is not a lot happening at Deakin Warrnambool’s Open Day, a highlight is the marine science motor boat.  But you can’t fault the campus community for making the most of what it offers, with sessions on courses and campus life, plus pathways to study. The university will put visitors up in student accommodation and gives a $50 travel reimbursement voucher per car for people who travelled 100km plus to get to Open Day (applies to all DU campuses).

But across the border everybody isn’t on-song for Open Day

The University of South Australia’s Mt Gambier campus is running the same sort of open day with a focus on courses. But the approach is less low key than subterranean, without much in the way of events or entertainment. Which seems strange, given Mount Gambier is also home to the university’s James Morrison Academy of Music, yes that James, James the jazz-cat Morrison. His UniSA academy does not need an open day, what with admission being by audition and numbers bebopbooming (sorry), at least on the same scale of jazz.  There were 60 students last year and 77 this. Even so, some music on campus for OD wouldn’t hurt.

Donation of the day

A major grant delivers just what the doctor ordered for life-saving stats

Bloomberg (yes that Bloomberg) Philanthropies has prescribed $11m for the University of Melbourne’s Data for Health project. This is on top of the $22m plus the fund has already kicked in. Data for Health does what it says – improves health records in developing countries to identify and address causes of death.  The Australian Government is also contributing $24m.

Workers united

At UniMelb the union says management is going slow and splitting staff

Union activists at the University of Melbourne are wondering why management is taking its time responding to the National Tertiary Education Union’s log of claims. “We are unclear as to the hold up,” the union told supporters this week. But there is another issue also upsetting them – management’s push for two enterprise agreements, one for academics and one for some professional staff.

The NTEU is warning people that professional staff would lose under such an arrangement (CMM July 12) and now says management also wants to split professional staff, by suggesting to top level HEW Ten staff that they could opt out of the agreement for individual contracts. This the union says, they need not do – it is already possible under the existing agreement. “This means you can keep all the conditions we’ve built together over time and deal with some differences as well.”

UNE restructure expected

But a four faculty model is months away

While news travels slowly from the University of New England the mail coach brings word of an academic restructure. The preferred plan appears to be a four-faculty structure each with a max of four departments. The suggested faculties would cover science and agriculture, business and law, rural health and humanities and teacher education.  An announcement is said to be imminent but nothing is expected settled this year.

In the right job for the right reasons

Teachers believe in their work but the career needs a better sell

A new report by Claire Wyatt-Smith and colleagues from the Australian Catholic University finds the generality of teachers believe in their work but that much more needs to be done to communicate it as a career. The team from ACU’s Learning Sciences Institute Australia surveyed members of the profession for accrediting authority Queensland College of Teachers. They found people chose teaching for the right reasons; “making contributions to the community and shaping the future of children/adolescents and teachers’ perceptions of themselves as teachers are critically important in teacher career selection. Employment benefits and the views of others of teaching are less important.” And the generality of teachers is ‘largely satisfied; with their work choice. “Despite the challenging nature of the profession and the way it is sometimes presented in the media and by some influential (political and other) parties, teachers reported a high level of satisfaction with their choice. Three-quarters (of respondents indicated they are satisfied or very satisfied with their current type of employment.”

But the profession, the report warns, must be better-regarded; “regulatory authorities and stakeholders involved in workforce planning should engage in continuous promotion of the status and image of the teaching profession by emphasising the impact teachers have on society, students’ futures, and the building of a productive, healthy future generation. The report shows social influences and employment conditions impact teachers’ perceptions of the teaching profession. Educational leaders should employ strategies to engage the media to support and enhance the positive status and image of teaching as a career.”

And in a finding which deans of education should consider as open days approach; “universities should re-assess their recruitment strategies in light of the apparent lack of impact of traditional and contemporary marketing modes such as career fairs and internet sites and TV advertisements, identified in the report as having low levels of influence.”

New deans at Notre Dame

The university makes appointments across the country

Werner Soontiens is the new dean of business at the University of Notre Dame Australia, Freemantle. Professor Soontiens moves from Curtin U where he is director student engagement for the humanities faculty. Renee Kohler Ryan steps up from assistant dean to dean of the school of philosophy and theology at ACU’s Sydney campus.

The life of the designing mind

ANU is rebuilding and Marnie Hughes Warrington is fascinated by the way people are thinking it through  

“Insides are not outsides, and it is nigh on impossible to think of an Australian university campus that is as deliberative in its outward appearance as it is in its inward expression,” the ANU DVC writes in her continuing chronicle of the thinking that is creating a new core for the Australian National University.

For an historian of ideas the process of moving from the abstraction of master plans to architectural designs is obviously engrossing – especially for a campus where the landscape is overlaid with meanings far older and utterly independent of the university. ANU inhabits a landscape with “deeper history lines set down by places of significance to Indigenous communities,” and the vision of Marion and Walter Burley Griffin still shimmers across the lines of sight the university’s planners now contemplate.

And Canberra being Canberra there are many, many opinions on how the new ANU should honour all who have gone before, by not looking like, well, an Australian university.  As Professor Hughes Warrington carefully makes clear, people upset by design diagrams is understandable; “given the unedifying collection of brutalist horrors that universities have spawned, and which people love to hate.” This applies even when critics’ sense of scale when they look at a plan, may, as neuroscience suggests, “depend on their perception of their arm’s length.”

“The greatest challenge to outside planning,” she suggests “is not perhaps our fascination with building interiors, but the interior of our heads.”