Unruly classes

Teacher grads will need to pass an emotional intelligence test to work in NSW schools (CMM yesterday).  A learned reader recommends the idea to the Speaker of the House of Reps and President of the Senate.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning, David Myton wraps what’s happening in the world of higher ed.

Brungs the builder to continue at UTS until 2024

Attila Brungs has a second-term as vice chancellor of UTS, which will take him to 2024. He joined the university as DVC R in 2009 – on his watch UTS secured its largest haul of ARC Discovery Grants, until then, in November 2013. He succeeded Ross Milbourne as VC six months later. The renewal empowers him to oversight the university’s new strategic plan, set to start next year.

While Professor Milbourne had an Augustan vision of UTS, much of the complex and continuing construction on the Sydney-central campus has occurred on Professor Brungs’ watch. And he has overseen a near $300m expansion in revenues, to $953m last year.  The focus of his first term was certainly on the immediate needs of the university. While he has done the occasional event, speaking at CEDA functions, being an ambassador for Sydney programme and so forth he in no celebrity VC.

But he does engage with the policy system. He was a member of the ARC working group on performances and incentives for the new impact and engagement research programme.

And he has been a balanced contributor to the funding debates of the last five years. Back in 2015 he called for a review of the Pyne plan to deregulate undergraduate fees, “focussed on meeting the principles of access, equity, quality and sustainability.” However ,he was measured in his response to the 2017 budget, criticising the cuts but telling ABC radio that he thought then minister Simon Birmingham understood higher education and pointing to positives, professional masters scholarships, legislating the HEPPP equity programme, plus support for work integration in undergraduate programmes and sub degree places (CMM May 12 2017).

Twinkle Finkel, science star  

Just when CMM was wondering if Karen Andrews had taken a vow of silence, the new Industry and Science minister  announced Alan Finkel’s term as chief scientist is extended to end 2020. Dr Finkel stood down as chancellor of Monash U to take the job in October ‘16.

This is a smart move. Dr Finkel’s respect for science is contagious in pandemic-proportion. He expands the national discussion of what new science can accomplish in his own addresses and through work undertaken and commissioned by his office. Dr Finkel not only talks about building STEM in schools, he has created a online product to do it. And he is the science communicator of the age – a Finkel speech is engaging and informative, erudite and amusing.

Granted he has had policy failures, not all aspects of his review of the national electricity market were huge hits with the government. The call in the three Fs (one being Finkel) review of the research and development tax for incentives to encourage industry and research agencies to work together did not get up. Overall however his voice is heard in the corridors of power and among policy opinion shapers.

Did CMM mention that this is a good move?

NTEU to strike at UniNewcastle and thinking about at UniCanberra

The campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union at the University of Newcastle will strike on Monday week.  Union president Tom Griffith nominates improved job security as a major unsettled issue in enterprise bargaining negotiations.

According to Aspro Griffith, two-thirds of UniNewcastle jobs are casual or contract positions. “Contract work is a means of shifting financial risk from the institution on to individuals. And that risk can be a significant strain on staff. Many of us – professional staff, teachers and academic staff – know from experience how insecure work impacts ours and our families’ lives,” he says.

Aspro Griffith explained it all in an expansive op-ed in yesterday’s Newcastle Herald, which must have cheered management up not at all.

The union’s move follows suggestions last month that UniNewcastle management was preparing to put an offer to staff, without union endorsement. Talks continue but there does not seem any imperative encouraging management to reach agreement with the NTEU.

Last night a university representative said; “the bargaining team has increased meeting frequency in the last month in an effort to resolve outstanding clauses and claims. We would encourage the NTEU to work with us at the bargaining table rather than causing more disruption for our students. … The university is keen to achieve agreement with staff representatives so that benefits and salary increases can be activated for staff as soon as possible.”

Union members at the University of Canberra are considering industrial action with a meeting yesterday, calling on management, “to negotiate seriously to address staff concerns.” The campus branch of the NTEU nominates issues the union has campaigned for across the country, including increased superannuation for casual and fixed-term staff, and local ones, notably job security, including for the 50 new assistant professor positions.

Dan delayed

There was a sort-of sighting of new education minister Dan Tehan, yesterday. Mr Tehan and member for Ryan, Jane Prentice issued a statement about the new Australian Research Council centre for biomedical imaging training. Ms Prentice was also at the University of Queensland for the launch but there was no mention of the minister appearing. He’s bound to show-up at a university soon, once school funding is sorted.


Appointments, achievements

Keith Nugent will join ANU in January as DVC R, replacing Margaret Harding. He moves from La Trobe U, where he has the same job.

Nicola Howell from QUT has won the Banking and Financial Services Law Association research prize.

Constitutional lawyer Rosalind Dixon (UNSW) is named academic of the year in this year’s Lawyers Weekly awards