RMIT sets a standard

The university is giving continuing and fixed term staff five-days “wellbeing leave” – that’s on top of entitlements. “It’s a chance … to simply step away from work, to take a break and recharge, Interim VC Dionne Higgins told the community (CMM yesterday). To which the National Tertiary Education Union state official Sarah Roberts was out early yesterday asking (via Twitter), “where are other Victorian universities on this?”

Good question.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

James Guthrie on why the NSW Auditor-General needs to examine the performance of the state’s public universities

plus  Frank Larkins and Ian Marshman analyse all uni financials  (ex SA) to find 2020 could have been worse (2021 will be).

Angel Calderon (RMIT) on the strong Australian showing in the new Academic Ranking of World Universities. Want to know how it happened? Mr Calderon explains how the rankings work in CMM (August 12)  here.

with Margaret Lloyd (QUT) on the sameness of happy on-line classes and the individual misery of those that aren’t. Sally Kift’s new selection for her celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

Kim Carr calls for independent science advice

Last week the government rejected an inquiry into an independent parliamentary office to advise member and senators on science. It was wrong, says Senator Carr

In Features this morning he makes the case for expert advice in the national interest available to all members and senators. “One of the lessons of the pandemic has been that trust in public institutions increases when people see that decisions are made in accordance with informed advice.

“We need to be rebuild trust in Parliament, because if Parliament is trusted to do its job properly, trust in government will be rebuilt too. People trust governments they know are being held to account.”

More voices for campus free speech

NYU based Scholars at risk expands in Australia, with today’s launch of a national group

The 20-year old lobby’s brief is, “protecting scholars, and the freedom to think, question and share ideas.”

The six local universities and the National Tertiary Education Union which already members are now joined by 11 more in a two-year Australian pilot, which will be based at Uni Sunshine Coast. It will focus on research, education and advocacy

Speakers today include author of the Commonwealth’s university free speech code and UWA chancellor, Robert French, and USC VC Helen Bartlett.

Sophie McNeill who gave compelling evidence to the Commonwealth Parliament inquiry into foreign interference in universities  (CMM March 12, June 30), is also scheduled to speak.

Cut-price postgrad courses at Uni Adelaide

With fewer international PG student bums on seats the university is looking to locals

The university is offering a 15 per cent price cut on tuition for alumni to study 120 postgrad programmes (exclusions apply). “It’s part of our commitment to lifelong learning” DVC A Jennie Shaw says.

It might also be part of a plan to replace international coursework postgrads.

Frank Larkins reports that Uni Adelaide was one of nine universities in 2019 where overseas students accounted for more than 70 per cent of postgraduate load. This was up from 26 per cent in 2001 and ahead of the national figure of 61 per cent of all PGs. Professor Larkins points out international postgrads are, or were, “a superior investment” for  universities because they are generally full-time on campus, making for cost-efficient delivery (CMM February 11).

For this relief, much thanks

The Australian Skills Quality Authority’s portals were down last night for maintenance, to “allow us to ensure the systems better meet your needs.” “Cue hollow laughter from private providers” a learned reader responds.

Spin on pitches to SA students

Uni Adelaide has a new student campaign in the “gosh we’re great,” genre

The “make history” 60 second spot presents a bunch of achievements at Uni Adelaide and a bunch of famous people who achieved them.

Presumably the message for prospective students is that they can add to all the terrific stuff that has already occurred – although how the university will help is not entirely clear – actually it’s not clear at all. Change the specifics mentioned and it could be about any Group of Eight university.

But it’s a classic of the genre, a stunner of a sixty second script and no promises that will set bullshit detectors off.

Profile in courage at Flinders U

Flinders U also has a new campaign, which asks “what would you do if you were fearless,” with young people talking about their aspirations. There’s a corporate clip pitching the university, “we don’t survive in challenging times, we thrive in them. We are fearless, we are Flinders.”  And there’s a TVC which is very arty indeed.

Working hard at Uni SA

As to Uni SA, it is sticking with a two-year old campaign, “start your unstoppable career.” “Our degrees are designed in partnership with industry. From day one you will get the experience your profession demands. So it will feel like you’r studying one minute and in a career the next.”

Which might appeal to young people who fear being skill-less will make them history.

COVID-19 responses

Shots in arms at Macquarie U, hard times at ANU

Students in ANU residences are told to stay put, as in not leaving their rooms and shared space. Volunteers are delivering daily packs of food and other essentials (CMM yesterday) to the 500 people locked-down.

Macquarie U staff and students can now book an on-campus AstraZeneca vaccination. There is no word on progress on the university’s plan “to encourage our current casual cohort” to be vaxed (CMM July 26).


Ilana Bolingford becomes centre manager at QUT’s Centre for Robotics.

Carl Rhodes becomes dean of the UTS Business School. He moves up from deputy dean.

Uni Adelaide’s new cancer research institute has a director, Chris Sweeney will join from Harvard Medical School. He will be joined by Luciano Martelotto (also Harvard U) and Jose Polo (Monash U). The centre is formally known as the South Australian immunoGENomics Cancer Institute.