Web of belief

Giant spider provides promise of pain relief for irritable bowel syndrome,” Uni Queensland reports. Good-o, that’s if you trust anything said by a Venezuelan Pinkfoot Goliath.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Leanne Bell (Queensland TAFE) on the power of VET for Indigenous Australians. A new contribution to a series by Indigenous academics and policy people from commissioning editor Claire Field

Shelley Kinash (Uni Southern Queensland) on helping new graduates get jobs. COVID-19 is making the hunt harder. Universities need to do more. New in Contributing Editor Sally Kift’s series, “Needed now in teaching and learning”.

Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on airlines and universities: they take us where we need to be

Marnie Hughes-Warrington (Uni SA) on why we need just one ERA, but effectively have two.

Murdoch U farewells PVC

Catherine Itsiopoulos is leaving Murdoch U where she is now PVC of the College of Science, Health, Engineering and Education

It’s another executive loss at the college. In April, the Dean Engagement role there, was abolished, (CMM April 3).

Vice Chancellor Eeva Leinonen tell staff that Professor Itsiopoulos “has decided to leave the university and return to Melbourne. However, I am pleased that she will be able to be with her family.”

A new dispute at Curtin U

After losing a staff vote on savings management might have hoped that at least arguing with the union was over for a while – it’s not

The National Tertiary Education Union takes issue with management stating after the vote that it will proceed with “a programme of voluntary redundancies.”

This has long been management’s position (CMM September 2 and 21) but the union responds that the university has not, “considered and responded to the feedback on the proposal provided by affected staff and the NTEU,” which is contrary to the enterprise agreement which requires consultation on change.

And when this dispute is settled negotiating the next enterprise agreement will be on the horizon. Curtin U is just about the first university in the enterprise bargaining round that begins next year – its existing deal expires in June. So, planning for bargaining should be starting soon.

Curtin U is remembered for the agreement before last which was celebrated for its generosity and set a substantial base for all to follow. With Edith Cowan U and CQU, Curtin U paid staff rises of 4 per cent per annum for four years. Not going to happen next time.

All revealed on class sizes at NSW

The Casuals Network there has analysed enrolment data and report class sizes are up 13.8 per cent year on year

The Network’s searchable site of courses and subjects for 2016-20 is available for all to search, here.

The casuals claim the biggest increase in class sizes has occurred this year, as the university reduces sessional staff and warns things will deteriorate.

“Job losses through voluntary and forced redundancies, as well as the non-renewal of fixed-term contracts, will worsen the staff-to-student ratio.”

And on-line teaching, “has enabled class sizes to be driven up with few effective material limitations.”

However, management responds a 13 per cent increase translate to classes growing from 23 to 26 students. And this may come down, notably if there are reductions in international enrolments.

Students’ personal details open access at U Tas

There’s been a security breach of records

But it’s not cyber-crime – word is it occurred because of an “incident”,  which “inadvertently” allowed everybody with a U Tas email to access “some students” personal information.

So how many is some? Close observers of IT at Sandy Bay say 19 000 – which by UTas standards is less “some” than 60 per cent or so.

As to what sort of information, it appears to have been files on study support for individuals.

But not to worry; “We have undertaken a thorough review of how this information became accessible and have taken immediate steps to ensure it is secure,” VC Rufus Black told students yesterday.   After it wasn’t.

Professor Black, adds the university has, “identified and contacted all students and staff members who may have had unauthorised access to these files with advice on what to do.”  Not read people’s private information would surely be a start.


Cisco extends its university network

The IT-networking corporate will fund a chair in digital transport at UNSW, to “drive research leadership” in areas including resource allocation and transport modelling

The company already supports research at La Trobe U (internet of things). It’s a member of the Edith Cowan U CRC for Cyber Security and has a training centre on it at Victoria U. It supports a Flinders U cyber-security degree and has an IoT energy conservation project at UTS. There are also Cisco Learning Academies tech its teach at 22 universities, plus schools and colleges, (CMM September 10 2019).

Training system not delivering

Craig Robertson (TAFE Directors Australia) has a scathing assessment of what’s not happening

It’s in the form of a letter to the PM from “the COVID generation.” It’s somewhat steep blaming the PM for a governance structure of a bewildering complexity generations of bureaucrats built. But his point is that training accreditation is not working now the way it needs to; “we all took up a vocational education course because you said it would set us up for life, at least that’s what we figured if it’s the same as university, right? We did what you said but we can’t complete. We have no qualifications because work placements are outstanding, and nobody will take us on.”

Good point – perhaps the PM, or at least skills minister Michaelia Cash, should tell somebody, not establish a committee, to fix it.