Ask not what James Cook U can do for you …

The university has an idea for staff who want to know what they can do for JCU

JCU branded merchandise is now available from retailer School Locker, (as is merch from ten or so other universities).

It’s an excellent opportunity for everybody who wants, as examples, a JCU logoed water bottle or a boxed JCU USB and bamboo pin gift set for $24.

And it’s good for JCU. An all-staff message approved by DVC Services and Resources Tricia Brand reports revenue-sharing “provides JCU with direct financial benefits” based on the value of staff and student purchases.

One way to help with the university’s $25m “over-spend” (CMM April 26)

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Merlin Crossley on how journal eLife picks up the pace on peer reviewing and why it matters, really matters.

plus Georgina Barratt-See, Ella Kahu and Kathy Egea on ways to avoid burnout. “We can only be compassionate caring educators if we are well ourselves,” they write. New in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in learning and teaching.

and Jim Nyland (Uni Southern Queensland) on why we need an engaged universities accord and what should be in it.

And in Expert Opinion

plus Bindi Bennett (Australian Catholic U) talks to  Tim Winkler about students engaging with Indigenous communities. It’s a pointer to today’s sessions of the on-line conference on the future for Indigenous leadership in Australian higher education.

Study helped in 2020 lockdown

“Being in some form of study or training appeared to be inversely associated with psychological distress”

Cameron Forrest reports the pandemic’s 2020 effects on “youth transitions” based on data from the 2020 Longitudinal  Survey of Australian Youth, for the estimable National Centre for Vocational Education Research.

Dr Forrest finds a 3.2 per cent increase in HE participation, in-line with what occurred in the GFC. “The uncertainty created by the pandemic led to some students remaining in higher education when they would have otherwise departed,” he writes.

And study appears to have helped in hard times. Dr Forrest reports that 24.8 per cent of LSAY participants not in study/training “met the criteria for probably serious mental illness” as did 23.8 per cent of VET students this compared to 19.1 per cent of HE students and 13.4 per cent of apprentices and trainees.

“Being in some form of study or training appeared to be inversely associated with psychological distress. This is somewhat unexpected, given that Australian and international research suggests that tertiary students who suffer academic, financial, and social pressures experience heightened distress,” Dr Forrest suggests.

But how people felt in lockdown 2020 may be no guide to how people felt who had to endure it again in 2021.



R v Brigid Heywood

The former Uni New England VC’s case is before Armidale court on Monday. Professor Heywood is charged with assault.

Students off unfair hook for fee stuff-up

Drafting of the original Jobs Ready Graduate legislation left students in hons programmes who had not started their final year slugged for the new discipline fees

For somebody like Maxwell Yong, the Uni Melbourne policy whiz who demonstrated that JRG doesn’t work (CMM October 20 ) this meant an extra $5000 in fees, due to the increased cost for his hons year in economics.

The coalition planned to correct this, but its bill died when the election was called.

However the new government is on to it, with the snappily titled Higher Education Support Amendment (2021 Measures No. 1) Bill 2021, set to correct.

Which is good for students unfairly slugged. As Mr Yong puts it, “this amendment wipes thousands of dollars off my HECS-HELP debt, so I’m pretty happy about that. … students are no longer paying for a legislative error.”

What’s less great for institutions is that the bill requires the unis to pay back the higher fees to students who should have been grandfathered in the first place.

The bill’s explanatory memorandum states it requires providers to make a  “re-credit of an affected student’s HELP balance and/or a refund of an excess up-front payment amount to the student.”

And to encourage them to remember to do it, “compliance with the application and transitional provisions is taken to be a condition of a grant made to a higher education provider.”

But not to worry, the EM adds “as the changes to grandfathering arrangements are not expected to affect large numbers of students, the financial impact on higher education providers and the Commonwealth is expected to be negligible.

To which the learned Andrew Norton (ANU) responds, “as missing honours students in the original JRG grandfathering provision was the Commonwealth’s mistake they should cover all the costs rather than penalise universities.”

HELP for medicos to work in the bush

The government wants to increase medical and nurse practitioners working in rural/remote Australia by reducing, in part or whole, their study debts

It’s intended to “encourage initial employment and increased retention of health practitioners” there, thus “addressing issues of equity and access to healthcare in these areas.”

The government expects it to “attract” around 850 doctors and nurse practitioners a year.

It went down well with lobbies, yesterday. “A game changer” said Luke Sheehy from the Australian Technology Network, (which has three members with med schools).

Vicki Thomson from the Group of Eight called it, “a much-needed incentive for domestically trained medical students to work in rural and remote Australia,” (members of the Eight have four med schools in the Murray Darling MS network).

And Nick Klomp, VC of Central Queensland U, which has a new regional medical pathway programme, thanked for the government for “widening the doors for more regional students to remain in their communities post-study.”

Whether it will help medical skill shortages in the bush over time CMM has no clue – but it will certainly give government MPs and duty senators good news to announce.

As Universities Australia put it yesterday, “any move to get more doctors and nurses out to these areas to keep locals healthy is a good thing.”

Appointments, achievements

Emily Colvin (Uni Sydney) is the new president of the Australian Society for Medical Research.

Tristan Kennedy joins Monash U next month as PVC Indigenous. He moves from Macquarie U.

The ’22 NSW Premier’s Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research include, Anthony Glover (Uni Sydney) – early career fellow. Anatoly Rozenfeld (Uni Wollongong) – researcher of the year. Natalie Taylor (Cancer Council NSW) – career development fellow.

Uni Canberra VC Paddy Nixon is the 2023-’24 chair of the Innovative Research Universities lobby. He will take over from Carolyn Evans (Griffith U).

Anna Nowak is appointed DVC R at UWA. She was previously acting in the role.

The Society of University Lawyers has elected Diane Barker (Australian Catholic U) a director and as secretary for three years. Bradley Urban (Monash U) becomes a director.