The summer week that was

Yes, CMM is supposed to be on holidays but the news gods ignored the memo.  See you Jan 20.

The people to run Uni SA’s new cross-disciplinary teaching teams

The academic restructure is close to complete, with heads of the new curriculum communities appointed

The university has filled six of the seven executive dean positions.

Roger Eston (now PVC Health Sciences) becomes ED Allied Health and Human Performance.

Andrew Beer (dean Research and Innovation) is ED Business.

Joanne Cys (PVC, Education, Arts, Social Sciences) is ED, Creative.

Shane Dawson (Head of School, Education) is inaugural ED of the New Education Futures academic unit.

Paula Geldens (now leading the School of Creative Industries) will lead Justice and Society

Julie Mills (PVC, IT, Engineering and Environment) takes on the new STEM academic organisation

There is no word on the first head of Clinical and Health Sciences.

The new structure of teaching-curriculum communities replaces the existing discipline-based organisations, (four divisions, 14 schools). It is scheduled to start April 1 (CMM December 9).

Friend to post-docs everywhere

“Successful scientists have a lot of power and have a strong personal interest in preserving current funding systems that let them build empires,” says Dominic Cummings

These empires include often bad treatment of young postdocs who are abused as cheap labour. … People in their twenties now have very little power or money in the research ecosystem. Further, they have to operate in an appalling time-wasting-grant-writing bureaucracy,” he adds
Who is this friend to post-docs staring at poor prospects?

Yes, that Dominic Cummings, a senior advisor to Boris Johnson. Question is will he do anything about it.

Sharing the wealth of research news

Education Minister Dan Tehan continues his policy of giving research-funding announcements to local members  

Senator Sarah Henderson has launched the Australian Research Council’s new Training Centre for Future Energy Storage Technologies, at Deakin U. The feds are providing $4.4m over five years, with 15 partner organisations kicking in another $6.7m in cash and kind.

Senator Henderson is the closest thing the government has to a local member for Deakin U in greater Geelong. She used to hold the seat of Corangamite, which includes Deakin U’s Waurn Ponds campus – losing it to Labor at the last election. She then filled took Mitch Fifield’s senate seat when he resigned. The next-door electorate of Corio, which includes Deakin U’s waterfront campus is solid Labor.

The government also announced a separate $2m Hydrogen Transition Centre, at Deakin Warrnambool, to research hydrogen fuel cells to power freight-trucking.

The member for the local seat of Wannon got to make the announcement, a bloke called Dan Tehan.

“The first of our keynote conference videos from TEQSA19 are now available for your viewing pleasure!”  the higher education regulator, via Twitter this week.

Uni Tas makes mates with rates

The uni has a brilliant way to make- nice with Hobart, give the city council money

The university’s plan to move big parts of its operation into the CBD initially did not go down well with all the locals (CMM April 23).

But since then VC Rufus Black has mounted a consult and charm offensive, including an agree-a-thon, where the university and community leaders met to discuss how to make the move work (CMM December 4).

And now the university has come up with something communities like even more than being asked what they think –  money. U Tas and the Hobart City Council have struck a deal whereby the university will pay the equivalent of rates on recently acquired expansion sites in the CBD, including student accommodation.  The first annual payment is $350 000.

The universities of Adelaide and South Australia may well be hoping that news travels less fast, than not at all. Back in July Stephanie Richards in the excellent INDAILY reported people in Adelaide are unimpressed the two pay no rates to the city council (CMM July 12).

Deakin U announces new speech codes

They look largely in-line with what former chief justice Robert French recommended in his report to the Commonwealth

VC Iain Martin tells staff the two new policies were drafted by Academic Board and University Council.

Freedom of speech: Covers staff, students and visitors to the university: The policy affirms the principles where people can speak, sets out cases where they may not and affirms a right to peaceful protest. But overall the policy can be applied however management wants; “Where multiple conflicting views exist in the lawful exercise of freedom of speech, the university’s duty to foster the wellbeing of students and staff will be used as a guiding principle in deciding on an organisational response,” (Clause 13).

However, as with the new Uni Sydney policy, it does limit “wellbeing,” which, “does not extend to a duty to protect any person from feeling offended or shocked or insulted by the lawful speech of another.”

This is the line proposed by Mr French in his model code, commissioned by Education Minister Tehan.

Academic freedom: The new policy looks much like the 2013 academic freedom policy, “recognised” in the current Enterprise Agreement, and the code of conduct, which covers academic activity but also allows academic staff to “make comments, “as long as the staff member does so in their private capacity and does not claim to represent the university.”

Another league table, another Uni Melbourne number one

The last but not the least research ranking for the year is out, from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara

Its University Ranking by Academic Performance crunches journal data per institution, including journal and citation impact factors, from Web of Science data.

The 2019-2020 ranking for Australia looks like the last one – as well as the generality of research-data based league tables.

The local top ten is Uni Melbourne, 23rd in the world (30th last year) Uni Sydney 24th (26th), Uni Queensland 35th (40th), Monash U 39th (53rd), UNSW 44th (60th), UWA 110th (106th) ANU 134th (130th) Uni Adelaide 144th (157th), Curtin U 220th (249) and Griffith U 264th (269th).

Research infrastructure funding: where the big money goes

Just in time for Christmas there are Research Block Grants gift-wrapped under the HE tree. Some packages are much bigger than others and none as large as they might have been

There is $910m for the Research Support Programme and $1047m for Research Training.

What the minister says: “We are supporting world-class research and the training of Australia’s next generation of innovators.  We want to see our investment in research turned into new ideas and knowledge that will support our economy, help create employment opportunities and deliver improvements in areas like health and the environment,” Education Minister Dan Tehan said this week.

What isn’t mentioned: This year’s block funding is based on $328m in reductions in the rate of funding growth over four years, announced in 2018 MYEFO.  This kept funding for 2019 at 2018 levels, reducing the base for indexation through to 2021 (CMM December 18 2018)

Who gets what: As ever the Group of Eight collects the cash. Total funding for both programmes (rounded to the nearest $1m) is: Uni Melbourne, $211m. Uni Queensland, $183m. UNSW $178m. Uni Sydney, $178m. Monash U, $177m.  ANU, $126m. UWA, $89m. Uni Adelaide, $86m.

All up the Go8 research intensive unis score $1.228bn, 62 per cent of funding – in line with last year. Money is allocated on the basis of research income and higher degree completions.

Union at Macquarie U on faculty closure: the why is dubious, the how doubtful

Management is acting as if it is “merely a business decision” the NTEU warns

Bad idea: The union sets out problems with the way MU’s leadership is abolishing the Faculty of Human Sciences and redistributing constituent departments – suggesting it is a bad idea all-over.  “The university is essentially removing a high-performing, successful and cohesive organisational element, disrupting its operations, the research, teaching and administrative work of staff and the sense of continuity and belonging enjoyed by the Faculty’s students, for a relatively paltry claimed annual saving (in terms of the overall university budget) of $4-5m,” National Tertiary Education Union branch vice president Cathy Rytmeister tells university HR head Nicole Gower.

Big impact: The timing isn’t terrific from the union’s perspective. Ms Rytmeister reminds management that closing the faculty is occurring as the new university-wide syllabus kicks in. “After all the work carried out on the MQ2020 curriculum and the careful setting-up of systems to manage not only the new courses but the transition of students, we now find that much of this systems-work has to be redone. … this is particularly distressing for those staff who have already spent 18 months going ‘above and beyond’ to bring the MQ2020 curriculum and its supporting systems from idea to reality.”

It could be worse for staff: Ms Rytmeister says the union is “greatly encouraged” that there will be no forced redundancies and “acknowledges the considerable efforts of HR staff.”

But management should have asked people who know: “It is  “extraordinary,” she says that Academic Senate and its committees, “who are responsible for governance of the academic mission and operations of the university, were not consulted at all prior to the announcement of the proposal change. The university executive is treating a major structural change of an academic unit as merely a business decision; it is not.”


Appointments, achievements

In July Margaret Barrett will become a professor in Monash U’s school of music. She is to move from the University of Queensland.

Tanya Buchanan is the new chair of NEAS (“quality assurance services for everyone in the English Language Teaching community”).

Emma Camp (UTS) and Allison Broad (Uni Wollongong) win the Academy of Science’s Max Day awards. They provide funding for early stage PhD or early career researchers in environmental sciences.

Angus Cook joins the Council of Australian University Librarians as manager for content procurement. He moves from Springer Nature.

Diane Smith-Gander is appointed board chair of the UWA Business School.

Colin Higgins becomes director of global programmes at Deakin U. He moves up from MBA Director.

Rebecca Johnson will leave the Australian Museum Research Institute in the new year. She is moving to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

At the Australian Wine Research Institute in Adelaide Mark Krstic will step up to become MD. He is to replace Dan Johnson, who goes to Macquarie U in the new year. Dr Krstic is the AWRI’s business development manager.

Simon Leunig is to be PVC and president of Curtin U Malaysia. He moves up in January from associate Curtin’s DVC International and ASEAN dean.

Sarah O’Shea is the new director of the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education, based at Curtin U. She moves from Uni Wollongong, replacing Sue Trinidad who stands down after seven year.