What a relief

UWA reports a discovery that the Milky Way is the same size as the Andromeda galaxy. “It had been thought that Andromeda was two to three times the size of the Milky Way, and that our own galaxy would ultimately be engulfed by our bigger neighbour.”

Industrial action looms at UniMelb (and they aren’t even arguing about pay yet)

Union members at the University of Melbourne have decided not to wait for enterprise bargaining Godot and have delivered management a list of what is needed to avoid industrial action (CMM Wednesday). National Tertiary Education Union members say management must withdraw enterprise bargaining claims regarding separate agreements for professional and academic staff, and there must be “significant progress” on issues including, workloads and intellectual freedom.

CMM understands agreement is close on misconduct, disputes and appeal processes plus a range of administration processes, but “key issues are still in dispute.” Such as? “Management is not talking money,” a close observer of Parkville life says.

Stiff drink

A learned reader reports a University of Tasmania’s outdoor campaign promoting business and economics study which includes, “sheep’s milk into vodka? Now that’s entrepreneurial”. It’s also unappealing, the vodka drinking LR remarks.

Government announces first student growth for 2020

The federal government has confirmed funding for student places at the University of the Sunshine Coast’s proposed Petrie Campus. In January USC VC Greg Hill told CMM he feared that the plan could be undone by the federal government’s two year freeze on undergraduate places. However, government MPs with effected electorates Peter Dutton and Luke Howarth have announced $69m in federal funding will mean the campus will be able to enrol students when it opens in 2020. Yesterday Education Minister Simon Birmingham added, “the Turnbull Government delivers on its election commitments.”

This is an early indication of a way growth places may be allocated when the freeze on student numbers lifts. In announcing the end of demand driven funding in December’s MYEFO Senator Birmingham said future growth in funding student numbers for universities would be based on their meeting as yet unset targets which could include student experience, attrition, completion rates and graduate outcomes.” And now, it seems, election promises.

Last month Professor Hill told CMM (January 18) that he wondered how growth places would be allocated. “We could be going back to the days of compacts and special deals, I am not looking forward to returning,” he said. In the case of Petrie he was way-too pessimistic.

Absent i

A learned reader points out CMM referred to the “Far (sic) Work Commission” yesterday. “And there I was thinking only the Fair Work Commission dealt with FIFOs” the LR remarked.

Murdoch launches more than MOOCs

Murdoch University will offer full degrees via digital delivery, in partnership with the UK Open University’s MOOC platform FutureLearn.

In May Murdoch U will commence free ‘taster’ courses that give students a sense of what proceeding to a full degree would involve. Those inclined could then take on the fee-paying units needed to complete a postgraduate degree. Murdoch’s first course will be a graduate certificate in health administration. The introductory unit is  here.

Murdoch will offer another graduate certificate later in the year, on agricultural, environmental, animal and human health. It will also teach a MOOC unit on security and terrorism, which will be a pathway to a full online degree.

Course costs will be competitive in a global market for off-campus study,” Murdoch advises.

Big ticks for blockchain research

The blockchain is now a suitable subject for serious study with the announcement of the Journal of the British Blockchain Association. It’s open access, peer reviewed and RMIT economist and pioneer of BC studies Jason Potts is a contributing editor.

Grounds for worry at La Trobe

The La Trobe branch of the National Tertiary Education Union has warned the university’s council that management failures mean there are now too few staff to manage grounds, maintain infrastructure and keep facilities ticking over.

“What we find particularly miserable is that this university has the largest campus in Australia, 267 hectares, something it promoted, marketed and boasted about in its 50 anniversary last year. Then it demolished the grounds and gardening team. There is now one lone gardener left,” the union claims.

According to the NTEU, low morale led 35 of 100 staff to take voluntary redundancy when the university offered it, costing a claimed $3.5m in separation payments and leaving remaining staff swamped by work. “Given the low classification levels of many ex-employees, for example, gardening staff, it is unlikely their work will be performed by external contractors for the same low cost or with the same dedication,” the union says, adding the council, “has an obligation to act where the health and safety of staff and the university’s reputation is at risk.”

Last night a university spokesperson told CMM: “the changes made within the university’s infrastructure and operations division were undertaken in accordance with our collective agreement. Departing staff volunteered to take up an offer of redundancy. We will continue to work with staff to address any unintended impacts of the change and encourage the union to utilise grievance processes outlined in the collective agreement.”

French connection

Back in 2016 the University of Adelaide announced (CMM May 27) it would establish a business incubator in Chalons-en-Champagne. It’s happening today with ThincLab Chalons twinning with ThincLab Adelaide, which commenced last year.

More of the same old in finance research

With the Australian Business Deans Council set to consider a revised ranking of journal quality a new analysis of finance research suggest that top rating ones are not always interesting.

Chris Brooks and Lisa Schopohl from the Henley Business School  dug into data relating to 30 000 published papers to find a, “striking lack of diversity in the topics investigated and the methodological approaches used.”

And it will be more of the same old, same old, while the publishing pecking order remains. “Rather than aiming to emulate the leading schools publishing in the leading journals, researchers should develop their own independent agendas, potentially addressing different questions, using a plurality of approaches and citing relevant and high quality work wherever it is published. This would make it possible to break out of the vicious cycle where only top journal publications are perceived to be of value in the finance area so that researchers worldwide only aim to publish there,” Brooks and Schopohl write.

Australian “and Oceana” researchers do not appear often in “journals of distinction” accounting(sorry) for 1.66 per cent of finance articles, 3.58 per cent of accounting, and1.23 per cent in economics. In two-star journals however the accountants made nearly 22 per cent of articles.

Dolt of the day

In Wednesday’s issue CMM reported that Deakin University students came second in the (US) National Sports Forum Case Cup. They are not students in a masters of sports administration, as CMM reported, but sports management.

Heads Up: wins of the working week

Paul Gladston is the inaugural occupant of the Judith Neilson Chair of Contemporary Art at UNSW. The chair is funded by a $6m gift from philanthropist Ms Neilson. Professor Gladstone researches contemporary Chinese art and culture. He moves from the University of Nottingham. Ms Neilson’s gift will also support a postdoc fellowship in contemporary art. Yu-Chieh Li from the Tate Research Centre: Asia will be the first fellow. UNSW has also renewed Ross Harley for a second term as dean of Art and Design he also takes a new chair, of culture, no less.

Flinders University chair of history Melanie Oppenheimer will take up a visiting chair in Australian studies at the University of Tokyo for 2018-19. Professor Oppenheimer will research the Japanese Red Cross.

UNSW water engineer David Waite is elected a foreign member of the US National Academy of EngineeringProfessor Waite is one of 262 international engineers in the academy.

Saxon Rice is the new deputy chief commissioner of the Australian Skills Quality Authority. The former Queensland LNP assistant minister for TAFE replaces sometime federal Labor minister Michael Lavarch.

The Medical Technology, Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Industry Growth Centrehas announced a leadership change. Bronwyn Evans is stepping down as chair, to be replaced in three months by present CEO Sue MacLemanMs MacLeman joined the centre in April 2016.

The University of Melbourne announces Ryan Johnston as inaugural director of the new Buxton Contemporary, home for the art collection, and money for a facility to house it, donated to the university by Michael Buxton in 2014. 

Denise Varney will serve as dean of arts at the University of Melbourne, during the search for a successor to previous dean Mark ConsidineProfessor Considine has moved up to be UniMelb provost.

Iain Watt will join UTS as DVC International in June. He is now PVC I at UWA. His appointment follows yesterday’s announcement that Celia Hurley will also star on Broadway, moving to UTS from Curtin U to become inaugural VP for advancement.

Peter Draper will be the new executive director of the University of Adelaide’s Institute for International Trade. He is now managing director of the Tutwa Consulting Group, in South Africa.