Big changes at Western Sydney U and Uni Sydney plus ORCID set to bloom for researchers

Understated ambition

You can’t fault Belinda Hutchinson and Michael Spence for ambition. Last night the University of Sydney chancellor and VC announced a new five-year plan (below), “which will support our aspiration to provide the highest quality teaching and research of any university in Australia and the world.” Over at Kensington, in contrast, Michael Jacobs only dreams of his strategic plan propelling UNSW to the top 50 research institutions (CMM August 18).

It’s on at WSU

People at Western Sydney U have expected management to move on academic productivity for months, which maybe why acting VC Denise Fitzpatrick waited for the somnolence of summer when fewer staff are around. Which she did last night, announcing Refresh, “a program of revitalisation of our academic output across the university.” It is also part of the 2015-2020 Securing Success five year plan. Refresh, “will involve engaging with individuals in schools around their current academic output and capability levels, to determine the career paths available to them. Support, development and options for career pathways will be provided to those whose academic careers are in need of revitalisation.” No, CMM is not sure what it means either, but suspects academic staff on the standard 40/40/20 workweek who do not have a bunch of recent publications to show for their two days a week of research time should watch out.

Staff in the schools of Science and Health, Business, Law, and Social Sciences and Psychology are first for the chop, sorry for the refresh, with the other five to follow. And if deans think they might be able to avoid the unpleasantness they should think again. “The Human Resources and Organisational Development Unit will be working closely with schools to engage in conversations around Refresh and provide support and advice to staff on career pathways and developmental options,” Professor Fitzpatrick said. The question being asked last night was how many of those pathways will take people out of WSU.

ANU Dec 15 4

Room at the inn

Deakin University reports it will spend $4m refurbishing its Geelong located Deakin Management Centre and rebrand it as Waurn Ponds Estate, a 57 room boutique hotel catering to, “to the conference, events, wedding, group, corporate, leisure and weekend markets.” As CMM’s Deakin correspondent puts it “with existing occupancy rates running at 22 per cent you have to wish them luck.”

And another one bites the dust

The government’s Tuition Protection Service reports the Australian Skills Quality Authority has rejected Metro College of Technology’s application for renewal as a registered training organisation. This means Metro cannot enrol new students or continue teaching existing ones. The decision was quietly announced last week and the state and federal online directory lists Metro College of Technology as non-current, however ASQA is silent as to its reasons. Metros’ website is now password protected but according to the Study Brisbane website, Greenslopes based Metro, “offers high quality of learning (sic) surrounded with good environment, friendly staffs and students and good facilities … We have pathways for our International students to universities in Australia if students decide to further their education and obtain higher qualifications such as Bachelors or Degrees.”

Metro offered courses in health and nursing, business and hospitality and was established in 2005. CEO is Johnson Oyelodi, a mining engineer who graduated from the University of South Australia in 1985.

Oh say can’t you hear?

Lucy Turnbull resigned from the board of the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney on December 15, which the centre announced yesterday. The USCC offered no explanation but perhaps Ms Turnbull’s new planning job for the NSW state government means she can no longer spare the time. The USSC was similarly silent about the November departure of then centre CEO Bates Gill, who left the day his departure was announced, (CMM November 12).


ORCID flowers

Research communication will prosper as the Open Researcher and Contributor Identifier (ORCID) blooms (CMM September 29 2015). “Imagine a world where researchers can reliably keep track of – and receive credit for – the myriad ways in which they contribute to science – not just articles, books, data and software but peer-review reports, preprints, grants, blog posts, video and sound recordings, and not just complete stories but individual experiments, images, methods and analyses,” Catriona McCallum from the Australian Open Access Support Group writes. The Australian ORCID consortium will launch next month at ANU.

Sydney structure sort-of settled

Parts of the long-time coming University of Sydney five-year plan are still coming, despite yesterday’s announcement of a new academic structure to start next year.

There will be six faculties, including Arts and Social Sciences (incorporating Education and Social Work and the Sydney College of the Arts); Business; Engineering Information Technologies and Science (incorporating the existing Division of Natural Sciences). There will also be a faculty of Health Sciences; and a new faculty, yet to be named, which will include medicine, dentistry, nursing and pharmacy, although an external review will recommend “a final organisational design for these disciplines.” Three schools, the Conservatorium of Music, the Law School, and the School of Architecture, Design and Planning will be outside the faculty structure.

“Details of governance and nomenclature in the new structure have yet to be finalised.”

What is settled is a smaller sized Senate with 15 members, seven fewer than now. Graduate and staff elected positions remain.

Sleep deficit

CMM’s “well, what do you know!” desk is back at work and reports US Department of Health and Human Services research  findings that “single parents with children under age 18 years were more likely to have shorter sleep duration than adults in two-parent families with children under age 18 and adults living without children under age 18.” Who would have guessed?

Devils in detail, angels in accounting

Activity based accounting is the new black among academics and managers who want to understand, and change, their circumstances. As ANU DVC Marnie Hughes Warrington puts it; “for every person I have met who descries cost counting as a corporatisation evil and the very antithesis of the principles that drive education and research, I have encountered many more who wanted to learn about financial management and strategy. They just haven’t had the chance.” (CMM December 18).

For those who want that opportunity the good new year news is that Bill Massy’s new book on using financial data to improve productivity in higher education is out in a fortnight. CMM is a big fan of Massy’s work, notably the way it informs the higher education funding models created by the Pilbara Group.