You want a non-sequitur with that?

“It’s Uni Queensland multi-use week – a week of teaching, revision or exams … which means it’s the perfect time for pancakes!” the university promotes swotvac events, via Twitter yesterday.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features today

Ian Marshman and Frank Larkins on the Tehan package; “Vocational education has triumphed. Undergraduate education is now more narrowly about training for a job, no longer laying the foundations for careers of the future. Their analysis is here.

Nina Fotinatos on five team functions for learning and teaching success. It’s Contributing Editor Sally Kift’s new selection in her series on what is needed now in teaching and learning.

Merlin Crossley (UNSW)  on the two golden rules for selection committees in research (and elsewhere).

Tim Winkler on the way the ATAR and tertiary admissions centres work, or don’t, for school leavers.

Lose-lose invitation for vice chancellors

In this tent or out they won’t be comfortable 

Education Minister Dan Tehan is inviting vice chancellors into the STEM tent, to join the panel designing the new linkage fund, which will increase uni-industry research, student placements and graduate numbers.

It’s a lose-lose for VCs who accept.  Joining will make it hard to criticise the fund, and more broadly the government’s new CSP funding rates for STEM subjects. Declining will also make it difficult to criticise the new arrangements – with the government able to say VCs could have had their say.

Then again, any VCs across the issues  who decline because they are washing their hair will also be sending a signal.



Tehan package not a Pyne pushover for opponents

The National Tertiary Education has kick-started the campaign against Dan Tehan’s new course costs with the slogan, “education for all – stop fee hikes.” Inspiring it isn’t

At least not compared with the “$100 000 degrees” union-led message which was the single most important thing that stopped Chris Pyne’s 2014 fee deregulation plan.

This time is harder, because Mr Tehan appears to understand, how dangerous is a slogan that encapsulates arguments against a complex policy. As he told the National Press Club on Friday, “this does not mean fee deregulation. This does not mean one hundred thousand dollar degrees.”  And so, there is no single aspect of his large plan that will variously alarm or appal just about everybody.

Mr Tehan also has things to sell. Lower course costs for nursing and teaching will work with conservative voters who see nothing wrong with universities being “vocationalised,” (thank you Larkins and Marshman). People appalled at the huge hike in the price of law and humanities degrees are not a Morrison Government core constituency and the increase in such course costs will play to the coalition backbench and perhaps some on the Senate crossbench.  The Regional Universities Network is in favour and other university groups are cautious in their criticism. The Group of Eight, hopeful of a research funding package in the budget, says it “disagrees strongly” with student fee hikes but in these hard times, recognises the need for, “a level of pragmatism for the long-term national good.”

Even so, the no case is not lost. The way opponents knocked-off the second set of coalition changes in the last ten years shows the way.  When Simon Birmingham produced a package including increased course costs for student, a lower funding base for universities, with two years of 2.5 per cent cuts and performance funding, the higher education community slugged it out with the government on policy as much as politics. In the end, even without a campaign winning slogan, cross-bench senators were unsettled enough for the package to be knocked back. The state of the Senate now is such that for Mr Tehan’s package to pass it could come come down to one vote, (CMM, yesterday).

Least-worse way to job losses at Swinburne U

A fortnight back the university announced it was consulting on voluntary redundancies as a COVID-savings measure

“This option provides an opportunity for participation and shared decision-making,” Vice Chancellor Linda Kristjanson said. She added that involuntary departures might have to occur, “to meet the changing environment we are now facing,” (CMM June 3).

To which the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union responded that there are still non-salary savings to make but as to VRs, they are preferable to forced departures, as long as there are “appropriate safeguards for remaining staff,” (CMM June 18)

And lo – a VR offer has just opened.

Business as usual back at Bentley

Curtin U management advises on July 1 pay to park starts again on the Bentley campus. July revenue goes to Curtin Cares which provides “much-needed assistance,” to nurses, teachers and students.

Union says no to ACU savings plan

A national meeting of  members at all Australian Catholic University campuses yesterday voted near unanimously to oppose management’s savings plan

The university wants to save $42m on staff as part of its COVID-19 cost cutting. Management commits to no voluntary redundancies but fixed term employment would be reviewed and sessionals and casuals would lose work. And if there is a proposal to “vary” the 2 per cent pay rise for 2021, now in the Enterprise Agreement, it would go a staff vote (ACU June 15).

When all this was announced NTEU branch president Leah Kaufmann said the union would oppose any changes, “proposed by the ACU alone.”

And yesterday members voted to do that, agreeing to campaign against any management proposal, “that leads to job losses, reduces job security, increases staff workloads, cuts staff pay, or eliminates or reduces previously agreed staff pay rises.”

As the pressure piles-on Australia’s COVID-19 response is unravelling

They say, “never waste a good crisis” but we are


A week is a long time in politics and last week was anything but predictable for education. Many in the sector cannot remember another time when the landscape was so divided and volatile.

How we got here is anyone’s guess. When COVID-19 started a few months ago the country was united. The national cabinet was formed and politics was put aside. For the most, policy to address the crisis was fast out the door, considered, bi-partisan and supported by all. States worked with states and the federal government relied on policy experts in the public eye. Media observers say you could predict the next announcement by the subtext of the previous.

So, what’s changed?

* China adding a warning to students about studying in Australia, doubling-down on its beefs over barley and livestock trades

* the prime minister warning we are under cyber-attack. He did not name China – he did not need to

* the prime minister keeps stating that for international students to return state borders have to be open. They are about to be in the ACT, but WA still says they are closed.

* premiers arguing. First Queensland’s closed border upset NSW. Now Victoria is upset that South Australia will let in people from adjacent states, except Victoria. The Victorians could be getting angry with NSW as well – yesterday the deputy premier said NSW could stop access for Victorians.

* Federal minister Dan Tehan’s Friday announcement of new fee categories for Australian students was the sour cherry on the now half-baked policy cake.

We had a unified approach to COVID-19 and it was good for education. We need it back.


Dirk Mulder is CMM’s international education correspondent


Pace picks up in appointments, achievements

Fara Azmat, Harsh Suri and Kim Watty from Deakin U win an excellence award from the UN supported Principles for Responsible Management Education.

Gemma Carey is to continue as acting director at Griffith U’s Queensland Conservatorium of Music.

Nicole Crawford becomes senior research fellow at the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education. She moves from Uni Tasmania where she works in pre-degree programmes.

Facebook’s Ethics in AI in the Asia Pacific announces funding; successful bids include, Sarah Bankins, Deborah Richards, Paul Formosa, (Macquarie University) with Yannick Griep (Radboud U, The Netherlands) for research on “interactional justice perceptions” and Robert Sparrow, Mark Howard and Joshua Hatherley (Monash U) for work on AI in emergency medicine. Facebook does not state how much is awarded but Monash U says Sparrow and colleagues have $42 000.

Scott Harrison is confirmed as PVC for arts, education and law at Griffith U. He has been acting in the role for a year.

Larry Marshall has a new, three-year, term as chief executive of CSIRO. Dr Marshall joined the organisation in 2015.Barbara Miles (VP, Advancement ANU) receives a distinguished service award from US based, comms and fundraising industry association the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. “In less than two years at ANU, she has elevated the strategic importance and profile of advancement across the university and significantly grown its advancement capacity,” the citation states.

Conservation Scientist Amelia Wenger (Uni Queensland) is the Australian nominee for APEC’s Aspire prize – for young researchers cooperating with scientists in other APEC members.