On-line underwhelms at RMIT

Training las year wasn’t terrific either

In a note on the 2022 annual report CFO Clare Lezaja tells staff, RMIT Online revenue was down 14 per cent last year, “reflecting lower enrolments in postgraduate education caused by historically low unemployment rates.” Last year’s loss was $6.3m, compared to a $2.6m loss in ’21. The ’22 result was “partially mitigated” by reduced commissions to industry partners and “lower tutoring requirements.”

At RMIT Training, tuition fees were down $4.6m, “with covid related restrictions continuing to impact student numbers. Operating loss was $6m, a marginal improvement on ’21.

TEQSA sees changes coming

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency suggests to the O’Kane Accord how HE will change over the next ten years

It predicts

* “much of the growth” is likely to be in the private sector

* more dual-sector providers, “as current vocational education providers seek to expand the breadth of their course offerings to retain a pipeline of students throughout the education lifecycle”

* “community expectations of pathways of learning that are industry driven and can build to, and follow on from, traditional degrees”

And it warns

* international student recruitment will rely on education agents and on partners for course delivery

* technology, currently “file sharing websites, contract assignment completion and artificial intelligence,” are potentially “existential threats” to academic integrity

* “cyber security vulnerabilities and foreign interference … will pose risks”

* of risks in “a lack of admissions transparency and integrity”

* and of the “prevalence of sexual assault and sexual harassment experienced by students”

Another chance to make the case for U Tas

The Tasmanian Legislative Council inquiry into pretty much everything about the state’s university is back

It heard evidence from Launceston Chamber of Commerce’s William Cassidy on Monday and today Uni Tasmania management are back – Chancellor Alison Watkins, VC Rufus Black, Academic Senate Chair Natalie Brown and Chief People Officer Kristen Derbyshire.

They did well in hearings at the beginning of March but the next week the university moved to defuse criticism (of which there is a bit) that staff are burdened by bureaucracy, announcing 48 senior admin roles would be abolished. After the usual spilling and filling and including vacant positions a net 18 positions will go, out of 113 in original-scope.

Management’s message then was, “we have been listening to the feedback provided by our staff, students and the broader community. We have heard consistent themes around the need to rebalance our university towards our academic mission,” (CMM March 8).

Something which might merit repeating.


SA unions and unis do it their (much the same) ways

All three public unis have new enterprise agreements in the offing – it’s a pointer to the new industrial environment

Flinders U and Uni Adelaide announced in-principle agreements with union negotiators this week, they still have to be approved by members and then in all staff ballots but they look like done-deals (CMM May 2 and 3).

And Uni SA was a week ahead of both (news to CMM) with a similar agreement, including a 14 per cent life of agreement pay rise, 50 continuing jobs for now casual academic staff by end ’25, “enhanced” workload management provisions and gender affirmation and domestic violence leave.

There is an SA style of bargaining, with universities and union generally sorting out agreements without long and bitter disputes, which is about to become especially significant.

Changes to the Fair Work Act allow multi-employer agreements. But why would the HE unions bother when three much the same agreements can be reached without the high stakes stresses of industry-wide terms?

And why would any VC want to risk being roped into a deal that may suit other universities more than theirs?

Southern Cross U to make good staff underpayments

Management commissioned an independent review after “media reporting of some instances of mis-payments at other Australian universities”

This might refer to Uni Melbourne where there were cases of staff being underpaid $10m and $22m (CMM November 3 2022) or Uni Sydney, $12.75m (CMM September 14).

At SCU the review looked for “anomalies in payments, salaries or entitlements” over 2016-22 and found 718 people were underpaid a total $950 000.

They will start getting their money next week.

Wages and conditions agreed at Griffith U

In December academic staff voted no to the university’s offer on wages and conditions – so it was back to bargaining

Yesterday a deal was done, with proposed changes also applying where relevant to professional staff, who voted for the original offer, in December (CMM December 9 and 14.)

VC Carolyn Evans and National Tertiary Education Union branch president Kim Walder announced an, “excellent outcome,” late yesterday. Changes include,

* an extra 2.5 per cent pay rise in March ’25. With the 2 per cent administrative pay rise awarded by management in March ’21 the total increase is 14.5 per cent across the agreement, (which is extended by six months)

* 3.6 per cent First Peoples employment by June ’25

* consultation and review mechanisms for academic work allocation

* a new university-level teaching allocation framework

* dropping management’s proposed changes to setting casual academic pay rates

* unspecified “revisions” to the definition of intellectual and academic freedom. The university’s original proposals were rejected by the union, which warned it “provides no enforceable protections for staff.” The NTEU liked the clause in the old agreement, (CMM December 9).

If (as seems assured) approved by NTEU members, the academic agreement and variations to that accepted by the professional workforce will be put to all-staff ballots


Anne Castles joins Australian Catholic U’s Australian Centre for the Advancement of Literacy. Professor Castles was a 2022 ARC Laureate Fellow, at Macquarie U.

Timothy Cavagnaro becomes Dean of Graduate Research at Flinders U – he starts in July, moving from Uni Adelaide.

At Swinburne U Saeid Nahavandi becomes inaugural Associate DVC Research and Chief of Defence Innovation. He joins from Deakin U.