All welcome

The Defence Department will offer 100 PhD students internships to work on “security challenges” (CMM Wednesday) with funding from, “Supporting More Women in STEM Careers,” a programme, managed by the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute. However, the internships are open to “all eligible postgraduates” covering men as well as women – which rather appears to defeat the original purpose.

There’s more in the Mail

David Myton talks to Macquarie U’s David Christian, who developed Big History in the face of a postmodernist pushback. There is a review of how Australia is getting serious about exploring the final frontier; and a wrap on ARC Linkage research partnerships.

High cost of counsel

So how much did Murdoch University pay for its win in the Fair Work Commission, which ruled it could cancel wages and conditions specified in its expired staff agreement?

Yesterday CMM reported the losing National Tertiary Education Union spent $870 000 on legal fees in the case but Murdoch U isn’t saying what the win cost. “It is not Murdoch University’s practice to disclose legal costs. However, the costs of any litigation are substantial and that’s why it has always been the university’s preference to resolve this situation through good faith bargaining.” Good-o, but the university did rather bring on the blue by going to the FWC during enterprise bargaining for a new agreement. Murdoch U now says it will engage with the union “in the coming weeks” and hopes to have an agreement by year end.

Fast talkers

The University of Queensland hosted the Asia-Pacific Three Minute Thesis finals last week, which was only fitting given it started what is now a global competition. The people’s choice and overall winner was engineer Ashwin Charles Benedict from the Universiti Malaysia Pahang, who spoke on, “Catalysing change: light at the end of the tunnel.” Alyssa Budd from James Cook U was runner-up for “Let’s talk about sex change.”

Unique Selling Proposition

“Did you know you can gain a Waikato Uni degree in China, without setting foot in NZ?” Waikato U, via Twitter yesterday. So, the unique selling proposition for a New Zealand university is not having to set foot in New Zealand.

Cogin to Queensland: UNSW loses business education veteran

Highly regarded UNSW veteran Julie Cogin is moving to the University of Queensland. She leaves her role as deputy dean of business and head of the Australian Graduate School of Management at UNSW to become dean of the UoQ business school, starting in March. UNSW observers say she will be much-missed, including by management who were relying on her to sort out the restructure of the AGSM. But, not it seems, missed for long. Yesterday Business Dean Chris Styles said that, “to ensure continuity and that the AGSM continues its momentum,” AGSM academic director Clinton Free will become interim director until the end of January.” He will take over “in the coming weeks.”

Pay rise proposed at Uni Adelaide

The University of Adelaide is briefing staff on the pay deal reached with the National Tertiary Education Union. The university is offering $2000 cash next March, followed by a 1.5 per cent pay rise in March 2019, a further 1.5 per cent plus $400 in cash in 2020 and 1.5 per cent more pay in March 2021. A close observer of enterprise bargaining calculates the offer translates to an annual pay rise of 1.5 per cent pa across the agreement for a level E professor and 1.9 per cent for a staffer on $80 000. This combination of cash payments and permanent pay-rises is popping up in agreements across the country.

The university-union joint recommendation to accept the offer is subject to a workforce vote

Monash VC Gardner on a great tradition

Monash University was part of the creation of Australian international education and those events half century past connect it to the eternal ideals of higher education, Margaret Gardner, explains in her Sir Zelman Cowan Oration for the Australian Institute of International Affairs-Victoria, this week.

“While a university may have been established to serve a nation or a region, its ability to do so depended in significant part on borderless exchange of knowledge and scholars,” theMonash VC Gardner on a great tradition  said in her speech on the great tradition of Australian international education, “from the Colombo Plan to the Asian Century.”

It is a tradition, and continuing practise, that extends far beyond students from overseas on campuses here, encompassing Australians teaching and studying abroad and the free flow of academics across the world. “There is a richer story of internationalisation, than is generally understood. … This story is rarely seen at this scale nor so widespread across all the public universities in a system.” Professor Gardner said.

And it is the result of governments with vision and universities with courage. “We got to this point because at key moments federal government policy opened the door and Australian universities stepped firmly through.”

The future of higher education in Australia depends on it continuing to connect the borderless scholars of the Middle Ages to our world.

“There is no international education or research that is separate from domestic education and research. There is no high quality domestic higher education or research, or high quality Australian university, unless it is also international.  True excellence in university education and research cannot be realised without some depth of global engagement and understanding,” she said.

Seven new models for the PhD

We need more science PhDs, as in types of degrees, not necessarily doctoral students with a one in two chance of being employed in a university a decade after graduation.

Jonathan Morris, deputy dean of graduate research at UNSW, made the case for more refined PhD products to last week’s Australian Deans of Science research forum.

“Is the current PhD supervision model the best way to support the competing interests of research excellence and career development?,” he asks before providing seven alternatives to the “traditional PhD, with its focus on core research and optional value-added content.

Structured PhD: the focus is on research and other skills, with value-added content included and support by other academics as well as supervisor(s).

Academic PhD: “For those who want to be academics.” On top of research it includes a teaching component, such as supervising UG/masters students. A skills development component covers grant writing, project management, learning and teaching.

International PhD: the traditional PhD but studied and jointly awarded by two universities.

Developing nations PhD: intended for students seeking sustainable solutions that are culturally appropriate, includes placements in home country.

Science management PhD: “to learn management and consultancy skills.” Includes industry placement, leadership training and an MBA.

Entrepreneurial PhD: a longer programme, including a project with a commercial application, a start-up placement and support from a career mentor.

Industry focused PhD: industry “helps frame” the research question and provides a mentor/co-supervisor,

Aspro Morris points to the joint UNSW-CSIRO iPhD and the UNSW Scientia doctoral programme, which has an impact on social engagement or global impact as examples that fit his model.

However, he acknowledges challenges with the idea, notably how to set consistent assessment standards and fund the models.

Talks stall at Western Sydney University

On Tuesday, there was a prospect of peace at Western Sydney U, where the campus branch of the NTEU thought management was minded to settle on terms for an enterprise agreement. But not now. Last night campus union leader David Burchell told members that while progress was made in meetings this week more time is needed. However, management now wants to delay the next days of discussion until the Spring teaching semester ends, “when member’s attention might be expected to turn elsewhere.”

Dr Burchell explicitly states that the university is bargaining in good faith according to the Fair Work Act but that management’s new schedule means bargaining will continue into the New Year, when matters will be confused by the roll-out of the new shared services programme, which is expected to involve staff retrenchments ( CMM August 28). Something to look forward to.

Dr Burchell says members have resolved to take industrial action in the week of October 12.

Unis got talent

Griffith U wins this week in the competition to claim famous musicians as its own between its Queensland Conservatorium of Music and the University of Queensland’s school of music. GU is out this morning celebrating Aria nominations for Con graduates Katie Noonan, Jayson Gillham and Kate Miller-Heidke. This evens the score from last week when UoQ claimed Dami Im as its own (CMM September 27) – she’s a graduate of both.

Universities have councils, not corporate boards

Two thirds of university chancellors have private sector “professional backgrounds” or continue to have “substantial non-executive roles with private companies.” And at eight universities most council members are from the business sector, according to a new study by the National Tertiary Education Union.

The emphasis on private sector memberships has occurred as governments move to reduce the overall size of councils and cut staff membership while universities have excluded staff representatives on councils from full participation, the NTEU explains in a report releases yesterday.

The report warns changes to councils are misplaced, that “the reduction in council sizes and the preoccupation with managerial modes of governance may in fact limit capacity around quality of teaching and research.”

“While regulatory forces shaping governance are diversifying, the core functions and purpose of universities remains. This is the creation of educational goods and outcomes (focused around teaching, research, and outreach) for public purposes and goals. Good performance in this respect fundamentally requires governance expertise in the lived experience of leaning, research, community service and a commitment to the unique missions defined by universities as public and civic institutions. These are not only evident in strategic plans and enabling legislation, but in open, transparent and inclusive decision making cultures.”

To ensure university councils have “transparent and inclusive governance cultures in which elected staff and students play a critical role” the union proposes a code of governance, “to assist governing body members to appropriately consider and manage their formal responsibilities as members of university governing bodies.”

Heads Up: Big moves of the working week


Following an MOU with Catholic Healthcare, Charles Sturt U has appointed Marguerite Bramble to a new chair in aged care practice innovation. She will lead clinical nursing research, and education in aged care practice and innovation and work with Catholic Healthcare in the university’s central-west NSW heartland.

 The University of Notre Dame Australia has confirmed Sally Robertson as dean of nursing at the Sydney campus. She has acted as in the role all year.

Chris Knapp is the inaugural professor of architecture at Western Sydney University. He joins from Bond U.

Robyn Ward is the University of Sydney’s incoming executive dean for the new Medical and Health FacultyProfessor Ward is now DVC R and acting executive dean of medicine at the University of Queensland, where she has served since November 2014. She will join UniSydney in July.

Jennifer Gore is the first woman to become a University of Newcastle laureate professor. The title recognises “exceptional academic achievement” and is “among” the university’s “highest academic honours.” Professor Gore is director of the university’s teachers and teaching research centre.