All a james

Yesterday CMM suggested the collective noun for deans should be “a james.” A learned reader prefers “a dither.” Presumably as in the unmade 1955 classic, “Ditherer without a clue”.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Merlin Crossley (UNSW)  argues competition does not always bring out the best.


There’s a way for universities to understand the challenges regional and remote students face, listen to them. Janine Delahunty sets out why motivation and determination to succeed at study aren’t always enough. It’s this week’s selection by Commissioning Editor Sally Kift for her series on what is needed now in teaching and learning.

Three threats to Aus unis and the ten most exposed

Universities did not use the boom in international student fees to build safety margins and now ten are at “high risk of financial default,” Tom Smith and James Guthrie (both Macquarie U)  explain in CMM this morning

“The current crisis in the Australian higher education system, caused by large-scale academic and professional redundancies, is excused by the precipitous drop in international students’ numbers. However, universities had not previously expanded their academic staff to meet the preceding rise in international enrolments.  Australian universities used these fees for internal research purposes and self-funded about 70 per cent of research expenses,” they write.

They point to their new paper, setting out why ten universities are, “currently highly financially vulnerable.”

Research Australia does not waste a crisis

The peak medicine lobby uses the pandemic to make its budget case

“While no country can produce everything it needs and its population wants, in a time of crisis a strong capacity in research, innovation and manufacturing enables a nation to shift its capacity to meet areas of critical need … . The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated Australia’s deficiencies in some critical areas and we congratulate the government on its swift response, identifying the importance of strengthening our manufacturing capacity in specific areas, including medical products. The challenge is now getting those actions underway efficiently.”

RA’s many 2021 budget bids include;

* “real-term” increases in funding for National Health and Medical Research Council and Medical Research Future Fund research in the budget and for the forward estimates

* a “substantial increase” in funding for indirect costs of research and the Research Training Programme

* funding for indirect costs of research in medical research institutes

And then there’s the proposal “most likely”

“A further $1bn of short-term funding should be provided to universities through the Research Support Programme to offset the expected continued impact of reduced international student revenue in the 2022 calendar year.” CMM suspects this will turn up in many more research lobby bids.


Private provider Education Centre of Australia tells staff that times are tough

COO Gavin Dowling says the “mood in the market” is that this year will be harder than last and so, there will be “an essential cost reduction exercise”

“Lack of clarity on when international students might be able to get on a plane and start their studies in Australia is a problem for our industry. Not least because there are other destinations – like UK and Canada – which remain open,” Mr Dowling told staff, Wednesday. And so, employee salaries “will be reduced” – managers will talk to staff. ECA staff are variously on contracts or the relevant industrial award.

“It is hoped and expected that reductions will be reverted in 2022 once the size of the business can support that,” Mr Dowling added.

“The demand in the offshore market has not gone away. It’s just more and more likely that we cannot see that demand realised until 2022 and that the remainder of 2021 will see us relying on continuing students and a small volume of on-shore students that can be recruited for our courses.

“In the medium-term (2022 onwards) we remain absolute on track for significant growth. We just need borders to be open,” Mr Dowling said.

ECA courses include pathway programmes with Swinburne U and Victoria U – with a Uni Canberra relationship in the works.

Paterson to watch security risks on campus like a hawk

Senator James Paterson (Lib-Vic) is the new chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security

He takes over as Andrew Hastie, promoted to the executive.

This is an important appointment for universities just now given the committee’s current inquiry into foreign interference on campus and there was much in some media last night about Senator Paterson being a China hawk.  He’s not the only one, committee member Senator Abetz (Liberal Tasmania) gave university representatives a hard time over China links at a hearing of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade in October.

The new intel committee member, replacing Mr Hastie, is Cecilia Hammond (Lib-WA), the former VC of University of Notre Dame. Australia. 

UTS research awards

The Golden Globe nominees were announced yesterday, but Cate and Nicole were not the stars on Broadway

Research Excellence: Shoudong Huang (Engineering and IT)

Research Impact: David Suggett (Science

Teaching and Research: Christina Ho (Arts and Social Sciences)

Collaboration or Partnership: Catherine Burke, Aaron Darling, Leigh Monahan (Science)

Leadership and Development: Qilin Wang (Engineering and IT)

Early career: Simon Knight (Transciplinary Innovation)

Supervisor: Bhuva Narayan (Arts and Social Sciences)

Management and Development: Colm Halbert, Liesel Senn, Wade Tozer, James Walsh, Thorsten Kostulski and Daren Sirbough, (Research Office).

Appointments achievements

Of the day

Steve Glassey becomes director of CQU’s Emergency Response and Innovation Centre. He was previously a free-lance public safety forensic analyst in New Zealand.

Leah Hill is Uni Sydney’s inaugural Chief Faculty Experience Officer. She has charge of student administrative services and oversights faculty general managers.

Of the week

 ANU announces Maryanne Dever will be PVC Education and Digital (from April). She will move from UTS.  Also in April at ANU, Royston Gustavson will become Dean, Academic Quality. He will split his time between this role and his professorship in the Centre for Social Research and Methods.

 AGL “digital innovator” John Chambers joins Swinburne U’s council.

Anna Florin (Uni Wollongong) wins the University of Tübingen Early Prehistory & Quaternary Ecology award for her Uni Queensland PhD thesis on 65,000 years of plant food use at Madjedbebe, in Arnhem Land.

Michael Gilding joins Flinders U as VP and ED of the College of Business, Government and Law. He moves from Swinburne U.

Martin Green (UNSW) wins the Japan Foundation prize for resources, energy the environment and social infrastructure for his research on photovoltaics.

 Olivia Groves joins the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education as a post doc fellow.

Alex Held (CSIRO) has a (small) planet named after him. It goes with winning the Harrie Massey Award from the Committee on Space Research.

Peter Høj takes over as Uni Adelaide VC on Monday.

Sven Rogge (UNSW) is the incoming president of the Australian Institute of Physics.

Michelle Ryan will be inaugural director of ANU’s Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, starting in July. She will join from the University of Exeter. The GWIL was founded, and is chaired by Julia Gillard.

Noordin Shehabuddeen is the new PVC VET at Charles Darwin U. He was previously dean engagement at Murdoch U’s College of Arts, Business, Law and Social Science.

Stephan Tillmann (Uni Sydney) is the new deputy director of the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute.