O’Brien of Bundoora

“It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks at La Trobe U were striking 13”

On April 1 La Trobe U tweeted, “We know studying from home can be tough. To help everyone stay focused we are introducing a new web application for all La Trobe students and staff, #VCSees. It’s just like having a helpful mentor at home, or a big brother.”  “Surely an April Fool joke,” a learned reader suggests. It was, the message ended with “install compulsory VC sees.” At least the LR hopes it was a joke.

Messages for the Mail

Stephen Matchett’s old ISP now delivers emails in-person, by sedan chair, annually. So CMM has a new address stephenrmatchett@gmail.com

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Michael Sankey (Griffith U) on on-line exams, “we seem to be charging headlong into technical solutions that are potentially going to make things worse not better”

Plus, Merlin Crossley (UNSW)  on COVID-19: keep distancing to give science the time to deliver.

And Chie Adachi (Deakin U) on digital learning in crisis times – she has a MOOC on how to do it.

Flinders U stumps up for students

The university is allocating $8.5m for student support and is targeting donors for another $4m

VC Colin Stirling is personally kicking $100 000 into the tin, with other members of the university executive contributing a further $200 000.

The vice chancellor estimates 4000 local students, largely from equity groups will need help, with their jobs gone and many not having the cash for the IT kit needed to study on-line. Half of the 3500 internationals, who have no access to support payments and can’t go home, will also be hard-hit.

The package includes $1 million in $500 emergency payments allocated via the student association, $2000 scholarships and a waiver of the student services and amenities fee.

Flinders U follows Uni South Australia, which announced a $10m student assistance fund.

La Trobe U braces for a $150m hit

Management warns staff they will have to “share the pain”

The university says the loss of income will include $70m in student fees and $50m in commercial income.  All up LT U could face a 14 per cent revenue loss.

In a message to the university community, the senior executive group warn that with wages accounting for 70 per cent of operational expenditure, “we will have no choice at some time in the future but to ask staff to ‘share the pain’ by sacrificing short term income for the long-term sustainability of our institution.”

The LTU leadership also announces its members will take a 20 per cent pay-cut for April 25 to July 3, with the money split between university’s student support appeal and the university budget.

Vice Chancellor John Dewar is a member of a group of VCs who is meeting with the National Tertiary Education Union on the looming employment crisis.

Charles Sturt U post pandemic plans

Andy Vann is looking to the long-term

The CSU VC and senior staff hosted a virtual town-hall the other day, setting out how the university will address regional needs, “a problem” with enrolments and campuses that are physically bigger than they need to be as students move on-line.

It was a long meeting with Professor Vann and team doing a full Arnold Vinek, (West Wing, Seven/12) answering questions until people got sick of asking them.

Overall, the good news in these pestilent times was that the news wasn’t bad at CSU as other NSW unis – but it still isn’t great.

So, CSU has to change what it teaches (more campus-specific specialities), how it teaches (more industry-partnering and micro-subjects and how much it teaches (cuts to subjects that are on the books but not in class).

And there’s a new brand statement, “build your career your way with CSU”.

Yes, the university has a COVID-19 caused problem but plans are for way longer.

Hi and goodbye: Murdoch U abolishes executive positions

The Dean Engagement roles are abolished

Noordin Shehabuddeen is removed at the College of Arts, Business, Law and Social Science.  Vicky Vass goes at the College of Science, Health, Engineering and Education.

The imperative to choose between multiple competing priorities, led to the decision that executive level leadership from the Deans Engagement is not critical to our operations for the foreseeable future,” School PVCs Catherine Itsiopoulos (SHEEE) and Grant O’Neill (ABLSS) say.

Tracy Taylor, recently appointed from UTS also has her position of dean of business abolished.

“The decision to discontinue these senior executive roles is related to business sustainability and in no way reflects performance in these roles,” the PVCs say.

The engagement dean positions were created a year back.

More nurses where they’re needed

The feds are funding a surge strategy to increase nursing numbers for the COVID crisis

Private provider Medcast has $4m from the feds to upskill on-line 20 000 registered nurses for intensive care delivery. The e-learning platform will deliver on-line learning modules so currently employed RNs can assist in high dependency and intensive care units.

There is also a separate programme for the Australian College of Nursing for a refresher course so RNs not working in the profession can re-join.

As the pressure piles on TEQSA takes some off

The higher education regulator has deferred until June 30 Provider Information Request submissions

With apologies to the mass of learned readers who think of little else, the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency is working with the feds create a common data base of post-secondary provider information.  It is a complicated business and the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency obviously does not want heads exploding as providers struggle with COVID-19.

TEQSA, its training counterpart ASQA, and, indeed the overlords of oversight in the Department of Education, Skills and Employment have all announced extended reporting deadlines in the last few weeks.