Fun first at Uni SA

“Why not start the month in the best way possible … with all the latest news from Uni SA,” the university promotes its weekly what-happened digest, Friday.

If that’s as good as November will get CMM needs a drink.

There’s more in the Mail

Bret Stephenson (La Trobe U) on ghost students – you better believe they are real. A new essay in contributing editor Sally Kift’s series on what’s needed now in teaching and learning.

Trading places: Government creates a swap market in student spots

There’s a new way of allocating enabling, sub degree and federally funded coursework masters places

Changes were first put on the agenda a year back (CMM November 14) and in September redistribution was promised “shortly,” (CMM September 25).

The government now advises no change in the number or distribution of places for next year.  However, there will be a re-allocation of five per cent of “under-utilised” places in 2021, “in accordance with clear allocation criteria.”  While the briefed is headlined “discussion paper” it looks liked the heads of a policy to CMM.

What could happen: * allowing universities to, move enabling, sub‑bachelor and postgraduate Commonwealth support places, “within their designated funding envelope, on a cost-neutral basis

* cost neutral trading places, not necessarily at the same level, with other institutions

* re-distribution of five per cent of “under-utilised” places in 2021, “in accordance with clear allocation criteria”

What won’t: * transfer of CSP places from sub-bachelor and PG courses to enabling programmes, “to encourage a migration” towards sub-bachelor

* no retrospective trades

* no trades which would prevent already enrolled students completing courses

* no single-year trades

What’s this aboutFlexibility is one thing. “The focus for any redistribution of designated CSP places could be that the course is a requirement for initial entry to a profession, that there is demand and local economic or community need for the postgraduate course, or that there is a focus on supporting under represented students including those in regional and remote locations.

“To provide universities with the capacity to reallocate between course levels, funding agreements will only specify the maximum basic grant amount for designated places (which is a legislative requirement),” the paper states.

Transferring resources is another: “Given the strong demand for sub-bachelor places and the ability to charge full fees for postgraduate places, we expect enrolment patterns for CSPs to shift from postgraduate towards sub-bachelor over time.”

TOMORROW: expert reaction

Prestigious address, all mod cons

You get what you pay for at Uni Melbourne

“University Accommodation means your teen will wake up minutes from campus and can enjoy all Melbourne has to offer,” Uni Melb spruiks via Facebook.  There’s a link promoting modest student digs in Parkville, “Workout in the 24-hour gymnasium, refine your talents in the music room (complete with baby grand piano), play basketball with your new friends or cook for guests in the communal kitchen.”

Curiously, there is no mention of accommodation for students’ valets and maids.

They’ll do it their way: Victoria’s new voced review

Good lord is that the time? Yes, it’s a whole four years since the last one

So, the Andrews Government has commissioned former long-serving Labor federal minister Jenny Macklin to have look. Ms Macklin’s brief includes:

* “designing a system that meets the needs of both industry and government, while supporting individual students to get the skills they need”

* reforms to further strengthen the role of private employers

* ensuring VET courses continue to deliver high quality qualifications

* improving pathways between VET and Higher Education

Good-o, but why a new Victorian review of  issues the federal government could deal with?  That will be the coalition Government in Canberra and the Labor Government in Melbourne – ah federalism, ain’t it grand!

How right he is

Macquarie U’s new chancellor announces the obvious

Martin Parkinson sent staff a message Friday, telling them it was “doubly humbling” to succeed Michael Egan as chancellor of, “such an innovative and creative institution,” (CMM October 30).

Dr Parkinson added that, “Australian universities face challenging times, and we will be no exception.” His message came as staff considered news that management had frozen hiring indefinitely, in support of Budget 2020 activities”, (CMM Friday).

Scroll down for more Macquarie U news

Rankings: who knows what they’re worth

Rankings are core university brand-building business but is investment worth the effort?

Tim Cahill, Sarah Jaber and Thomas Massey from KPMG have a way to work that out.

What it does: The model, “helps universities understand; * improving which metrics will have the greatest impact on overall ranking performance, * the rate of score improvement needed to sustain a lift relative to other institutions, * additional revenue, “which might be associated”, with increasing overall performance.” * indicates “expected boost” in international enrolments, “likely to accompany improved rankings”

How it works: KPMG looks at data in the QS and THE ranking for 1000 universities and all Australian universities expenditure for five years, to identify investment in which areas will generate what increases student revenues.

“If a university does decide to pursue rankings performance, this must be done strategically, and significant resources will need to be strategically mobilised to succeed,” they write.

Deakin U does good on jobs

The Australian Association of Graduate Employers names the organisations members, employees and job seekers admire

Deakin U is named most popular career service. Again. It won last year and the year before that. Back in 2016, PVC Graduate Employment Dineli Mather said jobs for grads, “is the defining challenge” for universities (CMM March 3 2016). And Deakin delivered, with its interview prep Talent suite (CMM March 31 2017).

Dowton’s dilemma: Macquarie U VC explains why employment is frozen

There’s more budget news to come but staff will take some convincing

What’s happened: VC S Bruce Dowton explains the hiring freeze (CMM Friday) in a memo to Macquarie U management. “The external circumstances in which we operate have changed significantly. Enrolment growth domestically and internationally has slowed significantly at a time when our base operating costs continue to rise.”

What’s the problem: Last year’s financial plan assumed a $28.6m deficit this year, “closer to break-even” in 2020 with an operating surplus in 2021. “At that point, these assumptions were based on a continuation of growth in enrolments.”

But while Professor Dowton does not detail projected problems with enrolments, he states planned 2020 spending would lead to “a significantly worse position.”

What happens now: The university executive is accordingly reviewing 2020 budget bids. The vice chancellor adds the abolition of the Services and Strategy portfolio and announced break-up of the Faculty of Human Sciences are part of the budget-repair process.

Work is also underway on “a range of short-term initiatives to bring us towards a break-even budget for next year.”

What’s next: Professor Dowton advises, “in the coming days and weeks, colleagues from the executive and I will be engaging further with the university community to assist with a clearer shared understanding of our finances and options for addressing the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

They need to start talking soon.  The campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union has already held protests over the breakup of the Faculty of Human Sciences and calls on Professor Dowton to “meet with the university forthwith to explain the current status of University finances and to provide details of why there appears to be a budget “black-hole.”

MU observers also suggest senior academics are considering a direct appeal to new chancellor Martin Parkinson and the VC for a halt to the abolition of the human services faculty pending an explanation of why university finances requires it.


Another open access deal for Aus researchers

The Council of Australian University Librarians delivers

The peak library body, which manages relations with research publishers, announces a fee-based open access arrangement with the Biochemical Society’s Portland Press.

The three-year pilot includes open access publishing without article processing fees in the society’s seven journals.

It appears similar to CAUL’s deal last month with the Microbiology Society (CMM October 18).

In August, the Council reported it was negotiating OA arrangements with three learned-society publishers and a “significant medium-sized university press” (CMM August 21). Two down, two to go


Appointments achievements

Marcia Langton (distinguished professor and associate provost, Uni Melbourne) and Tom Calma (chancellor, Uni Canberra) are co-chairs of the Commonwealth’s senior advisory group on the co-design process that will, “develop models to enhance local and regional decision-making and provide a voice for Indigenous Australians to government.”

UNSW climate scientist Andy Pitman wins the Royal Society of Victoria’s Medal for Excellence in Scientific Research.

Mark Sutherland is confirmed as ED of the Council of Australian University Librarians. He has been acting since June.