New Future Fellows

The big ARC awards for mid-career researchers is announced

100 researchers share $90.5m to supplement salaries and project costs.

The big institutional winners are Monash U, with 16 awards, followed by Uni Melbourne with 12, Uni Queensland 11 and UNSW ten. The balance is shared by 19 other institutions.

That’s the good news. The not so great announcement from the Australian Research Council is that the success rate is 15 per cent.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Lucy Montgomery (Curtin U) on open access– it’s now the new normal which means, “universities can radically alter the visibility and recognition of their research in the community.”

Margaret Bearman (Deakin U) on why more money for research into HE is what is needed now in teaching and learning. It’s contributing editor Sally Kift’s new selection in her series, “needed now in teaching and learning.

Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on teachers learning. “Many enthusiastic and inspiring teachers are already reaching out and forming their own communities. With just a little effort it is possible for universities to establish stable frameworks and opportunities that will enhance and sustain these collaborative networks.”

Charles Sturt U in select committee company

CSU is pleased that it was heard by the Senate committee inquiring into the overall impact of COVID-19

The university issued a statement about it yesterday, reminding anybody who unaccountably missed Tuesday afternoon’s hearing that, “it is the first university to appear before the inquiry.”

CSU was in august company, joining peak HE staff and student unions, plus management lobbies, including the Regional Universities Network, of which it is a member.

It was a great chance for the university to set out the challenges it faces. DVC Research and Engagement, Heather Cavanagh set out seven challenges the university faces – COVID-19 is but one of them.

Uni Newcastle sets out sources of savings    

A COVID-19 savings deal looks close but is not yet done

Management estimates the university will be down $58m this year and $38m next.

Non-staff savings to address these shortfalls include reducing faculties from five to three (no decision on makeup) and reducing “complexity and overlaps in courses.”

In terms of staff savings, management states there is in-principle agreement with campus unions on reducing leave balances and early retirement. Negotiations continue on delaying pay rises now due this September and next.

There is no word on how many jobs overall savings could protect. Nor is there mention of the National Tertiary Education Union’s proposal for an independent committee to oversight university savings.

The university has set an August 10 deadline for negotiations.

Uni Newcastle is in a strong financial position, with no external debt, $36m in cash reserves and $534m in investments, as of December last.

Agreement at Uni Wollongong

It took two goes but staff now back a savings plan

What’s happened: Big majorities of staff have approved proposed amendments to the university’s enterprise agreement designed to address COVID-19 caused income falls.

On a 2200 turnout, some 86 per cent of academic and 87 per cent of professional staff voting supported proposals put jointly by management and the two campus unions, the CPSU and NTEU.

Staff will accept deferral to 2022 of pay rises scheduled for this year and next and agree to work flexibility and a leave purchase plan, in return for no forced redundancies before April and some protections for fixed-term and casual staff, (CMM July 17).

However, there is no word on how many people will now be saved from the sack.

In a previous proposal from management for temporary pay-cuts the best-case on job losses was 150 (CMM June 5).

What it means: This is a good result for management. When it previously put savings options to staff without union endorsement they were rejected by 62 per cent of employees voting. But now the university has an agreement, without the industrial brawl that would likely have occurred if it tried to push through cuts to conditions within the existing terms of the enterprise agreement.

And it is a big win for the unions, with management having to negotiate with them. It is especially important for the national leadership of the National Tertiary Education Union, which wants universities to provide financial information on savings being made to an external committee including union representatives. Uni Wollongong has not agreed to this, but it has committed to brief the unions on “financial challenges and response” and to regularly update staff.

Moves at the top of Charles Sturt U

Acting VC John Germov announces new leadership

Rick Wilmott becomes Chief Operating Officer, over-sighting finance, IT, facilities and his old portfolios; planning and “people and culture”.

Professor Germov adds the university council has approved a new role – “general counsel and university secretary”.  Existing uni secretary Cassandra Welbeck “is no longer employed by the university.”  Keeping his staff message brief Professor Germov thanks her, “for her contribution and support during the past 18 months.”

What Heywood has in mind for UNE

“UNE is not heading in a positive direction, or at a pace that keeps the institution ahead of an ever-growing set of competitors”

Vice Chancellor Brigid Heywood sets out the university’s circumstances and what she intends to do about them in a restructure proposal to staff.

some of the problems she identifies

curriculum: “UNE’s declining competitiveness is linked in part to the relatively slow design and delivery of an innovative, updated, academic curriculum, as well as the development of a modern multidimensional online offering”

research: “UNE has a relatively small number of high performing research staff upon whom rests the burden of our entire research identity and credibility. This is not acceptable”

workforce: “best described as ‘static’, lacking in capacity for adaptation and creativity, and is largely defined by operations which support individual domains of expertise.”

leadership: “the current leadership model is compromised by examples of poor visibility at executive level, evidence of limited engagement beyond immediate portfolio responsibilities and demonstrable deficits in performance”

some of  her solutions

admin: “UNE needs a root and branch review of the use of general/professional and technical staff across the university”

teaching: “re-scope the nature of academic work and promote a scholarly teaching-focused, student-centric faculty model that promotes a ‘whole of university’ approach rather than a model where ostensibly ‘discipline’ and ‘faculty’ outcomes carry greater weighted benefit than aggregated institutional performance.”

structure: “a new organisational structure that supports the achievement of iterative net savings is crucial”

how much?: “a managed workforce reduction” to save $15m per annum

new ways

leadership: a five-member executive leading portfolios supporting, “student success, academic excellence, operational resilience and functional partnerships”

academic staff: “employed to design and deliver education and/or research within an agreed framework. They will be employed primarily for expertise in an academic or research discipline area along with evidence of an ability to work in a team-based model”

general support services staff: “recruited to provide support in the administration and management of all coordination functions … may involve delivery of education/research-oriented tasks under the direction and quality assurance oversight of an academic leader”

core professional/technical services: “UNE must migrate to a whole-of-institution focus on the delivery of all services and move away from a model of local application”

what’s next

academics: “appropriate and managed reduction of core academic staff numbers”

professional staff: “rationalise professional resources across the business to secure efficiencies”