The “I” s have it

“Today I’m pleased to introduce the Industry Research and Development Amendment (Industry Innovation and Science Australia) Bill 2021. The amendment will officially change the name of Innovation and Science Australia, known as ISA, to Industry Innovation and Science Australia, known as IISA,” Energy Minister Angus Taylor, House of Reps, yesterday.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Monash U announces its Master of Indigenous Business Leadership. Rachelle Towart argues the time is (finally) right for pathways, “helping to cement Indigenous executives into consideration for mainstream leadership roles in Australian business.”

Plus, the obsession with impact ignores the important – it can’t happen without scholarship. “Whether you consider yourself a teaching scholar, a research scholar, or perhaps a service scholar, being a scholar is central to all of our academic practice,” Michael A Cowling (CQU) suggests. It’s this week’s addition to Contributing Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated CMM series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

And, James Guthrie (Macquarie U) on the NSW Auditor General’analysis of universities. “Negative operating results in many universities in 2020 were because of the staff redundancy programme.”

As well as, Merlin Crossley (UNSW) crunches the QS numbers to find Australian universities are efficient and effective. “Over the last two decades as our universities expanded and took advantage of ‘economies of scale,’ remarkably, student satisfaction steadily increase.

TEQSA’s final countdown

The new Higher Education Provider Category Standards are scheduled to kick-in on July 1

The smart money says they will, that the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency will move to the new four provider category model from next Thursday and then tell providers of any change to their status.

So what should providers do if they are waiting on word that they have, or have not, made the cut to become a university college? Word around the traps is they should chill.



Just in from the don’t-hold-your-breath desk

Mid-morning yesterday, the ever-optimistic Innovative Research Universities welcomed the international students into Adelaide initiative

IRU added it “looks forward” to a Commonwealth announcement on the NSW plan for the same.

The statement arrived as Sydney starred into lockdown abyss. And just after the prime minister made it clear that Australia isn’t opening international borders, given risks of “virulent strains” of COVID-19. “Once you let it in you can’t get it out,” Scott Morrison told Natalie Barr on Seven Network’s breakfast show.

Uni Adelaide commits to independent unit to investigate sexual misconduct

“We will and must do better,” says VC Peter Høj

The university has adopted all 22 proposals in a consultant’s report to improve the way the way it deals with reports of sexual assault and harassment.

Professor Høj’s KPIs will be linked to establishing the comprehensive programme, which includes, an “independent integrity unit” to undertake investigations of “sexual assault, sexual harassment and other inappropriate behaviour” across the entire university.

The proposal for the new resource specifies it must be, “independent of local areas, HR, Legal and Risk and the Division of Independent and Student Engagement.”

The report was commissioned in response to a recommendation from the SA Independent Commissioner Against Corruption.  ICAC called on the university to review how it manages sexual misconduct, “with a view to introducing a policy or policies that are understandable.”

Last year ICAC Commissioner Bruce Lander found former Uni Adelaide VC Peter Rathjen had made unwanted sexual advances to two staff members, which amounted to serious misconduct, (CMM August 27 2020).

Yesterday Professor Høj acknowledged the  new report has found;

“underlying problems with the university’s culture, with some students and staff saying they did not feel safe to report sexual assault, sexual harassment and other inappropriate behaviour. Others have said that their experience of reporting has left them unhappy with how the matter was handled, and some of them were distressed.”

The vice chancellor apologises to, “to victims of sexual assault, sexual harassment, or other inappropriate behaviour occurring at Uni Adelaide.”


Announcing to the end at RMIT

The university has $44m from the Victorian Government for “a social innovation precinct” at the CBD North campus

“It’s a wonderful milestone for the future of a 20-year vision,” VC Martin Bean says.

The announcement must surely mark another milestone, the end of Professor Bean’s tenure. With Chancellor Ziggy Switkowski, Professor Bean announced his retirement in March (CMM March 2). He leaves next Friday.

The search for a successor is said to be “well-underway.” In the meantime, Dionne Higgins, RMIT’s COO will be interim VC.

Free advice from the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office

It’s worth what universities pay for it

VAGO reports five universities were in net surplus last year and three made a loss. Overall expenses increased by $53m – despite $318m in non-staff savings, and an $84m (11 per cent) drop in “contracted and professional services.”

But despite a 10 per cent reduction in FTE jobs, staff costs increased by $370m (6.5 per cent) “partly due to the significant costs of redundancy programmes” – the system reported $233m in termination payments last year.

As to how many people lost their jobs, VAGO is silent – stating figures in FTEs. The report does state that 42 per cent of FTE job losses were permanent staff, but how many part-timers, casuals and short-term contract employees made up the 58 per cent is not stated.

VAGO finds no-fault with universities presentations of financials, but warns that there are continuing weaknesses in IT security.

As to what happens next, “the longer-term financial sustainability risk to the sector increases the longer the international borders stay closed. Universities need to actively manage costs and may need to rethink their business models to remain financially sustainable.”

Who would have thought

You don’t get if you don’t ask

The Australian Academy of the Humanities urges researchers to make themselves heard on what National Research Infrastructure the feds should fund through to 2028-29

A  survey is open until Wednesday.

There are hints for humanities researchers who have access to big-ticket kit in mind in what Education Minister Alan Tudge says the government wants infrastructure to support, “our research commercialisation agenda by identifying areas of opportunity at all stages of the research pipeline, (CMM June 21).

Humanities lobbies are chronically cross at the way their research is often ignored in the allocation of infrastructure (generally computing power), (CMM May 17 2018, August 15 2019)

Appointments, achievements

Of the day

 Jo Douglass becomes head of Uni Melbourne’s Department of Medicine.  She is now a professor of medicine at the university and research director at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

 Bethany Keats joins Innovative Research Universities as marketing and media advisor. She is on seconded from James Cook U.

 Grahame McCulloch has come out of retirement to be chief of staff to Tasmania’s Opposition Leader, David O’Byrne. Mr McCulloch retired as general secretary of the National Tertiary Education Union in 2018.

Of the week

Emeritus Professor Lawrie Beilin (UWA) receives the Peter Sleight Excellence Award for Clinical Research from the World Hypertension LeagueAnthony Rodgers (UNSW) wins the League’s award for population hypertension control.

Dinesh Palipana (Griffith U) is appointed the culturally and linguistically diverse adviser to the Disability Royal Commission.

Glenn Solomon will join the Uni Adelaide next month, becoming first occupant of the Hicks Chair of Quantum Materials. He moves from the Joint Quantum Institute in the US. Professor Hicks researches the interaction of light with semiconducting materials and “device structures.” His new chair is funded by a bequest from Uni A alumnus, Warren Hicks.

Thorsten Trupke (UNSW) wins the William Cherry Award for outstanding contributions to photovoltaic science and technology. The award is from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Alison Watkins becomes chancellor of Uni Tasmania at the end of the month. Ms Watkins is a business leader and present member of the Reserve Bank board. She replaces former state premier, Michael Field.

Uni Wollongong announces two masters of maritime policy students have won scholarships. One is Megan Reinwald, from the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources. The other is Uni Wollongong’s own Andrew Herring, the university’s Associate Director, strategic comms.

Glenn Solomon will join the Uni Adelaide next month, becoming first occupant of the Hicks Chair of Quantum Materials. He moves from the Joint Quantum Institute in the US. Professor Hicks researches the interaction of light with semiconducting materials and “device structures.” His new chair is funded by a bequest from Uni A alumnus, Warren Hicks.