Sweat it out

A gym-class size of Uni SA researchers reviewed a weight-rack of research to find “physical activity is highly beneficial for improving symptoms of depression, anxiety and distress across a wide range of adult populations”

Ben Singh and colleagues conclude aerobic exercise, resistance training and the stretching stuff CMM looks ridiculous doing are all beneficial – and higher intensity provides “greater improvements” for depression and anxiety.

You can read all about it in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, if you or your institution  subscribe, otherwise it will cost you £40 (A$70). Alternatively, you can spend that on a month in the gym and work it out for yourself.

Student Progress Rates set to slide

In Features this  morning Angel Calderon (RMIT) looks at the just released 2021 student data stats and reports 28 public universities collectively recorded a small decline in the progress rate

He expects the same for two-three more years.

For ’22 this will be due in part to, “the disruption caused by the pandemic. But the low completion requirement of the previous government’s Job Ready Graduates rules will have an impact, “resulting in hundreds of students being discontinued due to poor academic performance.”

And he calls on the O’Kane Accord team to require universities with low SES enrolments to reach system averages, to “effectively reimagine the role higher education plays in Australian society.”

His article is HERE .

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Teaching students transferable skills works best when they know how to apply them in jobs. Gayle Brent (Griffith U)  suggests, “the experiences we provide for our students while they are students must prepare them to effect this transfer for themselves.” Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s new selection for her celebrated series, Needed now in learning and teaching.

with: Mary O’Kane calls on universities to prepare for the long term. Sean Brawley and Richard Cook set out Uni Wollongong’s structure designed to do just that  HERE.

plus: Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on when managing fast works but why people like to take time.

Sarah Henderson gets the hang of opposition

In her Universities Australia speech last week  the new coalition shadow minister for education had a go at the government over the Accord

It is, she said, “delayed action” claiming it will be two years minimum, before there is a plan.  “Labor had nine years to formulate a policy but I think it’s fair to say that they did not do a sufficient amount of work.”  Good-o, but  having a national plan to transform higher education in opposition is a bit of an ask.

Senator Henderson also criticised the government for not cancelling Confucius Centre agreements – which the coalition did not do in government, despite outrageathons over Cis in universities on its watch.

Time for Uni Tas management to pad up

A committee of Tasmania’s Legislative Council resumes hearings into the provisions of the state university’s Act on Wednesday

While the terms of reference are of generous width there was a focus last year on the university’s move into the Hobart CBD and property development plans for the Sandy Bay campus.

There is no witness list for this week but university management is yet to appear before the committee. If they do pad up this week officers will likely play straight bats, politely rejecting criticism and stating the case for the move, which VC Rufus Black has made against what is now years of fierce criticism by community opponents of the relocation.

It is about all they can do – construction and planning in the city is now too far progressed for the university to withdraw, at least without career ending humiliation and financial losses, which could well require state government funding.

It is unlikely this would bother opponents but it might alarm Premier Rockliff.

There must be an election on

The prime minister and colleagues announce $10m for the Energy Futures Skills Centre at Uni Wollongong and $2.m for a renewable energy training facility at Wollongong TAFE.  The NSW state election is on March 25.

At least it is a new announcement. Last week the NSW coalition government announced, again, a new Uni Newcastle campus (CMM February 23).

Murdoch U starts the sell

The day after the WA Government announced an inquiry into structural change for the state’s four public universities Murdoch U makes a big announcement – there will be a bit of this from some of the others

On Friday the university opened its Murdoch U starts the sell, at the state Food Innovation Precinct, south of Perth. Apparently, Murdoch’s specialised campus establishes a world-class destination for food professionals and researchers committed to advancing knowledge and production of food that is both good to eat and good for you.

It follows MU’s opening of its Boola Katitjin “technology enabled learning” building, which will meet 60 per cent of  teaching requirements.

With the state government interested in a case for a university-merger expect as many announcements as unis can find, to demonstrate what great jobs they are doing as is.

As Murdoch U VC Andrew Deeks  responded to the review announcement, “WA students benefit from having diversity of choice, from which they can find a university that suits their character, circumstances, and ambition.”

Uni lobby defends members against pay allegations

The university management IR lobby says underpaying casual staff is not deliberate and its members are fixing it

Tbe 32-member Australian Higher Education Industrial Association has responded to allegations that universities are committing “wage theft,”  calling them “misleading and deliberately inflammatory.”

According to AHEIA’s Craig Laughton, cases of underpayment “are not part of a systemic nor deliberate approach by universities”  and universities have examined their records, “to address ant payment inaccuracies”.

It follows years of media coverage of underpayment at universities across the country, a continuing campaign by the National Tertiary Education Union, evidence to Senate and state parliamentary committees and numerous interventions by the Fair Work Ombudsman, notably two current Federal Court cases against  University of Melbourne.

Last week the National Tertiary Education Union added to its efforts, with widely reported claims universities have underpaid staff $83m in recent years. “It is heartbreaking our public universities are being run like greedy corporations with no respect for paying hard-working staff what they’re owed,” union president Alison Barnes said (CMM February 290).

However Mr Laughton, attributes “wage integrity issues” to, “the extremely complex nature of the enterprise arrangements in the sector coupled with the localised decision making that is common in universities around the world.”

AHEIA does not represent most of the Group of Eight universities, members of which have been particularly criticised over under-payments.

Appointments, achievements

The Australian Academy of Science announces winners of the J G Russell Award (to top up ARC early career grants); Kaitlin Cook (ANU), Damien Esquerré(ANU), Scarlett Howard (Monash U), Rachael Lappan (Monash U) and Giorgio Poggesi (UWA).

At Swinburne U, Alan Duffy becomes inaugural PVC Flagship Initiatives. He moves from Director of the Space, Technology and Industry Institute, which will be co-led by Andrew Ang and Rebecca Allen.

 Lisa Whitehead (Edith Cowan U) wins the WA Nurse /Midwife of the Year Award.