Uni Melbourne spends where it must

Management tells staff it is making “considerable investment in initiatives to support students given the on-going impact of the COVID-19 pandemic” (scroll down).

Smart move. Uni Melbourne had the lowest overall score for a university in the 2020 and 21 undergraduate satisfaction rating in the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (CMM August 26).

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on why digital course content doesn’t last and why creating content will depend on great teachers combining discipline specific knowledge, technical digital know-how and a love of teaching.

with Angel Calderon on the new Times Higher ranking, the ins and outs of where is up and down and what matters most (and doesn’t) @ HERE.

and Tim Winkler (Twig Marketing) on outrage over early uni offers and why it misses the point

plus Lynne Hunt (Uni Southern Queensland) and Denise Chalmers (UWA) on the loss of learning resources for uni teachers. This week’s selection by Commissioning Editor Sally Kift.

And Expert Opinion on Open Data

Mark Hahnel (Figshare) suggests, “a future of ubiquitous research data publishing in academia is in reach. It may prove to be a step change in knowledge discovery if all stakeholders continue to push for unobstructed, equitable data publishing with high quality metadata for humans and machines.” As long, that is, as researchers want their data to be open. He, talks about it HERE.


Course of the day: Uni Tasmania makes the most of what it’s got

There’s an extreme-sports medicine residential course this week

It runs ahead of the next Expedition Medicine, which includes six days in the wild covering response and  rescue for med emergencies.

Brilliant branding for U Tas – which can build an international reputation on the fabulous, albeit high-risk fun to be had on its island.

But where, CMM wonders, is  the Extreme Sports Medicine MOOC (“for or physiotherapists, strength and conditioning coaches, sports scientists …”) announced for 2022.

Uni Melbourne cries poor

“while the impact in the first two years of the pandemic has not been as sharp as anticipated, revised forecasts suggest revenue will be down $1.4 billion from 2020-2024 compared to pre-pandemic estimates”

Uni Melbourne warns staff of “a large operating deficit” this year, “with further losses” in ’23 and ’24.

how come? A staff briefing states that there will be a $113m operating deficit this year, “mostly due to increased investment in student support, spending linked to our return to on-campus teaching and learning, and student income levels remaining below pre-pandemic levels.”

The net deficit is expected to be $194m, with the extra $80m coming from investment losses.

This contrasts with a $147m operating surplus last year, driven by a $254m spending cut and an $111m “unexpected funding grant” (presumable the university’s share of the COVID emergency research support provided by the previous government).

And it appears the $584m net surplus in 2021 was more apparent than real, including $252m in “unrealised investment gains” which are “required to be recognised as income.”

what’s next: Management warns, several “headwinds” are “impacting the university’s ability to recover,” including

* student fees increasing less than inflation. Plus, “the strong labour market” is “leading to weaker demand from domestic students”

* “cost of return to campus, “including facilitation of dual delivery”

* inflation “and the current geopolitical climate”

*  “the potential for further lockdowns domestically and internationally”

it could be worse: The university reports it will manage the ’22 deficit by using accumulated surpluses and investment reserves.

And learned readers suggest whether all is as bad as appears is a matter of interpretation. For a start, the university, “removes items from the accounting result that distort core operating performance,” including investment and endowment income, infrastructure grants and on the downside interest. But such income reduces demands on available funds.

As for the university’s surplus, James Guthrie argues, that the bulk of it is, “unavailable for general operational expenses is a matter of choice, not accounting logic or calculations,” (CMM August 31 2021 HERE).

what isn’t mentionedEnterprise bargaining. The National Tertiary Education Union’s wage claim for a new agreement  at all universities is 15 per cent over three years. Perhaps Uni Melbourne management hopes to establish a context for claims to come that it can’t afford such.

Rating biz-ed research success at Macquarie U

Business faculty management wants staff to publish in “the top international and management journals” –it is, some suggest, a misplaced idea

An incentive scheme rewards researchers appearing in journals rated by the Australian Business Deans Council, Financial Times and MU itself – they get points that go to funding research support. Those that publish elsewhere get no, or negative, points.
This was not universally popular when announced last month. Learned readers suggested it would penalise people working on subjects that don’t interest journals for and by US and Euro economists (CMM September 29).

Others wonder how it sits with Macquarie U’s Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom policy which, states,” staff and students should be free to conduct research, undertake learning and teaching, communicate, and publish, without unreasonable interference and restriction” and “not disadvantage or subject its staff and students to less favourable treatment for exercising their right to academic freedom …”

And pragmatists suggest the preferred journals policy is irrelevant. They point to last week’s Elsevier database of the top 2 per cent of researchers by field, based on Scopus citations. There are ten plus Macquarie bized people on it, who, learned readers point out, publish in journals that aren’t management faves.


Business as usual at Uni Tasmania

Union and community critics are cross, very cross, with management

National Tertiary Education Union members stopped work Thursday-Friday as part of enterprise bargaining negotiations, which members think management is dragging out.

And the Public Universities Australia group has written to Tasmanian premier, Jeremy Rockliff, urging him to ask U Tas to stop work on its “current development proposals”  until the current Legislative Council inquiry (into pretty much whatever the council wants to consider) is completed and its recommendations considered.

The “development proposals” are the university’s move from Sandy Bay to Hobart’s CBD, which is bitterly opposed by community members and some U Tas staff.

There’s a straw-vote on the move on the ballot paper for Hobart City Council elections, on now.

A big majority against the city move might be a problem for the premier but nowhere as big as the one it would be for Vice Chancellor Rufus Black.

Appointments, achievements

Mary Collins is appointed head of Uni Sydney’s School of Medical Sciences. She moves from deputy ED (Academic) in the Faculty of Medicine and Health.

 Jeff Dunn (Uni Southern Queensland) is the new president of the Union for International Cancer Control.

James Cook U announces teaching excellence awards, including: student learning: Amar Sholapurkar (Medicine and Dentistry) and Stephanie Baker, Carolyn Diedricks, Yang Du, Jeremy Gordon, Scott Heron, Kevin Huang, Mehdi Khatamifar, Espen Knutsen, Allison Paley, Bronson Philippa, Mark Robertson, Jodie Rummer, Eric Wang (Science and Engineering).

sessional teaching: Chloe Balanzategui (Medicine and Dentistry), Julie EdwardsBarry Yau (Business, Law and Governance), John Grundy, Chris Rouen (Public Health, Medical and Vet Sciences) and Korah Parackal (Science and Engineering). John Grundy and Chris Rouen(Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences) and Dr Korah Parackal (Science and Engineering).

inclusive practice: Ashton Blacklock, Madalyn Casey, Ryan Daniel, Neil Dunbar, Megan Higgie, Kannan Singaravelu Jaganathan, Albert Kuruvila, Daniel Lowrie, Shane MacDonald, Tracey Mahony, Anthony Marinac, Ailie McDowall, Elizabeth Meechan, Sophie Raynor, Tasmin Rymer, Lorraine Tulele, Hyacinth Udah and Ines Zuchowski.

Lee Parker has resigned his RMIT distinguished professor position. He continues a research professor of accounting at Uni Glasgow.

Alyssa White (Uni Sydney) is the next president of the Association of Australian University Secretaries.

Samina Yasmeen (UWA) is appointed to the Council for the Order of Australia