Pavlou sues

Whatever arises from the University of Queensland Senate’s review of the two-year suspension a committee imposed on student Drew Pavlou he has obviously had enough with the university (CMM June 1, June 5).

The vocal critic of Chinese Government influence on campus is suing the university, Chancellor Peter Varghese, and VC Peter Hoj, for $3.5m. He alleges deceit, harassment, conspiracy and defamation, plus more.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

 Merlin Crossley on the long path to publication. Why it takes so long, why it is tough on young researchers and how it could be done a bit better.

Back in February Frank Larkins (Uni Melbourne) explained how Group of Eight universities were so dependent on students from China. As Beijing piles on the pressure it’s worth another look.

Liz Branigan (La Trobe U) argues on-line learning is core business when properly done. It’s this week’s selection by Contributing Editor Sally Kift for her series, on what we need now in teaching and learning.

Garry Carnegie (RMIT) and James Guthrie (Macquarie U) on the hard lesson in financial risk management taught universities by COVID 19.

On the comms CASE: Australian winners in global awards

There’s an emporium of 2020 awards from the Council of Advancement and Support for Education. Australian universities gonged in this great global guide to quality communications include 

Uni Queensland wins gold in the fundraising long video category for the second in its Not if, when” campaign. ANU wins silver.

La Trobe U also wins gold for its fundraising strategy based on, focusing on culture; elevating expectations; telling stories effectively; and effective systems and processes. It won bronze for a staff giving campaign.

Uni Sydney takes silver for its how-they-did-it narrative of the INSPIRED $1bn fundraiser.

Monash U takes out a grand gold for the Faculty of Pharmacy’s Armistice Day commemoration of graduates who served in WWI. It wins silver for a campaign to attract alumni relations staff.  ANU wins silver in the same category.

Uni Melbourne wins grand gold for its year of 150th anniversary events for the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning

Unity ticket at Western Sydney U

Management and unions urge staff to vote for low-pain jobs-saving plan

The deal was hammered out last month (CMM May 25) and includes; * staff buying up to eight-days leave * three additional university shut-downs totalling seven days across the year. In return the university will not run COVID-19 related redundancies. It will also stick to the casual staff budget as of March and continue fixed term staff whose work remains.

It is planned to year-end with a six-month extension if necessary.

Number crunches suggest the university has already found $60m in non-staff savings of the $75 deficit it faces this year. if so these leave-schemes would make up the difference.

The proposal is endorsed by the university and both campus unions, the National Tertiary Education Union and the Community and Public Sector Union. It now goes to an all-staff ballot, from Wednesday.

While $75m is a fair chunk of change, WSU is nowhere near the worse COVID-19 hit universities on Ian Marshman and Frank Larkins  analysis. But while this makes the low-pain savings plan effective it is still an innovative bit of work.

A big university that could well survive COVID-19 without wholesale sackings will be something to see.

Uni Melbourne staff say no to reversing pay-rise

Management’s COVID-19 pay cut rejected

 What’s happened: A majority of staff (just, it was 51 per cent) turned out to vote on the university’s proposed savings variations to the Enterprise Agreement. They knocked them back by a thumping majority. The poll, declared yesterday was 5190 (64 per cent) against and 2879 for the plan.

Why: The university proposed saving $30m by cancelling the new 2.2 per cent pay-rise introduced under the existing Enterprise Agreement. In return it promised voluntary separations before sackings (CMM May 27). This was not enough for members of the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union, who voted to oppose the plan (CMM May 29).

And oppose it they did, in a vocal campaign that questioned the detail and, need for savings, given the universities reserves.

What it means: This is a major defeat for management. With a yes vote the Fair Work Commission would have waived through enterprise agreement changes. But now cuts to staff costs will be contested long and hard by the union and probably opposed by many staff who aren’t NTEU members but who listened to the union when they voted and will keep listening.

What’s next: Last month Uni Melbourne explained that it was not signing on to the then union-four VCs proposed accord on cuts to save jobs. The deal, “contains provisions that it has no interest in pursuing – such as stand downs, forced leave, forced reduction of hours, large pay cuts of up to 15 per cent and deferral of incremental progression – and believes there is no value in asking staff to vote on changes to employment conditions that it has no intention of making,” university management said then (CMM May 18).

With its savings proposal knocked-back staff will be watching for what the university does now.

The VC is not for turning: “This outcome will not change our ability to survive the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it will certainly make the task ahead more challenging for all of us as we move towards inevitable workforce reductions,” Vice Chancellor Duncan Maskell said yesterday.

“We cannot live beyond our means. We are facing a large reduction in our recurrent revenue and therefore quite simply have to reduce our recurrent expenditure. We will continue the planning process to look for savings we can make without compromising our recovery,” he added.

All politics is local at Monash U  

The campus branch of the NTEU is not endorsing a savings framework developed by the federal leadership 

Vice Chancellor Margaret Gardner was one of four VCs who worked with the federal leadership of the National Tertiary Education Union to create the national framework for cuts to conditions in return for job protection. Professor Gardner says the national framework is the basis for the change proposal she has put to the university and which, “is vital to minimising job losses,” (CMM yesterday).

Professor Gardner says without the plan the university will need to cut 467 FTE positions, with it, 277.

As per the original deal the proposal goes to the union’s national office, then to a vote of Monash U members and if adopted by them to an all-staff vote to vary the enterprise agreement.

But Monash U management may not need to bother the Fair Work Commission, which oversees agreements.

Monash NTEU president Ben Eltham, tells CMM, there is, “no formal branch position on the Monash jobs protection proposal.”

“We support the right of all branch members to decide. The branch has committed to open campaigning, with all members free to argue their case. As branch president, I am in favour of the proposal, because I believe it will save jobs. I recognise some members are opposed to the proposal, and I welcome their contributions to this important debate,” Dr Eltham says.