Clueless on quantum

The Sydney Quantum Academy* is surveying organisations on awareness and understanding of “emerging quantum technology.” It’s about future demand for skilled workers.

Awareness of the potential benefits is one thing (CMM has a rough idea) but understanding how it happens quite another.

* The academy is a partnership of Macquarie U, UNSW, Uni Sydney and UTS.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on why digital courses don’t last and why creating content will depend on great teachers combining discipline specific knowledge, digital tech 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

Issues exciting ire among Queensland comrades

National Tertiary Education Union members at five Queensland universities strike tomorrow over enterprise bargaining

Issues they want addressed include;

Central Queensland U: management’s proposed 1 per cent pay rise this year and 5 per cent over the next three “is unacceptable”

Griffith U:  over-reliance on casual staff, “we can’t agree on how to fix it until we know the size of the problem”

James Cook U: members want the university to act on job  security, safe workloads and make a pay offer

QUT: no pay offer from management and the need for improvements for professional staff on workloads, intellectual freedom and job security

Uni Queensland: workloads and job security

Members from Griffith, QUT and Uni Queensland will rally in Brisbane’s King George Square tomorrow lunchtime.

Uni Sydney investigating which academic casuals get paid what cash and why

“Different interpretations have been taken to the application of the Enterprise Agreement”

what’s happening: Provost Annamarie Jagose announces “workshops and surveys” of academic and admin managers, “to get a clearer understanding of current practices and procedures for the engagement, work allocation, supervision and payment of casual academic staff.”

good-o, but why?: “The individual teaching approach of each faculty, school or discipline, and the devolved nature of work classification and allocation across the university means, however, that local practises have varied historically. Different interpretations have been taken to the application of the Enterprise Agreement, potentially resulting in inconsistency in local guidance, timesheet completion or payment errors. “

The investigation is to cover every faculty and school.

wasn’t this sorted last year?: In 2021 the university reviewed casual staff payroll data and timesheets and found errors in minimum engagement and hours worked payments, mainly for professional staff.

Just under 13 000 people were owed $12.75m in wages underpaid between January 2014 and December 2020 (CMM September 14 2021).

However, there was a separate claim from casual academics in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, which the university did not accept.  FASS casuals claimed; they were paid piece-work rates rather than for the time tasks took, paid a lower rate than that for work which requires academic judgement when such was necessary and that they were not paid for the actual hours that course admin and class prep took – which they said breached the Enterprise Agreement.

The university responded that it investigated work practises in FASS, “found no evidence to support the allegations and rejected them accordingly,” (CMM October 18 2021).

what’s happening now: There is no word of any specific areas/issues to be investigated. The provost states, “if, as a result of this work, we become aware of any errors in the payment of casual academic staff, action will be taken as a priority to investigate and repay any monies owed.”

Professor Jagose adds staff who believe they have been “incorrectly paid for work performed” can lodge a claim.

And the university advises CMM it is keeping the Fair Work Ombudsman informed.

“We have been engaging and co-operating with the Fair Work Ombudsman on an ongoing basis since our initial self-disclosure in August 2020 and as part of the FWO’s investigation. As part of our engagement, we’ve made the FWO aware of this phase of our review,” a spokesperson tells CMM.

Which is wise, As FW Ombudsman Sandra Parker told an HE audience last year, “we expect Australian universities to invest in governance frameworks and practises that will ensure compliance with workplace laws, (CMM October 11 2021).

Claire Field on hard choices for regional unis


without significant additional funding, or university mergers, some regional universities may have to change what they teach and how

Last week the Tokyo Institute of Technology and the Tokyo Medical and Dental University announced they will merge into a new national university with the explicit aim of increasing their research performance.

It was suggested to me recently that Australia could be looking at mergers of regional universities due to:

* the explicit requirement for research excellence in the new Higher Education Provider Category Standards (for universities to retain their status as a university)

* Jobs Ready Graduates changes to remove the unfunded research component of the Commonwealth Grants Scheme and the lack of any progress on a mechanism to separately allocate that research funding (beyond the one-off investment in 2021 and specific targeted funding in the coalition’s 2022 Budget)

* declining international student revenues during COVID (which money helped fund research)

* the focus on increased diversity set out in the new International Education Strategy (with increased costs for universities in recruiting from new markets and in delivering more offshore), and

* potential changes to raise the standard of excellence in ERA assessments.

Five regional universities appear to be facing significant challenges to retain their status as a comprehensive university, even before any changes are potentially made to the ERA:

* Central Queensland University

* Charles Darwin University

* Charles Sturt University

* Federation University, and

*Southern Cross University.

While no two universities are the same, typically these institutions enrolled a high proportion of international students or had generated a significant increase in international students prior to 2019. They experienced a very significant reduction in income during the pandemic and received only modest additional government revenues (except CDU although most of its additional income cannot be spent on research), and their ERA rankings pre-pandemic were below or only just above the benchmark 50 per cent across all fields of education.

Merlin Crossley argued recently in CMM that “I don’t think you’ll see (large digital repositories and platforms with millions of users) in conventional universities that focus on undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.”

The reality is that without significant additional funding, or university mergers, some regional universities may be faced with choices,

* no longer delivering all of their current courses

* sharing courses in an approach being used by smaller US universities as student numbers decline)

* taking out a subscription to Coursera for Campus (as 4,000 universities have globally) or similar platform to ensure they can retain their students.

Detailed analysis is available on my website.

 Claire Field is an adviser to the tertiary education sector

New ATSE Fellows

The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering announces its 2022 Fellows

* Nicholas Austin (Watertrust Australia) * Madhu Bhaskaran (RMIT) * Michael Breadmore (Uni Tasmania) * Kylie Catchpole (ANU) * Michelle Colgrave (CSIRO and Edith Cowan U)

* Elizabeth Ebert (Bureau of Meteorology) * Katrina Falkner (Uni Adelaide) * Mary Foley (Telstra Health) * Maria Forsyth (Deakin University) * Elizabeth Fulton (CSIRO)

* Xiaojing Hao (UNSW) * Janine Herzig (Coalition for Eco Efficient Comminution)* Mark Howden (ANU) * Dietmar W Hutmacher (QUT) * Nasser Khalili (UNSW) * Michael Milford (QUT) * Ann Nicholson (Monash U) * Thas Nirmalathas (Uni Melbourne)

* Kirsten Rose (CSIRO) *  Jack Steele (CSIRO) * Brian Uy (Uni Sydney) * Richard White (WiseTech Global) * Merryn York (Australian Energy Market Operator)  * Wei Zhang (Flinders University) * Huijin Zhao (Griffith U)

Foreign Fellow: Rajendra Paroda (Global Agriculture Authority, India)

Honorary Fellow Kim Carr (former senator for Victoria)

Appointments, achievements

Damon Ferris becomes Director, International at Uni Newcastle. It’s an internal appointment.

Bronwyn Harch is appointed interim Queensland Chief Scientist. She was most recently DVC R at Uni Queensland.

As of January, Johanna Macneil moves from dean of the management school at RMIT to academic director of Engagement and Social Impact in the College of Business and Law.