From the blather template file

“The R&D Roadmap published today, puts pursuing ground-breaking research, attracting global talent, and cutting unnecessary red tape at the forefront of our long-term plan to ensure — is the best place in the world for scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs to live, work and innovate. This will help to power up economic recovery.” Guess where? – it’s the new UK plan but it could be anywhere.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Michael Tomlison suggests asking TEQSA to police enrolments is a step too far, plus the government’s plan has too many layers addressing too many dimensions.

Frank Larkins and Ian Marshman suggest how universities can profitably “modify” their student load, demonstrating what switching engineering places to arts could deliver.

 Merlin Crossley argues the ARC and NHMRC should double fellowships for young researchers.

Numbers to like at CQU

The university reports year on year term two UG offers  via the Tertiary Admissions Centre are up 18 per cent. Makes a change from announcements of debt and staff departures

It’s good news for a university that needs all the students it can get. CQU is on Marshman and Larkin’s list of the seven institutions most exposed  to COVID-19 caused declines in international student fees, (CMM May 31).

But how come? There’s a national trend among Y12 students who realise in these pestilent times study will be the best thing going next year. Plus, CQU also has the Nick factor. Last week VC Nick Klomp urged students to ignore politicians telling them what to do and to enrol in subjects that interest them (CMM June 30). Clearly Queensland kids liked the message and where it came from.


Uni Wollongong and unions sit-down on saving money and jobs

Last month management proposed temporary pay cuts, which union leaders opposed – staff voted no

What’s happened: But now management and unions are set to talk about COVID 19 savings. Vice Chancellor Paul Wellings tells staff that there are two, “stark and urgent” choices, “with very similar consequences.”

What’s proposed: One is a 10 per cent salary reduction over 18 months, and cancelled pay rises in November 2020 and November 2021. The other is staff buying 15 days leave for each of three years, plus the two pay rises cancelled.

Professor Wellings states both options “will see no forced redundancies until March 1 2021.”

What now: The vice chancellor sets a ten-day deadline for the management-unions joint consultative committee to reach an agreement.

If this occurs and the local branches of the National Tertiary Education Union and the Community and Public Sector Union agree, the university will put a variation of the UoW enterprise agreement to an all-staff vote.

What’s next: If the unions don’t agree, or if staff vote no, the university community faces the job losses Professor Wellings warned of before the previous ballot, between 300-400 (CMM June 18).

What are the odds?: One of the reasons the university community voted against management’s savings options last month was the campus branch of the NTEU campaigned for a no-vote. This time could well be different – if the union signs-off on terms an all-staff yes vote is likely (it’s happened recently at La Trobe U, Monash U, UWA and Western Sydney U).  Most staff at universities are not union members, but they tend to pay attention to the comrades on pay and conditions.

Late Friday Damien Cahill (NTEU assistant state secretary for NSW) told CMM, “we welcome the resumption of negotiations.

“Our primary concern remains job security, and we are hopeful of reaching an agreement that protects jobs and secures the financial sustainability of the university.

Helen Bartlett comes in from the cold

After four Ballarat winters Helen Bartlett left Federation U on Friday, preparatory to starting as VC of  University of the Sunshine Coast

The vice chancellor leaves Federation U less fiscally frozen than when she arrived. The Victorian Auditor General reports the university had a net result of -2.54 per cent in 2017 (she started that May). Last year its margin was 8.99 per cent, just behind Monash U and Uni Melbourne.

Deakin U jobs plan on-hold

On Thursday, the Fair Work Commission told management to stop separate consultations on job losses after the union complained that they were parts of an all of university process

The National Tertiary Education Union appears to want one-big confab, where it could represent members across the university (CMM Friday).

Vice Chancellor Iain Martin told the university community Friday that the delay will slow consultations down and mean staff will not know what is going to happen.

They certainly know what management plans. A month back Professor Martin briefed staff on the impact of COVID-19 and said savings to address it could include reducing head-count by 300 and not filling 100 empty positions (CMM May 26). Three days later staff were being briefed about changes in their operating unit (CMM May 29).

The university and union are expected to be back in the commission tomorrow – where agreement could be reached – or not.

Same workload at QUT, with more and less

Staff in the School of Public Health and Social Work are kicking-up over workload changes

Their union says they breach the Enterprise Agreement and has lodged a dispute with university management. The claim is management wants to reduce time for research and service to increase teaching – as a way to reduce the need for sessional staff.

Workload increases you accept now are likely to become the ‘new normal’ “ National Tertiary Education Union branch president David Nielsen warns.

Vice Chancellor Margaret Sheil tells CMM, “there are many changes facing individual academics and faculties as a result of COVID-19 and decreased revenue and moving materials online. In semester one we maintained as much casual and sessional support as possible. However, for semester two to achieve more savings we need to ask staff to do some things differently.”

She adds, “this will not result in increasing the overall workload allocation for any academic.”


Melanie Oppenheimer (Flinders U) is the new president of the Australian Historical Association.

Ruth Stewart (James Cook U) is appointed National Rural Health Commissioner