Melbourne, Monash, LaTrobe and Swinburne VCs discretely discuss education and training connections with Labor’s Tanya Plibersek


Just how bad are the books at Murdoch U? – management ordered to reveal some detail to union

plus: TESQA’s selective survey

and: the winners are: UniMelb and Deakin pick up international awards while five unis shortlisted for new UK teaching honour

And the Honecker goes to …

“Seems to be at odds with government policy to only work from old dysfunctional buildings that remind people of pre 89 GDR,” ANU VC Brian Schmidt congratulates the University of Melbourne win in the Learning Environments Award for its new Arts West building, (below). Via Twitter yesterday.

Murdoch ordered to reveal some detail on dollars

Murdoch must give the union access to some financial information

The National Tertiary Education Union has a win in its case against Murdoch University’s application in the Fair Work Commission to terminate the old enterprise agreement after its nominal expiry date.

Murdoch management has made a great deal of its parlous prospective financial position in negotiations over a new wages and conditions deal but is not keen on explaining how crook things could become. It applied (but withdrew) to have the case on the old agreement heard in camera.

On Friday FWC Commissioner Williams also granted the NTEU access to key statements of Murdoch’s case; a “Powerpoint document titled ‘Murdoch University Senate’ and dated 31 August 2017; vice-chancellor’s report undated but given 7 June 2017 and headed ‘Government; Federal Budget’; and Vice-Chancellor’s Report dated 9 March 2017.”

Sadly, the commissioner, said the union can inspect the documents only if they are “kept confidential and not disclosed, made public or used for any purpose other than in the course of these proceedings.”

But Murdoch U management had better luck with its 2017 budget, attached to a witness statement – the FWC ordered it continue confidential.

This is something the university appears keen on – perhaps to avoid the union proposing compromises on a new enterprise agreement which would make it harder for management to hold to its present take-or-leave-it offer. Back in February NTEU general secretary Grahame McCulloch wrote to the university’s IR director Michelle Narustrang that “the union is cognisant of the university’s financial situation” and  is prepared to “substantially revise its wage claim,” ( CMM February 14) if provided more information on finances.

MOOC of the morning

The University of Adelaide launches a new MOOC via edX on Thursday, Risk Management for Projects. It builds on Introduction to Project Management which first ran in June 2015 and has had 192 000 enrolments, nearly 40 per cent of the university’s MOOC starters.

Labor in the loop

Tanya Plibersek makes powerful friends in very high university places

A peak group of Victorian education leaders has met to discuss policy directions with Labor deputy leader and education shadow Tanya Plibersek. The meeting, convened by University of Melbourne Vice Chancellor Glyn Davis discussed a range of issues, including aligning VET and higher education and the future of TAFE in the post school system.

The guest list included three vice chancellors, Professor Davis, La Trobe’s John DewarSwinburne U’s Linda Kristjanson and Monash U’s Margaret Gardner. Professor Davis was supported by very senior staff, including Provost Margaret Sheil, DVC R Jim McCluskey, Deputy Provost Richard James, Vice Principal Julie Wells and Jillian Constable from the VC’s office.

Professor Gardner was backed by policy adviser Mark Buford and Professor Dewar was accompanied by new DVC Kerri-Lee Krause.

The guest list also included some of Victoria’s most notable thinkers on the interface between higher education and the training system, including; Peter Noonan from the Mitchell Institute, Ruth Schubert ( L H Martin) and John Polesel (UniMelbourne).

A spokesperson for UniMelbourne tells CMM that as “a public-spirited institution, the University of Melbourne regularly hosts parliamentarians from all sides of politics to engage in policy discussion. The meeting with shadow minister Plibersek included representatives from a range of Victorian universities, think tanks and vocational education experts.”

With Labor talking a great deal about TAFE, which it often uses as a synonym for training, this was  smart meeting for the three VCs to make.

For the record

In breaking news the Australian Historical Association Conference broke its five year record for the number of tweeters and tweets at this year’s event. Yes, they archive the tweets. Historians, they can’t help themselves.

HRC report imminent

Vice chancellors are preparing for the Human Rights Commission report

The Australian Human Rights Commission report on sexual assault and harassment at universities, is due on August 1, with all universities committed to releasing the Commission’s comments on each of them.  But while universities are taking advice from consultants and industry advisors as they prepare responses some university leaders are already acting.

Last week ANU VC Brian Schmidt announced an extension of the university’s relationship with the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre to include full time counsellors on campus.

And on Friday Monash VC, and Universities Australia president Margaret Gardner detailed her university’s existing and imminent policies and procedures on sexual assault and harassment in an all-staff announcement.

She particularly announced moves to reform student discipline regulations to separate academic matters from general misconduct, including sexual assault and harassment.

TESQA asks elite opinion

But enough about us, what do you think of us?

The Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency is running what it calls “a national stakeholder survey.” However only the agency’s choice of 240 people, “representing higher education providers and relevant peak and professional bodies,” are invited to participate.

“Our relationship with the sector is an extremely important one. We therefore need to understand the impact we have and how we might make changes to improve the way we interact with providers and stakeholders,” TEQSA CEO Antony McClaran says.

The questionnaire is administered by a third-party and responders are not identified, which is good – what would be better would be if representatives of everybody else in the higher education community who rely on TEQSA’s reports and regulation were asked.

Centre stage at NUW alliance

Premier,  but not first

The new Newcastle, UNSW and Wollongong university alliance launched on Friday, with a big-end of town event where the three VCs, Ian Jacobs (UNSW), Caroline McMillen (Newcastle) and Paul Wellings (Wollongong) positioned their institutions in combination as drivers of research and community service for the greater-greater Sydney region. Premier Gladys Berejiklian did the honours– you can see her in the launch pic, modestly standing in the second rank behind the three vice chancellors who were stars of the show.

The old one-two from the NTEU

At Monash the union is running two campaigns

The Monash U branch of the National Tertiary Education Union is signalling it is up for hard bargaining in talks that start Thursday.

The union will deploy a bargaining team and a separate campaigning cadre, charged with mobilising grass roots support. The NTEU is also launching a second front, taking a workload dispute to the Fair Work Commission. “Workload is a huge issue for many Monash staff, including managing the stress that often impacts on other areas of life. … Staff shouldn’t feel powerless, isolated or fear having their performance questioned when raising workload concerns,” the union told members Friday.

And the winners are…


Top teaching

Five Australian universities are shortlisted for a new higher education teaching award

The UK based Higher Education Academy has partnered with Times Higher Education group to present the Global Teaching Excellence Award. A two-stage judging process assesses entries on three criteria, “the leadership of teaching and learning” “teaching” and “student support”. The entry fee for universities that are not HEA members is £5000.

Some five Australian universities made the short-list; Edith Cowan U, Monash U, QUT, University of Adelaide, University of Wollongong. The winner will be announced in September.

The seventeen-person judging panel includes University of Newcastle (as in Aus) DVC R Darrell Evans, Philippa Levy (PVC Student Learning, University of Adelaide), Helen Lomax from the New Zealand National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence, Som Naidu (PVC Flexible Learning, University of the South Pacific), Isabella Poon Wai-yin, (PVC, Chinese University of Hong Kong).

The HEA is interested in Australia, with a team here talking to member universities at the beginning of the year.

This desirable property

UniMelbourne wins building award

The University of Melbourne is the overall winner in the 10th annual Learning Environments Australasia Awards for its Arts West building, which “released the university’s artefacts collections into the curriculum and supported object-based learning.”

Notable category winners include Deakin U for its Centre for Advanced Design in Engineering Training, UniMelbourne’s studioFive art education space, and Nanyang Technological University’s The Hive student space.

Wired winner

Deakin U’s is one of 50 world winners of a Digital Edge award

Deakin is awarded for its Smart Campus platform, which provides students with personalised location-based information direct to device. They can use it to call for help, with staff able to instantly identify the location of the contact. Deakin is also introducing its scout service which will provide location and “context aware” information to students’ phones as they move around campus. Deakin says it will use campus data from phones to help with planning (a similar idea did not go down well with everybody at the University of Melbourne last August  (CMM August 16 2016).

DU is the only Australian university to make the list.