With talks stalled the NTEU urges university Senate to talk to management

Astute UNE targets a new professional development market

Deakin Law School is hiring (again)

and Running coaches: UniMelb trains women for the political marathon

Compelling viewing

From what is, for now, the United Kingdom, the learned Paul Greatrix presents his take on “the top ten dumbest university rankings ever”. Good-oh, but rankings are like lose-weight, escape-jungle, cook-competitively TV shows. People deplore ‘em but watch ‘em. CMM is waiting for “I’m a vice chancellor, get me out of here.”

App of the day

Swinburne U’s Grainne Oates and Dan Hunter have space in the Australian Government’s Singapore innovation landing pad to work on their app, Quitch. No, it’s not named for an evil accountant in Dickens – the app sends students multiple choice questions based on lecture content. As such it helps them learn and gives lecturers a sense of what is being retained and what needs more explanation. Swinburne and private investors kicked in $400 000 to start Quitch, which went independent last year. It is now licensed to other universities, including unis Adelaide and Melbourne. Dr Oates and Professor Hunter pitched Quitch at South by Southwest in Austin on Monday.

In breaking news

Geckos hatched in ‘hot-nests’ end up in slow learning lane,” UTS announced last night. Apparently, climate change is not good at all for geckos or for headline writers.

Running coaches

Women still have a couple of weeks to apply for the Melbourne University School of Government training course, designed for those of them who want to become MPs and ministers. “In Australia, less than one-third of all parliamentarians and one-fifth of all ministers are women. The Pathways to Politics Program for Women seeks to address this,” the school of government states. Its serious stuff, designed for women of ambition and ability who are not across the competencies of the electoral process and who may not recognise an opponent’s branch stack. CMM does not need to count the numbers to know this is an excellent idea. And for those who make the cut, it’s free!

Arty O’Connor

Griffith University VC Ian O’Connor is the new chair of the Queensland Art Gallery Board of Trustees. He replaces QUT’s Sue Street.

Murray Darling debate rolls on

La Trobe U was out yesterday supporting the prime minister’s mention of education and health after the first meeting of his regional taskforce. It gave the university a chance to promote its proposed (with Charles Sturt U) Murray Darling Medical School, “a great example of how we can improve education and health opportunities.  This would enable regional students to read for a medical degree without needing to relocate to a metropolitan area thus expanding opportunities for our regional communities.”

Good-oh, but Mr Turnbull did not exactly single out health as a peak regional issue, also  mentioning, telecommunications, industry and innovation, infrastructure and agriculture.  But if the MDMS does not get up it won’t be for want of effort.

And the plan is unsettling the establishment. The Group of Eight Medical Deans and the overall ANZ association argue, “the level of domestic production of medical graduates is appropriate and the current number of Commonwealth Supported Places should be maintained. A redistribution of medical school places in and of itself is not an effective way to increase the number of doctors in rural Australia.” What is needed, the deans argue, is more specialist training capacity so that “graduates with sincere regional/rural/remote intent can continue their training in these settings and increase the likelihood they will remain for the longer term in that workforce.”

Economical ANU

The ANU Research School of Economics welcomed the 158 (!) strong 2017 masters cohort at what was said to be a modestly catered reception last night. Not to worry, as economists they already knew there is no such thing as a free lunch.

No movement at Murdoch

The mayhem at Murdoch U continues. Enterprise bargaining is going nowhere and management wants the Fair Work Commission to cancel the now expired enterprise agreement.

The general practise is to leave employment conditions in outgoing agreements in place until a new deal is done. In this case Murdoch management does not want to cut people’s pay, it is putting pressure on the National Tertiary Education Union to agree to the university’s offer of a new contract without the complex conditions the union says protects workers and management claims impede efficiency.

But Murdoch’s wile isn’t working and the NTEU has sold it as an attack on workers’ rights – Kim Carr took up the case in the Senate last month, delivering the university’s management a scathing serve.  The union has also mounted a clever counter, coming over all reasonable. Last month general secretary Grahame McCulloch said “the union is cognisant of the university’s financial situation” and was prepared to compromise if management would talk (CMM February 14). But management is hanging tough and so NTEU federal president Jeannie Rea has written to members of the university senate urging them to intervene and “advise” management to drop its move to cancel the old agreement and start talking.

“I understand the complex and difficult decisions facing the senate as you seek to ensure the reputation and financial viability of the university, but urge you to speak with your senate colleagues and really interrogate the potential adverse ramifications of the current approach by management,” she writes.

UNE taps new professional development markets

The University of England is focusing on what professional development markets want. In June UNE will launch an on-line graduate certificate in NDIS business development for people who are working, or want to, in disability organisations. Great idea, as is the university’s new offer of individual subjects which people who want to pick up a particular skill can take for a flat fee (CMM January 17).

From UofQ to ARC

Joanne Tompkins is the Australian Research Council’s new executive director for the humanities and creative arts. She joins from the University of Queensland where she is now associate dean research in the humanities and social science faculty.

Deakin looking for lawyers

Deakin University is advertising for law academics at all levels, which seems strange, given it just made a bunch of international appointments.  This is undoubtedly to meet stratospheric student demand for Deakin law courses. But some new people may be needed to replace the four senior scholars who left late last year.

Mirko Bagaric switched to Swinburne. Christoph Antons nicked up to the University of Newcastle and Louis de Koker and Dan Meagher both relocated to La Trobe. While none talked about their reasons for leaving some in the school were upset by a management ruling requiring researchers to focus research on assigned areas.

The university may also want to staff up with academics formally qualified to practice law in Australia, which requires completion of core subjects known as the Priestley Eleven, which new staff from overseas may not have done. As Deakin  told CMM in January 20; “qualifications required for practising law differ from those necessary to conduct world-leading research and teaching, which is what our university aims to deliver. The new employees have trained at world-leading universities including Stanford, Harvard and Oxford, giving our students the best chance of succeeding in the international legal services market.”