See ya Scott

Outgoing CQU VC Scott Bowman signed off Friday, “this is my last tweet as VC. As of Monday our new VC Professor Nick Klomp will keep you updated on this account. Thank you for your support over the past decade!”

Bowman will be missed, not least by those who watched him work to improve the university’s finances, by those who admired, or at least acknowledged, his capacity to make difficult decisions and by everybody who recognised the sense of his strategy to broaden the university’s base. When he arrived CQU needed to expand what it taught and where or it faced stagnation and a regional relevance, at best. Under Bowman CQU grew.


Peak lobby demands government return to “sensible funding”

The Innovative Research Universities  network’s budget submission calls on the government to “reinstate sensible funding for higher education to meet future need”, warning, “the decision to cap university Commonwealth Grant Scheme funding at its 2017 level means that universities will steadily reduce the number of students enrolled to avoid allowing the investment per student to drop below the level needed for quality student learning.”

And if the government will not do this IRU argues it should annually index each university’s funding cap and increase it by population growth of the 17-18 year-old school leaver cohort.  As things stand, the lobby laments; “there is little logic to linking an annual increase in the CGS funding cap to population growth, implying a means to maintain pace in the number of students with population, without any indexation mechanism that maintains the value of the capped amount.”

The IRU also urges the government to reverse December’s cuts to research block grants and restore Australian Research Council funding to the 2014 “high point.” And while it suggests addressing problems in VET, “need not involve higher education,” the IRU suggests, “a wide-ranging review process to establish a tertiary education wide strategy for the 2020s and beyond.”

In-coming La Tobe U chancellor bails on Huawei

In-coming La Trobe U chancellor, John Brumby (March start) has resigned from the board of Huawei Australia. Mr Brumby signalled he would do this last June. La Trobe U is largely Huawei free – in 2017 the company listed it as a partner in its “Seeds of the Future” programme, intended to send students to China for a three-week study tour but nothing appears to have happened since.

What unis recommend for regional Australia

RUN makes the case for the regions: The regional uni lobby is calling for a selective return of demand driven funding for enabling sub-degree and undergraduate places. They should be provided in, “areas where higher education attainment and participation rates are below the national average, including in regional, rural and remote and peri-urban areas, “the Regional Universities Network advocates in its submission to the federal government’s RRR education strategy framing paper. This would “help regions ‘grow their own’ workforces.”

RUN also suggests “reduced” HELP loans and other course fees for people, “choosing regional study options, and regional scholarships where the graduate is ‘bonded’ to work in the regions.”   And it proposes incentives for international students to study on RRR campuses, including, visa processing priority, “advantageous post-study work rights” and increasing permanent residency points.

And RUN calls for the creation of a national regional education commissioner with a five-year term, putting the post outside “election/ministerial cycles.”

IRU calls for flexible funding for unis with regional campuses: However, the Innovative Research Universities submission rejects the idea of a commissioner, saying the need for the position “is not clear” and it also argues against government intervening to send international students to regions. “There is no place for directing students to particular destinations, which would only have the negative impact of deterring students from coming to Australia at all. Amendments to the visa system to create incentives for students to study in particular locations could be considered but need to work with the broader immigration framework.”

The IRU also calls on government to “increase the funding cap for all additional enrolments at RRR campuses.” However, the submission makes clear that this call for a selective increase is in the context of issues set-out in the government’s policy-framing paper.  The lobby argues for funding growth for universities with regional and metropolitan campuses “equal to the growth in provision at RRR campuses.” This would let, “universities respond to demand where it exists and avoids the government picking which campuses should grow and the risk that not all new places will be taken up.”

Pennies for their thoughts

Defence Minister Christopher Pyne has announced $8.7m over three years in research grants for 20 Australian, Singapore, US and UK “think tanks and academic institutions that contribute to the national security debate in Australia”. Locals in some money include, Flinders U, Lowy Institute, Macquarie U, ANU, UNSW, Uni Adelaide and Uni Sydney.

Bipartisan backing for public funding for the Adler MUP model

The outrageathon continues over the University of Melbourne decision to end the Louise Adler publishing model at its press, and her subsequent resignation.

The campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union bought in late Friday, with VP (academic) Christian Haesemeyer saying; “one understands the university’s desire to focus on academic work, but universities are also, at heart, a place for public debate on the important issues of our time.  This change will hinder public debate by providing less options for the wider community to be informed.  It narrows independent inquiry.”

Labor’s shadow  research minister Kim Carr did more than deplore, telling The Age (Saturday) he “was open to the prospect” of seed-funding for publishing of the MUP kind.

Back in 2013 the then minister for innovation promised $12m over three years, contingent on matching funding from universities, for their presses to share infrastructure and marketing, a commitment which did not survive Labor’s election loss that year. A publishing-subsidy is certainly in-line with Labor funding The Conversation website.

It also has bi-partisan appeal, at least in terms of a publishing structure. Yesterday now defence, formerly education minister Christopher Pyne, tweeted (@cpyne), “a good idea every 25 years is not enough but Kim Carr has now had one – I agree with him that the unis should look to the model of The Conversation to continue the contribution of MUP. It would be a shame to lose that independent publishing voice for all except academic treatises.”

Deakin to grow credentialing services

Deakin U is expanding its professional accreditation services in partnership with NSW’s Universities Admission Centre.

According to UAC, it is joining with university subsidiary Deakin U to, “develop a system for credentialing workplace skills for individuals and businesses.

“The credit and recognition of prior learning system will leverage UAC’s 30 years of higher education application and assessment experience with DeakinCo’s innovative micro-credentialing programmes.”

DeakinCo launched a certification service in November for the Australian Marketing Institute which will assess applications evidence of competence in five fields for a $495 fee. While not formal qualifications, certifications are “aligned with international qualifications and industry skill frameworks” and may be counted for credit for Deakin courses.

“Through DeakinCo, Deakin has created the framework, model, technology and internal capabilities to sustain a world-class professional credentials system, underpinned by rigorous assessment methods and validated by industry, a university spokesperson told CMM November 19 2018

Here she goes again: Marnie Hughes Warrington’s new journey

The indefatigably inquisitive Marnie Hughes Warrington is starting a new adventure.

For years, she discussed as she discovered the administrative assumptions that shape the way universities, in her case ANU, are managed in her blog. Then she found fascination in the design and engineering, the environmental and human planning required to rebuild much of the ANU campus.

And now she steps down in physical scale and up in ideas, announcing a new narrative, the information and ideas she will explore for a new project, historicising artificial intelligence –examining how computing has always been constructed by issues of politics and social power, gender and justice, or the lack of it. “Computing is riddled with assumptions about history, and the nature of history, and these assumptions can have serious consequences and even cause harm if they are not held in check,” she writes in her invitation to join her journey.

A new musical chair at ANU

It did not take long for ANU to find a music school head to replace Ken Lampl who announced he was stepping down a couple of weeks back – but then, the university did not have to look far. School associate professor Kim Cunio’s appointment was announced Friday.

Dr Cunio says he wants, “our music school to be beloved by both the university and the community. All of us, staff and students and friends, can all work together to imagine what music and music education will be for the next generation.”

CMM suspects what ANU wants is quiet. Mr Lampl was in the job for less than two years before deciding to continue at ANU but not as head of school. He arrived in February 2017, when the school had been without a permanent head since Peter Tregear left in August ’15. There had also been dispute often and on, mostly on, since 2012, when then VC Ian “the gent” Young decided cuts and teaching changes were needed to make the school financially stable. That controversy only ended when a report by Andrew Podger led to Vice Chancellor Brian Schmidt committing $12.5m over five years.


The University of New England council has appointed chancellor James Harris to a second five-year term. A grazier in the region, Mr Harris has served on the UNE council since 1994.

Ty Birket is new CEO of Regis Australia, which is mutual manager for Unimutual Limited –an asset and risk protection provider to Australian higher education and research institutions.

Deborah Brown is the first woman to be appointed a professor of philosophy at the University of Queensland. Professor Brown is a UoQ graduate with a PhD from the University of Toronto.

The Australian Council for Private Education and Training has a new chair, Alexis Watt, who steps-up from deputy, replacing Bruce Callaghan. Mr Watt is CEO of Open Colleges School of Health.

Dolt of the day

Is CMM. Winnie Eley did not leave the University of Newcastle for the University of Portsmouth (CMM Friday) – it was the University of Southampton.