Sydney’s Spence joins VCs preparing staff for the imminent Human Rights Commission report

plus A six step strategy to lifting low SES enrolments

Carried by a clear-Kim: union members back industrial action at Western Sydney and James Cook

Next door unis with separate research plans for quantum computing


and arriving assets: migrants who build the skills base

But which one

“One component of the bill, the efficiency dividend, will reduce total base funding to universities by around $330 million a year by 2021 (in 2018 dollars). This is the equivalent of removing one university from the system.”  Universities Australia warned yesterday at the Senate committee inquiry into the government’s higher education funding bill.  No, CMM does not want suggestions.

Little lingering longer in Wodonga

By end of day two of the Senate committee hearing on the Birmingham bill the talk turned to football 

The Senate committee hearings on the Birmingham bill got off to a quiet start yesterday – for a start most of the regional representatives gave evidence by phone, and two VCs could not stay on the line to take questions. La Trobe DVC Richard Speed distinguished himself by attending in person, as did UTS acting DVC, Provost Andrew Parfitt who chair Senator Bridget McKenzie made a point of thanking for making the trip from Sydney.

Later in the day Senator McKenzie was either surprised, or did a good impersonation of it, when a department official said universities chose what they spend money on – including football teams. She asked for more information and U Tas , UNSW, Swinburne, Victoria U, and Uni Canberra came to officials’ memories. The easier question would have been what universities do not sponsor ball-game teams.

 Always in their thoughts

Richard Speed used yesterday’s Senate hearings to twice plug the Murray Darling Medical School his La Trobe and Charles Sturt universities  are lobbying for. The way the partners push the proposal the first message residents of other galaxies hear from earth will be demands for the MDMS.

Highest high-tech hotspots

The University of Sydney and Microsoft are in a “deep partnership” to bring quantum computing to the “real world”

Microsoft will base equipment and invest funds in a quantum computing research effort at the University of Sydney StationQ, one of only four such partner labs around the world.

The parties have not released the size of the investment or technological goals but according to the SydneyStationQ director, Professor David Reilly, “We’ve reached a point where we can move from mathematical modelling and theory to applied engineering for significant scale-up.”

Michelle Simmons Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology is a bare seven kms away at the University of New South Wales, making inner-Sydney a hotspot in the race to transformation the way the digital world works.

Projects of the day

Matthew Brett from La Trobe U wants ideas on how to improve student equity outcomes in higher education performance and accountability systems and is asking HE planners and equity practitioners to complete a survey for his National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education project (more below).

The University of Queensland is also asking for volunteers, for a bunch of studies including interacting with robots (presumably how to tell Hal to open the hatch with sufficient authority). There are also selections of surveys for people without or without pain in elbows, knees and hips and one for citizens 60 plus who are interested “in maintaining a healthy brain.”

Marie moves to Heritage Committee

Henrietta Marie is appointed to the Commonwealth’s National Cultural Heritage Committee. Associate Professor Marie works in indigenous engagement at CQU’s Cairns campus.

Workers, united

Not lost in the mail

The Honourable Michael Kirby will deliver the National Tertiary Education Union’s annual lecture at ANU on November 16. Mr Kirby will speak on, Australian engagement in universal human rights at the UN. The union makes it a practise to invite all chancellors and vice chancellors but this year CMM hears they are making an exception  for Murdoch University where relations between management and union are less bad than nonexistent.

Carried by a clear Kim

Union members at the University of Western Sydney have approved industrial action by a margin which Kim Jong-n would applaud. “Over 99% voted to authorise industrial action. … Members will continue to press their claims, especially around job security,” the comrades announce.

Around 80 per cent of NTEU members at James Cook University also support escalating the union dispute with management, with “nearly all” of the 83 per cent who voted supporting industrial action. A big majority of them voted for work stoppages. “Our members determine what our union does. Unfortunately, JCU management has left us with no other choice but to move to industrial action,” the union’s state secretary Michael McNally says.


Spence prepares

Whatever is in next week’s survey of sexual harassment on campuses across the country the University of Sydney wants staff ready

In an all-staff message yesterday University of Sydney VC Michael Spence warned staff that he expects Tuesday’s report from the Australian Human Rights Commission, “will confirm that we, like all universities, need to build on recent efforts to improve how we support survivors of sexual assault.”

Dr Spence listed recent measures to assist sexual assault survivors. And he reminded staff, “we all share a responsibility to look after the safety and wellbeing of each other and our students, and the start of semester is an opportune moment to make sure we know what to do if a student or colleague comes to us in distress or need of support.”

Nigel gets the gig

Curtin University has confirmed Nigel de Bussy as business school PVC. He has been acting in the position and moves up from his substantive post as head of the marketing school.

Help at hand

There are modest increases in the proportion of disadvantaged students in higher education but improving participation is a struggle. The peak equity research agency has ideas to help

Curtin U’s National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education has a big research base on the state of equitable access to higher education and what can improve it. Paul Farnhill and Nina Thomas have analysed NCSEHE research and collected ideas that will work.

“We need to recognise that compounding multiple issues require diverse multiple solutions,” the report states. It offers them.

encouraging aspiration:  present practice emphasises connecting school students with universities via events, but more information from schools and teacher involvement will help

more information: people need information about their study options and the jobs they can generate

application support: disadvantaged students need help they sometimes can’t find to fill out the forms

listen to them: students in enabling programmes have life stories often lost in data driven outcome reports. Understanding individual experiences can help others

make family first a plus:  what they lack in family experience they can make up for in enthusiasm. Everybody in contact with them should encourage it

make mentoring work: students need different sorts of support at different stages of study

Top poppies

The South Australian Young Tall Poppy Science Awards are announced.

The YTPs include;

Jayakumar Bose, plant scientist at the University of Adelaide, Laura Weyrich, paleomicrobiologist, University of Adelaide, Ashleigh Smith, dementia researcher, University of South Australia, Kate Fennell, behavioural medicine, University of South Australia, Zlatko Kopecki, wound healing, University of South Australia, Zoe Doubleday, ocean ecology, University of Adelaide and Lisa Beatty, psycho-oncology, Flinders University.

Building the skills base

Migrants with degrees do well, but not as well as locals

Popular perceptions that migrants take jobs from Australians are misplaced, certainly in the case of graduates, according to new research from the Australian Council for Educational Research.

The report by Julie McMillan, Daniel Edwards and David Phillips, examines the interaction of two generally distinct policy debates, employment outcomes for graduates and the number and composition of Australia’s migrant intake. “Given the central importance of a skilled workforce to Australia’s future as an innovative economy, the intertwined effects of policies in each of these areas must be recognised,” they write.

The authors point to the government’s planned reduction of the number of occupations that qualify for temporary and permanent skills based visas. “This suite of changes was introduced to better target skills shortages in Australia while at the same time addressing community concerns about perceived threats to the employment of Australians,” they write.

Overall graduate migration is making a big contribution to the national skills base. In 2015 Australian born and other residents with local degrees accounted for 79 per cent of graduates and they have better employment outcomes with 90 per cent in employment, compared to an 80 per cent labour participation rate for migrants. But bachelor qualified migrants are arriving in droves, increasing by 63 per cent between 2012 and 2015, lifting the national skill base in the process. However, the participation rate of new arrivals is down marginally from 66 per cent in 2013 to 62 per cent last year.