Right announcement for equal pay day

It’s Equal Pay Day and Charles Sturt University announces that it is ahead of the national gender pay gap, which is 14.6 per cent for FT workers. But not by much, at CSU it is 14.2 per cent but VC Andrew Vann says there are plans to improve it, including, an imminent Workplace Gender Equity Strategy.  Very sensible. Professor Vann is a “pay equity ambassador” for the Workplace Gender Equity Agency.

The voice of more people: UniSydney consultations start on a Ramsay negotiation

The University of Sydney is preparing for possible negotiations with the Ramsay Centre for the Study of Western Civilisation. Vice Chancellor Michael Spence told staff yesterday that arts faculty dean, Annamarie Jagosse is consulting with staff on a proposed memorandum of understanding the university could put to the Ramsay Centre.

The centre, has (a bundle of) funding to support undergraduate degree teaching western civilisation at a partner university. ANU has already withdrawn from negotiations.

Academics to be involved at UniSydney are in “disciplines most closely associated with the potential programme in western civilisation,” art history, classics and ancient history, English, history and philosophy. Any draft will also go to the faculty board.

This is not an MOU that sets out UniSydney’s terms, rather it prescribes the conditions that Ramsay must accept before the university will engage. “The intention is to support discussion—both dialogic and deliberative—of the principles at the heart of the draft MOU in order to give me feedback prior to my next engagement with the Ramsay Centre,” Dr Spence said yesterday.

This is a carefully constructed move by the VC to keep some control of the process, lest there be a renewal of the previous push by the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union and allies to block Ramsay on campus.

The vice chancellor says the process he has announced, “will allow the document to be ‘tested’ with widening circles of participants, beginning with some from directly relevant disciplinary expertise and ending with people across the university more generally. If the conversation is not structured in some way but all becomes instantly public, we may find that the loudest voices dominate and that we don’t end up with as reflective or inclusive a conversation as we might otherwise have.”

Degree of the day

UNSW launches a bachelor in chemical products engineering, teaching “the technical and entrepreneurial skills needed to innovate, develop and design novel chemical and consumer products for large and small businesses.” The course will include 60-days of industry training.

Peak med research council sets priorities

The National Health and Medical Research Council annual plan is out, replete with references to integrity and excellence. The report renews the council’s commitment to its long-planned and much-discussed new grants scheme and cites priority areas, notably Indigenous health, gender equality in research funding and dementia research.

The Council also picks up on the present push for documenting research impact. It wants funded research to have a 150 per cent citation rate of the norm for articles in relevant journals. And it wants an app “that lists and verifies” all patents linked to funding plus case studies demonstrating commercialised research and statements showing economic benefits of new clinical practice guidelines funded by the NHMRC.

As for the rich and popular Medical Research Future Fund, the NHMRC is all friendly feelings, promising to, “continue its support of the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), sharing its expertise in grant administration to help ensure funds are directed to high-quality research and transformational projects.”

But the bit that will interest researchers who struggle with cumbersome grant applications is the coming of Sapphire a, “high-performing system for grant applications and data management,” … “a system that is intuitive for researchers and administrative officers and supports better use of data by NHMRC.”

Just enough time to read all the submissions

Grant Guilford has a second term as VC of the university now known as Victoria University of Wellington. This will take him through to 2022 by when his proposal to re-name the institution UoW might be adopted. The university council has received 1700 submissions on the proposal.

Young Australians studying more, wondering why

Young Australians are studying more and believing in education less. The estimable National Centre for Vocational Education Research finds that 50 per cent of 23 year olds believe they have the wrong education and/or training. Despite this 30 per cent of them were studying last year, up from 24 per cent in 2007.

The figures come from an NCVER analysis of Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth (LSAY) data.

The study shows that education qualifications of 23 year olds have risen dramatically in a decade. In 2007 some 40 percent had a diploma or higher, compared to 46 per cent last year. But in a strong signal of coming criticism of education providers over placement programmes, 75 per cent of them last year believed their job chances were harmed by insufficient experience, well up on 56 per cent in 2007. Many more young people are also working in the gig economy, with a 10 per cent increase, to 32 per cent, in part time work – although whether this is a cause or effect of the growth in the number studying is not shown.

In a stark sign that tens of thousands of Australians will have limited lifetime earning-opportunities some 30 per cent of 23 year olds last year had not completed a post-school qualification, effectively unchanged from 33 per cent in 2017.

Labor’s Doug Cameron slams for-profit training

There is no faulting Labor’s Doug Cameron for a failure of frankness. In a speech yesterday to the Australian Council for Private Education and Training he slammed the whole idea of for-profit VET and signalled what will happen if Labor wins the next election.

“The training market and the commercial ascendency of for-profit training provision, has put at risk the viability of TAFE and other not-for-profit providers seeking to deliver quality. Profiteering and exploitation is wrecking lives – but it is also responsible for dismantling quality and trust in our vocational education system,” the shadow minister for skills, TAFE and apprenticeships said.

And TAFE is the way to restore training, the senator made clear.

“Labor is unequivocally committed to ensuring a robust and sustainable public TAFE network is put firmly at the centre of our vocational education and training system. That is why we are guaranteeing that at least two thirds of government funding goes to TAFE, and the balance goes to not-for-profit community and adult educators, and only high quality private providers with demonstrated links to industry.”

But if some in the private sector find solace in the reference to a role for “high quality providers,” they shouldn’t.

“There is an important role for non-TAFE providers in a high-quality VET system complementing the role of TAFE, collaborating with each other – but if profit remains a driving and distorting force in the system, nothing will change for the better,” Senator Cameron added.

The senator also reiterated his long-standing concerns with the competency based system and the way training programmes are developed.

Julia Gillard leads appointments, achievements of the week

Julia Gillard received an honorary doctorate from Curtin University yesterday, “in recognition of her outstanding contribution to education and social inclusion.” The former prime minister is also patron of the university’s John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library.

 Louise Ryan from UTS has won the Statistical Society of Australia’s Pitman Medal, for “outstanding achievement in, and contribution to, the discipline of statistics.”

 Nick Klomp will be the next vice chancellor of CQUniversity. Professor Klomp is now DVC Academic at the University of Canberra.

The estimable National Centre for Vocational Education Research has a new managing director. Simon Walker will take over in mid-October, moving from the WA Department of Training and Workforce Development. He replaces Craig Fowler who announced his departure in March.

Steven Roberts is confirmed as dean of ANU’s College of Business and Economics. Professor Roberts became interim dean last year.

Andrew O’Neil (Griffith U) is appointed chair of the research directors network at the Australian Business Deans Council.

Leigh Sullivan will join the University of Canberra as DVC Research and Innovation. He moves from the same role at Federation U. Professor Sullivan is a geo-chemist of substantial standing but CMM suspects a big part of his appeal to UniCanberra are his entrepreneurial skillsFed U’s large technology park is in his portfolio there and UniCanberra has space.

Greg Winslett is the new deputy director of eLearning at UoQ’s Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation, charged with leading “a broader institutional approach”. Dr Winslett moves from UNE.

Harald van Heerde is moving from Massey U to UNSW where he will become a professor of marketing. He publishes prolifically, with a career-long H-index of 32.

CQU honours one of the regional university alliance’s own today, conferring an hon doc on David BattersbyProfessor Battersby was VC of Federation U and founding chair of the Regional Universities Network.

Wendy Cross starts at Federation U as dean of nursing and healthcare, based at the Berwick campus, in Melbourne’s outer southeast. She joins from Torrens U.

Jazz piano great, Judy Bailey (Sydney Con of Music) wins the Sir Bernard Heinze Memorial Award (for “an outstanding contribution to music in Australia).

ANU has a new dean of the College of Health and Medicine. Russell Gruen will join in January from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University where he is executive director of the institute for health technologies.

Julie Owens is leaving the University of Adelaide, where she is PVC research strategy and moving to Deakin U where she will be associate DVC R.