Beginning as she means to go on

The Greens new education spokesperson, Mehreen Faruqi gets down to business, condemning Victoria University’s proposed enterprise agreement for “the proposed erosion of staff working conditions,” (CMM Monday). For which she blames the feds, for not properly funding universities. “Cuts from successive coalition and Labor governments have damaged the sector and reduced the bargaining power of staff,” Senator Faruqi says. And, CMM is sure, will say, again and again.

UNSW union sets out a new deal for staff

At the end of July, the UNSW branch of the National Tertiary Education Union cancelled a strike on a day’s notice when management improved its enterprise bargaining offer. Things then went quiet as the parties hammered out the details of a deal but the union leadership now has a proposal to put to members, including:

* 8 per cent more money in five pay rises through to January ’22, (including 2 per cent on signing)

* more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff, with specific benefits

* improved domestic violence and carer leave plus a new gender transition five-day leave allowance

* doubling of redeployment period to 20 weeks for professional staff whose jobs are abolished

* asignificant improvement” to the academic workload model, including “a significant increase in the recognition of education related activities”

* 85 casual academics, minimum, moving to education-focused positions over the agreement.

The NTEU advises members it made concessions allowing the university to recruit 170 new externals into “education-focused” academic roles.

CSU mates with Maccas while ACU goes sugar-free

Charles Sturt U announces a placement programme with McDonald’s Australia. Two students will work in the company’s supply chain. In contrast, Australian Catholic U announces it will ban “sugary drinks” from vending machines across all but one of its campuses.

Feds promise a plan to increase women in STEM – it will only take ten years

Industry, Science and Technology minister Karen Andrews reports the start of work on the government’s ten-year plan to lift women and girls’ participation in STEM. The Australian Academy of Science has released a discussion paper and is seeking feedback which will “inform” a roadmap for the plan.

And grim reading the paper is, reiterating the restraints on women in STEM, despite 330 national initiatives to “foster the participation of girls and women.” The paper also puts an issue on the agenda that, probably unintentionally, questions whether this is a job government can do, without bottom-up and community-wide cultural change. “Positive outcomes will not result from addressing a single factor alone, but rather from the interactions between factors at the individual, family, school and societal levels.”  Responses to the discussion paper are due October 8.

It takes a crowd (with a dog) to find an owl

Last year the ANU-based Difficult Bird Group crowd-funded $57 000 to assist the endangered Swift Parrot (CMM October 20 2017). The group is having another go, this time on behalf of the hard-to-find and as a result under-studied, Tasmanian Masked Owl. In cooperation with University of Sunshine Coast researchers, the difficult birders want to raise $60 000 to train a pair of detection dogs to sniff out the elusive Owl. The ask is here.

Job generators: the unis that rate for graduate employment

The first law of rankings holds that universities that do well promote results regardless of how a league tale is compiled. So, the universities of Sydney and Melbourne which rate 5th and 6th in the world on the new QS graduate employability ranking were out early yesterday announcing their achievements.

Other ANZ institutions that make the top 100 are UNSW (28) UoQ (48), Monash U (49), UTS (64), Auckland (71), ANU (73) and RMIT (85).

They are followed by QUT (101-110 band), Macquarie U (111-120), UniAdelaide (181-190), UniWollongong (181-190), Curtin U (201-250), LaTrobe U (251-300), Auckland UniTech (301-500), Massey U (301-500), Swinburne U (301-500), Uni Canterbury (301-500), Uni Newcastle (301-500), Uni Otago (301-500), Uni SA (301-500), Uni Waikato (301-500), Victoria U of Wellington (301-500) and Western Sydney U (301-500).

But critics complain that QS uses marginal metrics – an employer survey, alumni appearing on 150 high-achiever lists, university student placement programmes, research collaboration with business, employers recruiting on campus and graduates in FT/PT work within 12 months compared to national averages.

Fair enough, but within the QS universe the comparisons are interesting – yes, the Group of Eight does well, but so do Australian Technology Network unis, reflecting their industry-linked, big-city bases.

While the feds go quiet Vic Labor steps up

Education Minister Dan Tehan has now held the portfolio for two weeks and has made as many as no pronouncements on policy. So, what does this mean for policy development, notably Simon Birmingham’s promised measures to allocate undergraduate growth places? It means nothing will happen until after the election, if then, says a learned reader versed in what governments do when they lose interest. “It looks like the government has conceded the education space to Labor,” the LR says.

Not in Victoria, where there is an election in November.  Labor backbencher Natalie Suleyman says the government will spend $23m on a new campus for the Victoria University Secondary College.

ATEM award winners

ATEM award winners

The Association for Tertiary Education Management has announced its annual awards; winners include.

Leadership: Carmel O’Regan (Charles Sturt U)

Marketing and comms: University of Sydney team

Innovation: Robert Chasse and Josh Aarts (Centre for English teaching, UniSydney)

People and culture: Maria Thompson and Elspeth Garvey (University of Auckland)

Research management: MaryAnne Aitken (LaTrobe U)

Faculty and school management: Helen Ryan (Federation U business school)

Community engagement: Jared Harrison (UniSydney business school)

Student engagement: Rebecca Armstrong (Info and IT, University of Canberra)

Governance and policy: Andrew Heath (ANU)

Dolt of the day

Is CMM. Yesterday’s email edition reported the University of Sydney’s Duncan Ivison told staff that campus discussions of terms for a possible discussion with the Ramsay Civilisation Centre would continue. It was Stephen Garton.