Universities are all a stage: the Shakespearian future for HE
Oops! I’m using a sexist and racist textbook!
The magic of the in-person conference
What’s next for international education
We invited experts to discuss one of the biggest issues in higher education
The Twig Marketing-CMM Zoom conference starts at 11.30 this morning with a discussion of how the pandemic has changed strategic options for universities. Join Margaret Gardner (VC Monash U) Stacey Farraway (PVC La Trobe U), Renée Leon (VC Charles Sturt U) and Michael Wesley (DVC Uni Melbourne).
And then at 1pm, Chi Baik (Uni Melbourne’s Centre for the Study of Higher Education), Chris Beard (ED, International Education Association New Zealand ) and Angel Calderon, (Principal Advisor, Institutional research, RMIT) talk about what success will mean in international recruitment and student engagement in a transformed industry and how changes in student demand might mean new approaches by HE and VET.
They are followed at 2pm by TEQSA Chief Commissioner Peter Coaldrake in conversation with Sally Kift, (President, Australian Learning and Teaching Fellows).
Access for today (plus Tuesday and Wednesday) are HERE
There’s more in the Mail
In Features this morning
James Guthrie (Macquarie U) reports proposals to transform governance of Australia’s public universities, including standardised state government legislation to make governance, “collegial, transparent and accountable” and establishing a national funding and standards agency, “similar” to the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission (1977-88).
plus Bradley Boron and Leonie Ellis (U Tas) on the way Zoom in the classroom creates opportunities for physical teaching space. “The ongoing work now is to design pedagogy around the use of these spaces to better engage all students equally,” they write. Theirs is a new addition to Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.
and Jack Breen (UNSW) looks at election advertising in social media. So far Labor is spending way most – but not on education messages.
Monash U in no rush to relax pandemic rules
Management wants to assess the impact
The university tells staff state government changes, to remove vaccination requirements for students and visitors and end the isolation rule for household contacts of infected people are, “a significant shift in the COVID 19 landscape.”
“As such the university will be taking time to gain a greater understanding of the impact on our community” and its existing rules remain (including vaccination and facemasks).
Management mentions consultation with the OHS committee, health and safety reps and staff.
The caution may be as much political as epidemiological. There was considerable controversy over opening campuses at the beginning of the year (CMM February 16).
Parliamentary inquiry proposed into Uni Tas
There’s a motion for the Legislative Council for an inquiry into the university’s act of parliament
Specifics Rob Valentine (Independent-Hobart) want a committee to investigate include, “the constitution, roles, powers and obligations of the university’s council and academic senate, protections for university freedom under the university’s incorporating act” and “its appropriateness to ensure accountable executive, fiscal and academic decision making.”
And then there is an opportunity for opponents of the university’s relocation into Hobart CBD to get stuck in, with a term of reference for “any other matters incidental thereto.”
To all of which Vice Chancellor Rufus Black responds, “we expect and welcome scrutiny and feedback … we look forward to supporting the work of the Legislative Council in any way we can.”
The university is under attack on three broad issues (CMM March 29), all of which the proposed committee’s terms of reference could cover,
* a new teaching model that all but abolishes regular lectures in the traditional format
* freedom of comment, including claims there are non-disclosure agreement in staff separation packages. (MLC Meg Webb is already on this, asking questions in the Council and direct to Professor Black)
* the controversial move from Sandy Bay to the CBD, both the relocation itself and the way the university is managing the process
The proposed committee includes Liberal, Labor and independent MLCs, making Council approval likely when the motion is proposed on May 24.
When corporate gloss is not good
Universities are big but they are not businesses, Merlin Crossley (UNSW) ARGUES in CMM
Problem is that their size makes them look like corporations, “I think the increases in scale have had profound effects. As individual university annual budgets have grown into the billions either management has become more corporate, or it has just felt that way,” he suggests.
Perhaps the way universities present does not help. Advertising agencies prize university clients and HE collateral is always corporate quality. Some Victorian university annual reports, published last week, included glossy good news, with pics of flash facilities and smiling staff and students.
In contrast, Queensland universities annual reports are all created to the same monochrome standard – they present as institutions with nothing to sell, other than their achievements.
Applied research picks up more money
But the foundations of national research and development took a hit in 2018-20
Spending on pure basic research dropped over $300m, to $2455m, according to a new report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. While strategic basic research increased from $2167m to $2246m, applied research outlays grew by $724m, to $6708m.
Overall, higher education spending on research and development declined slightly between 2018 and 2020 in real terms. The headline figure is an increase from $12 158m to 12 668m. However the chain volume measure (adjusting for annual price changes) of spending, declined from $12 849m in ’18).
General university funds continue to be the most important source of HERD outlays but dropped from $6823m in 2018 to $6735m. Commonwealth direct grants and other schemes were both marginally up and business spending increased from $502m to $603m.
HERD was 0.62 per cent of GDP in 2018 and 0.61 per cent in 2020.
Universities used the pandemic to restructure staff
Casual staff took the hit
According to Frank Larkins (Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education), all but three universities reduced their FTE numbers in 2019-20, with casuals accounting for 65 per cent of the 11,143 departures, despite being 14 per cent of total employed staff.
“Faculties and departments have been restructured, subject offerings reduced and other curriculum reforms implemented to very significant staff reductions in some universities,” Professor Larkin writes in a new paper for MCSHE.
He identifies 15 institutions with the highest FTE staff decreases. For total losses Murdoch U and UTS lost least, with 10 per cent each, Bond U (19 per cent) and La Trobe U (20 per cent) had the highest departures overall. Of the 15, Charles Sturt U reduced casual staff by the lowest per centage, 19 per cent. The three highest reductions of casuals were at Uni Wollongong (48 per cent), Bond U (51 per cent) and La Trobe U (59 per cent). “On a headcount basis the proportion of casual staff terminates is considerably larger,” he states.
Professor Larkins also examines changes in staff numbers, net financial position, student fees and investment returns in 2019-20 to find no consistent pattern. ANU, for example had a 22.9 per cent decline in its net financial position but reduced staff by 5.9 per cent whereas Western Sydney U finances were down 0.4 per cent with a staff cut of 18 per cent.
The sector average was a 4.5 per cent decline in net financial position and an 8.1 per cent reduction in staff numbers.
As to the overall institutional impact of reductions in casual staff, Professor Larkins points that, “these reductions represent major changes to operational teaching and research and administrative delivery profiles within universities.
MCSHE publishes Professor Larkins’ comprehensive analysis HERE
Uni SA wins new CRC
It is the lead partner in the new SAAFE Cooperative Research Centre, (as in Solving Antimicrobial Resistance in Agribusiness, Food and Environments)
Science and Technology minister, Melissa Price announced the award Friday, as the first of three in the 23rd round of CRCs. The round was decided just before caretaker kicked in (CMM April 6) and presumably word on the other two will follow during the campaign.
Still in the running are, proposed centres for * the care economy *sovereign manufacturing automation * intelligent manufacturing * ONE Basin (as in Murray-Darling) and *plastic waste.
SAAFE has $34.5m in public funding, with 70 partners contributing $112m in cash and kind. Other participating universities are Curtin U, and Unis Queensland, WA and Wollongong, plus UTS. The MRI formerly known as Walter and Eliza Hall Institute is also involved.
Pure research funding falls
Pure research funding falls
The foundations of national research and development took a hit in 2018-20
Spending on pure basic research dropped over $300m, to $2455m, according to a new report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
While strategic basic research increased from $2167m to $2246m, applied research outlays grew by $824m, to $6708m.
Overall, higher education spending on research and development declined slightly between 2018 and 2020. The headline figure is an increase from $12 158m to $12 668m. However the chain volume measure (adjusting for annual price changes) of spending, declined from $12 849m in ’18.
General university funds continue to be the most important source of HERD outlays but dropped from $6823m in 2018 to $6735m. Commonwealth direct grants and other schemes were both marginally up and business spending increased from $522m to $603m.
Dolt of the day
Whose numbers were really wrong on RMIT’s 2021 annual report last week. The university wants it known that its fee and charge income dropped $55m ($27m for the RMIT Group) from 2020, not $409m as CMM wrongly reported. RMIT Group revenue from continuing operations was up $97m, ($70m for the university) not $110m.
Meenakshi Arora (Uni Melbourne) receives the individual impact award from the India Australia Business and Community Alliance,
Keiran Davis (Auckland City Hospital) is the new dean of the Australasian Faculty of Pain Medicine
Erica Donner (Uni SA) is interim CEO of the new Cooperative Research Centre for Solving Antimicrobial resistance in Agribusiness, Food and Environment Cooperative Research Centre, announced Friday.
Clare (Rutherford) Tubolets is the new CEO of the SmartCrete Cooperative Research Centre (concrete in engineering). She moves from COO at the Food Agility CRC.