Secret phishing spot

A NSW university conducted a phishing security exercise last year, which had a 71 per cent click rate. Unhappily for curious criminals who would love to know which one. the NSW Auditor General isn’t telling. (Scroll down for more on cyber security in the state).

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

We will suffer from being out of shape. Melissa Day, Sarah Midford and Anna Kosovac on the at-risk future for the social sciences, humanities and arts for people and environment. SHAPE disciplines teach the skills society to deal with global crises but burn-out and attrition puts the SHAPE workforce at risk, HERE.

plus Merlin Crossley goes the full Benjamin Franklin calling for using shared news and views as ties that bind against the auld enemy of ignorance. As Dr Franklin said (although he meant it literally), “let us hang together, lest we hang separately,” HERE

with Angela Carbone and Luana Spadafora (both Australian Awards for University Teaching) on why it’s time to elevate teaching in universities and how it can be done. New in Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning. HERE

and Andrew Harvey (Griffith U) on how schools streaming students from Year 9 could defeat the great Accord ambition to expand HE participation. Another selection from the celebrated Sally HERE

joined by Danny Kingsley (Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science) and Hero Macdonald (Deakin U) on how Australia can and why it should, “modernise and right-size its approach to research assessment,” HERE.

UNSW’s “best estimate” on what it owes underpaid staff

There’s “a thorough review into historic pay practises”

In last week’s 2022  University of NSW annual report (pp 93, 94) there is a $92m provision in the consolidated accounts ($45m in 2021) which “includes the university’s best estimate of the expenditure required to meet the university’s obligations to current and former employees: under the 2018 enterprise agreements. … The estimate includes provision for a thorough review into historical pay practices and the possible amounts due to current and former staff, including interest, on-cost and other related costs to correct.”

On which the Independent Auditor has a view, listing as a key audit matter, “employee underpayment liabilities”

“At 31 December 2022, the university reported other current employee benefit provisions of $92.6 million. Included within this balance was a provision for underpayments of casual and permanent employees. I considered this to be a key audit matter because of the extent of significant management judgements underpinning key assumptions used to estimate the liabilities.”

Back in 2019 UNSW was making provisions for estimated potential liabilities for underpayment of casual academic staff, $23.7m for ’18 and $25.6m for ‘19, (CMM February 22 2021).

Nowhere like the NT

Charles Darwin U reports 19 hosting education agents from India, Nepal, Latin America, Africa, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Europe and Uzbekistan on famils.

Apparently the agents all said “there is nothing like seeing a one of a kind destination like the Northern Territory first hand!”

Cynics wonder how they could have politely said anything else, but what can you expect from cynics?

Cyber threats for NSW unis (and people whose records they keep on keeping)

Universities in NSW copped from none to 1777 attacks last year, according the state Auditor General’s report on the system

The range is due to the different ways universities define “cyber incidents,” with one not recording blocked attempts anywhere.

The Auditor advises 31 per cent, did not require IT vendors to tell then about attacks – these must have occurred before July, when universities became required to report “cyber incidents”

Overall, however only two “entities” reported financial loss from such with the highest financial loss being from a single attack using “malicious software on a “faculty computer laboratory.”

So overall it could have been worse? Yes and two large noes.

The first is, “whilst most entities have not reported direct financial losses from cyber incidents, many required significant effort and costs to respond to known, but unsuccessful incidents.”

And the second is the volume of personally identifiable information universities hold and hold and hold

* personal information of employees held between seven years and indefinitely

* personal information of students – held between seven years and indefinitely

* personal information of others (research, commercial activities) – held between seven and 15 years.

“Entities that retain sensitive PII long-term can in time hold greater volumes of information, increasing their risk exposure,” the AG suggests.

Think its overstating the risk?

Ask the thousands of former QUT staff who had personal records stolen in the pre-Christmas hack, (CMM February 3).

Local heroes

GBHA and Deakin U will partner to “create job opportunities for graduates and address workforce shortages” in the Geelong region – according to a media release sent to CMM.”

There was a launch yesterday, which is splendid news indeed – especially for those in the know about GBHA – which CMM wasn’t.

Until he reached the fineprint. Apparently, it’s “Australia’s leading regionally based private health insurer.”

Perhaps the announcement was not meant for foreign media.

Claire Field on the good governance must do


Two important documents had my attention last week – the first was a March 2023 report of an evaluation by the South Australian ICAC into TAFE SA. Before I go any further let me make it VERY clear – this was not an ICAC investigation – it was an anti-corruption body working in a preventative capacity to check that TAFE SA’s policies, procedures and ways of operating show an understanding of the potential risks of corruption.

ICAC SA found “an organisation about which people can be confident and hopeful” but also noted that “a common theme to emerge from the evaluation is that TAFE SA is expected to be everything to everyone, everywhere. It is pulled in many directions. Lack of stability increases corruption risk.”

The lack of stability in the VET sector is an issue I have been raising for years. In doing so I had not considered the corruption risks, but this should be in the minds of policymakers and ministers as they finalise the National Skills Agreement.

We need greater stability in VET.

More specifically VET providers, and particularly other TAFE Institutes, would do well to look at the recommendations the ICAC made – especially about corporate governance which I think is an issue ministers are going to expect a greater focus on from both ASQA and, as a result of the second document I was reading last week, also from TEQSA.

The second document was considerably shorter than the ICAC report, a very strong letter from the Fair Work Ombudsman to the Chair of the Accord Panel, Prof. O’Kane.

After reading it, there can surely be no-one left thinking that wage underpayment is a minor matter which does not require the sector’s full attention – including that of policymakers and TEQSA.

I am not suggesting that TEQSA has not been focussed on this issue, they have – but this letter makes clear that corporate governance is key to properly addressing wage underpayments and it is a key requirement of the Higher Education Standards Framework.

Wage underpayment and the significant cultural shift needed to address it were issues I was pleased to discuss with former NTEU General Secretary Matt McGowan on the podcast. And I am happy to extend an open invitation to any senior university representative wanting to join me on the podcast to share your views on the issue.

Claire Field has been a CMM contributor for four years. Next week will be her last column and she is enormously grateful to Stephen Matchett for the opportunity to make a regular contribution to debates in the sector


CMM’s still standing (just not for long)

Final issue is June 16

After ten years the end is near for CMM – thank you all for reading and giving me a reason to report the always fascinating, endlessly entertaining and often inexplicable alternative universe of tertiary education.

So fascinating that I will stay engaged – as a writer for hire.

Reporting and writing, editing and presenting – got a comms project challenge? I will have a solution @ [email protected]

Bargaining’s great in the sunshine state  

It took a few blues, sorry maroons, to get there but Griffith U has new enterprise agreements ready to go

A 90 per cent majority of academics voting have just backed a management offer supported by the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union. That just 40 per cent of eligible staff turned out may reflect a desire to end a long and contentious process. Professional staff voted for their own agreement in December, when academics knocked theirs back so the former need to vote again, today and tomorrow.

Unless professional staff are in the mood for payrise-delaying mayhem, support seems assured, so the university community is about to have new terms, including a 14.5 per cent pay rise over the agreement (CMM February 7).

“Thank you again to all academic staff who participated in the discussions and the voting. We also thank the NTEU and Griffith bargaining teams for negotiating an excellent outcome,” VC Carolyn Evans says.

Wage rise agreed at James Cook U

Management and representatives of the NTEU and the Electrical Trade Union have reached an agreement, to go to members and then all staff, for approval.

The core of the deal is a 14.5 (flat) per cent payrise from July through December ’25. This appears a good deal, given VC Simon Biggs warned of a $25m “overspend” this year (CMM April 26).

“Four down, three to go” an industrial observer points out

With agreements reached at Griffith U, James Cook U, QUT and close-to at Uni Queensland (where the offer is a base 15.76 per cent) that’s the state’s big four set. Central Queensland U, Uni Southern Queensland and Uni Sunshine Coast are to come. Given pay rises agreed it is hard to see how the three can offer anything under 14 per cent.

Future Campus: a guide to getting there


With CMM gone there’s a new way to read what’s happening, and needs to, in tertiary education

Future Campus will  bring you news, analysis and fresh voices – from the sector, for the sector. Publishing weekly, plus regular updates, it will be a focus for voices that need to be heard more often – Indigenous thought leaders, young staff who hold the future of the sector in their hands,  innovative researchers and teachers, as well as professional staff, who are often overlooked in their contribution to shaping the sector.

Plus it will include regular print and video contributions from Stephen Matchett, who is keen to keep on reporting what’s going on.
In my 24 years in the sector 21 years, I have worked in 24 universities and about a dozen VET sector institutions, either in-house or as a consultant, and I know just how important it is to share insights and fresh perspectives.

Better understanding and better connection leads to better management decisions, better hires, and a bit more satisfaction that your daily labours have a chance of adding up to something meaningful.

Sign-up to Future Campus @


Michelle Bruniges is the new chair of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. She replaces John Hattie (Uni Melbourne). Dr Bruniges is a former head of the Commonwealth Department of Education.

Malcolm Wise will be become principal of Uni Tasmania’s Australian Maritime College, in July, replacing Michael van Balen, Mr Wise is a former RAN commodore.