The pro case and the pro case

Saturday’s Adelaide Advertiser ran opeds on merging the universities of Adelaide and South Australia. While both authors stressed nothing is decided the pro-case was made VC Peter Rathjen of UniA and the other pro-case by UniSA’s VC, David Lloyd.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features today – on the eve of the ATEM/Campus Morning Mail Best Practice Awards in Tertiary Education Managementa timely reflection on how tertiary education managers contribute to the core functions – the raison d’être – of our institutions.

Victoria U offers staff a deal but union says vote no

Victoria U is putting its enterprise bargaining offer to staff this morning, without the endorsement of the National Tertiary Education Union, which is campaigning for a no-vote. This management move sometimes works (Charles Sturt U pulled it off in 2013) but is a big risk (James Cook U lost a vote last year). This may be why VU management has sent staff a glossy setting the benefits of the deal titled, “Working towards our future.”

The univerity offers four annual pay increases, from 1.4 per cent this year to 2 per cent in 2021 and says it  “safeguards” leave benefits as well creating “new entitlements”. It also proposes a range of changes to academic work models and simplified processes, discipline and dispute procedures and staff reclassification.

“With the addition of some new benefits, the proposed enterprise agreement provides many entitlements that are above sector standards and in some cases, are among the best in the sector,” VU states.

To which the union replies, the pay offer is the second lowest in the present bargaining round, span of hours for professional staff increase, with more contact time and worse conditions for some academic staff. And the changes to process is “code for losing workplace rights.”

Voting starts Wednesday week.

UniSydney set for Ramsay Civ Centre debate

As promised by University of Sydney VC Michael Spence, the humanities and social sciences faculty board will discuss today the draft memo setting terms for any negotiation with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation.

Opponents of the Civ Centre funding courses at the university say that FASS knocking back the proposed terms could stop negotiations. They are expected to lobby faculty board members accordingly.

Brief bargaining opportunity for unis

As Victoria U management puts its own enterprise agreement proposal to staff (above) word from Newcastle U  observers is that management there is thinking of doing the same thing, especially as the Community and Public Sector Union there is not as hard-line as the National Tertiary Education Union. And Charles Sturt U observers suggest VC Andrew Vann is thinking of going it alone, again.

According to enterprise bargaining experts, the reason for the forceful flurry is the leadership transition at the NTEU, with outgoing general secretary Grahame McCulloch not quite gone and replacement Matthew McGowan not quite in place.  The NTEU head office is well-skilled in parachuting in to assist local leaderships when managements go hard so universities will need to be quick. Mr McGowan takes over on October 16.

A new Southern Cross star

Tyrone Carlin starts work as DVC academic at Southern Cross U on November 1. Professor Carlin moves from the University of Sydney, where he is a professor of financial regulation and reporting. Until end 2017 he was DVC registar there, moving up from PVC education operations in 2014. Being a dvc is a big job, but Professor Carlin appeared undaunted, also serving as president of CPA Australia, working with controversial former CEO Alex Malley. Professor Carlin stood down from the CPA in May 2017 and announced his departure from the DVC role that October.

SCU VC Adam Shoemaker tells staff Professor Carlin’s, “service to the academic, research and professional practice communities has been highly impressive and, at the same time, he is a very strategic and accomplished leader.”

UniMelb starts crowdfunding research

Back in June the University of Melbourne announced it was looking at crowdfunding research with props going to a cross-campus committee, (CMM June 4.) Four made the cut, rescuing endangered bandicoots, mobility aids, an astronomy cubesat and a scheme to inspire women “to become active Victorian citizens.”

It is common for crowdfunding universities to partner with an expert provider (for example DeakinU and Pozible) but UniMelb, which knows many millions of dollars worth of things about fundraising, is going it alone.

So what will work? ANU had a big success last year raising $57 000 (it had hoped for $4000) to build nesting boxes for Swift Parrots, which apparently aren’t quick enough to escape predators. Bodes well for the bandicoots.

ANUs new bookish haven

ANU will have a new bookshop next year, as in a physical space where your actual bound-up printed pages are for sale. DVC Marnie Hughes Warrington reports the imminent arrival of bookseller, Harry Hartog in the coming Kambri complex in the new essay in her chronicle of the university’s big-build.

A place for the bookish to congregate mightily pleases Professor Hughes Warrington, a self-confessed “person of the book” who welcomes the arrival of stocked-shelves after the February floods did such damage to the university’s Chifley collection.

“I can barely contain my joy. We’ve had a sad year for books—the lapping echo of our drowned library lingers—and the thought of a rush of new shelves and stock makes the slow rebuild all the more bearable,” she writes.

Quite right. A university without books to browse, buy and talk-about would, even in these digtal days, be a strange place indeed.

Cross-culture teaching and learning research programme

The Innovative Research Universities Group has collaborated with the Malaysia Research University Network on four teaching and learning projects, being reported today.

One of them involved Flinders, Murdoch and Charles Darwin universities cooperating with Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, developing metrics for learning analytics and investigating their application.

One finding of  the resulting report, by Deborah West, Ann Luzeckyj and Richard Price (Flinders U), plus Bill Searle (Charles Darwin U) and Danny Toohey (Murdoch U) is that university managements focus on learning analytics to address attrition, while teaching staff are interested in study specifics, for example, curriculum improvement. The authors also point to difficulties in integrating key learning and teaching data with other relevant information, such as demographics and library-use.

Overall, they argue, “a suite of reports is required to meet the needs of teaching staff across the diversity of roles and pedagogical approaches. This suite of reports needs to range from the institutional executive level, to head of school, course/program coordinator to the unit/topic coordinator, those responsible for teaching, and those responsible for curriculum design and development.”

Appointments, achievements

As of February Cheryl Jones will be deputy executive dean (academic) in the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Medicine and Health. She joins from the University of Melbourne. She was deputy dean of the Sydney Medical School from 2012 to March last year.

ANU economist Geoffrey Brennan has won the Gutenburg Teaching Award for 2018. The economist who now “identifies as a philosophy, politics, economics” person is honoured for “the development of attractive study programs transcending disciplinary boundaries and for his long-standing dedication to the formation of students and junior researchers.” The award comes from the Johannes Gutenburg University in Mainz, Germany. It includes a Euro 10 000 prize and an invitation to deliver a lecture there.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced new council members of government advisory body Cancer Australia. Joanne Aitken, (QUT and Menzies Health Institute, Qld) is the incoming distinguished scientist member.

The International Water Association’s bi-annual award goes to Tony Wong, “for his lifetime research on water sensitive urban design.” Professor Wong, from Monash U is CEO of the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities.

Annie Hunter wins the Australian Catholic University’s 2018 poetry prize. Ms Hunter’s entry was selected from 540 entries. Ms Hunter, from Castlemain Vic, describes herself as an “arthritic gardener and part-time poet.”