There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

CLAIRE MACKEN (RMIT) on expanding education access  in Vietam– there’s much to learn from the way people ride motorbikes.

with JO HOETZER and colleagues from ANU and Uni Wollongong on working with students to deliver employability and life-long, life-wide career management skills. It’s a new selection by Commissioning Editor Sally Kift for her celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

plus MERLIN CROSSLEY (UNSW) on the inevitability of the ATAR. “There are thousands of early offers out there but the ATAR and more sophisticated applicant ranking systems that aim to consider a student’s context and achievement relative to opportunity will always be with us.”

and ANGEL CALDERON (RMIT) on the inaugural QS Sustainability Ranking – UNSW and Uni Sydney are equal fifth in the world,  HERE

Micro-credentials gift for Christmas

The long awaited micro-credentials marketplace launches in December

Deep in the parliamentary weeds is a bill making micro-credential course costs FEE HELP-able. It’s all part of the plan to encourage the present pilot of m-c courses. But it will help if people have to know where to find them.

The previous government was on to that, announcing in June 2020 there would be, “a nationally consistent platform to compare course outcomes, duration, mode of delivery and credit point value. Last year the NSW Universities Admission Centre was commissioned to build a “micro-credentials marketplace” (CMM, July 15 2021 and March 23 2022).

So how’s that going? UAC’s Kim Paino says, “we are currently onboarding providers” and anticipates the site will be live in December.

Court decision on free speech protection in Uni Sydney staff agreement

The Federal Court has found for Uni Sydney academic Tim Anderson in a significant judgement for enterprise bargaining

The university dismissed Dr Anderson for what it considered serious misconduct ,over comments and actions, including a lecture slide imposing a Nazi swastika on the flag of Israel.

However after a long legal process Federal Court Justice Thawley has found the university was wrong to do so, that Dr Anderson exercised his right to free speech, as covered by the university’s enterprise agreement.

According to the National Tertiary Education Union, which backed him, “this case was never about what Dr Anderson said …(it)  is a win for academic freedom and the enterprise agreement which upholds that critical principle.”

It is a big deal for enterprise bargaining, now underway, or about to be, at universities across the country.

Universities often prefer to base free speech protections on policies – Uni Sydney stated Friday, that it “is deeply committed to the expression and protection of intellectual freedom in line with the principles set out in our Charter of Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom.” The  free speech code drafted by former chief justice Robert French and adopted across the system is also suggested to provide sufficient protection.

However the NTEU has long been determined to codify free speech protections in enterprise agreements because they can stand up in courts by (CMM October 10).

It will be even more determined now.


Tense industrial times at James Cook U

There’s sniping in enterprise bargaining

Last week National Tertiary Education Union members imposed rolling work bans on specific tasks, using Zoom, meeting with managers and so-on.

To which management responded that staff participating in the bans, are not to attend work for the duration of the participation and must apply for leave without pay.

Management’s instruction also covers academics who tell students in class why the union is taking industrial action.

The response will likely be strikes in the new year.

While the professional staff restructure rolls-on

Back in September management proposed 78 redundancies, abolishing 52 vacant jobs and ending 15 fixed term positions when they conclude,  plus changes to admin locations, reporting lines and titles for people in 900 or so other roles (CMM September 16).

Now the final plan is in and it includes 48 redundancies and 36 fixed term jobs to end. Otherwise all is largest as was for headcounts, however the university is keen to make clear that it listened, there are changes identified in the final plan’s 22 pages of comments and responses.

Whammy one for U Tasmania leadership

The university’s proposal to redevelop it’s Hobart campus has been decisively rejected by voters in city council elections

what’s happened: a vote on the development plan was on the ballot, which the university lost by a thumping majority – close to 75 per cent agin.

While not binding it would be hard for the new council to ignore and the university announced Saturday it will withdraw its development proposal for the Sandy Bay site.

“A clear message is that the future of the Sandy Bay campus is important for Hobart as well as the university, so we will work with the City of Hobart as the planning authority on the best way forward.”

This is a major set-back for the university, which planned to sell-off most of its existing campus to fund a relocation to CBD sites, which is already underway.

The move was adamantly opposed by a community campaign that wants the university to stay where it is.

how come: university management has been out-campaigned by activists for years, with the development plan becoming a focus for staff dissatisfaction with university leadership and disquiet in the broader community at what critics claim is a focus on commercial objectives.

what now: the university council has signalled that it continues to back Vice Chancellor Rufus Black, who is inextricably linked to the relocation. In September council renewed his contract indefinitely, six months before his first, five year, term expired. “Council supports and is committed to delivering the university’s strategy, which includes the consolidation in Hobart’s CBD,” Chancellor Alison Watkins stated.

Supporters of the CBD relocation suggest that the decisive vote demonstrates community opinion in inner Hobart rather than the rest of the city – that students from other areas would benefit from classes in the CBD, served by direct public transport, which Sandy Bay is not. Maybe, but it’s the city council that covers U Tas and  it is hard to see how councillors can now approve development of the existing campus.

and next: The university has already moved a great deal of its operation into the city. With the Sandy Bay sale off for now, the challenge will be to fund it  A learned reader suggests, this will mean cost cutting at the university and maybe even a state government bail-out down the track (CMM September 18).

But before there’s a second whammy: broad-ranging inquiry into U Tas governance by a committee of the state’s Legislative Council is underway – and if members pay heed to many submissions, the report will be critical indeed of the way the university is managed.

RMIT announces “not another on-line business school”

Instead, its D3 which will, “deconstruct the derivative”

D3 includes RMIT’s Blockchain Innovation Hub, Centre for Cyber Security Research and Innovation, Enterprise AI and Data Analytics Hub and Centre for People Organisations and Work.

It will teach short, non-award courses, which will prepare people to “deconstruct the derivative.” The first course, “Doing business in Web3” is six-weeks on-line for $A99, via FutureLearn.

It’s a title which rather understates the dazzling, daunting, prospect of D3.

As RMIT’s blockchain visionary Jason Potts puts it, “ it’s a design institute for the new era of composable economic infrastructure. For building local on-demand digital economies whenever a group of people want to come together to cooperate to create shared value”

Jason Potts talks to CMM in Expert Opinion, tomorrow


Appointments, achievements

The Australian Research Council announces Anika Gauja (now Uni Sydney) will start in January as ED for Social, Behavioural and Economic Sciences. Christina Twomey (Monash U) also starts January, as ED, Humanities and Creative Arts.

Industry organisation AusBiotech announces its 2022 awards, including, Sue Fletcher (Murdoch U) and Steve Wilton (Murdoch U) for leadership.

The ANZ Council of Deans of Nursing and Midwifery has a new executive. * chair: Karen Strickland (Edith Cowan U) * deputy chair:  Ann Bonner (Griffith U) * treasurer: Karen-leigh Edward (Swinburne U) * New Zealand member: Philippa Seaton (Uni Otago) * Marie Gerdtz (Uni Melbourne) * Deborah Hatcher (Western Sydney U) * Brendan McCormack (Uni Sydney) * Rachael Vernon(Uni South Australia) * Moira Williamson (CQUniversity)

Stephen Garnett (Charles Darwin U) receives the special commendation for the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales’ Whitley Medal.

Daniel Peltz is appointed Artist in Residence at Uni Sydney’s Sydney College of the Arts. He is a professor at the University of the Arts in Helsinki.