O’Kane acclaim  

A learned reader suggests that the outcome of the Accord team lead by Mary O’Kane will inevitably be known as the OK Report. Be hard to argue with its recommendations.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

To verify international student credentials build a blockchain . Andrew Flitman (Wells Advisory) makes the case. “Rather than relying on individual institutions to implement blockchains, we should embed a nationally supported, and independently facilitated and verified blockchain, within our visa and institutional enrolment processes. In essence, creating a user rather than supplier oriented blockchain.”

plus Australian universities have 850 on-line courses they partner with private providers – which makes quality control a thing. Mahsood Shah(Swinburne U) and Fion Lim (UTS) on what needs be done.

with Lydia Woodyatt on burnout and what leaders can do to help staff. No, “awkward cake” in the lunchroom isn’t part of it. A new contribution to Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in learning and teaching.

plus in Expert Opinion Bob Gerrity (wearing his Council of Australian University Librarians hat) explains CAUL’s big deal with Elsevier. Another move towards open access.

The numbers on campus matter

University enterprise bargaining is now a big industrial deal

Andrew Probyn (ABC) asked Employment and Work Place Relations minister Tony Burke a question at the National Press Club, the other day. He wanted to know what would happen under the proposed IR law if the National Tertiary Education Union  and the Community and Public Sector Union were split over a university management enterprise agreement offer. Would there not, he asked be a problem if the union with more members agreed to an offer, but the smaller one didn’t, which would lead to the Fair Work Commission intervening because under the proposed law both unions must agree.

To which the Minister politely, if not entirely clearly, responded, but what intrigues CMM is how hypothetical union disagreements at universities came to be a big issue for the bill.

Good news for Uni Tasmania management

They may not have recognised it at first – it’s been a while

The National Tertiary Education Union postponed yesterday’s long-planned industrial action, “as a gesture of good faith” in enterprise bargaining negotiations with management.

“The progress in negotiations in the last few weeks has been significant, and we are hopeful that bargaining will be concluded in the very near future,” the union told members.

Crucial aspects of management’s offer include a 13.5 per cent pay rise over four years, which is not that far short of the 15 per cent over three NTEU national leadership wants nationally.  Plus casual academics accounting for 25 per cent max, with new continuing jobs and improved conversion for fixed-term staff. There is also a new union-management consultative committee.

“This significant progress would not have been made without members’ willingness to take industrial action,” the union states – which is undoubtedly true.

But it is also due to management’s need for a deal and recognition that these are not the times for hanging tough. As VC Rufus Black put it in July, “part of paying people fairly is recognising that we are in an inflationary environment and cost of living pressures are affecting everyone,” (CMM July 4). And conversion rights for casuals has been on the national agenda since Western Sydney U’s precedent-setting proposed agreement (CMM July 27), now set to go to an all-staff vote.

Management is also signalling a more conciliatory style. “We need to focus on managing change in a much more effective way, building better approaches to two-way communication, and creating a better sense of empowerment and autonomy for our people,” Kristen Derbyshire (Chief People Officer) said during the week.

As to what’s in it for management; peace with staff is one fewer front to be fighting on. The Legislative Council inquiry into the university has a volume of vitriol in submissions to consider and the relocation of most of the university to the CBD was decisively rejected by Hobart City Council residents in a non-binding vote last month (CMM October 31).


What’s wrong with university admin

Fair Work Ombudsman, Sandra Parker, Senate Estimates, Wednesday 

“They haven’t focused on governance; they have not employed the expertise they need. They have not centralised their human resources functions, so they are operating across faculties and schools. A faculty will do it one way, and another faculty will do it another, and there’s not a consistent approach. They haven’t understood their own enterprise agreements and haven’t had it pointed out to them that they are fundamental to the way they need to pay people. In the case of universities, most of them have enterprise agreements that require hourly rates, not piece rates. They also haven’t appropriately invested in payroll or time-recording systems. When they’ve had HR and pay issues dealt with by academic managers, they haven’t had that expertise they’ve needed to take it seriously or do it properly. It’s a longstanding issue that’s developed over quite a long period of time.”

There’s more


Yet another open access deal for uni libraries

No, not the one with Elsevier (CMM Tuesday) – this is even newer

The Council of Australian University Librarians announces a read and publish agreement with American Institute of Physics Publishing. It allows researchers at member ANZ universities to publish OA in 23 Institute journals, without article processing charges – apparently in-line with the other arrangements CAUL has made with publishers in the last three years.

In Expert Opinion CAUL director Bob Gerrity talks about the Elsevier arrangement and the council’s overall achievement.

VET voices at the Accord table

Among the university applauseathon for Jason Clare’s announcement of the Accord team and terms of reference the Electrical Trades Union has summat to say

Specifically, the ETU warns, the Accord process could fail, “without clear voices from the vocational skills and training sector.”

This might strike HE policy panjandrums as VET not knowing its place – but that would not be wise.

As per the Accord’s fifth key area for review, “explore possible opportunities to support greater engagement and alignment between the vocational education and training (VET) and higher education systems. In particular, the panel will have regard to the experience of students in navigating these systems and ensuring a cohesive and connected tertiary education system.

Victoria U moves fast on reorganisation

Management is not mucking around with its proposed academic restructure (CMM Tuesday)

Consultations are underway, closing on December 12, with recruitment for new positions to start then. “Full implementation” is proposed for January 3.

The university is reducing HE discipline colleges from six to two new ones. The mergers also involve moving some disciplines.

The planned new colleges are Health, Sport and Built Environment and Arts, Business Law Education.

Four student learning support units will be integrated into a new learning and teaching support service.

The restructure involves 17 “impacted positions” one vacant and creates 12.6 FTE new ones.

What most uni managements like least in the industrial relations bill

The Australian Higher Education Industrial Association submission to the Senate inquiry raises five issues

* limitation on fixed term contracts: bad for short research funding

* Better off Overall Test: “the open-ended ability to reconsider agreements will create significant uncertainty and transaction costs for universities”

* change to management’s existing right to terminate enterprise agreements

*mandatory union approval of management bargaining offers. AHEIA wants managements to get once chance to put a deal to staff without union support. If it fails the Fair Work Commission gets involved

And then there is the one that appears to especially alarm AHEIA .

* multi-employer bargaining. The proposal for a “common interest test” may, “lead to the grouping of diverse universities, with  resultant not fit-for-purpose workplace arrangements.” To prevent this AHEIA proposes expanding the “nature of enterprise test” to include, criteria such as, number of staff, capacity to pay, as well as :the identifiable sub-sector groupings and differentiations in existence.” CMM thinks this means regional universities aren’t like the Group of Eight.

As to what other major interest groups think, who knows? The Group of Eight (member unis aren’t in AHEIA) isn’t talking, at least to CMM. Neither is the National Tertiary Education Union.


Appointments, achievements

Sally Cripps becomes technology director at UTS’ new Human Technology Institute. She joins from CSIRO.

Murdoch U VC Andrew Deeks announces major appointments, as of January 1.

* Head of College (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) – Parisa Bahri * Head of College (Health and Education) – Guillermo Campitelli  * Head of College (Law, Arts and Social Sciences) – Deborah Gare  * Head of College (Business) – Antonia Girardi  * DVC (Global Engagement) – Simon McKirdy * Chief People Officer – Sharon Russell  * Director of IT Services – Alex Tegg . The university is “active external recruitment”  for DVC research and innovation, a DVC education, a Chief Experience and a head for the Environmental and Life Sciences Colllege.

Uni Melbourne announces its 2022 Marles medalists (for research over the preceding decade); Kim Bennell (Health Sciences), Robert Crawford (School of Design), Rana Hinman (Health Sciences), Jane Hocking (Population and Global Health)