While you wait

University of Melbourne’s ever-vigilant administration sets out what people should do if stuck in lifts – call for help and fill out a three-page report. Unless filling out the forms first is a condition of being let out. A learned reader points out it is not just the research funding agencies that like forms.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning, David Myton examines a new study on artificial intelligence and the future of work.

What won’t happen next in higher education planning

The Innovative Research Universities expect nothing much will happen in the higher education and research policy spaces until the election. Certainly, Industry, science and technology minister Karen Andrews, “will bring an active mind to the government’s focus on stimulating better take-up of research by business. However “the general expectation that Dan Tehan would focus at school funding questions has so far rung true.”

But there is one issue Mr Tehan has to address, postgraduate and sub-bachelor places per university for 2019. “It looks very unlikely that the plan for a new allocation system will take effect until 2020 at earliest, but universities need to know this to be confident in making offers,” IRU reminds the government.

The government’s position appears still to be that 2020 growth places will be allocated on the basis of “performance indicators and performance targets“agreed” between government and universities this year and assessed next. So how’s the consultation going? Learned readers say as yet nowhere.  Not to worry, it’s only October.

Eternal union vigilance at Victoria U

Last week Victoria U staff decisively voted down a management proposed enterprise agreement, which was adamantly opposed by the National Tertiary Education Union. But the comrades are not relaxing,  asking members to vote to take industrial action, lest management tries anything the union opposes. “This will arm us with the maximum amount of industrial pressure we can apply and it’s our view we will need every single bit.” The NTEU says the university is surveying staff opinion and might try another vote.

The art of the academic review at USQ

They like a review at the University of Southern Queensland, with proposals for change in higher degree admin, the library and teaching and learning this year. A learned reader reports management also commissioned a comprehensive report on performing arts teaching and practise in the university.

There’s drama in detail in the review, now circulating, of the Creative Arts academic unit and the Artsworx service provider. The review is carefully kind to just about everybody, reviewers use the old Australian Universities Quality Agency format of “commendations,” “affirmations” and recommendations.”  However the courtesy does not disguise conflict between some academics and Artsworx, which the reviewers address at length.

However its not the biggest point they make.

“Creative Arts and Artsworx are heavily cross subsidised by the university. In Creative Arts, this is due to the current full time equivalent staff profile and many of its second and third year courses incurring negative margins. Some courses need to be discontinued or put on rotation to ensure viable enrolments. Also needed are more staff and resource sharing that could support a more unified curriculum in the Bachelor of Creative Arts. For Artsworx, clarification is required as to whether Artsworx be explicitly profit maximising, that is, seeking a profit by undertaking all feasible activities; or whether it should be focused on strategic creative arts or university initiatives.”


Plus ca change of the day

On October 3 2013 CMM reported the L H Martin Institute was holding a conference on what the new coalition federal government would want from higher education, made tricky because no minster was speaking. Anybody heard anything from Dan Tehan?

Fossils fuel protest at UNSW

The Fossil Free UNSW group occupied the chancellery yesterday, insofar as a couple of dozen people are enough to occupy anything. University management certainly thought they were, advising all staff that chancellery was locked down, “as a precautionary measure to assist with security arrangements.”

Ring a bell? Back in 2016 UNSW adopted a new investment policy including a “gradual transition” to a “greater investment in renewable energy production and less in fossil fuels over time,” (CMM November 9 2016). Yesterday’s protestors wanted a statement from the university on why it continues to have investments in fossil fuels.

MOOC of the morning

RMIT, with Udacity, has a short-course on “all the fundamentals to get you started in autonomous vehicles.”  The programming course takes ten hours a week, runs for four months and costs A$2060.

Where blokes are, and aren’t on campus

Male undergrads are not just a minority on campus (42 per cent), they are under-represented in seven out of ten discipline areas. But when they are in a majority, it’s a big one.

Frank Larkins looks at where the blokes aren’t in a new report in his L H Martin series on the state of Australian higher education.

Women were especially dominant in three broad fields in 2016, society and culture (F-139 000, M- 75 000), health (F-116 000, M-41 000) and education (M-59 000, M-18 000). In the physical sciences, business and agriculture the gender split is nowhere near as pronounced.

However males dominate in IT (M-22 000, F 3000), and engineering (M-48 000, F-8000).  The pattern across the discipline groups is much the same for postgrads.

As to a reason for the overall under-representation of males in higher education Professor Larkins points to more males in VET but also suggests; “the underachievement by males in schools needs attention before we can expect any significant increase in male participation in universities.”

Labor on track

“Labor continues to assert its positive vision for higher education should it return to government,” Conor King from lobby group Innovative Research Universities, IRU newsletter yesterday.

It’s not easy being green

Australian Catholic University announces, “it’s energy efficiency outperformed that of more than 35 other universities.” in the annual survey “released” by the Tertiary Education Facilities Management Association.  But when CMM asked to see details putting ACU’s achievement in context the university said it was not allowed to reveal the full report and referred him to the TEFMA secretariat. Who said the same thing – the report only goes to institutions that complete the survey, with an abridged version available to “other paid members.” But “we don’t release to the general public.”

There isn’t a university in the country that does not trumpet its green credentials, seems strange their professional facilities management association does not announce their achievements.


Sally McArthur from Swinburne U is appointed regional director of the Victorian Medical Device Partnering Programme. The Swinburne-led programme has $2m from the state government.

Vlado Perkovic is president elect of the Asociation of Australian Medical Research Institutes.  Professor Perkovic is a professor of medicine at UNSW and executve director of the George Institute for Global Health. He replaces the previous president elect of AMRI, Steve Wesselingh, who is the new chair of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s research committee and has joined the NHMRC council (CMM yesterday)

Dolt of the day

Is CMM who missed a typo in yesterday’s issue. The big yes vote for a new enterprise agreement was at USQ, not the University of Queensland. The UoQ poll concludes today.