Two unis with new VCs

Deborah Terry took over at Uni Queensland yesterday, moving from VC at Curtin U. Pascale Quester (ex DVC, Uni Adelaide) is now in the chair at Swinburne U.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features today

Andrew Taggart (Murdoch U) argues low ATAR is better than no ATAR and doing one or two ATAR courses is better than no ATAR.

 Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on the pleasure and pride of routine lab work done well.

Lucy Montgomery (Curtin U) – why open access is the new publishing normal and what it means.

Who gets what when time is of the essence

Half the positions on the National Computational Merit Allocation Committee need filling

The committee is a very big very deal for researchers who need time on super-computers. The committee allocates access to the National Computational Infrastructure (based at ANU), the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre (in Perth), MASSIVE (at Monash U) and FlashLite (Uni Queensland). You have until Sunday to signal interest in allocating merit.

James Cook U to plot a savings course

Sandra Harding will brief the community on the state of the university’s finances today and what she wants to do about them

The VC is expected to propose savings to deal with a $40m deficit. Apart from reductions in non-staff outlays there are three ways to pursue them. Make cuts to staff remuneration within the terms of the university enterprise agreement.

With union support, put variations to the agreement, probably including a freeze on scheduled pay rises and temporary reductions in staff conditions to a staff vote.  Deals done on this basis generally include commitments to use the cuts to save jobs.

Or management could go it alone and put proposals to staff  which unions oppose.

Back to business as usual at La Trobe U

The unity in adversity spirit that saw LT U staff give up pay rises to protect job appears to be unravelling

The proposed academic workload plan is upsetting some, with complaints (among many others) of existing anomalies in workloads continuing in the draft plan and insufficient attention to the pandemic’s impact on teaching.

The campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union also complains about, “the exceptionally short response time allowed for consideration of a complex, important and radically changed policy.”

No inflated expectations

The consumer price index fell 1.9 per cent in the June quarter, which could be good for people with study debts –but not so much many will notice

The (Commonwealth) Parliamentary Library’s Hazel Ferguson and Gregory O’Brien explain how HELP debts are indexed annually on June 1. So for debts to decline there would need to be three further quarters of CPI decline, or rises not greater than the June figure. This “would see student loan debts shrink slightly.”  Unless of course there is a recession and deflation kicks in, which could mean bigger problems for graduates who lose their jobs than a drop in study debt would answer.

Deakin U asks staff for feedback on savings prop

And management invites the union “to continue consultation”

As directed by the Fair Work Commission, Deakin U has opened consultation, across the university on its major workplace change proposal ((CMM yesterday and Friday).

Staff can read the 15 operating unit change proposals and send management an email. They have until the 17th.

Vice Chancellor Iain Martin adds, “In parallel, we have offered an invitation to meet with the National Tertiary Education Union to continue consultation, which they have accepted.”

This looks like the talks on university-wide change the NTEU has called for (CMM July 3).

Professor Martin establishes a context for talks on how Deakin U is to make COVID 19 savings, telling staff; “to ensure Deakin delivers on our strategic aspirations, we are going to have to make some extremely difficult decisions. The disruption to higher education domestically and globally has impacted Deakin significantly and will do so for some time and we must work together – to adapt, respond and innovate – to ensure that Deakin, our University, is as resilient and strong as possible.”

They like a good consultation at DU – a paper on the next strategic plan is also out (scroll down).

Uni Adelaide closer to deal on staff condition cuts to protect jobs

Uni Adelaide and the National Tertiary Education Union leadership have agreed on COVID 19 savings

The core of the agreement is temporary cuts to pay and conditions sufficient to protect 200 FTE positions, although 200 still would go (CMM July 23).

Acting VC Mike Brooks tells staff the terms are “within the framework the NTEU has negotiated with the sector at a national level in order to deal with the kind of challenge we face.”

As part of the pact, the proposal now goes to a vote of campus members of the NTEU. If they endorse the deal it will then be put to an all-staff vote, commencing in two weeks. Professor Brooks will hold a staff-forum on the proposal today week.

Uni Adelaide observers suggest the first hurdle will be the harder – that there is stronger opposition to the proposal among union members than is apparent in the broader university community.

Dolt of the day

Is CMM. In yesterday’s email edition Andrew and Nicola Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation was misspelt. It is funding new postdoc fellowships at WA universities.

What Deakin U want to do next

Management’s consultation paper for the Deakin U to 2030 strategic plan is out

Working out what management is thinking is not entirely easy, with big ideas in the document swaddled in expressions of the obvious – “the university must meet the challenges posed by the external environment.”

But puzzle-out the persiflage and there is a strong-sense of where the leadership wants Deakin U to be in a decade, including;

managing size: “While our growth, including student numbers, will be influenced heavily by external factors, we must seize the opportunities for growth that align with our strategic intent and values – not growth for growth’s sake.”

location isn’t everything:  While remaining part of “location-based communities” the university will “overcome any disadvantage of geography.” “This will only become more important as students expect greater personalisation in our course offerings, and as data-enriched technologies and artificial intelligence become the background to all our lives.”

education for employment: “Partnerships with industry embed employability and career thinking into every student journey,” for “learners at all stages of their lives and careers”

certified success: “high-quality, short programs that have the potential to build into formal postgraduate qualifications

applying research: “enhance career-long researcher development across discovery, innovation and industry streams” and “accelerate translation of discoveries into products and services by streamlining commercialisation pathways