Where the money went at Macquarie U

Macquarie U VC S Bruce Dowton briefed staff yesterday on the university’s 2020 financial results, in its annual report, tabled in the NSW Parliament, Friday (CMM yesterday)

There is good news in his message, better than expected teaching revenues in the second half of last year, which were up $11m on forecast.

But the bottom-line on the bottom line, is that the university lost $51m in 2020, “after restructuring costs” of $37m.

And what do you reckon they might have been? The VC does not expand, but the annual report (p79) refers to $18.4m in (voluntary) redundancy payments for academic staff and $18.1m for “non-academic staff.”


There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Employers will participate in work integrated learning but they need help to make it happen. Incentives for universities under the National Priorities and Industry Linkage Fund are not enough. Anne Younger (Australian Industry Group) and Judie Kay (World Association for Work Integrated Education), make the case It’s this week’s addition to Contributing Editor Sally Kift‘s long-running series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

James Guthrie (Macquarie U) and Brendan O’Connell report searching Victorian universities documents for the number of people, people, not accounting abstractions, who lost their jobs last year. They found changes in accounting practises and calculating headcounts make final figures hard to find. They set out their data here. (There was a data entry error in the CMM email edition yesterday. The correct figure for RMIT’s 2019 staff FTE is 6976.2, making the decline in 2020 to 6111.5, 864.7. The correct numbers are in the www edition.)

Which way for research infrastructure funding

The working party to advise on the next research infrastructure roadmap is announced – there could be a new direction

The  next National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy will allocate $4bn through to 2028-29 and Education Minister Alan Tudge says “the world has changed significantly” since the previous (2016) roadmap recommendations.

“Our world-class science and research will continue to contribute to Australia’s response to the evolving challenges and opportunities we now face, and the roadmap will ensure our efforts are focussed on key areas.”

Industry and Science Minister Christian Porter nominates, digital technology, science and research capability “as fundamental” to “boosting our manufacturing capability and securing Australia’s future prosperity and long-term productivity.”

And Mr Tudge adds the roadmap will, “ensure our efforts are focused on key areas,” and “also support our research commercialisation agenda by identifying areas of opportunity at all stages of the research pipeline.”

This appears in-line with Mr Tudge’s aspiration that academics, “become entrepreneurs, taking their ideas from the lab to the market. We want them to be properly rewarded for their breakthroughs and their engagement with business. … We know that more innovation activity will lift our nation’s productivity,” (CMM March 1).

In contrast, the 2016 roadmap stated, “while Australian research covers a wide range of domains, not all require national research infrastructure. Research areas not identified … may be equally important but their infrastructure requirements can be met through institutional or commercially available infrastructure.”

The new working party is chaired by RMIT chancellor, scientist and business leader Ziggy Switkowsky, with members,

* Liz Sonenberg (computing and IT, Uni Melbourne)

* Chris Roberts (“board member in the medical device industry”)

* Barbara Howlett (“a biologist who studies plant diseases,” Uni Melbourne)

* Michelle Perugini (“expert in health/med tech and AI. Serial entrepreneur & mentor”)

* Lauren Stafford (innovation partnerships manager, Woodside Energy resources)

In contrast, the 2016 working party came from universities and research organisations, apart from Andrew Cuthbertson, then (and now) Chief Scientific Officer at CSL.

Dirk Mulder points to policy change at the immigration-international ed interface


The pandemic has created an opportunity for permanent reform

It appears policy reform is now firmly on the agenda, on the back of the announcement of work and stay changes for international students with jobs in hospitality and tourism.

Last month the Commonwealth announced (CMM May 10) the 40 hour per fortnight cap on work will be lifted and that tourism and hospitality will be included under 408 COVID-19 Pandemic Event Visa, which is valid for 12 months and may be renewable.

The announcements surprised the education sector with peak bodies seeking an urgent meeting with Immigration Minister Alex Hawke for clarification on how the new visa arrangement will impact education providers with international students (CMM May 11).

The combined international education peak bodies roundtable, plus state and territory officials met with Mr Hawke, Friday.

Roundtable chair and CEO of the International Education Association of Australia Phil Honeywood, says the meeting discussed the opportunity the pandemic provides for major policy reform, to be designed to meet competitor nation policy initiatives and provide more transparent and equitable outcomes for International students.

Peak body CEOs will now put detailed reforms to the Immigration Minster. Core issues include

*  post study work rights

* professional year programmes

* minimum periods spent studying with a principal education provider

International education observers suggest this is a big opportunity for change the industry needs, but warns that reforms will need to be well-designed and carefully implemented.  “There are enough consequences for getting things wrong where international education and immigration intersect,” one says.

Dirk Mulder advises education and business clients on trends in international education. He writes regularly for CMM

Where one senior veep is not enough

Monash U VC Margaret Gardner announces a change to the executive following Marc Parlange’s announcing he will soon be on the road to Uni Rhode Island

His portfolio, provost and senior vice president will now cover international campuses as well as faculties.

And there is a new job, deputy vice chancellor and senior vice president research – one of the criteria for which, suggest learned readers, is the ability to announce the full title before listeners lose interest.

But can they both be senior veeps, surely only one can be senior to the other veep?

Not at Monash U, where there are five senior vice presidents (more than there are ordinary and associate VPs).

Private provider peak calls for new international education regulator

Private HE and training lobby ITECA wants a new agency to simplify international education oversight

Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia calls for the creation of the Australian International Education Commission to manage administration and “selected regulatory functions.”

“The inability of the Australian Government to develop and manage a streamlined and consistent mechanism for the collection, analysis and reporting of data in respect of the international education sector is a significant issue,” ITECA asserts.

An independent, statutory commission could advise government on expanding the sector, securing it against shocks and “monitor and protect the welfare of international students.”

ITECA proposes the commission be jointly funded by the Commonwealth and international education providers.

“The need for a coordinated approach is overwhelming. Although Australia has set the example globally in managing the Covid-19 pandemic, this has resulted in a serious decline in students arriving in Australia. The market for international students is more intense and competing nations have developed study options and visa policy settings that, from the perspective of students, make Australia a less attractive place to study relative to competitor nations, “ ITECA states.

It makes the case in a submission to the Commonwealth’s consultation paper for an international education strategy to 2030.

Appointments, achievements

Guy Curtis (UWA), Christina Slade with colleagues from the academic integrity team (Uni Queensland) and Amanda White (UTS) are the shortlist for the inaugural Tracey Bretag Prize. The award, “honours the memory of Tracey, as well as provide momentum or her work and the pursuit of academic integrity as part of a positive student experience.” It’s an initiative of study-support service (and CMM advertiser) Studiosity.

Farah Magrabi (Macquarie U) is named a 2021 fellow by the International Academy of Health Sciences Informatics.

Yi Ren (Uni Southern Queensland) receives a 2021 award for excellence in research management leadership from the International Network of Research Management.

The Australian Society for Microbiology announces its 2021 awards, including.

Distinguished service: Melissa Brown (Flinders U), Jacqueline Schooneveldt (Mater Pathology) Deirdre Mikkelsen (Uni Queensland)

Early career award: Danielle Ingle (Uni Melbourne), Jennifer Wood ( La Trobe U)

Student award: Laurine Kaul (Uni Adelaide), Cheryl Sia (Uni Melbourne), Elizabeth Peterson (UTS), Sarah Cahill (QUT), Korakrit Imwattana (UWA)

Frank Fenner award: John Atack (Griffith U), Nichollas Scott (Uni Melbourne)

Travel award: Thuru Vanniasinkam (Charles Sturt U)

Teaching award: Meredith Hughes (Monash U)