One provost passes

Last week Macquarie University science dean Clive Baldock announced he had decided to resign “to attend to personal matters” and would leave at the end of the month. Now Provost Judyth Sachs says she will not return from study leave “to explore new opportunities and start a new phase of my professional life.” Vice Chancellor S Bruce Downton says he “will undertake a short period of reflection on the substantial and wide-ranging portfolio before the search for a successor begins.” I wonder what other jobs he is reflecting on?

Another arrives

University of Queensland’s first provost is local hero and nano technology researcher Max Lu who has served as a DVC there since 2009. He effectively replaces former senior deputy vice chancellor Deborah Terry who is taking over as VC at Curtin University.

Riding instructions

Chris Pyne announces eminent University of Adelaide economist Cliff Walsh’s appointment as a part-time Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency commissioner yesterday; “Professor Walsh will have an important role to play in assisting TEQSA to take a deregulatory and consultative approach to its role.” Everybody clear (including TEQSA chief Carol Nicholl) on that? Deregulate and consult. Funny that ministers past and present always feel the need to use both words in every statement concerning TEQSA.

You get what you pay for

People at Wayne McKenna’s old university, Western Sydney are not best pleased with what VC Barney Glover calls “poaching” staff to join his new one, Australian Catholic U. “The action does have implications for UWS, which has provided strategic support and resources to these researchers over many years, and in most cases, throughout the relevant assessment period for the ERA assessment round,” he emailed UWS staff yesterday. As to the other big move of the week, I suspect UTS will be all official insouciance over the departure of just about all staff from the Centre for the Study of Choice to the University of South Australia. Good oh, but in the immortal words of Mandy Rice-Davies, they would say that wouldn’t they. Over at ACU, DVC McKenna says the university will “continue to invest in research and hire 100 new ‘high quality’ research staff this year”. How long before somebody suggests transfer fees for star academics?

Talking the team up

Other universities are strategically staffing-up, such as the University of Sydney business school which plans for 40 new staff in 2014-15. There are already four new hires in finance plus one in BIS. In another loss for UTS, supply chain management expert Behnam Fahimnia becomes an associate professor at Sydney. There is also optimism at UWS, where the business school has just concluded a bruising retrenchment round which ended up in Fair Work Australia. In a message to staff Dean of Business Clive Smallman writes, “it is pleasing to note the tremendous progress we have made in moving forward toward an academically and financially sustainable position.” Ye gods – that’s the good news?

A deal at ACU

Another enterprise agreement appears imminent with the NTEU and CPSU sending a draft agreement to members at ACU. The deal seems straightforward, 3 per cent per annum pay rises for four years, parent and grandparent carers’ leave and 12 new teaching only positions. There are video briefings for staff today. The question is how long will deals take at the holdouts –Swinburne, Adelaide and UWA for example.

Optimistic thinking tanks

The ANU is very pleased that its Strategic and Defence Studies Centre is rated as “Australia’s best university-based think tank in the 2013 Global Go To Think Tank report.” What’s more it comes in at 23 in the list of worldwide university policy research centres. Good-oh, but in the overall Southeast Asia/Pacific list it is 13th, behind the Lowy Institute (third), the Australian Institute for International Affairs (fourth) and the Centre for Independent Studies (ninth). In the global top 150 only two Australian organisations, the Lowy Institute (45) and CIS (101) appear. The league table, created at the University of Pennsylvania is open to all the usual charges levelled against ratings but overall is well regarded. The 2013 list is little changed from the last time I  looked, in 2012 with the US and then daylight in policy firepower. But I am puzzled why Australia does not do better – and please do not argue it is all down to critical mass.  In the regional list the Singapore Institute of International Affairs and New Zealand’s Centre for Strategic Studies are in the top two spots.

United front

The National Union of Students has published its review of the way universities distributed the compulsory student services and amenities fee last year. It is a comprehensive report, which deals with university performances in detail and rates the University of Sydney best overall, with Melbourne, UNSW, UTS, UWA, Curtin, James Cook, La Trobe, Murdoch and ANU making up the top ten. A range of vice chancellors is also on the record supporting the SSAF – understandably so given they receive the compulsory student levy from the feds, which they generally share with student organisations. It remains to be seen what government MPs, who hate the idea of all students being charged for services that only some use, will think – and what they say to Minister Pyne.

Polite reminder

On Monday I wondered why Demand Driven Funding co-reviewer Andrew Norton was opposed to releasing submissions, given their quality is now on view, when I asked him back in December. Mr Norton reminds me back then he said, “we aren’t planning any immediate release of the submissions.” I am reminded.