Well said

“Thank you for your hard work, your commitment to our mission, and your dedication to serving the broader UQ community. It’s an honour to work alongside you,” Uni Queensland VC Deborah Terry, 2022 to staff and Senate, 2022 annual report. (Scroll-down for Queensland uni results)

There’s more in the Mail

in Features this morning

Michelle Whitford on the power of peer assisted study sessions. New in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Need now in learning and teaching.

plus Claire Macken (RMIT) on how Vietnam rates, really rates Australian HE

and Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on why universities should shoot for the stars, HERE

QUT’s tough ’22 for finances: ’23 will be a challenge

QUT had a headline deficit of $134m in 2022, Vice Chancellor Margaret Sheil tells staff

The “underlying deficit” was $73.1 million.

Professor Sheil attributes the deficit to “continuing challenges … arising from a range of global and domestic economic factors.” She also points to “ongoing”  learning and teaching priorities and salary and allowance increases in the new enterprise agreements.

The new agreements includes close to a sector-best 14 per cent pay rise through to 2025 (CMM December 8 2022).

The VC warns financial projections for this year “are similarly challenging” and the university aims to increase revenue, and reduce expenditure, “where practical.”

Asking those who know

Prime Minister Albanese tweeted his meeting last week with Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic and Chief Scientist Cathy Foley

“They met with “science experts … to discuss Australia’s science and research priorities.”

Which cheers-up research policy people who remember when former chief scientist Penny Sackett told Senate Estimates that she had briefed PM Rudd once and PM Gillard never.

Worlds of pain in Queensland uni finances

Annual reports tabled in state parliament reveal deficits (nearly) everywhere

Central Queensland U: operating deficit of $24.3m was up on the $21.7m deficit in 2021. Total revenue was up $6m to $410m and expenses increased $8m to nearly $435m.

International student fee income recovered on ’21 by nearly 30 per cent to $80m (although retention rates remain, “sub-optimal”). However government funded student load was down 14 per cent on 2021. CQU attributes this “anecdotally … to the low unemployment rates in the community.”

Griffith U: revenue was $934m, down from $1.044bn in 2021 while expenses were $83m up to $1.04bn The university attributes the revenue decline to factors including the not-repeated ’21 Commonwealth research support, and “negative investment returns.” The increase in expenditure was due to a range of factors including a 6.5 per cent rise in staff costs, “along with the well-documented impacts of higher inflationary pressures.”

“Despite the net operating loss of $69.7 million, the University remains financially sustainable,” GU adds.

James Cook U: reports a headline loss of $48.9m – down from an $18.6m, surplus in ’21 However it’s preferred underlying operating result (ex one offs) was an increased deficit, $35m in ’22, $12.6m in ’21).

A 9 per cent revenue decline to $447m was due in part to a fall in CSP students, $15m less in Commonwealth research funding (largely due to the one-off ’21 Covid-emergency payment)

“We continued to deal with the ongoing impacts of the pandemic from 2020 and 2021, while also addressing underlying financial sustainability challenges,” JCU states.

QUT: scroll up for VC Margaret Sheil’s message to staff. The university’s annual report was not with Parliament in time for release Friday – perhaps delayed by the December cyber-attack on university systems

Uni Southern Queensland: Total income was just short of $327m, down nearly $95m This is attributed to the 2021 one-off dividend from USQ’s share of the IDP international student recruitment sale. International students fees were down $5m, close to half the 2021 loss. Total expenses were stable, but there was a 5 per cent drop in employee related expenses, “driven by a challenging talent recruitment market.” Overall the university reported a $15,5 deficit.

Uni Queensland: recorded a consolidated loss of $310.8m compared to a comparable surplus of $341.9m in 2021 The university attributes this in large part to a $430m “movement in investment revenue,” to a $209m loss “due to the change in market conditions.” Plus, there was a $143m timing difference in receipt of Commonwealth pandemic support for research and expenditure. VC Deborah Terry previously explained to staff why the headline loss is different to how it looks (CMM Friday).

Uni Sunshine Coast: despite a decline in international student income overall revenue was up 3 per cent to $346.1m. Operating expenses were 7 per cent higher ($311m) for a $34m operating result, down from $45m in 2022. Down, but still a surplus.

USC reported a marginal decline EFT student load, pointing to “increases in labour market opportunities “on the one hand and “harsh economic conditions including cost of living and rental affordability,” on the other.

Union ideas for the Accord

The National Tertiary Education Union asked members for the three things that most worry them at work.

It’s for the union’s submission to the O’Kane Accord. They responded,

* insecure work (both casual and fixed term)

* escalating workloads

* university governance

The union now wants to know what members think about a National Higher Education Future Fund, “designed to reduce insecure work and cement the long-term sustainability of the sector.

The idea is to, “provide public universities with grants to address insecure work and workloads, as well as future-proofs the sector against further global shocks” that and, improve teaching and research and deal with “workload intensification”

Take five, get one free at Victoria U

The university wants staff to take“re-energise leave”

Eligible staff who take five days leave get an extra one off – and they can do it three times over the next six months.

VC Adam Shoemaker tells staff the pandemic meant many accrued leave they weren’t able to take. “This is often despite everyone’s best intentions to take leave, as well as widespread recognition of the vital importance of doing so to enhance health and wellbeing.”

The scheme is open to FT and PT continuing and fixed term staff with less than eight weeks owing.

Professor Shoemaker asks all interested to consider timing and operational issues and consult with their manager. But learned readers worry work will pile up while people are away, without approvals for time in lieu or overtime.

CMM asked VU for a response to that concern and was told, “we have encouraged staff to consider the timing and operational needs of their area and consult with their managers before applying. This is important to ensure we always have appropriate coverage and planning across the institution”  – perhaps a repeat of the original message will reassure people. 



Colin Simpson’s ed tech must reads column of March 14 included a paper by Amanda Adams, Lauren Miller-Lewis and Jennifer Tieman, listing them at Uni SA. In fact all three have appointments at Flinders U. Dr Miller-Lewis also has an appointment at CQU Adelaide.

Winkler in the HR works

Tim Winkler reports on new ideas to keep HR ticking over

listen more, achieve more

That quiet person in the corner itching for the staff meeting to be over may in fact be your most valuable researcher.

Effective academics are focused more on listening than talking, according to Bailey Sousa and Alexander Clark, executives in a Canadian university who also moonlight as consultants on how to create effective, successful and most surprisingly, happy academics.

They have an article on the importance of listening, with practical tips to commit to focusing when someone else is speaking, ask good questions and reflect on the answers.

The advice is eerily familiar, dating right to Mrs Stewart’s Prep class on a hot February morning, but nonetheless valuable.

If you don’t know someone from your team staff meeting who could do with a copy of the article anonymously sliding into their inbox tomorrow morning then you are a rare individual indeed.

 Winkler on the HR works runs regularly at the new HEJobs  recruitment site

Appointments, achievement

Sarah Kelly start at QUT this month as head of the Graduate School of Business. She moves from Uni Queensland.

Yet another huzzah for Lidia Morawaska from QUT (CMM March 15). Lung Foundation Australia has declared her a 2023 Lung Health Legend.

 Simon Tormey is in-coming executive dean of arts and education at Deakin U. He is moving from University of Bristol and starts in August. Professor Tormey was head of the social and political sciences school at Uni Sydney 2009-18. Meghan Kelly continues to act until he arrives.

Sophie Yates moves (but not far) to ANU’s Crawford School of Public Policy. She joins from the Public Service Research Group at UNSW Canberra.