Mind over Melbourne

“Nicholas Van Dam and Nicholas Haslam ask ‘what is mindfulness?’ Nobody really knows, and that’s a problem,” University of Melbourne VC Glyn Davis, Friday. Perhaps they should enrol in Charles Sturt U’s http://futurestudents.csu.edu.au/courses/allied-health-pharmacy/graduate-certificate-applied-mindfulness graduate certificate in applied mindfulness.

Blast from the past

With Victoria University facing a $30m shortfall (CMM May 24) management must be acutely aware that the last pay-rise of the present agreement is due at the end of December. It is, a learned reader remembers, a whopping 4.5 per cent. They did things differently when they deal was done in 2014.

UNSW decides its $200m Futures Programme research model

UNSW has settled on a structure for its $200m Futures “innovative inter-disciplinary and cross-faculty researchProgramme, “a bold new framework for addressing humanity’s major challenges. It follows consultation on an original proposal baroque in its simplicity, which required Futures programmes to work with the university’s grand challenges scheme as well as “dovetailing with faculty efforts,” (CMM   May 22).

The Futures Programme now has “a more efficient model with a single layer of administration, although while it gets people out of silos there still seem to be landmines, what with the way Future Institute directors will; “oversee researchers who are based in schools and faculties aligned to their interdisciplinary initiative.”

The university wants no fewer than six and no more than 12 institutes, with the first of them starting next year. While no areas are prescribed UNSW offers examples of possible priorities, including medical technology, energy, materials, and future biology.

Double the guards Griffith U

A learned reader points to UK universities minister Jo Johnson praising research engagement by the University of Queensland, which he says is located on the Gold Coast. What does Mr Johnson know that we don’t about Peter Hoj’s plans?

Let the gaming begin

Troy Innocent from Swinburne U is the City of Melbourne Knowledge Fellow for 2017. Dr Innocent has created a “location based augmented reality game” which involves “people finding codes hidden in Melbourne laneways.” Apparently, it’s “a way of using game play to activate city spaces.” The game, “Wayfinder Live 2017” will be “showcased” at Melbourne International Games Week, from October 22. The week includes the Education in Games Summit sponsored by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, on October 27. Featured speakers include “new media theorist and creative practise researcher” Olivia Guntarik from RMIT.

Thursday is also International Animation Day, on which the Victoria College of the Arts will showcase student productions, plus new animated shorts “from around the globe.”

“Turmoil, anxiety and distress” at Western Sydney U: union warns

Western Sydney University is, “in a state of turmoil, anxiety and distress,” says NTEU branch president David Burchell and comrade colleagues.

They refer to changes to the university’s administration now underway which effect hundreds of staff, with many fearing they will find jobs in the new restructure at a lower pay grade, if they are employed at all.

The union also claims management is going-slow in enterprise negotiations and attempting to break the solidarity of the National Tertiary Education Union and the public sector union on campus.

Dr Burchell points to a range of existing conditions said to be under threat, notably on academic workloads and limits to casualisation but also points to the need for job protection and payouts in the context of the current restructure.

Senior management seem entirely impervious to the damage they are causing to our beloved university. We need them to hear our anger and concerns as a matter of urgency,” he says.

Implementing a restructure long in planning at the same time enterprise bargaining is underway was always going to create problems for management. Union members will strike on Thursday morning.

However a university spokesperson responds that “like many universities in Australia, the university is working through a transformative change” and points to support for staff effected, including, not forcing staffing members to take lower-level positions but 18 months salary maintenance for any who do and a ban on external recruitment for professional staff jobs until year end.

“The university continues to bargain in good faith, and is working hard to finalise negotiations and come to agreement,” WSU says.


Craik steps up

RMIT social work lecturer Christine Craik is the new president of the Australian Association of Social Workers. Her research focuses on domestic violence.

Women in finance winner

Rebecca Zhang from the University of Sydney is winner of the inaugural Ernst and Young corporate finance woman of the year award. Students competed by analysing a transaction case study and presenting their case. Ms Zhang beat eight women from six universities. Runners up were Jessica Young from UWA and Aarthi Packirisamy from Macquarie U. Ms Zhang will compete for the world award in February. The competition objective is to encourage more women to pursue careers in transaction services and corporate finance at EY.

Limits to Murdoch U make-nice strategy

After more bludgeon than bargaining this year union and management will sit down at Murdoch University today to try and reach an enterprise agreement. VC Eeva Leinonen says she hopes for a deal by year’s end and management has thrown the switch to agreeable, with Provost Andrew Taggart running the make-nice campaign.

But the university is not abandoning its push for a stripped-down agreement, without the codifed rules on workplaces procedures the National Tertiary Education Union argues are necessary. Given the Fair Work Commission agreed to the university’s request to cancel the application of the now expired previous agreement management appears to see itself in a strong position.

Even so, there are some proposals that the union will not willingly wear. Like taking staff misconduct out of the agreement and making it a procedural matter. The union’s preferred position is for serious misconduct to be dealt with by a committee including staff reps, but it has accepted an independent arbiter (CMM May 20) in other agreements. But this is still way-short of what Murdoch U wants, that employees accused of misconduct gets to make their case but the university decides their fate.

New editor Newman

Peter Newman from Curtin U is the founding editor-in-chief of the Biomed Central (from Springer Nature) journal, Sustainable Earth. The journal is free to read, but pay to publish, ($US 1400 an article).

Dolt of the day

Is CMM, twice. In Friday’s issue incoming Navitas CEO was named Richard Buckingham, his given name is David.  And Zest, honoured by HASS for distinctive work was described as a western Sydney award. Wrong Zest. The HASS one is a collaboration between UWA and community group Kalbarri Development Association.

Watterston new dean at Melbourne Graduate School of Education

Jim Watterston will be the new dean of the Melbourne Graduate School of Education. Dr Watterston is now director general of the Queensland Department of Education and Training. He blogs, here. Watterston will take over in January, by when the upset caused by ending fixed term positions and creating new continuing ones in the MGSE, but only for people with PhDs, should be sorted, (CMM September 8).