Match-fixing probe phones home. Authorities are now looking at a prominent Australian fast bowler and some of the games in which he played…

Murdoch University review. I don’t pretend to know much about Murdoch University’s inner workings — I’m only occasionally employed by them — but …this rankles a bit. I also love the management-speak: a $20 million “adjustment”? A “modest reduction” in salaries? I was also told by another staff member that the much-prized vet school had burnt through its entire annual budget before we’d even got halfway through this year.

Recommendations from Academic Enterprise Review

As you will be aware, in April I initiated a review of the University’s academic enterprise with the intent of achieving a $20 million adjustment to the non-commercial operations of the university. The review was needed in the face of continuing low indexation of the Commonwealth grant and changes in methodology of allocation of other Commonwealth funds. I would like to thank the Steering Group and all who contributed.

I have now received and endorsed the recommendations of the Steering Group and am able to share them with you.

The review process has been extremely thorough and the vast amount of information gathered during the review has given us a very clear understanding of the factors underpinning the budget performance of individual schools. In general, teaching revenue still outweighs the cost of delivery. Schools can get into difficulties, however, when their teaching margin is insufficient to support their other academic activities and recurrent costs.

The required savings will be achieved in a variety of ways: increasing load, optimising structures, recouping the indirect costs of research, and rebuilding the inherent efficiency of our general degree structures.

I am pleased to say that while there will be changes to certain areas of the University’s operations, they will be very modest compared to those at other universities. I am confident we will be able to achieve the required improvement in our financial performance without the need for significant staff losses.

The Review recommends that we tighten some of the University’s structures, with a view to achieving administrative and other savings. There will be a minimum size for a school, and a reduction in the number of faculties to four. Any schools affected by these changes will go through an appropriate change management process.

The AER has identified several areas with recurrent deficits, where the number of positions will be reduced.

Beyond these, there will be a modest reduction in salary budgets across the University, both in schools and in central support areas. Some of these savings can be achieved by not filling currently vacant positions.

The review has highlighted the need for us to focus our research efforts and recommends reviewing the structure of Research and Development. More generally, the data gathered for the review has helped us to understand the indirect costs of research and a series of recommendations are directed at ensuring more appropriate planning of research activities to recoup a significant proportion of the costs of doing research. These measures will contribute to a more sustainable outlook for schools and the University.

Some of these measures, which are primarily process related, can be implemented immediately. Others will require formal change management processes, developed with the areas affected.

These changes, together with the growth in strategic investment from the Murdoch University Foundation and our Endowment, will ensure Murdoch University maintains a sound financial position and remains budget-positive. Modelling the AER recommendations using the 10-year budget forecasting tool, gives me every confidence that the University has a bright future and that staff will begin to see the benefits within the next few years.

There will be a series of faculty-based staff meetings held in coming weeks, and an announcement with the dates for these will be circulated shortly. I would urge you to attend and ask any questions you might have about the outcome of the review.

Professor John Yovich
Vice Chancellor

Sour grapes … The text-only version of the Liberal Party thank you email from Tuesday night had the heading “F-cked Over”. It had clearly been fixed up when they did the HTML and web versions of the letter, but someone accidentally forgot to properly edit the text-only version or forgot that the internal draft being sent around had the offending language included. Clearly not manly people get text-only these days because I haven’t seen anyone comment on it, but there was a lot of embarrassment when it was pointed out to party HQ.

… and at the SMH? The following Sydney Morning Herald horoscope arrived in my inbox yesterday. Read the last sentence, which has since been edited out on the SMH website. Is there a disgruntled Liberal on the subbing desk?

Sagittarius: The Virgo New Moon adds power to the professional area of your life and strongly urges you to take practical steps to broaden your skill base, expand your professional network and look for ways to integrate new information into your professional life — and there is likely to be a lot of it coming your way very soon. Watch the political scene very carefully — there will be a great deal of regret and anger towards the new Australian government in the months ahead.

More Christmas tales. The figure of $40 million in upkeep of the Christmas Island detention centre is close to right. Remember that G4S, when they ran the IDCs, had only around 500 people in detention to care for. That number is now well over 5000.