About Me

Thursday, January 23, 2014

NZ to AUS - Experiences from an academic

John Grundy:
Reasons for moving to AUS:
  • Was professionally happy in NZ; personally not so. Was the best time to be headhunted.
  • Opportunities for the children.
  • Opportunity to improve financially.
  • New place to live.
  • More focus on the research.
  • Tip: Get Australian Permanent Residency.

Australian way:
  • AUS richer than NZ.
  • More bureaucratic.
  • Steadily reducing Government funding (nothing new).
  • Government decides the student fees.
  • Recently changed to a "bums on seats" funding approach.
  • Competition for grants becoming more intense.
  • Universities may have multiple campuses overseas.
  • Feeder colleges (supplies new students to the University).
  • Deals with TAFEs, private providers, and feeders.
  • More unionised staff.
  • Superannuation is better. 17% employer, 8% employee.
  • Can salary package superannuation with cars, house, etc.
  • Salary levels about the same as in NZ (at the same currency?). Professors have a fixed salary of $160k.
  • Higher tax in AUS. 46% for the top earners.
  • Have to pay levies (e.g., flood levies)

Swinburne University:
  • Workload-model driven.
  • Some rank-based (e.g., prof -> tutor) research loadings.
  • A lot of time spent arguing about workloads
  • More diverse range of students.
  • Commericalisation not a big focus.
  • Common to have industrial-based learning.
  • Increasing number of students with mental health challenges.
  • Nomenclature of courses is different.

  • Discovery projects:
    • Like the Marsden Fund.
    • 15-20% success rate.
    • 90-100 page proposals.
    • Does not cover overhead costs.
    • No salary - University donates staff time to the grant (Cost is recovered through teaching).
  • Linkage projects:
    • Like the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment grants.
    • Australian industrial partner needed.
  • Excellence in Research for Australia:
    • Like the PbRF scheme.
    • Counts publications, grant income, etc.
    • Number crunching.
    • Central data collection.
    • Magic number generated only useful for bragging rights.
    • Quality of papers irrelevant?

My impression:
  • John has held leadership positions at UoA and now at SUT, and was able to convey the differences of both Universities and countries.
  • Since a large portion of the audience was UoA staff members who have worked with John, it felt like a personal and frank discussion (some anecdotes I could not pick up on because I didn't have the backstory).
  • The research/academic profession/environment of AUS is similar to NZ. Although, AUS is more bureaucratic and has a different work culture that is workload driven (not necessarily bad).
  • Everyone has to assess their own personal situation before changing jobs or moving to another country. It seemed like John was in a position where he needed a change and was headhunted at the right time and seems to be enjoying it (got his Australian Residency approved).
  • Previously, the main drawcard to working in Australia was the relatively higher pay. However, since the significant rise in the NZ dollar, this advantage is diminishing. This means the cost of living is not that much different between AUS and NZ.