Plus the 12 Days of a VC’s Christmas
“Year 12 graduates dodge $100 000 degrees for at least another year,” the National Tertiary Education Union announced yesterday as Victorian ATARS appeared. CMM is looking forward to the union’s December 24th warning that the government’s plan for increased fees could mean an end to Christmas presents for generations of children to come.
Always a gent
Ian “the gent” Young had a shocker of a start as VC at ANU – with plans for the music school and university-wide savings not sold well. But throughout the uproar Professor Young was unflappably, indefatigably polite – making his case without spin or subterfuge, treating people with the rare respect that assumes that as intelligent adults they will listen and consider arguments they do not like. He displayed the same courtesy and industrial strength of character as chair of the Group of Eight during the deregulation debate. Ian Young gets the job done without any kind of carry-on. And as he prepares to retire from ANU to return to research he is conducting himself with the same sense of responsibility and respect for his community he has always publicly displayed.
From today through Friday ANU is holding nine graduation ceremonies and Professor Young will attend all of them, when he surely would prefer to be doing whatever it is oceanographic engineers do as his days as vice chancellor come to an end. He’s not known as “the gent” for nothing.
“That’s not a knife!”
The Age reports a student who wants to study “the Swiss Army knife of degrees,” arts at the University of Melbourne. Won’t faculty dean Mark Considine be pleased! While Harvard and MIT work on science that relates to light-sabres in Parkville the archaic still appeals.
Education faculties to teach to the test
Finally we have the long-awaited proposals on improving teacher education courses called for by the Christopher Pyne commissioned Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group. The document, from the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership was quietly announced yesterday via a modest media statement so discrete that CMM thought perhaps the government did not want anyone to notice. But that can’t be right because once found the document addresses issues long on the teacher education agenda.
The AITSL agenda is informed by the eight principles for teacher education courses set out by TEMAG (impact, evidence based, rigour, continuous improvement, innovation, partnerships, transparency and research base). It sets out detailed standards universities must meet to be accredited, generally by the teacher regulator in each state. And it details, with very detailed details, what education graduates must know how to do before they can get before a class.
There is a bunch of detail in the standards academics who believe they should be left alone will not like. Such as the requirement providers take account of “contemporary and emerging developments in education, curriculum requirements, community expectations and local, employer and national system needs including workforce demands for teaching specialisations (and) the perspectives of stakeholders such as employers, professional teacher bodies, practising teachers, educational researchers and relevant cultural and community experts.”
And such as the requirement that starting students have literacy and numeracy “broadly equivalent to the top 30 per cent of the community” or if not, that providers get them up to standard, as assessed by “the national literacy and numeracy test” (this isn’t explained but CMM suspects it is the test piloted with teacher education students last month, CMM, December 2 ).
Given the loss of community confidence in beginning teachers, encouraged by people who think subject knowledge is what it mainly takes to teach, the new requirements are not surprising. And although they will upset education academics who believe they should be left to regulate what they teach at least they are only being told what they must do, not how they must do it.
Not well versed
The Melbourne College of Divinity became a university because TEQSA decided that it clearly met all the criteria – one of which is for research capacity. But CMM’s theology editor advises that while the now University of Divinity does research, it is just not that great at it. In ERA the UoD scores threes (at world standard) in the “philosophy and religious studies” and “religion and religious studies” categories. It did not submit in “other philosophy and religious studies” (CMM cannot imagine the doctrinal disputes in defining these three). In comparison the Australian Catholic Uni cracks four in those first two ERA categories. Overall the universities of Sydney, Melbourne and Queensland plus Monash lead the fields. But UoD should not feel too bad – it’s still in front of the University of Notre Dame which scores two (the thanks for coming rating) in the big two
Banking on Ben
“Move your career forward with an MBA from Chifley Business School,” Torrens University suggested yesterday. And a splendid idea it undoubtedly is, but surely the school is not named after Joseph Benedict Chifley, 16th prime minister of Australia – who tried to nationalise the banks in 1946-47, “to ensure control of the monetary situation.” This is not a universally applauded idea in biz schools, especially, you would think private sector ones.
But it is indeed the very same Chif. As Torrens tells it, the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers created, surely a while back, a course named for Mr Chifley to meet a shortage of programmes for engineers. That Chifley created the Snowy Mountains Scheme is probably why APESMA honoured him and the name stuck in the transfer to Torrens. Is this the free market world’s only business school named for a big government aspiring nationaliser?
Not as bad as it seems
Professorial pollyannas (and CMM) doubt that the prime ministerial edict that academics must innovate is the end for humanities teaching, but some worry the new impact agenda will reduce humanities and social science access to research funding. It’s hard to see how – given how little HASS disciplines already attract. In any case. things won’t be as bad as anticipated in a story in the Fairfax papers yesterday, which warned changes to university research funding will remove peer-reviewed publications as one of the measures of success.
Not quite, in fact not at all, for the foreseeable future anyway. For all the rhetoric about the necessity of research impact it will be part of, not all of, the next round of research measurement – in conjunction with the Australian Research Council’s Excellence for Research in Australia 2018. ERA has a big emphasis on research output and puts disciplines in the context of their global peers. Plus the ARC will run the impact pilot, (CMM December 8). So the Humanities and Social Sciences will not drop off the record of output achievements. It is also hard to see, as warned, how the adopted recommendations of the Watt Review on research funding, or the government’s commitment to fund big-ticket infrastructure, such as the Synchrotron and the Square Kilometre Array, will reduce the capacity of HASS researchers to generate research income. The ARC does not penalise cultural studies scholars for not researching quantum computing. And as for industry impact, HASS researchers are not exactly coming off a high base. According to ERA, the commercial income of research in creative arts and writing for 2013 was $255 000. Overall historians and archaeologists received research grants of $70m, but only $24 000 came from commercialised research. In contrast medical and health sciences generated $35m in 2013 (CMM suspects the number when spin-offs are included is much larger).
The government’s emphasis on impact will not turn off the research cash-tap for the humanities, but then again the cash has never flowed strong.
Melbourne says mum
Universities are about asking the hard questions, just not always answering them. At the University of Melbourne the National Tertiary Education Union has inquired of management all sorts of issues about professional staff levels, super contributions for fixed-term staff, indigenous employment numbers and professional development criteria across faculties. In the case of interviews of union officials as part of an efficiency drive the NTEU secured a ruling from the Victoria FOI commissioner that the transcript should be released, which the comrades say the university is appealing.
Cynics suggest that these matters will all come up next year in enterprise bargaining. Even so, the data is what the data is and surely should inform full and frank negotiations.
12 days of VC Christmas
THE University of Queensland promises “its very own ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ carol.” Look like a challenge to you? Looked like one to CMM, so here’s a version for those VCs who take CMM’s calls, and for those who don’t. Happy Christmas Your Serenities.
“On the first day of Christmas my uni gave to me, a new scheming DVC
On the second day of Christmas my uni gave to me, two research frauds and a new scheming DVC
On the third day of Christmas my uni gave to me, three demented deans, two research frauds and a new scheming DVC
On the fourth day of Christmas my uni gave to me four media calls, three demented deans, two research frauds and a new scheming DVC
On the fifth day of Christmas my uni gave to me – five first-class trips – four media calls, three demented deans, two research frauds and a new scheming DVC
On the sixth day of Christmas my uni gave to me six profs complaining – five first-class trips – four media calls, three demented deans, two research frauds and a new scheming DVC
On the seventh day of Christmas my uni gave to me seven auditors counting, six profs complaining – five first-class trips -four media calls, three demented deans, two research frauds and a new scheming DVC
On the eighth day of Christmas my uni gave to me eight ATARS falling, seven auditors counting, six profs complaining – five first-class trips -four media calls, three demented deans, two research frauds and a new scheming DVC
On the ninth day of Christmas my uni gave to me nine students protesting, eight ATARS falling, seven auditors counting, six profs complaining, -five first-class trips – four media calls, three demented deans, two research frauds and a new scheming DVC
On the tenth day of Christmas my uni gave to me ten unions demanding, nine students protesting, eight ATARS falling, seven auditors counting, six profs complaining – five first-class trips – four media calls, three demented deans, two research frauds and a new scheming DVC
On the eleventh day of Christmas my uni gave to me eleven budgets bleeding, ten unions demanding, nine students protesting, eight ATARS falling, seven auditors counting, six profs complaining – five first-class trips – four media calls, three demented deans, two research frauds and a new scheming DVC
On the twelfth day of Christmas my uni gave to me twelve Shanghai ratings, eleven budgets bleeding, ten unions demanding, nine students protesting, eight ATARs falling, seven auditors counting, six profs complaining – five first-class trips – four media calls, three demented deans, two research frauds and a new scheming DVC.”