Aspirational ATAR alternative

Plus La Trobe suspends “Red Flag Roz” 

And Times Higher climbs into the American college ranking cage fight

Also in CMM, academic integrity needs a lot of explaining while Deakin gets the message on postgrad courses

A loss for WSU

WSU nursing dean Rhonda Griffith’s announced her retirement yesterday. Professor Griffith plans to go at the end of September and, is telling friends she “is off to tick items off my bucket list.” An admirer tells CMM what a loss she will be for WSU. “A wonderful, rare, authentic academic.”

Thursday

 

Red flag not kept flying there

La Trobe University has charged Roz Ward with serious misconduct and suspended her employment. Ms Ward was an advisor to the Victorian state government’s taskforce on bullying of LGBTI students in schools but resigned after a Facebook post in which she suggested a red flag should fly over state parliament instead of the “racist Australian one.” University HR director Fiona Reed stood Ms Ward down yesterday. La Trobe was not commenting last night saying it was following normal HR process. The university has previously expressed concern at the impact of Ms Ward’s comment on the credibility of La Trobe researchers in her field. However the National Tertiary Education Union, which is advising Ms Ward, isn’t having any of it.

“The media attack on Roz Ward, purportedly about a social media post about the Australian flag, is in reality part of a concerted political and ideological campaign by Australia’s right wing ideologues on views that do not accord with their own,” NTEU Victorian Secretary, Dr Colin Long said last night.

“The hysterical response to Ms Ward’s private Facebook posting about the Australian flag is typical of the right’s absolute refusal to consider the ways in which racism is expressed, often unconsciously, in symbols, institutions and attitudes.

“That La Trobe University has apparently allowed itself to be cowed into participating in this anti-intellectual, anti-democratic attack reflects the dismal state of intellectual capacity at the senior management level in some Australian universities.”

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Rudyard redux

‘How we assess risk is influenced by how others are behaving – the trick is to keep your head while those around you are losing theirs,” Kate Cadet writes about Uni Melbourne neuroscience research. Gosh, like Rudyard Kipling urging individuals to “keep your head when all about you /Are losing theirs and blaming it on you.”

Ignoring the ATAR

As the phony crisis over the ATAR rolls on opponents are making a big mistake by letting advocates of using a relative rank of school achievement define the terms of engagement. A high ATAR, to use the common example, does not automatically ensure somebody will make a good teacher, emotional intelligence matters as much as exam scores. Astute universities, like La Trobe, avoid the argument altogether by selling to students they think have the potential to be leaders in life rather than only exams. It has just launched a new campaign for its Aspire programme and is still accepting applicants for 2017 starts.

Aspire guarantees entry to school leaver students before they know their ATAR, as long as they make the specified minimum mark. But it pitches to students who make a community contribution, “this, along with your school’s recommendation, will form the basis of our assessment. If successful, you will receive an offer from La Trobe in September before ATARs are released, securing your place to study before you complete your exams,” the university explains. ASPIRE students also receive support in Y12, access to La Trobe libraries, VCE revision lectures and so on.

As a way of signing-up the sort of students with marks that could get them into Monash or Melbourne this is resourceful recruiting. But it is also brilliant branding, lighting up La Trobe as an institution that actually acts, rather than just announces commitments to community service.

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Ranking rumble

Times Higher Education is climbing into the college ranking cage to take on US News and World Report for the big and profitable American market. The USNWR ranking is like Donald Trump, industry outsiders don’t think much of it but ordinary people trust it and it is huge, seriously huge, with millions of UBs on the first day of each year’s issue. THE makes the ranking running in the rest of the world but in this contest it is very much the challenger. All of which must make the team at U-MultiRank despair. Rather than top to bottom rankings the U-MR model compares similar institutions on a range of attributes – as such it is much more useful, but it takes way too long to explain in a ratings rumble. And none of them compare for prospective students searching for information about their needs to Australia’s new QILT student resources. Sadly doonas aren’t much use in a cage fight.

What funders want

With the Australian Research Council creating impact and engagement metrics for Excellence for Research in Australia 2018CMM December 9) getting across how they work is imperative for research policy people. And with the government’s flashing neon sign stating “applied researches queue here for cash (others talk amongst yourselves)” tailoring what researchers can do to what funders want is essential.

So how fortunate the L H Martin Institute is presenting an online course on the “theory and practice of science, technology and innovation policy.” It will run in September and October and be facilitated by Merle Jacob, a science policy researcher from Lund University in Sweden.

Integrity explained

CMM missed Tracey Bretag’s Handbook of Academic Integrity when it was published a couple of months back, perhaps because publisher Springer wants Eu 749 for the print and e-editions. But if the VC does approve the expenditure it will be the only book on the subject you need. Dr Bretag has collected essays on national experiences from all over plus a bunch of case studies covering everybody from secondary students up and what cheaters and thieves get up too. Back in 2012 Dr Bretag  told CMM, “we need to create a culture of integrity by putting it at the centre of what academics do.” She’s certainly done her share of the creating.

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Deakin embraces the inevitable

Last year Deakin U VC Jane den Hollander explained how the market for education had changed and that universities had to change with it. “In a fast evolving technology landscape, the connection between work and learning will become closer, and work-based learning opportunities will have a critical place in preparing students for the jobs and skills of the future,” she said (CMM June 17 2015).  Her marketers were listening, demonstrated by a new retail spot for postgraduate courses, “ready when you are,” which sells on course flexibility and accessibility, “maximum control to study how, where and when you want.” Yes, it commodifies courses but given you will soon be able to assemble a customised masters via MOOCs (its probably possible now) Deakin is embracing the inevitable.

 

Know something the world needs to know? Anonymity guaranteed but lots of questions asked, stephen4@hotkey.net.au