The best thing about 2017 for the head of the Australian Council for Private Education and Training was that it was not 2016. But as in last year, Mr Camm dealt with the aftershocks of the VET FEE HELP debacle that unjustly tarnished his continuing members and kept explaining the essential role they play in the training system. Always calm, always on message.
Labor’s innovation spokesman knows, really knows, research and higher education policy – just ask public servants who appear at Senate estimates. He also has a clear vision of post-secondary education and research institutes as the foundations for a prosperous, united Australia, educating and training people of all ages, undertaking pure and applied research, the first leading to the second. He made his case all year – apparently with too much rigour for some on his own side, Labor leader Bill Shorten’s office tried to recall a Carr speech in November.
The UTS post-doctoral researcher works on honey as a prebiotic for human gut health and as a response to multi-drug resistant super-bugs. In May, she won the Australian heat of the British Council’s Three-Minute Fame Lab (explain your research in 180 seconds) and was runner-up in the Cheltenham Festive world-final the next month. She also gets out and sells her work in a Ted talk and on social media.
Victoria University is not in great financial shape and needs to change– so Vi ce Chancellor Peter Dawkins is changing it. There is a new first-year model that accepts VU starting students are often not ready for academic study, a new research structure designed to focus resources on areas where the university can compete and new courses with industry engagement. CMM has no idea whether the plans will all work but suspects they are the best chance VU has.
The UWA postgrad had less time for his research on reptiles this year as he stepped up to lead the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations – a time-consuming and cash-poor task (a situation not unknown to postgraduates). But Mr Derbyshire is obviously intent on doing more in the job than pointing out his members do it tough. In July, he made a case for the Commonwealth to fund all coursework masters. “As qualification creep continues there will be a future need to ensure students are supported to obtain the postgraduate qualifications needed for employment,” he said. It was the start of a debate which will roll on, particularly if the government plan for scholarships for professional coursework masters for students to use where they choose, gets up.
That La Trobe University celebrates its 50th anniversary this year in way better shape than it was a decade back is largely due to John Dewar. The vice chancellor’s first plan and related reforms restructured the curriculum, targeted research and cut staff numbers – the last was especially unpopular, generating a blue with the campus union rating well up on the Swinburne (CMM’s scale of industrial conflicts that take years to solve). But it appears to have worked and Professor Dewar’s recently announce second plan is designed for growth, not repair. Particularly impressive is the inclusion of hard numbers, including on revenue – which cautious VCs never do. Last month he offered staff a small (very small,) pay rise tied to student satisfaction as part of the university’s enterprise agreement offer. The union says no, but Professor Dewar has put the principle of student-service on the agenda.
Bernadette Dabsch and Andrew Howells
The University of Newcastle pair has just won the edX learning and teaching award for their MOOC on natural history illustration. It is a great example of the power of the MOOC to extend the reach of specialist skills that will never attract the huge low-teaching cost audiences of mass market law and business courses.
Nobody thought Glyn Davis would slow down as he entered the final stretch as University of Melbourne VC but few grasped how hard he would run with new plans and big ideas. This year his team has launched the third great reform of his tenure, with a new teaching model announced. There is also major infrastructure for innovators, to turn the university and surround into a entrepreneur-hub and a life-long learning programme offered via a new school of professional and continuing education. Professor Davis is also making a case for universities as agencies of urban growth and leadership. Glyn Davis found UniMelb an Australian great, he will leave it in October a grand and global institution.