UoQ moves to address unrest in education

Uni Adelaide leads for IT service

Perth VCs can unleash their inner property developers

Hughes Warrington advocates extending  SAGE across campus

plus why for-profit training is no bargain

Armistice day ignored

Monash University is holding a fundraising golf day for alumni (a snip at $150 a head). It’s at the Sandhurst Golf Club and starts with a “shotgun tee off,” on um, November 11. Did no one make the connection?

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Just add Anne

The miracle ingredient in Charles Sturt marketing comms courses is efficacious as ever. For the seventh year straight two CSU teams are in the final of the International Advertising Federation’s Big Idea student competition. This involves students pitching a strategy for a real client, this year charity United Way Australia. So what gives CSU students the extra oomph? CMM has long suspected (October 16 2015) it is teaching by veteran lecturer Anne Llewellynn who has worked with all the teams.

SAGE advice

SAGE, the Australian model of the Athena Swan gender representation in universities project, should cut to the chase and extend to all disciplines and professional staff, not just the sciences, according to ANU DVC Marnie Hughes Warrington. While the UK original did this last year, it took a decade of development before the base was broadened. However Professor Hughes Warrington argues instead of following the UK path step by step Australia should test here what is proved to work there, “what we must not do is go through the steps habitually, expecting things to change with minimal effort, or worse, stepping back because some people don’t get why we need to do this,” she writes in her October blog on university governance.

Rejecting the sciences specific model Professor Hughes Warrington calls for a universal approach; “to those who would argue that science has a bigger problem than other disciplines, I would simply note that some sciences have better track records in diversity than others, and that the same is the case across the other disciplines.”

She suggests the Australian Council of Learned Academies can drive the expansion of the SAGE base.

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Powerful chemistry

Two Australian based researchers are on https://theanalyticalscientist.com/power-list/2016/ The Analytical Scientist’s 2016 power women list. Shari Forbes from UTS is honoured for her research on “the volatile organic compounds” produced by human remains and how to use cadaver-detection dogs can use them. Emily Hilder (University of South Australia), now focusing on portable diagnostic technology is cited for the fourth time

Development opportunities

Insofar as vice chancellors ever dance jigs they will be in Perth, with state parliament passing the Universities Legislation Amendment Act. The  legislation is needed for vice chancellors to unleash their inner property developers, under the old law broad acre universities could not build shops and flats, medical centres and business parks because of a clause stating they lost their lease on crown land if they used it for anything other than education.

The act also changes the composition of university governing bodies, in the case of Curtin U’s council academics lose one of two elected places while student and general staff members stay. Edith Cowan also keeps student and general staff members on council while also losing an elected academic place. At Murdoch and WA elected academics on the governing body drop from three to one.

The legislation also ensures student guilds get 50 per cent of services and amenities funding, which universities collect from students.

The National Tertiary Education Union, which campaigned to keep staff on governing bodies, says this is a “significant victory” as the bill originally had staff members appointed by management.

A similar stoush is imminent at the University of Adelaide, where the Student Representative Council says a bill to reduce the size of council is due in parliament in a fortnight. “This is a huge change, and if it goes through the council will be made up primarily of people ultimately selected by the chancellor and vice-chancellor. This is part of a continued process of eroding the public university, replacing a council made up of staff and students with one modelled on the boards of corporations,” the SRC warns.

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Yet more Finkel fans

Chief Scientist Alan Finkel has received the M A Sargent Medal from Engineers Australia’s Electrical College.

New lesson plan for UoQ education

Optimists at the University of Queensland suggest on-going anxiety in the school of education are closer to being sorted following a staff meeting last week with faculty dean Tim Dunne and new provost Aidan Byrne. CMM understands that the National Tertiary Education Union has previously alleged the school lacked an agreed workload calculation and also undertook a health and safety audit however disquiet developed following a routine external review of the school in May. This found the school’s research was in good shape but “a considered plan of intervention” was needed to address low course evaluations. Head of School Merrilyn Goos responded with proposals that UoQ management and academic board accepted however she resigned as HOS on October 14th for what CMM is told are personal reasons. Martin Mills stepped up to act as in the job last Monday and on Wednesday professors Dunne and Byrne addressed the school. CMM understands their message, that the review is an opportunity for the school to create a new strategy, was heard and understood by staff.

Uni Adelaide tops IT poll

The University of Adelaide is first for staff satisfaction in IT of 16 ANZAC unis, scoring 86 per cent. It’s the third win in a row for UniAdelaide in the survey run by independent consultants Voice Project. UniAdelaide has participated in the survey since 2008, when it was last. According to IT chief Mark Gregory, UniA “puts serious effort and creativity into service.” He certainly does, Mr Gregory joined the university in mid 2013 and the next year it was number one for IT. What happens in the 2017 survey will be interesting, Mr Gregory is moving to Flinders U as VP corporate services (CMM September 5. Complete survey results are expected in December.

 

Super scary stats

For-profit training providers are revealed as precisely that in new figures from the federal government that show they charged premiums ranging from 23 per cent to 110 per cent on TAFE course costs for the 20 most popular qualifications available via VET FEE HELP. And just 40 per cent of female students under 25 with VET FEE HELP loans are studying “to get a job,” (44 per cent for males). The data also shows thousands of people enrolled in multiple courses at the same time, assumed by some to demonstrate private trainers providing students with incentives to start courses they had no intention of completing. The figures are in a new Department of Education report which Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham says demonstrates the failure of the previous loan system.

Where TAFE charged an average of $15 000 for a diploma of business the for-profit figure was $19 900. For a diploma of early childhood education that cost $4000 at TAFE, the private college average charge was $15 000.

Senator Birmingham released a range of stats yesterday designed to demonstrate the extent of profiteering under the old system and the need for the government’s new VET loan system to end abuse of student funding. However the figures are a further blow to the reputation of the for-profit training system, which argues that it provides quality courses more efficiently than the public system. While the system-wide numbers are undoubtedly distorted by including providers who rorted the system along with legitimate business, the overall impression is of a system out of control, with loans exploding from 5300 in 2009 to 321 000.

Brand recall

A contestant on quiz show Millionaire Hot Seat correctly answered, “Australia’s leading research universities form a coalition known as the ‘Group of’ what?” He got it right and won $10 000. Presumably eight hon docs are in the mail.

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Birmingham tells us again

Simon Birmingham is looking to regulation, rather than the market to ensure students get a good deal. He has hammered away at the need for honesty in ATARs, lowering attrition and delivering degrees that generate jobs all year and generally created the impressions that he will use incentives and obligations to ensure universities deliver. He said as much on Friday when he told the Australian International Education Association conference that;  “any lapse in standards, any sense of taking advantage of students, any failure of decent consumer behaviour is of course a risk not just to the one, but to all of us, to all of the providers and to the nation as a whole if we don’t uphold those best of consumer experiences.”

This is much more than a statement of the bleeding obvious – for a start the apparent failure of government to notice vampires had the keys to the training blood bank for years demonstrates that regulation only works when regulators, well regulate. The senator is signalling the state will watch university performance on student outcomes and attach funding to what is sees.

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