Visa football

Unis Australia CEO Catriona Jackson explains international competition for skilled workers, Channel Nine, yesterday, “it’s like a Carlton/Collingwood football game. It’s absolutely ferociously competitive.” Perhaps she was referring to Collingwood’s one-point weekend win, but if so did she have sherrin in the game? Alas, there was no word, for the comparison did not last the morning – the Blues and Pies were not mentioned in her next interview.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

“First in family” university students is a metric that matters – but it covers all sorts of circumstances. The challenge is to celebrate their achievement without assuming they all have the same needs, suggest Sarah O’Shea, (National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education) and Sally Patfield (Uni Newcastle). Theirs is a new contribution to Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series Needed now in learning and teaching.

and  Rhetoric about elite education is obsolete, Conor King (Tertiary Education Analysis) argues in Features. “Education institutions should be expected to cater for all those who needs their services. Exclusivity whose rationale is to create exclusivity should not be part of the system.”

with Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on getting into a socratic style. “I will be accepting invitations and I’ll also be looking to consider whom I might invite to participate in my teaching,” he writes.

2021 student satisfaction with study: better than ’20 but still a way to go

But it’s not back to pre-Covid levels

The student experience survey for 2021 records a lift in overall satisfaction from 69 per cent in 2020 to 73 per cent in 2021. However this was still significantly lower than 78 – 80 per cent range recorded in pre-Covid surveys.

And international students continue more dissatisfied than locals. While internationals’ satisfaction lifted in ‘21,  overall it is 7 per cent lower than locals in the 2021 survey, same as in 2020, (the gap was 4 per cent in 2019).

The SES is based on all-institution surveys for the Commonwealth funded Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching. It records results for UG and coursework PGs at HE providers.

Students did not mark institutions down on all attributes during the pandemic, “student support” was steady (74 per cent in 2019 and 2020) and 73 per cent in 2021.

However “learner engagement” fell from a 60 per cent positive in 2019 to 44 per cent in the first lock-down year, improving to 49 per cent in 2021. The lift in 2021 is due in part to commencing students recording higher satisfaction than continuing survey responders. This “may be due in part to a change in the expectations of commencing students entering higher education after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the QILT report states.

Overall satisfaction scores: Only a couple of universities went backwards in 2021. Murdoch U and Uni New England both declined marginally. And some lifted significantly, including,

new u Avondale University which was up 7 per cent (to 87 per cent). Flinders U improved 70 to 78 per cent) Griffith U lifted just under 7 per cent (to 77 per cent) and Uni Queensland picked up, from 66 to 73 per cent. Uni Sunshine Coast improved by nearly 8 per cent (to 81 per cent).

Monash U and Uni Melbourne both had terrible 2020 overall scores but recovered strongly on overall satisfaction in’21. MU improved from 60 per cent to 70 per cent and Uni M lifted from 52 to 63 per cent – although both remain below the national average.

In a much-needed improvement Uni Melbourne lifted on “learner engagement” from 34 per cent in 2020 to a still not great 43 per cent in 2021 (4 per cent under average).

The SES report suggests, “while institutions have been able to respond and adapt to some extent to the changed teaching and learning environment, challenges remain while on-campus learning and extracurricular activities continue to be curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

VET is on the right side of history

The Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia makes a succinct case in its one-page submission to the Senate committee reviewing the government’s bills to establish a jobs and skills policy agency

The academy is all for it and points to help that academy fellows, “at the forefront of labour market research, data and analysis,” can provide.

The main message is that VET is the place to be and the social sciences already are.

“The Academy welcomes the agency’s expanded focus on the resourcing and funding requirements of the vocational education and training system. 44 per cent of all VET students are enrolled in courses in the social sciences, including business, education, and allied health. These graduates can be found at the frontline in vital industries with critical skill shortages such as childcare, aged care, education and training and health, among others.

Don’t pass on the Philippines


There are opportunities there for VET and HE

Last week was my first visit to the Philippines, as part of a delegation led by the Philippines Ambassador to Australia, Hellen De La Vega, who took a very active role in the design of the programme. It was excellent.

The delegation comprised approximately 50 Australian representatives from a variety of backgrounds, including the South Australian Minister for Tourism and Multicultural Affairs, Zoe Bettison, the South Australia Regional Director, ASEAN, Cathryn Carlson, and the Victoria South East Asia Commissioner, Rebecca Hall. Austrade officials and the Australian Embassy were also heavily involved.

Surprisingly I was one of only two education sector representatives, I say surprisingly because of the substantial opportunities for Australian universities and VET providers in the Philippines.

The programme included presentations from a range of Philippine government officials, and Australian business leaders operating in the Philippines. There were individual B2B meetings for delegates with prospective partners, and then visits to the freeport and special economic zones of Clark, Subic and Bataan.

What impressed me (among many things), and what is missing in a lot of Australian coverage of the Philippines, is the consistency of government economic reforms even through significant changes of political leadership.

For VET providers there are in-country opportunities (including skill sets and short courses) with major employers and with overseas companies based in the freeport zones, in business, engineering, IT, logistics, manufacturing, renewable energy, tourism and transport.

The Philippines government is looking for universities with medical faculties to partner with it in the Virology Institute they are establishing at Clark, and they have also been actively encouraging universities from the UK, US and Canada to consider setting up a nursing faculty there to help educate Filipino workers for future opportunities in overseas health care settings. Prior to the delegation they stated that they “hadn’t really thought of partnering with Australian universities.”

Finally I was pleased to also meet with representatives of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and learn more about their VET system (which draws on a number of features from the Australian system), as well as their regulatory approach. Notably they have had their own regulatory processes ISO-certified – an impressive achievement and one it would be good to see ASQA and TEQSA adopt (especially given reports that on this year’s APS employee survey ASQA ranks last across the public service on some key measures).

 Claire Field is an advisor to the tertiary education sector

So good Uni Queensland announced it twice

Uni Queensland has launched the “Queensland Commitment” at the opening of its new Brisbane CBD building

It’s about “striving to remove barriers to help talented students from rural, remote and low socio-economic backgrounds access university” by 2032.

Or, as the university describes it in the strategic plan released in December,  “the Queensland Commitment will ensure that students who seek to study at UQ – regardless of financial circumstances and geographic location – are supported to pursue an education at the University of Queensland.”

The plan sets a 30 per cent target for low SES/regional-remote undergraduates

It’s part of branding, which may incidentally irritate USQ and CQU, spelt out in the plan “While UQ has always contributed to the public good, this strategic plan very directly focuses on our role in enriching communities and re-emphasising our position as the University for Queensland.”

Nursing Deans apologise for past injustice

The Council of Deans of Nursing and Midwifery ANZ  apologises for “the harms and injustices done to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives, their families and their communities”

“While there is widespread acceptance of our nation’s history and agreement that the wrongs of the past should never be repeated, for nursing and midwifery, there still needs to be truth telling, historical acceptance, acknowledgement of professional and institutional racism,” council chair Karen Strickland (Edith Cowan U) told the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nursing and Midwives last Friday.

“We must recognise the role of nurses and midwives since colonisation, through the influence of successive punitive government policies that led to nurses and midwives acting as agent of the government, contributing to the harms and trauma of Indigenous peoples,” she said.

The formal apology is supported by a commitment “to improve student outcomes, and increase the success of academic careers paths of First Nations colleagues who are currently underrepresented in academia.”

Dolt of the day

Is CMM. There was an incorrectly entered number for UNSW in James Guthrie’s table on VC pay, yesterday. The mistake was corrected lunch-time yesterday.

Appointments, achievements

Simon Finn joins Navitas as head of government relations. He was previously CEO of Independent Higher Education Australia.

Rowena Harper starts Monday as Edith Cowan U’s DVC Education. She steps up from director of the Centre for Learning and Teaching.

Lorne Neudorf becomes Deputy Dean, Law at La Trobe U – he moved from Uni Adelaide.

Claus Otto is inaugural director of Curtin U’s Institute for Energy Transition. It’s an internal appointment.