Vote one, rockets

The Australian Space Agency has signed an MOU with NSW

In a blatant bid for the space vote in tomorrow’s state election the Commonwealth Government has promised $2m to “support world class space manufacturing capability at the Western Sydney Aerotropolis.”  “Aerotropolis?” you ask – that’s the yet to be built employment centre at the yet to be built airport in western Sydney.

“The Morrison & Berejiklian Governments are working together to help Western Sydney realise its space potential,” Industry Minister Karen Andrews added yesterday, via Twitter.

A spaceport as well as an airport.

A medical school at CQU – just  wait for the election after next

A year after the university signalled the idea policy ducks are lining up

Last March then CQU VC Scott Bowman said there was “potential” for a medical school on the Rockhampton campus (CMM March 9 218). A year on Bowman has retired but what was potential is closer to being probable.

It looks like CQU has spent 12 months lining up support and yesterday it, the University of Queensland and the two relevant regional health services all adopted an MOU, in the presence of state health minister Steven Miles. Mr Miles says the plan is to have a “full medical programme” in-place in Bundaberg and Rockhampton, home to CQU campuses, by 2022, reaching 120 students in each locale by 2026.

That this would be a University of Queensland medical programme should not bother CQU VC Nick Klomp. For a start, CQU could not secure accreditation for a medical school of its own by 2022 and UoQ has an established clinical school in Rockhampton. The benefit for Professor Klomp is the growth and prestige a medical school will bring CQU’s health and medicine courses, – training nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, radiographers-not to mention the chance of an independent medical school in the future.

But one thing puzzles CMM – where are the medicine places to come from? UoQ could use some of its existing federally-funded quota, which would require generosity not common in medical schools, so perhaps the partnership plans to slug the feds for new regional places.  It looks a little late for the federal election expected in May, but it will make a great local issue for the next one.

UNSW experts want Naplan nixed

The UNSW Gonski Institute for Education calls for sampling instead of a census to measure school performance.

Institute director Adrian Piccoli and education policy professor Pasi Sahlberg make the case for ending Naplan in their submission to a COAG review.

“We recommend that an Australian national assessment system should use scientifically determined sampling of students rather than the current census approach. A sampling approach lowers the stakes that testing has on children, parents, and schools. Sampling rather than census also strengthens the role of classroom-based diagnostic, formative and summative assessments led by teachers and schools.”

Piccoli and Sahlberg point to positives from sampling, including, an end to publication of results by schools. “Removing the high stakes nature of the current national assessment and reporting system will reinstate the primary role of teachers and schools in student assessment and reporting will increase trust in teachers as professional,” they suggest.

Young Australians’ codes to live by

Respecting others is good karma

In bad news for bigots, ARC funded research finds teens think multi-faiths make Australia a better place to live, despite half of them having no religion of their own. And 80 per cent of them support marriage equality. But they aren’t short of codes to live by, with half believing in karma, “a shorthand for ‘what goes around, comes around’ in this life.”

The findings are based on focus groups, interviews and a telephone survey of 15-16 year olds for the project, by researchers at ANU, Deakin and Monash universities.

Exorcising ghost writers

Turnitin tech to catch contract cheating

Plagiarism-checker Turnitin has launched new software to combat contract cheating, where students pay a third-party to write assignments/complete assessment. The new product, Authorship Investigate started with a collaboration between the company and Australian academics, including academic integrity expert, Tracey Bretag (UniSA).

According to Turnitin, detecting contract cheating in assignments is beyond plagiarism programmes – the work is original, just not by the student who signs it. Authorship I compares students’ previous work, creates data on assignments and compares all that against new work using, “document metadata, forensic linguistic analysis, and natural language processing. “

It’s good says Associate Professor Bretag, who tells CMM that in a trial of a beta version, Authorship Investigate, “was potentially very useful.”

Authorship Investigate definitely has the potential to assist staff to identify and substantiate contract cheating,” she says.

But ASPRO Bretag adds it is not a complete solution.

“The product by itself will not be useful unless universities are prepared to devote serious resources to training and professional development of teaching staff. … That means genuine workload and TIME to engage in the scholarship of teaching and learning, the development of innovative curriculum and assessment, and the means to know students (for example, smaller classes, face to face time), as well as training in new technologies.”

La Trobe U says Bendigo stays a base for teacher ed

It’s not over for teacher-education at La Trobe U’s regional campus, says management

Protesting education academics at La Trobe U warn that a staff restructure now underway is the “death-knell”for teacher training everywhere but the metro Bundoora campus (CMM yesterday).

Management says not so, that teacher ed will continue in the regions, including at the Bendigo campus, the fate of which especially concerns staff.

“While it is too early to detail exact staffing profiles at each of our campuses … we remain committed to ensuring that we have a critical mass of positions and a vibrant academic community at Bendigo as well as positions at each of the other regional campuses,” the university states.

Bendigo will continue to retain its significance as a major educational hub, with a strong and significant proportion of School of Education academic staff to be based at Bendigo campus.

“At this stage, we have offered roughly the same number of staff positions at Bundoora and Bendigo.”

Tim Minchin headlines appointments and achievements

Tim Minchin has returned to Edith Cowan U to accept an hon doc. Mr Minchin is a graduate of ECUs West Australian Academy of Performing Arts. He received an hon doc from UWA in 2013.

In not-standard occasional address advice he told the new graduates in his audience;You have to get good. Get really good. You don’t get to have a good work life balance. It means being a bit obsessed and if you’re lucky it won’t suck because you love it. And if you don’t love it, stop now,” he said.


Appointments, achievements of the day

The University of South Australia’s professional staff excellence awards are announced;

Industry and community engagement: The Museum of Discovery Development and Launch Team –  Kristin Alford, Anika Johnstone, Simon Loffler, Daniel Lawrance, Dylan DeLosAngeles, Becci Love, Rosie McKee, Leanne Cotter, Lucie Keightley, Kiah Buckskin-James, Peter Adams, Naomi Dallenogare, Daniella Cappelluti, Christina Colerio, Dominic Marafioti, Brett Heritage, Morris Ewings and Paul Doherty.

Industry and community engagement: Student and Admissions Services and Communications and Marketing digital marketing team – Kim Murphy, Hayes Yeung, Brian Quick and Adam Wolf. “For work undertaken collaboratively to fulfil the higher education admission transparency requirements”.

Service excellence culture:  Individual award to Milan Mili, the Business School, concierge, providing “first-rate customer service to students, industry and VIPs,” (individual award).

Marilyn Renfree (University of Melbourne) has won the (US) Society for the Study of Reproduction’s Hartmann Award. Professor Renfree’s research focuses on reproduction and development of marsupials.

Uni Queensland appoints Kerry Kilner as the HASS faculty’s reconciliation action coordinator.

Jonathan Pincus is awarded the E.O.G. Shann Award for distinguished service to economic history in Australia. He is now a visiting professor at the University of Adelaide.


Appointments, achievements of the week


At Edith Cowan U, Angela Hill is promoted to the new position of DVC Education. She joined ECU in 2017 and is now PVC Education.

Liam Hall from the University of Melbourne has won drug company Merck’s Next Game-Changing Technology Prize for a concept on miniaturising nuclear magnetic resonance.

James Boyd will become La Trobe U’s inaugural chair in digital health at end April. He joins from the Centre for Data Linkage at Curtin U.

Richard Hillis returns to the University of Adelaide as PVC Research. His appointment was announced, and commenced yesterday – it runs until next January.  It’s a short-term appointment to cover the role until a new DVC R is appointed and looks to make their own selection.

Bond U has appointed Chris Knapp head of the school of architecture. He moves from Western Sydney U. 

Alec Webb is acting executive director of the Australian Technology Network. The ATN policy analyst stepped up following the departure of Renee Hindmarsh.

Kim Copeland has started as Charles Sturt U’s director of student safety and wellbeing.