Everyone’s a critic: Uni SA takes advice on funding apps

Here’s a novel way to work out what research Australians recognise is in the national interest – ask them

It’s what Uni South Australia is doing. The university has community panels in Adelaide and SA regions which it sends draft National Interest Test statements for Australian Research Council applications.

Panel members’ provide feedback on clarity and accessibility. “This emphasises to the ARC that the public are actually the best judges of whether a description in in accessible language. At the moment the ARC is the arbiter of public accessibility,” DVC Research Marnie Hughes Warrington says.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Peter Woelert (Uni Melbourne) on  administration burdens in universities – the where and why and what can be done. “What may look like increased administrative efficiency if one looks from the top-down may actually look considerably less so the case if one looks from the bottom-up,” he writes

plus Brett Mason has written a book on the achievements of great Aus scientists, Florey and Oliphant. John Byron (QUT) rates it, really rates it – HERE.

with the Australian Collaborative Education Network Board on stakeholder engagement in the next strategy for work integrated learning. This week’s selection by Commissioning Editor Sally Kift for her celebrated series, Needed now in learning and teaching.

and in Expert Opinion

Brett Mason talks about his new book on the achievements of Florey and Oliphant (episode 17 HERE).

plus Virginia Barbour (Open Access Australasia) on the National Health and Medical Research Council’s big open access move, (episode 16) HERE .

How not to end up like Optus

The Metronome for Impeccable Timing goes to the Uni Queensland team that has just published research on boards of directors oversighting cyber security

Ivano Bongiovanni and Uni Queensland colleagues* interviewed non-executive directors of 43 organisations, “on current cybersecurity practices and on the factors that drive directors’ engagement.”

Their evidence,  “suggests that boards are not nearly as engaged in cybersecurity as they are in other areas of oversight” and the researchers propose, “practical recommendations to enhance directors’ engagement in this crucial area, ranging from strengthening existing regulations, to codifying best practices in cyber-reporting.”

The paper is behind publisher Elsevier’s paywall – which makes the US$39 it costs a really good deal for every board of directors in the country who have seen what happened to Optus and don’t want it to see it happening to them.

Megan Gale, Ivano Bongiovannia, Sergio Slapnicara (Uni Queensland) “Governing cybersecurity from the boardroom: Challenges, drivers, and ways ahead,” Computers and Security, 121 (October 2022)  

Pathways in WA

Murdoch U is starting what UWA announced last year

Murdoch U is back in the pathways business, in a new partnership with Kaplan, replacing their JV Murdoch Institute of Technology, which fell foul of the pandemic (CMM June 22 2021 and September 12 2022).

Which led to CMM wondering how UWA’s pathway college is going. Last year UWA announced a partnership with student recruiter INTO, to offer foundation and diploma programmes that are “the ideal preparation” for UWA degrees (CMM October 5 2021).

Back then, the plan was to open UWAC in June ’22. But the other day when CMM inquired as to progress the response was (in full), “UWA will not be making comment on this query.”

Perhaps management does not want boast about its success.

Chief Scientist to review national science priorities

“The existing priorities and statement “are out of date and require renewal”

“The current priorities do not mention First Nations knowledge, do not properly acknowledge climate change and fail to adequately engage with emerging critical technologies, which are essential for national prosperity and our wellbeing,” Industry and Science Minister Dan Husic says.

Both statement and priorities date from the early years of the previous coalition government.

Chief Scientist Cathy Foley will lead a “a national conversation that will inform development of the revitalised priorities and science statement.”

The new framework will be finalised within 12 months.

Educating nurses when life gets in the way

The Victorian Government recently announced funding for 10 000 new nursing students (CMM August 29). Good politics – shame about the practicalities

For  a start, there are national issues with finding the placements nursing students need to complete their course – as Danielle Brown (Edith Cowan U) explained in CMM (September 6).

And nursing now attracts growing numbers of women who are not straight out of school and who have dependent children.

Which Lesley Andrew and Edith Cowan U colleagues  argue is a problem – they put their families first, making it harder to complete their course.

“The women’s days were organised so that university study was attempted after domestic work was completed,” the authors report on research interviews for a new paper.

“The profound and pervasive influence of gender and gendered expectations within society may have important implications for the increasing proportion of older women who now study nursing in Australia, as well as the sustainability of the nursing workforce that is equipped to understand and meet diverse population needs,” they warn.

they suggest there is a role for curriculum. “Student awareness of the barriers traditional gender roles and associated behaviours represent to their progression and achievement is central to student retention and workforce sustainability.”

perhaps courses provider flexibility can help: The Vic Government is partnering with Victoria U to create 300 new early childhood degree-qualified workers. Part of the package is making study as easy as possible for diploma qualified students – on-line classes and placements where students in the industry work (CMM May 18).

Global engagement should mean more than money


 The pandemic provided an opportunity to rethink Australia’s approach to international education

With developing countries looking to rebuild post-pandemic, the Australian Government encouraging greater diversity in our international student mix, and many (albeit not all) Australian universities contemplating how to spend eye watering financial surpluses – it was uncomfortable listening to a representative from a prominent university speaking at a recent conference about their university’s interest in India – including ensuring Indian parents understood (assuring the audience Chinese parents already do) high student fees are a sign of quality.

Meanwhile education consultants, Studymove, suggest Australian universities are also “feeling more assured in increasing their fees in 2023.”

The university happy to talk openly about their intent to earn more from Indian students does not currently operate any overseas branch campuses but is involved in a number of international research partnerships – the overwhelming majority in Europe, the UK and North America.

That picture contrasts with the global engagement described on the websites of leading North American and European universities, where the focus is more typically on highlighting their partnerships in Africa, Latin America and Asia, with research activities often linked to the university’s social and economic development work in these regions.

The pandemic provided an opportunity to rethink Australia’s approach to international education. Institutions could be looking at encouraging greater diversity in their international student cohorts by lowering fees, using their substantial research expertise to help countries emerge from the pandemic, and actively supporting the government’s efforts in the Pacific and ASEAN through more research and education partnerships, as well as offering more scholarships to students from these regions.

However it seems the regrettable choice for some is to double down on higher student fees and increasing financial surpluses.

If you’re interested in how leading universities outside Australia describe and celebrate their global engagement consider:

* University of Chicago

* Columbia University

* Johns Hopkins University

* KU Leuven

* University of Toronto

* Heidelberg University

* Wageningen University

Claire Field is an advisor to the tertiary education sector

A new ERA for researchers

When Education Minister Jason Clare told the Australian Research Council to ditch its 2023 research assessment he called for consultations on a new model (CMM August 31)  

And consult the council will, announcing a working group to advise on a “modern, data driven assessment model.”

It’s a ministry of all the talents, with a bunch of DVC Rs, peak lobbyists and the occasional official (full list in appointments, achievements, down page)

muck around they will not: there will be “broad consultation later this year” and a transition plan “delivered” in December.  The new ERA will be implemented in 2024-25.

as to Engagement and Impact: the ARC’s second research metric was previously scheduled for 2024 but the ARC states, “more information will be published … as it becomes available.” However submission data for the three assessed fields (impact, associated research and engagement) will still be collected

so what could a “data driven” ERA look like: CMM has no clue, although one member of the working party might have ideas for colleagues to kick-around. Cameron Neylon and colleagues at the Curtin Open Knowledge Initiative have just published a paper on a pilot research ranking which uses public datasets and demonstrates, “it is feasible to implement an automated workflow for the production of ERA 2018 and ERA 2023-like benchmarks and indicators.”

“National assessment exercises, as well as many higher education providers, continue to rely on traditional, proprietary data sources for performance evaluation. Open data sources are competitive against proprietary counterparts and offer the potential for greater transparency, access, accuracy and completeness,” they suggest. (CMM September 21).

Appointments, achievements

The Australian Research Council’s working group for a new Excellence in Research for Australia metric is

ARC CEO Judi Zielke chairs with members,

* Michelle Duryea (convenor,Research Officer Directors Special Interest Group, Australasian Research Management Society)

* Dom English (First assistant secretary Department of Education)

* Nick Fisk  (DVC R UNSW)

* Duncan Ivison ( former DVC R Uni Sydney)

* Steve Larkin (PVC-Indigenous Engagement Uni Adelaide)

* Kate McGrath (DVCR UTS)

* Alistair Maclean (CEO Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency)

* Chris Moran (DVC R Curtin U)

* Cameron Neylon (humanities, Curtin U)

* Tony Sheil (Director, Griffith U rsesarch office)

* Mary Spongberg (DVC R Southern Cross U)

* Vicki Thomson (chief executive Group of Eight)

* Marnie Hughes-Warrington (DVC R Uni SA)