What’s on the record

Shadow Education Minister Alan Tudge told the House of Reps Wednesday that teacher initiatives the government announced in the budget are “strongly supported by the coalition.”

“They did indeed come out of the work of the initial teacher education review, which I commissioned when I was minister,” Hansard recorded, (p 151).

It was part of an admirably bipartisan exchange with Education Minister Jason Clare – which is why CMM suspects Hansard either did not get the next bit right or Mr Tudge did not mean what his words sounded like,  “I’m pleased that the government is taking them up, and I hope they’ll see them fall through.”

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Merlin Crossley (UNSW) makes the case for invigilated exams – they are to assessment what the Erg is to rowing.

and, Sunday was National Teachers Day in Vietnam, where people believe Người ta không thể làm gì nehu không có giáo dục is a statement to live by. Claire Macken (RMIT Vietnam) explains what it means and why it matters – here as well as there.

plus, Angel Calderon on the new HiCi researchers list and what it means for some Australian universities on the next ARWU.

with, Erica Wilson and Thomas Roche (Southern Cross U) on the university’s revolution in learning and teaching. Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s new selection for her celebrated Needed Now series

And in Expert Opinion

Samantha Hall (Campus Intuition) on students returning to campus, what they want, what they will do and why the UK does it different, HERE.

A regulator’s lot: not terrific at TEQSA, pretty ordinary at ASQA

53 per cent of TEQSA staff are “proud to work in my agency,” 23 per cent down on the Australian Public Service as a whole

It’s one of the findings in the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency’s employee census for 2022, conducted for all Australian Public Service organisations.

Good findings include staff opinions on the agency’s flexible working arrangements, 23 per cent above the APS as a whole.

But the overall positive employee engagement score is 67 per cent – the same as last year and 9 per cent lower than the norm for regulatory agencies.

TEQSA people believe in their work. There are positives, largely in line with the APS overall on the “purpose and objectives” of the agency (84 per cent) and commitment to its goals (77 per cent).

But many are not happy. Just 37 per cent “feel a strong personal attachment” to TEQSA, down 11 per cent on last year and 26 per cent lower than for regulatory agencies in general.

Part of the problem might be that staff aren’t confident in top management. Positive attitudes to immediate superiors is 70 per cent, unchanged from 2021 and in-line with the overall APS score but just 32 per cent agreed the senior executive service work as a team, up 5 per cent on last year but 22 per cent lower than for the APS as a whole.

Last year CEO Alistair Maclean stated the 2021 survey occurred, “while the agency was also engaged in an extensive consultation about how we can strengthen our workplace culture and foster a working environment that supports all our staff to achieve their best,” (CMM December 6).

Perhaps they are consulting still.

And if you think morale is not universally terrific at TEQSA, it’s not great at  ASQA

Just 42 per cent of staff at the Australian Skills Quality Authority are “proud to work in my agency” – 34 per cent under the all of the APS figure.

Part of the problem appears to be the way top management is perceived. The overall score for survey respondents’ immediate supervisor is 70, unchanged from last year and just 6 per cent down on the APS as a whole. For the SES it’s 59, ten per cent lower. And then there are specifics, “the SES work as a team” rates a 32 per cent positive and “effective communication” between bosses and workers is 30 per cent.

Applause for ADCET

The Australian Disabilities Clearinghouse on Education and Training turns 20

It marks the milestone with a chronology of achievements, including the recent guide to accessible ICT (CMM HERE).

ADCET is based at University Tasmania, an underestimated institution for health research and service (think the marvellous Wicking Centre).

What happens when international students want money back

It does not always go well for them

The Commonwealth Ombudsman advises the “most common issue” international students raise is providers relying on written agreements when they withdraw from courses  and want money back.  In 2018-22 such complaints accounted for 41 per cent (2432) of matters international students raise.

In 48 per cent “providers had given outcomes that did not appear substantially compliant, fair and reasonable.”

“In our investigations, we observed a lack of fairness by some providers who took a strict approach to application of refund terms in their written agreements,” the Ombudsman asserts in a new discussion paper.

The “lack of fairness became more apparent” during the pandemic, when international students needed to leave, or could not enter Australia.

The paper provides case studies and suggests ways providers can improve agreements and practise.

And if they don’t the Ombudsman has a suggestion;

“potential industry-wide improvements could involve creation of standard refund terms, or a template agreement. This could be led by international education providers or government. Government could also consider expanding regulation of international student refunds, as it does in cases of visa refusal, to a broader range of situations.

ARC Discovery Grants: where the money will go

478 grants are awarded $221m – for a success rate of 18.5 per cent

The big winners are, as usual, most of the Group of Eight, Uni Melbourne – 57, Uni Queensland – 51, Monash U 46, UNSW – 41, ANU – 40, Uni Sydney – 34,  UWA – 16, Uni Adelaide – 14. All up they account for around the usual two-thirds of awards.

However, six other universities equalled or outperformed the Eight’s weakest link, UTS (18), Griffith U (17), QUT (17) Macquarie U (15), RMIT (14) Uni Wollongong (14).

Measured by per centage success (for unis submitting 20 or more applications), the above average performers are,

Flinders U (29 per cent) ANU (27 per cent) Griffith U (25 per cent), La Trobe U (25 per cent)  UTS (24 per cent) Uni Tasmania (23 per cent) Uni Wollongong (23 per cent) Uni Melbourne (22 per cent) UWA (22 per cent), Uni Queensland (19 per cent), QUT (18 per cent) RMIT (18 per cent).

And things aren’t what they used to be for overall success rates. In 2020 the ARC considered 2875 applications and awarded 660 grants (23 per cent).


Appointments, achievements

The Australian Academy of the Humanities elects four new members to its council, Fred D’Agostino (Uni Queensland), Victoria Haskins (Uni Newcastle), Chris Hilliard (Uni Sydney) and Joanne Tompkins (Uni Queensland)

Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic announces panel members for the Pathway to Diversity in STEM review; Sally-Ann Williams, (“a leader in the technology and entrepreneurial space”) is chair. She is joined by Mikaela Jade (“a proud Cabrogal woman of the Dharug-speaking nations, passionate about storytelling, technology and knowledge-sharing” and biotechnologist Parwinder Kaur. Narelle Luchetti (acting dep sec, Industry Science and Resources) is ex-officio member.

Stuart Johnson becomes CEO of Murdoch U’s Food Technology Facility. Natasha Teakle is joins as chair of its project management group. Mr Johnson has worked in “innovative food businesses.” Dr Teakle is MD of Agristart.

Science and Technology Australia announces new leadership appointments. Sharath Sriram (RMIT) becKLisa omes president elect. New board members are, Bek Christensen (Peter Cullen Water and Environment Trust), Francesca Gissi (ANSTO), Sarah Kachovich (ANU) and Chris Matthews (UTS) and

Lisa Harvey-Smith is appointed to a new 12-month term as the Commonwealth’s Women in STEM Ambassador.

Kit Wise (RMIT) is elected to a second term as chair of the Australian Council of University Art & Design Schools.