Who aren’t you going to call?

The feds have an information sheet for international students whose records are caught in what Medibank Private was calling a “cyber incident” until it decided it was an “event”

The Department of Education has got the word out, notably via the Council of International Students Australia.

It’s clear, concise general advice – although suggesting people who fear their identity is “compromised” contact their embassy may not impress students who worry their government already knows way too much about them.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

CLAIRE MACKEN (RMIT) on expanding education access in Vietnam – there’s much to learn from the way people ride motorbikes .

with JO HOETZER and colleagues from ANU and Uni Wollongong on working with students to deliver employability and life-long, life-wide career management skills. It’s a new selection by Commissioning Editor Sally Kift for her celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

plus MERLIN CROSSLEY (UNSW) on the inevitability of the ATAR. “There are thousands of early offers out there but the ATAR and more sophisticated applicant ranking systems that aim to consider a student’s context and achievement relative to opportunity will always be with us.”

And in Expert Opinion

JASON POTTS (RMIT) on the power and potential of the blockchain for education – that and transforming how society works, (episode 21, HERE)

All’s well that ends well at Australian Catholic U

Staff at Australian Catholic U will vote on a enterprise agreement, jointly proposed by management and unions

The deal comes after a long, as in 12 months plus, and not entirely amenable negotiation. The Community and Public Sector Union (in NSW) backed management’s offer last week, while the National Tertiary Education Union wanted to keep talking.

But now the NTEU agrees and it appears honour is satisfied all over with ACU observers suggesting the union won management agreement at the end on leave and overtime issues with management otherwise sticking to its “final offer,” from last week (CMM October 13 and 25).

Yesterday ACU COO, Stephen Weller messaged staff that he thanked the two unions, for their commitment to reaching this outcome after more than a year of negotiations.” And NTEU branch president Leah Kaufmann acknowledged university management, “for considering our many claims, our evidence and arguments, and working with us to create a better ACU for staff and all.”

The agreement “is a long way from the initial position we were offered in July ’21,” she says.

A formal draft of the all parties-approved deal will be ready “in coming weeks” for an all staff vote. This should be a formality, staff have never (as far as CMM knows) knocked back an agreement proposed by management and unions.

It’s not ending as well at Southern Cross U, if it is ending at all: Staff there start voting today on a management proposed wage and conditions offer. It is backed by the CPSU, but fiercely opposed by the NTEU.

Open (but not shut) case for an Australian universities press

Jessica Thiel (QUT) proposes national open access in education resources

In her recent PhD thesis, Dr Thiel argues that while publishing technology is transformed, ,access to content is not.

She propose an open publishing alternative, “that could promote and support human development” and explains the how and why to build one.

Including a national open education resource universities press, publishing texts on core subjects “that form the foundations within each of our most popular undergraduate courses.” She suggests, texts for subjects in arts, business, education, laws and science business.

Overall recommendations to expand open education resources include

* legislation, “which supports the use and creation of open education content”

* institutions cooperating on the creation of open textbooks for national markets

* including work on open education resources in academic rewards and incentives

* universities upskilling staff to work on open publishing

As to creating an open text book programme. She suggests a national publishing fund, with contributions from institutions and the Commonwealth – managed by Universities Australia, What’s in it for students appears obvious, as an example she sets out savings from an open textbook for students taking IP law course at QUT. But as for institutions, “as the resources are open, each university may edit, remix, and revise the materials as they see fit and to tailor them to their audience.”

Are you ready Australia

As the nation debates the merits of a Voice to Parliament, a new conference will ask whether the sector is ready for First Nations voices in HE

Are you ready Australia?, an on-line conference, 10-11 November, is by organised by Poche SA+NT in partnership with Twig Marketing, to provide an opportunity for all staff to engage in fresh perspectives into the role and relevance of Australian universities in future.

New and emerging Indigenous leaders will join panels alongside sector leaders, students and community members, promising fresh insights.

Tickets are HERE

Short, not always sweet, courses in our imperfect world


reflecting on alternative providers and universities, Victoria University’s Farzad Khosrowshahi summed it up well: “they go faster, we go further”

Last week I had the pleasure of addressing two very different conferences – the first was the 2022 annual conference of the deans of science and the second was HolonIQ’s Melbourne Summit (part of their Global Impact Summit series).

Despite the different audiences there was significant overlap in the issues I discussed with both groups.

The science deans invited me to discuss, “Australia’s skill shortages: what can Australian university science do to meet them?”, while at the HolonIQ event I canvassed the current context in Australian higher education, VET and international education – and the opportunities for partnerships and ed tech in these sectors.

The profound changes occurring in the world of work are driving increased demand for more “just-in-time” short courses to help individuals and businesses adapt. And science is not immune from these changes – with analysis in Australia by the former National Skills Commission showing a raft of scientific occupations experiencing current skill shortages and predicted to face moderate to severe shortages in future.

In response, some universities are offering short courses in topics including environmental science (Carnegie Mellon University) and biochemistry (MIT) – but there are also a growing number of non-accredited, alternative providers in these and other fields, e.g. Udemy (medical biochemistry), One Education/Allison.com (agricultural science) and many, many more in the IT sector. These providers offer free or very cheap online alternatives to higher education degrees and VET certificates and are enrolling thousands (and in some cases hundreds of thousands) of learners.

The growth in alternative providers also emerged as a key issue at the HolonIQ Summit. A number of presenters reflected on what these alternative providers and their offerings mean for VET and higher  education providers.

One topic which I had expected a greater focus on at the HolonIQ Summit was the growth in immersive (AR) learning. It is one of the current key trends in EdTech internationally. Although I should note that after I shared a video with the science deans, it was pointed out to me that “the fish (which the student in the video virtually dissected at their laptop) was perfect” and of course education needs to prepare learners for all of the circumstances where life is imperfect.

Reflecting on alternative providers and universities, Victoria University’s Farzad Khosrowshahi summed it up well: “they go faster, we go further”.

 Claire Field is an advisor to the tertiary education sector. Her presentation to the HolonIQ Summit is available as a podcast and on her website.


David Groenewegen joins La Trobe U as university librarian.  He moves from Monash U.

Exoplanet hunter Simon Murphy joins Uni Southern Queensland from Uni Sydney.

Too few rooms of their own for international students


With the pandemic and associated border closures now in the rear-view mirror, the international education sector is gearing up for its largest intake since 2019 early next year. The question is are we ready?

Let’s talk housing.

It’s a supply-and-demand industry and many are starting to ponder where students are going to stay.

James Martin, who runs Insider Guides – targeted to students to ensure they are prepared as they arrive in Australia is one of many who is asking the question.

Martin says “vacancy rates in rentals across the country at sitting at approximately 1 per cent. Rents are sky-high. Competition is ruthless for renters. Many private student houses were converted to standard rentals during the pandemic, because of high rental income and, well, no students, and are now gone from the available stock equation.

“Purpose Built Student Accommodations (PBSA’s) are full or are looking like they’ll be full in early 2023 and there are not enough homestay hosts.”

He makes a good point. It wasn’t that long ago there weren’t any students and now accommodating an influx may well be an issue.

Phil Honeywood, CEO of International Education Association Australia is aware the UK international student market is being impacted by the lack of appropriate accommodation options. “It’s not surprising with the rush to get back that there may be a shortage of student beds in our country,” he says.

State and local governments need to better coordinate with providers to ensure we plan appropriately for time for next year.”

It’s a tricky situation at best and one that has been well-documented in the Netherlands as recently as August. Students who have been enrolled at the University of Amsterdam have been told not to travel unless they have secured accommodation ahead of their start date. The announcement can be seen here.

As published by the nltimes.nl the situation at the university is dire with 4,720 international students registered for accommodation, but Uni Amsterdam only has 2,416 rooms available.

Of course, this could not possibly happen in Australia – here’s hoping.

Dirk Mulder advises education and business clients on trends in international education. He writes regularly for CMM