Tech Eng new fellows

The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering reports that 12 of the 25 new fellows announced this morning are women, “almost meeting the Academy’s 2025 gender equity target six years early.” The full list is in appointments, achievements, in today’s issue.

One notable appointment is UNSW science dean and president of Science and Technology Australia, Emma Johnston. Another is Uni SA VC David Lloyd.

There’s more in the Mail

Commissioning Editor Sally Kift weaves the warp and weft of HE reviews into a seamless guide to what we need now for literacy in tertiary education.

What uni managements will want from workers

The Australian Higher Education Industrial Association has a three-stage project on “transforming the higher education workforce”  

It includes university managements setting out “major achievement in workplace reform” followed next year by “the identification of specific initiatives that can be taken at both institutional level and at a sectoral level.”

Gosh, what do you think AHEIA has in mind? That the project is called “transforming the workforce” and mentions, “benchmarking of labour costs and lessons from other sectors who have transformed their operating models/workforce structures” could be a guide.

NSW proposal for an alternative to the ATAR

The Australian Tertiary Admission Rank is popular as plague and a NSW review considers burying it

Geoff Masters (Australian Council for Educational Research) and colleagues have reviewed the NSW school curriculum to find the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank is widely blamed for warping senior schooling; “teaching and learning in the senior secondary school are perceived to be overly focused on examination preparation, maximising the ATAR, and university entrance, and insufficiently focused on equipping every student with the knowledge, skills and attributes they will require for further learning, life and work,” they warn in their interim report.

Some universities pointed to its limited role in university admissions in submissions to the review and the NSW Universities Admission Centre gallantly defended its innocence and applauded its achievements. But to little avail;

“the school sector should work with the university sector and UAC to explore the possibility of not calculating and reporting ATAR, replacing it instead with transparent information about the basis for constructing course-by-course selection ranks, which should show an applicant’s rank in relation to the number of places available in each of their preferred courses,” the review recommends.

If introduced that would keep uni admissions people occupied, including dealing with warnings that selection ranks can be gamed.

Macquarie U asking big questions on learning and teaching

Macquarie U is surveying students about their “current learning experience” it’s for a review of teaching

However, students respond, the survey suggests what the university is thinking about for learning and teaching. Among questions on assessment, new teaching methods and class sizes the survey asks about the importance of “gamification” in courses, assessments “which relate to real-world experiences,” on-line or in-person classes and “earning additional certificates” to “help me differentiate myself when applying for a job”

If students rate half the ideas “very important” MU will need less review and more revolution to find the resources to implement everything.

Group of Eight: as regional as they come

The Group of Eight says it wasn’t asked its opinion by the review of research at regional, rural and remote unis – as if that would stop the Sandstones

“While the Go8 was unfortunately not invited to make a submission, it is important that as chief executive I highlight for you the vital role and research impact that Go8 universities have in the RRR areas, including in collaboration with universities regarded under your project as RRR universities,”  CEO Vicki Thomson tells the Australian Council of Learned Academies which is running the review.

Ms Thomson points out her members have a “significant footprint” in RRR areas, with campuses, “delivering education … informed by the high quality research the Go8 undertakes. She also sets out research on RRR related disciplines, collaboration with universities in the broadly-defined bush, before getting around to diplomatically making what looks like her main point, why there is no problem with major research infrastructure staying in cities.

“While the location of national research infrastructure may be contended from time to time …  the reality is that: such national research infrastructure benefits RRR universities, their communities … (and) RRR universities are often key partners or contributors to the establishment, ongoing development and running of such facilities.”

Staffer leaves Swinburne

Swinburne U investigated allegations of self-plagiarism

Last month journal publisher Sage retracted 22 articles with numerous authors, which “contain significant overlap with previously published articles.” At the time, Swinburne U commissioned an investigation, “in line with university policies and procedures for responsible conduct of research,” (CMM September 17).

Yesterday Swinburne U did not name anyone but announced it, “has undertaken an investigation focussed on the work of a researcher, published prior to joining the university. We can confirm that researcher is no longer employed by Swinburne.”

Murdoch U describes itself as “a free-thinking university”

Murdoch U has a new student recruitment campaign, “This is free thinking”.

“We didn’t become a free-thinking university overnight. Since we were founded in 1976, we’ve been committed to providing students with the kind of education which helps them to change their worlds, think for themselves, and find new ways to push past the status quo,” is the pitch.

Free thinkers are curious, bold and courageous They are people who challenge convention, but not for the sake of being contrary. They are not afraid to step away from the crowd and forge their own path. So, if you are a free thinker, you will be right at home here at Murdoch,” the university adds.

The campaign is on the university website while Murdoch U is being widely criticised for taking legal action against academic staffer Gerd Schroder-Turk, who went public with concerns about the English-language standards of some international students at the university. Yesterday 57 Australian Research Council Laureate Fellows wrote to Murdoch’s chancellor and VC, Gary Smith and Eeva Leinonen, warning, “it is a long-established principle of academic freedom that academics must be able to criticise university governance. This right is especially important where aspects of university governance might compromise the integrity of teaching and research.”

Where the EdTech action is

“We ignore the advances being made by the sector at our peril”


At a time when tertiary education funding has flat-lined and we are beset by government reviews – it was both energising and concerning to attend the recent HolonIQ Future of Education and Workforce Summit.

Presenters included a raft of overseas and Australian EdTech providers whose offerings are relevant to and/or a disruptor of the tertiary sector, including:

* Sana Labs (using AI in corporate training/professional education. I wrote them up in a briefing note after attending this year’s EdTechXEurope conference)

* Faethm (using AI to map the changing world of work and the changing skills required)

* Chegg (listed on the NYSE, 3.1 million subscribers, annual revenues of US $400 million pa, providing a range of 24/seven student support services)

* GO1 (an Australian aggregator for online workplace training –both accredited and non-accredited)

UTS was the only university to present (on their new Faculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation). And while Summit delegates included representatives from the university and private tertiary sector – worryingly no-one attended from the TAFE sector.

We ignore the advances being made by the EdTech sector at our peril. Employers value the skills and knowledge being taught, and the use of AI allows for increased academic performance and higher course completion rates.

If you’re interested in my reflections and those of others from across the world who participated in a recent visit to Bengaluru, India’s Silicon Valley, to meet its EdTech entrepreneurs – they feature in the next two episodes of ‘What now? What next?’ (in your favourite podcast app or listen via the website).

Claire Field advises on VET, international education and private higher education. She advises HolonIQ on the Australian education sector and spoke at their Sydney Summit.

Appointments, achievements

David Gardner (Uni Melbourne) with colleagues from Japan and Germany, wins the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s 2019 Basic Science Award.

The Sydney Conservatorium of Music announces Liza Lim will hold the Sculthorpe Chair of Australian Music. The chair is funded by a bequest from the late composer Peter Sculthorpe.

Martie-Louise Verreynne is leaving Uni Queensland’s business faculty, where she is deputy head, to become PVC research and innovation in RMIT’s College of Business next year. She will rejoin former head of Uni Queensland’s biz school, Julie Cogin who moved to become RMIT’s PVC business in April.


Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering announces 25 new Fellows

* Douglas Bock, CSIRO. * Lynn Booth, Defence Science and Technology Group. * Gunilla Burrowes Eighteen04 Inc. * Helen Cleugh, CSIRO. * Martin Cole, CSIRO. William Cox, Aurecon. * Melinda Hodkiewicz, UWA. * Emma Johnston, UNSW. * Sandra Kentish, Uni Melbourne. * David Lloyd, Uni SA. * Romilly Madew, Infrastructure Australia. * Neena Mitter, Uni Queensland. * * Adrian Mouritz, RMIT University. * Saeid Nahavandi, Deakin University. * Ranjith Pathegama Gamage. Monash Uni.  * Elaine Saunders, Blamey Saunders Hears. * Andy Sheppard, CSIRO. * Surinder Pal Singh CSIRO. * Jan Tennent, Biomedical Research Victoria. * Alison Todd, SpeeDx. * Nicolas Voelcker, Monash U. * Chien Ming Wang, Uni Queensland. * Huanting Wang,
Monash U. * Anthony Wood, Grattan Institute. * Zoe Yujnovich, Shell Australia.

Plus * Foreign Fellow: Francesca Ferrazza, Eni, Italy. * Hon Fellow: John Anderson, former deputy PM. Board-elected Fellow: Dr Andrew Thomas, NASA