Cloudy future for a Sunshine Coast medical school 

plus TEQSA warned to avoid regulatory creep

Department of Education plan to improve indigenous education outcomes slammed: “more prescriptive” than any other under HESA


Does it apply to senators?

“It is critically important to ensure that students, researchers – even if they are young and utterly without publications – they should be encouraged to push the envelope and challenge the orthodox. Because unless they do – we won’t make the progress that we need. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the launch of the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, yesterday.


Tick for TEQSA if it sticks to its task

With the new TEQSA threshold standards due to kick-in come January it seems strange for a review of the Tertiary Education Quality Standards and Agency’s Act to be accepting last submissions today. But the act itself requires it and the feds have had consultants Deloitte on the case. CMM suspects that with the overzealous approach of the early years now out of the way TEQSA’s performance under its act is set for a tick. The agency was widely applauded, notably by the Chief Scientist, at its well-timed first conference last week (CMM November 10). And now the Innovative Research Universities group offers carefully qualified support for the agency in its submission to the review of the TEQSA legislation. “The single framework and use of (a) single agency to make relevant decisions has greatly improved clarity about the higher education quality framework and ensured more consistent application of it across all higher education,” the IRU states.

However the IRU warns against any expansion of the agency’s role from accrediting institutions to assessing their performance; “TEQSA should not compromise its standing through seeking to judge more broadly how effective aspects of higher education are.”

And the IRU is adamant that TEQSA should act on its standards but not use them as the foundation for a second layer of “implied standards” through guidance notes. To date the IRU admits, this hasn’t happened but “how to” guidance can turn into regulatory expansion.

They boldly went

Thanks to Damien Harkin from QUT for a pointer to UNI SA VC David Lloyd’s guide to managing the Star Trek way (CMM yesterday). Professor Harkin’s take on what university leaders can learn from Star Fleet commanders is here.

Cloudy future for Sunshine Coast med school

Come April the Sunshine Coast will have what may well be the highest of high-tech hospitals in the country, but one without med students in training – all for the want of 15 federally funded places, on top of the 35 the Queensland state government says it will find. Without the 15 the university, (believed to be Griffith) which said it would step up when the University of Queensland bailed three years back will not commit. UoQ continues to run a clinical school, in the region, at Nambour.

This is bad news for the people of the Sunshine Coast, where the population is 300 000 now and expected to be half a million in 20 years. It is not much chop for the local university either. The University of the Sunshine Coast was planning to offer a bachelor of medical science, with graduates moving on to the medical school but this will not happen while Canberra refuses to fund the places.

Sound familiar? It will to supporters of the Charles Sturt and La Trobe proposal for the Murray Darling Medical School, which is being blocked on the same basis, that there are enough medical students to meet national need. Of courses that did not apply when WA premier Colin Barnett helped make Curtin U’s case for its medical school, which is coming closer to accepting students.


Bravo Bekkers

John Bekkers from ANU is the co-winner of the Society for Neuroscience’s education award. Dr Bekkers is honoured for his “critical role” “in the inception and development of the Australian course in advanced neuroscience.”

What’s wrong with rankings

CMM’s “you don’t say!” correspondent reports research by Singapore scholar Kaycheng Soh who finds university rankings rely on bodgie methodologies and inconsistent data. “These issues render the validity of ranking results suspect,” Dr Soh writes. Good-o, but CMM does wonder what the marketing team at his Nanyang Technological University will make of it. NTU does make a thing about its rocketing up the rankings.


Very reasonable RUN

The new chair of the Regional Universities Network has entirely reasonable objectives for the job. VC of the University of the Sunshine Coast Greg Hill wants to increase awareness of what his members accomplish for their communities. And he wants to see many students in the regions start university degrees when they are ready, by completing bridging courses first. But RUN universities are carrying unfunded sub-degree load because places are capped and given budget strictures will quite possibly stay that way. Reasonable does not mean politically possible.

As bad as it gets

The Innovative Research Universities comments on the government’s new plan to raise outcomes for indigenous students: “The performance basis integral to the new program, whereby university funding is dependent on their success in enrolling Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and supporting them through to completion, is buried within extensive rules about how funds can or cannot be used. The ISSP Guidelines are more prescriptive than any other under the Higher Education Support Act.

Soaring at Sydney

The University of Sydney has announced its inaugural SOAR fellows. The scheme provides early and mid-career academics with $50 000 per annum for two years to fund research. The twenty are;

early career: Adam Kamradt-Scott (pandemics), Anne Cust (causes of cancer), Stefanie Schurer (early-intervention for life skills), Deanna D’Alessandro (materials science), Michael Barnett (multiple sclerosis), Allison Tong (patient-centred outcomes in chronic disease), Jane Le (personal and professional demands in the workplace), Yixiang Gan (granular materials in energy systems), Fabio Ramos (big data management), Anika Gauja (political organisations adapting to change)

mid career: Xiaoke Yi (photonics to monitor insulin), Ali Abbas (waste as a power source), Amanda Salis (weight management for the obese), Michael Valenzuela (lifestyle interventions for dementia treatment), Wojciiech Chrzanowski (regeneration of lung tissue), Chris Ling (improved battery performance in cars and renewable energy), Susan Park (accountability for environment disasters), Paulo Ferreira (genetics and back pain), Tara Murphy (observation of gravitational waves), Karl Maton (helping the disadvantaged understand how power systems work).