Uni Adelaide awarded

Uni Adelaide wins the international education and training category of the Australian Export Awards

The win is for the university’s work on new markets including in, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East and for “increasing investment in online learning, blended model delivery and delivery of content in international markets as intensive training programs.”

Three strikes and the Ramsay Western Civ Centre is out

Uni Sydney has had three goes at course proposals but the Ramsay Western Civ Centre won’t be writing a cheque

After a year plus of off-and-on discussions the Centre has ended negotiations with the University of Sydney.

What this is about: The Ramsay Centre’s offer is $50m over eight years to create and teach a degree on western civilisation, which includes funds for specially-hired academic staff and student scholarships. The universities of Queensland and Wollongong both start Ramsay funded degrees next year.

According to CEO Simon Haines, the University of Sydney submitted a proposal in May 2018, which the Centre’s board liked, but then came back with a further two alternatives, “different to the model we had indicated support for.”

Sydney not united: The problem for Uni Sydney VC Michael Spence was that he was not only negotiating with the Ramsay board but with university staff adamantine in their opposition to accepting Ramsay money. The very idea of a degree in western civ is widely considered on campus to be morally contestable and academically unacceptable.

A second idea: Dr Spence appeared to attempt to address campus concerns in September with less a variation than re-write of the original prop that appealed to the Ramsay Centre. He suggested creating a western civ major from 130 existing subjects and to distribute the scholarship funding widely, providing small sums for 1100 students, rather than for annual cohorts of 30 students receiving $30 000 per annum for up to five years, (CMM September 19).

And a third: When that was a no-go for Ramsay, a group of Uni Sydney academics, philosophy professor, Peter Anstey and colleagues, went to the Ramsay Centre with an independent variation on the Spence scheme. This included a canonical works unit, which Ramsay-people wanted, and a cap on the number of students to be funded.

But content wasn’t king: Close observers of the Ramsay Centre, staff and board, say Spence and Spence-light appealed to some and Professor Haines says, there were attractive features regarding both its content and administration.” However, he added yesterday, “the centre and its board had misgivings about the level of commitment of key stakeholders, within the university in supporting the implementation of the curriculum and the associated scholarship program. Further delays also seemed inevitable.”

So that’s it – and Ramsay has no need to rush. With Uni Queensland signed-up it has the status a Group of Eight institution confers in conservative quarters.

Contract cheating legislation: it’s the for-profit providers the government wants caught  

The government’s bill was introduced into parliament yesterday

It primarily targets commercial providers.

Why it’s needed: “Providing an academic cheating service … undermines the integrity of Australia’s higher education system and can have serious consequences,” the explanatory memorandum for the Bill states.

What it does: There are “serious consequences” for people convicted as well. Commercial providers could cop a custodial sentence. Non-commercial help can carry a fine of “500 penalty units.” A Commonwealth “penalty unit” is presently $210, making the fine $105 000 in real money.

Who is not prime targets:  Critics have warned the legislation can unreasonably capture family and friends helping with a students’ assignment, (CMM July 1). But people proofing somebody else’s work will not be a top priority. The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency will investigate contract cheating and CEO Anthony McClaran says “it has neither the resources nor intention to approach the problem in this way.” (CMM November 28). Plus, the bill applies to “undertaking of work for students (which) forms a substantial part of, an assessment task that students are required to personally undertake.”

How substantial is substantial:   The explanatory memorandum spells it out “In practice, this means that incidental or inconsequential assistance, advice or example answers that might be offered to a student are not at risk of being captured by the new offence provisions. Any assistance that did not change the intent or meaning of the student’s work would not be prohibited by the Bill. For example, while editing of a student’s work by a third party might be prohibited by institutional policy, it would not be prohibited by the Bill so long as it didn’t represent a substantial part of the work.

Discovery Projects: where the money goes

There’s good news for 660 research teams in yesterday’s Discovery Projects announcement – but with a 23 per cent success rate there’s bad news for 2200 more

How much money: The Australian Research Council reports the government will provide $284m of the $387m requested by successful bids. (Funding all applications would have cost the Commonwealth $1.64bn).

Where the money went: For grant-share it was pretty much the Group of Eight, as usual. Monash Uni (83), UNSW (72), Uni Melbourne (65), Uni Queensland (62) Uni Sydney (58), ANU (55), Uni Adelaide (27) and UWA (27).

Macquarie U was the only other university winning more than 20 grants, with 23.

The ATN did distantly ok, with UTS (20) RMIT (17), Uni SA (five) and Curtin U (11).

Most bang for application buck: The success rate for big-winners (say 20 grants) is; ANU 33 per cent, Uni Queensland 25 per cent, Monash U 27 per cent, UNSW 24 per cent, Uni Sydney 24 per cent, UWA 24 per cent, Macquarie U 22 per cent, Uni Adelaide 22 per cent, Uni Melbourne 21 per cent, UTS 20 per cent.

Some disciplines did well: Biological science research had over 100 grants and engineering just under. ICT people picked up 50.

Others didn’t: It was a bad outcome for education – on the day bad PISA results were all over the media, researchers scored just two grants.

Uni Sydney stands up for academic free speech

Uni Sydney Challis professor of jurisprudence, Wojciech Sadurski took to Twitter to criticise the Law and Justice Party which forms the Polish government, plus a public broadcaster

So, they are suing him in a Warsaw court, however, CMM suspects this has to do with much more than tweets. Professor Sadurski’s substantial scholarly work, Poland’s Constitutional Breakdown was published in May.

The suit strikes the new Australian Association of University Professors as outrageous (CMM yesterday) but where, CMM wondered, is the University of Sydney?

In Professor Sadurski’s corner, it turns out. Back in May VC Michael Spence wrote an open letter of support for Professor Sadurski making the what should be un-remarkable point, free speech is a “foundational value” of liberal democracy and that Uni Sydney “strongly supports the right of Professor Sadurski and all its academic staff to conduct research and engage in public debate on matters that pertain to their academic expertise.”

The university adds Dr Spence and DVC R Duncan Ivison “are in regular contact” with Professor Sadurski. They might need to increase the frequency if the case goes bad.

Curtin U considering health school change

Management is consulting for “a sustainable future”

Word is ten academic jobs are marked to go, with five further positions to be relocated, and three new ones created.  Courses are also set for change, with a new emphasis on data analytics in health care. The proposal, is said to be intended to address a projected $1.5 deficit annual deficit. CMM asked Curtin U if this was happening and PVC Health Sciences Archie Clements responded; “A review of the School of Public Health is currently underway to ensure a sustainable future that continues to meet the changing needs of students and plays a key strategic role in important public health areas such as the role of big data analytics in public health, health economics and sustainable health.

“A comprehensive consultation is underway and no final decisions have yet been made.”


Fiona Kelly is new dean of the La Trobe University law school. She has been with LT U’s law school since 2013. She replaces Patrick Keyzer who now holds a research chair at LT U law (CMM May 23).