No issue Thursday

CMM is off for the national public holiday

Back Friday.

Speed is of the industry-ness

The Australian Research Council opens a new funding scheme

But anybody interested in an Early Career Industry Fellowship needs be quick – applications close November 20. It’s pretty tight for people who won’t have had the scheme on their list of options – which will be everybody. The overall Industry Fellowships Programme was only announced three weeks ago (CMM September 1).

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

The Australian Collaborative Education Network Board on sharing good practise in work integrated learning. This week’s selectionby Commissioning Editor Sally Kift for her celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

plus The two big risks Uni Tas faces in its city relocation.

and Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on the lecture – alive and well and adapting to the times.

Strike at Uni Newcastle

National Tertiary Education Union members are out today

They are protesting what the union calls “a lack of movement on key issues” in enterprise bargaining, including, “Protections against job cuts and “a fair pay offer.”

The university is offering a two-year agreement, instead of the usual three, citing the need to be ready for uncertain times, with two 3 per cent annual pay rises. Management also offers additional days off plus ten “life-event” days off a year, which it claims translates to nearly six weeks paid leave a year.

However the NTEU’s all-unis ask is three yearly five per cent increases (CMM August 22).

DVC Kent Anderson says the university will be “open and operating” today and he expects “most classes will continue as normal.”

ARC-independent way to measure research performance

Excellence for Research in Australia is on hold – but not to worry there’s more than one way to make metrics

The excellent Curtin Open Knowledge Initiative has created a ranking pilot using public datasets to demonstrate, “it is feasible to implement an automated workflow for the production  of ERA 2018 and ERA 2023-like benchmarks and indicators.” *

This is a big deal indeed, not least because Education Minister Jason Clare put ERA 2023 on hold, “in light of the sector’s concerns about workload” (CMM August 31). It is a bigger one, given COKI’S intent is an open access research ranking, “to support the calculation of new performance metrics and indicators, where datasets are available that link outputs to performance data.”

The paper setting out how it is done is HERE.

Why this matters: COKI explains, “the increasing availability of open data, concerning research outputs and performance has been transformational. Concurrently computational tools have improved in performance to the extent that large scale analysis of massive datasets and accessible and cost-effective. “

Why it really matters: “national assessment exercises, as well as many higher education providers, continue to rely on traditional, proprietary data sources for performance evaluation.  Open data sources are competitive against proprietary counterparts and offer the potential for greater transparency, access, accuracy and completeness … ” the authors suggest

* Julian Tonti-Filippini, Kathryn Napier, Cameron Neylon, “Automating ERA Benchmarks: An on-demand pilot system for calculating ERA-like benchmarks using open data and transparent analysis,” Zenodo September 16 2022

Visa processing way better but Claire Field warns there’s a problem for VET


there are major integrity problems with visas being lodged by prospective VET students from India and Nepal

The Department of Home Affairs continues to impress with increased transparency towards the sector. And just to be clear, having worked in international education for 15 years that is not a sentence I ever thought I would write.

Long may this level of transparency last as it allows providers and others working in the sector to better understand the work DHA is doing, where the risks are – and hopefully to moderate their activities accordingly.

If you have not seen it yet, the Department’s September Provider Update highlights both the progress DHA is making in trying to clear the visa processing backlog as well as the increase in student visas being lodged. They note that in both June and July 2022 they received more offshore student visa applications than they had in the past 10 years (for those two months).

They also note that they are continuing to prioritise offshore student visa processing, with more than 91 000 visas finalised in the three months to July 2022.

The Provider Update also includes new visa grant rate data. And we need to acknowledge we have major integrity problems in visas being lodged by prospective VET students from two of our largest source countries.

The VET sector currently has a much lower student visa grant rate (58.2 per cent) than higher education (93.5 per cent) undoubtedly as students are attracted to cheaper VET courses by the unlimited work hours. The two most concerning figures for visa grant rates in July 2022 though were:

* India: 36.8 per cent

* Nepal: 8.2 per cent

At the same time DHA released their Provider Update, the Western Australia government released details of how its $10m Agent Incentive Scheme will work. The Scheme was first announced in the May 2022 State Budget and it will provide payments of:

* $500 per student to agents enrolling a confirmed international student in a school, ELICOS or VET provider, and

* $1 000 per student for a confirmed university student enrolment.

While the WA government is to be commended for trying to help rebuild international student numbers after their lengthy border closures during COVID, given the integrity problems in the VET sector at present it is hard to see that this is the best investment which could be made.

Meanwhile let’s hope ASQA is able to identify and sanction providers deliberately targeting non-genuine students, who may be slipping through the net despite DHA’s best efforts.

 Claire Field is an advisor to the tertiary education sector

Thin applause for NHMRC’s major OA move

Open Access Australasia was quick to endorse the National Health and Medical Research Council’s new open access (from publication) policy (CMM yesterday)

“I applaud the NHMRC for their leadership. The policy which embraces diversity, rights retention and creative commons licensing is a benchmark in the region. We are hopeful that other research funders and government in Australasia follow their lead soon,” chair Kim Tairi (Auckland Uni Tech) said.

So was the Australian Academy of Science , “we welcome this new policy, particularly the removal of the 12-month embargo. The policy places Australia in step with international developments, especially in the US and Europe, and will assist with the sharing of health and medical science for the benefit of all Australians.”

But that was about it –medical research lobbies, vocal when it comes to demanding more money for members, are so far silent.

Appointments, achievements

Philip Boyd (Uni Tasmania) and Wenju Cai (CSIRO) are named 2022 Fellows of the American Geophysical Union.  

 Ian Burnett is incoming DVC STEM at RMIT, starting January. He will move from dean of engineering at UTS.

Leah Heiss wins the 2022 Australian Women in Design Award.

Andrew Lawrence (Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health) is named VP of the International Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism.