VC’s acclaim new leader

Their Serenities convened at QUT yesterday and confirmed David Lloyd (VC Uni SA) as the new chair of Universities Australia.

UA staff are advised to brush up on popular culture references – so they have a clue what he is talking about (CMM May 17).

There’s (a bunch) more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Sean Brawley and Uni Wollongong colleagues on why the university elevated academic quality assurance, “it has evolved from an emphasis on checking to supporting academics with information, processes and systems,” they explain HERE

Kevin Ashford-Rowe (QUT) on meeting the micro-credentials teaching challenge. New in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in learning and teaching

Peter Woelert (Uni Melbourne) laments the assembly-line approach to research publishing – more is not better

with Joseph Crawford  (U Tas) making the case for open access in the scholarship of teaching and learning. Another Sally selection.

Paying for student placements

 “the essential worker shortage starts with unpaid internships,” Unions NSW warns

The peak body points to requirements in teaching and nursing courses, which cost students $20 000, at the minimum wage rate. Paying students national base pay, “would attract more students, reduce burnout and boost retention,” they argue.

Alas, the Fair Work Ombudsman advises, “placements that meet the definition of a vocational placement under the FW Act are lawfully unpaid.”

But surely there are ways to fix this – as in Canada, where the University of Waterloo organises paid placements for students. Claire Field wrote about this in CMM yesterday, HERE.


Assessing research if ERA is over: ideas from the ARC review team

“the sector certainly still needs a trusted assessment mechanism; it just needs a more sophisticated and better targeted one”

Margaret  Sheil and colleagues recommend the end of the two research evaluation exercises in their review of the Australian Research Council Act.

In Features this morning they set out how the ARC can do the job – HERE

“The nation’s research evaluation need today is not for a labour-intensive, retrospective, comprehensive research assessment exercise,” they argue.

“Instead, we need a combination of a tailored quality assessment function aligned to research provider standards; a rigorous, prospective gap-and-opportunity analytic function, to ensure Australian research is pressing our advantages and addressing our shortcomings in research for national competitiveness; and a survey function that reports back the myriad of benefits enabled by the research, to the community that funds and sustains it.”

Dilemma for education deans

If they fear their faculties will take the fall for everything that is wrong in schools –they may well be right.  Problem is, there may not be much they can do about it

Mary Ryan (NSW Deans Council and ACU)  was out yesterday responding to calls for more in-classroom time for trainee teachers, saying, “we would whole-heartedly welcome professional service reform.” But she warned, “the costs to ITE providers in paying university and school-based placement supervisors and improved digital solutions to support professional placements also needed to be addressed.”

Good-o but  “more resources are needed” may not protect initial teacher educators who are in the frame for failures in teaching how to teach.

As Education Minister Jason Clare points out, and then points out again, “if you ask most teachers, they will tell you that when they first became a teacher, they didn’t feel prepared for the classroom. That the prac they got when they were at uni wasn’t up to scratch,” (CMM March 23 and May 26).

And the review of ITE by Mark Scott (Uni Sydney) and colleagues is up for discussion at July’s education MINCO – one of their proposals is public performance measures of ITE courses, “to increase accountability and inform student choice.”

Whatever is really (and imagined) wrong with schooling isn’t all the fault of teacher education courses – but years of criticism has put that idea firmly on the agenda. And what state minister of education would want to argue? It’s way safer than blaming teachers or parents.

Still, it could be worse. Coalition education  minister Alan Tudge disliked ITE courses so much that he threatened funding if education academics did not teach their students classroom methods he approved of (CMM October 25, November 26 2021).

NSW 2022 annual reports – there’s Uni Sydney and everybody else

2022 reports tabled in state parliament were set in circumstances similar to those of other states  – revenue down after 2021’s not to be repeated COVID-emergency funding from the Feds, strong investments and one-off gains from the previously unis-owned IDP sale

Charles Sturt U: recorded a 2022 net deficit from continuing operations of $60m in calendar ’22 – compared to a net surplus of $143m in ’21. It attributes the ’22 result to factors ranging from the war in the Ukraine, through higher interest rates to, “the lack of a significant international cohort and a static domestic student cohort

Macquarie U: consolidated income was down $40m on ’21, to $1.46bn, while expenses increased $60m, for an overall loss of $36m.

Southern Cross U: consolidated income was all but unchanged year on year, at $281m, while expenses were up $25m, for a net loss of $6.7m; marginally better on ’21. The financial statements “tell(s) a story of the on-going after-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact of a changed and not wholly felicitous funding environment, Chancellor Sandra McPhee and VC Tyrone Carlin state.

Uni Newcastle: university (ex subsidiaries) income was nearly $100m down on ’21 – with expenses up, the net result was a $38m loss, compared to a $182m surplus the previous year. Chancellor Paul Jeans and VC Alex Zelinsky point to, “high inflation, rising interest rates and low unemployment. “ “The impact of these economic factors, volatile share market conditions, recovery from the COVID pandemic and rising costs placed stress on the university business model,” they write.

Uni New England: the consolidated net result for ’22 was an $18m loss, compared to $102m positive in 2021.

UNSW: revenue was down nearly $200m for a consolidated net loss after tax of $168m – a thumping $470m deterioration on the previous year (21: a $305m positive). However the result is better on the university’s preferred underlying results measure – a $118m loss in 2022 compared to a $61m surplus in ’21.

Uni Sydney: Presumably not wanting to appear boastful, Uni Sydney announced its headline financials weeks ago – a headline operating surplus of $298m (CMM May 12). Although Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson, does state in yesterday’s report, “despite ongoing headwinds, the university again finished the year in a remarkably good position.”

UTS:  reports a ’22 operating loss of $53m, compared to a $121m surplus in ’21 – excluding the university IDP share sale the surplus for that year was $29m.

The university states it is “now experiencing a high inflation and supply-constrained environment, putting significant pressure on salary and operating costs,” plus there are still aftershocks of Covid.  It anticipates operating losses this years and next, before a return to surplus in 2025.

Uni Wollongong: 2022 income was $767m, down 6 per cent on ’21 with a headline operating loss of $28m, compared to $8m. The 2022 actual result was worse than budget, due to increased leave liability, growth in recruitment and marketing, software and computer related expenses and “additional cost for early repayment of borrowings.”

Western Sydney U: took a hit on income from continuing operations (down $44m on ’21 to $871m) but contained expenses, which were largely unchanged, at $882m. The result was a $10m loss (down from a positive $143m in ‘21)

Appointments, achievements

Matthew Bailes (Swinburne U) is an equal winner of the Shaw Prize for astronomy from the Hong Kong Laureate Forum.

Graeme Cumming becomes Premier’s Science Fellow at Uni WA’s Oceans Institute. He moves from James Cook U.