Unknown unknowns

DFAT is funding a project to learn what we need to know about China 

“Australia’s capacity to engage effectively with China relies on robust, up-to-date and independent information,” says Christina Parolin from the Australian Academy of the Humanities, which has carriage of the $150 000 investigation.

“This project will survey our research and training capacity to effectively engage with, and understand the needs of, all the key stakeholders,” she says.

Maybe it will ask academics who teach Chinese languages, but fear for their jobs, (morning all at Swinburne U (CMM February 22).

AAH won the funding in a DFAT competitive grant round.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

 Pru Mitchell (ACER) on the great Australian open access resource for leaning and teaching and how to make it greater. New this week in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s CMM series, “Needed now in teaching and learning.”

John Howard (UTS) argues Commonwealth governments have failed to provide leadership and Australia needs an independent agency to do it. “

Plus  Merlin Crossley, Claire Field (CMM yesterday) and Robin Shreeve on micro-credentials: on or off campuses (and if on, which ones)

And the future for campuses is digital first. Curated content from CISCO and OPTUS.


All politics is local

Dave Sharma (Lib-UNSW) is nice about UNSW VC Ian Jacobs in the House of Reps, yesterday

 I commend him for his stewardship of that institution over the last several years. I know running a university, being the vice-chancellor of a university, is not an easy role. I want to acknowledge Ian Jacobs’s service to the University of New South Wales and to Australia more broadly and wish him well for his future and his return to the United Kingdom.”

There is a small UNSW campus in Mr Sharma’s seat of Wentworth with the main one adjacent. But what, pray, did it have to do with the free speech on campus bill, being debated?

A bit. Mr Sharma mentioned that UNSW “is also undertaking work in this area.” In fact, UNSW got very cross when then education minister Dan Tehan named it as “not-aligned” with the Robert French model code of campus free-speech. UNSW responded its policies and procedures went further than those required (CMM December 9).

Selling to international students: working with what there is

Adelaide’s smart strategy


Study Adelaide has added a new “our international students” section to its website, which might seem simple but is very smart.

The site emphasises the impact internationals have on SA communities;

* 50 per cent of the state’s 1.2bn international visitor expenditure (when there was such a thing) related to international students

* they could generate 9,000 new jobs by the end of the decade

* international education replaced wine as the state’s top export earner in 2019 (which, given the state of both, makes CMM wonder what number three is).

But Study Adelaide also makes the needed point that there is more to international education than the economy, that students from 130 countries change Australia for the better (37 per cent of internationals volunteer in the community) and become a source of soft power.

Everybody in the sector knows this but those outside won’t get it unless they hear it again and again. And after a year of warnings that the industry is in crisis the business case is clearly not getting through.

Smart Study Adelaide. Let’s see which other cities are clever enough to follow.

Dirk Mulder is CMM’s international education correspondent

 Short courses to keep Brand Australia out there

The feds announce an expansion of “Study with Australia” a collection of on-line short courses, launched as the international education industry’s pandemic-panic kicked in last year, (CMM April 24 2020).

The product is a JV between MOOC provider Future Learn and Austrade.  There are now 57 courses listed from 14 universities plus three private providers – including an impressively market-specific course on drone safety in Latin America, from the Institute of Drone Technology.

The government is silent on funding for the project.

CRC budget bid: more of the same please

The Cooperative Research Centre Association has not joined the translational research funding pile-on in its budget submission (CMM Feb 23).

Understandably so, given CRCs are already expert at applying research to practical problems.

Instead the CRCA asks for more from the same-old sources; proposing a 20 per cent premium in the Research and Development Tax Incentive for industry collaboration with research institutes and an extra $50m a year across the forward estimates, to “return the programme to its long-run average level of funding and capacity for economic impact.”

This, the Association advises, would fund two additional CRCs a year, or one CRC and up to eight CRC Ps (the three-year version focused on a specific industry problem).

Translating research into cash

But what, you ask (oh, go on) are the chances of a new $2.8bn bucket to fund taking science to the market? Last year they looked good. In the 2020 budget there was $5.8m for a scoping study of a “university research commercialisation scheme.”

But for this budget, maybe, maybe not.

CMM asked how the study was progressing and the Department of Education, Skills and Employment replied, “an expert panel will develop options for the establishment of this scheme and provide them to the minister later this year.”

There’s way more 2021 after the budget than before.

Listen up Gongers

The new VC likes on-line

“On-line learning will allow us to bring more people in, give more people skills. People need to move beyond the value judgement that on-line education is inferior or a quick fix.” Patricia Davidson, Dean of Nursing at Johns Hopkins U and Uni Wollongong VC as of May says in a Future Learn brief.

Her school also offers open access, on-line micro-courses on COVID 19, (CMM February 17).

Australian Awards for University Teaching announced

The teacher of the year is multimedia whiz microbiologist Jack Wang from Uni Queensland

“Embracing life-long learning is something I instil in all my students. My teaching practise embraces technology and much like microbiology, is constantly evolving and adapting. I am always learning new skills in on-line communication and multi-media production and am focused on reaching as many students as I can,” he says.

Other awards go to:

CQU: Michael Cowling (teaching award)

Deakin U: John White, Raylene Cook, Mike Weston (graduates ready for conservation emergencies)

Edith Cowan U: Elle Banks, Rachelle Rechichi, Rita Barbour, Lyn Farrell (regional learning hubs)

Macquarie U: Matt Bower (teaching award)

Uni Queensland: Jack Wang (teaching award)

Uni SA:  The late (and much missed) Tracey Bretag (lifetime achievement)

UTS: Amanda White (teaching award)

Uni Wollongong: Amy Thompson, Kylie Austin, Holly Tupper, Sian Hulland, Jade Andrews, Jenna Thom, Ingrid Ferguson (co-curricular recognition framework)

Victoria U: Andrew Smallridge, John Weldon, Maxwell Winchester, Loretta Konjarski, Kathy Tangalakis, Alan McWilliams, Tom Clark, Puspha Sinnayah (block teaching model)