‘Tis the season to be serious

At Uni Sydney the National Tertiary Education Union will hold a festive action tomorrow

There will be, “a little of the usual (speeches and chants) and a whole lotta fun (panto, trivia, bon bons and other Christmas surprises).” At least the comrades don’t class “speeches and chants” as fun.

But they like their frivolity serious at the union, “it’s time to celebrate a year of courageous fighting, but also to tell management, as we head into bargaining next year, that we haven’t given up, we’re not going away, and we will not be silenced.”

Outgoing VC Michael Spence must regret leaving.

Australian Catholic U to exit VET

Australian Catholic U announces its ACU College will accept no new students next year and will teach-out existing courses over 12 months

The college teaches Certificate Three to diplomas including in nursing, education support, early childhood, leadership, and management, first aid and CPR.

According to Provost Zlatko Skrbis, (who becomes VC next month), the college “faced significant competitive, environmental and legislative challenges in the crowded VET market.”

Closing the college allows ACU the opportunity to, “invest directly” in HE programmes and “access and equity initiatives,” “in order to grow and diversify enrolments.”

Presumably this includes the ACU short-courses, micro-credentials and staff professional development to be delivered by Sydney platform-provider OpenLearning, in which ACU has invested $1m, (CMM June 2).

ACU advises 21 staff will be affected across the teach-out period and resulting savings are included in the already announced $42m reduction in staff costs in the university COVID-19 savings plan (CMM November 26).

To which the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union says it will “fully support staff to achieve fair treatment as outlined by the Enterprise Agreement … we also take the opportunity to remind senior management that what is described as a strategic decision has direct and real costs for people – both staff and students.”

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Social-media uni reviews are here to stay. Mahsood Shah (Swinburne U) argues universities must learn to live with, and from, them. It’s Contributing Editor Sally Kift’s final selection for the year in her series on what we need now in teaching and learning.

Michael Tomlinson on why the new higher education provider category standards will make it possible for a range of roses to bloom sweetly

Oh good, another research performance metric

The University Ranking by Academic Performance is out

URAP is produced by people at the Informatics Institute of the Middle East Technical University, in Ankara. The ranking uses Web of Science data for institutions listed in inCite and is based on factors including number of articles, citation and impact.

The results it produces are broadly in-line, certainly at the top-end, with other research-output based rankings. This year’s Australian results are much the same as for the last two. The local top ten is;

Uni Sydney is 24th in the world (24th last year and 26th in 2018), Uni Melbourne – 25th (23rd and 30th), Uni Queensland – 35th (35th and 40th), Monash U – 37th (39th and 53rd), UNSW – 42nd (44th and 60th), UWA – 11th (110th and 106th), ANU – 135th (134th and 130th), Uni Adelaide – 143rd (144th, 157th), Curtin U – 206th (220th, 249th), Griffith U – 245th (264th and 269th).

There’s a bunch right behind them in the global top 300 – QUT – 249th, UTS– 250th, Deakin U – 268th, Uni Wollongong – 282 and Macquarie U – 284th.

Swinburne VC does what she says she would

In not breaking news, there are reports Swinburne U plans to drop teaching world languages

New Vice Chancellor Pascale Quester made it plain this was coming before she started at the university.

“I am going to pare down everything that doesn’t speak to technology or science. Because, do we need to be the 10th university that teaches Chinese or Italian? No… we are the Swinburne University of Technology, we are going to be working with industry and students on creating the technology of the future,” she told the Adelaide Review in July, (CMM July 9).

Two-speed education reform: HE rockets along, not so AQF

Government can do a lot or not much in a year

While legislation looms for the new higher education provider standards there’s not much action on enacting the AQF review.

A learned reader points out tomorrow is the first anniversary of the federal government committing to all recommendations in the review of the Australian Qualifications Framework by Peter Noonan and colleagues.  And then on December 10 last Education Minister Dan Tehan announced the government accepted the recommendations of Peter Coaldrake’s review of higher education provider category standards and would get cracking on consultation. Which was duly done – if the resulting bill does not pass the Senate this week it will as soon as parliament returns

But as for the AQF review, changes based on its findings have not happened. As the learned reader laments; “where is the AQF implementation at?  There is little public evidence it has gone anywhere, there was meant to be an implementation committee.”

Which is a problem; “the AQF Review was seen as critical to both higher education and VET, being foundational to national qualifications and training products, funding and financing, HE/VET boundaries and institutional positioning.”

An adept of the AQF responds that things are happening – that Mr Tehan’s COVID-19 response, six month graduate certificates, are a practical outcome to issues the review addressed, what with the way they “may be used to articulate into an existing qualification at AQF levels five, six or seven.”

But the review put much, much, more on the policy table – where it remains. “The Productivity Commission’s report of the National Skills and Workforce Development Agreement is delayed to be released in early 2021, and it would have been far better placed had the AQF implementation been further advanced,” CMM’s learned reader laments.

“This is highly regrettable as it’s lynchpin to a better integrated tertiary education system and any ‘COVID-crisis’ proffered as reason for lack of progress is a thin excuse.”

Uni Queensland awards for excellence

The ceremony was yesterday afternoon

Innovation: * Aneesha Bakharia (Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation) * Molecular Clamp Vaccine Team
Service: * Lisa Kennedy (Science) * Life Course Centre Professional Team
Community, Diversity and Inclusion: Rhonda Faragher (Education) * Student-Staff Partnerships Team
Mental and Physical Health, Safety and Wellness: * Guinness World Record Mindfulness (Student Life) Team
Leadership: * Jennifer Karlson (PVC Advancement) * Warwick Solar Farm Project Team
Response to COVID-19:  * Andrea Strachan (Student Services) * James Ward (Poche Centre for Indigenous Health) * COVID-19 Data Analytics Team

Appointments, achievements

Laki Kondylas becomes deputy director at RMIT’s Cyber Security Research Centre. Zahir Tari is now research director. Both are at RMIT.

Martyn Pearce becomes comms manager at Science and Technology in January. He joins from ANU’s Crawford School of Public Policy.

 The Victorian Premier’s awards for health and medical research are announced.  Top honour goes Simone Park (Uni Melbourne and Peter Doherty Institute) for her work on local immune protection against cancer and infection. Category winners are, Melissa Lee (Uni Melbourne and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute – clinical research), Xinyang Hua (Uni Melbourne – health services), Jesse Young (Uni Melbourne – public health), Cammi Murrup-Stewart (Monash Uni) who researches understanding young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ experiences of culture and social and emotional wellbeing, identity formation, and the use of Indigenous methodologies in research.