On the improve at Charles Sturt U

Charles Sturt University’s chancellor, Michelle Stuart tells staff that it’s been a tough year, what with dealing with deficits. But implementing the Sustainable Futures programme has put CSU on course for recovery. The chancellor also says (as yet unspecified) positive announcements are imminent–which CSU readers remark, will make for a change.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Madelaine-Marie Judd (Uni Queensland) and colleagues on staff-student partnerships. This week’s selection by Commissioning Editor Sally Kift in her series on what is needed now in teaching and learning,

 Tim Winkler  reports  the embrace of change reported last week’s ReMaking HE conference.

Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on the three roles that ensure learning will always be a human game.

Jeffrey Smart (Lygon Group) proposes a five-step national plan to bring international students

Australians first: PM says international students have to wait

“It’s Australians coming home first,” Morrison announces

Pilot programmes to bring international students to Adelaide, Canberra and Darwin appear off for an indefinite future, following Friday’s National Cabinet meeting.

“The challenges we have in getting Australians home means that the ability to move and take international students back at this time through quarantine arrangements does not present itself. It’s Australians coming home first. That is the Commonwealth policy,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

Mr Morrison said increasing numbers of Australians who want to come home will take-up all quarantine capacity.

And the PM gave no indication when the situation could change, saying “it is very difficult” to say when international students will be allowed in. “There is a queue and Australians are in the front of the queue.”

Mr Morrison also demonstrated why it will be difficult for the international education industry to criticise the Australians-first policy.

“At the end of the day, our universities are there to ensure that they’re providing quality university education to Australians and where there’s the opportunity to do that for international students as part of that business model, that’s fine,” he said.

And then “a gradual return” of internationals next year

Yesterday Education Minister Dan Tehan said the federal government had asked the states and territories for plans by the end of November on how international students can return. “We will continue to work with those governments to see what we can do, particularly, once we get those Australians home safely before Christmas, “ he told Tom Connell on Sky News. Mr Tehan added the Budget injection of $1bn in research funding was because the government knew “the pickup in international students was only going to be gradual into the first half of next year.”

“We understood that it was going to be difficult and very much dependent on what happened with COVID-19, especially internationally,” he said.

Internationals have message already, warns Dirk Mulder

The Bangkok Post and Straits Times were quick to report Mr Morrison’s announcement and it is bad news for the sector.

Australia has worked very hard at placing itself in the top tier of health outcomes countries globally and many in the sector believe this should be a competitive advantage against other countries. An advantage that clearly the feds are not taking advantage and it is being noticed.

The Darwin pilot return of 70 odd students was due to take place in two weeks-time. Whilst this is a step in the right direction much more is required for the sector to respond to global demand, something CMM reported on 22 October. UTS Deputy Vice Chancellor Iain Watt appears to agree with CMM’s assertion going on record last week, saying “a series of small scale pilots to return a few thousand students across the country would not make a dent in the loss of 300,000.”

So… it seems the sector still has a lot in front of it if it is indeed going to start opening up and reversing the headlines of last week.

Dirk Mulder is CMM’s international education correspondent

Leadership loss for Uni Queensland

The university is about to be short a chief operating officer with Greg Pringle leaving next month

VC Deborah Terry acknowledges his achievements over five years including moving the university toward self-sufficiency in electricity consumption and helping make possible the switch to work and study on-line during COVID-19. There is no word yet on an acting COO while the university recruits.

Even pre pandemic new grads were taking an employment hit

Full-time employment of recent UG degree grads was 68.7 per cent across November ’19-May 200, the second lowest rate reported in QILT. But graduation satisfaction was up

Employment of recent graduates declined in the year to May, due to “a weakening of the labour market” predating the pandemic, plus its impact,” the excellent Social Research Centre reports in its new  Short-term graduate outcomes paper in Australia  for the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching programme.

Grads from universities across the country suffered falls in FT employment, in-line with labour market conditions, however there were small year on year improvements at Uni Southern Queensland, UNE and Southern Cross U. The QILT report points out that grads from regional universities tend to be older, plus studying externally and part-time thus having, “a continuing connection with the labour market.”

While graduates in the generality of vocational degrees were not hit hard by the early stage of the pandemic, people in services industries were. FT work year on year for comms graduates was done 7.3 per cent (to 52.8 per cent) in May. However, grads in high-status professions exposed to the pandemic and related economic decline also took a hit, with architecture/built environment FT employment 6.8 per cent lower and dentistry down 6.2 per cent.

While the survey only covers the first few months of UG remote teaching, perhaps the best news is that, “notwithstanding the downturn in undergraduate employment, undergraduates’ satisfaction with their studies increased across all measures in 2020.”

Win for Edith Cowan comms students

An Edith Cowan U team wins the International Advertising Association’s Big Idea Competition for 2020

The long-running annual event involves marketing-comms students pitching to a brief from a real-world client. This year it was ANZ, which wants a financial product for young people (CMM November 5).

At Macquarie U, some jobs are going but others arrive

There are more details on departures, and arrivals, as the admin staffing restructure rolls-on  

 The Professional Services Transformation brings changes in IT, Finance and Learning and Teaching.

Nicole Gower, VP Services, tells staff, the proposed model for Finance, “is designed to provide better professional staff career pathways through implementation of a finance competency model, standardised job descriptions and new organisational structure.” Some 14 VR applications are accepted and another 39 positions are abolished. People “impacted” will get first-go at the new 33 jobs in the portfolio.

Management proposes centralising IT Services, “which will contribute to the on-going financial sustainability of the university.” There are 33 VR applications accepted, with 20 other positions to go. The 20 have first crack at 23 new jobs to be created.

Changes in the PVC Learning and Teaching portfolio are as CMM reported Friday, 20 VRs, ten more positions to go and 24 new positions.

Perhaps these changes are part of a process, independent of any immediate response to COVID-19, to address what VC S Bruce Dowton calls, the nature of our often highly devolved and locally idiosyncratic way” of delivering admin services, (CMM November 4).


Discovery Grants announced (but not all revealed)

On Friday afternoon Minister Tehan released the 2021 Discovery Grants round, with $255m being shared by 591 projects

The education minister also announced $26m for 60 research programmes under the Linkage Scheme.

Later Friday the Australian Research Council released a list of all the awards so far, which is useful for people who want to look up specific projects but not for anybody interested to know how all institutions, states and disciplines fared.

The reason there are just two lists is that the Minister has reserved decisions on 18 grants, “pending further advice to the ARC from security agencies.”

Perhaps this includes ones will come up in the new inquiry on foreign interference on campus being undertaken by the parliamentary intel committee – just probably not publicly.

The ARC says it will provide numbers on success rates by state, institution and discipline, “once all projects funded under this scheme are announced.”

So why not wait to then for a complete announcement? Perhaps because the Senate specifies how long the minister can wait before announcing grants after the ARC sends recommendations and time could have been up.

Appointments, achievements

Atmospheric scientist Greg Ayers is new chair of the ANU-located National Computational Infrastructure Advisory Board, replacing Michael Barber.

The Hunter Medical Research Institute announces its 2020 awards. Research excellence, Nick Talley. Mid-career researcher, Tracy Burrows. Early career, Andrew Gardner. All from Uni Newcastle.

Kelvin Kong (Uni Newcastle) wins the Menzies School of Health Research’s Medallion, “for his leadership in Aboriginal health service delivery, advocacy and research.”

Peter Leggat (James Cook U) is “formally recognised” as the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene’s Distinguished International Fellow.

Simon Lucey is appointed co-director of the Australian Institute of Machine Learning at Uni Adelaide. He moves from major AI research centre, Carnegie Mellon U. Prior to Pittsburgh he was at CSIRO.

Enrico Palermo (COO Virgin Galactic) will become head of the Australian Space Agency next month. He will replace Megan Clark who moves to chair the agency’s advisory board.