A better day

ANU postpones installing Julie Bishop as chancellor

Due to the impact of ongoing extreme weather events including extensive bushfires, significant damage to campus infrastructure from recent hailstorms, and now the challenge facing the university from the coronavirus outbreak and managing overseas students, we have decided to postpone the event,” VC Brian Schmidt tells staff.

Things are bound to improve at ANU – the four riders of the apocalypse would not dare stare at the unflappable former foreign minister.

It could happen here – and then it did

“Universities should assess their student market concentration risk where they rely heavily on students from a single country of origin. This increases their sensitivity to economic or political changes in that country,” the NSW Audit Office suggests attention to the bleeding obvious, (CMM, June 12 2018).

“The universities that are most dependent on revenue from students from those countries are at risk if demand shifts unexpectedly because of changes in political policy, economic conditions or visa requirements,” NSW Audit Office points out universities are over-reliant on fee-income from Chinese, Indian and Nepalese students, (CMM June 3 2019).

Big budget bid for education investment

The university staff union wants 1 per cent of GDP for higher education

The National Tertiary Education Union’s budget submission argues that existing funding arrangements are “totally unsustainable” and that increased spending is needed to;

* eliminate fees for local undergraduates

* increase funding for Commonwealth Supported Places by 10 per cent

* address inadequate support for research and research training

* increase participation of students from equity groups

The union also renews its call for an independent agency with “statutory planning and funding responsibilities” to negotiate/administer performance agreements with each university and oversight the system.

MOOC of the morning

Is “Plagues, Pestilence and Pandemics,” from Griffith U (via Future Learn). Peta-Anne Zimmerman and Thea van de Mortel will explain, “the science of infection and the spread of infectious diseases, identifying how microorganisms spread and manifest in the body.” It starts on February 17th.

Academic power of emotional intelligence

Carolyn MacCann (Uni Sydney) and colleagues found a “small to moderate association” between measures of emotional intelligence among students and academic performance. Advocates of the ATAR in teacher education tale note

Not all EI skills have the same impact, but they conclude;

EI training programs are likely to increase academic performance as well as social and emotional outcomes, such that education decision makers and policymakers are not faced with a decision of whether to invest in social/emotional wellbeing at the expense of student achievement— evidence suggests that these programs likely do both. This is a critical piece of information for schools deciding where to best allocate their resources.”

It should also interest state education ministers who want teacher education students to have alpha ATARs.  People strong in EI may be best suited to teach the skills they are good at.

Carolyn MacCann et al, “Emotional Intelligence Predicts Academic Performance: A Meta-Analysis,” Psychological Bulletin, 146 (2) 2020, 150-186

Charles Darwin U’s good idea, shame about the timing

The university announces its international pathway college will open in March

“I have been very clear that prospects for the university’s future growth rest in the short-to-medium term with the international student market,” VC Simon Maddocks says.  “CDU is geographically closer than any other Australian university to key international student markets.” Note, “markets.” Wisely-put with China-demand uncertain for who knows how long.

UWA backs Berndt

UWA’s Berndt Museum of Anthropology announces an exhibition of 90 boomerangs from its collection, celebrating its, “often under-recognised diversity as an emblem, exploring the object’s many forms, uses and meanings.”

It is set to run until June 27 – which should cheer up friends of the museum.

Last year there were concerns on campus that it could follow the university press which is to close (CMM November 15). However, UWA describes the Berndt Museum as “one of the most significant collections of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural material in the world.” And late last year outgoing VC Dawn Freshwater talked of “ensuring that the university’s extensive and anthropologically significant collections are more open and accessible.” Perhaps the new exhibition is one way to do it.

There’s a way to a WIL

The Innovative Research Universities organisation has released an open-access collection on work integrated learning.

Content was curated by previous IRU VC Fellow Amani Bell, now at the University of Sydney.

The site is organised into support for students in general and specifically internationals, university staff, and workplace supervisors.

UNSW digs in

The university announces a four-year partnership with the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

It will “showcase the university as a leader in resources education on the world stage,” and “encourage a path into one of Australia’s most critical sectors for domestic and international students alike.”

Not all universities are as keen to be seen with miners as UNSW. Last month the University of Wollongong dropped a coal mining conference, which it had hosted since 1998. (CMM January 23).


Terry Hughes, (James Cook U) is joint-winner of a BBVA Foundation award for coral reef studies. BBVA is a Spanish bank.