There’s more in the Mail

In Features this week Ruth Bridgstock makes the case for the civic university.

Plus, David Myton on data centred teaching, learning and advising.

ANU’s bad news for business

The university finally briefs business partners about the big hack

Last night ANU advised vendors and suppliers that It has discovered that last year, “a sophisticated operator accessed our systems illegally” hacking records over 19 years. This could include financial details supplied to the university. No, it’s not a new data disaster – it’s the university directly emailing business people about the hack first announced to staff two weeks ago, CMM June 9)

Civilisation studies for the way we live now

Monash U will offer a politics, philosophy and economics degree from next year

Monash U joins La Trobe, UWA and ANU in offering PPE degrees, which examine big ideas (generally from thinkers in Europe and the Anglo-sphere) to consider where our economic and social structures came from, where we are now and what’s next. Oxford U, where PPE degrees, started suggests, “PPE was born of the conviction that study of the great modern works of economic, social, political and philosophical thought would have a transformative effect on students’ intellectual lives, and thereby on society at large.”

The Monash degree covers the “big ideas” in PPE, “that have shaped the world and the emerging ideas that seek to alter it.” It includes a study tour, to, “gain first-hand knowledge of the forces shaping the coming century and the diverse philosophical ideas emerging to interpret this change.”

This, says a learned reader, is a superior study of western civilisation. Understanding the achievements and otherwise of the western world’s public culture needs reading from Locke and Hume, Burke and Marx and studying the ideas they put on the eternal agenda. “Reading the Federalist Papers beats Middlemarch,” a learned reader remarks.

Turtle in the dock

James Cook U announces, “a world-first green sea turtle trial.” No, the turtle has not retained the counsel who won for Peter Ridd in his unfair dismissal case against JCU, it’s a  research study of turtle health.

Government readying to ramp-up rules on campus free speech

Amendments to legislation and regulation on the agenda

Education Minister Dan Tehan will consider changes to legislation in-line with recommendations by former chief justice Robert French in his review of campus free speech.

Mr French proposed universities adopt a model code but also substantially suggested amendments to the Higher Education Support Act and the HE Standards, “to distinguish freedom of speech and academic freedom and to define academic freedom by reference to generally accepted elements.”

The Department of Education is advising Mr Tehan on changes to the act and the Higher Education Standards Panel is investigating changes to the wording of the HE Standards Framework.

Changes proposed are believed to be:

* replacing “freedom of intellectual inquiry” with “freedom of speech and academic freedom” in Part A, 6.1.4 of the Standards so it would read,

“the governing body takes steps to develop and maintain an institutional environment in which freedom of speech and academic freedom is upheld and protected …”

* deleting “free intellectual inquiry in its academic endeavours” from Part B, B1.1 of the Standards, so the standard states, “the higher education provider has a clearly articulated higher education process that includes a commitment to and support for freedom of speech and academic freedom.”

Adopting such changes would increase the regulatory authority of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency over how universities manage free speech issues on campus.

News the government is considering legislative intervention follows a story in The Australian newspaper on Tuesday, stating chancellors are in favour of universities adopting the model free speech code, regardless of the views of Universities Australia, which consists of vice chancellors.

Last night Universities Australia CEO Catriona Jackson responded;

“While it would improper to discuss the content of meetings, university leaders and governing bodies are as one in their abiding commitment to freedom of expression and academic freedom. When the minister wrote to universities in April, he urged universities to give full and careful consideration to the 300-page report. And that is what is they are doing. Across the sector, there are at least 100 policies, codes and agreements that support free intellectual inquiry and freedom of speech. Synthesising a proposed model code with this complex array of institutional policies— while complying with laws that govern hate speech, discrimination and defamation— needs careful thought and takes time to do properly.”

The government may have just made the process easier.

What price a good name

Charles Sturt U’s annual report states it spent $487 000 last year on brand strategy and testing – presumably including the proposed name change (to Sturt U), which was abandoned after harrumphing in the heartland.

Unis stay strong in new rankings

The 2020* QS World University Rankings report Australian unis are pretty much where they were last year

Top performers: Seven local institution are in the global top 11, same as last year ANU is = 29 (last year 24), Uni Melbourne 38 (39), Uni Sydney (42) (42), UNSW 43 (45), Uni Queensland 47 (48), Monash U 58 (59) and UWA 86 (91).

Overall US unis account for half the world top 20, with the others being five from the UK, two from Switzerland, the two Singapore unis, and Tsinghau U.

Who’s well up: At the pointy end, where competition is toughest, the University of Adelaide improves eight places to 106, UTS is up 20 to 140, Uni Newcastle lifts seven spots to 207, Uni Wollongong improves six to 212.

Other substantial improvers include Curtin U, which lifts 20 places, to 230 and Deakin U up 38 places to 271. Flinders U is up 54 spots, to 424.

The University of Canberra makes a great leap forward, moving from the 601-650 band, to =484.

But how: QS uses six indicators, ratios of international staff and students, research impact and staff-student ratios. The other two are surveys of 130 000 (mainly) academics and employers.

* apparently it’s a social media metric thing

Setka should go says NTEU

The National Tertiary Education Union wants union leader John Setka to resign

The NTEU says it “supports the statement made by (ACTU secretary) Sally McManus … in relation to Mr Setka.”

Ms McManus has called on Mr Setka, Victorian state secretary of the CFMEU, to resign. She says that if reports are correct that Mr Setka has stated he will plead guilty to charges of harassing a woman via a carriage service, “there is no place for perpetuators of domestic violence in leadership positions in our movement.”

A statement from NTEU federal officers yesterday backed Ms McManus, “the current focus of the media on issues surrounding Mr Setka impacts on the work all unions do towards ending domestic violence, ensuring safety at work, and improving the lives of workers.  It also provides ammunition to those seeking to further limit and constrain unions from properly representing workers.  … (the) NTEU joins other unions in supporting the call made by Sally McManus, in the interests of union members and delegates everywhere.”

NSW budget: not much money but pie in the sky

The government talks up TAFE funding

The big money is $1.85bn for TAFE, up 3.1 per cent. This includes not many new initiatives, a new construction trades TAFE in western Sydney, 100 000 free TAFE (and VET) courses over four years. The government has an answer ready for critics – stating that TAFE receives 80 per cent of skills spending. The per centage is there for a reason – during the federal election campaign, Labor promised it would allocate 60 per cent of national VET outlays to TAFE.

Other outlays include:

* $2.4 million ($8 million over four years) to establish at least another five country university centres across regional New South Wales

* $22.9 million ($47 million over three years) for “upgrading” primary industry research stations across New South Wales

* $12.5 million ($30 million over four years) to co-fund new on-demand clean energy projects with the private sector ($10 million to pilot recycling and re-using materials in solar panels and battery systems

* $15 million over five years for research associated with spinal cord injuries

*12m for a nuclear medicine hub

The government also announces it “will progress formal commercial negotiations” for multinational business and the universities of NSW, Newcastle, and Wollongong, with Western Sydney U, “to establish a presence” at the aerotropolis, to be built at Sydney’s second major airport.

Another space agency lifts-off

The government announces the Australian Research Council, Training Centre for CubeSats, Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles, and their Applications

“The training centre will develop a skilled workforce to grow the local space industry and capitalise on global opportunities,” government senator Arthur Sinodinos says.

CUAVA (which CMM thought was a Cuban rum brand) will be based at the University of Sydney,  nowhere near the new Australian Space Agency in Adelaide.

Appointments, achievements

Kevin Dunn has a 12 month appointment as Western Sydney U PVC R. He moves from dean of social sciences psychology and lead dean, rankings.

Uni Sydney politics professor Simon Tormey is off to the UK to become dean of social sciences and law at Bristol U.