Dr Who at UoQ

In fact, there are sightings of the Tardis at the University of Queensland (CMM yesterday). Comms whiz Katie Rowney sent CMM a pic of her next to the police call box, parked in a loading zone. Curiously, her message came from an edu.gallifrey email address.

Victoria U extends transformative first-year model to all students

In a move it says will, “reconceptualise tertiary education in the twenty-first century,”

Victoria University is to roll-out its block-teaching model to all undergraduate years and postgraduate coursework degrees by 2020.

The model, introduced for commencing students this year, presents units one at a time, taught in-depth over four weeks. Vice Chancellor VC Peter Dawkins describes the plan as “one of the biggest student-centred, staff-led and community integrated transformation programs ever undertaken in higher education in Australia.”

VU says the decision is based on the block-focus approach’s success with 2018’s first-year class. While assessment standards are unchanged, pass rates are up from 72% last year to 90% in block 1 of 2018 and 85% in block 2.

The new approach also relies on “access to academics with an education focus who have the right skills and abilities to support students’ needs best,” (CMM March 13 2017).

The original intent of the new model was to help VU commencing students who were unfamiliar with study and struggled with conventional semester-long subjects. “Block timetable enables students to accelerate their learning, resulting in earlier graduations if desired, slow down their learning because of other life events, or spread their study across the whole year, dipping in and out as necessary, to better combine study, work and lifestyle,” VU claims.

Appointments and achievements

UniAdelaide has a new executive dean of the science faculty. Cell biologist Keith Jones moves from the University of Southampton. He last worked in Australia at the University of Newcastle in 2008-2012.

Hugh Durrant-Whyte succeeds Mary O’Kane as NSW chief scientist and engineer. The robotics, data science and general digital wizardry expert moves from chief scientist at the UK Ministry of Defence

Australia’s nominee for the APEC science prize is RMIT’s Madhu Bhaskaran. She researches stretchable electronics and sensors.

Imminent industrial action at CDU

Charles Darwin U union members will vote on taking protected industrial action next month, probably after Monday’s meeting of management and the National Tertiary Education Union. The comrades complain CDU is offering a 1.4 per cent per annum rise under the new agreement.

ANU asserts national leadership in new undergraduate entry scheme

ANU has a new undergraduate entry system for students to use to apply for a study place, campus accommodation and scholarships.  And the university asserts it is acting on its authority as a national leader in championing education opportunity.

“Democracy means decision by the people, and it is the purpose of education to help people to make the best possible decisions that they can about their country … Being the national university means giving students support and encouragement from their very first encounter with tertiary education: admissions,” says DVC A Marnie Hughes Warrington, quoting a 1946 parliamentary speech on the university’s founding legislation.

The university will also adopt a national approach to recruiting and “reach out to the top students in every school in Australia who meet our minimum admissions standards.

“Not all students will want to study with us, but it is the role of the national university to affirm the value of tertiary education—vocational and university—whether it is with a local institution or one far away.”

Professor Hughes Warrington commits ANU to:

* “a single, free platform” for study, accommodation and scholarships

* responding to applicants in the July prior to their intended first academic year

* continuing the use of “transparently published ATARS” with senior school maths and English mandatory for entry by 2023

* “asking students to tell us about their contribution to family, school or community” through a “published, minimum threshold co-curriculum schedule”

Education is pivotal to democracy. It is the means by which communities, big and small, near or far, can become even stronger. We need to be a strong voice for that, and to show by our actions that students and their families are a key part in building a stronger Australia,” Professor Hughes Warrington says.

Word is that ANU will not withdraw from the NSW/ACT Universities Admission Centre process. However, establishing its own national process appears to address ANU’s 2016 experience, when it complained that state admission centres were not inclined to give ANU equal billing with local universities, (CMM, April 13 2016).

Details from Professor Hughes Warrington here.

Free-trade talk on unis expanding into Indonesian

The next round of officials-level talks on an Indonesia-Australia trade agreement is set for August, encouraging optimists to wonder which university would get the nod if a deal extended to higher education.  Expert opinion suggests the two most likely to want to set up in Indonesia are Monash U and RMIT. Monash U hosts the Australia-Indonesia Centre and when its vice chancellor Margaret Gardener ran RMIT she was keen on expanding into Indonesia.

So keen, that RMIT is still seen as being best-placed, with good connections and the voced-cred Indonesia values. Whether Jakarta wants to expand the national skills base enough to drop the ban on international education institutions sending profits out of the country might be answered in the next talks, unless it isn’t.

Overstated utilities

The University of Canberra “has implemented an organic waste trial” which appears to consist of labelled wheelie bins. It follows Swinburne U’s celebrated 2012 “water refill and drinking station,” which was a tap on a plastic stand.

West ward at VU

Victoria U has two new “high-tech simulated settings” for nursing, midwifery and paramed students, which feature “computerised mannequins that have blinking eyes, breathing chests, bleeding arteries, and grumbling bowels.”

“They can reproduce all the conditions of a real patient, delivering a baby, having a heart attack, or dying from a life-threatening injury,” VU announces.

According to VU Health Simulation Director Dr Karen Livesay, “simulated learning allows students to use new technology and repeatedly practise techniques with increased levels of difficulty in a safe and supportive setting.”

All good, apart freaking-out students who watch  Westworld.

ECU plan to expand with high standards

Edith Cowan U has hired business development banker Phillip Holley to lead growth strategy and customer experience. The university’s 2017 strategic plan specifies increasing EFTs from 18 200 to 22 000 by 2021 and increasing international student fee income from $85m in 2016 to $115m over five years. The brief looks less like getting better at student support than growing numbers while maintaining existing satisfaction, ECU rates fourth nationally in this year’s Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching for overall undergraduate experience.