Sharing how much wealth

Union members at Uni Sydney will strike today over, among other things, a pay rise

Which made Monday not great for the university’s 2021 annual report to be tabled in state parliament, (scroll down).

“As we work to finalise our ten-year strategy, we are determining how we can better recognise and reward our staff for the critical role they play” VC Mark Scott told staff yesterday. The thumping great surplus (scroll down) will undoubtedly give people ideas.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Adrian Cardinali on student silence in the election and why they have been denied a voice for too long.

plus Stephen Parker (Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education) on the Shakespearean future for universities.

with Sarah Lambert (Deakin U) on the why and how of replacing dated, print textbooks. This week’s selection in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed know in teaching and learning.

and Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on the magic of the in-person conference. “Their value is being sensed by all those who are again coming together at these meetings. I predict that many conferences will simply snap back to their pre-COVID formats.”

A queue at Dr Ryan’s door

Monique Ryan will need a time-expanding diaries if she wants to accommodate all the science and medicine lobbies who will want to meet her

Yesterday the new, Independent member for Kooyong tweeted a chart showing the GDP share of research over time in physical, medical, natural sciences. “Our scientific and medical researchers are among the best and brightest in the world. Our government’s funding of them lacks vision, transparency and integrity. I will fight for science and progress” the former director of neurology at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital stated.

The engineering deans might want a word as well, to explain how they too are underfunded – the chart showed their disciple receiving twice that of sciences and medicine.

Author inflation

Jason Priem (OurResearch_org) points to a new physics paper (sorry, that’s as much as CMM understands from the title) with 8778 authors

Lead author, at least alphabetically, is Georges Aad from the Centre de Physique des Particules de Marseille.

“Good lord, not the Georges Aad who led the 5100 author list on a 2015 paper on the Higgs Bosun in Physical Review Letters?” you ask (CMM May 20 2015). That’s the one.

Colin Simpson’s ed tech must-reads of the week

Why is my lecturer a robot now? Using AI-assisted technology to teach from Teaching@Sydney

Some of my recent must-reads about the potential impact of Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education might have painted a picture of a looming academic integrity quagmire. There is a far brighter side though to be seen in this post from Anna Boucher, a politics lecturer at Uni Sydney. AI-assisted voice technology is helping to mitigate a voice disability that makes it painful for her to speak for prolonged periods. The possibilities for greater equity for both staff and students are exciting.


So you want to create an online class independent of a school from Bryan Alexander

There can be any number of reasons to want to create opportunities for on-line learning away from organisational systems. Ed tech futurist Bryan Alexander recently posed the question of how to DIY this and this post summarises the wide range of suggestions that he received from the community.


The market fall of EdTech will have non-financial impacts from Phil on EdTech

Noam Chomsky once said that the best way to understand the world was to read the business pages. This post from Phil On EdTech describes the notable downward trend in many EdTech companies over the last year. I’m far from a financial analyst but I would have to wonder whether there was an artificial spike in valuations during the pandemic when online learning was everywhere. What we need to think about is what impact potential sell-offs and mergers of the companies behind the tools we use might have.


Rubric for eLearning Tool Evaluation from Western University Canada

The diversity of education technologies in the market and wild claims that some vendors make can make it challenging to know which tools to adopt in your institution. There are many factors to be considered in an evaluation process and this guide from Western University offers some straightforward ways to consider some of the most significant from a learning and teaching perspective. It doesn’t cover everything that your IT dept will need but it makes a strong start.


Preparing proposals for ASCILITE 2022 – Webinar Thursday 26/5

The call for papers for ASCILITE 2022 has been made and all around Australasia people with an interest in Technology Enhanced Learning are starting to consider what to work on. This webinar from ASCILITE’s TELedvisors Network brings together conference organisers and the authors of the best paper award winner last year to offer some insights and inspiration. There will also be time for people to discuss ideas and find collaborators.


Colin Simpson has worked in education technology, teaching, learning design and academic development in the tertiary sector since 2003 and is employed by Monash University’s Education Innovation team. He is also one of the leaders of the TELedvisors Network. For more from Colin, follow him on Twitter @gamerlearner

What HASS wants: a seat at the policy table

Among all the lobbies whose agendas come with a cost, peak humanities groups want something more valuable from the new government – respect

The Australian Academy of the Humanities states, “the government’s ambitious agenda will need the humanities at the table, bringing the cultural, creative and ethical expertise Australia needs more than ever (via Twitter yesterday).

To which the Australasian Council of Deans of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, “lends its voice … we are looking forward to real change in coming months and years for our sector.” (also Twitter, yesterday).

DASSH specifies three areas where it wants change.

* the previous government’s Research Commercialisation Action Plan (“a comprehensive set of reforms to boost collaboration between universities and industry and drive commercial returns”), which rather leave HASS out.

*  the Jobs Ready Graduate Package (presumably the bit that jacked up student charges to $14 000 a year for HASS and bized, while reducing nursing, teaching, maths and psych to $3500

* new arrangements at the Australian Research Council, which include no humanities members on the recently created CEO advisory committee and no repeat of December’s ministerial veto of funding for six ARC recommended HASS research projects

While the first two involve exclusion from funding overall the deans apparent primary concern is with what DASSH has described as the then government’s “continued disregard for important areas of Australia’s intellectual culture and life,” (CMM January 24).

The deans want it to end. Thus DASSH chair Catharine Colebourne (Uni Newcastle) issued a statement to “leaders and members” of the new parliament, yesterday, “without arts, humanities and social sciences research we would not be using languages to build peace and diplomacy in our region, or have our current social institutions forging democracy. We would have little shared conceptual knowledge of our nation’s ancient histories and Indigenous cultures.”

Given the calculated contempt ministers in the previous government displayed to the humanities, supportive statements by in-coming minister Tanya Plibersek would help assuage anxiety – at no budget cost.

Buckets of money at big Sydney unis

The 2021 annual reports for three NSW public universities reveal big earnings

The University of Sydney had an operating surplus of $1.04bn last year. However the university states this figure includes “quarantined items that cannot be spent on day-to-day items.”

The “underlying margin” was $453m, up by $400m on 2020.

Operating revenue was $3.53bn up 35 per cent, expenses were 2 per cent down, to $2.48bn.

A major source in income growth was international student income, up $249m to $1.354bn.

UNSW reports total earnings of $2.52bn and expenses of $2.21bn. Reduced staff costs, down $143m, to $1.19bn, made a significant contribution to an after tax net result of $305m, up from a 2020 loss of $19.2m However after restricted earnings and “non-core” operating losses, the university’s underlying result was $61m, compared to a nearly $64m loss in 2020.

Total UTS income last year was $1.19bn, up from $1.13bn in 2020. Expenses were down nearly $100m, from $1.18bn to $1.08bn, including a near $80m drop in staff costs, to $634m.

The overall operating result was $122m, up from $43 in 2020. However UTS adds that the underlying surplus was $29m, with $93million related to the university’s investment in international student business Education Australia.

More uni results to tomorrow


Tania Bezzobs will become UTS research director in August. She will move from ED, research at Swinburne U.

Natalie Taylor is appointed research director for UNSW’s School of Population Health.