Plus more than a moving U in Western Sydney and fearlessly frank at RMIT

Let’s not go there

GM Holden has donated 11 cars for TAFE students to use in courses. Least the company can do given it will not be hiring manufacturing apprentices.

More than moving the U

The university in western Sydney formally known as the University of Western Sydney has confirmed the well-known news that it will be known as Western Sydney University from the end of the month.

But the rebadging is part of a much bigger plan, “aimed at improving the student experience in the digital age – significantly growing our digital presence – as well as delivering targeted career services and development programs to students,” according to Vice Chancellor Barney Glover. While the university plans to spend $20m over two years over 75 per cent of the outlay is budgeted for comms resources to improve the student experience. According to university VP Angelo Kourtis this includes a new careers development programme for students.

If the existing brand does not deliver on the attributes the university wants to be known for a renaming makes sense. But while there is much more to come, the university’s launch advertisement still sells on community identity, which UWS has always used to position itself in the Sydney education market. However Mr Kourtis says research with university staff and among the wider western Sydney community demonstrated that people think University of Western Sydney is “a mouthful” while Western Sydney U “is more inclusive, people see it as a positive.”

New brands are hard to sell to university communities, which hate change almost as much as they love complaining that management is wasting money. But WSU set itself up for a motza of mockery yesterday by allowing consultants Red Agency to explain the new creative.

“The new brand elevates Western Sydney.  Reordering the word mark and placing Western Sydney at the top of the logo is a symbol of the pride we have in our community and region. The shield is the platform for our typographic ‘W’, which is unique with the curved based referencing the landscape. Colour is one of the more emotive shifts in the brand, changing from blue to red. The deep red as the primary colour is bold, determined and confident. This is partnered with vibrant tones such as fluoro orange to deliver youthfulness and optimism to the brand.”

What works with design devotees will not necessarily sell well on WSU campuses. CMM suspects the university will spend a lot more time explaining the coming spend on student service communications than explaining typography.



Some 80 per cent plus of adults in a Drexel University survey said they had sexted in the last year and nearly 75 per cent said they did so in the context of a committed relationship. Do not try to look at what is on the screen of that smiling stranger sitting next to you now.

What they really think

The main game in higher education reform isn’t in Canberra anymore as vice chancellors across the country decide that in the absence of a money-making market they need to lift productivity and improve student services. There is a push on increasing staff output at the University of Adelaide, a proposed transformation of teaching and learning at Swinburne and at the University of Sydney VC Michael Spence appears intent on reorganising everything.

Change of the day is at RMIT, where new VC Martin Bean is rolling out Shape RMIT, a themed consultation designed to be the basis of a five-year plan.

It’s standard stuff, except that the university actually does seem keen to hear, really hear, what students think. Student union official Clinton Elliott certainly thinks so, here’s his message yesterday urging students to tell management about their experience of the university for the Shape programme; “Parts of RMIT are cringe-worthy. From hunting for assignments on Blackboard, to getting no feedback on any essays before week 8 – there’s always room for improvement. I like to pretend I’m the RMIT poster boy. The truth is my experience at RMIT hasn’t been as great as it should be.”

This may give the marketers conniptions but as a way of demonstrating RMIT is committed to improving the student experience it is hard to beat.

Beer or bong, forsooth

The Sydney Morning Herald ran a story yesterday speculating that William Shakespeare used drugs. It could be true, certainly would have made a change from the 16th century norm of beer for breakfast.

ANU June 3

Not in this case

Opponents of the proposal to split politics and international relations at the University of Adelaide (CMM July 24) have escalated the argument. Some 20 professors in other areas of the arts faculty have written to Vice Chancellor Warren Bebbington, stating they do not oppose all academic restructures, just this one.

“We do acknowledge that invariably academic structures and organisations within any modern university will need to accommodate changes in the nature of scientific knowledge and higher education policy as well as respond to social and economic transformation. These changes will be debated and contested and we have no issue with that. …What concerns us as professors within the Faculty of Arts is that this proposal is aimed at dismantling the academic coherence of a pivotal discipline within the faculty and one with substantial and increasing enrolments,” they write.

Competitive coverage

On Friday James Cook U announced it would teach out a new media journalism degree due to declining demand (CMM yesterday). In the best tradition of reporter rivalry this led Central Queensland U committing to increased circulation, sorry, student places in comms courses. In particular CQU promises to teach more media in JCU’s Townsville and Cairns heartlands. (The local ABC broke the yarn).

Campaigning journalism

Universities Australia new Higher Ed.ition e-newsletter, which launched yesterday, is a thoroughly good thing – the more stalls in the marketplace of policy ideas the better. And there are certainly ample ideas in the first issue, with a bunch of VCs predicting the next big challenge for higher education. ACU VC Greg Craven, a bloke who surely was a (very superior) editor in a previous life, demonstrated how Higher Ed.ition can really put UA on the front page, saying;

“The next really big issue for the sector is going to be the demand driven system. It’s been a wonderful thing, it has opened access, it had opened opportunity it has opened productivity but it is clear that a major debate is now shaping up and that Labor under shadow minister Kim Carr has turned its back on the demand driven system. This will be the battleground for the next 18 months.”

Interesting to see if Universities Aus gives Senator Carr right of reply.

mindhive 2

Airborne again

UoQ’s hypersonics research programme crashed badly in 2013 when a rocket carrying its only scramjet test engine went into the ocean off Iceland (CMM September 23 2013). But the Centre for Hypersonics is back in business, announcing a sub-scale version of a satellite delivery system, using a reusable rocket booster and second stage scramjet, which will fly at Mach10. According to hypersonic propulsion professor Michael Smart the test version will be up before the end of the year.

Universal advice

Consultants Deloitte reports a key higher education challenge; “with rising student expectations and intense competition as students take on a larger financial burden for their studies, students need to invest in infrastructure, teaching and support to attract students.” Yes it is a report for the UK market but the prediction also applies here.