It’s all over for Open Day

Last year Tim Winkler went to 17 virtual Open Days and found  not much to like. This year he calls time on open days as they are

In Features this morning he makes the case that the same-old OD does not deliver, “it’s time to let secondary schools in on the fact that open days might have to die, and establish a dialogue about what’s next and what can be better,” he writes.

“It’s time to start creating opportunities for non-school leavers to engage without feeling like they have to pretend to be 18 again.”

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Angel Calderon (RMIT) on this year’s Good Universities Guide ranking – the institutions that do well, the way the metrics work and the GUG’s enduring achievement.

Plus, James Guthrie (Macquarie U) digs into the UTS annual report to discover how the big building programme was funded – but not how many jobs COVID-19 has cost.

And Merlin Crossley (UNSW) explains how science would have found other ways to fight COVID-19 without vaccines. It is what a “high-quality knowledge agenda” makes possible.

With an oped a bunch of uni marketers need to read. Jason Brown and Peter McIlveen suggest measuring student and graduate experience of study is important to quality assurance but are no measure of employment outcomes. This week’s addition to Contributing Editor Sally Kift‘s celebrated series, Needed Now in Teaching and Learning.

What works for teachers

“There is a lot of talk in education about gathering and using evidence to inform practice,” the Australian Education Research Organisation states

So AERO is surveying teachers to find out what they use.

AERO asks about the effectiveness of data, advice from colleagues, what teachers use in classrooms. And there are questions about academic research whether it is rigorous and relevant, whether teachers use it and if it tells teachers what they already know, “about what works in my classroom.”

Results should make for an interesting journal article.

Carr warns: change TEQSA, change HE

Labor HE policy veteran Kim Carr says the government has an “ideological agenda to undermine a high-quality university system based on public provision”

Senator Carr was speaking in the Senate yesterday, opposing the government bill for full cost recovery of regulating universities and other HE providers by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency.

“If you change TEQSA, you can change the higher education system. This government is clearly intent on changing that system,” he said.

The senator called on the Agency to “explicitly set out the reasons” for granting what was Avondale University College, university status. And he criticised the composition of the Higher Education Standards Panel, which sets the requirements TEQSA enforces.

“The membership of the standards panel now includes three representatives of private providers, a representative of the Australian Technology Network and a representative of the Regional Universities Network but no representative of Australia’s most research-intensive universities—the Group of Eight,” Senator Carr said.

He also warned the new TEQSA charges, “are being borne by the lowest-risk institutions, the large public universities.

“While the government remains on its present path, we are likely to lose significant parts of the university system that we now have without gaining either excellence in research at universities or excellence in teaching at universities. This is all because of an ideological agenda to undermine a high-quality university system based on public provision,” Senator Carr said.

UNSW hanging on for ‘23

Things could get worse first

The university says finances so far this year “are favourable against a conservative budget,” in part because more students than anticipated are sticking with study.

But UNSW expects a decrease in international numbers next before they begin to recover in ’23.  And lest anyone ask whether all the pain was necessary. “The university’s decision to implement cost reduction strategies and workplace change during 2020 have provided a more stable position for UNSW to respond to the ongoing impact of COVID-19.”

NSW TAFE won big


The state government focused Job Trainer resources on the public system

Last week the 2020 government VET funding data was released and it shows a number of surprising things in relation to how states and territories allocated their JobTrainer funding.

Whatever is driving the mismatch (CMM 28 July) in New South Wales between the VET graduates being produced and the occupations in shortage – the state government’s decision to allocate a large portion of their JobTrainer funding to short courses (at a rate no other jurisdiction got close to) is interesting.

The focus on short course funding, predominantly locally developed skill sets, was the reason for the significant increase in government-funded enrolments in NSW last year (up 60,620 on 2019 levels).

Almost all of the extra government-funded enrolments in NSW (59,690) were in locally developed skill sets. TAFE NSW saw an increase of 71,305 government-funded enrolments in these skill sets in 2020, reflecting the NSW government’s decision to focus resources on TAFE NSW during the pandemic.

Aside from NSW, the only other jurisdictions to experience growth in government-funded VET students in 2020 were Queensland and Western Australia and they both recorded modest increases.

The number of government-funded students in Victoria and South Australia declined, and the three smallest jurisdictions enrolled approximately the same number of government-funded students in 2020 as they had in 2019.

Looking at which providers government-funded students enrolled with in 2020, there were increased numbers in TAFE in NSW and to a lesser extent Queensland, while there were fewer government-funded students in TAFE in Victoria compared with 2019. Across the rest of the country government-funded TAFE student numbers were more or less stable.

Government-funded students in the ACE sector declined across the board, while private providers enrolled slightly more government-funded students in South Australia and Western Australia and held steady everywhere else except Victoria where private provider student numbers declined slightly.

There are some helpful charts available on the NCVER website or on my website.

 Claire Field is an advisor to the tertiary education sector


Jake Baum will join UNSW in January as head of the School of Medical Sciences. He will move from Imperial College London.

At Murdoch U, David Henry moves up to dean, Research and Innovation in the College of Science, Health, Engineering and Education.

 Tantia Indah joins Monash Indonesia as COO.