Angel Calderon (critically) reviews big-name rankings
The positives and potential of digital education
Pros and cons for on-line learning partnerships
You don’t say
“Students want the best career outcomes, irrespective of AQF levels,” CQU‘s new VC Nick Klomp, inaugural address this week (more below).
Bargaining blue two at Victoria U
Union members at Victoria University have voted to oppose management’s new enterprise agreement offer. This is not especially newsy news as the National Tertiary Education Union always opposes management props not signed-off by its campus negotiators and they oppose the terms now on offer (CMM February 6).
But while expected this does not diminish how much is at stake for VU management and union. The university lost the vote on its first offer last year and simply cannot afford a second loss. The union needs to win again, to demonstrate it speaks for staff beyond its membership. Management says it is offering an improved pay-rise. The union says conditions of employment are eroded.
Peak student group’s election-ask
They know something about politics at the National Union of Students, which is why they aren’t worrying about a budget pitch and going straight to election demands. Yesterday national president Desiree Cai, issued the NUS vision of “a future worth fighting for,” including:
* a national taskforce on sexual assault and harassment on campus, “with a real student voice”
* “an end to student poverty” and “affordable accommodation for young people”
* “fully-funded, equitable and accessible” post-secondary education
* “real action” on climate change
Charles Sturt U at the pointy end of name-change debate
Charles Sturt University says it is “reviewing” responses to a possible name change to (no Charles) Sturt U and will provide “a progress update” Monday week. A learned reader suggests the timing has something to do with the next university council meeting, being five days prior, next Wednesday.
What happens next, the LR suggests, will depend on whether vice chancellor, ever-astute Andy Vann decides a two-word moniker is worth spending political capital. Community opposition appears adamant in the universities regional NSW heartland, but present and potential distance students, where the growth is, may not be all that exercised.
On the agenda for qualifications framework review
The Australian Qualifications Framework review panel is out consulting and, perhaps to ensure people focus on really wonky questions, is circulating FAQs on the big-picture issues, including:
social and enterprise skills: “The panel wants to test whether there is benefit in developing and maintaining a set of social and enterprise skills (including definitions) that could be referenced and applied in the development of individual qualifications – or other approaches.
shorter form credentials: “The focus of the AQF should remain on full qualifications. However, in the context of renewed focus on the importance of lifelong learning and rapid re-skilling, the key issue is whether or not the AQF (and other international frameworks) should provide guidance on how shorter form credentials could be recognised
credit points: “As the AQF was developed as a loose and largely sector based qualification system, it has not included a credit point system. … the approach suggested by the panel for testing through consultations and submissions is to develop an optional credit point system that providers could use as a benchmark, like a system of ‘currency exchange’. “
New VC tells CQU where to go
CQU’s new VC Nick Klomp delivered his inaugural address this week, in which he explained what a terrific job everybody is doing. But he wants to set-out how the dual-sector institution can do a better one – by breaking down the “cultural-educational walls” between higher education and vocational education and training.
“Educators have invented this distinction (but) industry does not care about the labels and our arbitrary educational distinctions – they just want the best job-ready workforce we can give them. If that’s engineering graduates with welding skills, let’s give that to them. … If that is beauty therapists with business and accounting skills, let’s go there.”
Less league tables more performance pictures
Staffers at rankings compiler QS have a new paper setting out why rankings (including their own) are based on good data, provide a much-needed service and will be increasingly consulted. And they address a common complaint, that the use of surveys as a factor in rating institutions makes outcomes subjective; “one survey is subjective, as is one citation, but when measuring five years’ worth of results, fluctuations can be smoothed out to provide the most reliable outcome.”
This isn’t quite the way seriously sciencey staff at the Web of Science citation index operation see it in a scathing (unless it is scarifying) paper on why “simplified” metrics as used in league tables, can “obscure real research performance when misused.”
To help against this they propose four “visualisations,” that, “unpack the richer information that lies behind each headline indicator.”
For individuals; separate to an H index (x papers each cited times) they propose a beam-plot, with the citation count for each of an author’s papers “normalised” for articles in subject-category journals for the relevant year.
They suggest a journal citation report, which puts journal impact factors into a broader context.
To measure research-group performance, they call for an impact profile, which measures citation counts against research averages in the field. This is to present performance differences between research teams with similar profiles but which work in different areas of the same broad fields.
For universities, they advocate a “research footprint” map instead of a league-table ranking. “Any institution scores better on some parameters and less well on others, continuously varying its position relative to others. A global university ranking may be fun, but it is only a reference point. It hides far too much detail even for careful short-listing for students, let alone as a tool to inform management.”
The overall intent is to use visuals to display comparisons of data which are lost, in simple rankings. “There is no sensible way to compare two complex research systems with a single number: it’s a bit more complicated than that!”
Julie Cogin leaving UoQ leads appointments and achievements
Of the Day
Business Dean Julie Cogin is leaving the University of Queensland for RMIT, where she will become VP and PVC Business. Professor Cogin announced her end-April departure yesterday, telling staff she was moving to Melbourne, because “being isolated from those close to me has been difficult.” Professor Cogin joined UoQ a year back, moving from UNSW, where she was a highly-regarded deputy business dean. As she was at St Lucia. She will not have been there long but “UQ got a good three years-worth of deliverables and cultural reform,” a learned reader remarks.
Lesley Seebeck joins the Commonwealth’s Naval Shipbuilding Advisory Board. Dr Seebeck is CEO of the Australian National University’s Cyber Institute.
Of the week
The University of New England council has appointed chancellor James Harris to a second five-year term. A grazier in the region, Mr Harris has served on the UNE council since 1994.
Ty Birket is new CEO of Regis Australia, which is mutual manager for Unimutual Limited–an asset and risk protection provider to Australian higher education and research institutions.
Deborah Brown is the first woman to be appointed a professor of philosophy at theUniversity of Queensland. Professor Brown is a UoQ graduate with a PhD from the University of Toronto.
The Australian Council for Private Education and Training has a new chair, Alexis Watt, who steps-up from deputy, replacing Bruce Callaghan. Mr Watt is CEO of Open Colleges School of Health.
Dawn Freshwater from UWA is the new chair of the Group of Eight. Peter Rathjen (Uni Adelaide) is deputy.
Carolyn Evans has started as VC at Griffith U. She moves from the University of Melbourne. With her appointment, the genders of Queensland uni VCs are now in balance. Nick Klomp also commenced yesterday as VC at CQU.
Professor Cheryl Dissanayake, will hold La Trobe U’s inaugural Olga Tennison chair of autism research. Professor Dissanayake is founding director of the university’s Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre.
Geoffrey Crisp moves from PVC Education at UNSW to DVC Academic at the University of Canberra. This is a big loss for the former and win for the latter. A very learned reader at UNSW says Professor Crisp is the “mastermind” of the Digital Uplift project, which is transforming lecture content there.
David Bottomley is awarded a Curtin PHD for his thesis on the introduction of science into the 19th century English school curriculum. Curtin states that at 94, Dr Bottomley is Australia’s oldest-PhD graduate.
Ken Harvey is the new president of Friends of Science in Medicine, which campaigns against, “unscientific health practices and fraudulent health claims.” He replaces UNSW emeritus professor of medicine, John Dwyer. Dr Harvey is an associate professor inMonash U’s department of epidemiology and preventive medicine.
Ryan Ko joins the University of Queensland as professor of cyber security. He moved from the University of Waikato.
QUT starts the year with seven senior appointments:
Peter Anderson, becomes director of the Indigenous Research and Engagement Unit, described as a “new role with broader remit”.
Rowena Barrett, moves from head of the management school to take up a new role, Executive Director, entrepreneurship.
Policy mandarin and political advisor John Byron becomes the inaugural director of government relations and policy.
Cathy Ford, joins as Chief Information Officer, from Queensland Health.
Mark Harvey, moves from a DVC position at the University of Southern Queensland to become VP for business development.
Angela Barney Leitch becomes PVC (Indigenous Strategy). She joins from the Queensland government where she was director of indigenous policy and partnerships.
Kevin Ashford-Rowe moves from Australian Catholic U in Sydney to become PVC for digital learning.