Zoro sniffs again

Zoro, the bird-detecting dog moved to the University of the Sunshine Coast last month. The canine caballero is famous for finding the elusive Tasmanian Masked Owl, which interests ANU’s Difficult Birds Group (CMM September 12 2018). And now he has gone north to find masked owls for USC, explained here. Takes one masked hero to know another.

Charles Sturt U drops name change

Charles Sturt U will stay that, with the university council ruling the name will not change. In January university management announced it liked the idea of being Sturt University (CMM January 14). Cue community outrage and now the university has decided to keep Charles.

“The feedback confirmed that our strength is in the individual connections that everyone shares with our university, “ Vice Chancellor Andy Vann told staff yesterday.

Sensible move. The name change was part of a much more important package that continues, with a $24m budget for refurbed course content, delivery and student support. The community appallathon over the change diverted attention from real brand-building, which is about much more the livery.

How new credentials can fit old framework

Policy people are contemplating what to say to Peter Noonan and colleagues who are reviewing the Australian Qualifications Framework. Updating the complex, cumbersome AQF is generally considered a big and difficult deal but there is a sense it needs to adapt to flexible leaning outside formal course structures. As the Innovative Research Universities puts it in paper circulating prior to its policy response to the panel, “an effective AQF … should provide a coherent context for the breadth of tertiary education and training – whereby the relationship of all activity to other education options is clear – and only then should worry at the correct application of its formal statements.”

The IRU sees a strong case for the AQF including short-form credentials, which could include MOOCs, for it to be relevant to realities in the training market. “There is significant activity and growth.  Allowing major education offerings outside the AQF reduces its value and could have negative impact on qualifications within and without the AQF.”

But to avoid overwhelming regulators, short-courses could be covered by the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency registration and monitoring of providers.

“The challenge is to do so in a way that provides a clear context-positioning for those other courses without overwhelming operations of providers or regulators.  It need not involve adding qualification types to the AQF but could simply be to recognise in the framing statements that these exist and have a purpose.”


Another Swinburne U partnership

Swinburne U continues to expand the courses it provides with partners, announcing masters degrees in IT and infrastructure management will be offered in Sydney by Education Centre of Australia. Last month it announced a new pathways programme, with NZ provider, ACGCMM January 30).

An exit for USQ’s Artsworx

It could be all over for Artsworx, the University of Southern Queensland’s portfolio of creative services, performing arts academic support and events activity. Last October the university reviewed creative arts academic units and the services provider, (CMM. October 3), concluding, “clarification is required as to whether Artsworx be explicitly profit maximising, that is, seeking a profit by undertaking all feasible activities; or whether it should be focused on strategic creative arts or university initiatives.”

Now it appears the required clarity was found. There is a consultation draft proposing the Artsworx portfolio be “re-aligned or re-profiled” within the academic units and/or corporate services.  Consultation runs to end April with word on new positions required and established ones not (if any) in June.

Where research students with a grievance need not go

The Department of Education and Training has published a guide for higher degree research students with a grievance – which tells anybody upset to use their university’s processes, go to the state ombudsman or perhaps talk to TEQSA, although it can’t do much.

But do not bother the Department of Education and Training, the agency that administers research block grants because it can’t help. They must have thought people would like to know.

Students, not migrants

Pontificators who think international students are migrants under another name take note. Henry Sherrell from the Parliamentary Library points to new data from the Department of Home Affairs, showing permanent visas granted to former international students were 21 903 in 2007-08 and 7195 in 2016-17. (via Twitter last night).

How journal giant Elsevier can help

For-profit publisher Elsevier is committed to “improving the information system supporting research” and explains what could happen across the next decade in a new paper. In the process it points, without making mention of its present journals base, to a business strategy to embed itself in the research system.

Elsevier is becoming a data-centric organisation, which involves much more than technology; it is about embedding analytics across every aspect of decision-making. We are ready to play our part in making every aspect of the research lifecycle more connected, more transparent and more inclusive and we invite the community to jointly produce solutions that both challenge and enhance the research information system.”

As for the push for open access to research, Elsevier suggests a way to do it is increase funding for “article publishing charges.”

Owner RELX reported a 35 per cent profit margin for its scientific, technical and medical division for the first half of 2018, on  sales of €1, 933 and expected the second-half to be in-line.


The University of Sydney’s Nalini Joshi is elected one of two vice presidents of the International Mathematical Union for 2019-2022.

Curtin U has awarded an hon doc to edX founder Anant Agarwal. The university presents a range of MOOCs via edX.