There goes the neighbourhood

In Adelaide’s excellent inDaily Stephanie Richards reports community concern that the universities of Adelaide and South Australia, which don’t pay rates, are taking up more CBD space. Back in April Tasmanian author Richard Flanagan had concerns with U Tas’s plan to relocate into the Hobart CBDCMM April 23). With UTas about to lodge development applications for its new Launceston campus complaints there can’t be far away.

As far as CMM knows nobody in any of the cities is complaining about universities making too much noise

App of the day

Victoria U wins gold in the national Good Design Awards digital category

The student app includes ID card, timetables, assignments and exam sign-in (is this a first?).  VU now bills itself, “the new way to do uni.” So, it seems.

U Tas to increase standards and support for international students

The University of Tasmania endorses recommendations for change on international student recruiting and teaching

Vice Chancellor Rufus Black tells the university community that recommendations in a new review suits its strategy switch from, “continuous growth in international student numbers to a future focused on sustainable growth.”

Where this comes from: Just hours before ABC’s Four Corners screened a report in May on universities admitting international students with inadequate English the University of Tasmania announced an external review of its admissions policies. As it turned the ABC had nothing much to say about UniTas but higher education governance expert Hilary Winchester finds there were problems.

Such as: “Many interviews and submissions said that in practice there is no effective learning and language support for the thousands of international students, and no mechanism for academic staff to refer students, even in their first semester or first year, for language support,” Professor Winchester reports.

And she advises the university admitted 36 per cent of international students under the Mode of Instruction rule, over half from China (ex Hong Kong). MOI assumes that previous study at an institution which uses English assures fluency.

But UniTas is on to it: Overall Professor Winchester points to examples of systems not up to speed and needed policies not up to date but they are nothing the university hasn’t or cannot fix. For a start MOI is already gone and – the university accepts all her 19 recommendations.

Specific changes she calls for include;

* requiring academic senate to approve all changes in course admissions

* lifting admission requirements on a course by-course basis, both undergraduate and postgraduate

* introducing targeted discipline-specific language courses

* reinstating a university admission committee, with governance and operational responsibilities

Edith Cowan U doubles down on recruiting researchers

The university is in the market for 40 up and comers

When Steve Chapman became VC Edith Cowan U set up a super-selective scheme to build research profile by recruiting 20 professorial fellows. It got there in May, hiring aged-care researcher Beverley O’Connell joins Edith Cowan U, from University of Manitoba.

Now ECU is looking to attract a next generation of research achievers, announcing it wants to employ 40 early and mid-career research fellows in its core research areas over four years. The university is offering “the security of an initial three-year fellowship (with) clear performance indicators.  And yes, that means what it sounds like – these roles can convert to continuing employment.

Finkel demands unis “step up to the plate” on maths-based course

The Chief Scientist calls on universities to name the degrees that need, really need maths. And he has way to do it

Dr Finkel made his case to the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers conference, yesterday.

The text of his speech is Finkel in-form, amusing, erudite, expansive – quoting Plato and Dr Seuss, rhetorically roaming across the ages to make the case for studying maths. So enthusiastic and engaging that it is easy to underestimate how irritated he is with universities.

Why uni applicants don’t get maths: The Chief Scientist suggests a range of reasons why school maths is declining

“In the absence of prerequisites and clear signals of what is required to succeed in a course, the ATAR has been given more prominence than was intended. It is now used as a catch-all representation of student achievement, which it was never meant to be.”

This includes the belief that there are easier ways than hard maths to score a high ATAR.

This is not good enough: “The ATAR was originally intended to coexist alongside clear expectations and signals from universities about subject choice. Without these signals, the pressure to study subjects that are seen to maximise your ATAR score has increased. So, while an ATAR score may allow students entry to a course, without a sound understanding of core content, students scrape through or fail or drop out. With all the consequences.”

It’s up to universities to fix this: “Our universities need to indicate clearly to students what subjects are required to do well in a given course and reinstate the expectation of study at intermediate or advanced levels, particularly for entry into mathematics-based courses such as physics, engineering and all of the general-science courses, as well as other disciplines that depend on mathematics … “

And Finkel has a way to do it: He proposes universities combine to create an equivalent of the UK Russell Group’s on-line “Informed Choices” for university applicants, which sets out school subjects recommended for specific university courses. “It is my hope that a modest number of thought-leading universities will agree to develop an Australian (version),” he says.

And he adds universities need to set prerequisites that make clear to school students that math based degrees need maths.

“Until universities step up to the plate and send a clear message to students that if they want to keep their options open they should study advanced or intermediate maths in school it is left to principals and teachers,” he says.

U Cal in the cold with journal-giant

Elsevier has cancelled University of California access to new journal content

This follows the failure of negotiations in January on price and open access and is serious stuff for both sides.

While U Cal management and academic senate is solid, academics who now cannot get content from Elsevier’s Science Direct will not be happy. The best management could tell them Wednesday was; “over the coming months, the UC Libraries will be carefully evaluating the impact of losing access to new articles on Science Direct, and will do our best to ensure that members of the UC community have access to the articles they need.”

As for Elsevier, this is but one front in its war to defend its for-profit journals, which publish research generally produced with public funds. The publisher also faces the European Plan S which challenges the pay to read model and proposes a potentially less lucrative pay to publish model instead.

The company is diversifying its profit base, expanding services based on its vast research data resources, but it still prefers being the price maker.

Big week of appointments, achievements

Big week for appointments, achievements

 Of the day

Uni SA announces Viraj Perera as the new head of commercialisation unit, UniSA Ventures. He joins from Malaysian government technology commercialisation platform.

Anthony Capon will be the next director of the Monash Sustainable Development Institute. Professor Capon will join in October, from the University of Sydney, where he is professor of planetary health.

Of the week

Michael McDaniel is NAIDOC scholar of the year. Professor McDaniel is PVC (Indigenous leadership and engagement) at UTS. The NAIDOC citation states he is a proud member of the Kalari Clan of the Wiradjuri Nation, who “has led a distinguished career in Indigenous higher education and has a record of service to the arts, culture and community which spans more than 30 years.”

 Shivani Bhandari from CSIRO wins the Astronomical Society of Australia’s Louise Webster Prize for early career research – she found fast radio bursts and tracked them to source galaxy.

The Australian Space Agency’s advisory group is announced; Steven Freeland, (space law, Western Sydney U). Lisa Harvey-Smith, (astrophysics and science comms, Australian Government women in STEM ambassador). Peter Klinken, (chief scientist WA). Pamela Melroy (director, space technology and policy, Nova Systems). Chris Pigram, CSIRO deep earth imaging advisory panel). Frank Robert, (associated VP A. T. Kearney). Margaret Sheil (VC, QUT). Andrew Thomas (SA government space advisor).

La Trobe U announces Russell Hoye is the new dean and head of school of allied health, human services and sport. He moves from PVC research and development and Director of Sport at the university.

The Gonski Institute of Education at UNSW announces two new fellows. Amy Grahamjoins from Charles Darwin U. Fatemah Aminpour moves from  UNSW’s built environments faculty.

Biz ed accreditor the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business names Geoff Perry chief officer, Asia Pacific. Professor Perry is DVC at the Auckland University of Technology.

Mark Lamont is the new chair of EduGrowth (“Australia’s education technology and innovation industry hub”). Mr Lamont “directs a portfolio of EdTech companies as co-founder or investor.”

Griffith U has announced the vice chancellor’s research excellence awards;

research leadership: Hamish McCallum (Environmental Futures Research Institute)

early career: Lee Morgenbesser (Griffith Asia Institute and Centre for Governance and Public Policy)

mid-career:   Tara McGee, (Griffith Criminology Institute), Jun Zhou, Institute for (Integrated and Intelligent Systems)

research supervision: Seroja Selvanathan, (Griffith Asia Institute)

research group/team award: Claire RickardMarie CookeAndrew BulmerAmanda UllmanNicole MarshTricia KleidonJosh ByrnesGillian Ray-BarruelJessica Schults, (Alliance for Vascular Access Teaching and Research team, Menzies Health Institute Queensland)