There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning Dirk Mulder on the good, bad (that’s China) and ok-ish results in new international student numbers, here  .

And James Smith (Menzies School of Health Research-Darwin) on the need for a performance framework for Indigenous HE outcomes, here 

Research open access – it’s just a matter of time

For-profit journal giant Elsevier announces (via Twitter) that decades of archived articles, in 130 journals, “are free for everyone to read and download” when embargoes lift. These range from six months to four years. Perhaps Elsevier has not quite got what open access is about.

Exit the Education Investment Fund

A Senate committee recommends legislation closing the EIF and moving the money to the proposed natural disaster Emergency Response Fund

The committee majority points out that the government has funded university infrastructure, despite the EIF being inactive for six years and “the uncommitted funds in the now dormant EIF are best spent helping communities to respond to natural disasters with catastrophic or significant impacts.” Labor members have “reservations” about the legislation, particularly using the EIF funds and they will “talk to stakeholders” about amendments to the bills involved, but don’t count on anything occurring.

And so ends an argument that started when Cicero was in the Senate. The Abbott Government’s National Commission of Audit did not like nation-building funds and wanted the EIF gone. The government then agreed but the Senate knocked back the 2014 budget proposal back. Since then sporadic attempts by the government to get hold of the loot have failed, in no small part due to the parliamentary wiles of Labor research shadow Kim Carr. But it’s all over now.

First jacaranda story of the season

Honours go to Uni Queensland, with a photo of an avenue of campus purple, yesterday.Jacarandas in flower are aways off to the south (not a hint in CMM-land) but surely James Cook U is in-bloom.

Good news on international student numbers – and then there’s China

July international student data demonstrates China is slowing, the Saudi’s are back, and the Regional Scheme is delivering what was promised


 The overall-outlook is positive in the July YTD numbers, compared to last year. Nationally,  enrolments are up 8.6 per cent and commencements grew 4.7 per cent. However, there are serious data swings that require deeper analysis. The key take outs are:

* China is slowing and it’s concerning. Across the nation Chinese commencements are down 7.5 per cent, that’s 7609 fewer student starting their studies. This is hardest felt in the NSW HE sector, down 24 per cent (5329 people). With some growth in VTE from China the net result for NSW is a drop of 14.1 per cent – being 5281 students down.

* The regional bonus point scheme appears to be doing what was intended, with three of the four states on the regional list topping the growth of commencements in the July YTD figures. The Northern Territory is at 43 per cent, Tasmania 33.2 per cent and South Australia  15.85 per cent.  The only state / territory on the list not to figure is the ACT which appears to be suffering at -15.43 per cent.

* The Saudi’s are back. Across Australia commencements are up 62.1 per cent, which means  an additional 1286 students commencing study, compared to the same time last year.

* The inconsistent state is Western Australia. While the HE sector appears to be recovering well (23.1 per cent growth in commencements) VET is down 8 per cent, the only one around the country to decline. Schools and Non-award numbers in WA are slightly down and ELICOS slightly up.

The full analysis is in Features this morning.

Dirk Mulder is an international education business developer, strategist and market analyst. Contact him @ [email protected]

In memory of a research hero

The Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences announces its first honorific

The annual Jian Zhou Medal will go to a “rising star,” who is “making a significant impact in translational medical science.” It is for a researcher within 15 years of completing their first research higher degree.

It’s named for the late Jian Zhou “a talented molecular biologist and virologist” who worked with Ian Frazer on developing and patenting Gardasil and Cervarix cervical cancer vaccines.

La Trobe U super stuff-up

The university underpaid some staff’ super for a max six years. It promises to pay it back, plus 10 per cent interest

HR head Fiona Reed has written to relevant staff, explaining the underpayment is due to “a mistaken but good faith, interpretation of the combined effect of our Collective Agreement and the UniSuper Trust Deed.” She assures staff that salary, allowances and loadings are not involved, just super.

The ten per cent interest is an approximation of UniSuper’s investment options over the period involved.

A university spokesperson advises there are 2800 people getting payments, ranging from $20-$30 to a handful who are owed in “the tens of thousands.” The median is $130.

LT U is not alone in stuffing-up super. Swinburne U underpaid two different sets of super last year (CMM May 8 and September 25 2018). Uni Newcastle commissioned a review of “potential anomalies” in super payments, (CMM July 27 2018) and in 2017 the University of Wollongong reported it had got superannuation payments wrong for 30 per cent of staff over eight years (CMM April 5 2017).

International grads on the job, it’s not always a good one

Post study work-rights are an important attraction in Australia’s international student sell – problem is the sort of work some people get

Some 74 per cent of international students with a 485 visa, that allows them to stay on after graduation to start their careers, are employed. But 17 per cent of them are working in positions that don’t use their qualifications. “Temporary graduates have higher level qualifications than skilled stream migrants, but are comparatively more likely to be working in low-skilled occupations,” Jonathan Chew reports in a new analysis of Commonwealth visa and census data for the International Education Association of Australia.

This is not great for the international education industry. “The rationale for PSWR was explicitly to make Australia a more attractive and globally competitive study destination by supplementing the student experience with relevant work experience upon graduation.  The fact that temporary graduate visa holders are more likely to be employed in lower skilled occupations in the retail and hospitality sectors should be cause for concern,” Mr Chew warns.

But as with all graduates, time extends opportunities, “data would suggest that employment outcomes improve for those who have accumulated more professional and life experience,” Mr Chew argues.

As Ly Thi Tran (Deakin U) and colleagues found in a survey of 485 visa holders with two-year work rights, (PhD grads can have four years), the shorter period is not enough to win employer confidence, acquire work experience, join professional bodies and/or get jobs, (CMM, July 3 2019).

University of Wollongong’s new senior structure

Vice Chancellor Paul Wellings takes on leadership of Advancement, “to improve the depth and range of relationships with alumni and stakeholders.”

Joe Chicharo moves from DVC A to the new Senior DVC role. He continues responsible for students, mcomms, planning and academic quality and standards and will have “particular responsibility” for the new strategic plan.

Theo Farrell takes up the new DVC E portfolio, “to focus on innovation of the curriculum to align with future workforce needs.” He moves from Executive Dean, law humanities and arts. Colin Picker, now dean of law takes up Farrell’s present role.

Damien Israel, now chief financial officer  becomes inaugural chief operating officer. The CFO and chief administration positions are “disestablished.”

Hoj keeps cool under Four Corners heat

The Uni Queensland VC was the only uni head to face critical questions – which he dealt with

Last night’s Four Corners covered Chinese involvement in Australian research, the great ANU hack, Chinese-student nationalism, alleged CCP interest in and interference on campuses.

Uni Queensland was included for its connections with the Chinese state, institutions and companies, VC Peter Hoj’s previous connections to the Confucius Institute governing body and the CI at Uni Queensland being involved in the development of an economics course.

Most of which Professor Hoj expected.

On Sunday, he emailed senior staff setting out what he thought was coming and assuring them, “the university has always been, and will continue to be, transparent about these areas. Should it be necessary, once the program airs, we will proactively communicate our position to our staff, students, partners and relevant key stakeholders.”

Professor Hoj, was the only VC critically questioned on the programme. ANU’s Brian Schmidt, the only other VC who appeared, talked about the hack and got far less critical treatment on camera about a really serious issue, whoever the hackers were.