The way they teach now

Sydney U veterinary professor Jan Slapeta tweeted a pic of an empty lecture theatre Monday

“Shock! 9am lecture – no one! Where are they? My first lecture for this cohort, so hopefully not reflection on me. I was told to give the lecture anyway, because some might be watching it streamed. 50 min discussion with chairs. Is this what uni is now?“ he lamented,

Has been for a while, even pre pandemic– as Adrian Raftery famously reported, when none of his estate planning students at Deakin U turned up a lecture in 2017.


There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Angel Calderon (RMIT) on the reputational challenge for Australian universities and how demonstrating commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals can help.

and Frank Larkins (Uni Melbourne) on 2020 Higher Education R&D. Overall  outlays were up but universities reduced general funding allocated to research as international student income fell.


James Guthrie on the need for a national university summit: who should attend, what they should discuss

Michael Healy, Jason Brown and Candy Ho on  career employability support for students – it’s a professional service that universities should properly resource. This week’s selection by Commissioning Editor Sally Kift for her celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.


Claire Field warns on international VET enrolments

Post-COVID, international education providers are finding it easier to recruit students with the temporary lifting of the restrictions on student work hours still to be rescinded

In thinking about the various options for Australia to address our IT skills shortage I have been looking at the VET providers offering a key IT qualification, the Diploma of Information Technology (which educates people for work as database/systems administrators and ICT security specialists).

There are 152 RTOs approved to offer the Diploma of IT and almost one-third (47) have been newly registered in the last six years (six of them in the last 12 months).

Eighty per cent of these new RTOs have CRICOS approval, i.e. they can teach international students, and collectively these 38 providers have approval to educate 32,575 students.

According to the details on CRICOS, nine of the principal education officers at these 38 RTOs appear to be running their businesses from Gmail or Yahoo email accounts, including some which have been operating since 2016.

An examination of provider websites and the LinkedIn profiles of their senior staff shows that some providers are headed up by individuals with deep VET experience. Others appear to be lacking either deep knowledge of VET and/or of the tech sector.

Post-COVID, international education providers are finding it easier to recruit students, with the temporary lifting of the restrictions on student work hours still to be rescinded (i.e. international students can currently work as many hours as they wish). At the same time there are reports of significant visa fraud in India, a substantial increase in offshore visa applications from Nepal (leading former Immigration Deputy Secretary Abul Rizvi to question if the “strong demand from Nepal is a response to the unlimited work rights”), high rates of refusal for offshore student visa applications from India and Pakistan, and then news last week that the Western Australia government is incentivising international education agents with a $10 million sweetener.

As a former VET regulator the alarm bells in my head are ringing loudly.

If the international students studying with these providers are undertaking internships or other work integrated learning where they can develop their IT skills during their diploma study, and if after further study they wish to stay on in Australia on a temporary graduate visa, Australia will benefit and so will the students.

At the moment though I have a lot of questions about what is happening in this part of the sector and I wonder what else is occurring in other fields of study where new CRICOS VET providers are flourishing…?

Claire Field is an adviser to the tertiary education sector

More work for Rufus Black

The Uni Tas VC had a bit on, now he has more

Provost Jane Long is leaving, officially in August but she will be off campus earlier.  VC Black responds by adding her key reports to his – the DVCs Education and Research, the executive deans of the discipline colleges and Martin Grimmer, who will now head the Academic Division.

Maybe it will make a change for Professor Black from dealing with opposition to the university’s planned relocation to Hobart CBD.

CMM asked if the new structure means the provost position is being abolished. “There’s no provost in the arrangement” a U Tas representative responded.

The big Vs combine on early childhood education

Victoria U and Vic Gov partner on 300 places in an early childhood teacher programme

The university will teach its Commonwealth funded three year Bachelor of Early Childhood Teaching in two, given diploma qualified teachers in the field course credit. And the state government will kick in $25 000 for ANZ citizens and Aus permanent residents, which they can use as they wish, although paying HECS/HELP debt for the on-load programme might strike some as a good idea. (Permanent residents need to pay up-front).

Classes are on-line, plus one Saturday a month at a location, hopefully in their local government area. Students with jobs in child care can do much of their placement/assessment activity at work.

The Victorian Government has committed to a subsidised pre-school place for all three-year olds.

NZ international education plan includes keeping locals happy

There’s a draft strategy through to 2030

The first thing it proposes is to “build back on-shore offerings” but it’s what is planned to happen next that is significant.

The medium term intent is to diversify and become “less reliant on on-shore education delivery.”

Diversifying means “a greater proportion” of international students who are not from China and India. And less reliance on on-shore means on-line and overseas. “Prior to Covid-19, providers had shown interest in on-line and offshore provision, and with borders closed and providers shifting to on-line delivery, they became more attractive and proved their potential. As the sector recovers, we will consider how on-line and offshore provision can form part of base offerings.”

As to what the industry will look like , “we do not yet know what an optimal base of on-shore and offshore offerings is that will best support sustainability. These are things we will discover while we are building that base. At that point, we will also have a better idea of what the trajectories look like as we build the future for international education and what targets will be realistic and useful.”

But whatever the industry’s shape and size it must be “sustainable, ” which could be code for electorally saleable.

“Thriving and sustainable international education needs the support and buy-in of New Zealanders. Helping New Zealanders to understand international education as a high-value activity that brings social, cultural and economic benefits for all New Zealand will help to sustain growth and development. We will look for opportunities to promote the value of international education domestically.”

Last week Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced student visa applications will open in August but added the intent is “to attract students to New Zealand to learn, while also shutting the backdoor route to residency,” (CMM May 12).

Dolt of the day

Is CMM. In Monday’s editions an i was erroneously inserted in Sharon Goldfeld’s surname.

Appointments, achievements

The Asian Studies Association of Australia awards the Reid Prize (“exemplary contribution to the understanding of Asia”) to Assa Doron (ANU) and Robin Jeffrey (La Trobe U). It’s for their, Waste of a Nation: Garbage and Growth in India (Harvard UP).

Josh Byrne becomes Dean, Sustainable Futures in Curtin U’s humanities faculty.

Chris Dixon is appointed Interim Executive Dean of Macquarie U’s arts faculty. He replaces Martina Möllering who leaves at month’s end.

Véronique Duché, (Uni Melbourne professor of French) is awarded France’s Order of Merit.

The WA Government announces $2.3m for four fellowships, “aimed at increasing uptake of research findings into health care.”  * Fenella Gill (Curtin U) * detecting/responding to “clinical deterioration of children in hospital, * Mary Kennedy (Edith Cowan U)  nutrition/exercise for cancer patients in regions * Ivan Lin (UWA) “communication between clinicians and Aboriginal patients” and *Suzanne Robinson (Curtin U) “real-time view” of regional health system