Micro time, macro explanation 

You beaut – another long weekend! Which you can spend reading major reports on micro-credentials, (sooner rather than later you are going to need something to say).

Or you can listen to expert on all things open, distance and e learning Michael Sankey (Charles Darwin U)  explains where we are now on m-cs in ten minutes.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Lynda Shevellar (Uni Queensland) on universities encouraging a sense of belonging among students when campus is not the core of their lives. This week’s selection by Commissioning Editor Sally Kift for her celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

Curtin U blazes a trail

The university leads the Resources Technology and Critical Minerals Trailblazer programme

There’s $50m from the Commonwealth, plus funding from university and industry participants to a total of $200m. James Cook U and Uni Queensland are the other uni partners. CSIRO will provide technical support.

This is the first of six trailblazers teams, which will commercialise research on one of the government’s six “national manufacturing priorities” (CMM November 25 2021 and January 31 ). There were going to be four (one with a regional participant) but the Budget added two more, under “regional accelerator” funding.

The prime minister announced Curtin U’s win in Perth yesterday, with caretaker conventions in place the news appeared on the Liberal Party’s website.

The WA Labor Government also had news it needed to announce yesterday, that Curtin U researchers, “supported by the state government” have developed a new seismic detection technology.

Timely announcement from Uni Southern Queensland

The university issued an update yesterday on drought resilience planning by the Rural Economies Centre of Excellence, pointing to 60 per cent of Queensland still being in drought

The university tweeted the story as “an update on the Regional Drought Resilience Planning programme, a key part of @ausgov’s $5 billion Future Drought Fund.”

The centre is a collaboration of  Uni Southern Queensland, CQU, James Cook U and Uni Queensland and is jointly funded by the state and national governments.

It is chaired by Uni Southern Queensland’s John McVeigh who joined the university after serving in federal parliament as a Liberal National Party cabinet minister, representing Uni Southern Queensland’s local electorate of Groom (CMM September 30 2020).

More to international ed than arrivals


behind the statistics lie important stories of how education institutions are continuing to evolve as we emerge from the pandemic

The last couple of weeks have seen reports of international student commencements coming back strongly as well as doom and gloom about overseas student arrivals being “well below” pre-pandemic levels.

What to believe and how to make sense of apparently contradictory reports?

Fortunately in Australia we have comprehensive and timely data available on international students – and the reality is:

* there is a strong rebound underway in higher education – with commencements in the first two months of 2022 sitting just under commencements at the same time in 2019 (55,641 students this year compared to 57,927 in 2019)

* overall enrolments in higher education will take more time to recover – YTD February 2022 there were 263,752 international student enrolments in higher education compared to 321,479 YTD in February 2019

* VET has relatively strong commencement levels (34,227 compared with 38,035 in 2019) but overall enrolments are higher now (154,782 compared with 150,967) because of how many students switched to VET during COVID.

As for doom and gloom in the arrivals data – it merely clarifies that among the students who started their course this year, a high proportion remain offshore.

The broader question then is what do these trends mean for institutions?

Sarah Todd from Griffith University spoke with me recently about the university’s experience in welcoming students back to campus (including the varying gaps students have in their studies and what that means logistically), the challenges in educating students offshore while many of their classmates are now onshore, the impact of the floods slowing the return to campus – and much more.

In her role as the President of the Asia-Pacific Association for International Education, Professor Todd also discussed some of the key themes from APAIE’s recent conference – many of which we have not fully grasped in Australia, including the role of Indigenous people in international education, the changing nature of institutional partnerships, sustainability, and increasing use of technology within the sector.

Behind the statistics lie important stories of how education institutions are continuing to evolve as we emerge from the pandemic, and a broader focus on the Asia-Pacific presents new opportunities for the sector.

Claire Field is the host of the ‘What now? What next?’ podcast. Her interview with Sarah Todd is available in your favourite podcast app or listen on-line.

The coalition’s research sell

This date in 2017  CMM covered an ANU poll on community attitudes to science, which found, 68 per cent of Australians are “more excited than concerned” by “new technologies” and 75 per cent believe the benefits of “technological progress” outweigh the risk. Plus 94 per cent thought “scientists and industry should cooperate more with each other.”

It was a poll with appeal for Scott Morrison, who likes universities, at least those where research generates jobs.

Thus he described Uni Newcastle last month, “as a university that’s very practical and understands the opportunities, whether it’s in science or medicine or in any other areas or fields of enquiry and research, and is raising up a workforce and a generation of people that can actually transform the region in which they’re living,” (CMM March 15).

Science Minister Melissa Price was quoted in Mr Morrison’s announcement yesterday making a similar point, “Curtin University and its partners will create new resources technologies, new STEM and mining jobs in critical regions – particularly in Western Australia – and new career paths.”

It’s a contrast with Malcolm Turnbull who was keen on high-tech innovation, which did not go down well with voters who thought AI meant job losses, (CMM September 20 2017).

Dolt of the day


And he’s definitively doltish. In yesterday’s email edition a typo changed “liked” into “lied.” What CMM intended was that when at the ABC now Uni Sydney VC Mark Scott liked to keep things calm.

ASQA’s new advisers

The Australian Skills Quality Authority announces members of the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Advisory Council

ASQA provides no background on members who are, chair: Peter Costantini (comms consultant). Members: * Valerie Braithwaite (ANU) * Renee Hindmarsh (SA Skills Commissioner) *  Grant Klinkum (NZ Qualifications Authority) * Adrienne Nieuwenhuis (commissioner, Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency) * Neil Quarmby (public sector management consultant) * Don Zoellner (Charles Darwin U, VET researcher).

ASQA will need some advising, with its authority extending to cover the training packages developed by the new Training Cluster organisations, (CMM March 24, 29).

As to membership, VET watchers wonder whether a Labor Government (if such there is after the election) might want to add a union representative to the advisory council.


Renée Fry-McKibbin becomes interim director of ANU’s Crawford School of Public Policy.

Greg Sawyer is confirmed as CEO of the Council of Australasian University Directors of Information Technology. He has been acting since November.