Spies like them

“Foreign intelligence officers may obscure their true affiliations and intentions by using cover, including posing as diplomats, journalists, academics, or members of research or policy institutes/think tanks,” government brief on the new foreign interference prevention guidelines.

There’s more in the Mail

In CMM this morning Marina Harvey (UNSW) on needed support for sessional staff – a new essay in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s series on what we need now in teaching and learning.

Watching brief: counter-intel campus oversight

The feds have less announced than quietly released the tasks for the steering group charged with over-sighting the creation of “guidelines to counter foreign-interference in the Australian university sector”

The university members are said to be (CMM Monday), Catriona Jackson (Unis Aus), Vicki Thomson (Go8) and VCs (Martin Bean (RMIT), John Dewar (La Trobe U) and Peter Hoj (Uni Queensland) and Alex Zelinsky (Uni Newcastle).

The four specific risks they are expected to receive expert advice on are:

cyber security: “a principles-based framework helping us to better manage and protect or networks, as well as detect and respond to cyber security incidents”

research and IP: “deter and detect deception, undue influence, unauthorised disclosure or disruption … while protecting academic freedom”

foreign collaboration: “nature and purpose of our collaboration with foreign entities will be transparent, undertaken with full knowledge and consent, and in a manner that avoids harm to Australia’s interest”

culture and comms: “a positive security culture through engagement with government and the broader community”

Charles Sturt U new sell to students

The university has a new student recruitment campaign.

The creative is sufficiently slick and the examples of CSU research and teaching, from oenology to ecology, agriculture to AI are appealing.

The campaign is pitched at practical idealism. “The change the world needs will only come when we put our hands to work … it’s not what we say that makes a difference, it’s what we do,” should not set-off prospective students hypemeters.

But there is nothing in the new TVC that sells CSU on its specific benefits – regional campuses which suit country kids, vast DE experience for people who want to re-skill.

It’s a contrast to the 2017 “start now” campaign – which was all about CSU could do for people wondering where, or if, to study.

A super cyber sleuth for unis

The Australasian Higher Education Cybersecurity Service is hiring a director

The service was discretely announced in June, as a partnership of Uni Queensland subsidiary, the Australian Computer Emergency Response Team, with AARNET (Australia’s Academic and Research Network) and the Council of Australasian University Directors of Information Technology.

CAUDIT makes clear it is in charge, stating that through the new service, the council, “will collaborate with the sector to leverage and grow cybersecurity services which support and supplement universities’ own services through engagement, advice, advocacy, training and direct operational support.”

No up in update on wage bargaining at Uni Notre Dame

In July, it appeared enterprise bargaining negotiations were going nowhere at the University of Notre Dame Australia in WA. They still aren’t

Back then the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union said management was not matching its proposed three per cent per annum pay rise over the life of the agreement. Part of the proposed rise is wanted to bring UNDA closer to pay at the other West Australian universities, the union says. According to the union, “if we accepted UNDA management’s pay and super offer the disparity between our pay and the rest of Western Australian universities would only continue.”

“We believe the parties are getting closer to a resolution and therefore, so as not to prejudice these discussions, the university will not be providing public comment for the time being while negotiations remain ongoing,” PVC Selma Alliex says.

This is marginally more informative than the last time CMM asked the university how negotiations were going; “as we are currently in negotiations with the NTEU we are not able to comment,” UNDA said in July (CMM July 25).

The parties are scheduled to meet tomorrow.

Announcement on track

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews was at Monash U’s Clayton campus yesterday, announcing the Suburban Rail Loop Authority

According to the university, it will oversee “a world-class mass transit solution to support the growth of the region and provide better access to the campus.” The metro line, announced a year back, will run right around Melbourne, with stops at Burwood, where Deakin U has a campus and Bundoora, where La Trobe U is, as well as Monash, Clayton.

CMM is sure an iron rule of NSW Labor governments does not apply – the more ministers announce a new rail line the less likely it will be built as first promised.

Claire Field on endless VET reform

By Claire Field

Want to know why VET struggles?  Try 465 reasons

The release of “total VET activity” data last week highlighted yet another decline in government funded training. We have also had media reports of low completion rates in some courses in Victorian TAFEs.

Some blamed private providers, others pointed to superior performance by private providers, some suggested students had left their courses to get jobs, and others suggested employers prefer non-accredited micro-credentials. I was surprised to see little debate on the level of VET funding and the damage caused by the ever-changing policy environment.

The reality is state, territory and commonwealth governments have collectively made 465 major reforms to the VET sector in the past 21 years.

That is the equivalent of one major reform every fortnight, every year, for more than two decades. And that figure excludes the reforms made during the same period in the international education sector.

Obviously not all providers have been affected by all reforms but the level of disruption on those trying to run quality institutions is extreme and unrelenting.

If the states are not going to back the Joyce Review reforms they need to develop their own credible, national set of reforms to put to the commonwealth.

And once we have national agreement, we will need all sides of politics to commit to long-term policy stability. VET cannot continue to be treated like a political football.

There’s more analysis on the nature and scale of reforms across jurisdictions here.

 Claire Field advises on VET, international education and private higher education.

Gillard speaks out at Uni Adelaide

Former prime minister Julia Gillard delivered her fourth annual lecture at the University of Adelaide, yesterday. She called for parliament to adopt the Uluru Statement, which calls for a First Nations voice in the Constitution

“To our federal parliamentarians who are working through how best to respond to the Uluru statement my personal message is this: I know what it is like to be beset with doubts about the best way to respond to a call to address trauma and despair. To worry about making the wrong decision, one that risks more damage.

I went through every painful permutation of that in my head when I worked through whether to call a Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings. I am not ashamed to say here that in the face of such a major decision, I was afraid.

Specifically, I was afraid that holding a Royal Commission would re-traumatise rather than heal.

As history records, I worked through those fears and called the Commission. I know now from my own observations of the impact of the Royal Commission that great healing can come from heeding the call, truth-telling and acknowledgement of past trauma.

I ask our current leaders on all sides of the parliamentary chamber to work through their fears and concerns. I ask our current leaders to heed the call of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.”

Grand alliance for digital delivery

Australia needs to get moving so our digital future is not competing-countries’ digital past. The Education Minster will love what the science and tech learned academies want done

Researchers and industry must work together to maximise the benefits of digital technologies in the next 20 years, the Australian of academies of science and technology and engineering recommend in a new report. “Our international standing as a forward-looking digital nation is not only at risk, it is in active decline,” the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering warn.

This should be a Spotify play-list to the ears of Education Minister Dan Tehan, who says university-industry digital collaboration is a national prosperity priority (CMM Monday).

To pick up the pace they propose 32 actions in the next five years to encourage digital leadership in industry, increase workforce capacity, get all-of-government involved and encourage open IP to generate industry-researcher cooperation.

The two academies’ specific proposals include;

* universities and publicly funded research agencies actively pursue opportunities to become focal points for businesses involved in developing and commercialising digital technology

* university researchers use sabbaticals in industry to gain experience and create personal links between industry and research.

* encourage joint appointments between government, universities, publicly funded research agencies and industry. Research organisations consider revising employment contracts to assist researchers to take simultaneous employment with businesses.