Scott sets an agenda

For an idea on what Mark Scott wants to do at Uni Sydney read the new VC’s interview with Maxim Shanahan, Juliette Marchant and Claire Ollivain in Uni Sydney student newspaper Honi Soit. Best CMM has read.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Work-integrated learning is critical to university-industry engagement but leadership is lacking. Sonia Ferns and Judie Kay, set out what needs to be done. It’s Contributing Editor Sally Kift’s new selection for her celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

Plus, The Federal Court has decided inventions by AI can be patented. Amanda-Jane George (CQU) explains how this happened and why it matters.

And Tim Winkler (Twig Marketing) on why it’s all over for open days.

The internationals unis really, really, need to come back  

Pre-pandemic universities relied, really relied, on international coursework postgrads – and not just for their fees, they made a big contribution to campus life – by being on them. So will they come back when they can? 

In 2019 coursework internationals accounted for 61 per cent of all PGs and as Frank Larkins points out, their preference for on-campus study means, “in terms of cost efficiency in the delivery of postgraduate course programmes overseas students have been a better investment for universities than domestic students.”

Universities will want them back, when they can come, With Ian Marshman, Professor Larkins  estimates that their absence could cost universities up to $7bn.

But will coursework PGs from overseas as a class want to return. Insofar as the past can be a predictor of a very uncertain future they weren’t entirely unhappy in a hard 2020.

The Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching survey for on-shore internationals in 2020 lock-down, released Thursday, found 63 per cent were satisfied with their overall education experience, with a 67 per cent positive rating for teaching. This is lower than for domestic PGs, but not much (68 per cent and 72 per cent).

The international figures are a bit better for business students, who are 40 per cent of the international PG population, 66 per cent on teaching and 69 per cent overall.

U Tas and the arts of urban renewal

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein officially opens the $110m Hedberg complex in Hobart city

The Hedberg will further enhance Tasmania’s position as a leader in the creative, performing and digital art,” he says.

The complex, in business since last year, also extends U Tas’ reach into the city centre. The complex includes the city’s Theatre Royal, the state museum and gallery and university teaching and performance spaces.

It’s another stage of the U Tas plan to take gown to town by 2030 – transferring much, most, of the university from suburban Sandy Bay to the city.

Parly Committee proposes easier immigration for elite international students

The Commonwealth Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Migration recommends easing immigration for international students who graduate with in-demand skills

The Committee’s report on skilled migration was released last night. Recommendations include improving access to permanent residency for graduates;

* In the top ten per cent of their course/with first class honours

* met “relevant” English language standards

* worked in a field related to study, “with a persistent skills shortage” and

* completed a course in a field with skills shortage offered by a university, “or a course run by a reputable non-university higher education provider.”

The committee also recommends that, “As a special integrity measure the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency should undertake special and regular audits of the assessment of excellence measure to ensure standards are maintained.”

Deakin U VC puts mandatory vaccination on uni agenda

Iain Martin states, “we have a duty to lead by example”

In a staff newsletter yesterday Professor Martin called on the university community “to consider what the position of Deakin should be towards mandatory vaccination in 2022 and beyond.

“I believe we have a duty to lead by example when it comes to acknowledging that vaccination is both a tool to protect one person and a public health intervention to protect communities,” the VC wrote.

Professor Martin, a surgeon by training, was reiterating arguments he presented to the Deakin U community last week, including the safety and efficacy of vaccination with AstraZeneca and the inevitability of CVID-19’s “genetic ancestors” being, “with us for the next 100 years or more.”

“Once the entire adult population have access to vaccination, which will be later this year, I believe that as a community, we need to consider very carefully whether we mandate vaccination to continue to be part of our university community,” he wrote.


The ABC of industrial relations at Uni Sydney

New VC Mark Scott tells Uni Sydney student newspaper Honi Soit that technology is going to change things

“We have got to manage the changes that are put on us now, but recognise that, in the next five to ten years, there’ll be significant disruption in the sector,” he says.

It’s straight out of Professor Scott’s (that’s professor of practice) ABC playbook. As MD there he made substantial and essential changes in expanding the broadcaster’s digital delivery and although there was ample industrial uproar during his term he got much done.

The Scott style is to make a case for change and then under-promise and over-deliver on implementation. And do it so skilfully that staff who fear change either accept it as inevitable, or protest with little impact.

He told Honi Soit, “as I speak to our experts about teaching here on campus, they’re not saying ‘less face-to-face,’ they’re challenging how best to use that face-to-face. In an era where we have the ubiquity of technology, you expect that traditional model to be challenged, and I think that’s a good thing.”

And so, it seems, with enterprise bargaining underway, there will be change – including to a fundamental way things have long been done at Uni Sydney, the 40-40-20 allocation of academic time for teaching, research and service.

Professor Scott says “I expect that, under any circumstances, the majority of our staff would end up with a 40:40:20 result.”

However, he adds, “I suspect some flexibility here is valuable, to allow some to be specialist teachers, others to be specialist researchers, and for us to be able to ensure that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach across an industrial agreement may not be the best outcome for our researchers, our teachers and the university as a whole.

“I know there are differing views, so let’s have that discussion.”

Good-o, except that the university appears to have made up its policy-mind that there should be change and the discussion should be about how it applies.

As the university’s enterprise agreement proposal puts it,

“This one size fits all approach is no longer suited to the diversity of our academic staff, or enables those academic career paths that we believe the university needs to support our ambitions for education and research in the future.  This model is more rigid than any other university in Australia.”

So, what’s to discuss?

“The proposed approach for the new EA will be to allocate academic work based on the needs of the University and an academic’s skills, competence, expertise, outputs and interests. There will continue to be consultation with staff about their planned allocation, to ensure that both the University’s needs and the academics’ needs are taken into account,” the EA prop states.


Less of the same in international education

Celia Hammond calls for diversity

Speaking in the Reps yesterday Ms Hammond ((Lib WA) had ideas for the Commonwealth’s international education strategy, now in development.

Ms Hammond wants diversity and lots of it, in source countries of students, in what subjects they study, in where they study (regions and metros) and what courses they study – “right from ELICOS up to higher degrees.”

And she is optimistic about what diversity can deliver.

“While it’s taking a hit at the moment because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our education sector will rebound. It has rebounded before. It may look different, but changes have occurred before. And there are very good reasons as to why some changes need to and will take place now”

Ms Hammond is a former VC of University of Notre Dame Australia.

Appointments, achievements

Ian Manchester becomes director of the Australian Centre for Field Robotics at the University of Sydney.

Emma Sparks is appointed Rector and Dean of UNSW Canberra, starting January. She moves from Cranfield U in the UK.