Kitchen and cosmos

Two Curtin U research students have PhD scholarships from the Forrest Foundation, which supports researchers at WA’s five universities. Liyuwork Mitiku Dana will work on food insecurity and Tyrone O’Doherty will study black holes in the Milky Way. Both are Curtin alumni.

There’s more in the Mail

Last month Michael Tomlinson set out the rationale for the new Higher Education Category Standards (CMM December 6), “The names of the roses.”  Now he explains what the standards mean for applicants.

Andrea Simpson and Kim Alley (both La Trobe U) warn that cultural safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island students can be over-looked in the rush to take education on-line. It’s the first 2021 contribution to Contributing Editor Sally Kift’s long-running series on what is needed now in teaching and learning.

Leo Goedegebuure and Lynn Meek (both Uni Melbourne) have edited a special edition of Studies in Higher Education, on the impact of the pandemic on universities around the world. An edited version of their introduction is in CMM.

$40m loss at Uni Wollongong, it could have been worse

The university’s reported loss follows the expected $90m drop in 2020 revenue (CMM May 27)

The shortfall was reduced by staff cuts and academic and admin restructures (CMM May 28 and November 10).

But the pain is not over. While domestic student demand is up, management expects “far fewer enrolments and income” from international students this year than in 2020 and similar income reductions to last year are expected in 2020 and ’21.

NZ to start bringing back Internationals: good for them, bad for us


 Last week Minister for Education Chris Hipkins announced NZ will allow 1000 international students to return

The Government has approved an exception class for 1000 internationals studying at bachelor degree level and above, who began their study in New Zealand but were caught offshore when border restrictions began.

The announcement states that the return will commence in stages from April.

If there is one thing we have learnt from 2020 it is that a three to four months period in a COVID-19 context can provide plenty of wriggle room and time for things to change dramatically. This is no more apparent than the past week in Victoria where the Andrew’s government was out talking up the return of international students last Friday followed by saying it will be “incredibly challenging’ to bring them back in 2021.

However, the Kiwi’s should be congratulated for being ambitious and signalling intent to bring back their international cohort at some sort of scale.

What does this mean for Australia?

With the exception of the 63 international students that Charles Darwin University brought in under a pilot arrangement organised between the Territory and Federal governments, Australia is the last of the Anglosphere big five (USA, UK, Australia, Canada, NZ) to move on international arrivals.

Those in the sector have long thought the hard work on making Australia desirable would translate to higher demand once borders do open and this is would be a ‘first mover’ advantage. It now appears this ship has sailed.

Dirk Mulder is CMM’s international education correspondent

Research locally (if you must) but publish globally

Agata Mrva-Montoya and Edward J. Luca (both Uni Sydney) talked to HASS researchers in Australia about scholarly publishing. They found a “momentous change” in an emphasis shift from quantity to quality of research outputs. But where people publish also matters (a lot).

Their first findings (there is a second paper to come) are published in the new issue of the Journal of Scholarly Publishing

Findings include;

* with no volume-driven funding, publishing, “internationally, with prestigious publishers and in high-ranking journals” is what matters. Preferred publication lists “discourage academics from publishing with niche, emerging, or open access book publishers and journals”

* researchers “consistently reported enjoying flexibility in following their personal interests” but the emphasis on international publication means some subject areas are more approved than others. “Academics we interviewed in Australian studies felt that their work was undervalued by their institutions.”

*  a rewards system imported from STEM, values journal articles over monographs/chapters. “A number of participants reported that they felt book publishing was devalued at their institution, and this seems partly related to the challenges of measuring the impact of books through citation-based metrics.”

* a “lack of incentives or encouragement for open access from their universities”

“While publications remain important, academic production appears to have shifted from publication as an outcome in itself to funding as the primary measure of performance. And funding bodies are increasingly looking to researchers to demonstrate quantifiable, real-world impact for their research, which can be shown to represent a responsible use of taxpayer money,” they conclude.


Deduct now, earn later – the case for a tax deduction on training for future jobs

The feds ask whether the tax deduction for work-related training and education should apply to future as well as current employment. The Innovative Research Universities lobby thinks it should

“The need for people to shift employment fields across their working lives means the tax deduction should be available for all study likely to improve future employment,” the IRU argues in its response to Treasury’s discussion paper.

While the lobby acknowledges a tax deduction will most benefit higher income earners, “it is a plausible additional lever for the government to use.”

However, the IRU wants to restrict any deduction to courses from TEQSA and/or ASQA registered providers.  And it does not want government attempting to pick employment growth winners by listing industries where a life-time deduction applies. “Because of rapid changes in which fields are seen to have shortages (including by sub-field and geographical area), the ongoing need for new people in all employment fields and the evidence that projections of future employment miss some growth areas and overstate others, no list will be suitable.”

As for rorting, that is why the Tax Office exists, “the government should continue to emphasise that the deduction relates to employment outcomes, with the ATO able to test claims against that.”

Appointments, achievements

MS Research Australia announces 2021 grants to, * Jacqueline Orian (La Trobe U) * Jonathon Baell (Monash U) * Brad Sutherland (Uni Tas) * Mastura Monif (La Trobe U) * Yvonne Learmonth (Murdoch U) * Phu Hoang (Neuroscience Research Aus) * Anne Bruestle (ANU) * Lucinda Black (Curtin U) * Anthony Don (Uni Sydney) * Charles Malpas (Uni Melbourne) * Vivienne Guan (Uni Wollongong) * Claudia Marck (Uni Melbourne) * Lisa Grech (Monash U) * Malini Visweswaran (St Vincent’s Centre of Applied MR, (NSW) ), Rodney Scott (Uni Newcastle) * Ali Afrasiabi (Uni Sydney) * Marzena Pedrini (Murdoch U) * Kalina Makowiecki (Menzies Institute for MR (Tas) * Anneke Van Der Walt (Monash U) * Laurence Macia (Uni Sydney)

Melissa Roughley moves from UNSW to be director of student administration services at Uni Sydney.