Idea above its station

Strange to relate, the University of Melbourne has not got something it wanted. UniMelb was keen for the yet to be built metro station close to campus to be called University. Word is it will be Parkville.

UniAdelaide business dean Gabbott leaves tomorrow

Mark Gabbott will leave the University of Adelaide on Friday. The dean of business’s departure was announced by Faculty of Professions head Christopher Findlay yesterday afternoon. Professor Findlay “thanked Mark for his important contribution” and “on behalf of the faculty wish him all the best for his future.”

Professor Gabbott started at the University of Adelaide last November. He joined from Macquarie U where he spent six year.

Uni attrition rate and job stats opens debate on demand driven system

Simon Birmingham was out yesterday using the new graduate employment figures to make his case for performance metrics, suggesting that the demand driven system means, “there’s a real incentive for universities to maximise their enrolment numbers.”

And in case anybody missed the point he added:

“We want to make sure that there is a clear incentive for universities to make sure they are admitting the right students into appropriate degree courses or programmes and that they are giving those students the maximum support and appropriate assistance to successfully complete their course and that they are making sure those courses best align with employment outcomes and helping students to get work-integrated learning opportunities to transition into the workforce. These are the types of things that ought to be central to our universities. … Many do a great job, but we want to make sure the incentives are there in terms of payments they receive from government to really focus on lifting those student outcomes, because that’s about being fair to the students and giving them what they’re signing up to.”

This is high-risk rhetoric. The last time CMM looked the demand driven system was government policy but people not following the party-line could use the senator’s suggestions to go beyond performance metrics and say they show the system enrols too many people unsuited to study.

People like National Tertiary Education Union president, Jeannie Rea.

“Universities have enrolled many more students since the introduction of the ‘Demand Driven System’ in 2012, but not surprisingly this market mechanism has not improved the quality of higher education.

Rather, universities enrol very large numbers of students to make up for insufficient funds per student, hoping some sort of efficiencies-of-scale will kick in.

However, the actual outcome is that more marginal students – those less prepared for university, with less family, financial or education support, less access to campuses and lower confidence – are more likely to drop out while still accumulating a fee debt.”

Ms Rea wants more public money per student, not fewer disadvantaged starters, but what’s the betting that people who want the demand driven system ended will ignore that bit.

Brush up your Shakespeare

A learned reader points to the “Which Shakespeare character are youquiz, which is part of the new University of Adelaide MOOC (CMM yesterday) on a bunch of his plays. The quiz should be compulsory for all applicants for executive positions at any university, not least to find out if they resemble Iago. It is  the work of a student on the MOOC team, the erudite and amusing Galen Cuthbertson.

La Trobe U fellows appointed

James Fazzino and Jenny Graves are new La Trobe University vice chancellor’s fellows. Professor Graves is the present holder of the prime minister’s prize for science, the first-ever La Trobe researcher to win the peak award. She will use her fellowship to work with LT U colleagues on integrating genomics into animal biology, ecology and conservation,

Mr Fazzino joins LT U after eight years as CEO of fertiliser and commercial explosives company, Incitec Pivot. He will advise the vice chancellor and senior staff on future directions for the business school.

Now open not shut

In January UTS will adopt open-book exams “wherever these are appropriate”. The decision was made following what UTSers describe as “extensive consultation” stretching back 18 months at least.

On being game to have a go

There is something optimistically Australian in Marnie Hughes Warrington’s report on changes in the selection process for the Rhodes Scholarship. (The ANU DVC is the scholarship secretary). Thus she writes of the way encouraging people to apply for a Rhodes Scholarship has expanded the talent pool, “more Australian universities are now participating in Rhodes selection. We have elected our third Indigenous Rhodes Scholar in 113 years, with the second being last year. Griffith University, Curtin University and University of Technology Sydney have won their second ever Rhodes Scholarships. Our shortlists are more culturally diverse and we are slowly making headway in increasing the number of applicants who went to government high schools, particularly in rural and regional areas. “

Which is good – but what is better is how the Rhodes team did it; by answering questions and addressing fears held by people of ability who think they took the wrong sort of degree and not from the right sort of university.

“Appoint selection mentors who can help all applicants to be their best. Do not assume that only people from underrepresented backgrounds need help: not all male applicants are confident. And make sure that when someone comes into an interview room, they feel best able to succeed.”

In short, give people the chance to be game to have a go. Too right.

Swift across Monash

Monash University is exhibiting treasures from its Jonathan Swift collection. “Who knew Lilliput was so close to Monash University ?,” asks David Groenewegen, the university library’s director of research. Better that than links to Dean Swift’s modest proposal, applied to staff.

Business a bit ordinary on new rankings

Another day, another set of university rankings, but these aren’t as impressive as the THE physical science ratings (CMM, Tuesday), in which over half Australia’s public universities made the global top 500. This morning’s are from the QS organisation, which league-tables a bunch of business degrees.

Local leaders include the University of Melbourne, which rates fifth in the world on the masters of business list for its degree in business analytics. The University of Sydney is 24th for its masters of management, followed by the University of Wollongong, =77th for its project management degree. Bond U and Curtin Business School ranked in the 101-122 tranche. Three locals make the finance masters global list, the University of Queensland at 51, plus Bond U and Curtin U in the 101-131 group.

Just two Australian providers make the global top 100 MBAs, the Melbourne Business School (34) and the Australian Graduate Management School at UNSW. They are followed by the MGSM at Macquarie U (101-110), the University of Queensland Business School (111-120), UWA (121-130), Bond U, Deakin U, RMIT and University of Wollongong (151-200), and La Trobe U and Victoria Graduate School of Business in the 201+ group.