Long-term investment

The WA Government distributes $1.19m for eight defence research grants. One goes to Ryan Loxton (Curtin U). with the Aus Submarine Corp, for “data-driven maintenance optimisation” for the Collins Class.  Given its use-by date extends ever-further it has to be great value.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Michelle Picard and Shannon Johnston (Murdoch U) on expanding student access to work integrated learning by building it into a degree programme. This week’s selection by Commissioning Editor Sally Kift for her celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

plus Ginny Barbour (Open Access Australasia) on the power and potential of research repositories. They “have a critical role in archiving, preserving and sharing the diverse content produced by universities so it can be used by others and have the greatest impact on our society.”

and Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on teaching on-line and in-person and why there is demand for both. “My expectation is that our physical campus will remain vibrant and powerful, and our cloud campus will continue to develop, so that both sets of students are supported to grow and meet their aspirations for higher learning. Simultaneously, some staff will continue to teach mostly on-campus, while there will also be more options to work remotely,” he writes.

Charles Darwin U’s march to a med school

Western Sydney U joins up to work on a curriculum

The two universities announced the partnership yesterday, which includes CDU existing partner, the Menzies School of Health Research.

“This is a critical step to enable the teaching of a medical program in the Territory, for the Territory,” CDU states.

It progresses a plan VC Scott Bowman announced in October 2021, to have a med school operating by 2023, with a first in-take of 40 students, to meet the NT’s need for interns (CMM October 5 2021, February 9 2022).

Since then the CDU has gone about assembling alliances and establishing the intellectual infrastructure a new med school needs – making it ever-harder for opponents of more competition for Commonwealth funded med student places to argue the university is not ready.

And if, or more likely when,  it comes to politics, Professor Bowman is ready for that as well.

““It’s quite strange and remarkable that the NT, which is six times the size of the UK and has unique and pressing medical challenges, is the only state or territory with no Commonwealth-funded medical places in the country,” he says (CMM March 31 2022).

TAFE protects its turf

Industry wants new skills for existing workers – which means micro-credentials, Jenny Dodd from TAFE Directors Australia says

Question is where quals should come from. Ms Dodd argues TAFE has always delivered short courses and skill sets (“micro-credentials by another name”) “where there was demand.”

But as for universities – the previous government funded them to teach certificates which were often marketed as alternative to a vocational diploma even though they “were ways of attracting students into a degree programme” and “were generally not built to meet the skills demands of industry.”

“If that policy is to be sustained, then there is a real risk that the value of the vocational diploma will diminish,” she warns.

Which would not be good.

“Long term prosperity requires both investment in VET qualifications, including those at the higher levels of VET such as diplomas, and new solutions for re-skilling existing workers, such as microcredentials,” Ms Dodd says.

With the Jobs and Skills Summit a month away it makes sense for TDA to make its case.

Colin Simpson’s ed-tech must reads of the week

Raising student engagement using digital nudges tailored to students’ motivation and perceived ability levels from the British Journal of Educational Technology

Using “nudges” to influence behaviour started as a hot topic in economics, with Thaler’s work in the space winning the 2017 Nobel Prize, and the ideas have gradually spread to other fields. This article from Plak et al. describes efforts to increase participation in a formative learning activity by sending targeted, personalised nudges based on perceived motivation and ability. It finds that targeting these factors was no more effective than generic nudges but offers some other suggestions for nudging motivation relating to prior performance.


Close encounters in third space – Leadership and organisational dynamics for advancing Digital Education from Media & Learning

The “third space” in Higher Ed is a concept popularised by Celia Whitchurch, relating to expert staff working in learning and teaching units. This engaging keynote from Dr Deb Arnold describes her recent work on a model for university leaders trying to navigate this vital new world, the Digital Education Leadership Literacies in Higher Education (DELLHE). This holistic viewpoint offers useful advice for advancing digital learning at an enterprise level.


Pearson plans to sell its textbooks as NFTs from The Guardian

While the hullabaloo around get-rich-quick schemes relating to selling pictures of cartoon monkeys has mercifully subsided, the foundational ideas of non-fungible tokens – essentially digital certificates of ownership stored in a blockchain – persist. Pearson Publishing has announced plans to retain a small piece of ownership of their e-textbooks after selling them, allowing them to take a cut of any future second-hand sales of these resources. The question of whether digital assets are bought or merely ‘licensed’ is not new – “owners” of 1984 on Kindle woke up one morning in 2009 to discover their book had been removed (Amazon didn’t have the rights). In recent weeks Ubisoft Games was in hot water for an announcement that they would remove online access to Assassin’s Creed Liberation. This was hastily walked back.


Contemporary Approaches to University Teaching: MOOC now open for S2 enrolment from Teche

This MOOC from the Council of Australasian University Leaders in Learning and Teaching (CAULLT) has run since 2018 and offers an invaluable introduction to teaching in Higher Ed in Australia. The post from the Macquarie Uni Teche blog details what to expect. The MOOC itself starts on Aug 29.

Colin Simpson has worked in education technology, teaching, learning design and academic development in the tertiary sector since 2003 at CIT, ANU, Swinburne and Monash University. He is also one of the leaders of the ASCILITE TELedvisors Network. For more from Colin, follow him on Twitter @gamerlearner


CRADLE Seminar Series Programmatic assessment – hype or necessary development – Webinar Tuesday 9th Aug 2pm AEST

This webinar today from Deakin’s CRADLE looks well worth the time if you can make it. Prof Lambert Schuwirth from Flinders Uni discussing the ins and outs of a more holistic approach to assessment.

Why there are fewer new teachers

Initial teacher education graduate numbers declined by 17 per cent between 2017 and 2020

And high ATAR school leavers are not as interested in teaching as a while back. ITE enrollers with an ATAR of 80 and up are down a third from 2006. Overall ITE graduations were down 17 per cent, 2017-20.

The figures are in a new Commonwealth Department of Education paper, presumably to set the context for the teacher education roundtable at new minister Jason Clare’s first MINCO, Friday (CMM July 25).

The meeting will occur in the context of a predicted shortfall of secondary teachers of 4100- 5000 through to 2025.

As to whether the Commonwealth is part of the  problem, DoE does not speculate. The paper points to the previous government’s cap on Commonwealth supported UG places in 2018 and refers to the Job Ready Graduates package reducing the cost of education courses to students by 42 per cent and lifting CSP funding to institutions by 15 per cent but only states, “Caps on CGS funding may have some impact on universities’ decisions to enrol more ITE students, however there is little evidence of this happening at present.”

“The current tight labour market has also led to increased competition for skilled professionals, which may make it even more difficult to attract and retain teachers,” the paper helpfully adds.

Appointment, achievement

Alison Alexander wins U Tasmania’s Dick and Joan Green Family Award for Tasmanian History. It’s for her The Waking Dream of Art: Patricia Giles, Painter.

Chrissy Burns joins UNSW as Chief Information Officer. She moves from CIO at UTS

Dirk Mulder on where international students are (and aren’t)


New  data on visa holders shows there are currently 440 933 primary visa student holders on the books as at August 1 2022. 355,772 of them are onshore but 85,221 are offshore – that’s 19 per cent of the international student body

 by subclass:

Higher Education: Total of 274,674. In Australia 213,968. Outside of Australia 60,706 or 22 per cent

Independent ELICOS: Total of 20,123. In Australia 13,021. Outside of Australia 7,102 or 35 per cent

Non-Award: Total of 7,837. In Australia 6,220. Outside of Australia 1,617 or 21 per cent,

Postgraduate Research: Total of 18,241. In Australia 14,679. Outside of Australia 3,562 or 20 per cent

Schools: Total of 12,206. In Australia 10,030. Outside of Australia 2,176 or 18 per cent

VET: Total of 107,839. In Australia 97,854. Outside of Australia 9,985 or 9 per cent

other: There are 73 outside of Australia which is 100 per cent of the total.

 by citizenship:

China: Total 120,140 with 45,614 or 38 per cent offshore.

India: Total 63,890 with 6302 or 10 per cent offshore.

Nepal: Total 42,331 with 1,574 or 4 per cent offshore.

Vietnam: Total 18,093 with 1,957 or 11 per cent offshore.

Colombia: Total 13,646, with 3,358 or 25 per cent offshore.

Indonesia: Total 12,921 with 1,580 or 12 per cent offshore.

Thailand: Total 12,667 with 1,079 or 9 per cent offshore.

Brazil: Total 12,573 with 2,247 or 18 per cent offshore.

Malaysia: Total 11,874 with 1,159 or 10 per cent offshore.

Philippines: Total 10,852 with 910 or 8 per cent offshore.

other: Total 122,006 with 19,441 or 16 per cent offshore.

 by state/territory (All sectors – location of primary education provider):

NSW: In Australia 127,011, Outside of Australia 35,863 or 22 per cent

VIC: In Australia 102,412, Outside of Australia 23,170 or 18 per cent

QLD: In Australia 62,885, Outside of Australia 14,118 or 18 per cent

SA: In Australia 28,739, Outside of Australia 5,090 or 15 per cent

WA: In Australia 20,730, Outside of Australia 3,791 or 15 per cent

TAS: In Australia 4,118, Outside of Australia 353 or 8 per cent

NT: In Australia 1,450, Outside of Australia 145 or 9 per cent

ACT: In Australia 8,239, Outside of Australia 2,516 or 23 per cent


* China – This data confirms suspicions (CMM JUNE 16) that Chinese students are staying back. And they are. 38 per cent are outside of Australia – double the national average

* Higher Education in the ACT and NSW – it would be a safe presumption that a number of these Chinese students are enrolled in Higher Education institutions in the ACT and NSW.  Of the states ACT (23 per cent) and NSW (22 per cent) have the highest per centage of students outside Australia

* ELICOS – somewhat perplexing is the fact 35 per cent of ELICOS primary Visa holders are offshore. This may be an anomaly to do with the fact English has a rolling commencement while other sectors have fixed commencement dates around semesters or trimesters ,combined with a number of Chinese citizens still off-shore.

CMM notes and thanks sources who advise that the numbers back on campus aren’t necessarily what the commencement and enrolment figures are showing – which this data demonstrates.

Furthermore, the sector in its entirety is just shy of having one in five students still offshore with Higher Education, Independent ELICOS, Non-Award and Postgraduate research all having one in five or slightly above remaining outside of Australia.

Dirk Mulder advises education and business clients on trends in international education. He writes regularly for CMM