Bunyip academia

If the Prime Minister announced Go8 VCs could be dames and knights would any accept? Certainly not, the plaudits of their peers in the academy of letters is surely honour enough. Although, some may accept a peerage. Tricky in Melbourne though, there has already been a local viscount , named for the city as well as a knighted Monash.

Time to stand up for TEQSA

The Senate inquiry into the gutting TEQSA legislation is calling for submissions. So now is the time for the agency’s admirers to stand up. You have until May 2 to explain why Kwong Lee Dow and Valerie Braithwaite got their report wrong and/or the parliamentary drafts-people buggered up the bill.

Cheap slogans

“Policy Paul” Kniest from the National Tertiary Education Union responded to yesterday’s item about encouraging students’ aspirations by asking how many kids are convinced to go to university against their own judgement and who does the convincing – he suspects parents, rather than university marketing. On the basis of the creative he considers in the new issue of the Union’s Advocate he probably has a point. The most distinctive features of many corporate campaigns , is that they are  indistinguishable from the competition. But what is most interesting is Mr Kniest’s estimate that universities as a whole spend just one per cent of income on  “advertising and promotion.”  With spending so small perhaps the marketing works better than I think.

The business of business isn’t just business

According to a paper in the new issue of the Journal of International Education in Business, “global citizenship, social responsibility and sustainability are constructs increasingly used in business schools. “ So much for making money.  But wait there’s more. UTS is re-launching it’s learning and teaching sustainability website, as a resource for academics to cooperate across institutions on course design. “Sustainability cuts across everything,” the university’s press release quotes UTS professor of sustainable business Suzanne Benn as saying.

No time for keeping calm

The NTEU branch at UTS is urging staff to vote for protected industrial action in a Fair Work Australia ballot, which opened yesterday and runs to April 11. The union alleges management is not turning up to bargaining sessions and has been “actively hostile to the NTEU branch president. And they are not too pleased about the money being talked about. “Get angry and take action,” the union urges. This blue has a way to go.

Big Brother is reading you

Retraction Watch is Media Watch for researchers – you love it until you are in it. And what is not to love about yesterday’s story; “an article about publishing ethics has been retracted because one of the authors re-used material he’d written for an earlier piece.” Whatever the citation stats say, somebody always notices

Open-ish access

Across the ditch the University of Waikato has struck a blow for open access to research. But not an especially forceful one. The university wants staff to place papers in its open access repository, “Most journal publishers allow authors to deposit the ‘accepted manuscript’ version,” its new policy states. And this applies except where a “publisher has formally imposed an embargo”. Which gives the commercial publishers an obvious out. Perhaps “most publishers” allow open access, just not the big publishers of prestigious journals whose business depends on institutions and individuals paying to read content when first published, and generally for months after. There is no way round this – open access is not all that open while publishers require payment for the papers they publish.

Too horrible to contemplate 

It’s the National Union of Students’ day of action over cuts – to university funding, past, present and presumed, plus fears of fees. At La Trobe NTEU members are striking over job cuts and enterprise bargaining and arguing that their and the students’ causes are one. The national union is also backing the students, saying that if the government did increase student fees it would do universities no good. It would lead to more students defaulting on high debts, which would lead government to cut other areas of higher education funding to make up the shortfall. This is an entirely plausible argument, except for one possibility so awful that it appears beyond the union’s imagining. Universities could be allowed to charge additional fees if they chose – outside the government loan system. Now that would start a protest.

Bipartisan, perhaps

The government joint party room has approved introducing a bill for a national VET student ID and an agency to run the system. At present there is neither a single transcript system nor a way of knowing how many students are/were in the various systems across the country. The explanatory memorandum sets out its policy importance; “with an estimated 2.7 million enrolments in VET each year, collecting and analysing information is essential to ensuring that the VET system can respond to students’ preferences and to the skills needs of industry and the economy” The legislation was in the Reps last year but lapsed when the election was called. I’m guessing it will be uncontroversial, but given Labor is opposing higher education funding cuts of its own design and sent legislation based on its own TEQSA report to committee you never can tell.

In the comfort of their own home

The British Council reports that more people study for a UK higher education qualification without entering the country than do. This transnational education market has in increased by 50 per cent in four years. Partner institutions rather than branch campuses are driving the growth.

Innovation at Adelaide

The talk by MIT’s Eric Grimson at the University of Adelaide I praised yesterday is (appropriately) online, here. It’s worth a look by anybody interested in what digital education can accomplish for on-campus courses.