ASQA agrees

Training regulator ASQA welcomes federal government legislation changing the governance structure of – ASQA!

“This is truly an exciting time for the agency’s continued evolution,” CEO Saxon Rice says. It would have been news if she had said the new model, which expands the head of the authority’s power was a bad idea.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning, Jason Lodge (Uni Queensland) on the  importance of process in student learning. It’s this week’s essay in Contributing Editor Sally Kift’s series on  what is needed now in teaching and learning.

And Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on the science and cricket of research publishing strategy.

In email they trust at ANU

It’s not just staff who trust what look like official messages

Researchers assessed students’ susceptibility to email fraud to find that a message purporting to be about exam timetables was most likely to be opened. “This email likely succeeded because it was both relevant and salient, and instilled fear in participants as the email required urgent attention.”

There was no distinction between genders, IT competence or students’ level of trust in the internet.  However international students and first-years were more susceptible.

The survey was conducted at ANU – where a staffer innocently opening an email about a vague campus meeting was enough for hackers to access decades of individuals’ records.

* Roderic Broadhurst, Katie Skinner, Nicholas Sifniotis, Bryan Matamoros-Macias and Yuguang Ipsen, “Phishing risks in a university student community,” Australian Institute of Criminology

Ah federalism, ain’t it grand?

The NSW Teachers Federation has established its own inquiry into teacher workloads (Jordan Baker in the SMH had the yarn). Perhaps the comrades did not know about the House of Reps inquiry into the status of teachers, which covered, workloads.

There are also parallel Victorian and Commonwealth inquiries on voced underway.


Doing a bit more with no more, for now

Labour productivity in the education system is up, not by much, but it’s better than the economy overall

The Productivity Commission estimates labour productivity in education and training increased by 0.3 per cent increase in 2018-19, compared to an all-industries decline of 0.2 per cent.

The PC suggests productivity is both hard to measure, and improve in professional labour-intensive industries, like healthcare and education, where there are fewer gains to be made from compounding outcomes of automation.

This might explain the Commission’s finding, that labour productivity in professional, scientific and technical services was down 3.5 per cent.  Good-o, but the PC also reports the information, media and telecommunications category is up 4.3 per cent. Of course, journalism and comms don’t employ as many people as they used to – but who says HE will as on-line education expands.

TEQSA keen to help

The agency continues to make-nice with HE providers

The Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency and Department of Education, Skills and Employment are integrating their data collections and TEQSA proposes a way to minimise the processing pain for providers. Details are  here.

The agency is also addressing issues providers raised in creating its new risk assessment framework (CMM January 28).

News we need international students to hear

The fires are out – it’s good news the international education market needs to know


 International education just can’t get a break. The bushfires had the sector jumpy about perceptions of Australia being open for business and what impact the reporting, and false reporting of the tragedy might have on student numbers for semester one.

But as the fires ended the virus formerly known as Corona arrived and the industry’s attention quickly turned to its impact. And what an impact it is, with institutions that receive students from China focused on how to get them studying on-line, or at least still keen to come here, when they can.

I was chuffed to see the Bangkok post story two days confirming the bushfires are now extinguished.

But, it does leave me wondering, what if any thought is going into getting the good news about the fires out.

With the COVID-19 crisis continuing – we need all the good news we can get out there.

Dirk Mulder is CMM’s international education correspondent

Student cheating that gets missed

Much of the contract cheating identified by university staff is in assignments – but that is not where students report it happens most

A new analysis of a contract cheating database, by Rowena Harper, Tracey Bretag and Kiata Rundle (all Uni SA) reports in Higher Education Research and Development that seven out of the ten most common stusdent cheating behaviours is in exams, notably multiple-choice.

“Students may find it easy to cheat, given they can quickly and discretely look at the boxes that have been checked on a neighbour’s paper or whisper a question number and letter response to a friend,” they report.

This is bad news for advocates of exams as more secure than written assignments.

“While multiple choice question exams may be efficient in terms of the time they take to mark, these findings suggest that their integrity cannot be assumed simply because they are conducted under invigilated conditions.

“The belief in the inherent integrity of the exam format has provided a false sense of security.”

The authors conclude, “text-rich forms of assessment should retain a valued place in university assessment strategies. While they are not immune to contract cheating, staff appear to be practiced at detecting cheating in the context of a written task.”

More top teachers for regions

Education Minister Dan Tehan announces $15m more for quality teachers, especially in STEM subjects, to work in regional, rural and remote schools

This will nearly double participants in the Teach for Australia, to 250 in RRR locations and fund school leadership programmes there.

It’s part of a start to a problem research for the Regional Universities Network warned about last, year – a coming shortage of teachers, which will be “acutely felt” in RRR communities. (CMM October 30).


Chennupati Jagadish (ANU) is the new editor-in-chief of Applied Physics Review.

John McDonald joins Charles Sturt U as executive dean, Arts and Education. He moves from Federation U.