Red and understood

La Trobe U requires teaching staff to COVID-19 clean rooms after class, students are also invited to wipe-down desks and chairs.  And just to ensure everybody knows how serious the university is about safety, its cleaning-kits comes in LT U branded university-red bags.


There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Ryan Naylor (Uni Sydney) on what students and academics expect from each other, (it’s more in-line than you might think). This week’s selection in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s series on what we need now in teaching and learning.

Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on friendship among academics easy to make, long to last and a pleasure to be part of.

Angel Calderon (RMIT) crunches the numbers on the QS subject rankings to show why they are an impressive result for the much of a much-ness Australian university system.


Government abandons international education for the year

The PM made it clear, again, that international student arrivals aren’t a priority

Mr Morrison’s National Cabinet communique (Friday) commenced that the meeting had, “reaffirmed a shared priority to supporting Australians to return home.”

And while international arrival caps will be reviewed at the next National Cabinet meeting they are unchanged until end April. Mr Morrison also mentioned expanding quarantine capacity at Howard Springs in the NT after cyclone season but it seems there will be ample Australians to fill it up for the rest of the year. The PM added the Commonwealth would, “continue to support repatriation flights for Australians through to the end of 2021, as required.”

That crunching sound you heard was the government throwing providers under a bus

After National Cabinet, the PM took questions. This is what he said when asked if there was, “an update on foreign students.”

“No, there’s no change on that front. It would be good if we could get to that point, but at this stage we’re not at that point. … We have always been happy to work with the international education sector if they want to put in place supplementary self-funded quarantine arrangements and flight arrangements. That has always been there for the international education industry, the large universities and others to go down that path. They haven’t chosen to go down that path. Our focus has remained on the responsibilities we have as a Commonwealth.”

Given dual state-commonwealth responsibilities and agendas on arrivals this is a fairway from fair. The PM and premiers can rally like Djokovic and Nadal when they want the policy ball in the others’ court and states and the commonwealth would need to work together to bring internationals back.

But it does demonstrate the federal government’s apparent perception of the international education industry’s political importance. Alan Tudge did the same thing Friday morning, when he  told ABC Radio, the government would consider any proposal on international student arrivals, but added international enrolments (for HE) are only down 5 per cent.

Which is true looking back (scroll down) but not when gazing forward into the imminent enrolment abyss.

International enrolments: the worse starts now

2020 wasn’t so terrible but this year will be

New numbers from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment show total international enrolments were 882 000 last year, over 7 per cent down on the 952 000 in 2019. This is still ahead, just, of 2018 and the first fall since 2012 when that year’s 513 000 was down on 554 000 in 2011, and way down on 2009’s 631 000.

ELICOS took the worst hit last year, a third lower at 156 000. Higher education was down just 5 per cent to 418 000.

The real news is in commencements. VET did ok, down a bare 400, to 168 000. This makes CMM higher education correspondent Dirk Mulder’s point that international students are moving into VET from other sectors as a way of extending their stay (CMM March 1).

Overall starts were 398 000 last year, 22 per cent below the 510 000 in 2019. HE was 24 per cent lower but again, ELICOS took the hit, with a 44 per cent fall. This is very bad indeed for the future, with fewer numbers on the ELICOS pathway to VET and university study.

And this is before the decline in student numbers caused by lower 2020 starts flows through the system.

ANU to tell all, with “visual refinement” and “story-telling framework”

The university has a new comms  content and livery plan

ANU’s brand sounds self-explanatory, “our location points to our unique history, ties to the Australian Government and special standing as a resource for the Australian people,” it explains to anybody interested.

But apparently it isn’t. After years of research, ranging from asking alumni through to refining livery there is a new ANU Identity (originally called ANU Story), with a soft launch this month.

“This has been a journey to foster cohesion, reduce the issue of brand fragmentation and use research to address the cognitive dissonance between how we see ourselves versus how our community and the world sees us,” staff were told Friday.

The result is the “ANU identity framework” which “is our ‘guiding star.” The framework includes, “a visual refinement to improve recognition and reduce fragmentation, and a storytelling framework that ensures all communications from the University are identifiably and authentically of ANU.”

A learned reader suggests that “ANU” on university letterhead and communications already did that, but apparently not.

The university is now rolling out the new ANU Story, sorry Identity, with “visual updates” across “the ANU web environment” and updates to “platforms and systems” to “reflect the ANU identity.” There are also seven resources on the ANU Identity Hub. Plus, training provided by the university’s agency.

And for people who can’t see what all the work on the Identify Framework has accomplished the university explains “while these components are a subtle change they better embody our collective identity by celebrating the national role we play as a meeting point for bright minds with diverse perspectives.”

Remarkable how changing elements of a logo can make a difference.

QILT student survey results: providers waiting to learn how much gloom was in the zoom

Providers have their own results – it’s the competitions’ they want to see

Institutions are studying their own performance in the Student Experience Survey for 2020, part of the federally funded, and in all ways essential Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching.

But some are nervously waiting on a release of the complete survey, to compare how they went against the system averages, and direct competitors.

This always matters but this year it is really, really important because 2020 was the year when teaching and learning went on-line.

There is no HE institution in Australia which does not want us to know they did a splendid job in responding to the COVID-19 crisis. And it is especially important for providers who are looking to permanently change the teaching mix, with more on-line and less in-person lectures post pandemic.

Learned readers wise in the ways of teaching and learning suggest overall student satisfaction rates in the SES will be down across the system – not surprising given the scramble to move on-line from March and the general disruption to student lives. The providers to check will be those which went from stationary to flat out in on-line delivery within a semester, (the prospect of an established big on-line provider doing badly is too awful to contemplate).

The market to watch will be Victoria, where students endured the longest and severest isolation experience.

For domestic students, the big issues driving satisfaction scores are expected to have been teaching quality, student support and e-learning resources – which all depended on how much gloom was in the Zoom.  And that means more than student-teacher comms, how uni platforms went at allowing students to collaborate with each other really matters to many.

For internationals, satisfaction will be shaped by these factors but also by a wider-world of pain, – basic survival and being charged for a campus experience they paid for and did not get.

In ordinary times universities that don’t do well on QILT often keep quiet– which is not a strategy for the figures for a transformative year. Especially when the SES will be followed, albeit later by attrition numbers (and won’t the one for the new undergraduate certificates be interesting).

So how long do providers have to get their student experience survey scripts sorted? CMM asked Minister Tudge’s office if there is a release date and was told it’s not set.

Dolt of the day

Is CMM. In Friday’s email edition it got wrong Uni Wollongong nursing’s position in the QS subject rankings. UoW is in the 51-100 band.


Inga Davis, (ex Uni Adelaide external relations head) joins Tim Cahill’s Research Strategies Australia as principal. Ms Davis handled stakeholder engagement for the recent Uni Adelaide – Uni SA merger negotiations.

 Lucy Guest moves to Science and Technology Australia as membership/events manager. She was in comms at the National Computational Infrastructure.