How you know they’re “special buys”

Aldi announces its “healthy picks” App. Content information on in-store product packaging  is collected by the George Institute for Global Health. CMM looks forward to the wacky TV advertisement.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning; Ian Solomonides and Trish McCluskey (Victoria U) on what the block-model of teaching delivers, “all students have achieved higher quality learning outcomes, those from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds even more so.” It’s a new essay in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s series on what is needed now in teaching and learning, @

Plus, Merlin Crossley (DVC, UNSW) on why we PhD programmes the way they are now, @

Addressing the RRR education attainment gap

A Reps committee wants to know what’s being done to close “the education attainment gap” for students in regional, rural and remote communities

The House Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training will hear from education department officers at a hearing in Canberra tomorrow. It’s the first for the committee’s  inquiry into RRR communities’ education, from pre to post school.

The committee is chaired by the energetic Andrew Laming (Lib-Qld), celebrated by many in vocational education and training for slamming the performance of the Australian Skills Quality Authority (CMM August 2 2019).

Mr Laming also chaired the committee’s inquiry into helping classroom teachers (CMM, April 8 2018.

What the would-be doctors ordered

Medicine and nursing are the most popular courses among Y12 uni applicants in NSW, with the Universities Admissions Centre announcing first preferences

Med degrees at UNSW (first), Uni Newcastle/UNE (third), Western Sydney U (fourth), plus nursing at UTS (fifth) and Uni Newcastle (9th) made up half the top ten courses.

UNSW (two), UTS (two), Uni Newcastle (two) and Uni Sydney (two) dominated the top ten.

Government response to virus crises for unis

Education Minister Dan Tehan promises “maximum flexibility”

“Our Government will work to provide surety to students and academics whose visas are impacted by the Australian Government’s response to the coronavirus,” Mr Tehan announced last night. He added the government has, “offered maximum flexibility from the sector regulators, to ensure providers can best respond given their circumstances.”

Following the government’s Saturday decision to ban arrivals from China for a fortnight Mr Tehan met yesterday with both the board of Universities Australia and the Council for International Education’s Global Reputation Taskforce.

Unis Aus chair Deborah Terry said last night, ““That offer of ‘maximum flexibility’ from Government is so important – and we appreciate the commitment to work closely together through the challenges this situation presents.”

Business as usual as possible at Deakin U

At least for students in Australia

VC Iain Martin advised staff yesterday the university is contacting its international students from China, with options for those still overseas. These include starting later in term one, delaying to term two, or deferring “for a longer period.”

As to distance education, the university is looking at the, “potential role of on-line learning for some students, although there are several practical and logistical challenges implementing this for students in mainland China.”

Strategy that delivers for the billion dollar unis

The five richest Aus unis are different to the others. It’s not just that they have more money, it’s how they make it

The five institutions making more than $1bn have  selective-growth strategies. Frank Larkindemonstrates how they have done it in new research for the University of Melbourne’s L H Martin Institute.

Professor Larkins’ new paper extends his research on the money the Big Five make (CMM, December 10).

What they did: Sydney, Melbourne, New South Wales, Queensland and Monash have, “collectively achieved record revenue and total assets increases of near 75 per cent in dollars of the day over the decade, in part by increasing student load by 39 per cent and constraining the staffing load growth to only 19 per cent. They have shifted their student recruitment focus away from undergraduate and research students to postgraduate coursework recruiting, especially overseas students, to sustain significant revenue growth. Overseas students were responsible for 76 per cent of student load growth over the past decade,” Professor Larkins writes.

Not so much bigger as different markets:  Between 2009 and 2018 the U-5 under-performed the university system as a whole in domestic student load growth, increasing enrolments by 13 per cent, compared to other universities, which increased local EFTs by 35 per cent.

However, the five expanded international student enrolments by 104 per cent, compared to 37 per cent by all others.

The Five went big on international coursework postgrads, from 47 per cent of the overall coursework category in ’09 to 63 per cent in ’18.

In contrast, overall postgraduate coursework enrolments grew from 16 per cent to 20 per cent of totals at the other universities, because of an increase from overseas.

And teaching productivity: Despite similar overall student growth-rates, the U-5 also grew their academic workforce at a more modest rate than the other universities, by 13.6 per cent, compared to 29 per cent elsewhere. However, the 2009-’18 growth in non-academic staff was more on line, 24.4 per cent in the five and 27.9 per cent in other institutions.

So, what’s the big deal?: Professor Larkins acknowledges the Big Five are, “making a significant contribution to Australia’s balance of trade through the educational exports they generate.” However, he suggests there are questions as to how they serve the university and national community interests. In particular, he points to; institutions’ financial vulnerability, domestic student participation, educational experiences, staffing levels, the teaching-research nexus for staff.

Murdoch U: “committed to freedom of expression”

The university wants an end to the court case against Gerd Schröder-Turk “sooner rather than later”

The university advised staff yesterday that it has written to Associate Professor Gerd Schröder-Turk’s lawyers, “inviting him to progress discussions to resolve the ongoing legal matters.”

This relates to a dispute following Schröder-Turk’s speaking out over the university’s international student admission policies. The university’s position is that he could not do this as a member of its senate.

Murdoch U has already dropped a claim for financial damages against Aspro Schröder-Turk, for losses in student income and institutional reputation it said it incurred after he appeared on ABC TV’s Four Corners, (CMM January 20).

The university now tells staff it, “believes it is in the interests of all parties to bring this matter to a close and wishes to achieve this sooner rather than later.”

“As always, Murdoch University is committed to freedom of expression and will always provide an environment for students and staff to speak freely.

“This is a long standing and fundamental commitment which is an integral part of our university,” MU adds.

What, if anything, the university is prepared to concede, it appears management would prefer not to go back to court. The case is scheduled for April.

The university’s case against Aspro Schröder-Turk was widely and fiercely criticised in Australian and overseas as a breach of academic free-speech.
The Commonwealth is also proposing legislation with a seven-point definition of academic freedom, including, “the freedom of academic staff and students to express their opinions in relation to the higher education provider in which they work or are enrolled,” (CMM January 22).

A compliance assessment of Murdoch U’s international student admission standards and practises, by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, is expected this month.


Leon de Bruin joins the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music as a lecturer. He moves from Monash U