Keep closed to May

UNSW management, asks staff “to keep windows and external doors closed at all times for the duration of the bush fires,” as smoke from distant-fires lay thick and heavy across eastern Sydney yesterday.  Two buildings on the Kensington campus also closed, “to avoid further disruption from repeated smoke alarms”

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning;

Amanda Henderson (CQU) on how to improve student work-placement learning, ask them. It’s a new contribution to Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s series on what is needed now in teaching and learning.

And Anthony Tuckett (Uni Queensland) marks the Schwartz nursing education review a distinction.

UWA names new VC

The university announce Amit Chakma will replace Dawn Freshwater

Professor Chakma will takeover in July, following Professor Freshwater’s departure in March to become VC of the University of Auckland

Professor Chakma was the VC of the University of Western Ontario (“Western U”) until July, stepping down after ten years. Before that he was VP Academic and Provost at Waterloo U, also in Ontario.

Professor Chakma is a chemical engineer, expert in gas and petroleum, which will appeal on resources-research focused UWA. Uni Western Ontario nominates his growing international student numbers by a factor of five as a major achievement. This may also be welcome at UWA, Perth languishes as a destination of choice for international students.

UWA Chancellor Robert French says Professor Chakma is “committed to combining research excellence with outstanding student experience.”

Western U is a big teaching institution, with 24 000 undergraduates and just under 8000 PGs. In comparison, UWA has 24 000 in total. However, UWA is stronger in research, ranking 99th in the world in the current Academic Ranking of World Universities, while Western U is in the ARWU’s 201-300 band.

Peak university lobby calls for school-leaving results that show what students know

Innovative Research Universities calls for school outcome-statements for individuals and cohorts that unis can align to their courses

“It is a strange reality that the presentation of information in the senior secondary certificates disguises information about the person’s level of knowledge, capability and skill in favour of normalised information,” the IRU argues in a submission to Peter Shergold’s review of pathways from school to future education and employment.

IRU proposes;

* school leavers know what their results prepare them for; “if a gap emerges between the reality of school outcomes and the expectations for entry to follow on education it hampers students’ ability to engage well with further education and could put at risk their achieving the outcomes needed to complete later qualifications.”

* “The presentation of results should be transparent about the actual level of achievement.”

* To “contain” the ATAR to its “relevant use” as a course-rationing mechanism requires; senior secondary results to be reworked as “absolute statements about current levels of achievement” and “entry to most tertiary qualifications to be based on thresholds required for the course, not relative standing to other applicants.”

App of the day

Hooray for Study NSW, one of the funders of international student editions of legal advice app, My Legal Mate

The app uses 3000 videos to explain laws on employment, housing, sexual assault and disputes with education providers. The app appears in English, Chinese, Portuguese, Thai, Hindi, Vietnamese and Korean.

Redfern Legal Centre created the app (CMM April 15) and last month Macquarie U became the first institution to provide it for international students.

Study NSW recognises that state interest in internationals must extend beyond calculating how much they kick-in to the economy. In April, it funded UNSW-UTS research into international students being exploited by “unscrupulous employers and accommodation providers,” (CMM April 10, some findings CMM December 4).

Uni Sydney adopts free speech code

VC Michael Spence said implementing the Robert French free-speech code at Uni Sydney was “far from straightforward, they worked it out*

The university’s senate has adopted a changed version of its academic freedom charter, in line with the model code of free speech on campus the federal government commissioned from former Chief Justice of Australia Robert French.

The university quotes Mr French endorsing the new charter, calling it “one useful model that may assist other universities and the result is entirely consistent with my hope that the code would provide a non-prescriptive basis for reform in this difficult area.”

Which is good for the university. Education Minister Dan Tehan says he is, “committed to working with the sector to achieve 100 per cent adoption of the code by next year and we will benchmark all responses against the code,” (CMM December 2).

Uni Sydney now states it, “shall not refuse permission for the use of its land or facilities by an external visiting speaker or invited visiting speaker nor attach conditions to its permission, solely on the basis of the content of the proposed speech by the visitor.” Except when a speech, “is or is likely to involve the advancement of theories or propositions which purport to be based on scholarship or research but which fall below scholarly standards to such an extent as to be detrimental to the university’s character as an institution of higher learning.”

The university also sets out a protection for people expressing unpopular opinions. The charter’s definition of the university’s, “duty to foster the wellbeing of staff and students,” “does not extend to a duty to protect any person from feeling offended or shocked or insulted by the lawful speech of another.”

* CMM July 30

HE system set for shakeup unis can live with

The government approves all of the Coaldrake Review

Education Minister Dan Tehan backs all ten recommendation for changes to HE provider category standards proposed by Peter Coaldrake, (CMM October 16).

Mr Tehan singles out the creation of a new one-step from a university category as important (called National Institutes of Higher Education by Coaldrake, but to be known as “university colleges”.  He also mentions the review’s recommended research benchmarks for univerities.

Professor Coaldrake’s recommendations include:

* University colleges, “recognised for meeting additional criteria to those required of other higher education providers outside the universities and will have a significant measure of self-accrediting authority status.”

* setting standards so providers can “grow course and research offerings” and “transition” to another category

* including, “a threshold benchmark of quality and quantity of research” in the HE Provider Category Standards.

*  introducing and/or bolstering industry and community engagement and civic leadership in the category standards for universities and uni colleges

* changing legislation to permit “greenfield universities,” “to support innovation, population growth, and demand for higher education in the future”

expanding research requirements for universities. In 2030, existing universities should undertake “world standard research” in at least 50 per cent of fields of education they teach (up from 30 per cent). Any new university should start at 30 per cent and scale up to 50 per cent.

University lobbies were relaxed about Professor Coaldrake’s recommendations when announced, happy that there was no proposal to create teaching-only unis. It is likely that they will be the same with Minster Tehan’s response. Universities Australia certainly was last night, saying it was pleased Mr Tehan had accepted all recommendations including; “the nexus between teaching and research as a defining feature of Australia’s universities.”

Not so open on-line

Sebastian Kaempf knows how to put together a MOOC that works

The Uni Queensland academic’s MOOC, “Global Media, War and Technology (via edX) has run for years, with nearly 10 000 students and he won the International Studies Association’s 2019 innovative teaching award last month.

You can learn how he made the MOOC, in a new article with Carrie Finn (also Uni Queensland), which “provides an in-depth view into the pedagogical aims and design as well as the response to and experience of one specific MOOC.”

At least you can if you have subscription access to International Studies Perspectives or have $45 spare to pay for short-term access.

What China wants from VET


The Chinese Government is keenly aware of VET’s role in lifting people out of poverty

I was pleased to be invited to address last week’s For the Future: International Conference on VET Development in Beijing.

Chinese senior officials and the Vice Minister for Education made it clear how significant VET is in continuing to grow their economy and adapt to a more technological future. Their current VET reforms are focussed on (a) lifting the quality of VET and (b) greater involvement of stakeholders in the VET system including particularly business. They are looking for ‘pragmatic’ cooperation on VET for the:

* digital economy * robotic transportation * modern logistics * culture * tourism * healthcare

The government is also keenly aware of the role VET can play in lifting people out of poverty. The central government (and through them the provincial governments) are focussed on VET for children in rural areas, children of single parents, and the “left behind” children (whose parents move to cities to work). They have pilot projects underway (backed by a 45 million RMB investment) in rural areas focussed on these priority groups involving: Apple, BHP Billiton, JP Morgan, and Microsoft, amongst others.

International speakers all discussed how critical VET is in the transition to a more digital future workplace. They also spoke about the value they placed on cooperation with China. This included the ambassadors of Canada and the Netherlands who also both expressed a desire to have their apprentices spend time working in China as part of their apprenticeship.

JP Morgan was a conference sponsor and discussed the US$325 million they have invested in VET initiatives over the last 5 years. In the next 5-years they will invest a further US$350 million – a lot of that in China and it will include work through their partnership with the International Labour Organisation to implement apprenticeships (with the support and involvement of the Chinese government).

Claire Field advises on VET, international education and private higher education.

Murdoch U court case and TEQSA assessment continue into new year

Yesterday Justice Jackson in the Federal Court issued consent orders on pleadings and discovery of documents and scheduled a case management hearing for April 20.

The complex dispute dates from Murdoch U academic Gerd Schröder-Turk expressing concerns, about the academic standards of some international students at the university on ABC TV’s Four Corners. The university rejects his claims and wants damages for loss of income and reputation.

Also for the new year is the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency compliance assessment of Murdoch U, which the agency said yesterday “remains ongoing.”

TEQSA sought information from Murdoch University in response to allegations within a Four Corners report, concerning admissions and performance of international students. TEQSA analysed that information and initiated a compliance assessment. Murdoch University has provided the further information requested, which TEQSA is currently considering,” the agency states.

TEQSA said yesterday “we anticipate this concluding in the first quarter of 2020.”


At Uni Canberra,  Peter Radoll moves up from dean to PVC, leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership and Strategy.

 Danielle Wood will become Grattan Institute CEO in July. Ms Wood is now GI’s director of budget policy and institutional reform. She will replace inaugural CEO John Daley.