Merlin Crossley on the why and how of investing in young academics
Job-ready graduates: bring in the academic planners!
Cash before the storm: Victorian uni audits before COVID-19
Who lets the dogs out
Susan Hazel (Uni Adelaide) with Australian, UK and US colleagues surveyed dog owners in the three countries to discover who tether their dogs when they drive. Some 72 per cent of Brits do, compared to 67 per cent of Australians. In the US, it was a bare 55 per cent, maybe they think loose dogs in the pick-up is protected by the Bark of Rights (sorry).
Ranking winners stay grinners
University rankings demonstrate Keating’s Law of Mezzanines
Friso Selten and Paul Groth (Uni Amsterdam), with Cameron Neylon and Chun-Kai Huang (Curtin U) analyse the inputs and results of the Times Higher, ARWU and QS rankings to find that their distinct methodologies deliver different results, outside the world top 50 on each list.
However, the top 100s in each of the three, “are stable over time.” “There are not many new institutions that enter and subsequently few institutions that drop out of the top 100.”
It looks like an application of Paul Keating’s 1995 law of mezzanines, that the hard part is building a reputation at the base, “before you have got to the first floor. That is where all the sorting gets, I think, brought on in earnest. Once you are at the first floor, it is a bit like coming to the top of the mountain. As you get towards the apex there are fewer places to go, fewer places to hide and it is all more obvious. So, the selection becomes more automatic. But down at the base it is harder.”
New markets in international educ (just not ones that will make money)
A US partnership will supply academic content to universities around the world
Laureate founder Douglas Becker is partnering with Arizona State U, “to bring the institution’s experience and innovations to colleges and universities worldwide,” through Cintana Education.
ASU is big in the distance ed space (40 000 online students, a third of its total) and a member of the PLuS Alliance, (“global solutions for a sustainable future”) with UNSW and Kings College London.
ASU now provides, via edX, the global freshman academy which; “offers individuals of all backgrounds the opportunity to take the same courses, from the same faculty as on-campus ASU students. Through this program, you can earn transferable ASU credit from anywhere in the world, and pay tuition only if you earn the grade you need.”
The new Cintana JV will work “primarily” with not-for-profit universities and “partner with government entities and the private sector to support the development of start-up universities equipped to meet the needs of their countries.” The plan is to provide a network “that allows students to earn degrees across multiple institutions.”
UNSW is exploring the same space, offering MOOCs in India via a local provider. “There is a mismatch between where the need and demand for higher education is globally, and where the expertise resides,” VC Ian Jacobs said in June.
In-person not wireless
CSIRO’s WLAN royalties send students to Nobel meet
There is new funding for ten young Australian researchers a year to attend the annual Lindau Nobel laureate meeting for a decade. The money comes from the Science and Industry Endowment Fund, which has a capacious kitty thanks to CSIRO, which in 2009 committed $150m from its wireless local area network (WLAN) licensing income. SIEF has funded 80 Australians to go to Lindau since 2013.
Griffith U film school to be its own show runner
GU is formalising its film school’s independence from the university’s Queensland College of Art
“The change to enable the Griffith Film School to be fully independent of the QCA would capture existing leadership, engagement and fiscal practices and would enable the Film School to more effectively realise its potential as an independent School at Griffith,” a change proposal states. While some reporting lines will change, no jobs are cited as being abolished.
The big reason appears to be to unleash the film school’s inner entrepreneurs, with the proposal described as “an opportunity to further nurture and support the evolution and eventual expansion of the GFS (e.g. to the Gold Coast) in future.”
They like a low-key, carefully calibrated restructure at Griffith U with minimum employment pain (except for small numbers of people whose jobs go). Last year Griffith management quietly folded the Centre for Creative Arts Research into the QCA, with two jobs lost. There was also a restructure in library and learning services where four positions spilled. There was also work on the service delivery function in the mcoms portfolio. And over the last couple of years there was work on student and academic administration and on restructuring Griffith’s science schools.
With university leaders now deep in the weeds, working on VC Carolyn Evans’ first strategic plan, there can’t be many legacy issues blurring big pictures.
Working on ways with water
Rob Vertessy (Uni Melbourne) is commissioned by the feds to lead a $20m research programme to “better inform water and environmental management decisions” for the Murray Darling basin.
Professor Vertessy is head of the MD Basin Authority’s independent advisory committee. In January he chaired a panel providing advice to Agriculture Minister David Littleproud on the summer fish-kill in the basin, (CMM January 24).
It just takes TEQSA
Establishing a uni used to take an act of a state parliament, now it takes TEQSA
Learned readers were quick to report that Avondale University College (to soon be) is not Australia’s first UC – that Charles Darwin U and U Sunshine Coast both started as university colleges, created by NT and Queensland laws. Quite right, but Avondale will be the first created under the TEQSA legislation, (CMM yesterday).
And that isn’t all the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency can do – if Avondale qualifies over the next five years to become a full university, then TEQSA can create it.
The agency advises that its legislation doesn’t require state acts to change a provider’s category. The Higher Education Standards Framework does specify an application to become a university must have the “support” of the relevant commonwealth, state or territory government, but that does not mean legislation.
Melbourne Graduate School of Education has another go at workloads
The MGSE is “working toward a fairer and balanced approach”
Dean Jim Watterston tells staff that adoption of a consultant report on teaching workloads will benefit 78 per cent of staff, with the remainder “not impacted.”
“The new model for 2020 will see an overall reduction in teaching allocations. The school will need to make an increased investment in staffing in order to address the subsequent gap. This will be factored into the budget for 2020,” Dr Watterston says.
Back in 2017, before he started, the GSE ended a bunch of fixed term academic positions and created new continuing ones, with a doctorate an “essential criteria for” teaching-research and teaching specialist roles (CMM September 7 and 8).
This did not work out to the satisfaction of all, as the Wells Advisory review of the MGSE teaching workload reported in July, “MGSE has undergone significant change in recent years. There is a perception that reductions to the staffing profile in 2017, coupled with the departure of senior academics, resulted in increased teaching workloads which in turn impacted research performance.”
According to Wells Advisory, the perception of higher workload could be due to a decrease in teaching-specialist staff from 58 in 2016 to 31 in 2018, this meant a redistribution of teaching hours among research and teaching staff.
Which should explain a decline in research output – but doesn’t entirely. The Wells’ review found research income dropped from $12.m in 2016 to $9.8m in 2018 and Web of Science listed publications declined from 326 to 242 between 2014-16 and 2017. “The data suggest that the research underperformance may not be solely attributable to increases in teaching load as there appears to be a downward trend preceding the increase.”
Then again it may have been due to who left – while there were seven more Level D academics there were three fewer Level Es. “
“Anecdotally, staff have stated that the loss of senior researchers has had a direct and significant impact on research income and publications.”
Peter Gething moves to Perth to take up the Kerry M Stokes chair of child health research, a partnership of Curtin University, the Channel 7 Telethon Trust and the Telethon Kids Institute. Professor Gething is now a professor of epidemiology in the Big Data Institute at the University of Oxford.
Also at Curtin U, Tim McInnis becomes chief advancement officer. He moves from the Telethon Kids Institute, where he is head of philanthropic development.