Air cover

Griffith University researcher Rob Appleby and colleagues have discovered dingoes on Fraser Island keep clear of umbrellas. CMM knows a border collie that is deeply dubious about ceiling fans, but they aren’t as portable.

Right woman for the job

Anne-Maree Tiernan from Griffith U is joining the board of the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House. It is hard to imagine anybody better qualified. Professor Tiernan knows a bit, quite a bit, about Australian public life, the author/co-author of six books, 17 scholarly articles plus a range of other writing on how we are governed. She is also dean, engagement in the Griffith U business school.

All over soon

It is a nervous morning for everybody waiting on this morning’s National Health and Medical Research Council grants announcement. Details should be out by10am.

Group of Eight slams government: “facts should not be a constant casualty”

The Group of Eight has slammed Education Minister Simon Birmingham, saying “the facts should not be a constant casualty of government media statements and interviews.”

In a statement last night CEO Vicki Thomson attacked Senator Birmingham for comments last week on undergraduate attrition (CMM November 29) saying he is ignoring universities efforts to improve and the impact of demand driven funding and structural changes to the economy.

“The minister appears to refuse to acknowledge that the workforce graduates are attempting to enter today is far more complex than during the ‘short and medium-term employment… highs’ of the last decade. Since then we have seen far more bachelor qualified graduates enter the market via the demand driven system; the rise of a much more global market for talent; restructuring of the Australian economy through the cyclical downturn of the mining boom and the rise of the ‘gig economy’; the demise of some industries in Australia (witness the exit of Holden), and new models entering the Australian market, as encapsulated in companies like Amazon,” Ms Thomson said yesterday.

She added all Group of Eight universities have better than national average figures for both attrition and completions and that despite graduates taking “a little longer to navigate their way through this much more complex maze” and employers “taking some time to work out how best to use this new, more highly skilled workforce,” “long term employment trends still show that graduates achieve strong employment rates in the medium term.”

Ms Thomson called on the minister to work with universities and accept the Group of Eight’s call for a “system-wide review”.

“We are not fighting against the government in wanting the best student outcomes. We are more than keen on applying what the minister describes as a “laser focus” to the subject. We are already accountable and happy to be so. In fact, the Go8 has been agitating the government for many months for promised consultations on the best way forward,” she said.

Dance partners

The Christmas celebration of the day is a video of Charles Sturt University’s Division of Student Administration, (and at all campuses!) dancing up a storm, to “All I want is Christmas is you”  here. Perhaps some of the blokes might also ask Santa for lessons in time for next year’s performance.


UniMelb researchers great Christmas gift

The University of Melbourne and US partners have been researching to see if analysing data of electrical activity in the brain can predict epileptic seizures (CMM September 8 2016). It can using a “brain-inspired computer chip”, as set out in a new paper by Dean Freestone (UniMelb) and Stefan Harrer (IBM), plus colleagues from both institutions, published in The Lancet’s EBioMedicine journal.

“Seizure prediction can increase independence and allow preventative treatment for patients with epilepsy. We present a proof-of-concept for a seizure prediction system that is accurate, fully automated, patient-specific and tunable to an individual’s needs,” they write.

Ever wondered why Australians believe in medical research funding? This is why – the hope that this brings will make Christmas happy for many families.

Time of troubles for TAFE SA

The mess in TAFE SA, with a dozen randomly selected courses failing to reach Australian Skills Quality Authority standards, is a new example of a continuing problem.

Back in 2015 then training minister Gail Gago allocated to TAFE most of 81 000 places in 700 courses, the private training lobby estimated its members could compete for just 5000 places.

Minister Gago justified preventing private providers competing for publicly funded student places under the WorkReady strategy but said this would only be for the first year. “TAFE SA has an important role in vocational education. So, we are supporting TAFE SA while it transitions to more innovative and flexible training provision that better responds to community and industry needs and is more sustainable in a competitive market,” she said, (CMM May 22 2015).

Perhaps it is still transitioning.

More medicine at UniCanberra

The University of Canberra’s commitment to medicine continues with news of a specialist medical centre constructing on campus. It is a JV with Icon Group “Australia’s largest dedicated provider of cancer care” and builder Cornerstone. Work begins as the University of Canberra Public Hospital comes close to completion.

ATN focus on graduate job-prep

The Australian Technology Network is funding six projects focused on work “integrated learning and graduate employability”. With Simon Birmingham keen on employment outcomes and graduate under-employment emerging as a political issue (Rebekha Sharkie Mayo-NXT, raised it in the Reps), demonstrating jobs for grads is on university agendas will be a good signal to send next year.

The ATN projects are:

The EDGE, “eATN focus on graduate job-prep through work integrated learning” led by QUT’s Judith Smith

Case study of teacher-graduate preparedness, Tania Broadley (QUT)

Building ATN text analytics capacity, Simon Buckingham Shum (UTS)

ATN shared employability resource portal, Dawn Bennet (Curtin U)

“Virtual empathy museum,” for healthcare graduates employability and empathy, Tracy Levett-Jones (UTS)

Whole‐of‐curriculum field-based work-integrated learning for graduate employability, Grant Wardell Johnson (Curtin U)

ATN says all member institutions are involved in each project.


Flinders teaching awards

The Flinders University Vice-Chancellor Awards for Excellence in Teaching are out: Howard Fallowfield, Kirstin Ross and Harriet Whiley from the College of Science and Engineering win for Zombie Apocalypse, a course in environmental health which teaches students food and water safety, and how to test for poisonous gas (such a problem at Bedford Park).

Other winners, which do not involve taking The Walking Dead seriously are:

Amanda Müller, College of Nursing and Health Sciences

Up The Hill Project: Fiona Rillotta, Lorraine Lindsay, Jenny Widdop, College of Nursing and Health Sciences

Global Workplace Teaching Team: Susanne Schech, Maryanne Kelton, Verity Kingsmill, David Willis, Colleges of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences/ Business, Government and Law

Lisa Bennett and Erin Sebo, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

The KeyPath more taken

People interested in digital delivery are keeping an eye on KeyPath. The US based digital education services company has made another carefully calibrated investment in postgrad public safety and social work courses, expanding its 2016 partnership with Ontario university, Wilfred Laurier.

Keypath provides partners with strategic and product marketing plus student recruitment and support. So far this year it has established partnerships for business degrees at the University of Exeter, (CMM April 11), Aston University (CMM July 21) and with James Cook U in data science and nursing masters (CMM September 12).

Dolt of the day

Is CMM. In yesterday’s story on 2017 ATAR admissions a figure was entered incorrectly. The “clearly in” number reported for engineering at Murdoch 98.5 was in fact the highest ATAR for the course. There was no median for the degree, as there were only 25 ATAR based offers for first semester ’17.  The education median ATAR (not reported) was 73.8.


Deakin wins export award

Deakin University won the education and training award at the AusTrade awards last night.