Group of Eight tells it how it is

“Universities are complex organisations with layers of bureaucracy both researchers and industry must navigate before reaching a stage of commercial readiness. This includes navigating the range of university institutes, research centres and schools, as well as legal and intellectual property offices.” The Go8’s submission to the National Reconstruction Fund (scroll down for more).  And this in a pitch explaining why the fund should involve universities.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Nicholas Fisk and Thomas Chow (both UNSW) set out the numbers for Aus unis’ impressive R&D achievement. Problem is, it is based on past funding glories.

plus Full-time IT CEO and part-time academic Michael Baron likes teaching but he laments universities don’t make more senior professionals welcome, HERE.

with Kurt Cheng on UTS’ student partnership agreement. New in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s series Needed now in learning and teaching

Few rooms for international students where they are needed


It’s more than a Sydney and Melbourne problem

January was the biggest month by revenue bookings for Australian Homestay Network since David Bycroft established the company in 2008 – 40 per cent up on the previous record month, January 2019.  “Demand is clearly higher than supply,” he says and hosted accommodation is one of few options left in a market that can’t accommodate demand from local renters and international students.

Study Perth CEO Derryn Belford agrees, “research we conducted last year would indicate a shortfall of up to 5000 student beds this year.”

“We have partnered with the state government to run a campaign to activate hosted accommodation. It not only represents a short-term capacity build on beds but provides a great opportunity for residents of Perth to obtain a cultural experience in the process.” she says.

Perth’s bed shortage has been coming for some time. According to Ms Belford, property developers and investors in purpose-built student accommodation are spooked when they are told Perth does not have a university in its city centre.

But this is changing. She points to Edith Cowan U’s new campus which will bring 8000 students to town from 2025. Curtin University’s Historical Heart Cluster development will have more than 5000 students in the city by 2030. There are already 20 000 students currently studying English or vocational courses in the city.  “Now is the time for investment to build accommodation capacity there” Ms Belford says.

Study Gold Coast’s Acting CEO Jennine Tax points to the same problem. “There is currently no large-scale, independent purpose-built student accommodation along the entire coast.” She too is keen to see investment in this area and more beds come on board.

But for now accommodation is  tight. Tax says they are also “embarking on a hosted accommodation campaign and hopes this will unlock beds.”

Study Gold Coast is also partnering with QSTARS a local tenancy support and referral service to assist all Gold Coast students having any issues around their current accommodation, including understanding tenancy agreements and rights, or dialogue with landlords and real estate agents.

Dirk Mulder advises education and business clients on trends in international education. He writes regularly for CMM

VET for the stayers  

The Productivity Commission states, high/increasing proportions of people working in their VET qualified field, or where their highest qual is relevant to their job “is desirable”

On which basis VET is going ok. The Commission’s new report on government services puts the combined figure for the two categories in 2018-19 at 79.8 per cent for 15 – 64 year olds who completed training in the last five years, largely in line with previous surveys over a decade.

Maybe not the message advocates of skill, skill and skill again will want workers to get.  But it’s a solid sell for people who like the idea of acquiring skills and sticking with them, rather than having to regularly reinvent their working selves.

Stay focused on pandemic lessons for teaching


We must not move on from reflection and deliberative educational re-design

While Chat GPT continues to dominate much of the edfech focus in the sector at present, a recent report from Stanford University, Lessons from Teaching and Learning at Stanford During the COVID-19 Pandemic provides a useful reflection on the broader EdTech changes delivering more personalised learning, greater flexibility, improved educational outcomes and greater student support as a consequence of both the impact of the pandemic and advances in technology.

The authors note that “while some instructors made a seamless transition to teaching on-line, others struggled to deliver course content in a technology platform they were wholly unfamiliar with.

“Burnout and Zoom-fatigue were common as, particularly early in the pandemic, students passively consumed long lectures on computer screens. As the pandemic wore on, instructors adapted their teaching to the pandemic circumstances and to students’ needs. Instructors quickly increased their skill in using Zoom for teaching and thoughtfully reworked their instruction, with help from newly developed resources and training programs rapidly spun up by teams across campus.”

The report explores the difference between the “emergency remote teaching” required at the start of the pandemic, and the “well-designed on-line learning” Stanford now focusses on delivering to improve student engagement.

They note that although the switch to remote teaching was highly stressful for educators, especially at the start of the pandemic; the focus on more “active, interactive, and experiential education — including more flexible classroom assessments and opportunities for flipped learning” is something the university is now deliberately embracing.

Stanford’s emphasis on more inclusive, personalised learning which fully accommodates learners’ needs, is also part of the university’s response to increasing rates of depression and anxiety they have seen in their students post-pandemic.

It goes without saying that Stanford’s experiences during the pandemic were shared across Australian universities (and indeed many VET providers). It would be a shame though if in Australia the current focus on ChatGPT, on welcoming back international students and on university funding debates via the Accord process, were to prevent the same level of reflection and deliberative educational re-design in Australian tertiary institutions.
As one of the participants in the Stanford study reflects, “there is no ‘normal’ to return to”.

Claire Field spoke to education design director, Scott Allardyce, on the latest episode of the “What now? What next?’ podcast about the physical infrastructure required for engaging hybrid learning.

Upskilling for accountants

Accountancy grads who want to be chartered can fund their course via FEE HELP – but only if they study with a particular professional body

And pleased indeed is Chartered Accountants ANZ, which says it is good news for accountants, who have to pay full-fees to qualify and for SME practices which “now can attract and retain talent as part of their employee proposition.”

And it is surely good news for CAANZ (formerly the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia,) which is not alone in the accounting industry representation space.

The win builds on its 2021 upgrade by regulator TEQSA, which moved it up from HE provider to an institute of HE. To qualify as an institute, staff must be “active in scholarship that informs  teaching, and active in research when engaged in research student supervision.”

Group of Eight here to help National Reconstruction Fund

The research universities lobby acknowledges the National Reconstruction Fund “is not intended to directly support Australian university research,” but the Go8 has ideas on how they can help each other

In its submission  to the Commonwealth’s consultation paper on how the $15bn National Reconstruction Fund can work, the Group of Eight acknowledges the NRF will be required to generate a positive return on its investments.

But the Eight argues, that for university-based research, “failure to reach a commercial outcome is not necessarily the end of the line.”

“The pathway to university research commercialisation is non-linear and the NRF should consider the markedly diverse ways in which university research can be translated into commercial opportunities.”

The Go8 suggests the Fund allocate $500m for “innovation that is early in its commercialisation journey” in the seven NRF target areas, depending on matching private capital. This $1bn resource could support new technologies to meet the fund’s investment mandate, “while still allowing it to maintain a diverse range of investment activities.”

Business as usual with $40m in new Linkage Grants

Group of Eight universities picked up 40 of 81 in the new round, announced yesterday

Uni Queensland led with nine, followed by Uni Melbourne, UNSW and Uni Sydney, with six each.

The overall success rate for all grants was 42 per cent.

CMM’s fave is funding for a Monash U team to work on an “intelligent robot that can collaborate with human co-workers to accelerate drug formulation.”

How long until there’s a bot with a prescription pad?


Deanna D’Alessandro becomes director of Uni Sydney’s Net Zero Initiative. It is an internal appointment

Griffith U VC Carolyn Evans has a second term, through to 2029. Her first five year appointment expires next year.