Birds of a feather flocking together

Uni Sydney ecologist Dieter Hochuli announces (via Twitter) “wormageddon” on the campus front lawn, as ibises hop-into wet-weather worms

And it’s not just one or two, Professor Hochuli reports, but a veneration of ibis. Yes, that is the collective noun, CMM looked it up and he promises to never again call them “bin chickens”.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Victoria Fielding (Uni SA) on the way enabling programmes prepare students for undergraduate study, (so why do university teachers underrate them?). It’s this week’s contribution to Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

 Merlin Crossley on how humour can help (and hinder) in teaching.

Amanda-Jane George (CQU) suggests there is a third approach – non R&D innovation, “simple or incremental innovation, like changing delivery methods or shifting on-line.”

Hiding from (not under) the QILT

When the QILT undergraduate experience survey comes out many universities take cover

Especially institutions which market on their resources and reputation but whose students reveal they are unimpressed with the quality of their learning experience. It is unconvincing, but understandable.

What isn’t is the similar silence on the employer satisfaction survey, even though this year’s results, like those before, is positive, really positive.

Perhaps university policy-wonks warn management about methodological flaws with the surveys – despite their being professionally produced by the eminent (ANU owned) Social Research Centre. But that can’t be right – many universities that do badly on QILT, celebrate their achievement in the Times Higher and QS rankings, both of which include surveys not as rigorously targeted as QILT.

Unless it is because universities hate being judged by undergraduates, graduates and the people who employ them. But that can’t be right, can it.

Pip Pattison to exit Uni Sydney

The DVC E will retire at year end

Professor Pattison was recruited from Uni Melbourne in 2014, where she was DVC Academic.  This was considered something of a coup then with Professor Pattison brought in to, among many other things, renew curriculum.

Which she did – working on a plan than cut the number of UG degrees by nearly a factor of three and creating a bachelor of advanced studies, providing two UG degrees,  sort, but only sort of, like the Melbourne Model. After the first-year Uni Sydney was claiming the scheme a success, with enrolments 50 per cent up projections, (CMM June 13 2018).

“There are few people who can claim they’ve been instrumental in the redesign of undergraduate education at two of Australia’s finest universities,” VC Stephen Garton says.

CQU – the c stands for community

The marketing director at Pyramids U probably banged on about how the alumni were a great recruiting asset but only ever asked them to endow new tombs

Twas oft ever thus – but not at CQU, where there is a “micro-volunteering programme” to involve, really involve, alumni in supporting students.

Participants complete a 30-minute task a month from March to November, including blogging advice for undergrads based on their own experience, there is also an option to mentor.

There is not much in it for grads (nine months gets you a “sustainable water bottle”) but that is surely the point. That graduates are engaged enough to do this will make existing students confident in their choice and send a message to prospective ones about loyalty to the CQU brand.

Not even near green for go on international arrivals

The Group of Eight wants a plan for when the lights change

The Group of Eight has taken the hardest cash hit from the exclusion of international students but has complained the least of the vocal lobbies, regularly announcing that universities must follow medical advice.

This is an embrace of reality – neither PM nor premiers is going to open-up to internationals while there is a risk of importing the pandemic. Plus, critics would be quick to complain if student were allowed in while Australians in numbers are still unwillingly offshore.

But the patience of the ever-astute Go8 chief executive Vicki Thomson wears thin.

There are plans in place for when universities get the green light, she told ABC  Adelaide Radio yesterday, but “frustration is creeping because we can’t even get the amber light.”

“The problem is we have so many layers we have to work through, health departments, education departments, state government quarantining and Home Affairs.”

There is always a piece of the puzzle that does not fit, “and that is what has been so frustrating,” she said.

“We completely understand where the federal government is in terms of health advice (but) it’s time to actually start the planning process.”

Ms Thomson pointed to the possibility of an international student transit hub in Singapore. And she mentioned ASEAN ambassadors, “who have a really strong commitment to getting their students into Australia,” keen to meet with government.

“There are lots of irons in the fire but it comes down to state and federal governments.”

QILT reveals employers happy with hires

Employers are overwhelmingly enthused with the quality of new graduates they hired, according to the second major 2020 survey in the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching suite

What managers like: Overall satisfaction last year was 84.7 per cent, in-line with annual figures since 2016, which ranged from a low of 83.6 per cent (2017) to 84.8 per cent (2018).

Levels of satisfaction with the five-subordinate skill sets surveyed were all equally consistent over time. Across the period graduates’ immediate supervisors are least happy with general employment skills (“perform and innovate in the workplace”), 86.8 per cent in 2020 and most impressed with their technical skills, “application of professional and technical knowledge and standards,” which is presumably what they are hired to apply.

And in evidence against claims graduates cannot count, spell and have no idea how many beans make five, 93.7 per cent of their supervisors think their hires have satisfactory “foundation skills,” defined by the QILT team as “general literacy, numeracy and communication skills and the ability to investigate and integrate knowledge.”

OK with public or private: Employers do not appear to prefer graduates from either public or private HE providers, with overall satisfaction scores for universities (84.8 per cent) and NUHEPs (83.3 per cent). This is another good result for top-end private providers, following their strong performance in the QILT undergrad student survey (CMM).

The only marked distinction by mode and level are on-campus study (86.3 per cent) which rates higher than DE, (78 per cent) and postgrad coursework grads, who are rated lower (82 per cent) than UGs (85 per cent) and research postgrads (89 per cent).

The unis rate best and those which don’t:  With an 84.6 per cent system-average for overall satisfaction, top performers include, Uni Divinity (92.3 per cent), Bond U (92.9 per cent), Australian Catholic U (89.8 per cent), Uni Wollongong (89.7 per cent), Monash U and Swinburne U (87.4 per cent), Victoria U (86.9 per cent) UTS (86.7 per cent), Victoria U (86.9 per cent) and UNSW and Western Sydney U (= 86.5 per cent).

(QILT warns small sample size means Uni Divinity and Bond U results “cannot said to be significantly higher at this institution than at other institutions.”)

Unis noticeably at the other end are, James Cook U (81.7 per cent), Charles Sturt U (81.3 per cent), Federation U (81.2 per cent), Charles Darwin U and Griffith U (= 80.4 per cent), Torrens U (78.6 per cent) UNE (79.3 per cent), UWA (77.5 per cent), Murdoch U (79 per cent).

Does it matter? Has the growth in graduate numbers created under-employment among them? QILT does not think so. Yes 12 per cent of the survey sample said their qualification was “not at all important” to their job, but, “given that a little under half of the graduates had been employed for less than one year after completing their qualification, their relative lack of work experience may explain why they did not fully comprehend the extent to which their qualification is important for their job.”

Dolt of the day

In the email edition yesterday CMM reported Charles Sturt U in the top four on QILT student experience. It isn’t.

Appointments, achievements

Barry Keohane (Australian Film, Television and Radio School) joins radio network Grant Broadcasters. He says, “I will still do some coaching on the side.”

Josh Mylne is appointed deputy director of the Centre for Crop and Disease Management in WA, it’s a JV of the Grains Research and Development Corporation and Curtin University. Professor Mylne joins from UWA.

Leonora Risse (RMIT) is named a fellow of Women’s Leadership Institute Australia.

 UTS wins the academic category in the Australian Library Design Awards