In praise of what’s his name

Uni Sydney is recognising “the significant work and impact” of former VC Michael Spence

A university peerage perhaps? Lord Spence of Challis, say. Perhaps a statue of a Napoleonic Dr Spence accepting the homage of lesser vice chancellors. Sadly, no – with a remarkable economy of creative thinking, newish admin centre, Building F23 is renamed for Dr Spence.

TEQSA acts on website that says students will become a “topper in your class”

Regulator TEQSA announces the first legal action against an alleged contract-cheating provider

The Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency is seeking a Federal Court injunction to require 51 internet carriage services to block access from Australia to website Assignmenthelp4you.

TEQSA CEO Alistair Maclean signalled prosecutions would be announced “very shortly”  in March (CMM March 12).

The site pitches itself as providing “various professional writing and editing services” and tutors “for university assignment help” so clients can “earn better grades (and) become a topper in your class!”

“We work in each assignment and homework from scratch so there is no reason to come under plagiarism,” Assignmenthelp etc promises.


NSW’s really real-word research

The feds have a committee working out ways to translate research to output. NSW is on it

The state government announces competitive funding for small and medium enterprises to address practical problems. Sort of like the Cooperative Research Centre Projects, programme, writ small.

The problems in search of solutions are in five areas;

* reducing the “digital divide” suffered by regional and remote communities and to support emergency services

* navigation tech for vision-impaired people using public transport

* technology to “more rapidly and effectively quantify” numbers and locations of koalas

* minimise waste from discarded sterile wrap and personal protective equipment

* remove micro-plastics from linen-services waste water

Businesses that want to compete for funding “are encouraged” to make joint applications with state-based universities and other research organisations.

But the SME must lead the project.

Inconvenient truths

“Thinking of starting your own business? You don’t need a degree, diploma, or formal training – just the right tools and a great idea!”, the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, via Twitter yesterday. Perhaps not a message core constituents with courses to sell will welcome.

How Uni Queensland teachers copped COVID-19

A major study of teaching in plague sets what happened and what will follow  

 Kelly Matthews, Gwendolyn Lawrie and Nantana Taptamat used a staff survey and case studies to “provide a snapshot of the UQ academic experience that can inform what teaching, learning and assessment look like post-pandemic.”

They found;

* time constraints forced a focus on taking plans for on-campus delivery and translating them on-line

*  academics relied on their discipline networks, course teaching teams – and students. While tech and teaching support teams helped, “proximity to people and resources mattered”

* with electronic course profiles already published, “the focus was on translating to on-line, instead of redesigning assessment tasks

* peer interaction and group work among students “dropped off” with academics focusing, “on student-teacher interactions.

What’s next;

* changed teaching practices “will likely be sustained” post pandemic

* fostering learning interactions both on-line and on-campus “should inform decisions about teaching modes and educational infrastructure”

*  changes in teaching and assessment practise (“anchored by authentic assessment,”) “will drive real change”

But technology will not do it all. “Growing the capacity of teaching staff should start by recognising the incredible changes thus far. The role of proximity of resources and new formulations of teaching teams to further grow post-pandemic teaching capacities warrant attention,” they write.

Their paper is here.

It builds on previous work by Associate Professor Matthews and colleagues on the pre-pandemic roll-out of blended-learning courses at an un-named “research intensive university” (CMM May 28).

Unis explaining to the end on cyber security bill

The parliamentary committee inquiring into the cyber infrastructure security legislation is hearing evidence today and tomorrow – it’s another chance for HE lobbies to make concerns clear

Universities are caught by the legislation with their warnings that it is expansive, and overly intrusive ignored last year as the Department of Home Affairs pushed its bill into the House of Reps, (CMM, December 1 2020, February 15).

But just before Christmas then attorney general Christian Porter referred the legislation to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security – which will hear tomorrow from some of the wonkiest of HE policy people.

Matthew Brown (deputy CEO) from the Group of Eight is on the bill – presumably his boss, Vicki Thomson is taking her annual day off. Catriona Jackson from Universities Australia will appear, as will Luke Sheehy, ED of the Australian Technology Network and Conor King (Innovative Research Universities).

Appointments, achievements

Historian André Brett (Uni Wollongong) wins the Australian Academy of HumanitiesMax Crawford Medal for outstanding achievement by an early career scholar.  

Ian Harper (Uni Melbourne) is reappointed a part-time member of the Reserve Bank board.

The Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australia announces 2020 awards, including

Heroes of HE: Jane Coffey (Curtin U), Sarah Hattam (Uni SA), Michael Mehmet (Uni Wollongong) Olivia Rajit (UTS), Cate Thomas (Charles Sturt U)

Reviewers of the year: Nicole Crawford (Curtin U), Guy Curtis (UWA), Emily Danvers ( Uni Sussex)

Best article: Kerry Renwick, Mark Selkrig, Catherine Manathunga & Ron ‘Kim’ Keamy for “Community engagement is … : revisiting Boyer’s model of scholarship”, which appeared in Higher Education Research & Development, 39:6, 1232-1246.

Riitta Partanen is confirmed as head of Uni Queensland’s Rural Clinical School. She has been interim head since April 2020.