They aren’t mucking around on North Terrace

“Some courses at Uni Adelaide have only a handful of students. Uni chiefs say it’s not the best use of academics, and they’re going on the chopping block,” The Advertiser newspaper starts a story, yesterday.

CMM suspects beheading is not covered by the univcrsity’s enterprise agreement.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

James Guthrie (Macquarie U) on the UNSW 2020 report and the case for a performance audit of all NSW public universities

Plus, work-integrated learning is critical to university-industry engagement but leadership is lacking. Sonia Ferns and Judie Kay, set out what needs to be done. It’s Contributing Editor Sally Kift’s new selection for her celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

And, The Federal Court has decided inventions by AI can be patented. Amanda-Jane George (CQU) explains how this happened and why it matters.

With, Tim Winkler (Twig Marketing) on why it’s all over for open days.

More rebuilds than The Block at Uni Southern Queensland

Management proposes a new structure for the Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences – it’s been “static since inception” 

What’s the problem: Student numbers are up in nursing and allied health areas but “stable or declining in engineering, built environment and science programmes”.

Research is strong in agriculture and environment but “dispersed” across six operating units. This, management states in a change proposal “may be contributing to lack of visibility and low load … some secondary schools in our region have been unaware that the university offers agricultural science programmes.”

What’s proposed: Reorganising six schools into seven, from;

* civil eng and surveying * mech and electrical eng * sciences * pysch and counselling * nursing and midwifery and * health and midwifery


* engineering * spacial sciences, built environment * physical and computational sciences * agric and environment (“research intensive”) * psych and human services * nursing and midwifery (unchanged) and * allied health

This all appears to be about reorganisation, not retrenchments – there is no mention of academic or professional staff jobs going.

Consultation is now open, with a final structure scheduled for November.

They like a restructure at USQ: A mass of admin areas have been reorganised over the last three years (CMM July 16). The university also has a new strategic plan, focused on agriculture, health, regional development and space, defence. With Research and Innovation and the Faculty of Business, Education, Arts and Law reorganised there can’t be much left to do after this one.

Furrther education

La Trobe U offers a short on-line course for “qualified and soon-to-qualify healthcare professionals” on using animals to help clients. Cost is $2000. At CMM’s kennel Buzz The Dog does it for pats.

Industry Growth Centre report still secret

Last week the Senate called for Industry Minister Christian Porter to produce a report on Industry Growth Centres, long completed by consultants

The Senate wanted it Monday but this morning is still wanting, with the government not delivering.

Friends of the programme say this is because the report demonstrates the growth centres are doing a terrific job, and would do it even better with more money, which the government is not inclined to provide. “The industry growth centres are working; they just need better resourcing. The government should be celebrating this, but, instead, they’re again hiding behind the secretive veil of cabinet, seemingly immune to accountability and free to pick and choose their own winners and losers,” Labor’s Senator Murray Watt (Queensland) said in the Senate, Monday night.

Unaligned observers wonder whether a 2019 Nous Group review might apply, it found the “work is required to develop consistent and appropriate approaches …” (CMM July 31 2019).

Or it might be because the report is still being considered and Mr Porter’s office likes to decide when it will share. The announcement of the last round of Cooperative Research Centres is said to have been micro-managed by his office.

Shoemaker restructures VU leadership

There’s a new five-year plan and VC Adam Shoemaker wants new roles to run it

The university’s plan is just in place (CMM July 29) and Professor Shoemaker is recruiting.

New positions in are, DVC Research and Impact, DVC People and Organisation, Chief Digital Officer.

Existing positions out include DVC Global, COO and Provost.

The dual-sector institution is also advertising for a DVC Higher Education.

Where international students are on-line: it makes a difference 


All on-line teaching and learning was hard last year – it was harder for students off-shore

Last week the OECD released two quite short reports (not the usual many hundred pages) on the shift to on-line learning in higher education and in VET in the first twelve months of COVID-19.

The reports draw on data from a variety of sources to look at how institutions and systems responded, and they are worth a read.

The top five immediate challenges higher education institutions faced in the rapid move to on-line learning in March 2020 were:

* ensuring the continuity of the academic learning of students (92 per cent said this was “very” or “somewhat” challenging)

* supporting students that lack skills for independent study/online study (90 per cent)

* ensuring support for parent caregivers to support student learning (87 per cent)

* ensuring continuity/integrity of the assessment of student learning (86 per cent)

* ensuring the well-being of students (80 per cent)

Last week we gained access to another source of data showing how well Australian higher education institutions managed the rapid shift to online delivery during COVID-19 with the release of the QILT 2020 International Student Experience Survey.

The report separates out the experiences of international students studying offshore (and hence fully on-line) with those of students here in Australia who had a mix of on-line and face-to-face delivery.

Of the five sub-components of the quality of the undergraduate educational experience measured by QILT, learner engagement was rated least positively by all international students – but offshore students were much less satisfied (just 42 per cent gave a positive rating compared with 50 per cent of on-shore international students).

International onshore students also gave more favourable ratings than offshore students for their skills development (76 per cent vs 73 per cent), teaching quality (75 per cent vs 73 per cent), student support (71 per cent vs 67 per cent) and the overall quality of their educational experience (64 per cent and 61 per cent). Both cohorts gave the same positive ratings (72 per cent) for their learning resources.

Collectively these reports are useful resources for educators as they continue to redesign their courses for more engaging online learning.

 Claire Field is an advisor to the tertiary education sector

Publishers warn: UK open access is a problem for open access

The UK research funding agency wants publication of work it funds to be free to read from the get-go. The publisher lobby sees a problem  

UK Research and Innovation will require journal articles to be open access when they are first published. UKRI has allocated £46.7m ($88m) for “pay to publish” fees,

But if a publisher won’t do it, researchers accepted manuscripts must be open to all via an institutional repository (CMM August 9).

To which STM, (“the standard bearer for the academic publishing industry”) warns UKRI is “encouraging the widespread utilisation of freely available substitutes of final published articles,” which indeed appears the idea.

But STM warns the accepted manuscript option, “has the potential to both confuse its users and to undermine the integrity of the scholarly record and therefore of UK research,” (because of) “the unfinished and unconnected nature of the AM.”

“It also jeopardises the continued progress of the Open Access publishing transition by enabling an entirely unsustainable route.” It will certainly makes things difficult for publishers who use the old pay to read and/or the newer pay to publish business model.

Which rather seems UKRI’s idea.


Cindy Cassidy joins Charles Sturt U as director of the federal Drought Resilience Hub for southern NSW (CMM April 14). Ms Cassidy “has a background in creating and delivering change in agriculture industries.”

Mandy Stanley (Edith Cowan U) is appointed a fellow of Occupational Therapy Australia’s Research Academy