Breathing easier at QUT

With campuses opening but Omicron continuing university communities want managements to get health and safety right – including ventilation. QUT is on to it

The university’s Lidia Morawska is developing an air quality audit for internal facilities.

The project started at the Kelvin Grove and Gardens Point campuses last year.

The aim is, “to ensure excellent air quality, which would ensure a lower risk of infection of airborne viruses.”

And she should know. Professor Morawska lives and breathes (sorry) air quality. She was early to warn that  airborne transmission, more than contaminated surfaces, was the big COVID-19 risk indoors. Time Magazine named her one of 2021’s most influential people for her paradigm-shifting work.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Jack Breen (UNSW) on ways universities can make the most of social media, including the next big thing in comms that connect. Plus the seven unis that get Tik Tok.

plus Angel Calderon on the national HE staff statistics, out of date, and way too late. “We need to have a national system to help us to optimally plan, deliver, fund, and assure quality higher education, both now and well into the future.”

and Tessa McCredie (Uni Southern Queensland) and Alan McAlpine (Curtin U) on the importance of career development. Learning for career development, “is fundamental for informing the design, delivery and pedagogical approach to employability and WIL in higher education.” This week’s selection by Commissioning Editor Sally Kift for her celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

Research news not fit to print

Journal publisher Emerald warns editors to watch out for paper mills

Paper mills produce articles for paying customers which the fraudsters place with unsuspecting editors of legitimate journals.  People keen to boost citations can also pay for references in such articles. “Paper mills operate globally, and we have seen academics from across the world involved,” Emerald publishing director Sally Wilson states.

Mills also seek to have their own agents included as reviewers, to make easier infiltrating the editorial process.

So Ms Wilson urges editors to watch for dubious reviews, doubtful author information and unlikely spikes in submissions.

And foremost, “be vigilant – look out for papers with research that doesn’t make sense, or could be questionable. We appreciate this may sound obvious, but unfortunately we are seeing papers like this slip through the review process.”

Famed Finn at Southern Cross U

Pasi Sahlberg will be deputy director of SCU’s TeachLab, at the Lismore campus

Yes, that Sahlberg, the former DG of his native Finland’s education ministry, an advisor to the World Bank and a professor of practice at Harvard U. He moves from deputy director at UNSW’s Gonski Institute. He is one of five education academic appointments at SCU, (scroll down).


Laying down the law on international ed

Strategies can’t change unless regulations do

Alan Tudge had a new international student strategy last year (oh come on, you remember Alan, Alan Tudge). The then education minister wanted students from more countries, studying more disciplines, (enough with business already) in more ways, (on-line, from home), (CMM March 31, November 29).

But while Mr Tudge is not education minister just now, his strategy is not forgotten and the Department of Education Skills and Employment has ideas on amending the Education Services for Overseas Students Act to make it happen.

There’s a discussion paper out for consultation, with responses due by April 29.

Issues to address include,

* per centage of courses that can be studied on-line and outside Australia

* regulatory changes to encourage study of courses aligned with Australian employment priorities

* providers relations with agents

* oversighting students’ English language proficiency

And then there is an open-ended question which invites full and frank answers; how can the ESOS framework, “resolve any regulatory barriers that prevent sector innovation, diversification and growth of Australian educational offerings, including on-shore and off-shore?”

Acknowledging unis by community service

A 50-year project starts in the US with work underway here

In the US the Carnegie classifications will change to help address “address the national imperative to improve social and economic mobility.” The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the American Council of Education are combining to build a new classification of HE institutions for the next 50 years.

As of 2023 a social and economic mobility classification,  “will reflect an institution’s commitment to and success in achieving those goals while effectively serving a diverse, inclusive student populace.”

An Australian iteration can’t be far away. Charles Sturt U and UTS coordinated a pilot of the Carnegie community engagement classification, with Australian Catholic UCQUCurtinFlinders, Southern Cross and Sunshine Coast universities participating (CMM November 26 2018).  It completed last June and word on a process for accreditations is expected in coming weeks.

Dirk Mulder calls it: international education off the bottom


But improving student numbers are not consistent all over and demand from China is a worry


Department of Home Affairs data indicates that, as of February 4, 66,000 international students had arrived in Australia since mid-December. And a meeting of the Australian Universities International Directors Forum  heard Thursday that approximately 7,000 students are arriving each week now. However only 10 per cent are from China, Australia’s largest source country.

This is good news for a sector which has struggled over the past two years. Less so for China focused institutions.

According to Phil Honeywood, CEO of the International Education Association of Australia while this is good news, arrivals are not uniformly distributed. “Some universities that would have expected good numbers are receiving lots of applications but with surprisingly few converting to actual enrolments. Others are discovering that there is still an appetite for off-shore on-line study.”

“The sector is looking to second semester to provide clarity around substantive enrolment trends particularly out of China.”

Concern over work rights

The government dropped all restrictions on international students work rights on January 19, to be reviewed in April.  This was a significant policy shift which to this point has always prioritised study.

Mr Honeywood says, “with the largest number of students coming from the sub-continent, it will take time before we understand to what extent the recent uncapped work rights policy is acting as a major pull factor to come to Australia. Many institutions are also concerned about the impact that long hours of paid work outside of classes will have on students’ academic progress.”

Visa Assessment of Genuine Temporary Entry a concern

It seems not all of government received the email that Australia is open. Inconsistent GTE assessments, which lack transparency and risk Australia’s reputation abroad appear to be growing in nature, especially for English language study. All students must demonstrate they are only coming to study and they will leave at the conclusion. Visa processing officials assess this and can deny a visa if they believe the student is not a genuine temporary entrant.

CMM has seen anonymised assessments for applicants from a range of countries, including;

“given that studying the enrolled course requires a significant financial cost as well as the inconvenience of overseas travel, the applicant has not provided convincing reasons for studying in Australia.

“I place weight on the applicant’s potential circumstances in Australia. I note that the applicant’s spouse is included in the application. I find that having their immediate family in Australia with them reduces the applicant’s incentive to return at the completion of their studies.

“I acknowledge the applicant has personal ties in their home country in the form of their immediate family. However, I find these ties do not, of themselves, constitute a strong incentive to return home at the completion of the proposed study.

This is something the Association of Australian Education Representative in India (AAERI) has picked up on. In a submission to the immigration and education ministers it makes the case for objectivity in the GTE.

“In these challenging times,” AAERI recommends that there needs to be specific GTE requirements so that the communication with the student and their families is consistent and transparent. AAERI recommends clear and transparent GTE requirements so that the process is smooth. This will help reduce visa refusals and quicken the processing. It will also reduce erroneous visa outcomes.”

With decisions such as the above it is anyone’s guess if family members are an asset or a liability when it comes to GTE.

ELICOS as a lead indicator

English language tuition has long been the canary in the coal mine vis a vis health of the broader sector and it has been the hardest hit by falling enrolments due to border closures.

English Australia CEO Brett Blacker says “we are not quite at the point of ‘green shoots’ but the soil is presently being cultivated.”

He says “English colleges are seeing some students return however the down side to that is until a quantum is reached many schools will be running classes at a loss with perhaps as few as 5 students in a class.”

Blacker is optimistic that as we move through 2022 this will improve, and the sector will be at a ‘green shoots’ point sometime later this year.

Perhaps ELICOS is  no longer the canary in the coal mine but rather the seed of growth we should be looking for.

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

Working out who gets what when research makes money

The government wants researchers and industry to cooperate on creating products that will make a motza for Australia – but how to work out who gets what?

Back in July, IP experts were convened to advise on what could be in the now released research accelerator strategy but what they suggested did not entirely impress peak research lobbies and so the strategy document includes a framework, to “initially be applied for a limited set of publicly funded research grants and programs with future expansion to be considered over time ” (CMM February 3).

But if that sounds like the framework is to be buried at a policy crossroads under a full-moon midnight – it’s not dead yet.

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment now invites feedback on the framework’s “standard agreements,” “accelerated agreements” and “plain English agreements”. All interested have until February 25.


Another WA announcement on international students


There’s financial support for individuals and institutions

Students and HE providers expected state borders would open on February 5, until WA Premier McGowan cancelled that. And then to keep everybody guessing the state government made three further announcements that shaped when students could enter. The last one allowed them just days to arrive, before a February 5 close down (CMM February 2).

And then on Friday there was a fourth, part of the government’s Safe Transition Industry Support Package.

An email from the office of International Education minister David Templeman, seen by CMM, sets out details of an assistance package, including,

* an $8m Student Quarantine Support Programme to support all international students who have had to self-quarantine as part of their return to Western Australia, with a one-off payment of $2,000 per student (working out at 4000 individuals)

* $2m for universities to provide pastoral care and support provided to self-quarantining students, capped at $500 a head

* $6m Industry Support Program for small and medium sized private international education providers which had invested money in preparation for the re-opening on 5 February, with $50,000 for small and $100,000 for medium sized providers.

But with the ban on arrivals after February 5 how many students qualify now and will those yet to arrive be eligible for quarantine support?

CMM expects another announcement.

Appointments, achievements

Simon Biggs starts as James Cook U vice chancellor this morning.

Anthony Lawrence (Griffith U) wins the Peter Porter Poetry Prize, (named for the late Brisbane born, UK resident, poet).

Tracey Moroney will become head of Curtin U’s  nursing school in April, replacing Phil Della, who will retire.  Professor Moroney joins from Uni Wollongong.

The National Health and Medical Research Council announces the Women in Health Science Committee, through to December 2024. Frances Kay-Lambkin (Uni Newcastle) is chair, with members * Sharon Bell (ANU) * Catherine Chamberlain (Uni Melbourne) * Anne Chang (Menzies School) *  Geoffrey Faulkner (Mater RI and Queensland Brain Institute) * Maria Kavallaris  (Children’s Cancer Institute) * Erin  McGillick Hudson Institute and Monash U) * David Rae (Uni Sydney) * Gina Ravenscroft (UWA) * Geraint Rogers ( South Australian HMRI) * Sarah Russell (Swinburne U, Peter MacCallum Centre) * Maithili Sashindranath (Monash U) * Amanda Sinclair (Melbourne Business School)

Paul Nicholls becomes ED Research Partnerships at Uni Queensland today. He has moved from a similar role at Curtin U.

 Southern Cross U announces four senior appointments in education, * Liz Mackinlay (Gold Coast campus) moves from Uni Queensland * Michelle Neumann (Gold Coast) joins from Griffith U * Louise Phillips (Gold Coast) was previously at James Cook U- Singapore. She continue an honorary senior lecturer at Uni Queensland  * Pasi Sahlberg (Lismore campus) comes from UNSW * Susan Walker (Gold Coast campus) moves from QUT.