Still standing, getting moving

More big ideas at ReMaking HE

The skills workers need are changing fast, so why are HE and VET teaching the same-old, same-old? Innes Willox (Australian Industry Group) and Kerri-Lee Krause (DVC-Student Life, Uni Melbourne) discuss where we are and we need to be.

Another session at Remaking HE: ideas for the post (or perhaps continuing) pandemic university. Dates and details for the on-line conference, here.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

 Coursera and Google, “have taken industry-integrated education to a new level”. Beverley Oliver explains what it’s about

The pandemic creates new risk management and critical incident reporting requirements for HE providers. Michael Tomlinson and Jane Fernandez set out what to do.

Juliana Ryan and Nadine Zacharias make the case for income support for equity students.

David Kellermann (UNSW) on creating a serious solution for on-line lecturing. Curated content from Microsoft.

300 students set to arrive November-January

They are enrolled and now studying remotely overseas

The pilot programme will bring students from South Australia’s three public universities into Adelaide across November-January, to start classes in first semester 2021. It’s been developed with the state and Commonwealth governments and agencies.

Students from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan are being asked to express interest now. Offers will be based on need for in-person classes, closeness to completing and visa status.

They will travel on specific flights from Singapore, however returning Australians are said to have priority.

Students are responsible for their own travel and hotel-quarantine costs, although universities are expected to assist.

Scroll down for Dirk Mulder’s analysis


Ways of the day to improve ERA

The ARC is reviewing its two research metrics

The Australian Business Deans Council puts issues with both Engagement and Impact and Excellence for Research in Australia on the agenda in its submission, including;


*  citation analysis “is no substitute for peer review on the quality of scholarship”

* “world standard” in ranking performance “is not robustly defined

* “the rating scale rewards publication in international journals, some of which do not appear to be as receptive to submissions based on Australian data as they could be”


* “has had a broadly positive impact” in accounting for non STEM research, “not adequately captured” by ERA

* impact criteria should be clearer

* using narratives is “not sufficient for assessing engagement”

Overall, the ABDC wonders about the effort submissions require and the way ERA increases competition, rather than collaboration, between disciplinary colleagues in different institutions

The Regional Universities Network suggests ERA meets objectives with government and universities, “but is not broadly recognised by industry or international students.” As to EI, “the numeric part of the assessment isn’t useful with respect to end-users, but the narrative is.”

* overall RUN is ambivalent about ERA, suggesting it has made research “more competitive” and “helped universities focus on strengths”. However, it consumes “considerable” resources

* and it does not like peer review for ERA, “it isn’t yielding reliable or repeatable results.”

But RUN is rare among submissions reported to date, suggesting, “word standard is appropriately recognised under the current rating scale” (and) “cannot be moved.”

As to EI;

* “the numeric part of the assessment isn’t useful with respect to end-users, but the narrative is. The discourse on the narrative with researchers has been helpful in encouraging them to engage with end-users. “

But while RUN approves of much of the methodology and its outcomes, it is scathing about its impact on Australian universities as a whole, “EI has had little impact. It isn’t linked to funding, and is poorly designed. It isn’t designed to demonstrate what it is meant to.”

Get the word out

The ARC plans to release submissions to the research metrics review after it is out, which seems a bit late for a debate. So, CMM will report and/or link to, as many submissions as it can – send them in people.

UTS exits announcement imminent

In August UTS warned staff of a “deteriorating revenue outlook” for 2021

What staff savings would be needed depended on the outcome of a voluntary separation programme, VC Atilla Brungs told staff (CMM August 6). There were suggestions then that UTS might need to reduce staff by up to 500 FTE.

The university community is about to find out how many staff who don’t want to go will be targeted for retrenchment. UTS observers suggest around 350 applications for voluntary separations are accepted. The university declined to comment last night, prior to an official announcement on the separation programme, which is expected to be imminent.

Dirk Mulder on international arrivals “proof of concept”: not sustainable, not fit for purpose

Finally, after much pain international students will now start to arrive. This is what we need right? Wrong – it could be a whole lot better


Of course, there are benefits for institutions in opening-up and it sends important messages to both the education community and international students who want to study here.

But charter-flights expose structural issues that need to be solved and using the existing quarantine system isn’t going to solve everything. Here’s why.

 politics: Charter flight arrivals will put incoming international students (returning or starting) in a political vice when they don’t need to be. The government has played to patriotic demands “to bring Australians home.” It won’t be long until newspapers start claiming, “international students are taking the places of Australians in the quarantine system.”  Putting international students and our industry in this position is dumb. It potentially creates hostile sentiment when we should be celebrating. Remember, we are a welcoming country!

 scale: The existing quarantine arrangements, be they in city hotels or via Howard Springs in the Northern Territory, just can’t cope with the numbers the sector needs to accommodate to make a difference. Airlines and quarantine will struggle to get the 26 000 Australians trapped offshore who want to be back for Christmas.

Even with slightly expanded quotas, there is little to no ability, under existing models to cope with the demand. ABS data shows In March this year we had 48 900 HE arrivals from overseas, down from 54 200 in March 2019.

timing: The existing two weeks in quarantine don’t align well with HE commencement dates. With fixed dates (usually semester starts in March and late July/early August) it would require a well organised effort to ensure quarantining is done in the 90-day period when students can arrive prior to starting study. Expecting students to arrive 90 days prior to study adds to their living costs.

For the sector to truly rejoice we need a new quarantine regime. It must take into account scale. It must put the student first and it must align to the sector’s needs. Recent announcements are positive, but we need a whole lot more for them to be effective.

Dirk Mulder is CMM’s international education correspondent

Dolt of the day

Is CMM. In yesterday’s email edition, he had Jonathan Powles (ex UNE) at the wrong Scottish university. In fact, he is vice principal, learning and students at Uni West of Scotland.

Appointments, achievements

Romola Bucks is incoming director of the Raine Study (formerly known as the WA Pregnancy Cohort Study). She moves from deputy dean of UWA’s science faculty.

Shirin Malekpour (Monash U) is appointed to the drafting panel for the UN 2023 Global Sustainable Development Report.

Kate Power is inaugural artist in residence at Flinders U’s Assemblage Centre for Creative Arts, (“trans-disciplinary creative work”).

The 2020 Ramaciotti Medal for Biomedical Research goes to Andrew Roberts and John Seymour for their work on a drug for lymphocytic leukaemia. Both work at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Uni Melbourne. Roberts also researches at Walter and Eliza Hall.

Erica Tong (Alfred Health and Monash U) receives the Australian Clinical Pharmacy Award for 2020.