Understating the obvious

Just in from the “You don’t say!” correspondent

In an admirable example of not telling universities they had been told, the NSW Auditor General’s  report on university annual reports does not mention the 2018 warning, that they “should assess their student market concentration risk where they rely heavily on students from a single country of origin,” (CMM June 12 2018). The A-G now merely states, “a concentration risks remains”. Scroll down for more reports and James Guthrie’s analysis in Features.

There’s more in the Mail

In CMM this morning

The obsession with impact ignores an  important – it can’t happen without scholarship. “Whether you consider yourself a teaching scholar, a research scholar, or perhaps a service scholar, being a scholar is central to all of our academic practice,” Michael A Cowling (CQU)  suggests. It’s this week’s addition to Contributing Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated CMM series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

Plus James Guthrie (Macquarie U) on the NSW Auditor General’s analysis of universities. “Negative operating results in many universities in 2020 were because of the staff redundancy programme.”

And Merlin Crossley (UNSW) crunches the QS numbers to find Australian universities are efficient and effective. “Over the last two decades as our universities expanded and took advantage of ‘economies of scale,’ remarkably, student satisfaction steadily increased!”

Distances lends enchantment for Unis Sydney and UNSW

They both are doing better in the China market

The NSW Auditor General reports a year on year increases in overseas student enrolments between semester one 2020 and 21 for Uni Sydney (32.5 per cent) and UNSW (39.2 per cent).

“In 2020, UNSW and University of Sydney established fast network access capabilities to support overseas students in China study on-line and remotely, which has allowed students to continue enrolments,” the A G states.

They may not be the only reasons.

Last July the Federal Government started issuing student visas for people studying with Aus universities off-shore while borders are closed. This means, “existing and new student visa holders who undertake on0line study outside Australia because of COVID 19 will be able to count this,” for post-study work visas.

This may appeal to students playing a long-game with a view to future career and migration opportunities. It also saves them money – they are still paying hefty unis fees, but not the costs of living in Australia.

UWA goes its own way

The university announces a new autonomous bus on campus with hardware and software developed by engineering students

It’s called nuWAy, which makes it a shame no –one created a programme to choose a better name.

Even so, nuWAy looks like a win for the locals. In 2018 the university used an autonomous bus at Open Day and compared it against driverless systems then being developed in-house.

But as for the name – it’s more function-focused than the Curtin autonomous bus, called Kip (named for John Curtin’s dog) but does not match the rail-connector at U Cal Berkeley, Humphrey Go Bart (CMM April 4, 5 2017).

Yet more questions for teacher education providers

The unfortunately acronymed QITER has questions for teacher education faculties

Back in March Education Minister Alan Tudge announced the Quality Initial Teacher Education Review to look “at the next evolution of reforms to teacher education” (CMM March 12).

And now the minister’s expert panel has issued a discussion paper setting out issues including;

* attracting high-quality candidates to interim teacher education: “the proportion of young high-achievers (students aged 20 and under with an ATAR of 80 or more) choosing teaching has declined by nearly a third from 2006 to 2019”

* six-year completion rates for ITE courses were down 12 per cent over 2005-14, compared to 4 per cent for all fields of study. ITE completion rates vary from 34 per cent to 73 per cent across providers. The range for first-year attrition is 11 per cent to 45 per cent

* the range by institution of ITE students passing the Literacy and Numeracy Test for Initial Teacher Education is 76 per cent – 99 per cent (literacy) and 79 per cent – 98 psr cent (numeracy)

* there is no national supply and demand model for teachers by discipline and geography

* institutions providing teacher performance assessments, (“a robust assessment of graduates to ensure classroom readiness”. After six years eight ITE providers do not have an endorsed assessment

QITER will build on the work of Christopher Pyne’s Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group chaired by then Australian Catholic U VC, Greg Craven.

In 2015 Professor Craven and colleagues politely slammed unnamed teacher education providers, suggesting not all of them, “are equipping graduates with the content knowledge, evidence-based teaching strategies and skills they need to respond to different student learning needs.

Initial teacher education providers are not rigorously or consistently assessing the classroom readiness of their pre-service teachers against the Professional Standards,” (CMM February 13 2015).

TEMAG presented 38 proposals, over half focused on teacher education in universities.

Enterprise bargaining: it’s all in the timing

At Western Sydney U the National Tertiary Education Union is cross with management, which proposes “an extraordinarily slow pace of bargaining” for the new enterprise agreement. “It will be completely inadequate to get this stuff done in a timely fashion and it needs to be done because there are important job security questions at risk,” the union bargaining team warns.

But up at CQU the NTEU is cross with management over the cracking pace VC Nick Klomp proposes, because “bargaining can be really divisive.” Union industrial officer Robert Rule responds the NTEU has agreed to weekly meetings until July. “Given how far we are apart we do not expect quick negotiations.”

Bad news first at Macquarie U Business School

Staff selected for redundancy to learn their fate this week

Staff “selected for redundancy” will get the word today through Wednesday – but at least they are getting a choice how they hear. Dean, Eric Knight has sent faculty a form asking if people want to hear if they have lost their job – on the phone, via Zoom or in-person.

Survivors will get the good news after those to go are told.

“I want to thank you all for your patience and engagement in the process to date. I recognise that it has been a difficult process and the next few weeks will be particularly challenging,” Professor Knight states.

It has certainly been difficult for staff in scope for the 12-16 redundancies, (from 118 FTE positions). People were asked to make submissions, setting out achievements according to a provided formula (CMM April 20). Interviews were not part of the process, unless the selection committee could not “differentiate between individuals” in which case people had the option of not appearing.

International students cleared to land in Adelaide but not yet in Canberra

The state government says it has clearance from the Commonwealth for international students to quarantine at Flight Training Adelaide’s accommodation, at Parafield

The Commonwealth has approved 160 students doing their 14-day quarantine there.

The proposal is criticised by the local council and federal MP Tony Zappia but Premier Marshall says the state’s health authorities and police were central to its formulation and “the health and safety of South Australians is our number one priority.”

Details of the scheme are not complete and late Friday Uni Adelaide advised it will be “several months” before anybody arrives.

As to how many will go where, no one is saying but all providers with international students are eligible. CMM suspects SA will follow the NSW proposal with institutions’ allocation being in proportion to their international numbers. The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission agreed to this in NSW on Thursday.

This could augur well for the NSW universities proposal now with Education Minister Alan Tudge but may be hard for other states where governments are inclined to close the borders – Mr Marshall says the feds made keeping SA open to other Australians a condition.

ANU asks the obvious

The Australian National University is putting up mandarins and media quarantining after the G7 in its Davey Lodge (presumable The Lodge, lodge is otherwise occupied, (CMM Friday). Which allows ANU to make an obvious point,

“We look forward to working closely with the Chief Health Officer to develop quarantine options that allow our students to return to the ACT and keep our community safe. … Any co-designed, safe quarantine arrangements would be very welcome.”

But before that happens Canberra’s unis will need a tick from the feds and while approval for Adelaide is nice the Commonwealth agreeing to the NSW proposal would be better. Unless charter flights direct to Canberra are an option.


Truth stranger than fiction at Charles Sturt U

When CSU’s annual report was not tabled in parliament on the due date the conspireatron went into over-drive. The real reason is mundane, just embarrassing

NSW Auditor General Margaret Crawford explains the delay in her report to parliament on university annual reports.

CSU had filed its financial statements but had to withdraw them because it misunderstood, “the new accounting standard in relation to recognising grant funding revenue for construction work.”

Of which, Ms Crawford takes a dim view indeed, “we recommend the university address the root cause of these errors, and put in place controls for sign-offs by the operational, legal and accounting teams so that the risks related to contracts are known prior to execution.”

She also reports CSU’s payroll system has under and over paid staff to an extent, “yet to be quantified” – which also needs fixing.

But as for suggestions of the bailiffs being on the way for the furniture, CSU is in rare company having a positive $19m net result last year. This is in line with Western Sydney U, (although way behind Uni Sydney’s $109m).