The city of Newcastle gets a new uni and UoN is quietly cooperating

What the Senate could show research international uni leaders gathered at ANU

SA unis push to launch federal shipbuilding college

Uni of Queensland cleans up in young science leader awards

New head of TAFE directors lobby announced

plus  what’s on the MOOC menu for April

Admirable restraint

Hot air balloons over Melbourne Law School this morning,” law professor Adrienne Stone via Twitter Friday. Compliments to the learned professor for not making the obvious joke.

Where the wind blows

With Tropical Cyclone Debbie barreling towards the Queensland coast James Cook U scientists are doing what they always do when the weather turns woeful – heading straight into trouble. David Henderson and colleagues were in Ayr and Bowen yesterday setting-up equipment to measure wind speeds. Today they will be wherever TCD is headed.

As union protests VU management holds the line

Victoria U management has a transformative strategy to end its unsustainable deficit and improvestudent satisfaction – a first year college taught by specialists (CMM March 13.) It looks like a plan, apart from the opposition of the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union which warns that management has not explained what the creation of the college will mean for research and teaching staff, who now face the prospect of 115 redundancies. “Management has no right under the university’s enterprise agreement to create a new type of position categorised as an ‘education focused position,’ ” NTEU branch president Paul Adams says.

“The union is committed to taking these issues up in a serious way and a fight back has been launched against the First-Year College change plan,” he told members on Friday.

But VU management says it will honour its enterprise agreement and industrial obligations,  recognising “it has a moral obligation to be honest and transparent to staff and provide support options through this period of change.”

VU confirms it expects 115 academic redundancies this year but says it is not possible to know if any will be compulsory until staff are recruited to the First-Year College, take voluntary separations and other changes “to work arrangements” are sorted out.

The university also makes the case for the college. “The VU first year model is a response to the university’s ongoing commitment to give any student from any background the opportunity to undertake further study … through this process, the university will be able to deliver student support on a scale never before implemented in Australia.”

Clayton to Kensington

Ana Deletic is the University of New South Wales’ incoming PVC R, replacing Emma Johnston who takes over as dean of science in May. Professor Deletic has a PhD in civil engineering from the University of Aberdeen and moves from Monash U, where she now leads the infrastructure consulting service. She commences at UNSW in July.


Shipbuilding college on the slips

On Thursday night Defence Industry Minister Chris Pyne  announced a federal technical college to train many in the workforce needed for the navy’s imminent patrol boat and frigate programmes. This was a big wave across the bow of the VET system, creating the impression that it was not up to the task but good news at least for QUT, which was mentioned as a possible participant in the decentralised system. (It was news to the university when CMM inquired, but insiders thought the minister might have mentioned it because of QUT’s work with Defence Science Technologies and Siemens).

But the next morning QUT did not get a mention* in a joint statement from Mr Pyne, Education Minister Simon Birmingham and Assistant Minister for VOCED Karen Andrews. * According to Senator Birmingham, “the college will deliver skills in partnership with many existing universities and training providers across Australia, ensuring we capture the best training to help deliver the optimal naval shipbuilding skills for the future.”

Headquartered in Adelaide and opening next year it will have “a focus on increasing key entry-level trade qualifications through contracted Registered Training Organisations across Australia.”

In a remarkable coincidence on Friday the three public South Australian universities and TAFE SA also announced their Defence Industry Education and Skills Consortium, “to deliver a defence-ready, and especially maritime-ready, workforce with skills in engineering, information and computer technology, and project management.” The consortium will “consider bidding” for the college, “in partnership with organisations around Australia.”

According to the ministers, there will be a request for tender “in coming months”, which may make the specified 2018 start a bit tight.

* In AAP’s story on the college, dated 8am Friday, there was no mention of QUT but  a reference to “a Brisbane university”.

New TDA head

Craig Robertson will become the new CEO of TAFE Directors Australia early next month, replacing Martin Riordan who will stand down after 12 years at TDA. Mr Robertson is a former senior federal VET official and most recently a deputy secretary for higher education and skills  in the Victorian DET.

Field study

ANU is hosting the 12th annual meeting of presidents of the International Alliance of Research Universities, which consists of ANU, ETH Zurich, the National University of Singapore, Peking University, University of California Berkeley, Yale University, and the unis of Cambridge, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Oxford and Tokyo. “It’s a small enough group to really do some interesting things,” an alliance observer says. Among many other subjects the presidents are discussing global cohesion and populism. If they want to see less of the former and more of the latter they could nick across the lake and take in Senate Question Time today

Fewer optimists

The National Health and Medical Research Council reports 3446 grant applications this year, down from 3651 in 2016. Surely this is not because researchers hold no hope of a higher success rate under the proposed new allocation system, now with the minister.

Science leaders

Paul Giacomin has won the Queensland Government’s inaugural Emerging Science Leader award. The Cairns-based James Cook U immunologist works on coeliac disease.

The government has also announced 60 PhD scholarships and research fellowships, worth between $45k and $300k. The awards are intended to “solidify Queensland’s capability and reputation as a global science and research leader.” The institutional split is, CQU: two, CSIRO: two, Griffith University: four, James Cook University: four, Queensland Health: two, QIMR Berghofer MRI: 1, QUT: 14, University of Queensland: 25, University of Southern Queensland: five and University of the Sunshine Coast: one.

UniSA honours

The University of South Australia will award Wednesday an hon doc to endlessly energetic author Tom Keneally. Other hon docs in this week’s UniSA graduations will go to philanthropist Janet Holmes a Court, pharmacologist and former UniSA DVC R Richard Head and indigenous health academic Maryann Bin-Sallik.

Future VET

General university degrees do not interest all young people, nor do they equip them with the applied skills workers will soon need, but while the VET system has a crucial role to play in workforce preparation it is under-resourced by government and undervalued by the community, according to Kate Torii and Megan O’Connell’s new report out this morning from the Mitchell Institute at Victoria University;

“To achieve a shift in the narrative about the value of vocational education, it will be necessary to improve the quality of VET across the whole system, and respond to the reputational damage that has occurred. Part of this includes a focus on the VET workforce –teacher training receives much focus on the government agenda but the capacity of the VET workforce, particularly with regards to educating young people, is rarely addressed,” they write.

The report also argues for an emphasis in schools on teaching capabilities to students, “problem solving, communication and collaboration, as well as deep knowledge, technical skills, and literacy and numeracy” and in senior secondary, “advanced capabilities within and across subject areas.”

It also suggests education embedded in the workplace, along the lines of apprenticeships, can work in occupations outside traditional trades. In the UK degree apprenticeships are in place in banking, engineering and technology firms where universities and employers design degrees based on work and study.

Japan uni to open Australian campus

Japan’s Nihon University has revealed its plan to establish a campus in the NSW regional city of Newcastle. The local Newcastle Herald reported Friday that the Tokyo based university has bought the former city courthouse for $6m. It’s part of what is now emerging as a well-advanced plan. CMM understands that Nihon officials were briefed on Australian regulatory requirements by the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency in September and that the university has met with NSW state government officials.

Nihon will convert the courts into a teaching space for 200 international and domestic students and accommodation for 100. The new campus is expected to focus on teaching and research on environment and infrastructure related disciplines. While the University of Newcastle isn’t talking, word is that it is looking towards working with Nihon.

Nihon is a large private university teaching law, medicine, engineering, science and the humanities. It has 70 000 students, 1 per cent of whom are internationals.


MOOCs of many mornings

April is a big month for MOOCs. Here’s a list of local starters (that CMM knows about. )

Curtin U

Human Rights and Development via edX, April 24 (the first Australian humanities micromasters, (that CMM (September 21 2016 knows of) )

Monash U

World War I: A history in 100 stories, via Future Learn, April 24


Online Business: pricing for success, via FutureLearn, April 17

University of Melbourne

Rethinking Ageing: are we prepared to live longer? via Coursera, April 3

How music can change your life, via Coursera, April 10

Modelling discrete optimisation, via Coursera, April 10

Sexing the Canvas: art and gender, via Coursera, April 18

The French Revolution, via Coursera, April 24

University of Newcastle

The Science of Weight Loss: dispelling diet myths, via edX, April 12 CMM, March 14)


Introduction to Educational Design in Higher Education, via FutureLearn, April 3 (second course from the university’s Foundations of Learning and Teaching programme).

Transmedia storytelling: narrative worlds, emerging technologies and global audiences, via Coursera, April 3

How to validate your start-up idea, via Coursera, April 10

Introduction to Enhancing Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, via FutureLearn, April 17 (companion to the above)

Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: public health dimensions, via FutureLearn, April 24

Through Engineers’ Eyes: engineering mechanics by experiment, analysis and design, via FutureLearn, April 24

University of Queensland

Leaders in Global Development, via edX, April 4 (one of Australia’s first micromasters, CMM September 21 2016)

Introduction to Developmental Psychology, via edX April 19

University of Sydney

Data-driven astronomy, via Coursera, April 10.

Cultural Competence: Aboriginal Sydney, via Coursera April 10 (CMM March 15).

eHealth: more than just an electronic record, via Coursera, April 10