Five more years for Brian Schmidt

As universally expected, he has a second term as ANU vice chancellor

The university advises staff yesterday that council had unanimously voted to re-appoint Professor Schmidt.

“He has been a stellar VC in his first term, who has shared and shaped an ambitious vision for the university for the coming years and the council and I back this mission,” new chancellor Julie Bishop says.

According to Professor Schmidt, “Trust is our currency and what makes ANU distinctive.

““We are trusted for our exceptional education and campus experience; trusted for our unrivalled research that deepens our understanding of the world and our place in it; and trusted for our deep thinking, sharp ideas and fearless advice that helps transform society.”

Professor Schmidt set out his plan for a second term in an address to staff last week, (CMM February 10).

Below: Where Julie Bishop wants ANU to rank

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning, Jason Lodge (Uni Queensland) on the  importance of process in student learning. It’s this week’s essay in Contributing Editor Sally Kift’s series on  what is needed now in teaching and learning.

And Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on the science and cricket of research publishing strategy.

Macquarie U announce stage two of new student experience

The university intends to transform teaching and learning

MQ U has just launched a new curriculum (Sean Brawley explained it in CMM  here.) And now it announces a four-year creation of a teaching and learning framework, to create “a distinctive MU pedagogy” and provide, “dynamic opportunities for engagement with industry and community partners.” Apparently, this will, “empower students to be success in their pursuits through ‘career development learning that is scaffolded, personalised and future focused.”

“Students are at the heart of everything we do at Macquarie University,” PVC Learning and Teaching, Dominique Parrish tell staff.

Sound familiar? It will to the many admirers of Macquarie U’s 2015 green paper on employment outcomes. “What is being proposed here is not placement, not weak models of work integrated learning, but a core focus on authentic partnership between the student, the university and the employers to change the landscape of what it means to be a graduate,” then DVC A John Simons said, (CMM April 7 2015).

People familiar with the university’s work-placements for students say the new proposal should surely fit with the popular Professional and Community Engagement Programme, which needs more resources. But above all, what observers say MU needs is a coordinated approach which works across campus, rather than with projects in faculty-silos.

And as for the centrality of students, “the university executive is endlessly repeating ‘putting students at the centre of all we do’ as if it is some sort of revelation that MU is in fact an educational institution largely funded in proportion to its student numbers in, and, now, satisfaction with, its courses,” an observer of MU suggests.

Julie Bishop’s ambition for ANU

The new chancellor wants it to be a top-20 global university

Ms Bishop set the objective while announcing a second five-year term for vice chancellor Brian Schmidt. “He has the bold thinking, the ideas, the vision that is needed to take this university to the next level.”

“Australia is an extraordinary country, considered in the top-20 on every socio-economic indicator that counts. I believe that Australia should have a university that is ranked in the top 20 around the world. My ambition is for that university to be ANU … a national university with a commitment to excellence to the very best in teaching and research, that stands alongside the great universities of the world,” she said.

Ms Bishop did not specify how long this should take.

ANU rates 50th in the world in the present Times Higher ranking (behind Uni Melbourne at =32nd). It is the first Australian institution in the competing QS product at =29th.  However, in the research driven Academic Ranking of World Universities ANU is fourth in-country and 76th in the world. And on the research-citation based Leiden ranking ANU is eighth in Australia and 205th in the world for scientific impact.

Professor Schmidt set out his second-term agenda earlier this month (CMM February 10).

Two virus tales of one city

The University of Canberra tells 380 students in China they will be deferred this semester

Uni Canberra has set a March 2 deadline for students to be on campus, with DVC A Geoff Crisp frankly stating that on-line options for them will not work.

“Due to complications from the Chinese firewall, access to study materials and the multiple variations of individual student’s study plans, we would rather ensure our students continue to receive the high-quality face-to-face experience offered here at UC, instead of an online version of our career-focused degrees with practical work-integrated-learning units,” he said.

The announcement now is due to Uni Canberra having an earlier than other institutions semester start. The university is in a better state than some, with close to half its 800 students from the PRC already in Australia.

While ANU says theirs can study on-line

ANU starts semester as planned on February 24 and for students stuck in China newly promoted DVC A Grady Venville says, “we have more than 600 courses available for your remote participation.”

The university’s Q&A for students who can’t get to Canberra also promises;

“the opportunity to participate in programs designed to help you in your degree from overseas. This is to help you develop your academic writing skills and includes content on life in Australia and wellbeing while studying.”

Shame about people missing the commencement ceremony and BBQ – not even ANU can create a cyber-space sausage sizzle.

Government stays off funding hook in virus crisis

Australia’s universities are stoic as they face the prospect of tens of thousands of fee-paying Chinese students not enrolling this semester and maybe fewer to follow. They have no choice

There is certainly is a case for lifting the ban on Chinese students arriving. Across the ditch, Grant Guilford VC of Victoria University of Wellington, argues travellers lie about where they have been and bans, “are capable of stigmatising entire races of people: in the case of coronavirus, those of Asian heritage.”

But some peak university bodies in Australia do not dare demand the arrival ban be lifted for students – the case they made would not be heard for accusations of their placing self above national interest.

And there is another, powerful case universities could make for Canberra to assist them in the coming cash crisis.

“There’s a reason why Australian students rate the quality of their uni experience so high and why the nation’s research effort is so well-placed on global league tables – the fees international, mainly Chinese students, pay,” a HE funding analyst says.

“Neither Labor nor coalition governments are prepared to pay what university teaching and research costs and they are happy for international students to subsidise our system.”

So, with the China revenue stream slowing, surely it is time for Canberra to stump-up. The time might be right but the politics aren’t.

“There were peak bodies which expected Labor to win the last election and did not keep it to themselves,” says a close-observer of the corridors on Canberra power.

“(Education Minister) Dan Tehan is willing to work with the sector and is keen to present the government as a friend of students and a research-supporter. But higher education has no favours to call in from this government.

“Demands for public money, to replace lost fee income will go unanswered, when they are not denounced, by the government as special pleading during a national crisis.”

So, what’s to be done?  “Get the case for assistance ready and hope the government creates a precedent by supporting the tourism industry.”

Another critic in the chair

The UK has a new HE minister, again, with Michelle Donelan replacing Chris Skidmore

Mr Skidmore looked like he was going to be fun. In January, he urged uni managements to better support early-career researchers, “the future scientists we need,” (CMM January 22). CMM was so looking forward to watching how Mr Skidmore got on with the science establishment. Never mind, Ms Donelan is a critic of VC pay levels, which will be entertaining.

Appointments, achievements

Marian Baird (Uni Sydney) wins the Association of Industrial Relations Academics in Australia and New Zealand achievement award.

La Trobe U confirms Joanna Barbousas as dean of education, she is now acting in the position.

Parshia Lee-Stecum is appointed assistant provost, learning and teaching in the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce at La Trobe U.