Faster than a speeding CPI!

Research Australia was quick to demand an “urgent injection of funding” for the National Health and Medical Research Council following annual inflation reaching 5.1 per cent in the 12 months to the March quarter.

With inflation ahead of the budget forecast, “important medical discoveries are at greater risk of going unfunded,” Research Aus warned yesterday.

A first call for a CORA (as in cost of research adjustment)!

There’s more in the mail

In Features this morning

Angel Calderon’s (RMIT) analysis of the new Times Higher impact rankings (CMM yesterday) – which Aus universities are up, those that are down, how it happens and why it matters.

And matters it does, “this is a moment of reckoning for many universities in Australia (and high-income economies) in how they perform in global rankings. It is a timely and brutal reminder that the world of higher education is changing. The results from the impact rankings shed light on how universities from middle income economies are shaping the global landscape,” he writes.

plus James Guthrie (Macquarie U) on what the 2021 university annual reports could reveal about management COVID-19 predictions and financial approaches. “The use of budgets as a calculative tool plays a crucial role in our universities’ construction, mobilisation and preservation of specific strategic and operational choices during periods of volatility.”

and Christy Collis (Uni Southern Queensland) on the digital skills gap. “Our students may know how to use digital tools, but we are not necessarily teaching them how to be successful digital workers,” she warns in an essay for Contributing Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

Getting VET into the offshore action

Ly Tran has ideas on how providers can expand overseas

Professor Tran (Deakin U) addressed what to do and ways to do it at the Australasian VET Research Association, yesterday.

In particular she pointed to the need to serve digital and blended learning, including “internationalisation at home” to increase course affordability.

As to what providers should offer, she was clear on what not to, suggesting training packages are “too complex and almost impossible to adapt for off-shore delivery.”

But non Australian Qualification Framework content can work – such as International Skills Training Courses.*

They can contextualise content for partner countries and are a “stepping stone to building Australian branding in vocational training overseas,” Professor Ly says.

* International Skills Training Courses? CMM  had no idea and looked them up. The feds established the programme in 2017 for registered training organisations to teach overseas. Apparently, “the courses offer flexible design to enable contextualisation for the target market. They are a non-accredited alternative to the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) and other courses already delivered offshore.” Target markets are India, Latin America, Indonesia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and China.

However it appears that there are not yet many of them – although courses in “high-demand, priority skills areas for partner countries” are supposed to be appearing this year. There is also an accreditation process for courses developed by approved IST providers.


Beyond the emergency row

As international education takes off join us for a zoom conference on what’s next

Speakers include, VCs Margaret Gardner and Iain Martin, policy experts Hamish Coates and Gwilym Croucher and buckle-up for TEQSA chief commissioner Peter Coaldrake in conversation with Sally Kift. Details here.

La Trobe U misses its own deadline on staff under-payments

What was promised for end April will not happen

Last December the university committed to paying casuals the Enterprise Agreement specified rate for marking that they had not received in the past, by this month.

However yesterday COO Mark Smith advised “the complexity of assessing marking protocols across our school and ensuring the new marking guidelines being developed are fit for purpose and can be accurately applied to back payments means this process has taken longer than originally planned.”

Which started a ways back. In December 2020 LT U asked casual staff who thought they had been underpaid to get in touch (CMM December 11 2020). The Fair Work Ombudsman got involved (CMM March 12 2021) and the university commissioned an independent audit, which identified possible problems including, PhD-qualified casuals not being paid the right rate for teaching (CMM June 18 2021).

And so the university started a “deep analysis” “to quantify, then rectify, any underpayments that may have occurred.”

Which nearly a year on appears is still not complete.

National Party ministers announce more funding

Some appearances to the contrary there are universities the coalition likes

Southern Cross U has $27m in federal funding for stage two of its Coffs Harbour campus health services precinct.  It will include a community health clinic and labs and teaching space for  health science and STEM courses.

Bridget McKenzie, National Party federal minister for many things, including regional education was at the announcement, as was member for the local federal seat of Cowper, Pat Conaghan.

And across the country yesterday, Agriculture Minister and Nats MP David Littleproud was at UWA, announcing $11m in research funding for “soil health and productivity” there, plus  Uni Adelaide and Western Sydney U.

They follow National Party announcements in the last week of $19.5 for a La Trobe U clinical health school in Shepparton, $5m for Lt U to research cannabis cropping, and four more years for the Geraldton Universities Centre.


VET on the job for international students

Of those who completed on-shore training last year more found work than in 2020

Some 75 per cent  were employed after training, compared to 65 per cent in 2020. All but 3 per cent of the 2021 class were working in Australia.  And 64 per cent had improved “employment status”, also up 10 per cent.

Of those who encountered employment barriers 60 per cent cited Covid-19 caused lack of jobs, 10 per cent more than in 2020.

The figures are in a new report from the estimable National Centre for Vocational Education Research.

Appointments, achievements of the week

Sally McArthur (Swinburne U) and Andrea O’Connor (Uni Melbourne) win Research Excellence Awards from the Australasian Society for Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering.

Stuart Dignam is appointed CEO of MTP Connect, (“the industry growth centre for the medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector”). Formerly COO he has acted as MTP’s chief executive since January.

Sylvia Gustin (UNSW) wins the inaugural Rebecca Cooper Fellowship. Associate Professor Gustin has $1.35m to research spinal cord injuries.

 Elizabeth Hartland (Murdoch IMR and Monash U) is new chair of the Victoria chapter of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes. She replaces Brendan Crabb (Burnett Institute).  

Bond U reports Libby Sander become director of the MBA programme. It is an internal appointment.