Plus ASQA moderates validation (unless it’s the other way round)

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Lost cause

From the UK the Higher Education Policy Institute advises that “its university mental health day.

Heated discussion

Is there nothing Chris Pyne will not do to sell his deregulation plan to crossbench senators? If there is it’s only because he has not thought of it. Yesterday Mr Pyne visited a school with Senator John Madigan, where they did a spot, as one does, of smithing, (Senator Madigan is a master of the craft). “At least one of us knows what he is doing,” Mr Pyne quipped. It is not clear whether he meant banging hot metal, or the Senate, into shape.

Super study scheme

Smart people are seriously discussing the idea of allowing students to use their superannuation to pay off HECs off fast. Which means I must be missing something because this strikes me as dumb as the idea occasionally advanced of using super for home deposits – a great way to push up real estate prices. Super funded courses would not work with undergraduates under deregulation, what with they’re generally being too young to have salted away any retirement savings. But imagine the temptation for a business school to increase post graduate course fees and come up with payment plans based on mid-career graduate students’ super.

Keep a copy

“We’re taking enrolments for Semester 1 now! some optimist in NSW TAFE announced yesterday.” Trouble is, the new computer system will loose them.

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Macquarie movers and shakers

Every now and again senior Macquarie University staff decide it is just time to go, real soon. The latest is Executive Dean of Human Sciences Janet Greeley who has told colleagues “other adventures are calling.” Her job was advertised on February 6 with a closing date of March 1. I wonder what the rush is, especially as ex UNSW DVC Richard Henry will mind the faculty until the new dean arrives and he knows his way around Macquarie. Professor Henry looked after the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences when Simon Foote resigned. He also reviewed Human Resources last year, which was followed by director Tim Sprague’s announcement a couple of months later that he wanted to return to study. Other notable departures last year were Provost Judyth Sachs, whose role was abolished and dean of science Clive Baldock.

Not so casual in Canada

The Toronto Star reports the 7000 casual teaching staff at the city’s eponymous university are on the verge of striking for more money. I wonder if the NTEU is taking notes.

Whose in, whose out

There is movement in the corridors of power as Christopher Pyne ushers some people into new positions and shows others the exit. With the TEQSA Advisory Council closed its members are moving to the Higher Education Standards Panel, replacing some existing members. UWS Chancellor Peter Shergold will now chair HESP, in place of Alan Robson who led it through the labyrinth of standards drafting. Professor Robson stays on the panel and is joined by Greg Craven, international education representative Phil Honeywood and Adelaide lawyer Karen Thomas. However HESP is losing some very wonkish wonks, wise in the arcana of higher education governance, with Richard James, Adrienne Nieuwenhuis, David Siddle and Joanne Wright all going.

ASQA explains

In Melbourne Jon Faine wants to send crooked training providers to prison (CMM yesterday) but the Australian Skills Quality Authority has a better idea, bore them, along with everybody else, into submission with a brief on standards for registered training providers.  What you ask (oh, go on), is the difference between validation and moderation. ASQA answers that,”validation is a process to confirm that your RTO’s assessment system is able to consistently produce valid assessment judgements” while moderation “is a quality control process aimed at bringing assessment judgements into alignment.”  I’m glad that’s cleared up. This is serious stuff, for example the section on stopping “long weekend diplomas” needs to be understood and acted on by everybody in the industry, but the more cumbersome the language the less clarity of purpose.


CRCs fate

The Cooperative Research Centres Association reports the Miles Review of CRCs will be with Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane late this month or early next. Question is, when will it be released. What the programme is going to get in the budget will influence the date.

Signs of life

Charles Sturt University’s proposed Murray Darling Medical School is less on life support than cryogenically frozen, waiting for the day when a government will decide to fund it. Even so, CSU never misses a chance to remind regional NSW communities, and their MPs, that cash from Canberra is all the MDMS needs to spring to life. Yesterday the university announced a GP and allied health clinic will open in Bathurst on Monday, which the university will also use to train students in its dentistry, midwifery and nursing programmes. “The clinic is another step on the road to Charles Sturt University providing comprehensive healthcare training for regional and rural Australia, and brings the vision of a medical school a step closer,” Science Dean Tim Wess says.

 No dumbbells

University of Sydney researchers report weight training improves organising and memory functions in people with mild cognitive impairment. Good, but the problem is that only people who do not remember the pain of lifting weights on day one do it on day two.

Industry advice

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane is also appointing people to peak policy roles, announcing the Growth Centres Advisory Committee. The programmes five centres are focused on the government’s preferred growth research-industry areas, advanced manufacturing, food and agribusiness, medical technology and pharmaceuticals, mining equipment and energy. The committee members are engineer and philanthropist John Grill, company director Carolyn Hewson, Dow Chemical chair Andrew Liveris and Telstra chair Catherine Livingstone. That they are all business people suggests  power in the programme will lie with industry not researchers.


 Not in Kansas anymore

A delegation from Kansas State University is visiting, talking to like-minded scientists and looking for collaborations. KSU is a big participant in the Plant Biosecurity CRC.