Careful what you wish for

Innovation shadow minister Kim Carr on prospects for the government’s higher education plans in the Senate tomorrow, “ it is unlikely that they will attract the support of the Senate … which I am very pleased to reflect upon and we will look forward to a Labor Government having to deal with the problems in terms of higher education system.”

UniMelb ignore government and sticks with its model

The University of Melbourne is ignoring the government’s plan to end public funding for its undergraduate first-degree followed by professional masters.

The university has a new student recruitment campaign for this Melbourne model, which (with the University of Western Australia) allows it to offer Commonwealth funded places to undergraduates, for a bachelors degree followed by and a professional-masters.

It’s a terrific campaign (see below) but it isn’t going to run for long, if the government gets its way.

The Melbourne model will be phased-out if the government’s higher education package, in the Senate tomorrow, passes. The government proposes a national scheme where students, rather than institutions, receive funding for masters places.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham promises transition arrangements for UniMelb, and presumably, the University of Western Australia, which has a similar system. The minister has committed to grandfathering continuing students enrolled under the Melbourne model in 2019 with the university subject to the new scheme after then. Grandfathered places are capped at 2017 numbers.

So, the new campaign only has a two-year life. Unless, of course, UniMelb assumes the government will fail to get its legislation through the Senate and/or that it will lose the next election and be replaced by a Labor government that likes the Melbourne model.

Last night acting VC Margaret Sheil told CMM “the University of Melbourne remains committed to the Melbourne Model, a curriculum which offers students a specialised and broad education suited for a fast-changing world.”

How they say “mess” at Monash U

Monash University advises students a technical problem meant that for 36 hours last week 4700 of them “had clashing allocations (lecture and tutorial etc).” So what went wrong? Apparently, it was an “unplanned content change in syllabus.” “Our grandparents would have called it a ‘snafu’ our parents, ‘a cock-up,’ now it’s “an unplanned content change incident,” a learned reader laments.

VU rejects claim it is targeting union officials for redundancy

Victoria University rejects allegations it is targeting campus union officials for retrenchment. Last Thursday CMM reported National Tertiary Education Union claims that VU is targeting three branch officials on VU’s staff for redundancy. The union suggested this is not a coincidence. CMM requested comment from the university then and received a response yesterday. “Assertions regarding targeting individuals are completely false,” VU states.

Victoria University has been pursuing a widespread transformation agenda since 2016 that aims to improve the student experience, reduce our reliance on sessional staff, and concentrate our research efforts on areas of strength … . Change of this magnitude will have an inevitable impact on staff. Victoria University has taken considerable care to consult closely with all staff during this time, and has acted consistently with its legal and industrial relations obligations,” the university adds.

Another board for Brown

Whistleblowing expert,  A J Brown from Griffith U, has yet another prestigious appointment, being invited onto the board of Transparency International. Last month Professor Brown was appointed to a federal government expert committee on whistle-blower protection.

Big wave to UWA

There is a big astronomy announcement at the University of Western Australia this morning. All the university was saying yesterday was that “for the past few weeks there have been rumours circulating about a major discovery in the world of astronomy – ground-breaking observations relating to an astronomical phenomenon that has never been witnessed before.” So yesterday afternoon when the Academy of Science tweeted; “what’s the fuss about tomorrow’s gravitational waves announcement?” it must have meant something else.

Just what the doctors ordered for University of the Sunshine Coast

The University of the Sunshine Coast has been busting to get into medical science, what with the flash new Sunshine Coast University Hospital on its patch. But it couldn’t while there were no med school teaching places there. The feds fixed that last month committing to fund 50 places at the hospital, via Griffith University’s medical school (CMM September 1)and so last night USC announced it would begin teaching a bachelor of medical science in first semester next year. USC says it expects 20 of its graduates will have “provisional direct entry,” into the Griffith med school at the hospital. This is very big win for USC.

Monash U’s extraordinary mindfulness MOOC

If UniMelb VC Glyn Davis wants to learn about mindfulness he can do it closer to home than Charles Sturt U (CMM yesterday). A learned reader reports the Monash U MOOC, “Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance,” is now running for an eighth time (via FutureLearn) and has reached 230 000 learners.  Creators Craig Hassed and Richard Chambers have a sequel, “Maintaining a Mindful Life” which launches in November.

Hassed and Chambers’ first Mindfulness MOOC, is on reviewing site Class Central’s all-time top 50 MOOCs (“based on thousands of reviews), along with the University of Tasmania’s, Understanding Dementia and the University of Queensland’s The Science of Everyday Life. The potential for universities to extend their brands and just plain help people via MOOCs knows no bounds.

Australians should learn Mandarin and yet we wont

Labor’s Penny Wong delivered a serious speech on relations with China yesterday. While she did not talk outside her foreign affairs brief she did make the mandatory reference to Australia’s woeful record on learning Asian languages. “We must stop being so defiantly monolingual. We need to ramp up the study of Mandarin in Australian schools so that the ability to speak and read Chinese is no longer a curiosity but a key tool for doing business.”

As to what the Opposition proposes to do in government Ms Wong was silent. However shadow treasurer Chris Bowen is on the case, saying Labor will “ use the COAG processes to collaborate with states and territories to lift the focus on Asian languages and work on specific programs in this field, ” (CMM October 3) CMM is embarrassed to admit he cannot write “pull the other one, for verily it hath bells upon in it” in Mandarin. There has been plan after plan since the Asia-boom of the early ‘90s and yet we remain, as Ms Wong puts “defiantly monolingual.”

Another brilliant campaign from UniMelbourne

The University of Melbourne’s new student recruitment campaign is brilliantly briefed and beautifully executed. Like previous campaigns, Collisions and the excellent outdoor Made Possible by Melbourne the basic messages, about the quality of the university’s education and research are hardly unique. But what separates them from the self-important puffery that too-often passes for university advertising is the quality of the strategy and the creative translation. Much advertising for universities sells the idea of research and education rather than the benefits of studying at a specific institution. The University of Melbourne has now produced three campaigns that do both – own the ideals of education and the role of research and sell the idea that everything that matters in both is at UniMelbourne.

China building in the MBA business

The Melbourne Business School is the only ANZ entry in the ranking of the day, the Financial Time’s assessment of Executive MBAs. The MBS rates 60th in the world, down from 48 in 2010, when it last was listed. The world number one is the partnership of Northwestern U’s Kellogg School and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Five of the top ten include a China (including HK) partner.

Research lighter weights punching hard

A report on comparative research performance for the UK Government finds the nation “punches above its weight,” (but then, again don’t all nations). “The UK remains well-rounded across most fields of research, and is a highly productive research nation in relation to articles and citation outputs per researcher and per unit of R&D expenditure, despite broadly stable or decreasing inputs in relative terms.”

The report compares the UK performance against comparable countries, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US and coming competitors, Brazil, India, Russia and South Korea. But this is not the research-Ashes and curiously there are only incidental references to Australia – maybe it was us or the Canadians.

However despite the UK PAIW, the news is not all good – no, it’s not underfunding, (this is a report to a government in power for seven years) it is energetic competitors.

Including Italians, who now produce more articles by researcher than the UK and the comparative set. And China, where the share of the world’s top 1 per cent of highly-cited articles doubled to 20 per cent between 2010 and 2014. China overtook the UK for global share of highly-cited articles in 2013. Somewhere in China a comrade sub-editor is writing a headline about the PRC PAIW.