Front and centre

“A Master in Mathematical Sciences will make you stand out from the pack,” Uni Sydney advertising, on Twitter yesterday. It would be probably best to do what he demands.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Warren Bebbington (Uni Melbourne) on how universities can urgently address climate change in teaching, research and service. “It is in their core programs that universities can make the most significant contribution to ending this alarming crisis,” he writes.

plus Catharine Coleborne and Clare Lloyd (Uni Newcastle) on a new BA, with more inquiry-based subjects and interactive pedagogies. It has changed how academics think about designing and teaching humanities.

and 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.

What study cost how many students

A Learned Reader wonders how the Australian Bureau of Statistics got its 6.3 per cent increase in HE costs contributing to last week’s CPI

As the ABS points out, fee increases under the Job Ready Graduates programme last year, do not apply to existing students. And as to how many new students are impacted, who knows.  The most recent full year student data on the Department of Education, Skills and Employment site is for 2020.

Monash U announces a $305m surplus

The 2021 profit is detailed in the university annual report, to be released today. It follows a $259 profit in 2020 (CMM February 8 2021)

“This result would not have been possible without your dedication and commitment through these testing times,“ Vice Chancellor Margaret Gardner tells staff.

The result is due to,

*  $124m in “higher-than-expected teaching revenue”

* a $118m drop in non-salary costs

* $22m in lower wages, “delivered from the reductions made in 2020.”

But while Professor Gardner warns of a decline in teaching income to come, she commits to, “no further cuts to teaching and research,” in the next two years of revenue decline.” And the university will be, “able to avoid further redundancies.”

Last year Professor Gardner called the 2020 result “a buffer for the future”  – which could now include the next enterprise agreement. Last month the National Tertiary Education Union increased its all-university pay rise demand to 15 per cent, from the original 12 per cent, (CMM, April 21).


“Beyond the emergency row” is on next week

CMM and Twig Marketing’s Zoom on the future for international education starts Monday

First-up, Margaret Gardner (Monash U, Stacey Farraway (La Trobe U) and Michael Wesley (Uni Melbourne) discuss how universities can prepare for the next big disruption.

And then Chi Baik (Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education), Angel Calderon (RMIT) and Chris Beard (from New Zealand’s International Education Association) what success in international student recruitment and engagement will look like.

And that’s just Monday! Full programme here.

Sense and sensingability

The NSW Smart Sensing Network awards four small grants (total funding is $350 000) for big-need projects

ANU’s Marta Yebra leads a team from there and Western Sydney U identifying the lightning strikes most likely to start fires.

K C Wong (Uni Sydney) and colleagues develop tech for drones to monitor fires in water reservoirs.

Ali Hadigeh and researchers (Uni Sydney) use sensors, AI and modelling to monitor the structural state of infrastructure, such as bridges.

Fiacre Rougieux’s UNSW group develop usable data on the performance of distributed energy systems, such as solar panels.

Colin Simpson’s ed tech must reads of the week

Enabling Online Learning: who are the educators? From The Open University

This chapter from The Handbook of Digital Higher Education is of interest for the way it blurs the idea of what “teaching activities” are – placing a surprising number in the “third space” between teaching and administration. Papathoma et al. examine teaching activities most commonly undertaken by 28 people teaching in MOOCs on the FutureLearn platform. Among these, they identity “securing funding for course development,” “allocating work” and “ensuring rights clearance” – alongside facilitating the course and presenting videos. It raises some interesting questions about what teaching is in the digital age.


Face to face lectures aren’t dead from Paul G Moss

Paul Moss (Uni Adelaide) makes an impassioned defence of students attending lectures in person, celebrating the cognitive and social presence they provide. He suggests that they should not be livestreamed but that students should still have access to recording for later review. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he has to say – even pre-pandemic, lecturers commonly complained about a sharp drop-off in lecture attendance after the first weeks of semester – but the pedagogical ideas are strong.


Developing feedback literacy: case studies from multiple disciplines from CRADLE

While the importance of good, timely feedback is slowly being understood, it is still not used as well as it might in Higher Ed. CRADLE at Deakin recently held a seminar focusing on feedback literacy. Juan Fischer Rodriguez summarises the key ideas emerging from this session, including the importance of equipping learners with the skills to take meaningful action informed by the feedback they receive.


Effects of captions, transcripts and reminders on learning and perceptions of lecture capture from IJETHE

Good accessibility (and pedagogical) practice demands the use of captions and transcripts whenever video (or audio) content in provided. For many years, this has unfortunately often landed in the too hard basket due to cost and technology limitations, with effort focused most on meeting legal requirements for disabled students. Fortunately this is slowly changing and we are seeing more research into the impact of wider provision of captions and transcripts. This paper, in the International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, offers some quantitative insights into their impact.


Perusall Exchange 2022 May 16-27 from Perusall

Perusall is an on-line tool that enables learners to collaboratively annotate learning resources, supporting peer learning and deeper discussion of concepts. They are running a free asynchronous “social conference” from May 16 around the theme of social learning. This looks like a great opportunity to explore learning and teaching modes beyond our prevalent synchronous modes.

Colin Simpson has worked in education technology, teaching, learning design and academic development in the tertiary sector since 2003 and is employed by Monash University’s Education Innovation team. He is also one of the leaders of the TELedvisors Network. For more from Colin, follow him on Twitter @gamerlearner

Where ASQA’s money will come from

The regulator joins Prime Minister and Cabinet’s cost recovery review project

The Australian Skills Quality Agency starts recovering costs in full in July and is now one of nine agencies looking at how regulators use the model, to “to inform their decisions around resource allocation, regulatory performance, and organisational design.”

Not that the agency is looking for the trainers it regulates to pay for everything. Of ASQA’s $45.8m budget expenses, the agency implementation statement states it will recover $40m.

In the west for the west

WA announces $25m for ag research -it’s a way to attract more federal funding

The state government will support the Western Australian Agricultural Collaboration, a partnership of the state Department of Primary Industries, CSIRO, Curtin U, Murdoch U and UWA. The  collaboration will work on new technologies for grains, livestock and irrigation. There will be “a strong focus on postgrads and early career researchers and it “will position the state for more national research funding.”

Apparently, WA agricultural research “will now have a real opportunity to get back a fair share of grower funds and ensure research that is designed to meet the geographic and market conditions in WA.”

The funding follows announcements of $8.6m over four years for a health and life sciences industry strategy and $2.1m for antibiotic resistance research and paper tests for MS and Parkinsons (CMM April 7 and 11).

Ratings Agency S&P predicts a near $8bn surplus in the WA budget this month.


Uni Wollongong announces emeritus professorships, Shi Xue Dou (Institute of Innovative Material), Richard Kenchington, (Centre for Ocean Resources and Security), Hua Kun Liu (Institute of Innovative Material), Linda Tapsell (Science, Medicine and Health)