Just in from the, “you don’t say!” correspondent

The estimable National Centre for Vocational Education and Training reports a 20 per cent increase in apprentice and trainee numbers at end March on the 12 months prior. “The COVID-19 pandemic in Australia has created uncertain times for individuals, business and government … care should be taken when comparing 2020/21 data with data from previous years,” the agency suggests.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Pamela Humphreys (Macquarie U) reports on a learning technology from Coursera creators, that helped MU replicate aspects of the traditional classroom enhanced by tech.

Plus  Les Kirkup (UTS) makes the case for the lecture. It’s this week’s addition to Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed Now in teaching and learning.

And Jane O‘Dwyer on 30 years of CRCs – products plus the bedrock of the national innovation system.

What’s next for the lecturer in a world of ed tech wizardry

If the end is nigh for the lecture what’s next for the lecturers? Good question and CMM suspects, Elizabeth Baré (Uni Melbourne), Scott Bowman (Charles Darwin U), Gregor Kennedy (Uni Melbourne) and Kelly Matthews (Uni Queensland) will have intriguing answers. They speak in the first session of CMM and partners’ back to campus conference, today

And then, Chie Adachi (Deakin U), Merlin Crossley (UNSW), Ray Fleming (Google) and Amanda White (UTS) talk about ed tecch and making the most of it.

You can still join the discussions, here.

ANU opens access to China archive

The library launches its Xu Dishan collection on-line

Xu Dishan was a Chinese scholar, educator and writer of fiction who died in 1941. ANU holds his collection of 1224 volumes, including rare editions and “suspected orphaned sacred books, on Buddhism, Taoism and “other Missionary publications.”

The university acquired the collection in 1950, via historian of China, C P Fitzgerald.

The  launch is Monday.

They’re keen on expanding access at ANU. The library digitised 2700 ANU-published works for open access last year (CMM April 28).

Monash U can “reshape future” says VC

Margaret Gardner is looking forward to life returning to campus 

“We have so much that has been lost to recover and appreciate again,” she tells staff.

But after all the COVID-caused disruption, she gently suggests there is more change to come, “because we can reshape our future.”

Including teaching.

“In these last two years, we have been engaged in a forced major experiment which is valuable for what it has shown us about the key areas for ensuring a great educational experience for our students.”

“Plans for how we educate and develop our students will need to change with a clear eye on what we wish to do over the longer term.”

So, it could all be imminently over for the new normal.


United front against Govt IP plan

The feds’ proposed intellectual property framework for university-industry research translation has two more hard nays 

The federal government wants a standard IP arrangement to commercialise research and has a proposal out for comment. Yesterday the Australian Technology Network suggested the proposal is not great (CMM September 19, September 22). Now two other major lobbies agree.

The Group of Eight warns a mandatory framework will be a “roadblock to engagement”

The Eight argue while some industry partners may welcome a standard set of rules, forcing them on all could upset existing arrangements and unsettle present and potential partners which would prefer arrangements that suit their circumstances.

Science and Technology Australia urges the Commonwealth to keep rules optional and understandable

“Using the IP Framework to establish minimum standards and a starting point for discussions between university and industry will ensure basic consistency. Any changes from standard guidance would need to be justified by both parties, but such flexibility is critical to ensuring effective outcomes for complex projects and technologies,” STA states in its submission to the proposed IP rules.

What’s next

The Government is said to want the IP toolkit to be ready when it announces the expected to be imminent research translation strategy. However, observers suggest that making it mandatory for contracts involving the Australian Research Council and Department of Education, Skills and Employment would require legislation.

Perhaps this could be managed by announcing the IP kit is coming and then changing the acts. But it is hard to imagine a better way of creating a Senate committee inquiry. And look where that got legislation to change the Research and Development Tax Incentive – which was nowhere.

With three peak research groups signalling adamant opposition to what is proposed it may be time for DESE to unleash the word-weasel and change “rules” to “advice.”

Regulations driving learning resources students can use

As Australia moves to “COVID-normal”, it is timely to consider whether tertiary education will revert to previous levels of face-to-face teaching and, as a former regulator, what that means from a regulatory perspective?


While regulation was not cited as a factor in the shift to more on-line/blended learning reported in the Australasian Council on Open, Distance and eLearning (ACODE) January 2021 White Paper; in a recent project with Conor King – a number of senior university figures cited Section 3.3 of the Higher Education Standards Framework as a significant barrier to students paying for essential learning materials, which in turn has meant institutions increasingly making all learning resources available in their (on-line) learning management systems.

While higher education students can still purchase additional learning resources, the Standards are understood to mean that universities must make all learning materials available to students at no cost. Universities are therefore rapidly moving to make greater use of their LMS.

And what about VET – where Industry Reference Committees set the rules mandating when training must take place in a workplace and/or whether a simulated environment is appropriate?

During COVID many IRCs were loath to trust simulated learning environments, instead preferring no training take place at all. That contrasts with the 2.1 million community college students in California who had access to simulated labs during COVID.

With a recent ASQA report showing that nine in 10 respondents to an online poll of 1,651 people had moved their delivery on-line last year, it is clear that providers are recognising the benefits of online education.

According to Minister Robert, speaking at an online CEDA event last week, the VET sector is on the verge of “substantial changes… to the way in which qualifications and competencies are designed, built and updated”. The changes will reduce the time taken to develop new qualifications to “no more than 90 days” and will result in a “system led by industry, for industry.”

It remains to be seen what these changes will mean for the sector and for more flexible delivery in VET.

 Claire Field is an advisor to the tertiary education sector

Overpaid at TEQSA

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency reports it has identified $181 000 in travel allowance overpaid between October 2015 and April ’20

According to the Agency’s annual report, the money was considered a “recoverable debt,” but while TEQSA has recovered $2744, the $178 000 balance is “not legally recoverable.” However, the report states “the debt is not formally waived.”

There were 98 payments over the period.

“TEQSA is putting in place improvements to internal controls to prevent a reoccurrence of the overpayments,” the annual report states.

Appointments, achievements

Uni Sydney appoints Jennifer Barrett to the new role of PVC Indigenous (Academic).

Jane Gunn is appointed dean of the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences. She has been interim dean since February.  

Jane den Hollander joins the board of “leading global education provider Navitas. Professor den Hollander is the nominee director for major shareholder Australian Super. After retiring as VC of Deakin U in 2019 she was interim VC of UWA last year and is now acting at Murdoch U.

Business leader and football champion (Richmond FC chair) Peggy O’Neal will become chancellor of RMIT in January.  She succeeds Ziggy Switkowski who will step down as chancellor at the end of the month. Deputy Chancellor Janet Latchford will act.

The Snow Family biomedical fellows are announced. $8m each goes to Melanie Eckersley Maslin (Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre), Marina Pajic (Garvan institute of Medical Research) and Shom Goel (Uni Melbourne and Peter MacCallum)