COVID-19. Less if than when

The question has changed from when do students from China arrive to what do unis do about a local outbreak

The Education Minister fielded a Dorothy in Reps Question Time yesterday, about COVID-19’s impact on trade. Mr Tehan’s response included education, less about China as outbreaks here. “I’ve been having discussions with Universities Australia to make sure that all our universities have contingency plans in place to deal with an outbreak of the coronavirus,” he said. It is starting to sound like more when than if.  Below: Monash braces.

There’s more in the Mail

Rachelle Towart and Tim Winkler, on a  new era  for  Aboriginal university leaders.

Michael Sankey on new benchmarks for technology enhanced learning,     it’s what TEQSA wants. This is a new contribution in contributing editor Sally Kift’s series on what is needed now in teaching and learning.

And Merlin Crossley on the ideal PhD supervisor (and the six others).

Bedding down the HE shake-up

The feds are implementing the Coaldrake review

Professor Coaldrake’s proposals, to set research minimums for universities, community engagement and creating new unis were all adopted by the government, (CMM December 11). In one case Education Minister Dan Tehan went one better; where Coaldrake proposed a new institutional category, national institutes of higher education, the minister thought university college sounded better.

Now the Higher Education Standards Panel is asking for input for its advice to government on how the changes can be made. It should not take providers long, the discussion paper anticipates, and answers, a bunch of questions.

New training pilots (at least it isn’t a strategy)

The feds have announced Skills Organisation Pilot Principles, but don’t panic

It is not another VET re-organisation plan, to join the 37 voc ed reviews over the last 65 years (CMM July 31 2018).

Although you would be forgiven for thinking it is another classic from COAG (that’s the Circumlocution Office for Australian Governments), in fact, the  pilot principles  are, “to support future industry engagement to inform the design and longer-term organisational and governance model for each Skills Organisation pilot.”

So what will the pilots actually do? you ask (oh, go-on). According to the feds, they will trial “end to end training,” from identifying skill needs, to developing qualifications through to training delivery and assessment.

The trial industries are human care, digital tech and mining.

Dolt of the day

Is CMM who mistakenly named Neil Gaiman as Michael yesterday. Thanks to the (way, way, too numerous to mention) readers who pointed-out the error.

Bids to cover the QILT

The feds have put the vital student surveys to tender

Administering the Student Experience Survey, the Graduate Outcomes Survey, the Graduate Outcomes Survey-Longitudinal and the Employer Satisfaction Survey 2020-23 are all up for gabs. So is, “hosting, maintaining and redesigning” the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching website and “hosting, maintaining and enhancing” the ComparED website.

The latter reproduces survey data by institution, for no immediately obvious reason, apart perhaps from making the QILT site look good.

QILT is now the work of ANU’s excellent subsidiary, the Social Research Centre.

NSW lost in space

The state announces a space strategy – lift-off may take a while

The document explains that space is a Good Thing and that NSW is just the place to launch Australia into it.

There is a bunch of; building connections, working collaboratively and promoting stronger links, in the document and there is a bit about the space sector which will be built at the second Sydney airport’s “aerotropolis”. The goal for there is “a thriving space industry ecosystem, with a critical mass of infrastructure and skills to support the growing industry (and) … NSW known globally for its space expertise.”

But as for policies with dollars and dates attached, it’s a wishing on a star statement.

Monash U braces for more COVID-19  

In a comprehensive message to staff last-night Vice Chancellor Margaret Gardner outlined plans for university business to continue as usual as possible in times that aren’t

This is the biggest challenge I have seen the tertiary sector face,” she said.

Professor Gardner focused on continuity, detailing how teaching and assessing “flexibly” meant international students still off-shore “will have an excellent educational experience, in parallel with those participating in on-campus programmes.

She also detailed the continuing need for changing workloads and how staff would be compensated. And Professor Gardner specified savings to make-up revenue loss;

* delaying capex for the year

* increasing borrowings

* “asking all areas to carefully considerrecruiting for on-going roles

However, she also assured staff, “While there will be changes in employment of sessional and casual staff, we have increased expenditure on our flexible programs which should reduce the impact of lower student numbers on sessional and casual staff employment.”

And “all standard confirmation, promotion and reclassification processes should continue.”

As to what happens next, “ Monash has mobilised quickly to manage this complex situation – and possible future issues associated with it,” Gardner said.

Australian Academy of Science honours

Lifetime achievement: Graeme Moad (CSIRO), Ian Campbell (ANU), Marilyn Renfree ( Uni Melbourne), Allen Nutman (Uni Wollongong).

Mid-career: Alexandra Martiniuk (Uni Sydney), Kate Schroder (Uni Queensland), Nicole Bell (Uni Melbourne).

Early-career: Jan Zika (UNSW), Ryan Loxton (Curtin U), Jennifer Flegg (Uni Melbourne), Rebecca Carey (Uni Tasmania), Michael Bode (QUT), Muireann Irish (Uni Sydney), Britta Bienen (UWA), Ivan Kassal (Uni Sydney), Marina Pajic (Garvan Institute-UNSW), Adam Deller (Swinburne U), Madhu Bhaskaran (RMIT).


Michael Kidd is jointly appointed professor of primary care reform at ANU and the Commonwealth Department of Health’s principal medical advisor.

 Macquarie U appoints Magnus Nydén as executive dean of science and engineering. He will start mid-year, moving from technology companies in Sweden. He was previously a  professor at Uni SA.

Matthew Warren will lead a new cyber security research centre at RMIT. Professor Warren moves from Deakin U.