Open days of the day

The recruitment season starts with Charles Sturt U’s Wagga campus promoting its July 6 “MyDay”, which promises Year 11 and 12 students and their parents “a taste of university life for a day.” Trouble for people with jobs is that it is a Friday.  But not QUT which hosts OD on a Saturday July 29. It  looks like the usual QUT marketing effort, well, student focused and well organised.

To infinity and beyond – by Sunday

The government is scheduled to get out of the astronomy industry on Sunday, with the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science transferring assets, and running costs, to Australian universities. But what is an imminent reality for astronomers has not generated much attention elsewhere, so much so, that employment changes for some staff were only signed off on Friday.

The Anglo-Australian Telescope (still so-called although the Brits bailed in 2010) will now be run by a consortium of universities, led by ANU, which owns the Sidings Spring Observatory site (near Coonabarabran NSW). The other 12 are UNSW, UniSydney, Macquarie U, Western Sydney U, UniMelbourne, Swinburne U, Monash U, UofQ, USQ, Curtin U, UniTas and UWA.

The national astronomical instrumentation resource, based at North Ryde in Sydney moves to another university group, Macquarie U, ANU and the University of Sydney.

In combination with an agreement on access to the big optical and infra-red telescopes in Chile, and funding for a decade there seems to be a sense in the astronomical community that this is an ok-ish arrangement, although Labor science spokesman Nick Champion lamented the loss of 15 jobs, “of highly skilled individuals who have committed themselves to what is a great national capability.”

But while the deal is done, it will be a near-run thing, the bill is still in the Senate. And only last Friday did the Fair Work Commission agree to 34 staff based at North Ryde being transferred to Macquarie U’s enterprise agreement.

ATEM entries close Friday

Entries for the Association of Tertiary Education Management  best practice awards close on Friday. They are a great opportunity to demonstrate achievements and expertise in the ways administrators keep education running. Winners will be announced at this year’s Tertiary Education Management conference, in Perth on September 10.

The decline of western civilisation

Michael Spence is now in a win-win position as University of Sydney management considers a deal with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation – and the UniSydney VC has ANU to thank for it.

Yesterday ANU VC Brian Schmidt and Chancellor Gareth Evans  explained at length why they knocked back Ramsay-funded courses.  Slipping the cultural warriors’ tackles, they said their decision was based on Ramsay’s “extraordinarily prescriptive micro-management approach to the proposed program, unprecedented in our experience.” This only extends what Professor Schmidt had previously said but last night it appeared to have moved the discussion away from whether or not the Ramsay vision of western civ is suitable for study to university autonomy.

This is very good indeed for Dr Spence. If Ramsay wants a deal with UniSydney it will need to accept the vice chancellor’s terms on governance – which will go some way to address the concerns of the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union (CMM Monday). This would not quieten critics of what the Ramsay Centre would teach, but Dr Spence could respond that the courses would be taught on the university’s terms.


UNSW’s engineering faculty has appointed an associate dean for equity and diversity. Lucy Marshall takes the job from a future fellowship in the university’s school of civil and environmental engineering.

Education union election: it’s just comrades conversing

All is amity at the NSW branch of the National Tertiary Education Union says, state secretary Michael Thomson.

Mr Thomson is backing president of the UTS branch, Vince Caughley, in the election for the union’s deputy national secretary while new federal president Alison Barnes (Macquarie U) supports WA official Gabe Gooding. “I am happy to support Alison and Vince,” Mr Thomson says.

Observers say this is not as contradictory as it sounds – that the NSW branch leadership is interested in setting strategy rather than splitting the national leadership. Given Mr Caughley’s low national profile his beating Ms Gooding, who led the long bargaining campaign at Murdoch U, seems unlikely. But running gives him and his state allies an opportunity to push for a new approach to enterprise bargaining based on industrial action, rather than negotiations with managements that run from one year to the next.

“Vince is reaching out to widen the conversation,” a union-watcher says. Victorian state secretary Colin Long, running for re-election makes the same point, saying “must speed up our ability to reach agreements to ensure that bargaining teams and members don’t experience fatigue.”

Ministers increase oversight of teacher education

State and commonwealth education ministers have empowered AITSL to enforce initial teacher education standards. At Friday’s minco the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership was given seven new tasks, notably: advising state regulators on education faculties’ teacher performance assessments, developing national agreement on meeting accreditation standards, analysing the “impact” of ITE programmes and advising ministers on future work to ensure national consistency.

AITSL is unsurprisingly pleased, with CEO Lisa Rodgers saying yesterday AITSL is; “committed to supporting the national reforms so Australian school students have a teacher that is classroom ready from day one.”

This does not go anywhere near as far as the House of Representatives committee that called in May for a “reconstituted” AITSL to regulate teacher educationCMM May 31 2018). But it’s a certainly more oversight of education faculties.

The boom rolls on in international education

Education exports boom on, with the YTD all-sector enrolment figure for April just over 608 000, 60 000 more than in 2017. International student enrolments in higher education were up 40 000, to 318 000 – nearly doubling numbers a decade back. VET enrolments were 23 000 on April ’17 to 155 000.

Higher education demand from China stayed strong, up 18 000 on 2017, to 124 000, in-line with the 2016-17 increase. Chinese student numbers across all education sectors increased from 162 000 to 189 000. Universities accounted for all the growth in Indian enrolments, up 10 000, to 51 000, with all sectors rising 10 000 to 71 000.

The enrolment numbers translate to 548 000 people from overseas being educated in Australia.

The strength of the Australian international market contrasts with the UK, where ex-EU demand went backwards by one per cent between 2015-16 and 16-17. It took 4 per cent growth in students from China to overcome downturns from other country markets.  This is attributed to tighter migration requirements. “It may be that Australia’s introduction of post-study work visas for international higher education graduates in 2013 has positioned Australia to be perceived as not only a quality study destination, with opportunities for working both during and after study, but also as a more welcoming destination for international students,” an analysis by the Department of Education and Training suggests.

However, a DET comparison with the US demonstrates Australia enjoys no intrinsic advantage in attracting international students, with both countries similarly relying on India and China.

This makes the case for a grant to consultants Deloitte Access Economics, to consider market diversification, among a range of federal funding for international ed market research, announced today. Other projects include; $120 000 for Navitas to examine international demand trends, $249 000 to the Australian Technology Network to research work integrated learning for international students and $90 000 for Universities Australia to study the information students get before they leave for Australia.