Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow …

SCU will see your open day and raise you 25

Southern Cross U announces open-month. Apparently, the 26-day event, “overcomes the hassle of squeezing everything in one day.”

Plus, “because all sessions are on-line you can check out the university’s campuses, courses and student life from anywhere in Australia.

So, convenient for people who want to study on-line at SCU, but can’t cross a border, or leave the house.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Tim Winkler goes to Swinburne U’s on-line open day.

Andrew Harvey and Lisa Andrewartha (both La Trobe U) on welcoming defence forces veterans into high education

Research funding crisis: imminent and enormous

Larkins and Marshman estimate international student fee decline means $4.2bn less for research and 4 600 FTE jobs gone by 2024

In Features  this morning Frank Larkins and Ian Marshman explain how it could happen and what it will mean, especially for the research Big Five.

Overall, they warn; “stated baldly, Australia cannot afford the loss of more than 4 600 from its R&D workforce. At a time when increased national resilience, capability and self-sufficiency have become paramount national priorities, such a loss would amount to a national tragedy.”

How VU wants to manage staff cuts

The university says concessions from staff can reduce redundancies

Vice Chancellor Peter Dawkins warned the university workforce yesterday that VU could have to cut “about” 190 FTE over the next 18 months, to repair COVID-19 caused losses. But staff agreeing to “an enterprise agreement variation” could reduce the cut to “no more than 100 FTE,” which “we hope will be possible through a voluntary separation program and other balanced employment related mitigations.

Professor Dawkins did not spell out what in the EA would need varying, but last week mentioned talks with the National Tertiary Education Union on a job protection framework. (CMM August 6). He said yesterday that, “I will let you know you, as soon as possible, if we think that an enterprise agreement variation is going to be achievable.”

Given outcomes at universities across the country, an agreement with the NTEU national leadership, using its job protection framework seems possible. Problem is, a meeting of VU union members on Friday voted against any agreement that constrains conditions and stops pay rises (CMM August 10). These are generally these are the basis of job protection accords.

Talking-up a “strong future” for international ed

They’re indefatigable optimists at the Australian Technology Network

The ATN is convening a three-day event, “to elevate discussion about the importance of Australia’s international education sector across a range of industries and sectors.”

The on-line seminars will be addressed by industry experts, policy persons and commentators across the economy. There’s no final programme but it’s set for September 21-23.

Learnings for feedback in on-line learning

A Deakin U seminar sets out how-to


The CRADLE research group at Deakin University ran a stunning seminar on Tuesday afternoon that attracted in excess of 500 participants, not to mention those who have been engaging with the  YouTube record that so far has over 730.

The session looked at higher education’s rapid shift to on-line teaching, learning and assessment and the many new opportunities and challenges this presents.

The panel explored the evolving nature of feedback in on-line learning, from technology and dialogue to the feedback process and on-line exams.

It was highlighted that relational scaffolding of feedback may be motivational and increase self-efficacy, but that it needs cognitive scaffolding. That is, helping students understand the feedback they get, through a process of sense-making, by using accessible language linked with empathy, which is a deliberate activity on behalf of the teacher.

This rapid shift has provided us with opportunities and risks, by rethinking how we can provide feedback in the on-line space and helping our teachers understand what quality feedback actually looks like.

This is a deliberate act; where feedback becomes an element of course designed process. That is, it is planned along with other elements of the course, which also helps to make this sustainable and not last minute or ad hoc.

Last, we looked at the feedback institutions gave on how they dealt with trying on-line formal assessment at speed. Institutions identified that they might have put a solution in place but are not necessarily wedded to that particular in the longer term. Instead, this was part of the learning process for many institutions, that potentially will have longer term benefits, post pandemic.

Professor Michael Sankey is Director, Learning Transformations Griffith University President of the Australasian Council on Open Distance and eLearning.

Union responds to Uni Newcastle VC

There is no savings agreement and nobody is pleased

The National Tertiary Education Union responded yesterday to Vice Chancellor Zelinsky who has told staff that in the absence of an agreement with unions the university will have find additional savings from restructuring, course reviews and other efficiencies,” (CMM yesterday).

However, NTEU NSW assistant secretary Damien Cahill says this is all down to the VC.

Dr Cahill states the union,was willing to negotiate a variation to the enterprise agreement that secured the economic sustainability of the university whilst also ensuring financial transparency and saving jobs.” He argues talks failed over issues including the union’s demand for “enforceable job security provisions.”

The key issue was management’s proposal to defer two 2 per cent pay rises due next month and in September 2021 to the end of next year.

No good way to say it

UNSW VC Ian Jacobs tells staff voluntary redundancies will be known in the next fortnight, “following which … we will address our remaining people-cost saving needs.”

“As a euphemism for “staff to be sacked,” “people-cost saving needs” is no improvement, a learned reader laments.

New funding for NCRIS

Organisations in the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy has $7.8m for new facilities and people

* Bioplatforms Australia: $1.5m for “fast-response” COVID-19 analysis, “to assist with overflow from public health laboratories”

* Phenomics Australia: modelling drivers of COVID-19 ($1m)

* Translating Health Discoveries: (therapeutic discoveries into clinical applications): five FT staff to work on COVID-19 projects, ($1.2m)

* Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network: $1.65m for IT update

* Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network: $1.7m to replace bushfire-damaged monitoring kit

NCRIS consists of 23 projects.

Shining a green light on ideas about access

For-profit publisher Emerald is surveying academics

It wants, “to understand how academia is pushing to drive societal change through the research it creates, and how changes to publishing practices have accelerated this or present challenges that need addressing.”

There are also questions which might indicate Emerald’s plans.

Thus, the company asks whether responders want to, make their published work green open access, with links to supporting datasets, and whether they would publish “non-traditional content” if there are “rewards mechanisms.”

Emerald also asks if researchers would like, “better tracking of potential social impact at the start of a research project.”