The dollars are in the detail

The Fair Work Commission has authorised a change to the Edith Cowan U enterprise agreement. Turns out there are transposed numbers so that the pay rate for HEW Six/Seven and HEW Seven professional staff at Step Nine were recorded as $101 900 when it should be $101 090. Maybe the savings will protect a few jobs from the COVID-19 crunch.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Garry Carnegie and James Guthrie argue we need more up to date financial information than universities have supplied on the pandemic’s impact.

Student data is essential for learning analytics but it must be kept say Ruth Marshall (Practera) and colleagues. It’s this week’s piece in contributing editor Sally Kift’s series on what is needed now in teaching and learning.

Angela Barney-Leitch (QUT) asks, why Indigenous Australians are still excluded from Higher Education “in the era of reconciliation plans, key performance indicators and employment strategies.” It’s the first in a series by Indigenous academics and policy people from commissioning editor Claire Field.

New TEQSA head: ambassador, corruption fighter, John Howard staffer

The appointment was announced just in time for News Radio’s  Saturday afternoon bulletin

Alistair Maclean is the new CEO of the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency. Education Minister Dan Tehan’s office released news of the appointment, lunchtime Saturday.

But in a not especially speedy start, it took TEQSA to 3pm to tweet its welcome to the new boss.

Mr Maclean is a former CEO of Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission and ambassador to Laos. He has degrees in political science (Uni Melbourne) and international law (ANU).  Mr Maclean was also an advisor to John Howard in his last months as prime minister. As to any special interest in HE, TEQSA’s announcement that the new boss starts Tuesday, was silent.

The government has also expanded the agency’s advisory board by three – Steve Chapman (Edith Cowan U VC), Kadi Taylor (strategic engagement and government relations at Navitas) and David Perry (VP Academic at Alphacrucis College, “a multidisciplinary Christian college”).

What QILT uncovers: degrees (not just some of them) generate jobs

The Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching 2020 survey of graduate employment outcomes demonstrates degrees deliver

Some of the good news in the new QILT grad employment stats is that the news isn’t new – graduates get jobs.

In 2020, some 90 per cent of 2017 completing undergraduates were employed – down 1.5 per cent from the 2007 figure, but up from 88 per cent in 2013.

Grads off to a quick start: As ever, employment rates reflect labour market demand, emphasised yesterday by the education minister, who flagged graduate outcomes by discipline. Mr Tehan pointed to dentistry, medicine, engineering and teaching all with employment rates in the 90 per cents, three-year post-graduation.

“We are encouraging students to tailor their studies to learn the skills that will be in demand in areas of future jobs growth. That means breaking down the traditional degree ‘silos’ by choosing units of study across disciplines and introducing a price signal to students by making degrees cheaper in areas of expected job growth.

“We want our students to receive an education that sets them up for future success,” Mr Tehan says.

But the lead lessens: Good-o, but outcomes across fields of education tends to narrow over time. QILT points to employment for 2017 creative arts graduates three months out at 53 per cent, it was up to 79 per cent in 2020.

Humanities improved from 61 per cent to 87 per cent and comms grads from 65 per cent to 84 per cent. Grads in some applied disciplines also take a while to get going. Just 61 per cent of some 2017 STEM graduates were working three months after completing 2017, compared to 87 per cent in 2020.

As QILT point out; “while undergraduates from some fields of education, in particular, those with generalist degrees, have weaker employment outcomes soon after completing their course, the gap in employment outcomes across fields of education tends to narrow over time.”

some unis are better than others: QILT is positively mean-spirited in denying hacks headlines and so carefully points out many factors outside universities control shape their employment rates. “It is important to acknowledge that factors beyond the quality of teaching, careers advice and the like, such as course offerings, the composition of the student population and variations in state/territory and regional labour markets, might also impact on employment outcomes.”

But the survey still shows some are more equal than others. The overall UG employment rate three years on is 90.3 per cent. Above average universities include; Australian Catholic U (95.5 per cent), ANU (95.2 per cent), Uni Canberra (94.1 per cent), Charles Sturt U (93.9 per cent), James Cook U (93.8 per cent), UNSW (93.6 per cent) and Charles Darwin U (93 per cent)

Colombo Plan for pandemic  

When established in 2014 the plan was to provide grants for Australian undergraduates to study/intern in Indo-Pacific countries. Which does not work now

So, the government has adjusted to the times and is providing students with smaller funding to take virtual programmes with, rather than in, their country of choice.

This is good news indeed for the Australian Consortium for In-Country Indonesian Studies. Student fees stopped when COVID-19 kicked-in and by June, ACICIS feared it was gone (CMM June 3). A fund-raiser delivered a third of the $150 000 needed to stay solvent until the middle of next year and with the new government support they have a chance to stay in business.

New CRC P round (no, the p does not stand for pathetic)

Dan Tehan is a big fan of applied research – shame he does not run CRC funding

The Education Minister believes in research, “with a focus on turning ideas into jobs productivity gains and economic growth.”

Which must make applicants for Round Ten of the Cooperative Research Centre (Projects) programme wish that they were covered by Mr Tehan’s portfolio, not Karen Andrews, Industry, Science and Technology.

CRC Ps (three years max), combine industry, university and public sector researchers to “develop a product, service or process that will solve problems for industry and deliver real outcomes.” Just not many outcomes this time – the new Round Ten has just $10m to allocate, which is expected to mean just two or three projects are funded down from ten in Round Nine and 24 in Round Eight. And this round in restricted to recycling and waste management.

This upsets the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, which argues recycling is not the only national priority and wants, “an immediate, further and broad-ranging round of funding.”

“Business investment in research and development in Australia is declining, and if not corrected, will likely have a long-term detrimental impact on Australia’s ability to recover from the current COVID-19 pandemic and build our resilience,”

Listen-up: an NT health problem that needs fixing

Kids in remote Northern Territory communities will get their ears checked at home by graduates of the Menzies School of Health Research’s Certificate Two in Aboriginal Primary Health Care

This matters, really matters, because nine out of ten Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children under three suffer from some form of otitis media – ear diseases which Menzies warns, “if left untreated can have a devastating impact on a child’s entire life trajectory.” CMM suspects this means if they can’t hear well they can’t learn.

The course is delivered by the Central Australian Remote Health Development Services and will expand to 20 NT communities over three years, reducing the need for FIFO specialists.

CMM first learned about otitis media in remote communities 25 years ago – that it’s still on the to-fix list is a disgrace, Good-on the Menzies School and partners for doing something about it.

Nothing dark about this matter

Education Minister Dan Tehan wants it known that the Australian Research Council’s dark matter research centre could be looking for whatever it might be next year

Excavation is complete for the necessary lab in an old goldmine at Stawell.

Yes, that Stawell, the town in Mr Tehan’s electorate of Wannon. No, the project is not pork pitched to the dark matter vote in the electorate.

This high-science research was funded long before Mr Tehan became minister and before the town was redistributed into his seat.


Appointments, achievements

Scott Burnell (Griffith U) becomes president of the Australasian University Safety Association.

Kerry London, (dean Built Environment, Western Sydney U) moves to PVC Research at Torrens U.

Melissa O’Donnell joins Uni SA’s Australian Centre for Child Protection after 15 years at UWA