Age cannot wither

What does the university have in common with the Opera House? UniSydney asks. No, the answer is not divas. Turns out university buildings join the OH on the NSW heritage register.

MOOC of the morning

The fourth course in Curtin U’s Internet of Things micromasters starts next month.  IoT Programmes and Big Data begins on September 18 (via edX). Taught by Johannes Herrmann, Aloke Phatak and Valerie Maxville, it will use the Python programming language to work on “realistic examples” of managing and utilising large data files.

The IoT micromasters started in February and has 72 000 enrolments. The introductory unit and a study on sensors and devices have both run twice, with the network and protocols unit running once. The last two units are scheduled for late this year and early next.

Klomp leaves Canberra for Capricornia

Nick Klomp will be the next vice chancellor of Rockhampton headquarted CQUniversity. He replaces the retiring (only in the sense of leaving his job) Scott Bowman who announced his departure at the beginning of the year.

Professor Klomp is now DVC Academic at the University of Canberra. However, he has extensive experience in a large multi-campus regional uni, with 20 years at Charles Sturt U, where he was dean of science before moving to UniCanberra.


Rails run for three Melbourne unis

The Victorian Government wants to build the mother of all metros, an underground rail line right around Melbourne. Jane den Hollander was the first VC to welcome the plan which includes a stop at Burwood, where her Deakin U has a campus. John Dewar from La Trobe U was right behind her.

Standby for demands that the Burwood stop be called Deakin and the one at Bundoora, La Trobe, to match the proposed station at Monash U, which will be called – Monash.

Unless of course the entire plan goes off the rails after the election in November.

These are not the only recent rails runs (sorry) for unis. Macquarie U is getting an upgraded rail-line which will ultimately connect it to Sydney’s booming northwest and the city’s southwest. UNSW is getting a light-rail into town. Flinders U will shortly have a rail connection and Monash is already on a promise of a tram. It all must irritate UniSydney management which lobbied unsuccessfully for a station on the new cross-harbour line.

Deal of the day

Across the ditch the university still known as Victoria University of Wellington has $10m to spend on start-ups. Financial services company Booster will deliver the dosh over five years for new businesses spun-out of VUW research.

What BCA is selling UniAus isn’t buying

The Business Council of Australia has stuck to its draft proposal for a radical restructure of post-school education. The original paper was released last October for consultation and is now adopted pretty much as was. “Given stakeholders’ support for the explicit focus on lifelong learning and agreement that learners needed support in their decision-making, the Business Council has not amended its proposed new approach to decision-making, and the model remains unchanged,” the final document states.

The BCA plan has five core proposals.
* distinct VET and HE cultures. “VET as an industry-led sector based around competency-based training and applied learning, and HE offering advanced qualifications to develop highly skilled workers, as well as a broader remit of learning for the sake of learning, academic inquiry and research.”

* a sector-neutral single funding model

* a single source of information on the system designed for students, workers and employers

* a single governance model for HE and VET

* “a culture of lifelong learning to enable workers to upskill and reskill throughout their lives.”

Students would fund education and training through access to sector-neutral government subsidies and income contingent loans.

Universities Australia did not like a lot in the original draft and was quick yesterday to make plain that its position had not changed.  “The revised report does not sufficiently address the concerns held by universities about its potential to undermine our world-class university system, UA CEO Catriona Jackson said.

““The BCA has not established a rationale for a radical overhaul of the policy and funding settings that deliver a world-class university system.

“Universities share the BCA’s concern about the damage done to the nation’s vocational education system by successive funding cuts and policy mis-steps over the past decade – which should be a cautionary tale…. We need a flourishing post-school education system, with both universities and vocational education doing their distinct but complementary jobs at their best.”

Courses on Canvas at UniSydney

Thanks to a learned reader for pointing CMM to UniSydney students pick of fave sites from the Canvas LMS. There are courses from across the university in disciplines from gender studies to Japanese, engineering to education. What students commented on was less content and more construction, which creates a challenge for course authors. They need to be across the system to create a site that packages teaching and learning.

The timing of the survey is inadvertently excellent for Canvas. For a start it comes close to 12 months since UniSydney signed-on and as another big university considers adopting it.

Curtin and UWA in weight-loss leagues of their own

UWA has established a weight-loss programme for football loving blokes. So has a consortium including Curtin U, Edith Cowan U and the University of Newcastle – but while both were out announcing achievements yesterday, they aren’t the same.

UWA’s is Man v Fat a soccer programme from the UK. Curtin’s squad is West Coast Eagles-associated Aussie-Fit. While the soccer blokes actually play and the male football fans exercise the two share goals.

‘There’s very little out there that is designed to help men lose weight, and this program gets them back into sport and helps them lose weight, UWA’S Ben Jackson says.

“By taking part in this project, we expect the fans to reduce their weight and waistline, increase their knowledge of healthy eating and different types of physical activity, learn how to sustain their new lifestyle over the longer term, and gain a unique, behind-the-scenes experience with their favourite footy club,” Curtin’s Eleanor Quested announces.

Nothing like healthy competition to sweat the lard stuff.

Plibersek calls on Tehan to debate education

Labor’s Tanya Plibersek has challenged new education minister Dan Tehan to debate “schools, unis, TAFE and childcare.” It wlll take more than Mr Tehan to cover all that. For a start he would have to bring Paul Fletcher and Michelle Landry for childcare. And Michaelia Cash for voced.

But CMM suspects none of them will want to talk, certainly not Mr Tehan. There are no votes in cutting costs and if ministers even mention money they will be shouted down by student, union and most university lobbies calling for a return to demand-driven funding.

And while Ms Plibersek still wants to talk, probably just not as loudly or as long as she wanted to before the Liberals committed idiotcide.

All Labor need to do to win the next election is to promise not to govern by pie-fight. While restoring demand driven funding is a very public promise from the Labor leadership she need not state it as loudly or as often as when the election could have been a contest. Labor will also have to find new funding for TAFE which has to come from somewhere.

What this means for higher education this side of the election is not much.


Wendy Cross starts at Federation U as dean of nursing and healthcare, based at the Berwick campus, in Melbourne’s outer southeast. She joins from Torrens U.