For and against UNSW publishing student course evals

On Monday the Fair Work Commission approved this happening (CMM yesterday)

In CMM this morning the university’s DVC E Merlin Crossley makes the case for publishing and sets out what UNSW will do

“Data on research achievements are everywhere. But some of our most appreciated courses are invisible to our community. Now staff and students will be able to see how well-appreciated our courses are. Finally, we can celebrate the good work and learn from it,” he writes.

And the union argues it shouldn’t

The National Tertiary Education Union calls the Fair Work Commission decision to allow UNSW to publish course evaluations, “disappointing, although not entirely surprising given the pro-employer bias of the Fair Work Act.”

The NTEU took the university to the FWC last year, arguing the UNSW enterprise agreement forbad publishing student evaluations of courses that could identify individual academics. The FWC originally agreed with the union, (CMM November 23).  However this decision was overturned Monday, with a full bench deciding that course eval data itself does not identify people.  To which NTEU state secretary Damien Cahill responds the decision has “opened up the possibility of course evaluation results being made public.”

“At stake here is the proper use to which student course evaluation surveys should be put. The NTEU believes student surveys can be useful for pedagogical development, however their well-documented limitations must be recognised – including gender and racial biases.” Dr Cahill says.

He adds the union will make this an issue in enterprise bargaining – which is due this year.