Australia has performed above its weight in higher education research. 2004 was a particularly transformative year. It saw the establishment of the Carrick Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (later the Australian Learning and Teaching Council ) and then the Office of Learning and Teaching (which closed in 2016), the launch of the Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice (JUTLP) and expansion of the Australian Journal of Educational Technology (AJET) to Australasian coverage. These times signalled confidence through access to journal locations and national learning and teaching fellowships, grant schemes and awards, the latter all open access and focussed on collaboration for sector uplift.

Almost 20 years on, and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is a quite different beast. Australian journal footprints have expanded, yet generally with fewer resources. Angela Carbone reflects on the decline in recent Australian Awards for University Teachers funding, and Alisa Percy and colleagues on the changing higher education community expectations that JUTLP has sought to respond to. Grants are rarer, although those led by Philip Dawson (feedback literacy) and Chi Baik (student mental health) in the 2023 ARC Discovery Grants are success stories. Some universities are beginning to value scholarship resourcing more deeply, but these are often institutionally focussed. A submission to the Universities Accord Panel has recently argued for reinvestment in higher education R&D to support national aspirations for quality educational attainment and lifelong learning.

And the hyper-competitive funding and publication environment is playing out in global editorial challenges. Recently, forty Elsevier editors quit over “high publication fees.” COVID-19 papers are being retracted and and there are questions about the business model of some open access publishers.

The for-profit publishing model needs to be challenged and Australia leads the charge. There are 12 Australian-based Scopus and Web of Science-indexed education journals, and five of the top six are open access.

For us to continue to lead, we must advance the sustainability of open access scholarship, which currently runs largely on academic goodwill. Ideally, instead of relying on pennies from university executives of the day, this would include cross-institutional fellowships, co-funded internal grant schemes, collaborative internal SoTL conferences, and charity member-based open access journals with not-for-profit trusts.

JUTLP will continue to lead equitable open access scholarship, alongside associations such as ASCILITE, ACODE, and CAULLT, the national Learning and Teaching Repository, and journals like Student Success, AJET, and Issues in Educational Research. But institutional executives need to engage in the same leadership to demonstrate and support the significant value realised by this good work.

Dr Joseph Crawford is the Editor in Chief of the Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, and a senior lecturer at the University of Tasmania working across the College of Business & Economics and the DVC (Education) office. [email protected]




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