Plus Adelaide’s MOOC that matters and Sydney’s web-wide makeover

Happy drunks

According to alcohol researcher José Iparraguirre, writing in BMJ Open, older people in the UK who enjoy, “better health, higher incomes, with higher educational attainment and (are) socially more active are more likely to drink at harmful levels.” Probably celebrating their success.


Big trouble for highly experienced, under-qualified teaching staff

The Fair Work Commission has delivered a very big judgement for academics who do not have qualifications above the level they are teaching, which TEQSA requires. Back in June CMM suspected that neither management nor union would push this matter, less the FWC create an unfavourable precedent for one of them. But this is exactly what has happened in a case at Central Queensland University, which made Brisbane based business lecturer Davood Alizadeh redundant when his position was replaced with one requiring a PhD. The National Tertiary Education Union argued that TEQSA’s equivalent professional experience alternative applied but the university replied the agency intends this only as guidance.

Commissioner Simpson found for the university, holding that Mr Alizadeh’s position was abolished and that he lacked the PhD necessary to fill the only job available as CQU adapted to changing patterns of demand. This is very bad news for people, regardless of experience and ability, who are teaching programmes at a level higher than their own top qualification. But it is an excellent outcome for managements keen to move on people without postgraduate degrees.

Two is enough

Students at UTS are protesting the possibility of the university moving to a three semester year, as opposed to the existing two plus optional summer school. According to the UTS Education Action Group, shorter semesters during the year and a compulsory one over the summer is a university plan to push people though their degrees faster. The student group warns that splitting existing teaching hours into three semesters will truncate courses and stress staff, especially casual academics and those in student services. Students who do not study over the summer would lose full-time status, with implications for government payments and concessions, it also argues. The EAG wants Vice Chancellor Attila Brungs to “publicly commit” against a three teaching period year.

CEF August A

A great vision gone

On Monday CMM reported a big sponsorship deal for Professor Brien Holden’s Vision Group to advance his work, with Revo donating $10 per pair of Bono endorsed sunglasses sold. It was good news on what turned out to be a very bad day, with Professor Holden dying suddenly. “Brien led the development of new contact lenses and surgical vision technologies, investigated the causes and solutions to blindness and impaired vision from refractive error, and helped to combat the global epidemic of myopia, ” Ian Jacobs, VC of the University of New South Wales, with which Professor Holden had a 40 year association, said last night.

(Really) understated enthusiasm

Enough events are scheduled for the University of Queensland’s Open Day (Sunday) to make it an open weekend for anybody really keen on studying there, have a look at the blockbuster programme, here. Which is rather the point, UoQ wants to make – this is a really big and really well-resourced university. But for prospective students who decide what to study ahead of where to study, any open day is only as good as the impression of courses they come away with. There is not much the university-wide open day team can do about this, other than hope that staff in teaching units have their heart in it. Which many at UoQ do, like law, science, engineering and health and behavioural sciences. They all have course information sessions plus events intended to engage, excite and even entertain prospective students. But others, not so much. The School of Education offers two half hour sessions, which are on only once. One is called, “become a primary school teacher” and the other, what a surprise, “become a high school teacher.” CMM is sure they are brilliant, but where are the talks about life as a teacher, why the career is fundamental to society, even on job prospects?

Hold the front parchment

In breaking news University of Southampton research reveals that Henry V had only half the ships he claimed to move his army across the English Channel en route to Agincourt. Ye olde pysche oppes.


Massive Open Online Community service

CMM suspects MOOCs have enormous potential in health and welfare areas where governments struggle to help people in great need. The University of Tasmania has a MOOC for people dealing with dementia in their family. Swinburne U has a course for families and careers who work with people who have autism. And now the University of Adelaide is launching a MOOC, via edX, on managing addiction. And it isn’t just theory; “it will help you to plan a pathway through screening and assessment, to withdrawal and long-term relapse prevention. It will examine a range of psychosocial interventions and medication-assisted treatments. At each step of the pathway, you will review the biological basis of behaviour and treatment as well as evidence-based and service delivery considerations.” The course is billed as “an ideal starting-point for healthcare professionals,” but it will surely have a very broad appeal.

Many balls in the air

The Real Madrid soccer club has combined with Victoria University to establish a continuing coaching clinic programme. According to Ivan Garcia, head coach of the club’s Singapore academy, “Victoria University is the top institution in Melbourne and Australia in sport.” Good-o, but CMM wonders what they make of that over at Torrens University in Adelaide, where Real Madrid’s business school announced a joint MBA in sports administration last week.

mindhive 2

Web worlds

The University of Sydney will relaunch its website on Friday and not before time, according to marketing director Marian Theobald. There are 1.2m pages and “hundreds of independent sites” with information “that is “wrong, out-of-date or just plain confusing.”

“We don’t use the website to ‘show off’ the university as well as we might, and we don’t help our visitors to easily find the information they’re looking for,” she says.

This is a huge job, requiring far more work on content management than new badging and a couple of flash videos and the university is right to roll it over many months, with student services, recruiting and brand facts first. News, alumni and donor domains will be revamped at years end, with faculty and centre to follow into next year.

It’s there CMM suspects things might get sticky. There is nothing that creates more misery for a marketing director than a dean who wants a different design – that and generalised dissatisfaction with any livery change, (the criticism of a new UWS logo has started even before it has appeared publicly).

Just as everybody is an education expert because they all went to school so people who use the www think they channel David Ogilvie.

Will public prevail

The Australian Council for Private Education and Training conference in Melbourne next month will be worth watching for the politics as well as the pedagogy on the programme. While Labor politicians say for-profit providers have a role the talk is all about the importance of TAFE, so it will be intriguing to hear how Victorian Training Minister Steve Herbert and Labor federal shadow training minister Sharon Bird contrast with national education minister Christopher Pyne. And good luck to ACPET chief Rod Camm who will wrap things up, asking, “where to from here.” CMM suspects there will be two options for him to discuss, private and public, or just public.

ANU June 2

Open access delayed but not denied

The UK higher education funding bodies have a new policy on open access scholarly publishing, which looks significant but isn’t. They have decided that for research articles to be considered in the next Research Excellence Framework assessment measure they must be deposited in an institutional or subject repository, where they are free for all to read. But, and it is very big but indeed, access can be denied if there are embargoes, capped at 12 and 24 months depending on category of research publication. The commercial publishers can live with this as it leaves their business models intact, which variously charge readers or require authors to pay for publication in journals that are free to read on publication.