The Innovative Research Universities stands with the regulator while the Group of Eight opposes early publication of reviews

 New WA Gov has promises to keep on medical research

 plus the Yoda effect in Australian training policy, always changing it is

 and MOOC of the morning from UniSydney

No place for mates

In Honi Soit the learned Erin Jordan suggests social media is ending an old Australian identity. “The urge to promote oneself over another, to demonstrate what is desirable and to filter out what is not, contradicts our unique historical tendency to revere the underdog and get behind the ‘battler’.” Too right, there are no selfies of the Sentimental Bloke.

How helpful

While no one would ever think incoming premier of WA, Labor’s Mark McGowan might forget his election promise to repurpose an existing resource to create a $1.1 bn state medical research fund the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes still reminded him yesterday.  Earnings from the proposed Heath Research and Innovation fund will support; “high quality research projects, and growing WA’s health and scientific communities as global leaders in medical research and innovation,” AAMRI states. The association also reminds Mr McGowan that he also promised to establish a cancer research plan, “to improve cancer research and treatment over the next decade.”

MOOC of the morning

A new MOOC uses Aboriginal experiences and narratives of Sydney to explore “key themes and capabilities of cultural competence.” Created by Juanita Sherwood, Gabrielle Russell-Mundine and Michael Johnston at the University of Sydney it has just started, via Coursera.

Great Scott !

Rodney Scott is named a laureate professor at the University of Newcastle for his “remarkable research career and outstanding contributions in the field of genetics in medicine.”

Full disclosure

The Innovative Research Universities group is backing the higher education regulator’s plan to release decisions on provider performance when made, instead of waiting for any appeal to be dealt with. According to the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency this is in student interests and the IRU agrees “A more open approach to the publication of TEQSA’s decisions, is the most effective way to ensure greater scrutiny of all aspects of the system, including of the regulator itself,” the lobby stated yesterday.

This puts it at odds with the Group of Eight which is adamantly opposed to the proposal, arguing publication of a ruling before any appeal against it is heard denies universities and other higher education providers procedural fairness and risks the reputation of the industry as a whole. In our view the proposal poses the very great risk of damaging Australia’s domestic and international reputation. Such a proposal is also likely to adversely affect a provider’s existing student body; potentially without any basis,” the Eight state. (CMM yesterday).

But the IRU is not having it, arguing appeals can drag on, adding “It is impossible to assess the operation of the quality system if we have no knowledge of how often potential providers and courses have been rejected. “

The IRU suggests publication could be delayed for a specified period in which TEQSA itself deals with a provider appeal but is adamant that present and prospective students need to be told what is going at where they study, or are thinking of enrolling – and that means using the media.

“It is not an easy system for students to engage with. Many prospective and current students would be unaware of its existence. Media releases, proclaiming decisions about providers would build public awareness and empower prospective students and ultimately assist them to make better and more informed choices. Equally, media releases should also be used to highlight where decisions have been overturned and the regulator has got it wrong. TEQSA would need to ensure that releases focussed on provision of information about decisions and were not inflammatory in cases at dispute.”

And it should not repeat behaviour by the agency in its first incarnation – as the IRU warned in an earlier round of the disclosure debate; “TEQSA should be wary of looking to do too much … The experience of the initial years for TEQSA is that we should be wary of its powers to analyse and comment on potential major issues,” (CMM September 1 2016)

Enough already

Just as we hear of a possible cure to the cancer that could all-but exterminate the Tasmanian Devil there is news of increased funding to fight a mortal mange that afflicts wombats in Tasmania. Scott Carver from the U of Tas is on the case.

Chancellor continues

Stephen Gerlach will continue as chancellor of Flinders U for a third four-year term, taking him through until 2022. Mr Gerlach is a lawyer and prominent member of major business boards.

New execs at UniSydney

The University of Sydney has a rush of senior starts, including Tanya Rhodes-Taylor who joins as vice principal for external relations and Stephen Phillips, v-p operations.

In a new role Ms Rhodes-Taylor takes on a large portfolio of marketing comms, museums and government relations. She was previously Mcomms director at Queen Mary University of London.

Mr Phillips joins from Broadspectrum, no, CMM had never heard of it either. It turns out to be the big services company formally known as Transfield. Transfield’s founding family withdrew the right to use that name in 2015 because it did not want it to be associated with the company’s management of offshore detention centres. Mr Phillips’  LinkedIn page still refers to his three years with Transfield Services for three years and a month from March 2014.

Training, always changing it is

Research for the National Centre for Vocational Education Research reports that the reasons organisations train their staff haven’t changed much over the last 20 years. They do it to, “improve the quality of goods and services, because of new technology; as a business strategy; and to meet licensing and workplace health and safety requirements.” Who would have thought! The problem is the system they have to use changes all the time.And the recent precipitous decline in training numbers is driven by money, or the lack of it – the report states employers and training organisations are very aware of cuts to government subsidies.

Erica Smith, Andy Smith and Jacqueline Tuck from Federation U and Victor Callan from the University of Queensland have produced a major guide for state and federal policy makers as they contemplate the horror that negotiating the next national training agreement will be.

And not all the news in it is good for the new political orthodoxy that private provider rorting under VET FEE HELP means that TAFE should be the foundation of the new system – Labor spokesman use TAFE and training interchangeably and the federal government’s new loan system is tough on private providers. But the authors surveyed training consumers in industry and found satisfaction with providers ranged from industry and professional associations (83 per cent), universities (82 per cent), product suppliers (79 per cent), private trainers (80 per cent) and TAFE (66 per cent).  While TAFE can meet user requirements from flexibility over-time the government sector has not delivered, they report. “Employers are less satisfied with TAFE institutes than with other registered training organisations. TAFE is well aware of the problem, particularly with regard to flexibility and business processes, yet there had been no improvement, according to the self-reports by TAFE.”

Perhaps the most important message is that organisations need help in understanding the complex and too-often altering training system. “The main source of knowledge for employers of nationally recognised training remains TAFE and other registered training organisations. While it is not suggested that Commonwealth and state efforts in information provision should be scaled back, RTOs could be encouraged, and better trained, to do more of this navigation work, via funding schemes or other initiatives,” they write.

Dolt of the Day

Is CMM who credited the University of Newcastle MOOC on weight-loss to Coursera, it’s edX.