There’s more in the Mail

In Features this week, Sally Kift on creating courses and teaching for the world of Industry 4.0

Plus, David Myton’s  global HE  wrap .

Apocalypse soon

Two parallel conferences at Southern Cross U in December address, “law in end times”

No, they do not mean the close of the academic year but, “the conflicting encounter between the orderly desire of law and the entropic tendency of apocalyptic narratives,” as the blurb for one puts it.

Union drops challenge to Ramsay Western Civ study

Short of Vandal hordes sweeping down the Bulli Pass western civ study seems safe at Uni Wollongong

The National Tertiary Education Union has withdrawn its legal challenge to the university decision to introduce a degree funded by the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation. The campus branch of the union argued Vice Chancellor Paul Welling’s approval of the course under a fast-track provision of the university rules was a breach of procedures. The university’s Academic Senate also opposed Professor Welling’s decision and called for the rule he relied on to be reviewed in a planned review of course approvals.

However, the university’s Council intervened last month to specifically approve the Ramsay degree. The university’s act of parliament authorises Council to, “act in all matters concerning the university in such manner as appears to the council to be best calculated to promote the object and interests of the university.”

So that’s that, as the union concedes. “The university Council’s decision to take the extraordinary step of itself approving the degree has taken the utility out of the litigation, and effectively shielded the Vice Chancellor’s decision from court scrutiny.”

Bye bye BHERT

The Business Higher Education Round Table is set to close

The BHERT board has recommended to members the organisation close, after its annual awards are announced in August. The news was circulating among industry, government and university partners Friday.

BHERT was founded in 1990 to foster industry-university connections in research and community service, exemplified by its annual collaboration awards, established in 1998. But twenty years on corporates and campus connect in the ways BHERT’s founders hoped for and word is that board members think its work is done.

PhD researchers: students or workers

Queensland Workcover wants universities to pay worker compensation insurance premiums for PhD students on stipends. Unis aren’t impressed

 The dispute follows a WorkCover decision that such students injured in the course of their research, on or off campus, are workers and their stipends “are assessable as wages for premium purposes.” The decision is based on the case of a CQU student.

However, CQU is set to appeal the ruling and universities are readying to reject workers’ compensation premiums for similar students. According to the Australian Higher Education Industrial Association, there are nine legal reasons why PhD students on scholarship are not employees of the university where they research.

PhD candidature does not involve the provision of labour for reward. It involves the provision of scholarly activity for the attainment of an educational qualification. The relationship is that of a student and educational institution, not that of employee and employer. It is a relationship of an entirely different character,” AHEIA executive director Stuart Andrews argues in a letter to the Queensland Office of Industrial Relations seen by CMM.

Creating admission sites students understand

A TEQSA guide shows how it is done

Back in 2016 the Higher Education Standards Panel made the case for course admission information that people applying could understand. “A paradoxical situation has arisen. Entry into universities has become more equitable. Yet there is evidence that families with less experience of higher education, which are economically disadvantaged or live in regional Australia, are less able to understand how admissions processes operate.” HESP suggested the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency could assist institutions in improving, (CMM November 16 2016).

Which has happened – including TEQSAgood practice note on admissions transparency, by Janet Beard, released Friday.

The note, or notes, (enough for an admissions opera) includes advice on 20 aspects of admissions, ranging from the plain, provide comprehensive information about how prior study is assessed,” to the pointed “websites are easily navigable to access information about admissions to different courses,” (directed at any institution in particular?)

Ms Beard also includes an arsenal of examples of universities which do aspects of admissions well. There is data enough here to build a state of art admissions site.

The unis with the most Linkage wins

A new set of Linkage Grants was announced Friday, with 20 universities sharing over 60 awards

The universities of Melbourne (eight), NSW (eight) and Queensland (seven) are the big winners.

This continues last year’s allocations – the Australian Research Council released Friday its 2018 Linkage  selection report.Of 140 grants, UNSW received 15, Uni Queensland 16 and Uni Melbourne 17.

Of universities winning 10 or more grants last year the highest success rates were; UNSW (26 per cent), Uni Sydney (28 per cent), Uni Queensland (37 per cent), Monash U (40 per cent) and Uni Melbourne (33 per cent).

Overall some 31 per cent of proposals were funded.  The gender split for chief investigators on funded projects was, males 94 from 292 proposals and females 46 from 155.

UNSW trimester teaching, a lot and late

Not all the problems with the new system seem structural

UNSW VC Ian Jacobs tells staff and students work that “refinements to the new trimester system are coming, (CMM July 20).

They’re needed, and on issues that go way beyond generic concerns with shorter course times, which puts pressure on students to get across subjects in less time and requires teaching staff to compress content in fewer weeks

CMM hears of a course originally intended to have one lecture and one tute per week across trimester two changed to having all contact jammed into the second half, without extra on-line content to help students. This means teaching and learning is really rushed and is not, students suggest, what they pay fees for.

UNSW is a big place and what CMM hears is anecdotal from not-many people but if this is a common problem it will surely show up in the next Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching student experience survey – which in some faculties UNSW does not have a lot of reputation to lose.  Overall the university is below the national average for undergraduate teaching and learning. In one discipline-group that comes up in student concerns, it is well below average on all six student experience measures.