OnTask on track to transform teaching and learning

UniSydney brings in expert to negotiate enterprise agreement – it’s own dean of law

plus the great New Delhi adventure: you can’t move for MOU’s

To understand the budget read Birmo’s lips

UK’s Exeter takes business masters online


Heart starter

“Start your Monday right by finding out more about our risk-based approach to assuring higher ed’ standards!”, TEQSA tweeted yesterday – and there CMM was thinking coffee was the answer.

EB expert to negotiate at UniSyd

Enterprise bargaining at the University of Sydney is off to an amiable start (CMM yesterday) which makes a change from the last round, which was long and bitter. Management’s earlier attempt to variously retrench underperforming academics was bitter and long, resulting in just 90 staff moving to teaching-only roles and 20 being offered voluntary redundancy after six months of strife.

But now the university has brought in a new negotiator, labour lawyer and its dean of law, Joellen Riley (thanks Honi Soit). What, you ask, the Joellen O’Riley who resigned from the National Tertiary Education Union back in 2013 in protest over its negotiating approach ( CMM August 14 2013)?  The very same, CMM replies. You don’t mean the Professor Riley who is an expert in industrial law, the co-author of three books on employment regulation, including Beyond Employment: The Legal Regulation of Work Relationships , plus an armoury of articles? That’s the one, CMM responds. Gosh, you could sell tickets to watch the hard negotiators of the NTEU bargain with the learned dean, you add. Sure could, CMM agrees.

Over-sighting advisers

Mark Brimble and Stephen Somogyi are board members of the federal government’s new financial advisers standards and ethics authority. Professor Brimble is a finance academic at Griffith U and chair of the Financial Planning Education Council. Mr Somogyi is a former COO at RMIT, where he is now billed as an executive advisor to the VC. He is also a director of UniSuper.

Another dose of charm

The University of Wollongong continues to work hard to demonstrate why rural and regional NSW does not need the Charles Sturt and La Trobe proposed Murray Darling Medical School. The case for the MDMS is that the bush is light-on for doctors and that because med students will stay on and practise where they studied a west of the divide school is the go. This strikes the existing university medical schools as a very bad idea and UoW wants to show the existing system has got the country covered. In February the university’s Chancellor and VC, no less, visited Mudgee and Gulgong to thank the communities for being nice to their med students who train there (CMM February 20). And now medicine dean Nicholas Zwar has opened a teaching practice which UoW will partly fund, in Forbes.  A decision on the MDMS is expected at the end of the month, when the feds are due to release a paper on medical training places.

Gong for Griffith

ANU’s Tom Griffiths has won the 2017 Ernest Scott history prize, for The Art of Time Travel: historians and their craft (Black Inc). Shortlisted authors were Barbara Brookes, A History of New Zealand WomenPenelope EdmondsSettler Colonialism and (re) Conciliation and Hannah RobertPaved with Good Intentions: Terra Nullius, Aboriginal Land Rights and Settler-Colonial Law. (CMM March 24).

Read his lips

There’s no faulting Simon Birmingham for consistency, with the Minister for Education yesterday telling David Spears on Sky News what he has been telling everybody who asked about the budget for months. While not saying anything about the treasurer’s statement he manages to convey quite a bit. The government is not going to deregulate undergraduate fees in the budget, income-contingent students loans with no upfront costs (for university students that is) will stay but the scheme must be sustainable. And while public spending on higher education has outstripped economic growth universities must have “a strong and sustainable base of funding for the future but need to be “responsive to our future economic needs.”

CMM translates this as meaning that while the loan scheme formerly known as HECS stays as is, there will be a hike in undergraduate course costs. Nor will the government try to cut overall university funding by 20 per cent but as many schemes will take as big a trim as the Senate will wear. And there will be funding rewards and perhaps penalties for universities tied to undergraduate attrition and graduate employment outcomes.

OnTask on-course

The four pilots for DET funded  OnTask ’17 are announced. No, CMM had never heard of it either but it could be a big teaching and learning deal indeed. OnTask is creating software that allows teachers to see how students are studying online and “directing them to specific chapters or worked examples in their textbook, suggesting additional reading or resources, enrolling them in required workshops or laboratory tutorials, suggesting the most effective study techniques for the tasks in the course, directing them to university support services.”

It sounds similar to, but bigger and broader, much, than what ProQuest says it can do for Western Sydney U, where first year students are receiving free digital textbooks, CMM February 16 and https://campusmorningmail.com.au/peak-body-says-education-is-infrastructure-with-the-power-to-transform-economies/ and February 20).

Courses where various OnTask functions are being piloted are first year engineering at UTS, a first year subject in pharmacy at the University of South Australia, a large-enrolment first year subject using flipped teaching in electrical and information engineering at the University of Sydney and a third-year core in art and design at the University of New South Wales.

Four more pilots for this year are being considered, all at UNSW and in medicine, science, psychology and marketing.

Local project participants are UNSW, Uni South Australia, University of Sydney and UTS, joined by University of Edinburgh, University of Texas, Arlington and the 13-university member inter-disciplinary networked learning (“research at the intersection of knowledge domains’)  interlab project.

While it may not trouble the Texans or upset the Scots, Australian universities are, or should be, anxious about Education Minister Simon Birmingham less hinting than hammering the possibility of budget incentives to reduce attrition. As a way of lifting learning and keeping students enrolled and passing OnTask looks like becoming a very big deal indeed.


Stratford steps down

Founding head of the University of Tasmania’s Underwood Centre, Elaine Stratford, is standing down to return to research. The centre was established in 2015 to research increasing education participation in the state (CMM April 15 2015). UTas advises that in the short-term DVC Students and Education David Sadler will oversight the centre. 

Exeter expands on-line

The University of Exeter is bucking the trend for MOOCs as a way for prospective students to sample subjects before they enrol in business masters, by launching online degrees costing a competitive stg £18 000 (A$30 000). Exeter is offering two-year part-time masters in Finance & Management, International Business, and Marketing. The programme is a partnership with Keypath Education which “markets to, recruits and retains students as well as designs the courses on behalf of the university partner.”

“The model enables the university to enhance its brand, student numbers, teaching innovation and revenues via online experts, while maintaining complete academic control,” Keypath states.

Investigating adoption

Amy Conley Wright is the inaugural director of the University of Sydney’s Institute of Open Adoption Studies. Associate Professor Wright “will direct the institute in its mission to investigate evidence-based pathways to a safe home for life for children who have been permanently removed from their parents by order of the Children’s Court in New South Wales.”

The great India visit

The education expedition to India was in full-swing yesterday, with hands shaken, MOUs signed, and much discussion of great things to come, just not now, still as Australian educators who know the country say, work now for results in a decade, or decades.

TAFE takes time

As universities rolled into New Delhi on a business building blitz the TAFE lobby reports a training trip to deliver “leadership training” to 100 people from Indian institutions. “TAFE participants are now exploring a range of partnerships as a result of the program.”

Birmingham thinks bigger

Education Minister Simon Birmingham was talking up training in New Delhi yesterday, pointing to India’s need now for 400 000 VET trainers and assessors and how the Australian-Indian International Skills Training Courses for Trainers and Assessors he launched will help.

It may not sound like much but the way into the Indian market is cooperatively. Indian politics prevent expat universities setting up there if they want to repatriate profits so providing services to Indian trainers is a solution.”It isn’t just about a flow of people to Australia, it’s also about Australian institutions doing more, seizing opportunities here,” Senator Birmingham told Sky News yesterday.

Where’s Gillie?

Back in 2015 then education minister Christopher Pyne appointed Adam Gilchrist an education ambassador to India (CMM August 21 2015). But he did not appear to be on the Australian order for yesterday’s innings.

Two PMs for lunch

Deakin U has bragging rights, with Malcolm Turnbull and India’s Prime Minister Modi “digitally unveiling” the university’s expanded “dedicated nanobiotechnology research centre,” at a New Delhi lunch yesterday.  The new facility is a joint venture between Deakin and the Energy and Resources Institute of India.

Not just the Birmo show

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Industry Minister Arthur Sinodinos got in on the India act yesterday announcing $18m ($7m from Aus and the balance from India and industry) for Australia-India Strategic Research Fund projects in advanced manufacturing, disease control and medical technology. Australian recipients are Brisbane medical development company BioQ Devices, Deakin University, the Florey Institute, Monash University, QUT, University of Queensland and the University of South Australia.