Best place if you shopped to you dropped

Macquarie U tweeted remarks yesterday by, “Walter Kmart, Chief Executive Officer at Macquarie University Hospital.”  (They meant Mr Kmet and corrected it in just over an hour).


There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Mahsood Shah (Swinburne U) wanted to know how students learnt during COVID 19 – so he asked three peak-body leaders. Their paper is in Features this morning. It’s this week’s contribution to Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s long-running series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

The fourth and final essay in John H Howard’s (UTS) CMM series on  rethinking Australian higher education. Australian students must be front and centre – they are the one’s paying, he argues.

A Victoria U block teaching architect exits

Ian Solomonides is leaving VU

The DVC Learning and Teaching confirmed late yesterday that he is retiring, with plans to move to far north Queensland.

Professor Solomonides, with Director, L&T Trish McCluskey are the “founding and lead architects” of the much observed and admired VU block teaching model.

The block teaching model uses small-group teaching for intensive study of one subject at a time which is completed before students progress to their next one. ‘The block’ changes everything, be it teaching, research, administration, services, systems, policies, or procedures,” they wrote in CMM last year (Feb 2).

Professors kick back: uni managers must be “credible academics”

Management supervising full professors “is only possible in a university system that has lost its way”

The Uni Sydney Association of Professors restrains their enthusiasm at the appointment of Mark Scott as next VC, “his extensive experience in media administration and NSW education may be an asset to the university in the challenging times ahead,” the association states.

But, there is a but, USAP adds, “public trust in universities is entirely dependent on the quality and integrity of academic research and teaching provided by its scholars.”

Manuel Graeber, one of USAPs own and president of the national association of professors explains why in his annual report to members – it’s in CMM Features this morning.

“There is a need for management at every university, but this management must serve to support the mission of research and teaching which are inseparable because cutting edge teaching requires teaching by researchers who work at the cutting edge. The idea to separate what is inseparable can only be born in the mind of people who have not understood either one.”

And he warns what can occur without “credible academics” managing.

“Management supervision for full professors? This is only possible in a university system that has lost its way and real purpose. Academics are not managed employees, and professors must be role models in the defence of this important position. Universities are not companies but have far more important functions in society than any company can have.”

The Australian Association of University Professors holds its AGM on Friday.

Tudge calls for all to adopt free speech code

“I want all universities to adopt this as soon as possible,” the education minister says

The Senate has passed the legislation imposing the French free speech code on universities and Education Minister Alan Tudge says, “all universities have agreed to adopt the French Model Code, but not enough have policies that are fully aligned. I want all universities to adopt this as soon as possible.”

Almost all have in whole, or nearly acceptable part, but UNSW was named among a handful of hold-outs in Sally Walker’s review of compliance (CMM December 9). VC Ian Jacobs tells staff the university intends, “to adopt the code, except where it offers less protection of freedom of speech than the UNSW position. Where that is the case it has been modified to reflect our position that freedom of speech at UNSW is no different to that elsewhere in Australia and is only limited by the law,” (CMM March 4).  Consultation on the university’s proposed code closes Friday.

So, how will the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency deal with universities that don’t align?

“While the Bill does not amend the TEQSA Act, the Government has signalled its intent to update the Higher Education Standards Framework to give effect to the recommendations (in the French code). TEQSA is awaiting the finalisation of these new standards,” the agency advised last night.

“TEQSA’s approach to assessing provider compliance will be consistent with our standards and risk-based approach to quality assurance and regulation,” it added.

But what will Mr Tudge do about any universities that don’t align? And how might UNSW respond?

Beats CMM. Yesterday morning we asked both and if either ever tell CMM, we will tell you.

Claire Field on the unis going long on short certificates


Curtin, CQU and U Tas are making big investments

With undergraduate certificates an important element of the Commonwealth government’s COVID-19 response, I am interested in how much funding universities have allocated for short courses (both graduate and undergraduate certificates) in 2021.

The answer is, as with so many things in higher education, it depends…

The Department has published all of the 2021-2023 university funding agreements. To date they show the following:

* nine agreements were signed in December 2020 and do not contain details on short course funding in Table 1a, Appendix 1 of the agreement

* James Cook University’s agreement was signed in 2020 and subsequently updated. It contains funding for 263 undergraduate places but the specific funding allocation for them is not disclosed in Appendix 1 of the agreement

* seven agreements were signed in 2020, subsequently updated and contain specific funding for short courses, and

* 22 were signed in 2021 and contain specific funding for short courses.

Of the latter 29 funding agreements which include short course funding details:

* seven universities have at least $10m allocated for short courses, of which Curtin University has the largest allocation ($27.3m)

* Murdoch U and UWA have no funding specifically allocated for short courses in 2021

* CQU, Curtin U and Uni Tasmania each have more than 10 per cent of their 2021 base funding allocated to short courses

* both Uni Tas and Curtin U are offering many of their short courses through Open Universities Australia – allowing them to compete with these short courses with universities and higher level VET providers (offering diplomas and above) well beyond their traditional geographic reach.

Details of the short course funding for each university is available on my website.

And finally hat tips to Bretlyn Bailey (Deakin U) and Clare Hourigan (Uni Queensland) who were the first in the sector who I saw discussing this funding and whose discussion prompted me to take a deeper look.

Claire Field is an advisor to the tertiary education sector.

Macquarie U academics with external funding not safe from redundancy

Getting the grant may not be enough to survive

Planning for academic staff cuts continue at Macquarie U with management now briefing staff on how those to go will be selected (CMM February 26). Those not “in-scope” are people in academic leadership roles outside the three faculties where cuts are happening (arts made target via VRs) – members of the university executive and people with chancellery portfolios. But not all staff with external research funding are safe.

The plan is to only quarantine academics with 60 per cent or plus of their salary externally funded. But what about academics leading research projects where their salary is not paid but those of their staff are?  “There will be careful consideration given to the impacts of a redundancy prior to any final decision being made and advice may be sought from the Research Office on contractual obligations,” a university briefing paper states.

Perhaps the consideration will include what project staff are supposed to do if the boss, who got the grant goes.

Improving VET teaching – it’s complicated

When isn’t everything in training?

The VET community agrees that teacher quality is “variable” the disagreement comes on hat to do about it

A revised report for the estimable National Centre for Vocational Education Research by Josie Misko, Hugh GuthrieMelinda Waters reports on what they were told can be practically done to “enhance” the quality of teaching.

They report,

* “strong support” for capability frameworks for teachers

* professional standards are “less useful in a complex and diverse sector such as the VET sector”

* opinions divide on registration/accreditation for teachers. The report notes the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia has a voluntary accreditation system.

However, the authors report low support for changing/adding to entry requirements for VET teaching. This is “due to the deleterious effects” of mandating a Certificate IV in training and assessment, including cost, particularly for casual teachers.

Even so, they add that “many stakeholders” agree that a Certificate IV “would in time” be needed. Others want the entry-level qualification to be a diploma.

Or among some university researchers on VET teaching – a degree (CMM June 21 2018).

Appointments, achievements

Dawn Bennett is leaving Curtin U to join Bond University as assistant provost.

Patricia Davidson receives a distinguished leadership award from the Consortium of Universities for Global Health. Professor Davidson is outgoing dean of nursing at Johns Hopkins U and incoming VC at Uni Wollongong.

Noreen Golfman joins the academic advisory board of study-support provider (and CMM advertiser) Studiosity.  Dr Golfman is former provost and VP Academic of Memorial U in Newfoundland.