Not in Fair Work’s wok

Lawyers acting for the Group of Eight have written to the Fair Work Commission regarding the present four-year review of the higher education awards. Among undoubtedly important concerns on particularly precise issues the lawyers also advise the commission that, clause “9.2(b)(v) contains a typographical error. The first sentence refers to ‘shiftwok,’ instead of ‘shiftwork’ ”. It would have been much worse without the t.

Big ideas from the Full Service Six

There’s a policy voice, with big ideas for all of tertiary education

A new  policy paper from Australia’s six dual sector universities warns ideas of a single tertiary education system involve, “risks in terms of the cost and complexity of system integration and the loss of differentiation and diversity. They are also not likely to be agreed by the states and territories in relation to their roles in VET.”

The six are CQU, RMIT, Victoria U, Federation U, Swinburne U and Charles Darwin U.

They make their case as “the only ‘full-service’ providers” in a new policy paper that positions for them for a widely-anticipated round of post-secondary reforms, whichever side wins the imminent election. Labor is committed to a comprehensive review in office and the government has already announced an initiative from the Joyce training review, released on budget night.  The Noonan Review of the Australian Qualification Framework is already underway.

The Full Service Six set out four policy principles, as the basis of a COAG agreed policy framework.

AQF reform: “students should have options to supplement their primary qualification by choosing units from a range of VET and higher education offerings”

VET Qualifications:  less focus on narrow occupational competence and more on “underpinning” knowledge, skills and capabilities

Coherent state and federal funding framework: This could include a whole of system income contingent loan scheme, Canberra funding all AQF level five, six courses and pathway programmes, “revitalisation and renewal of TAFE,” and return of demand driven funding for higher education

Extending work-based learning and industry partnerships: apprenticeships at all AQF levels

The Six call for “a shared effort across sectors and institutions that have been historically separated by policy, jurisdiction and tradition,” adding they are “uniquely positioned to contribute constructively to the next stages of this shared agenda.”

IRU realpolitik

There’s no faulting the Innovative Research Universities for budget realism

“It is no surprise that higher education and research were not among the areas for additional investment now that the government is projecting surpluses. For the government we did not provide enough savings in its early years,” IRU member newsletter, yesterday.

Helping international students feel right at home

Chinese TV stars endorsing university scholarships is good (CMM yesterday).  Protecting international students from exploiters is way better.

UTS and UNSW are combining to ask international students what help they want “to avoid exploitation by unscrupulous employers and accommodation providers.”  It is part of a multi-agency project funded by state government agency StudyNSW.

A new survey focusing on accommodation and provided in English, Spanish, Chinese and Portuguese is here.

Last month Allan Fels and David Cousins’ report on the treatment of migrant workers warned wage exploitation, “has potential to undermine our national reputation as a place for international students to undertake their studies.” They recommended a best practice guide for educational institutions to give their international students, and that an obligation to assist any “experiencing workplace issues” be set out in the national code of practice for education providers.   Adding information on tenants’ right wouldn’t hurt revealed in this survey could not hurt.

Water, water everywhere with lots of drops to drink

Federation U is banning the sale of single-use plastic still-water bottles across its campuses, which is good.

Even better, it announces people can fill their own bottlesfor free, at drinking water stations.” Jove, free water! But what took Federation U so long? – Swinburne U was promoting a “water refill and drinking station” at the Hawthorn campus in 2012.

QILT uncovers how students rate their uni

The Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching survey show most students are satisfied

The results of this year’s federally funded comprehensive survey are in-line with the last two, but there is an improvement at the top-end.

Across the system some 78.9 per cent  of undergraduates were satisfied with the overall quality of their educational experience in 2018, up marginally on 2017.

Ratings on specific attributes were also in-line with ’17; skill development, 81 per cent (unchanged on 2017), teaching quality, 81 per cent (up 1 per cent), learning resources, 84 per cent (unchanged). The learner engagement category remains the marked under-performer, with only 60 per cent of students being positive, unchanged from last 2017.

The results pleased Education Manager Dan Tehan who undoubtedly enjoyed being able to announced, “it’s great to see universities flourishing under the coalition government.”

Universities Australia’s Catriona Jackson was also pleased, “Four in five university students say they are happy with their education — a strong result consistent with previous surveys,” she said. Anticipating questions about the 20 per cent who aren’t happy, Ms Jackson added that the top reasons for student attrition are personal, health work and family commitments.

However, Mr Tehan also said QILT reminds universities, “about the importance of maintaining the highest standards and delivering a quality education. Universities must maintain a strong focus on the student experience.”

And some are more focused than others. QILT is careful to qualify its results, that courses offered and sorts of students shape results, “there is also a negative association between institution size and student ratings.”

But it points to Bond U and the University of Notre Dame Australia with overall 89 per cent ratings.  And while there are non-university higher-education providers with scores that are shockers students just love others. Adelaide Central School of Art, Moore Theological College and the Jazz Music Institute in Brisbane all score 96 per cent. “These are clearly sites of best practice in the student experience from which other institutions may learn” QILT suggests.

There is, a 20 per cent spread of scores across universities is from Victoria U (72 per cent overall satisfaction rating) to Bond and Uni Notre Dame.

Individual institutions overall satisfaction ratings are similar to last year. Universities rating under 75 per cent  on raw scores in 2017 and 2018 are Charles Darwin U, University of Sydney, UNSW, and Victoria U. The University of Southern Queensland escaped the group this year improving to an overall score over 75. (The report also addresses small collection anomalies).

Universities scoring over 80 this year, (up four), are; Bond U, Curtin U, Deakin U, Edith Cowan U, Federation U, Griffith U, Murdoch U, QUT, Swinburne U, U Notre Dame, Uni Queensland, Uni SA, Uni Divinity, UNE, Uni Sunshine Coast, and Uni Wollongong.

Tomorrow: more QILT analysis

Ending buyers’ markets in contract cheating

Sellers in the slammer isn’t all the answer

The feds proposed law against contract cheating catches providers not student purchasers, who are still left to universities to detect and discipline. So how public spirited of the cheat-catchers at Turnitin to remind us of their services. The company’s new Authorship Investigate goes beyond plagiarism to identify work which is original, just not written by the person who submits assignment. The new programme identifies students using contract cheating  by comparing a new assignment with previous work.

Appointment of the morning

Ian Watt joins the Australian Maritime Museum Council. Dr Watt wrote the 2016 Research Policy and Funding review (CMM December 7).