Monash – for those who know what they think

Back in 2016 a Monash U student recruitment campaign featured David Wenham suggesting the university was the place to be if you want to “question the answers.” Now, there is more of the same with a new campaign suggesting Monash is right for students of the view, “if you don’t like it, change it.” So much more sophisticated than pitching to people who want to learn stuff.

Yankee know-how to show us how to teach shipbuilding

US companies will lead the naval shipbuilding college. Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne announced participants in the long-awaited college yesterday. Engineering services provider Kellogg Brown & Root and military shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls are the principals.  As per the original brief, the college will operate in all states with Mr Pyne naming local participants already enlisted: the Defence Teaming Centre, University of South Australia, University of Adelaide, Flinders University, RMIT, Edith Cowan U, TAFE SA, South Metro TAFE (WA) the Indigenous Defence Consortium and the University of Tasmania’s Australian Maritime College.

UTas was quick to make the best of what does not look like a vote of confidence in the capacity of Australian maritime construction training, announcing it is; “delighted to be a strategic partner in this new national enterprise and looks forward to working closely to deliver the expertise and the workforce the Australian Government’s continuous naval shipbuilding plan will require.”

Glowing to gloom in Queensland university financial reports

Queensland university annual reports are presented to state parliament.

James Cook U: The good news is that; “university council is focused on ensuring the sustainability of our university.” The better news is that council will not be bored for want of anything to do. Student demand has peaked which has “resulted in pressures associated with maintaining student numbers” and the university recorded a $4.3m loss last year on revenues of $513m, down $36m on 2017. Debt was up $32m to $101m.

University of Queensland: While urging all to avoid complacency,  Vice Chancellor Peter Hoj is pretty pleased; “our student numbers increased, our research output proliferated, our teachers continued to be the most awarded in Australia and our liaison with the general community brought rewards on both sides.” Total income was up $80m, to $1.864bn. with an overall operating result of $47.5m, a turn-around on 2016’s $15m loss. (That result isn’t as bad as it looks, the university depreciated ageing assets (CMM January 24).)

QUT: Outgoing VC Peter Coaldrake left the university in solid shape with 2017 revenue of $1.063bn delivering a headline $100m operating surplus up 9 per cent on 2016. The underlying profit margin was 7.9 per cent.

CQU: While the TAFE division is not in the money VC Scott Bowman has turned the university around and leaves it in much better shape than it was when he arrived –a point reported in regional Queensland papers who report relatively glowing results, glowingly.  Total revenues were up $42m on 2016, to $421m, with a $21m net result, up $6m.

Griffith U: VC Ian O’Connor will leave the university in its best financial shape for years, with the first lift in net result from continuing operations in five years. Income was up $40m on 2016, to $957m, while continuing operational expenses grew just $2m to $881m. The university warns that thanks to the feds times will be tough and “sustainable investment, prudent cost control, and maximising revenue streams where possible, will be vital.”

University of Southern Queensland: USQ states its $320m operating income, delivers a “sustainable fiscal position” which “provided opportunities to address emerging challenges in 2018 and beyond.” But sustainable for how long. Revenue did not grow between 2016 and ’17 while expenses increased by $23m, delivering a marginal net loss.

University of Sunshine Coast: The university continues to expand its courses, campuses and enrolments – with student numbers up 16 per cent in 2017. The university delivered a net result of $18m on revenues of $273m. Year on year expenses increased $46m to $255m.

How sweet it is

The feds have released the Australian Competitive Grants Register , listing 120 live funding sources from public providers, notably the ARC and NHMRC and non-Canberra sources. CMM’s pick is the Sweeter Citrus Programme from Horticulture Innovation Australia.

How to get sensibly serious about contract cheating

Contract cheating isn’t just wrong it is white collar crime (CMM March 28). In fact, as UNSW researcher Alex Steel points out, it can be a bunch of them. A learned reader points to Professor Steel’s paper on criminal offences that student consumers and providers of contract cheating services could be charged with – including fraud, forgery and conspiracy.  The problem is in the great scheme of human wrongdoing passing another’s essay as one’s one may not enthuse the authorities into prosecution. So, Professor Steel suggests, a statutory offence punished by a fine, could be created. “The nature of contract cheating is such a fundamental rejection of the expected behaviour of students that its use by students is more than academic misconduct and passes into the realm of criminal wrongdoing,” he argues.

As a way of demonstrating that Australia takes seriously the credibility of its qualifications and is determined to defend the integrity of its international education industry, this would be hard to beat.

Years to write, hours to administer

In bad news for South Australian vellum producers, Flinders U has introduced the  SkillsForge doctoral candidature system, which will save “hundreds of hours of administration over the life of a doctorate.”  Developed at the University of York, the system, among other things; “provides the functionality to reflect, review, record, monitor and report upon postgraduate student progression, skills acquisition and general development activities.”

Dean of Graduate Research Tara Brabazon says in test SkillsForge processed a document which now takes five hours in 2 minutes. “Multiply this across 1000 students several times a year and the savings are massive.”