Brace for (not much) impact

After three weeks as education minister, Dan Tehan has said something about universities, but not much, issuing a statement paraphrasing the OECD’s new report on member country education efforts.

“In higher education, the government is focussed on better targeting resources to demand and need, increasing transparency and accountability and improving opportunities for regional students,” Minister Tehan says.

Good-o, but just how is it “increasing transparency and accountability?” Former minister Simon Birmingham promised that 2018 would be the year of developing metrics measuring undergraduate performance but not much appeared to happen before he was shuffled out of the portfolio and Minister Tehan appears engrossed in schools funding.

Now Ramsay Civ Centre upsets staff at Uni of Queensland  

Campus complaints started within hours of  University of Queensland Vice Chancellor Peter Hoj telling staff late Wednesday that management is exploringcompatibility” with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation (CMM yesterday).  On Facebook “Keep Ramsay out of UQ” urged the uni community to “say no to imperial propaganda at our university.”  And the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union added to its previous pre-emptive concerns (CMM July 26).

“There needs to be full transparency before UQ agrees to any kind of MoU with Ramsay. It is also incongruous, to say the least, for UQ to be considering such a proposal at the same time as UQ is preparing to cut BA courses in a number of disciplines, potentially reducing the range of humanities courses on offer to our regular students,” branch president Andrew Bonnell says.

While UoQ starts talking about talking to Ramsay, the University of Sydney says it will continue with its staff discussions on whether to open negotiations with the Civ Centre.

Not that the Ramsay team needs be concerned if neither UoQ nor UniSyd proceed – there are still four Group of Eight institutions that haven’t turned them down.

ORCID bloom ends cut and paste

It’s rare for researchers to dance in the streets when the Australian Research Council makes an announcement but they will this morning. From November researchers will be able to use their Open Researcher and Contributor ID to auto-populate ARC application forms. An ORCID ID ties to individuals’ research records and linking it to the ARC’s research management system “will reduce the burden of repeated manual entry of publication data.”

Deal nearly done at Macquarie U

A new enterprise agreement for academics at Macquarie University appears imminent, with the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union putting a proposal to members. If they agree the union and management will jointly recommend terms to staff.

The deal is said to include a 2 per cent pay rise paid annually over the agreement and extending 17 per cent superannuation to fixed-term (but not casual) staff. There are also protections for academics who do not want to move to teaching-focused positions and a management guarantee that teaching-research staff will be 75 per cent of continuing FTE.

Staff signing-off on the deal would make it a fond farewell for branch president Alison Barnes, who is the NTEU’s incoming federal president.

Negotiations on a professional staff agreement are getting underway.

QUT going big in on-line education

QUT is upping its investment in online education, announcing a partnership with a subsidiary of employment services provider SEEK, Online Education Services.

The university will launchQUT going big into on-line study throughout next year, starting in January. Initial offerings will be graduate certificates, diplomas and masters, in health management, project management, public health, financial planning and education. QUT has a small selection of MOOCs available via FutureLearn, notably in robotics and AI but nothing as extensive as now announced.

Vice Chancellor Margaret Sheil says the initiative will allow QUT to “expand its market reach, not least of all to the 20,000 Queensland online learners who have enrolled in courses in universities in other states in the last 12 months.”

The university has created a new position to lead the programme, a yet to be filled PVC Digital Learning.

OES provides client universities with marketing, student support services, plus what it describes as “workforce management” and course-design. “We work closely with our partners’ academic staff to understand the desired learning outcomes, ensuring tailored online learning programs are developed,” OES states.

This is a big win for OES. It has long provided provided services to Swinburne U, which is a minority shareholder.  Western Sydney University –which signed on last September, offers five undergraduate degrees in business and social science.

The organisation started, as Swinburne Online in 2011.

Grad employment data hidden in the QILT

Universities promoting their QS graduate employment ratings is irritating a learned reader who says while not easily found there is far better local data available, from the ANU-owned Social Research Centre’s Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching. “Nobody knows about the QILT website –  in all my dealings with university students I have never come across a single student that knew about it”- whereas the PR machine for the various rankings is immense.”

Swan, but not a brewery

A learned reader points out that the one-tonne swan Edith Cowan U students built was constructed from food cans – not beer cans, as CMM thought (September 11). Reality can lead one to drink.

Appointments and achievements of the week

Michael Lavers has won the University of Canberra poetry prize for the second time (the first was in 2016). Last year Eric Berlin from Syracuse NY won. Mr Lavers teaches writing at Brigham Young University in Utah. Earlier this week Annie Hunter from Castlemain in Victoria won the Australian Catholic University’s 2018 poetry prize.

Terry Hughes (James Cook U) has won the Royal Society of Canada’s Huntsman Medal for marine science. Professor Hughes researchers coral reef biodiversity.

Brendan Burkett from the University of the Sunshine Coast is appointed head coach of the Australian Paralympic Swim Team. Professor Burke is director of high performance sport at USC.

As of February, Cheryl Jones will be deputy executive dean (academic) in the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Medicine and Health. She joins from the University of Melbourne. She was deputy dean of the Sydney Medical School from 2012 to March last year.

ANU economist Geoffrey Brennan has won the 2018 Gutenburg Teaching Award from the Johannes Gutenburg University in Mainz, Germany.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced new council members of government advisory body Cancer Australia. Joanne Aitken, (QUT and Menzies Health Institute, Qld) is the incoming distinguished scientist member.

The International Water Association’s bi-annual award goes to Tony Wong, “for his lifetime research on water sensitive urban design.” Professor Wong, from Monash U is CEO of the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities.

Michael Egan will stand down as chancellor of Macquarie University in February. At retirement, he will be the university’s longest-serving chancellor.

UNSW announces David Sanderson will lead the university’s fifth research grand challenge, on rapid urbanisation. Professor Sanderson is a professor of architecture at the university.

UoQ nursing research and teaching academic Anthony Tuckett is appointed to the Queensland government’s panel of nursing and midwifery assessors.

There are three engineering appointments at the University of Adelaide; Michael Goodsite will be new head of the School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering. David Lewis is confirmed in the top job at chemical engineering and chemical engineer Shaobin Wang joins from Curtin University.

Digital sociologist Deborah Lupton is moving to UNSW from the University of Canberra, where she is now centenary research professor of communication.

A former dean of arts at Kings College London is taking up the same job at the University of MelbourneRussell Goulbourne will start in January. His research interests cover 17-18thcenturies French literature.

Nadine Kasparian from UNSW has won a 2018-19 Harkness Fellowship in healthcare policy and practice.

Syed Islam is the new dean of science, engineering and IT at Federation UProfessor Islam moves from Curtin U.