There’s more in the Mail

In Features today, ATSE president and global ICT guru Hugh Bradlow explores the latest developments in technology.

Birmingham explains: it could be worse, except when it won’t be

The new HELP repayment threshold is through the Senate, with Education Minister Simon Birmingham going on Triple J to explain; “one of the world’s most generous student loan schemes stays that way – continues to be generous and continues to be accessible and available to future generations.”  What’s more acting now saved the scheme from worse later if debt grew.

“At some stage, some future government would call crisis on that and potentially do something much more abrupt and negative, whereas what we’ve done is carefully recalibrate the repayment settings,” the senator said.

The minister also appeared to indicate that there are no more higher education cuts to come. “we’re not anticipating any changes in terms of budget settings,” he added. But then again, it does not sound like the demand driven system is set to be restored either.

Jeannie Rea rocks on

Jeannie Rea’s farewell tour roles on as the outgoing president of the National Tertiary Education Union speaks at events. On Monday, she ask how unis, “can remain relevant, today and tomorrow”, at the University of Tasmania, Launceston. On August 27 at UoQ she launches the union’s report on staff experience of student evaluation surveys. On the 29th she at ANU on “the future of the university.” And on September 6 she is on at UTS, on how to end insecure work in universities.

The tour culminates at the NTEU conference, 10-11 September at Victoria U.

James Cook U restructures HR, again

They love a restructure at James Cook U, which regularly rolls out changes to improve this or address that. There were academic organisation changes in 2016, with another round raised in April, CMM April 19).  And now management proposes changes to Human Resources, which was last “reviewed and changed substantially” in 2015.

According to plan proposer, HR director Geoff Rogers “several drivers and issues have emerged that point once again to the need for change to build on the foundation established several years ago.”

There does not appear much pain in the proposal. Senior jobs to go, notably the deputy director are vacant and the plan commits to no reduction in staff HEW levels.

Overall Mr Rogers writes the proposal, “will enable a more seamless and consistent service for HR’s customers.” Until the next plan.


Cost of study cut for some but not many) students

Among all the outrage at the lower ($45 800) HELP loan repayment income threshold passed by parliament, a small group of students had a win, those at private institutions accredited as universities. Until now students at Bond, Torrens, U Notre Dame Australia and U Divinity paid the 25 per cent loan fee under the FEE HELP scheme but this will be dropped because the government accepted an amendment by Australian Conservatives senator Cory Bernardi.

Good, but not good enough, says Simon Finn, from the Council of Private Higher Education. “The HELP Loan Fee is now simply an unfair tax applied to students whose educational aspirations are met by an independent higher education provider that is not a university,” he says.


OnTask is the MOOC of the morning

The OnTask project has a  MOOC on using data to provide personalised student support – from OT partner the University of Texas, via edX.

OnTask “aims to improve the academic experience of students through the delivery of timely, personalised and actionable student feedback throughout their participation in a course.” The two-year programme is funded by the feds and is being piloted at the universities of Sydney, UNSW, South Australia, plus UTS and UTexas. (CMM, wrote about it here).

Abelardo Pardo from UniSA says the OnTask software tool is now in use in Germany, Spain, the USA and UK plus  South Africa, Canada, as well as Australia. It is also in the “incubation process” at the Apereo Foundation, which works on  open-source software in education.

Chancellor Goldsmith to leave Swinburne

Graham Goldsmith is standing down as chancellor of Swinburne University, after a four-year term. VC Linda Kristjanson reports Mr Goldsmith has decided to go “given his other professional commitments are increasing.”

Mr Goldsmith is a non-executive director of listed investment company Djerriwarrh a panel member of “boutique corporate advisers”, Adara Partners and on the board of online learning provider SEEK.


Dianne Jolley will become the UTS dean of science in December. She leaves the University of Wollongong.

Jacqueline Tulk is the new campus director at La Trobe U’s (very flash) Sydney campus. LTU Sydney is a Navitas-run pathway programme for the university. Ms Tulk joins from partner La Trobe Melbourne.