Up to speed

We’re pumped to usher through another successful group of La Trobe Accelerator Programme grads today,” LT U via Twitter. Presumably they pump to start the accelerator.

There’s more in the Mail

With the Avenger’s over people interested in super-powered people, should check-out the women on Science and Technology Australia’s 2019  mentor list, in features this morning. Their brief is to “change the stereotype of ‘scientist’” by advising and encouraging emerging leading women in STEM.

Not news from Monash U

The university stay silent about IT outlays

Victorian universities report spending on IT (CMM Friday) and marketing (today) in their annual reports to state parliament – except Monash U.

On Thursday CMM asked the university’s media unit why its annual report states the figures for IT and marketing spends are “n/a”. And if the university ever tells me I will tell you.  Read on for Victorian unis mcomms spending.

TEQSA lists conditions on Charles Sturt U’s registration

The university regulator requires changes

What’s happened: The Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency has renewed CSU’s registration but for just four years, rather than the regular seven. The ruling dates from early April, but has only just emerged.

The big issue that troubles TEQSA  is the university’s relationship with partner Study Group Australia.

TEQSA now forbids CSU enrolling new students with Study Group Aus and will “maintain this restriction until …TEQSA is satisfied that the university has implemented controls to ensure academic integrity and quality at the CSU study centres operated by SGA.” The regulator also requires CSU to establish controls, “directly overseen by CSU academic staff,” on academic integrity and student performance at  Study Group centres.

And why:  The agency says it has acted to address five issues;

* corporate and academic governance

* “protecting academic integrity through effective prevention, detection and management of academic misconduct”

* “managing and quality assuring course delivery via third party arrangements,” TEQSA cites CSU Study Centres, operated by Study Group Australia

* scholarly activities of teaching staff at Study Group Australia-operated facilities

* monitoring and reporting learning and teaching outcomes

In addition to the Study Group Australia requirements, TEQSA imposes four conditions CSU’s registration.

* providing the agency with written records showing the university’s Council has identified, managed and mitigated academic risks

* annual evidence that Academic Senate receives diagnostic analyses of student performance across eight variables

* evidence of academic governance reform

* annual analysis of cases and causes of academic misconduct

Study Group Australia offers bachelor and graduate programmes for CSU in business and IT in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

What CSU says: “After a lengthy three-year process, the university is disappointed to only be granted a four-year conditional renewal. … We have implemented considerable changes during the renewal process and completed a full review of academic governance, with recommendations being implemented through Academic Senate, business-as-usual operations and comprehensive changes to our academic policy suite,” Vice Chancellor Andrew Vann says.

Why CSU:  Observers suggest CSU is a victim of timing, TEQSA’s need to be seen to be acting on system-wide issues and less regulatory failings at the university than its devolved approval process.

The university was up for renewal as the agency responded to increased attention on academic integrity, with Education Minister Dan Tehan proposing legislation to outlaw contract cheating.

TEQSA watchers suggest it is also lifting regulatory requirements for the whole sector, using CSU as a starter. Condition six requires the university to review and report on “the scholarly outputs for all teaching staff and staff with oversight of teaching” at study centres operated by SGA. TEQSA says it must approve the reviewer and their terms of reference.

CSU watchers also suggest CSU needs to make its own regulatory oversight of Study Group A more explicit, for example, moving matters now covered at faculty level to Academic Senate.

What happens next: CSU is scheduled to meet with TEQSA within weeks and word is the university hopes that work in progress will be enough to have conditions on registration lifted.

But if the agency is not amenable the university could take the matter to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. CSU is not talking tactics but university observers do not rule-out it taking TEQSA on.

We have been in this crisis before

In breaking Four Corners news … 

“In the course of a generation, government funding for universities has fallen so drastically that Australia’s reputation for world class teaching is in question, and about a quarter of the 38 universities are bleeding money. The funding squeeze has forced the tertiary education sector to become heavily dependent on a new market of full fee paying international students. This program asks what compromises the universities are being asked to make in order to fund the shortfall in finances; there are allegations of falling standards, soft marking and plagiarism. With Asian countries such as China now investing in their own tertiary education systems, the heavy reliance on overseas students seems insecure, and the ideals of quality education and equality of access to it are now in doubt.”  That’s how the ABC  pitched a uni standards gone to hell programme which went to air on June 27 2006. Hard to see what new allegations tonight’s ep on the subject will add (CMM Friday).

Victorian unis reveal marketing spends

The messages many millions can buy

Don Drapers and Peggy Olsons love university accounts, what with the billings they bring. Last year Deakin University for example, spent $24.8m (2 per cent of total revenues) on “advertising, marketing and promotional expenses”, as revealed in its annual report, just tabled in the Victorian parliament.

This is way ahead of RMIT, ($16.8m and 1.2 per cent) and other unis’ outlays, Victoria U $12m (2.6 per cent), La Trobe U $9.9m (1.2 per cent), Swinburne U $8.2m (1.1 per cent) and Federation U $5.5m (1.7 per cent).

As to the big-two, the University of Melbourne spent $15.8m (0.6 per cent)– with Monash U ($15.12m), the lowest proportion of total revenues reported.

All these figures understate broadly defined marketing comms spending – not including staff costs which can’t be cheap. Back in 2014 a learned reader showed CMM Monash U’s central mcomms staff structure, covering – admissionscampaign managementchannel managementmarket analyticsmarketing comms and student recruitment, sales management, strategic comms and brand services. There were 130 people then (CMM June 27 2014).

Passing the smell test

La Trobe U has trained dogs to sniff out the elusive alpine Stone Fly

This is a big deal indeed in detecting dog circles where success is generally considered finding faeces or nests, not the actual creature in question.

One of the LT U dogs is a border collie with manifestly superior sniffing skills to those of CMM’s BC, Buzz the Jazz Dog. The only thing he knows how to find is dinner, once in his bowl.

La Trobe U new IT plan still not settled

A restructure at LTU rolls on, just slowly

Chief Information Officer Peter Powell tells his team that he has briefed the university’s senior executive group on change plans, which “led to a lot of questions and debate about alignment with other activities that are in progress or being planned across the university.”

With more questions to come, Mr Powell reports he is tasked to keep working with senior staff to ensure, “there is an agreed ICT implementation plan and agreed approach.

“This will take further time to resolve and it is unlikely that we will be able to release the change proposal for consultation this month,” he adds.

That will be the change plan due last month, the change plan originally expected to be implemented from last November. As the June anniversary of the restructure starting approaches staff anxiety over what change will mean increases, ( CMM March 15).

La Trobe U spent $59m on ICT last year (CMM, Friday), bang-on the state uni average.

Union clouds over Sunshine Coast

Union members at University of Sunshine Coast vote to take industrial action over enterprise negotiations

The National Tertiary Education Union says negotiations are going nowhere on issues including job security, workloads and continuing conditions in the old agreement in the new one.  There is talk around the traps that new HR director Christina Turner might have a circuit-breaker in her kit but USC says she is not going to attend bargain meets, “at this stage”.

U Tas makes its case with Black letter more

The vice chancellor talks up moving campus into the city

The other week novelist Richard Flanagan dropped a bucket on the University of Tasmania, a very big bucket, over its plans to take gown to town and relocate a bunch of stuff to the CBD. “The interests of the university are not necessarily the same of those of Hobart and its citizens, and we should not believe the university when they say they are,” he wrote in the city’s Mercury newspaper (CMM April 23).

This was very bad indeed for UTas – the extraordinary influence it wields in the state’s public life depends on community support. So it appears, VC Rufus Black threw the PR machine’s switch to charm and its lever to listening, talking to Amanda Ducker for a long piece on the uni plan in Saturday’s paper. It was proper journalism, lots of facts and plenty of informed opinions (just not Ms Ducker’s) and it was definitely not a free kick for Professor Black.  But it is a win for U Tas, the only way to create the consensus the university will need to ensure state and city government support for  the planned move is to explain the benefits for all, then explain them again, and again .


Nadine Zacharias joins Swinburne U as director, student engagement. Dr Zacharias is a big-picture painter on equity and access, the author, with Matthew Brett, of a platform statement on where Australia needs to be in a decade, ( CMM March 6).