A form to fill-in that will actually help

People in need of help after natural disasters are said to get sick of having to repeatedly explain what happened to different agencies – but  this time it will help

Natural Hazards Australia wants victims of this year’s NSW/Queensland floods to report their experience in an interview or by a survey. It’s a resource to prepare for future floods.

The project is a JV with Macquarie U, QUT and Uni Southern Queensland. Details HERE


Expert Opinion on why Australians don’t learn Indonesian

Foreign Minister Penny Wong speaks the language – we need more like her to build Australia’s relationship with our very large neighbour

Problem is there are only a couple of thousand people studying Indonesian at university.

In Expert Opinion this morning CMM asks what is to be done – and Liam Prince from the Australian Consortium for “In-Country” Indonesian Studies explains. His excellent analysis is HERE @ Episode Nine.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Michelle Picard and Shannon Johnston (Murdoch U) on expanding student access to work integrated learning by building it into a degree programme. This week’s selection by Commissioning Editor Sally Kift for her celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

plus Ginny Barbour (Open Access Australasia) on the power and potential of research repositories. They “have a critical role in archiving, preserving and sharing the diverse content produced by universities so it can be used by others and have the greatest impact on our society.”

and Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on teaching on-line and in-person and why there is demand for both. “My expectation is that our physical campus will remain vibrant and powerful, and our cloud campus will continue to develop, so that both sets of students are supported to grow and meet their aspirations for higher learning. Simultaneously, some staff will continue to teach mostly on-campus, while there will also be more options to work remotely,” he writes.

Uni SA “adjusts” its COVID-19 rules, again

Last week the university returned to on-line teaching, research and working from home, in response to an “expected peak” in COVID cases

VC David Lloyd told the university community that the rules would remain until South Australian cases “significantly subside,” (CMM August 3).

They must have. While exams and lectures remain on-line, as of this week; masks in-doors on campus are “highly recommended” but no longer mandatory, except where public health requirements specify.

And face-to-face meetings, plus teaching and research, “can transition as appropriate over the coming days back to being conducted in-person.”

Neither Flinders U nor Uni Adelaide joined Uni SA in its brief return to all on-line.

Uni SA epidemiologist Adrian Esterman reports the seven day moving average of SA Covid cases nearly doubled from just over 2000 to 4000 July 2-21 but it has been declining since then and is expected to be back at 2000 by end of the week. Hospitalisations are also dropping, “but at a slower rate.”

Regulator sets out research rules, OK!

TEQSA proposes ways to assess research standards universities must meet

Last year the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency proposed research outputs and achievements universities need to achieve (CMM April 15 2021). A minimum is meeting research standards in 30 per cent (or at least three) Regulator sets out research rules, OK! that are taught by 2026 and 50 per cent by 2031.

Not a problem for most, but it could be a challenge for institutions that aspire to being universities – following what is now Avondale U’s recent elevation, or existing ones that are teaching-intensive.

There are also research admin and governance standards to meet.

TEQSA sets out proposals on both in a new draft “guidance statement” –   including matching fields of education (which the agency uses) to fields of research -(which the Australian Research Council does). TEQSA addresses this in a concordance that matches FOE and FOR.

But that isn’t that – TEQSA also helpfully points to “potential issues” for applicants – which could be interpreted as advice on what not do. For example,  “casual employment of high-profile researchers for part of a year to augment the provider’s research profile and output when the researcher is under the auspices of another provider,” and “claiming that a field meets the benchmark because some parts meet one benchmark while others meet another benchmark.”

Comment on the draft is open to September 7.

More for mRNA in Melbourne

The Victorian Government funds more of its mRNA Plan

There $5.4m for Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, University of Melbourne and Monash University to, “advance the technologies involved in mRNA vaccines and therapeutics production.” The money is from the mRNA Victoria Activation Programme. Partner institutions are kicking-in another $3.7m.

It’s part of the state government’s plan, born of politics and policy, to expand Melbourne’s global role as a med research centre.

““One of the most important lessons of COVID‑19 — as demonstrated by the difficulty to secure mRNA vaccines — is that Australia is over reliant on global supply chains. Socially and economically, Australia must become more self‑reliant in areas of national interest — including health,” the state government’s ten year research strategy states, (CMM July 27).

Claire Field points to three new challenges for international education


As the international education sector begins its rebound (CMM 8 August), it is timely to reflect on the last two years and what lies ahead

Congratulations are due to state, territory and local governments as well as education providers for the support they offered international students when the international border closed. When the former Prime Minister told international students and temporary migrants that “as much as it’s lovely to have visitors to Australia in good times, at times like this, if you are a visitor in this country, it is time … to make your way home”, like many others I was deeply concerned. So were overseas governments and their representatives in Australia.

I wondered openly about the long-term damage that attitude would leave, with personal recommendations playing a big role in international study decisions.

The care and support provided to students and the overnight switch to mass online learning (particularly for overseas students) are responses the sector should look back on with enormous pride. They are driving the huge rebound in visa applications.

Unfortunately new challenges lie ahead.

*   youth unemployment in China is https://edition.cnn.com/2022/07/14/economy/china-q2-gdp-2022-intl-hnk/index.html now at 20 per cent – a result of the crackdown on the tutoring and tech sectors which were major employers of graduates, plus the ongoing impact of COVID-zero policies Families are weighing up either secure government jobs after graduation (not helped by international study) or helping their children study and potentially live overseas – if parents can be sure they will be able to visit regularly. All of this creates uncertainty in student decision making.

*    The Indian rupee has fallen to its lowest ever levels against the US dollar meaning study in the US is now out of reach for some families and Australia becomes even more attractive, which in turn has issues for the diversity of our international student population.

* the latest annual survey from US think tank New America shows surging confidence in the quality of on-line higher education. A majority of Americans (55  per cent) now believe the “quality of on-line education is the same as or better than in-person education.” Last year the same survey found only 37 per cent of respondents held that view. It would be interesting to see equivalent research in our international education source markets, let alone here in Australia – but that’s a topic for another column.

Claire Field is an advisor to the tertiary education sector


Steve Frost joins Uni Wollongong as a professorial fellow of nursing. He is a member of  the South Western Sydney Nursing and Midwifery Research Alliance at Liverpool Hospital.

Sumeetpal Singh will join Uni Wollongong next year, taking up the Tibra Chair in Mathematical Sciences. He will move from Uni Cambridge. The chair is funded by Tibra Capital, (“a world-class quant trading firm”).