What friends are for

“But enough of us explaining how triffic we are, how ‘triffic do you think we are?”

“Academic reputation” accounts for 40 per cent of university scores in the QS World University Ranking.  It’s based on a survey that, “collates the expert opinions of over 130,000 individuals in the higher education space regarding teaching and research quality at the world’s universities.”

That’s a bunch of experts to ask – but fortunately universities help, approaching academics outside their organisation for permission to give QS their contact details.

“We feel that your impartial responses would contribute to the insight and precision of the survey’s outcomes,” states an invitation, just sent out by a Queensland university, to people on its database.

Perhaps QS could include praise successfully solicited in university scores.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Frank Larkins and Ian Marshman (Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education) estimate public uni income streams and how institutions would cope with a decline in international student fees this year. (Looking good ANU).

plus Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on access and equity to post school education – expanding PG is the next issue.

with Denise Jackson (Edith Cowan U) and Bonnie Amelia Dean (Uni Wollongong) on what the Graduate Outcomes Survey reveals about the ways (that’s plural) work integrated learning can deliver.  It follows Jackson and Anna Rowe (UNSW) on WIL outcomes for graduate-level jobs.  They are both selections by Commissioning Editor Sally Kift for her celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

Unis aren’t on election agendas

Minister for all things educational Stuart Robert signals the government make training a campaign issue

“Believe me when I say 2021 is the Year of the Australian apprentice” Mr Robert told a business audience Tuesday, pitching his message to a core constituency, just as Labor did on Sunday when Anthony Albanese talked-up TAFE funding.

The messages may also appeal to voters who think the reason they can’t find a plumber is too many young people are doing degrees.

This is very bad for universities – promises on training will suck the funding oxygen out of the election – leaving HE gasping.

A super of scientists

Chief Scientist Cathy Foley hosted a “super forum” of science leaders yesterday

There were the various state and territory science chiefs, plus New Zealand’s, members of the PM’s Science and Tech Council, top scientists from federal government agencies and peak research funders.

Announced topics included critical tech, supply chains and sovereign manufacturing but there is no word on what was actually discussed.

The event appears to meet Dr Foley’s work-plan to “leverage the government’s investment in science and identify opportunities for collaboration” (CMM August 31).

Charles Sturt goes the santa, again

Tis the season to be jolly

The enterprise agreement at Charles Sturt U officially expired in September and bargaining should be beginning but newish VC Renée Leon wants a 12-month delay. This, she says will give her time “to engage with staff and unions” over the new university strategy which management is now “building out.”

To compensate for a delay in striking new terms, management is offering a 2 per cent pay rise as of July (presumably what management would have offered for the first year of a new agreement).

But CSU can’t just do this – as a variation on the existing agreement the university needs staff approval. Which management is asking staff to consider and vote on – quickly.  The VC is holding briefings today and Monday, with a vote Thursday-Friday next.

And to encourage agreement the university promises a $1000 payment to all eligible staff if the delay in beginning bargaining is carried by staff voting. Yes, management can do this – a learned reader versed in the Fair Work Act says as it is not an election the offer is ok.

And no, this is not the $1000 bonus Professor Leon announced for staff last week (CMM December 3), as thanks for working hard in a tough year. So, if the vote is carried CSU staff will have $1000 in each of their Christmas stockings.

Regulatory wrangling for micro-credentials

Announcing is the easy bit

Minister for all things educational Stuart Robert says the government,” is embracing the rise of micro-credentials, which we see as playing a big role in flexible up-skilling of our workforce.”

They will play a bigger one if there is a universal definition of what they are, ways to measure what they do and specifications of content that will stop spivs selling shonkery badged as MCs. And if you don’t think that last one matters, ask a passing Finance official what the rorting of VET FEE HELP cost.

These are big issues which aren’t as yet addressed. While Universities Australia suggests three threshold standards that can help nothing is settled (CMM September 29).

Martin Bean and Peter Dawkins appear to get this. In their new report on university-industry teaching/learning collaboration they suggest, “learners are often overwhelmed as they attempt to navigate, compare, and gain recognition of these smaller credentials from employers or other providers. Discussions on how to improve recognition of micro-credentials are often stalled by the risk that increasing their regulation may have a negative impact on education and training providers’ ability to rapidly respond to new and emerging skills needs.’

And they propose a way to address issues, adopt the Noonan Review proposals to reform the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Specifically, the Commonwealth, states and territories should, “prioritise AQF reform … focusing on general capabilities, the AQF architecture, credit pathways, and principles for institutions that wish to align micro-credentials to qualification types and credit pathways.”

Problem is that doing this would require a bunch of boring through hard boards policy work, for which governments have evinced no apparent enthusiasm. It’s two years to the day since the Commonwealth accepted all the HE recommendations in the Noonan Review (CMM December 10 2019). But accepting is not enacting.

Appointments, achievements

Andrew Gunstone (Swinburne U) becomes board co-chair of Reconciliation Victoria.

Geoff Gourley (Impact Investment Fund) becomes chair of Swinburne U’s Innovation Precinct Advisory Board.

La Trobe U announces its research award winners, * Grad research supervision: Nora Shields (Physiotherapy) * Research engagement: Wei Xiang (AI) * Research impact: Adam Bourne, Gene Lim, Anthony Lyons, Andrea Waling (Understanding LGBTIQ+ project) * Early career: Ashleigh Poh (cancer research), Sunil Rao (Law) * Mid-career: Adam Culvenor (Sport and Exercise Medicine) Gerald Roche (Politics and Philosophy)

Uni Sydney announces the 22 Sydney Research Accelerator fellows for the year. SOAR pays early and mid-career researchers $100 000 over two years, plus $25 000 to fund teaching/admin relief. Those who will SOAR are here.

Mathai Varghese (Uni Adelaide) is awarded the George Szekeres Medal by the Australian Mathematical Society.