Waiting on Scott

Education Minister Jason Clare tells a press-conference about initial teacher education, yesterday

“only 50 per cent or thereabouts who start a teaching degree finish it. If you ask any teacher, they’ll tell you that what they learned at university didn’t really give them everything they need to be ready to be a teacher in their first year out of university.” Mr Clare said Mark Scott and team’s recommendations on “how we improve initial teacher education” (CMM March 23) were due in June.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Adrian Barnett on how to save science research from bureaucracy and delay, HERE.

 plus Australian Disability Clearinghouse for Education and Training sets out three things providers can do to improve inclusion, right now. New in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s series Needed now in learning and teaching.

And in Expert Opinion

Kelly Matthews (Uni Queensland) talks about the AI challenge. “I hope the way forward is that people are going to be looking at how do we experiment with this, how do we learn, how do we ask all the questions that we need to be asking?” she says.

Manufacturing priority lost in space

The National Reconstruction Fund has passed parliament – not everybody is pleased with all of its priorities*

One of the seven investment priorities is not “space,” which the previous government was keen on, presenting Uni Southern Queensland and partners with $50m from the Trailblazer Universities programme, for research, manufacturing and infrastructure for the space industry (CMM May 16 ’22)

A consortium led by Gilmore Space Technologies also received $52m from the then government in March, “to grow sovereign space manufacturing.” Education partners include include CQU, Griffith U and James Cook U, (CMM March 28)

But now shadow education minister Sarah Henderson says the new government is changing the priorities “on a political whim”.

An unnamed university, which she tells the Senate saw her the other day certainly feels left out. “They are doing cutting-edge work, actually working with a private business in launching a satellite. Not only are they giving incredible opportunities to their students but also they are embracing school students. To exclude space and aerospace as a key manufacturing priority is a very, very big mistake,” she sayts

It may not be – the National Reconstruction Fund’s seventh priority is “enablers,” AI, quantum computing and so on. Maybe space manufacturers can find a way to be included – perhaps they were practising with Senator Henderson.

* the seven priorities are, resources; agriculture, forestry and fisheries; transport; medical science; renewables and low-emission technologies; defence capability; and enabling capabilities 

Why don’t you give ASQA a call

The Australian Skills Quality Authority advises “many providers” ask for help using the agency’s portal.

And so ASQA has produced a guide – 18 pages of it. Might be quicker to ring the agency.

Research for Accord agenda

Research policy people are keen to ensure the Universities Accord is not all about funding student access

The Group of Eight has already made a case for a national research strategy (CMM March 27) and now a new paper from the Innovative Research Universities sets out the size of the pie and how it is sliced. The IRU makes no mention of the Accord but it is hard not to envisage Executive Director Paul Harris happily autographing copies for Accord chief Mary O’Kane and colleagues.  Research is prominent in just one of the Accord’s seven terms of reference.

The IRU paper starts with the high-level horrible; Australian expenditure on research and development stayed effectively flat for 20 years, while the OECD’s nearly doubled and China’s grew nearly six-fold.

But IRU also includes numbers that are important to anybody who believes universities should undertake discovery research as well as teach.

“Our analysis shows that overall growth in university research masks significant shifts in investment across different kinds of research and different universities over the last twenty years,’ Mr Harris says.

Shifts like the inexorable increase in spending on applied research and experimental development, under 40 per cent of higher education research and development 30 years ago and 63 per cent in 2020. “This transformational shift away from basic research has been sector-wide, but particularly prominent in regional and outer metropolitan universities,” IRU warns.

And shifts in discipline outlays. In 1992 spending on HASS, STEM and medical research was all under $1bn – now HASS is $2bn,medical is $3bn and STEM is $5.5bn.

IRU also warns the existing funding system shapes the sort of research universities do, with the ratio of infrastructure funding research block grants to total outlays halved.

This share will likely continue to decline as tied-programmes such as the Medical Research Future Fund account for a bigger share of spending.

And as for research growth funded by international student fees, most, “has occurred in a small number of universities.” Gosh, whichever could they mean?

ACU top spot

Australian Catholic U is pleased indeed that it is first in Australia and world 34th for theology research, in last week’s QS Subject rankings

Six other locals are already on the list and the competition will surely pick up. Regulations requires universities to research at “world standard” in some areas they teach. Theology might be a focus for the University of Divinity.

Saving Australia’s stories

Supporters of on-line archive TROVE (Australian newspapers, books, public and people’s papers) have long warned the National Library is stretched to keep it functioning the tension might come off

Finance Minister Katy Gallagher tells the Senate that despite having 50 000 visitors a day TROVE’s funding runs out on June 30, “leaving thousands of Australians unable to research family history.” The minister did not mention more money but perhaps there will be something for TROVE in the budget

Ditto for other, “collecting institutions … there to make sure the most precious items of the Australian story are kept safe, kept publicly available and kept safe forever.”

She also mentioned other Canberra based and/or federally funded GLAM institutions, the National Maritime Museum, the Portrait Gallery, National MuseumBundanoon Trust, National Film and Sound Archive, National Gallery, National Library and Old Parliament House.

Minister Gallagher represents the ACT in the Senate.


Education Minister Jason Clare announces a panel to advise on “key targets and specific reforms” in the next commonwealth-states’ National School Reform Agreement. Lisa O’Brien, (Australian Education Research Organisation) chairs, with member including,

* Jordana Hunter (Grattan Institute) * Stephen Lamb (Victoria U) * Lisa Paul (former sec DoE) and Pasi Sahlberg (Uni Melbourne). Yes, that Professor Sahlberg, while he joined Southern Cross U in February ’22, he left for Melbourne “several months ago.