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.

Keeping casuals in the e-tent

Deakin U will let academic casuals keep IT access for 200 days after their last working day

The university is adamant that this is separate to enterprise bargaining, now hotting-up.

Union members at Deakin U are voting through to Tuesday on taking industrial action as part of their campaign.

Research Economic Accelerator pace picks up with pilot

A $10m fund is divided into $50 000 to $500 000 grants, over three months to a year

They are for university-based proof-of-concept projects in mining and agriculture, forestry, and fishing, “seeking to test research relevance against commercial outcomes.” It’s a pilot for the overall Accelerator programme based on a “fast-fail” approach – if a project does not stack-up it will not proceed to the next funding stage.

Whatever our failings, Australia should help with education in Asia


We do have issues to address but we should do so with an eye on our role as a partner in the region

The disconnect between the opportunities on offer to Australian universities and private higher education providers in their domestic and international operations, and the challenges impacting providers in parts of our region, could not have been more evident than last week when I was fortunate to be in Cambodia.

I started to read the Productivity Commission’s 5-year Productivity Inquiry: Advancing Prosperity report while I was there, on the day after I visited the Tuol Sleng Museum. It was profoundly disturbing to walk through an educational institution, a secondary school, transformed into a detention centre where thousands were tortured. To have earlier met with a former child soldier who now guides tours through the temples of Angkor, where only a couple of decades earlier he had patrolled the same fields with a machine gun trying to protect his family and village during the civil war, was also inspiring and deeply upsetting.

In Australia, with the higher education Accord process underway and recommendations from the Productivity Commission looking at ways in which the higher education sector and its regulator, TEQSA, can improve teaching quality and make a further contribution to advancing Australia’s productivity – it is easy to focus only on what’s wrong within our system. We do have issues to address in Australian higher education but we should do so with an eye on our role as a partner in the region: the contrast with the opportunities (or lack thereof) for students, universities, and the many private higher education providers in Cambodia is stark.

For those who are interested Kimkong Heng (a PhD student at UQ) has compared the two higher education systems.

Charles Sturt University’s support, through the New Colombo Plan, to improve the management and operations of Cambodian NGOs fits well with Australia’s development partnership with Cambodia. Sadly, it has been difficult to find other examples of Australian universities currently engaged in Cambodia.

In collaboration with ASEAN, the Australian government has made funding for digital skills and a suite of broader VET scholarships a key part of its funding commitment through the ASEAN-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. As the partnership evolves it would be good to see if one day it may also include a specific higher education focus and as TEQSA and the sector look to make improvements – to see if lessons to strengthen the quality of teaching can also be shared.

Claire Field is a consultant and has provided advice to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the ASEAN-Australia VET and Digital Skills initiatives

Back to the bargaining beginning at Uni Newcastle

Just before Christmas the university took a huge hit when it put an enterprise bargaining offer to staff that campus unions opposed – the no majority in the vote was 75 per cent

“We will engage further with our staff early next year as we consider the next steps,” VC Alex Zelinsky responded.

But it appears union members don’t feel especially engaged. National Tertiary Education Union members are voting today on industrial action – notably over pay. The union is calling for a wage rise in the new agreement, “in line with sector norms and rising inflation.”

Management’s proposed pay offer last year was 9.5 per cent across the three year agreement

Risks of enrolling some students from India


Deakin and Wollongong universities opening campuses in India will be a huge up. But the level of non-genuine students and fraud in applications from India is already a big downer

A number of Australian institutions have announced they are either imposing extra criteria or cutting out applications all together from areas of northern India.

This is a response to the increased risk when participating in the Simplified Student Visa Framework, which is designed to make the system easier for genuine students to navigate and reduce red tape for businesses

The Association of Australian Education Representatives believes extra care with applications from northern India disadvantages genuine students but that the visa framework allows institutions little room to move.

What’s happening on the fraud front

Enrolment fraud is not uncommon in India, past examples include fraudulent academic records, fraudulent English test records and even marriage scams. The international education community is across these common cons.

However CMM understands there’s a new approach, using fraudulent documents pertaining to the justification of living expenses.

To obtain a visa, all student nationals from countries with a Department of Home Affairs level three or four risk rating must demonstrate they can access funds to support their studies.

And so in northern India, unscrupulous education agents are working with bank employees to create fake documentation – falsifying accounts, or changing names on records used for visa applications.

Risk ratings and the simplified student visa framework

Australian education institutions are also risk-rated, as Home Affairs explains:

“twice a year, an education provider’s evidence level will be used to update the combined country and education provider evidence level that is used to guide financial and English evidence requirements for student visa applicants.

The evidence level of the education provider for the 12-month period (ending December 31) will be used to determine the education provider’s evidence level in the following March. Similarly, the evidence level for the 12-month period (ending 30 June) will determine the education provider’s evidence level in the following September.

While not explicit on the website, the number of visa rejections (those rejected for fraud are separated from the other rejections and attract a higher weight), student movements and other performance measures are assessed and evaluated to determine an individual institution’s performance or lack thereof. A new institutional risk rating is then determined.

Post covid performance

The Education Visa Consultative Committee (EVCC) met last week and sources close to the group indicate the Department of Home Affairs will soon announce updated performance ratings. The committee heard that:


ten universities will receive an alternate risk rating, eight revised down and returned to a pre covid assessment.

across the programme

69 will receive a better risk rating level

81 will see a worse Level

Observers suggest Indian caseload management will likely have a widespread impact across downgraded provider assessment level changes.

Dirk Mulder advises education and business clients on trends in international education. He writes regularly for CMM

Appointments, achievement

In NSW Prue Carr is sworn in as education minister, and deputy premier, in the brand new Labor Government.

Florian Mueller (Monash U) is inducted into the Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI) Academy

From May, Raj Shekhawat will become research dean of Flinders U’s College of Education, Psychology and Social Work. He moves from the university’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

 High school maths maven Eddie Woo becomes a professor of practice at Uni Sydney’s School of Education and Social Work.