UWA tells-all

“Study reveals secrets of men who live to 100 years of age”, University of Western Australia announcement yesterday. Presumably the gents do not mind their secrets not being secret.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features today

Lisa Andrewartha (La Trobe U) on the challenges study involves for people with caring responsibilities and how to help them. This week’s piece in Contributing Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed Now in Teaching and Learning.

plus, Angel Calderon’s (RMIT) analysis of THE rankings (look outside the top 100 for the big Australian achievers)

and Tony Peacock on the new Cooperative Research Centre P announcement – late but great (scroll down).

open yesterday’s issue for Colin Simpson’s pick of ed tech reading and watching

Another ARC delay

The Australian Research Council announces applications for 2022 Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards will not open today, as scheduled

This is the second scheme postponed in a week, following Laureate Fellowships applications (CMM September 2).

Research observers suggest the delay is due to the ARC working out what to do about the ban it imposed on citing pre-prints in the DECRA scheme, just announced. This caused uproar, not least because 15 applicants were excluded for breaching the new and not widely noticed rule. Another 17 applications, for Future Fellowships, were also dropped.

“We are looking into the issues raised and will respond as soon as we can,” the ARC blanded last week.

Bargaining really begins at Swinburne U

Staff will vote on taking a range of protected industrial actions as enterprise bargaining gets seriously underway. Swinburne U veterans will be hoping agreement is reached as quickly as in the last round, which was sorted in a few months (September 26 and November 17 2017).

RMIT chancellor chooses casino over college

Switkowski announced exit, before the criticism commenced

Ziggy Switkowski is stepping down as chancellor of RMIT, “to focus upon his recently announced new board responsibilities.”  Dr Switkowski is the in-coming chair of casino company Crown Resorts and will leave RMIT by end October. His new appointment was announced late last month.

RMIT states Dr Switkowski informed the university council of his decision to depart on September 1, ahead of demands for him to resign.

The following day an open letter called on Dr Switkowski to leave the university because an association with the gambling giant would not align with the RMIT commitment, “to be agents of positive change for our students, the community and beyond” (CMM September 3).

RMIT policy forbids researchers accepting funding from the tobacco industry and has all its investments in managed funds that exclude fossil fuels. However there is no formal university bar on the gambling industry (CMM August 30).

Dr Swikowski’s announcement occurs within months of former Nationals leader and deputy prime minister Mark Vail not acting on Uni Newcastle council’s invitation that he become its chancellor. Mr Vail chairing a coal miner excited vocal opposition among university staff and supporters (CMM June 22).

RMIT has now lost both its senior leaders this year. Former vice chancellor Martin Bean stood down in June, “to put my health as my priority,” (CMM March 2). His replacement, Alec Cameron starts “early” in 2022.

Deputy chancellor Janet Latchford will act until a new chancellor is named, a process RMIT states is “well underway.”

Cash for kanga

UNSW announced last year that Kanga’s House long-day childcare centre was set to close (CMM May 27 2020). And now it is off the university’s books. Campus observers say the off-campus site is sold for around $10m.

Charles Sturt U gets out of town

The university pulls the plug on city study centres

Courses at Charles Sturt U’s Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney study centres, which cater to international students, will be taught out. The centres will “eventually close” next year. The centres are operated for the university by Study Group Australia, which has partnered with CSU since the 1990s.

CSU says the international student market continues a priority, and it now “looks forward to delivering an outstanding experience for international students and researchers at our regional campuses.”

The university has already selling – last year it was offering internationals “studying in internal mode” a 30 per cent fee cut for starts this February (CMM July 21).

The Regional Universities Network, (which includes CSU) also advocates incentives to encourage internationals out of cities, including on permanent residency (CMM May 14).

Perhaps Study Group saw this coming. In July it told some staff that due to a  “continuing decline in student enrolments,” there would be no more work “for the foreseeable future.”

Claire Field on new priorities in learning: what is needed and when

Sometimes a phrase is so helpful it just sticks with you

Speaking at the 2021 EduGrowth Summit, Brad Birt, Director of Learning Partnerships at Curtin University, introduced me to the concept of “just in case” and “just in time” learning, as he discussed Curtin’s new stackable credentials.

It is such a powerful construct to explain some of the changes happening in Australian higher education and VET.

A range of factors are collectively driving the need for more “just in time” learning. They include EdTech making it easier to offer personalised learning at scale, rapid technological change in the world of work, an ageing population meaning longer careers, and other global trends such as climate change.

While some argue the merits of full qualifications versus short courses – the reality is that most individuals and most careers will require both. And that in turn means tertiary education providers will need to be increasingly nimble – offering both traditional post-school qualifications (just in case) and shorter form credentials (just in time).


The VET sector has always offered short courses. The challenge it faces is to make them more relevant as growing numbers of industries are moving away from VET for “just in time” learning and switching instead to non-accredited, often EdTech, alternatives.

The case in higher education is less pressing but potentially just as significant. If individuals and employers turn to non-accredited providers for their upskilling and reskilling and are satisfied with the learning experience, will they also be increasingly likely to look to them for longer-form professional upskilling (Graduate Certificates, Graduate Diplomas and coursework Masters)?

The EduGrowth Summit showcased a number of universities and VET providers grappling with these challenges, and increasingly using a strengths-based partnership approach to engage with the EdTech sector in tackling them.

The recordings of the Summit are all available here, and I have summarised some of the Summit discussions I found most interesting on my website.

Claire Field is an advisor to the tertiary education sector.


Flinders U announces Bill Damachis as director, International Partnerships, he moves from Swinburne and Simon Brennan as director, Research Development and Support, he joins from Uni Adelaide.

Six universities to “boost” to regional research

There’s water added to water

The federal government announces the boost is from the Commonwealth’s $48m over four years, Regional Research Collaboration Programme, announced in April.

Institutions with funding are,

Federation U: $2.4m t establish a research centre for “new energy transition”

CQU: $2.1m for hydrogen applications for regional industries

UNE: $3.7m to “develop” the Regional Australia Mental Health Research and Training Institute

 Uni Tasmania has $4m to research “value added” products for the “food and wood industries” in regional areas.

Charles Darwin U: $4.1m for the Research Institute for Northern Agriculture and Drought Resilience, which should fit well with Northern Australia Drought Resilience Hub, announced in April.

Charles Sturt U: $3.6m for a water engineering and river management hub. Maybe the hub can share digs with its $8m Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation “hub,” also announced by the Commonwealth in April (CMM April 14).

Plus more for Uni Tas

The Tasmanian Institute for Agriculture has $1.2m from the Commonwealth and industry partners to research food-safety and cold chain resilience for processed meat.