Putting the Australian in ARC

The Australian Research Council advises applications are open for the Special Research Initiative for Australian Society, History and Culture

This is the $12m in rebadged Linkage Grants announced by Education Minister Dan Tehan (CMM Jan 28, February 12).

STEM researchers cross at fewer opportunities should add “True blue research for a dinky die breakthrough in …” across the top of existing applications and file. You never know your luck, cobber.

There’s more in the Mail

Rachelle Towart and Tim Winkler, on a new era for Aboriginal university leaders.

Michael Sankey on benchmarking technology enhanced learning – it’s what TEQSA wants.  This is a new contribution in contributing editor Sally Kift’s series on what is needed now in teaching and learning.

And Merlin Crossley on the ideal PhD supervisor (and the six others).

Deakin U has COVID-19 covered

Deakin U tells students that Trimester One is a wash-out for those of them not yet in the country, but that those overseas can study in the Cloud

This, Vice Chancellor Iain Martin says, is the choice of “a large majority of both our continuing and commencing Chinese international students currently out of the country”.

For students here, “I reiterate the current expert advice, that there is no need to adjust practices for engaging with staff, other students and visitors to our campuses,” he adds.

Perhaps Professor Martin might want to pass that on to staff. Last week the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union advised members, “given that in response to our recent inquiries the university hasn’t indicated whether any risk reduction measures will be adopted globally, we are asking all members to keep the branch informed if your area implements any risk controls.”

Case of wrong caps

UniSA copped a serve on Twitter for not providing DE study materials on time – which was unfair. It was meant for unisa, as in the University of South Africa. UniSA as in the University off South Australia was quick to point it out it wasn’t them.

A spray for Victoria U’s block-teaching model

A critic claims the new model is intolerable for some academics

Victoria U has a poultice of plaudits for its block-teaching model, initially applied in first year and now to roll out across courses in both its higher and VET divisions. But not everybody is happy, with the intense-study of subjects one at a time. Written by an anonymous student there is a blistering criticism of policy and pedagogy on the website of Overland (“Australia’s only radical literary magazine).

It criticises the teaching and learning in-puts and impact of the new model, suggesting it imposes too much information, too fast, on students and does not allow for critical thinking. It also refers to opposition to the model when it was first being introduced among VU staff. “Brilliant lecturers, tutors and professors which (sic) have dedicated themselves to academic life, to educating and enriching the lives of their students, have been forced to work in conditions that are intolerable, or else forced out from the university.”

And it has a spray at the National Tertiary Education Union, which was initially strongly opposed to staff-changes the block model brought but appears accepting now. “Its lack of a statement on a policy that directly and drastically increases the precarity of educators is contrary to the values and aims that NTEU purports to uphold.”

The Overland denunciation also claims university management, “is less than transparent” about student satisfaction.

This is a rare recent criticism of the new model which is widely praised for a potential to transform undergraduate education, universally.

We will know what students think of the new model soon-enough, as the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching student satisfaction surveys are reported. But VU does not have much to lose, in the last survey published, covering 2018, Victoria U had the lowest per centage student satisfaction in the country, 72 per cent, 6 per cent under the average (CMM April 10 2019).

RMIT restricts “non-essential” travel

Staff at RMIT report management has banned conference travel in response to COVID-19

In one case bizoids are nixed for trips to a mid-year conference in Europe. The university advises, ““we are taking a considered approach to international travel, assessing it on a case-by-case basis and restricting non-essential travel where required.”
RMITers are now watching to see which people and what disciplines are considered important, or expendable, enough to fly.

Another hon doc star

Novelist Neil Gaiman teaches a Uni SA masterclass tomorrow while he is there to collect an hon doc

Mr Gaiman is an immensely popular writer whose work appeals to people who also like that of another recipient of an Uni SA hon doc, the late Terry Pratchett.

What, the Terry Pratchett who was a mate of UniSA VC David Lloyd and Mr Gaiman and whose estate funds an $100 000 biennial joint research masters there and at Trinity College Dublin, (CMM September 28 2015)? That’s the one.  Lloyd and Gaiman will talk at Tuesday’s (sold-out ceremony).


Ave Plasticus!

The University of Sydney’s Nicholson Museum is no more, for now

The old location is closed and the new one, in the flash-indeed Chau Chak Wing Museum will be ready in August.  The university advises the Nicholson is “the largest collection of antiquities in the Southern Hemisphere” including Neolithic to Medieval artefacts from,

Egypt, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Middle East and Lego. The museum has a Lego model of the Coliseum and surrounds in Ancient Rome.

No boat to float on naval-build training

The Commonwealth has created a Naval Shipbuilding College – which does not actually teach anybody to build ships

Back in 2017 some bloke called Christopher Pyne announced a federal technical college to train workers for the navy’s building programme (CMM March 27 2017).

So how’s it going, the Senate Economics Reference Committee asked last week, as part of its inquiry into naval shipbuilding.  Really well, an official replied – it’s generated “a very granular view of workforce demand projections.” And it’s working with VET and HE “on the supply side strategies about how we can coordinate the generation of that workforce into the future.”

But what about specific skills, say welding?  Last year the college “played a key-role” in creating a training kit on welding (CMM February 18 2019) and Senator Rex Patrick (Centre Alliance-SA) wanted to know about the proposed Hull Material and Welding Centre of Excellence. “Have you established that centre,” he asked. “No, not at this point in time,” was the reply.

In fact, there is not a whole lot of training going on. When Senator Patrick asked about the Naval Shipbuilding College’s role overall, he was told, “the name perhaps is a slight misnomer.”

Less slight than sunk.

Research rolls-on without Elsevier

It’s a year since U Cal told journal-giant Elsevier to file its subscription contract where citations don’t shine – and yet research continues

 University of California student paper the Daily Bruin reports the network’s library management “has not received extensive feedback from faculty or students since Elsevier revoked access.” And while Elsevier dug in against the university’s demand that articles by its academics be published open-access in the company’s journals U Cal is reaching agreement with other publishers.

U Cal itself is not commenting at least not directly, which might be because it wants Elsevier to get the message without jeopardising a re-start of talks, (CMM January 29).


Jennifer Gore from the University of Newcastle is named a 2020 Fellow by the American Educational Research Association.