Timing is everything

If 2020 was a movie character…which one would it be?” Edith Cowan University’s Twitter account yesterday. ECU’s suggestions include Bridget Jones, Jar Jar Binks and Dr Evil .  Too soon?


There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Angel Calderon (RMIT) on what two new performance rankings report and what the Nature Index reveals over time.

Dawn Bennett and colleagues  wondered what bized students want so they asked 6000 of them.

Kylie Austin on widening HE participation – we need a national collaboration and not an institutional focus. It’s Contributing Editor Sally Kift’s selection this week for her series on what we need now in teaching and learning.

The cash before the stormGarry Carnegie and James Guthrie on the NSW Auditor’s report on 2019 university financials.

Merlin Crossley on the long path to publication. Why it takes so long, why it is tough on young researchers and how it could be done a bit better.

Adelaide unis grounded expectations of internationals arriving

While SA will be a pilot state for hundreds of students caught off-shore to return, the public universities are not flying high with enthusiasm

The University of Adelaide had nothing it wanted to say when CMM asked.

Uni SA’s VC David Lloyd was uncharacteristically uninformative saying, “We welcome the opportunity to have our students return to our campuses through this important pilot and we will be working closely with the state and federal authorities and with the other SA Universities, with the health and safety of our students and the wider community foremost in our sights.”

Flinders U outlined measures to bring local students back to campus for second semester, with DVC Students Clare Pollock adding, the university is looking forward to welcoming internationals, “as soon as health and other government authorities advise this is possible, with a focus on providing rich and engaged on-campus learning.”

Vann’s away

Charles Sturt U is recruiting a new vice chancellor to replace Andy Vann, whose term runs to December 2021

The university advises he is on annual leave, with John Germov (Provost and DVC A) acting. CMM asked when Professor Vann will be back and a university spokesperson replied they would “confirm the leave dates when they can.”  The university is more voluble about its restructure programme (scroll down).

On-line learning works when on-line is on

Among all the enthusiasm for on-line learning during the COVID-19 crisis, spare a thought for country students, whose home internet is delivered on horseback

A survey of Regional University Centre users found two-thirds had home internet speeds which are not sufficient for their studies.” Cathy Stone (Uni Newcastle) and Monica Davis (Country Universities Centre) report it’s okay when students can use their nearest RUC, which have high-speed internet but they have not been able to do lately.

“Unless home internet connectivity is adequate and affordable, those in regional/remote areas and/or from low SES backgrounds are likely to be excluded from these technological and pedagogical advances in on-line learning,” they warn.


Curtin U and La Trobe U in new tech network

The universities combine with Cisco and Optus to create the National Industry Innovation Network

The four will pool resources to, “act as a clearing house for immediate industry challenges, stimulate economic activity and be a vehicle for transforming digital infrastructure.” The plan is for the network to include more corporates and campuses.

The two universities have existing research links with both companies.

Cisco is especially active in developing research and teaching connections. Last year it established a chair in the Internet of Things at La Trobe U and a cyber security training centre at Victoria U. It also has partner projects at Flinders U, Curtin U and Edith Cowan U. And then there are (on CMM’s count) 22 universities with Cisco Learning Academies.

Claire Field on explaining to everybody why we need internationals back


The pandemic has understandably seen most statements from the tertiary sector focussed on the economic impact on the sector itself. Some have been shockingly tone-deaf

Last weekend Conor King from the Innovative Research Universities group highlighted an undercurrent of hostility vis-a-vis the return of international students.

Regrettably, we have not explained the wider community benefits of international education in Australia.

Compounding this, the pandemic has understandably seen most statements from the tertiary sector focussed on the economic impact on the sector itself.

Some have been shockingly tone-deaf.

Imagine being one of the extra 600,000 unemployed Australians wondering if you will find work/be able to pay rent and then hearing international education is important at least in part because it funds new buildings and extra research? That was what an influential international education leader presented via webinar last week.

The country and the world benefits from Australia’s research – but laid-off retail assistants, kitchen-hands and other low-paid workers face more immediate needs and will likely never set foot inside those beautiful buildings.

I write this with a strong sense of déjà vu. My predecessor at ACPET (now Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia) commissioned the first study of the sector’s economic benefits. I will never forget vice chancellors, government officials and others looking down their noses when I shared the modelling.*

Many of us are passionate about the difference education makes to people’s lives and the bonds it builds between individuals and nations. But if we cannot explain that the money international students spend in Australia, beyond their student fees, creates jobs right across the community then we do the general public and our students a disservice.

Of course, we need to be sensitive about how international students will hear these discussions. But talking about the positive impact students make across the community is far better than highlighting new buildings – and a hat-tip to the Mitchell Institute for recently starting to tackle this.

* now embedded in the ABS’ statistical program

Claire Field provides advice on VET, international education and private higher education.

 Vann’s way when he’s away

At Charles Sturt U, acting VC John Germov details stage one of the “Sustainable Futures” restructure

First up, CSU is cutting 13 per cent of courses, including 550 that nobody was enrolled in last year. “Subjects with only a few students are not only financially non-viable, but do not deliver a great student experience. We are spread too thin, and this also affects the quality of our subjects offered,” he says.

The university is also “developing a number of positive opportunities” in medicine and allied health, education, information technology and business studies. “With a more focused effort, we believe we can enhance the quality of student experience in certain disciplines and fields of study.”

So, there are plenty of positives, although staff who already fear cuts on campuses will not like the brief reference to changes to, “staffing structures.” The university is dealing with a deficit, which it wants gone by the end of next year (CMM June 9).

It is also in-line with what VC Andrew Vann told staff in a “virtual town-hall” in April (CMM April 3) but is not around to expand. (CMM yesterday, and this issue, above).

Four messages for internationals

To ensure queues form when international students are allowed into the country marketers should be ready to remind them why choose Australia

CMM’s international education correspondent Dirk Mulder says there are four messages that will matter.

* Safe: Australia’s handling of the pandemic will make study here attractive. A strong reputation as a peaceful society is also important. Whatever may be going on geo-politically at the moment, we look a lot safer than the US

* Trusted: now is the time to enlist alumni to promote the quality and outcomes of an Australian education

* Open: If COVID-19 under-control means students can safely come here it will be a big contrast with the US and UK

And the fourth?

* Affordability” a big selling point – but one on which we currently don’t rate real well.

Makes a change: research money arrives

Good news (oh come-on, you remember good-news) for medical researchers 

The Peter Doherty Institute at Uni Melbourne and the Royal Melbourne Hospital has US$2m for COVID-19 research donated by short-form mobile video” platform TikTok. Hard for the TikTokers not to, what with Doherty people doing short-form mobile science on the site.

Uni Sydney has $20m from the CLEARbridge Foundation, for immunotherapy research. The Foundation keeps a low-profile – it’s not even on TikTok.