Sign in the sky

Uni SA has a new, and huge (80m by 7m), LED screen attached to the multi-storey biomed centre on North Terrace

The university is not telling yet what images will appear but CMM is confident they will not include a portrait of uni head David Lloyd, captioned “big VC is watching you.” Wouldn’t be any point – it’s not visible from Peter Høj’s office at Uni Adelaide.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

James Guthrie and Tom Smith (Macquarie U) respond to Deakin U VC Iain Martin, (he called their analysis of his university’s financials “superficial”).

Michael Healy (Uni Southern Queensland) argues that although student employment and career development are different in both research and service they need to work together. This week’s essay in Contributing Editor Sally Kift’s series on what we need now in teaching and learning.

Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on competition – there are times to apply the changing the bike tyre test.

On-line work and learning: what technology can do now

IT networking provider Cisco and telco Optus set out how the permanent switch to virtual learning and remote working creates opportunities for staff and students

“The rapid (and permanent) shift to virtual learning and remote teaching and administration has completely changed the education landscape and pose opportunities to reimagine what the work and learning experience looks like for staff and students alike.” The paper is here.

Top of the study pops in NSW

Because Sydney universities are not at all boastful the NSW Universities Admission Centre compiles a list of the top ten courses by application numbers

UNSW is first for its B Med, just ahead of Uni Newcastle and UNE’s B Med. UTS’s B Bus is third, with Western Sydney U/Charles Sturt U fourth for their Doc Med.  UTS is fifth for the B Nursing.

Uni Sydney finally appears at sixth (B Arts) and seventh for Arts/Law, followed by UNSW for Double Commerce (8th).  Uni Newcastle (B Nursing), and Uni Sydney (B Comm) make up the top ten.

Western Sydney U gives back

Word is that there is a small, $13m (well, it’s all relative innit) 2020 surplus

Observers say this means the university will not need the proceeds of the staff leave purchase scheme that was part of the deal done by management and campus unions at the height of the grim expectations of what COVID-19 would bring. Back then the university thought it would need $15m in staff savings to help meet the expected $75m budget shortfall (CMM May 25.)

But not all of it now. And so, management wants to give their money back to people who paid for extra leave, as of July 1. Plus the university proposes an all-staff payment of $500. As the leave payment was part of an agreement with unions, members will have to approve – hard to see why they wouldn’t.

Cavanagh knew CSU

Heather Cavanagh will finish up as DVC Research and Engagement on February 26 after 23 years at Charles Sturt U

Word around CSU is that Professor Cavanagh is, resigning not retiring.

Acting VC John Germov thanks for her service and achievements in many portfolios. She certainly knew CSU – she set out the seven challenges the university faces to a Senate committee inquiry last year (CMM July 30).

With her gone in a fortnight, Professor Germov told staff, he will advise on interim leadership arrangements for Research and Engagement, “in the coming weeks.”

But when, CMM wonders, will there be advice on the VC position – which was advertised in June last year (CMM June 16).


Let’s it hear for live and in-person lecturing

VC Brian Schmidt wants campus, “a far better place to learn”

“It would be easy to make the university into an on-line supermarket of inexpensively delivered courses and divert the savings into research or other funds,” ANU VC Brian Schmidt told staff in his state of the university address yesterday. But it isn’t going to happen on his watch.

However while the on-campus lecture lives, he says it should not be “a crutch for poor pedagogy.”

“We need our teachers to be more than just people who stand at the front of the lecture hall or before a video camera. We need them to connect with their students in richer ways. This might include fewer lectures, and those that we do deliver, will be memorable and sophisticated, utilising technology.”

Professor Schmidt did not specify a solution, urging academics to find ways to replicate their very best classroom experiences as students. But he is “certain we will better than we do now.”

Or did. Back in 2015 then ANU DVC Marnie Hughes-Warrington reported on the decline in students attending lectures as a course continued. “Our students appear to be fine; but our staff are not. Count the cost of a staff member lecturing every week to an ever-diminishing group. Count the cost in terms of that person’s sense of self-worth, pride in their work and their discipline,” she wrote .

Need to know: how adults end up illiterate

New education minister Alan Tudge is not given to announcing absolutely everything – which means people might have missed something important

Mr Tudge has asked the House of Reps Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training to inquire “into adult literacy, numeracy and problem solving skills,” and the impact of their absence on people’s lives.

The committee is chaired by the astute Andrew Laming (Lib-Queensland), celebrated for his carefully constructed criticism of the Australian Skills Quality Authority in the Reps, which preceded reforms of the agency (CMM August 2 2019).

The new inquiry will be worth following, especially if Mr Laming and colleagues engage with teacher education experts in committee hearings. Illiterate adults did not get that way by themselves.


Academic support service (and CMM advertiser) Studiosity announces two Canadian appointments to its advisory board, Alan Shaver (former president Thompson River University, and former Provost, Dalhousie University) and Mamdouh Shoukri (former VC, York University).