Rail link to Flinders U just the ticket

And it’s only $120m for half a klick

Flinders U is pleased that work on a rail-line to serve its campus and medical centre is steaming ahead. “The rail link enhances connectivity to Flinders University and will enable more students to conveniently access the wonderful learning opportunities,” VC Colin Stirling says.

Patient they are at Finders U. State and Commonwealth governments agreed in December 2015 extending the train from Tonsley Park was a good idea. Then the Commonwealth promised funding in May 2016. And in October 2017 the state parliament planning committee approved the project.

But what price getting everything right? Um, $35m actually. Back in 2017 project cost was quoted at $85m, now it is $120m – for half a km of track and station works.

TEQSA talks (politely) tough on academic integrity

Regulator TEQSA has updated its guidance note on academic integrity, it merits reading closely

The higher education regulator has released its updated advice for institutions on maintaining academic and research integrity. It is typical TEQSA, carefully understated as to what happens if an institution fails the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency test – which is the descent of a ton of bricks, or as the agency puts it; breaches, “undermine the integrity of assessment of students’ work and thus place the credentialing authority of the provider at risk and, in consequence, its reputation as well.”

TEQSA could become even more important in integrity enforcement – just before the election was called Education Minister Dan Tehan released a draft of legislation targeting exam taking and essay writing services – making providers liable for a $210 000 fine and two years in the slammer (CMM April 8). If the next government proceeds with the legislation as proposed TEQSA would enforce it.

As to research misconduct TEQSA points to the 2007 edition of the research code of conduct – which was significantly strengthened in last year’s edition, (CMM June 15 2018).

James Cook U cops a Katter

The (present and likely next) independent member for the federal electorate of Kennedy, Bob Katter, got stuck into James Cook University last week, and VC Sandra Harding responded.

Mr Katter wrote to Mt Isa paper, Northwest Star to set out his thoughts on where JCU could do better.

It was a spray in the sweeping style familiar to followers of his performance in House of Representatives Question Time.  Among other topics, Mr Katter addressed academic independence (presumably the recent Peter Ridd court case), the vice chancellor’s pay and the splendid job CQ University is doing. With the exception of its health departments, “JCU is the shame of north Queensland,” Mr Katter concluded.

To which Professor Harding responded yesterday, telling NWS readers, Mr Katter’s “numerous factual errors and grave inaccuracies must be corrected.”

Doing so, might have made the VC feel better but it may not convince Mr Katter or his admirers.  Which is a worry for JCU – local MPs and universities are generally joined at the hip in the pursuit of more public money.  Not these two.

The case for more or much more money for universities

Labor and the Greens debate education policy

The future of higher education in Bendigo is up for election discussion, with the National Tertiary Education Union hosting a Q&A “on major political priorities”.  The Greens and ALP candidates will speak, which will likely mean the debate will be between the case for more money for the local La Trobe University campus and much more money.

As with the union Q&A at Murdoch U, (CMM yesterday), the coalition is not represented. La Trobe U management does not get a speaking spot either – but Bendigo campus academic Cathleen Farrelly will.

Dr Farrelly is a vocal opponent of the university’s plan to change teacher education course delivery at Bendigo, warning management plans to have less local staff and Melbourne-based visiting academics lecturing, (CMM March 21).

SEEK spends up on MOOC providers

The on-line provider diversifies into disruptors

On-line job search and education provider SEEK continues expanding, taking shares in two major MOOC providers. The company has taken a 50 per cent share in UK based Future Learn for $A92m and what it describes as a “minority” share in Coursera for $A50m. Last year SEEK and partner Swinburne University expanded their Online Education Services into the UK, (CMM May 22 2018).

The Coursera buy appears intended to give SEEK a piece of main MOOC market action, the provider has 40m users over 3000 plus courses from 150 universities. However, the FutureLearn move is about creating content and growing the on-line education and training market with SEEK’s investment being used to, “grow a number of new courses linked to employment outcomes, online marketing, initiatives to grow the student experience and overall retention.”

“FutureLearn is a unique opportunity to build a global market leader and if we execute well the long-term upside is significant.” CMM wonders whether this will include micro-courses, designed to teach a precise skill on-line – SEEK partner Swinburne U is already active in the space (CMM April 1). If so it will not be long until SEEK buys or builds a credentialing capacity, that provides people with digital badges that document learning.

Curtin kicks-on in Malaysia

The university exports, really exports, its courses

Curtin U celebrates the 20th anniversary of its Malaysian campus with an agreement to roll on for another two decades.  Curtin U’s partners in the JV that owns the project are the Sarawak state government and businesses there.

Curtin U is an international education star. Not in Perth, mind – international students avoid all the city’s universities like whatever is the Mandarin word for plague. However, Curtin truly exports education, with campuses in Singapore and Dubai as well as Malaysia. In May last year it established a relationship for a local provider to teach Curtin programmes in Mauritius (CMM May 9 2018).


The University of Adelaide is awarding hon docs to;

Julia Gillard, for, “exceptionally distinguished service to Australian society and to the university.

Peter Hoj,  “exceptional leadership in science, including the commercialisation of science, and to higher education.” Professor Hoj is now VC of the University of Queensland.

Caroline McMillen, “outstanding contribution to health and medical science, and to leadership in research and higher education.” Professor McMillen was VC of the University of Newcastle and is now Chief Scientist of South Australia, and;

Hugh Possingham, “pioneering research into endangered species, conservation biology and ecological planning.”  Professor Possingham is an Australian Research Council professorial fellow at UoQ