Accessible, accountable, comparable and navigable: the new standard for uni entry

plus Universities Australia backs Shergold

big on impact, huge on engagement: the 2016 BHERT winners

and the shape of the research system to come

Late with the paperwork

The Australian Research Council politely reminded a research office seminar yesterday that no less than 1,635 grant reports are late – they are due within a year of projects finishing. Perhaps people are busy working on the next one.


Understandable entry standards

The Higher Education Standards Panel report on undergraduate entry requirements is in and it is pretty much as HESP indicated in its April discussion paper (CMM April 7). HESP makes an irrefutable argument for information on entry scores that is accessible, accountable, comparable and navigable.

Quite right. This is also essential if Australia is to have the equality of access to information that informed student choice depends on. As HESP chair Peter Shergold and colleagues point out;

“a paradoxical situation has arisen. Entry into universities has become more equitable. Yet there is evidence that families with less experience of higher education, which are economically disadvantaged or live in regional Australia, are less able to understand how admissions processes operate. This is particularly the case where dedicated school-based career advisers are not available to lend support.”

To ensure this ends the panel proposes universal templates for entry information to end the publishing of what universities require in different venues and at different times, “which reduce the transparency of admissions.” And in a move that will surely appeal to advocates of the ATAR as a legitimate measure of academic potential, the panel proposes “reported ATAR outcomes should be those that prevail at the conclusion of all offer rounds.”

In an unambiguous warning to the state admission fiefdoms, HESP says they should collaborate to make cross-border applications easier. And if they don’t, “further consideration should be given to establishing a national tertiary admission centre in the future.” Even without one, Professor Shergold and his colleagues call for a national admissions platform, linking to the QILT provider performance site.

While the panel acknowledges “higher education providers are autonomous institutions” it also makes clear that providers can not be left alone to judge their own performance, proposing the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency work with higher education providers “to assist them to meet their reporting requirements.”

Stan Grant to speak at UniMelbourne

Charles Sturt U visiting professor (CMM November 2) and soon to be ABC TV presenter, Stan Grant will present this year’s Narrm Oration at the University of Melbourne. The title refers to the Melbourne region. The oration is the university’s key annual address by and about First Nations peoples.” It should be good, Mr Grant gives a great speech, (CMM June 9).


More information not less access

Education Minister Simon Birmingham promises the government’s response to the HESP report on admissions standards (above) “within weeks” but his stating “greater transparency is the key” gives us an idea of his attitude. That the senator also points to the importance of the QILT comparative university performance website suggests he remains committed to student centred funding and sees the answer to attrition in more information rather than less access.

Hooray for HESP

Universities Australia also endorsed the HESP proposals, calling the report “a measured and sensible way  out of an increasingly complex and confusing admissions information mire.”

“The university sector is unified in its acknowledgement of the need for greater transparency, consistency and clarity of information provided on university admissions policies, processes, procedures. The panel’s recommendations strike the right balance in strengthening information standardisation and consistency,  while respecting the autonomy of universities to determine the mechanisms and criteria for student admissions,” UA chief executive Belinda Robinson said last night.

The HESP report also backs up UA’s position that student centred funding has not clipped the quality coin and rejects media panics about a slide in standards and an explosion in attrition. UA also points out that the obsession with the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank, while “important and relevant” is now “only one of a numbers of means by which universities assess aptitude”.

“We commend the recommendations to the government and would welcome the opportunity to work with the minister and the department on their implementation,” Ms Robinson added.

All a’twitter

A learned reader points out that at least one pundit (and if it is not the collective noun for pollsters it should be) picked the presidential poll (CMM Monday). Emotive Systems from Loughborough University in the UK used the emotional content of voter Tweets to predict Mr Trump would win weeks back.

Another departure at Swinburne

Andrew C Smith has joined the exodus of executives from Swinburne University. The VP Engagement is leaving to become CEO of Education Services Australia, which is charged by COAG with supporting and delivering its education agenda. Mr Smith follows Stephen Beall, Jennelle Kyd and Andrew Dempster who have all left Swinburne. Jane Ward, director for collaborations and partnerships will act in Mr Smith’s post.

Shape of research to come

The shape of the research future became clearer yesterday when acting Australian Research Council CEO Leanne Harvey briefed a research administrators seminar.

As previously reported, Excellence for Research in Australia 2018 will run with minimal change. But, and it is a big but, the engagement and impact metrics now in development will run “as companion exercises,” (CMM September 19). Ms Harvey provided no detail on how the two measures will be assessed, however the 2 digit FOR code will be the basic unit. CMM also understands there is talk that each university’s results in a trial next year will not be made public.

That there is much still to sort out on the new measures may be why the ARC is committing to closer contact with research officers, promising, “a more inclusive approach with information and training days, webinars and communication via Twitter, rather than email. CMM will pay money to see an ARC directive set out in 120 characters.

Ms Harvey also had news that was good, in the spirit of consultation, but terrible in timing. The ARC will soon be sending out on-line surveys on aligning funding schemes with strategic research directions, which will be due at the end of December.


New arts dean at Uni Sydney

AnnaMarie Jagosse will become dean of arts and social sciences at the University of Sydney in January. She is now head of the school of literature, arts and media. Professor Jagose is a scholar of feminist studies, lesbian/gay studies and queer theory and a novelist.

BHERT delivers  impact and engagement


With engagement and impact the metrics that matter the Business Higher Education Round Table awards are bang on-trend. The 2016 winners, announced last night are:

Best R&D collaboration: Monash, UTS, University of Newcastle with industry partners for modelling to predict water pipe failure

Best research translation: Monash Centre for Additive Manufacturing with Amaero Engineering and Safran Poeer for work on additive manufacturing. (A French manufacturer picked up Monash printing technology for jet engine parts last week.)

Best higher education and training collaboration: Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, AusBiotech, La Trobe University, University of Melbourne, Monash University, University of South Australia, Curtin University, Techin/BioSA for an industry mentoring network for STEM PhDs.

Best community engagement: Swinburne University, Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation and government and industry partners for developing trade skills in remote communities.

Excellence in business education collaboration: Melbourne Business School, Kinaway – Victorian Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce and Supply Nation for an indigenous business master-class programme.

Outstanding Philanthropic Support for Higher Education: Max Schroder set up a single scholarship for an indigenous student at the University of New England in 2008. He now assists 32 students in education, nursing, medicine and law.

Award for Sustained Collaboration between Business & Higher Education: Curtin, Swinburne and Griffith universities with business partners and the WA Government for the Sustainable Built Environment National Research Centre at Curtin U. And Curtin and Bankwest for a Curtin based research centre on the Western Australian economy.