Qubit express

“The train on platform one is also on platform two”

Transport for NSW will create a quantum tech research centre to analyse data generated by sources such as ticketing, infrastructure censors and traffic systems

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Theo Farrell and Alyce Mason (Uni Wollongong) on the digital transformation of teaching and learning, why it will stay and how, if universities get it right it, “digitalisation can improve equal access to higher education.”

plus Chris Ronan (Country Universities Centre) explains how regional students can study successfully by combining on-line courses and a local learning community.  This week’s selection by Commissioning Editor Sally Kift for her celebrated series Needed now in teaching and learning.

and Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on more metrics for education-focused academics. “Developing them is important if we want to provide opportunities for great university teachers, invest in them, and bring in new blood.”

with Angel Calderon (RMIT) explaining the new HiCi researchers list – and why its impact lasts.

States of pain: where the pandemic hurt

NSW and Victoria were hard hit, Queensland and SA not so much

ANU had the toughest financial 2020, according to a new analysis by Frank Larkins and Ian Marshman, from the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education, in CMM this morning.

They assess all public universities, on percentage change in total income, student fee/charges receipts and net change in overall financial position.

Overall, they conclude the pandemic had a “high” impact on ten universities which, “appear to face the greatest challenges to restore their financial position to pre-pandemic levels.”

The universities taking the hardest hit are variously impacted by exposure to the international student market, “relatively weak” finances pre-dating the pandemic and, short-term  redundancy costs.

International arrivals starting slowly 

Students from Singapore arrived in Sydney and Melbourne yesterday

They arrived under the own-steam, using the Aus-Singapore bubble for the fully vaxed and separate from the NSW universities-arranged scheme. The students are enrolled in ACT, NSW and Victorian universities but there is no word on numbers.

Victoria joins NSW in not mandating quarantine

Victoria will allow “a limited number” of fully vaccinated international students into the state without requiring quarantine. The state government says students, “could begin returning” by year end.

The scheme appears in line with the NSW arrangement, where universities decide which students. The Vic Government states “places will be prioritised for university students who urgently need to return to Victoria to do practical work, such as health and medical students, and postgraduate research students.”

While there is no Vic announcement on how many students will arrive for first semester, the NSW plan so far is for 250 arrivals on two flights next month.

A second stage in Victoria will allow entry by a wide range of  students “including” internationals enrolled at TAFE, English-language colleges, private providers  “and other universities.”

More information on this will be available “soon” and will presumably include advice on the “other universities” involved.

As with NSW, the state government stresses vaccination status for entry is a matter for the Commonwealth.

Finding infrastructure on the roadmap

The new National Research Infrastructure plan will need to include directions

A 3000-response survey to inform the Roadmap makers identifies research areas to pursue, the kit required and how it can best be used for a world which Education Minister Alan Tudge says “has changed significantly” since the 2016 version (CMM June 1).

People surveyed expect trends, needs and challenges to be in health research and therapeutics, imaging (mainly medical and environmental), human capital, data storage, astronomy/space and computing access/infrastructure.

There’s also an issue NRI organisations need to address.  Of the 30 per cent of survey respondents who do not interact with it now half aren’t engaged because they did not know the NRI exists.

Property, pedagogy or both at U Tas

Uni Tas has  announced the “concept master plan” for the Sandy Bay campus, as the university relocates into the CBD. While it appears opponents in the CBD are consulted into agreement or resignation, opposition is underway at Sandy Bay, from residents and the university community both.

The Mercury cartoonist John “Polly” Farmer summed up one take on the debate Friday with Vice Chancellor Rufus Black doing a Schrödinger, placing the university as cat into a Hobart city box to test whether, “it can simultaneously be both a tertiary facility and a property developer.”

Parliament shrinks QUT council: not all MPs approve

QUT’s council will be smaller with passage of a bill through Queensland Parliament reducing membership from 22 to 15

Four elected positions are gone, including academic staff members dropping from three to two and professional staff from two to one. The university says the new council is “streamlined to improve governance.”

However, the National Tertiary Education Union long campaigned against the bill arguing, “staff and student representatives on governing bodies bring the perspectives of those constituencies to the decision-making process and requires a significant proportion of council membership for their voices to be heard effectively.”

Which did not sway Government and Opposition, with many LNP and Labor members who spoke in support of the bill, expressing affection for their experience of the university.

But two MPs spoke up against it.

“This bill is a Trojan horse for corporatising our universities. It will reduce collegiality, transparency and accountability. Today it is the Queensland University of Technology; tomorrow it is the rest of our public universities. … Effectively, students and staff no longer have a critical mass of numbers on the council. With council members already reporting difficulties in getting items on the agenda, things are looking pretty poor, the member for South Brisbane, Amy McMahon said.

Stephen Andrew (Mirani) made similar points. “I find the bill’s reduction of the council’s elected representation extremely concerning. It follows the same relentless drive we are seeing across the political spectrum to eliminate all forms of democratic or accountable representation from positions of power or influence in Australia. If left unchecked, it will end with all power and all authority being exercised by a tiny group of interconnected elites operating completely outside any established principle of participatory or representative democracy,”

Dr McMahon is a Greens MP. Mr Andrew is a member of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.

Time to get moving on ’22


You can’t wait for the traditional off-site planning retreat

Data from millions of student queries to the independent Good Universities Guide, demonstrates huge changes in student information searches – and clear evidence that universities cannot take domestic student demand for granted, regardless of their ranking (CMM September 6).

With research funding in decline, lectures being replaced by more engaging teaching practices, a rapid uptake in direct entry applications, enduring caps on undergraduate places, and a federal election imminent, we don’t know anyone willing to bet that HE will be anything like used to be.

So CMM and Twig Marketing will convene our third conference for the year, focusing on issues that once were put in the marketing and recruitment box but are now core-focus for every higher education policy maker and shaper.

Nine vice-chancellors and a bunch of other experts will tackle topics on reshaping and reclaiming the identity of HE institutions, and the gap that can often occur between educators and employers in working out which graduates Australia really wants.

It is no longer sustainable to fall back on traditional expectations of what courses should be offered, how they should be delivered, what research can be afforded and prioritised, when recruitment campaigns should occur, how applications should be evaluated or even fundamental questions about the value people place value in traditional education and training.

Students have tools to seek and achieve credentials outside the academic system, meaning there are big questions about both the opportunity and threat of alternative admissions criteria – with new systems and approaches being developed by institutions and states.

Line up some big ideas for the new-year offsite @ Redefining Value online Conference Dec 1-3 : here

Appointments, achievements

The Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training wins educational site of the year at the Australian Access Awards.

 ANU announces the VC’s education awards. * Teaching: Leslie Barnes, David Cheng, Christina Clarke, Alex Maier *Supervision: Benjamin Penny, Zhengdao Ye * Tutoring/demonstrating: Anna Buckley * Enhance learning: College Education Innovation and Support Team

L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science awards for 2021 go to, Pip Karoly (Uni Melbourne). Jiawen Li (Uni Adelaide), Kirsty Nash (Uni Tas), Mahdokht Shaibani (Monash U)

 Sharynne McLeod (Charles Sturt U) receives the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association honours award  

 Colleen Nelson (QUT) wins the Life Sciences Queensland – QIMR Berghofer Woman of Influence award

 Kristen Lyons is elected academic staff member of Uni Queensland’s Senate. Dino Willox is the professional staff elected member.