In from the “makes sense to me” desk

UTS announces it is changing the name of its pathway provider, UTS Insearch to UTS College, because “it more accurately reflects what we do.”

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Bradley Smith (James Cook U) and Peter Bentley (Innovative Research Universities) review the ARC’s new data visualisation tool, which brings together information on research grants now spread across multiple sources.

On-line outreach programmes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are needed now. Katelyn Barney and Hayley Willams (both Uni Queensland) explain why. Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s pick of the week.

Merlin Crossley moves beyond zero-tolerance grammar policing which makes people feel excluded. A focus on intent and meaning in students’ work is what matters.

Just in time for Christmas: TEQSA discussion on what makes scholarship

Perhaps it’s as festive as the agency gets

On Tuesday TEQSA will host a webinar on “making and discussing claims of scholarship and scholarly activity.”

TEQSA Commissioner Joan Cooper hosts panellists, Merlin Crossley ( DVC A, UNSW), David Perry (VP A Alphacrucis College) and Greg Simmons (TEQSA).

CMM suspects there may be more to this than merriment – the Tertiary Education and Quality Standards Agency is working on a new guidance note for scholarship, which will presumably be useful for private providers who want to be university colleges under the new standards framework, and universities which want to keep the title.

Submissions on what should be in the note are due December 14, perhaps this discussion might inform some still to come.

Cash for COVID-19 research

The Medical Research Future fund is supporting comms research and response

Monash U has $3.2m for three projects for a data management platform, real-time response modelling and to look at pandemic messages targetingvulnerable Australians.” Deakin U has $109 000 for comms strategy to reach specialist  disability accommodation and Macquarie U on communicating with the early childhood sector.

What’s in an HE provider name – it depends on the Senate


Research benchmarks are going to matter, for existing unis as well as aspiring ones

Unlike the Job-Ready Graduates funding reforms, the Higher Education Legislation Amendment (Provider Category Standards and Other Measures) Bill 2020 has received almost no attention in the media and the sector has been largely silent.

The Provider Category Standards legislation has been examined by a Senate Committee and received support from Coalition members. Labor issued a minority report and the Greens provided additional comments.

The legislation will impact universities through the introduction of research quality benchmarks. The Group of Eight’s submission raised valid concerns that a number of universities do not currently meet the benchmarks proposed by Peter Coaldrake in his Review(or have only just met them) and could be under pressure in relation to maintaining their university status. Labor and the Greens argued for different safeguards on how the benchmarks would be set.

The likely introduction of research benchmarks puts enormous pressure on the Research Sustainability group advising on future research funding. With the Job-Ready Graduate package providing base funding only for teaching activities and the sector dealing with reduced international student revenue, some universities are likely to struggle to meet the proposed research benchmarks and could lose their status as a university.

The second issue which is vexing both Labor and Greens senators is the nomenclature for high performing non-university providers. The legislation refers to them as university colleges. Coaldrake recommended they be titled ‘National Institutes of Higher Education’. The Greens agree with Coaldrake. Labor appears confused – saying they support Coaldrake’s nomenclature but then referring to these “high-performing” providers by the generic “institute of higher education.” It is not clear if Labor actually supports Coaldrake’s ‘National’ Institutes.

How many universities, university colleges/national institutes, and institutes of higher education we end up with in the sector hinges on how the Senate deals with this legislation.

Claire Field is an advisor to the tertiary education sector.

Deakin U prepares for teaching times that are a changing

The university’s new ten-year plan includes a bunch of big ideas – perhaps the biggest are about what students and society will want

The plan proposes six core education functions;

*  co-design courses with industry partners, integrating workplace experiences, ensuring relevance and adaptability

* outstanding on-line education and integrated courses that seamlessly blend modes of learning and experiences

* curriculum will anticipate changing social and economic needs

* greater access for aspiring, talented students from all backgrounds

* hybrid transnational education partnerships that provide lasting value for students, partners and Deakin U.

And then there’s the one that will cost money but which Deakin has the experience to do;

* “stackable short courses. We will lead the design and delivery of high-quality, short programs that can build into full-length qualifications from undergraduate level through to postgraduate”

A way to woo international students

Even when the border opens they will want reasons to cross it

Ly Thi Tran (Deakin U) has long set-out what international students need (CMM July 3 2019). In new research with Deakin U colleagues Huong Le Thanh Phan and Mark Rahimi, plus George Tan (Charles Darwin U) she now sets out how their post-graduation employment experience can make, or not, the case for investing in Australian study.

A basic problem is that the post-graduation 485 visa, which international students use to build career foundations has multiple meanings. “From the policy viewpoint, the 485 visa is a legitimate symbolic capital – a recognition of graduates’ legal entitlement to work. It was, however, positioned by employers as a source of uncertainty and risks. For graduates, this capital meant opportunities to realise their occupational hopes and dreams,” Professor Tran and colleagues write.

As it exists, the visa also does not allow international graduates enough time to establish themselves with employers and build demonstrable workforce skills.

But students adjust. Some with migration on their minds choose in-demand courses and do what career-focused young people always do, find part-time jobs, take on projects and internships that shine on resumes.

This is where Professor Tran and the other authors think governments can assist, by working “with universities to help international students develop a continuing portfolio from the time they begin their undergraduate journey through to the temporary graduate visa stage.”

And policy makers, public service agencies and professional organisations can do more; “to better educate and inform employers of the nature of the temporary graduate visa.”

As for higher education providers, “which rely on the temporary graduate visa to attract international students and have the responsibility to support their graduates’ employability and employment outcomes,” they “should be more active in promoting the temporary graduate visa to employers as a viable employment option.”

STEM courses to take a hit at Murdoch U

Management has “a discipline positioning proposal” out for staff consultation

Specific changes proposed include,

* teach-out courses in radio, theatre, drama and Indonesian

* “non-viable” courses in engineering suspended for first semester 2021

* Academics in chemistry, physics, mathematics, statistics, economics, “will be responsible for the teaching of key units into courses and majors across the university but will not deliver their own courses or majors.”

Under the proposal there would be no student intake for chemistry, physics and nanotechnology majors for next semester. “These disciplines would become teaching focused and provide foundational learning for all undergraduate and postgraduate courses.”

Provost Romy Lawson tells staff, “an unavoidable consequence of these changes is that regrettably some academic positions may no longer be required or will undergo a restructure.” A university representative also told CMM last night, “Where voluntary redundancy expressions of interest have been declined in these foundational discipline areas, it is because these members of staff are equipped with the relevant qualifications and important to the delivery of our teaching requirements in moving forward.”

Murdoch observers suggest that in the case of academics in targeted disciplines who now teach and research,  “restructure” will likely mean  80 per cent teaching and 20 per cent service (with whatever time they can find for research coming from the latter).

Vice Chancellor Eeva Leinonen signalled change to “unit, course and discipline offerings” was coming (CMM November 3). Consultation runs to Friday week.

“Our proposed changes will see STEM made available across the university to provide opportunities for all students to develop STEM skills and knowledge.  With the changes we are proposing, our HASS students will be able to augment their learning and career opportunities, by building their STEM knowledge as part of their degree, and we are doing this by moving towards a ‘STEM everywhere’ model,” the university representative told CMM.


Dolt of the day


Yesterday’s email edition reported Weld Australia won a category at the Australian Defence Industry Awards– it was runner-up.

Appointments, achievements

Susan Dodds (La Trobe U) will be the 2021-22 chair of Unis Australia’s DVC Rs committee.

Noel Hayman (Uni Queensland) wins the AMA Queensland 2020 gold medal for “improving the health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.” Alan Bruce Chater (Uni Queensland) wins the medal for rural and remote medicine.

Natascha Klocker (Uni Wollongong) wins the 2020 fellowship award from the Geographical Society of NSW.

Engagement Australia’s first Excellence Awards

EA is, “the peak alliance of ANZ universities focused on developing the engagement agenda in higher education.” This year it took over what were previously the Business Higher Education Round Table awards.

Winners are,

Alumni Engagement:  Monash University. Global Discovery Programme Study Tour

Community Engagement:  Uni SA, Pain Revolution Programme

Community Engagement – Closing the Gap: Uni Sydney, Poche Oral Health Programme

Industry Engagement: Uni Melbourne, CrowdCARE Programme (HE teaching by tertiary institution staff with community and industry partners)

Student Engagement: Federation U (Ballarat) collaboration with IBM

Research Impact: Charles Sturt U (Bathurst), novel Pest Management Programme

Leadership in Engagement: Anita Smith, La Trobe University. Roger Stone, Uni Southern Queensland (Toowoomba)