plus Swinburne calls for “joined up” policy on higher ed and VET

happy Voices at the Uni  of Adelaide

and the week’s winners at work

Asked no one, ever

“Happy milk chocolate day. Which country do you think has the best milk chocolate?” Australian Catholic University International tweeted yesterday. Part of a smart social media strategy, no doubt.

Thurs July 28


Swinburne calls for an end to the binary divide

A generation ago John Dawkins decided to end the artificial distinction that split higher education between universities and colleges of advanced education. Now Swinburne U wants Simon Birmingham to adapt the approach and plan for both aspects of the post school system, “in a joined up and coherent way.”

Swinburne repeats its call for a more comprehensive examination of the links between higher education and vocational education and for the creation of a durable set of policies that support access and equity throughout Australian tertiary education. It is time to consider the contributions made by VET and higher education and to examine the policy settings that are most appropriate to support quality outcomes in both sectors,” Vice Chancellor Linda Kristjanson writes in the Swinburne submission to the minister’s higher education policy paper.

Professor Kristjanson points to sub degree places as a growth area, but specifies universities should offer them.

“We support the expansion of the demand driven system beyond bachelor courses into sub bachelor courses. This will provide traditionally underrepresented groups with the opportunity to access and pursue higher education outcomes,” she suggests.

The Swinburne move illustrates an emerging policy consensus among the majority of universities who support demand driven funding – instead of defending it against calls for a smaller higher education system based on high undergraduate entry scores, friends of DDF want to expand it into sub degree courses in higher education.

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Poll pick

Members of the National Tertiary Education Union are about to vote for the state secretary position. Astute election watchers say University of Sydney branch president Michael Thomson is the candidate to watch.

All easy in Adelaide

A couple of weeks back a staff survey commissioned by the National Tertiary Education Union at the University of Adelaide found the place to be a slough of despond, on a good day (CMM July 15). Strange to relate, Your Voice (a big polling outfit which services many universities) has now come back with different results. With a 70 per cent response rate this is less a survey than a census of staff opinion and it shows staff to be comfortable on key criteria. There are strong positive ratings (70 and 80 per cent range) on job satisfaction and the university’s values. Nearly two-thirds of staff reported being consulted on workplace change in the last year, which given the university’s professional services review is a good result.

However while management can point to a steady 67 per cent figure for perceived student satisfaction as a good-thing a 7 per cent decline in the way staff rate support for teaching is not a solid sign, given the university’s teaching and learning reforms focused on increasing small-group classes.

But for all the sense of engagement people always hate change and less than 30 per cent of those at Uni Adelaide say the introduction of new systems and strategies is managed well. And middle to top management is criticised for talking rather than listening. Confidence in the executive was at 50 per cent, said to be the norm for Group of Eight universities, which should not cheer anybody up.

Awful everywhere

“The data shows people who work in tertiary education are facing bigger workloads, longer working hours, and larger class sizes. But they are also stressed because they have no influence over the decisions that affect them and their students. No one is listening to them.” Sounds just like what the NTEU says staff feel but it’s the finding from a union survey in New Zealand. Perhaps there is a pattern.


Canvas not complete

The University of Sydney has called off the proposed merger, it only looked like a takeover, of its Sydney College of the Arts with the University of New South Wales. According to Vice Chancellor Michael Spence the deal always depended on a shared approach to the SCA becoming part of the UNSW School of Art and Design. This, he says, hasn’t been found, making a 2017 start impossible. “The University of Sydney has increasingly come to the view that, despite the best efforts of all involved, our two institutions have a different vision of what a centre of excellence in the visual arts might entail and the extent to which it is important to preserve the SCA’s distinctive tradition,” Dr Spence said yesterday.

The move did not surprise UniSyd observers who say Dr Spence is pragmatic about well-placed plans that turn out to be too politically expensive to implement. This one had led to predictable protests among past and present students. When the deal was first announced the university leadership made it clear that if a move to UNSW Paddington’s based school wasn’t on SCA could stay as part of UniSydney, albeit on the Camperdown campus rather than its current plein air premises at bayside Callan Park. Provost Stephen Garton will address SCA students this morning, when the second stage of outrage is expected to commence.

How to win a CRC

The ever-energetic Tony Peacock will explain how to build a winning CRC bid at Swinburne U on Wednesday. Dr Peacock, who leads the Cooperative Research Centre Association, will talk about both the CRC and new CRC Projects programmes. The session also includes the chance for five aspiring bidders to have their pitches critiqued. The next bidding round of CRC-Ps (focused on specific business problems) is expected to begin next month with the short-list for CRC bids said to be imminent.

JCU credits TAFE

James Cook U will give TAFE graduates up to a year’s credit in “a wide range of JCU courses,” including business, education and nursing. The state-wide arrangement challenges regional rival CQU which is a dual sector institution and promotes credit transfer policies hard.

Heads Up

the week’s winners at work


Queensland’s new deputy police commissioner is Peter Martin, who holds undergraduate and masters degrees in justice and administration from Griffith plus a PhD from QUT.


Tanya Plibersek is the new education shadow minister, with Kate Ellis taking charge of voced and TAFE in the Labor lineupKim Carr moves to innovation, industry, science and researchDoug Cameron looks after skills and apprenticeships in the outer shadow ministry. There are also shadow assistant ministers in the education and related space, Terri ButleruniversitiesTim Hammondinnovation, Nick Championscience and Andrew Gilesschools.

Monash immunologist Tracy Heng is the National Stem Cell Foundation’s 2016 Metcalf Prize winner. She works on stem cell based therapies to correct poor immune responses due to age and disease.

Jen Scott Curwood is the Australian Teacher Education Association’s Teacher of the Year. The University of Sydney senior lecturer is honoured for her work in professional learning and leadership.

The WA Premier’s scientists of the year shortlist is out. In the headline category the nominee are public health researcher Carol Bower (Telethon Kids Institute), Curtin University conservation scientist Kingsley Dixon, geo-scientist Zheng-Xiang Li, also from CurtinDavid Sampson from the University of Western Australia who works in imaging science and engineering. The early career scientist of the year will be one of Kaiming Bi who works atCurtin on earthquake engineering and structural dynamics, UWA fluid mechanics researcher Scott Draper, paediatrician James Fitzpatrick from Telethon Kids and Jun Li, whose study is civil engineering diagnostics, at Curtin.

The University of Adelaide and the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network have jointly appointed a chair based at the Lyell McEwin hospital. Mark Boyd will lead teaching and research and supervise junior medical staff. Professor Boyd is an infectious diseases expert previously at the UNSW based Kirby Institute.

Musical chairs continue at ANU with Malcolm Gillies to conduct the School of Music for six months while community consultations on the school’s future continue and a permanent head is appointed. Professor Gillies is a former ANU DVC and vice chancellor of both London Metropolitan University and City University, London. He replaces Royston Gustavson, who returns to his role as associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Peter Leggat from James Cook University is the new president of the Australasian College of Tropical Medicine.