There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Sally Male on getting grades right. “A grade should not depend on: who taught the student, who marked each assessment, which team the student was in, or the students’ sex or ethnicity,” she writes in this week’s contribution to Sally Kift’s series, “Needed now in teaching and learning.”

Plus, Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on how universities can serve Australia and why now is the time to build on great research foundations.

Imminent action on innovation

After 150 reports on R&D over 25 years the government might finally be about to act on innovation policy – which is good. Problem is some of the ideas aren’t great for university research

Amanda-Jane George (CQU) explains the issues and why researchers need to respond now (as in, right now).

Her previous CMM article on innovation is here.

Ready to roll on COVID-19

Brisbane universities knew the drill when the state government announced the three-day lockdown yesterday

Before noon Uni Queensland announced it would close at 3pm, “to enable staff and students to travel home.” At 10am QUT had announced Gardens Point and Kelvin Grove would close “to students and non-essential staff.”

Griffith U asked staff and students at Logan, Mt Gravatt, Nathan and South Bank campuses “to work or study from home for the rest of the week.” The Gold Coast campus is to stay open, with masks mandatory. GU also pulled its Creating Futures Summit on quality teaching of reading, although it was to be a virtual event. It will be rescheduled for early May.

Uni Southern Queensland announced classes at Springfield and Ipswich campuses would go on-line from 3pm yesterday and staff were asked to be gone by 4pm.

Southern Cross U campuses are outside the lockdown zone and announced they would stay open – but with Byron Bay in NSW (near SCU Lismore) “on high alert.” The university said people who “simply feel unwell,” should “not come to campus under any circumstances.”

The right rate for the job at Uni Melbourne

There are claims PhD qualified casual teaching staff are not being paid the Enterprise Agreement rate for the job at Uni Melbourne, in breach of the Enterprise Agreement

Word is that some in faculty managements want to pay a reduced rate for work not in a casual staffers area of expertise. To which people respond by pointing to the Enterprise Agreement clauses for “derived sessional teaching rates” in particular (b) which sets a rate, “where the duties include full subject coordination or the academic possesses a relevant doctoral qualification.”

Yesterday the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union wrote to deans, requesting they, “immediately review their current casual academic rates of pay to ensure compliance.”


Students in 2020; grim and beared it

The bad news is a third of undergraduates contemplated dropping out last-year. The good news is why most didn’t

The findings are from a new survey by study-support platform (and CMM advertiser) Studiosity.

The main reason why students thought of stopping study was lost motivation (21 per cent) followed by disappointment at not having the campus experience they expected and feeling unsupported in study.

Students in Victoria led for a loss of motivation (27 per cent), closely followed by Queensland 26 per cent) and WA (20 per cent).  There is no apparent pattern by age, gender or where they were in their programme.

But there is a common factor shared by 50 per cent of those who contemplated quitting but didn’t. “They knew they needed to push on, work harder and not give up.”

They also knew they weren’t on their own.

According to Chris Tisdell, director of UNSW’s education academy (and Studiosity’s chief academic officer), “what I noticed from my students last year was that they have also gained a deeper understanding of the importance of asking for help – and knowing the best way to do this – both of which will be invaluable as they graduate and move into the workplace.”

Cabinet shuffle: Tudge stays, Andrews (who will be missed) exits

Education emerged unscathed from yesterday’s ministerial changes with Alan Tudge continuing as portfolio minister and Andrew Gee keeping responsibility for regions

However, training and science both have new ministers. Karen Andrews moves to Home Affairs and is replaced by Christian Porter in Industry, Science and Technology and Stuart Roberts covers skills as part of his broad employment portfolio.

Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia was quick (as in not many minutes after the announcement) to congratulate Mr Roberts and suggest “an important task,” for him is “ensuring that Australia’s vocational education and training sector is reformed in a way that empowers student choice.”

ITECA’s Troy Williams also thanked outgoing minister, Michaelia Cash, who has made, “substantial inroads to the considerable task of unravelling and renegotiating” state and territory funding arrangements.

Luke Sheehy from the Australian Technology Network farewelled Karen Andrews, thanking her for “strong advocacy for Women in STEM and advanced manufacturing” and welcomed Christian Porter.

As did the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, pointing to Ms Andrews “commitment to the creation and application of Australian science, technology and engineering,” and her support for the Women in STEM Decadal Plan and advocacy “for increased women’s participation at all levels of the STEM sector.”

Ten big questions about how universities are run

David Shoebridge, a Greens MP in the NSW upper house asks the minister

* what oversight is there of public universities management

* does the government know a previous coalition ministry “watered-down” provisions for independent oversight and accountability of university executives

* whether staff and student representation is reduced on governing bodies

* what has the government done re universities using commercial-in-confidence as a shield

* are staff and students consulted on staffing, curricula and expenditure

* why is there no state and/or federal legislation requiring consultation

* which faculties/schools in universities have the highest average international enrolments over five years

* as above for casuals teaching international students

* why statistical and financial details previously required in annual reports are no longer included

* are there measures to require public universities to conduct due diligence of finances

Answers from Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee are due on April 14.

Perhaps Dr Lee could copy the questions to chancellors in NSW.

New community health research funding

Ten projects are supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council’s partnership grants

Kirsten McCaffery (Uni Sydney) health-literacy for new parents ($495 000)

Martin Holt (UNSW) behavioural surveillance to address gaps in HIV response ($1.26m)

Marcus Chen (Monash U) syphilis testing/control ($1.25m)

Nikki McCaffrey (Deakin U) cancer information by phone ($936 000)

Kate Curtis (Uni Sydney) safety/quality emergency nursing care ($1.5m)

Andrea Driscoll (Deakin U) heart failure guidelines in regions ($1.26m)

Bianca Brijnath (National Ageing Research Institute) interpreting for dementia assessments ($271 000)

Robert Adams (Flinders U) GPs managing sleep apnea/insomnia ($1.44m)

Gemma Figtree (Uni Sydney) precision prevention coronary artery disease ($1.4m)

John Beltrame (Uni Adelaide) personalising acute myocardial infarction care ($1.5)


The Council of Australasian University Leaders in Learning and Teaching announce its election results. Jillian Hamilton (QUT) is president. Andrea Adam (U Tas) is secretary. Continuing committee members are Gayle Morris (Auckland Uni Tech), Trish McCluskey (Victoria U) and Simon Bedford (Western Sydney U) who is treasurer.