Plus punch from Judith on demand driven funding

And UoQ’s big property play

While Federation University knows what its market wants ANU staff are not burdened by modesty

Truth in advertising

Federation University is casting its new TV campaign this afternoon at the Mt Helen campus and is inviting anybody interested to turn up. Fed U makes great undergraduate recruitment campaigns that people in its target markets recognise and relate to. This is why.

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TEQSA is coming

If you think your campus is too big/too small for the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency to be bothered with, think again. TEQSA will be along for a look after the new High Education Standards Framework kicks in on January 1. Not straight away, as the agency’s Michael Tomlinson says “we will not come knocking on the door on January 2 expecting everything to be compliant.” But sooner or later knocking TEQSA most assuredly will come and you will never know which of the 103 standards they will ask about when it comes to course approval, or for the self-accrediting elite, re-registration. Even for the self-accrediting gentry the agency warns it might ask for “sample course proposals” across a range of disciplines and data on student performance.”

Most of the standards deal with the details of course creation, quality assessment and institutional governance and all, if not easily understood, are obviously important. Like transparency of entry standards, “all criteria for admission and conditions of enrolment must be up-front … if a minimum ATAR score is quoted to students is it clear what it means?” And honesty in advertising; “representations made are accurate and not misleading, including employment and migration outcomes.”

And like actually providing what a course requires; “many controversies in the VET sector have centred on registered training organisations delivering qualifications with very short durations and volumes of learning. So while providers can make a case to us for a volume of learning that is shorter than the benchmarks none the less we have to put a floor under this.” And like the established rule that an academic must have a qualification at least one level above the course they are teaching. This will be a big deal for academics who think professional practice covers their lack of higher qualifications. The Fair Work Commission found for CQU in a case relating to this a year back,  (CMM July 29).

For a quick-ish guide to what is involved have a listen to Dr Tomlison’s immensely entertaining (compared to a Simon and Garfunkel concert) 56 minute presentation on the standards.

Powerful portfolio

UoQ has filled the DVC external engagement job (CMM February).  Iain Watson, now business dean, starts in August. He takes charge of indigenous engagement, advancement, marketing comms and student recruitment. But not the recruitment of all students, Monique Skidmore continues as DVC International.

Wednesday new

ANU’s ambitious optimists

An ANU survey demonstrates staff are not burdened by false modesty. When asked what institutions the university should benchmark against 77 per cent said “world iconic universities.” Among the other options no one chose the Group of Eight or Australian unis in general. However a realistic 3 per cent did pick the University of Melbourne.

Staff are also ambitious for excellence in teaching with 80 per cent wanting ANU to commit the effort and resources required to make it “among the best in the world.” Again nobody was much interested in comparing against the Eight, with just 10 per cent saying ANU should focus on outperforming its seven peers.

As for research strategy people are game-ish to have a go, with 74 per cent willing to invest 40 or 60 per cent of “strategic money” in high risk/high gain research.” As to how to assess research performance the Australian Research Council will wonder why it bothers, nobody thought “the current things that feed into the ERA process are correct.” Almost everybody thought ANU should assess research performance and output through “a discipline specific rigorous research’ or “a case made by individuals.”

DIGITAL MARKETING Strategies for Higher Education

Cashed up and problem parked

UoQ will build a 1300 bed student housing facility, with a $250m loan from the Queensland Treasury Corporation. So much for the rumour around for a while that the university was broke and talking to Treasury about a bailout. In fact on the university’s preferred EBITDA measure it generated a surplus of $158m last year up from $128m in 2014  CMM April 18).

But while the university is in sound shape not all its neighbours are always impressed by expansion plans (CMM July 23) Not a problem now says UoQ, “because 1300 students will live on campus, the project, which is within UQ’s St Lucia campus site development plan, is expected to reduce traffic flows.” Clever Uni Queensland, a community protest just isn’t the same without complaints about parking.

Butt out

Faster than a university selling its coal shares campuses are going smoke free. QUT banned smoking yesterday and the University of Wollongong says it will as well on July 25. UoW promises to help the desperates struggling to stop with measures including “smoke free ambassadors” and a “webpage providing practical information for smokers and non-smokers.” No, CMM has no clue why a non-smoker needs a webpage about gaspers and guesses UoW does not know Philip Morris sold Murati Ambassador brand cigarettes.

Punch from Judith

Whoever wins the election it will be more of the muddled same in undergraduate funding according to Judith Sloan, University of Melbourne professorial fellow and columnist for The Australian. Writing in this morning’s Group of Eight briefing Professor Sloan looks at government and Opposition policies and concludes; “we are likely to muddle on with a mixture of higher education policies, some of which make sense but in combination create some bizarre gaming and outcomes.” Professor Sloan, who never pulls her policy punches adds that even with this; “over the past decade or so, higher education in Australia has never really had it so good … with a very small number of exceptions, universities are in good shape financially.” But while that bit might upset people it will not irritate as many or as much as another Sloan suggestion; “demand-driven enrolment has been a boon to many universities, even if it has involved reaching deeper into the pool of potential students with lower school grades.” That will be the Labor policy backed by the conservatives and born of the Bradley Review that is based on the belief that access to higher education for all capable students is the strongest possible engine of economic growth, individual advancement and a fair go for all. Young Australians, not university budgets, are who DFF is intended to help.

Smith of science

UTS has appointed Judith Smith as new dean of science. Professor Smith is now dean of environment and life sciences at Salford U in Manchester, UK. She starts in August, replacing Bruce Milthorpe who will retire.