ARC updates conflict of interest policy

The Australian Research Council announces changes to its Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy. So, what are the differences on last year’s version CMM asked? And the ARC replied, in detail, quite detailed detail. The new requirements are in Features this morning.

What to cover in submissions to foreign interference inquiry

Peter Dutton has some ideas the committee inquiry into foreign interference in universities might want to consider

The Home Affairs minister suggests the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security consider;

* universities, publicly funded research agencies and grant agencies relationships with “international partners

* “the nature and extent to which foreign actors are interfering” covering staff, students and research agencies and research funders

* the “effectiveness” of universities and agencies response to “the threat of foreign interference

* how to “build resilience and transparency

* “appropriate” oversight and reporting

The minister asks if the committee can report by July 1, and “as far as possible, conduct its inquiry in public.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

 Jack Goodman (Studiosity) has read all of the Prohibiting Academic Cheating Services Act. What he likes about it is in Features this morning.

Jay Cohen (Charles Sturt U) wants teaching on-line to work in the way people learn in life, through self-direction. It’s this week’s piece in commissioning editor Sally Kift’s series on what is needed now in teaching and learning.

Steve Larkin, makes the case for Batchelor Institute – First Nations ways of doing, informing western education. A new contribution to a series by Indigenous academics and policy people from commissioning editor Claire Field.

You’ve gotta have a hobby” of the day

 Data maven Darragh Murray (Navitas) has created an interactive map of the Massachusetts witch trials and 20 execution, at the end of the 17th century. “This one-pane viz, despite its straightforward look, actually took me a huge amount of work,” he tweets. It’s here.

It could be worse at Uni Adelaide

Interim VC Mike Brooks tells staff things are better than expected, for now

What’s happened: Second semester enrolments are way higher than budgeted, so the university will “recoup” $40m this year and will not need to borrow $35m as anticipated.

Improved enrolments are mainly from off-shore students, which Professor Brooks attributes in-part to visa changes, which allow current holders studying on-line ex Australia to count such courses towards post-study work-rights.

There’s good news: Some of the hits staff voted to accept in the recently adopted Enterprise Agreement variation (CMM August 19) will not, or may not, happen; cancellation of annual leave loading is off and the 3.5 per cent salary cut won’t happen this year. Whether it is needed next will be decided in February

But (and it’s a big one): International commencements for semester two are down 26 per cent on 2019. If travel stays restricted international student revenue in 2021 will be down 23 per cent on this year.

Even so the bad news could be way-worse: Give the “reduced budget outlook for several years” the plan for a 200 FTE cut via staff turnover and “voluntary measures” remains. However, Professor Brooks repeats his commitment to no forced redundancies for the life of the EAV.

What nurses need to know: people teaching have some ideas

When it comes to teaching nursing the TAFE lobby has had it with training package requirements

Craig Robertson from TAFE Directors Australia announces the National Enrolled Nursing Advisory Council, to address problems that come from industry defining job roles and leaving it to providers to design courses and content, assess outcomes and certify graduates.

As to why nursing first, Mr Robertson points to the Diploma of Nursing, which has 20 core units and five electives. Five core units have112 functional elements and 212 discrete elements of knowledge.

The council will, “will share better practice approaches in enrolled nursing education across the network of TAFEs and in doing so will ensure the best possible outcomes for education and vocational preparation of enrolled nurses.”

Members of the council are in appointments, achievements, (below).

What Rathjen left with

The former Uni Adelaide VC was paid out $326 400

Peter Rathjen was paid out $238 600 in lieu of a reduced notice period, and $87,800 in statutory leave entitlements when he resigned under the terms of his employment contract on grounds of ill-health, Chancellor Catherine Branson has told staff.

“In deciding to make this payment, (university council) had regard to a number of factors. One was that the former vice-chancellor’s lawyers provided the university with a substantial specialist medical report that supported the claim of ill-health.”

South Australia’s Independent Commission Against Corruption has found Dr Rathjen committed acts of serious misconduct  while VC, by sexually harassing two women employed by Uni Adelaide.

The chancellor’s announcement followed speculation that Dr Rathjen had left with three-times his announced payout.

Claire Field warns: there’s digital dilly-dallying in VET policy advice  

by Claire Field

While Google and Microsoft launch digital courses the “industry-led” VET system is hampered by bureaucracy and confusion

Recently there has been a plethora of “digital skills” activity in the VET and higher education sectors, including:

* the Blue Tech and Digital Skills report from TAFE Directors Australia, Cisco and Optus

* a webinar featuring the new Digital Skills Organisation

* Swinburne U partnering with digital services consultant Arq Group to deliver customised digital training to Arq staff

* RMIT partnering with the Singapore Institute of Management to offer digital courses tailored with industry partners including IBM, Amazon and Salesforce

* the National Skills Commission published profiles of 25 emerging occupations – 13 of which have a digital/tech focus

* the release of Australia’s Cyber Security Strategy 2020 including a $26.5 million Fund for the development of specialist cyber security courses (amongst other initiatives), and

* the prime minister launching a new SkillsBuild partnership between IBM and the Department of Defence, to teach digital skills to 3,000 veterans.

At the same time, the VET sector’s Australian Industry and Skills Committee’s emergency response sub-committee has advised that no new digital/cyber units or qualifications are needed at present. They note that in February 2020 five new qualifications and two new units of competency in these areas were released.

So, in VET on the one hand the key industry advisory body (the AISC) says we have all of the digital/cyber qualifications and units of competency that we need while on the other hand TDA and the NSC indicate we need more, a pilot skills organisation has been established to create more courses and the Commonwealth is already pouring money into creating an unknown number of new courses.

At a time when Google and Microsoft have launched attractive digital course offerings outside the formal tertiary education system, it is deeply worrying that the “industry-led” VET system is so hampered by bureaucracy and confusion.

Meanwhile Swinburne University, RMIT, and other universities use their self-accrediting powers to work nimbly with employers and other partners…

Claire is a consultant to the tertiary education sector. Another key issue the VET sector is grappling with is the shift to regulatory self-assurance. Find out how self-assurance works in New Zealand in the latest episode of the ‘What now? What next?’ podcast.

James Cook U sticks to its own savings plan

Management says there is no deal with unions

Management and campus unions have not reached an agreement on a joint COVID-19 cuts plan. According to HR director Geoff Rogers, the university considered proposals from the unions but decided, “they were not able to deliver the level of certainty that we felt was important for both staff and the university moving forward.”

Mr Rogers told staff yesterday the university would stick with its original proposal to vary the Enterprise Agreement. This includes; * deferring the 2 per cent pay rise due at the end of the month to December 2021, (the June 30 2021 2 per cent will be paid on-time) * staff purchase of nine days of extra leave, plus more if people want.

In return, management commits to no stand downs or forced redundancies for an agreed (but not specified yesterday) period. There was no word on required job losses, although last month management estimated staff concessions on conditions and variations to the Enterprise Agreement could save $6m and protect 115 jobs, (CMM August 5).

In the absence of a deal, Mr Rogers told staff yesterday the university “will consider its position and provide further updates shortly.”


“With or without a vaccine” Australia must open next year say education agents in India


The Association of Australian Education Representatives in India has called on the Australian government to ramp-up support for the international education industry.

President Ravi Lochan Singh said the call followed a summit of agents to address the impact of COVID-19 and was “unanimous across the membership.”

The agents say they need a clear message that Australia is open to international students to study on-shore in 2021, “with or without” a vaccine. They warn without it students will look to the UK and Canada.

Their association also calls for;

*  a 25 per cent across the board reduction in international student fees

* a 12-month extension of post study work rights for major cities as well as regional centres

* PSWR for international students completing PG diplomas and masters, to bring Australia in-line with the UK, Canada and New Zealand

* a 25 per cent cut in fees for on-line courses. “There is ample evidence now that the experience of studying online is not the same as face-to face,” Mr Singh says.

Dirk Mulder is CMM’s international education correspondent


Ross McLennan is to be ED for research services at Macquarie U. He moves from a similar role at Griffith U.

Members of TAFE Directors Australia’s new National Enrolled Nursing Advisory Council are James Dunstan (Canberra Institute Tech), Kate McCluskey (NSW TAFE), Deb Blow (Qld TAFE), Sue Hopkins (TAFE SA), Jonette Scott (Tas TAFE), Gabrielle Koutoukidis (Holmesglen (Vic)), Julie Fereday (TAFE WA), Lyndal Manson (TDA).