Uni Sydney builds AI-infused Corona Chatbot to support students with COVID-19 queries
On-line courses to end home-town advantage
Frank Larkins warns: research students seriously impacted by campus closures
Australian universities facing long-lasting financial and academic stresses
Teaching on-line – what students want
UNSW estates staff warns a swarm of bees “has taken up residence” in the Chancellor’s Garden. The advice is not to go there until they are moved-on. Shouldn’t take long, sensible beings do not tarry where David Gonski does not want them.
There’s more in the Mail
Reviewing the last review at Macquarie U
There’s a new review of admin in Science and Engineering at Macquarie U. No, not the one that started in 2016, no, not last year’s Project Catalyst – a new one
Faculty management has invited staff to contribute to a post-implementation review of the 2016 changes. Learned readers suggest they came at no small price to staff whose work was involved. But now, “there are two key questions to be considered” Operations Manager Meredith Lowe tells staff; did the changed structure work and have “requirements for administrative support changed.” Learned readers suggest whatever the changes accomplished they generated more jobs. Ms Lowe advises professional staff numbers increased from 38 FTE to 49.
But did not Catalyst sort-out the new admin structure? Certainly not, that was about technical services. “Previous review projects have given us invaluable insights … however, recommendations arising from the reviews have not addressed our fundamental need to work smarter and more flexibly within a positive and constructive work culture,” then faculty dean Barbara Messerle told staff. (CMM November 12 2018).
First pitch, first prize
Charles Sturt U students win the first all-comers “Pitch This” comms campaign competition
The first-year students win the Public Relations Institute of Australia award with a workplace safety campaign for manufacturer Amcor.
Now all the university has to do is keep up the tradition of winning comms awards – CSU teams have wins over two decades in the International Advertising Association Australia’s Big Idea competition, which also creates campaigns for real clients (CMM November 20 2017).
CSU has trained comms students since Gutenberg ran the first-ever media release – the experience shows in the quality of courses and graduates.
Uni Tas’s biggish tick from TEQSA
The university is re-registered for the max seven years – with two conditions
The Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency commends the University of Tasmania for demonstrable commitment to access and equity and a “sound commitment to continuous improvement of its learning, teaching and research activities.”
However, there are two buts, and one is big.
The lesser is a requirement for an annual “program of reviews of the university’s full suite of policies and procedures to ensure that the university’s policy framework is current and effective.”
The greater is that meetings of academic senate must receive “a comprehensive diagnostic analysis of rates and trends in student performance data, including progression rates, attrition rates and completion time and rates.”
The analysis is required to include students’, entry pathway, including via third-parties, education agent and country of origin, and “comparative student achievement in similar courses at other Australian universities.”
CMM guesses it could have been much worse. Back in May U Tas commissioned Hilary Winchester to review student admissions, importantly including for internationals, (CMM May 7 and 24), which she duly did. In July, the university adopted all her 19 recommendations.
As a way of demonstrating a commitment to standards it was hard to beat and maybe, maybe, it demonstrated to TEQSA that Uni Tas was on the international admissions case. TEQSA takes international admissions very seriously indeed (CMM, Monday).
Uni Melbourne is Victoria’s exporter of the year
The university wins the Governor of Victoria Export Awards
“Victoria’s international education sector is its largest service-based export, and the University of Melbourne is one of the most significant contributors to this, exporting to over 140 countries,” the award announces. Uni Melb also wins the education and training category.
The university is now a finalist in the national export awards, announced in December.
Coaldrake review of category standards: core business continues
Both research and teaching remain the defining characteristics of a university in the Coaldrake Review of HE category standards but the title is not exclusive to existing institutions
Facing the future: Peter Coaldrake calls for a “simplification and rebalancing” of the existing provider categories, to prepare for future diversified delivery of HE. “While universities will continue to predominate higher education enrolments, much of the jobs and skills growth over the coming years will occur in areas spanning university, broader higher and professional education, and the vocational sector,” he writes.
* simplifying provider categories “The current five university categories should be reduced to two categories and the current single category for other education providers (that are not universities) should be increased to two categories. The proposed categories are, Institute of Higher Education, National Institute of Higher Education, Australian University, Overseas University in Australia
* allowing for National Institutes of Higher Education, “recognised for meeting additional criteria to those required of other higher education providers outside the universities and will have a significant measure of self-accrediting authority status.” “There is a strong case for the title ‘National Institute of Higher Education’ to be a legally protected term.”
* setting standards so providers can “grow course and research offerings” and “transition” to another category
* including, “a threshold benchmark of quality and quantity of research” in the HE Provider Category Standards. The benchmark for quality, “should be augmented over time”
* introducing and/or bolstering industry and community engagement and civic leadership in the category standards for universities and the proposed National Institute of HE class
* changing legislation to permit “greenfield universities,” “to support innovation, population growth, and demand for higher education in the future”
* expanding research requirements for universities. In 2030, existing universities should undertake “world standard research” in at least 50 per cent of fields of education they teach (up from 30 per cent). Any new university should start at 30 per cent and scale up to 50 per cent.
What’s not on: The review rejects universities that either exclusively teach or research. “Almost all stakeholders are amenable to teaching-only providers existing in the higher education sector, as they currently do, but question such providers having access to the university title.”
As to research-only universities; “there is very limited support for this concept; most argue that research institutes that only offer doctoral degrees would not be able to provide a sufficiently supportive teaching environment that would extend outside of specific fields of research. Nor would this type of institute, that does not teach undergraduate students, satisfy community expectations of an Australian university.”
But what is: The review is amenable to institutions with ambitions.
“To prepare for the possibility of growth, support differentiation, innovation, and excellence, and to enable the higher education sector in Australia to maintain its strong reputation, TEQSA should develop a framework to guide providers who wish to change provider category. Such providers could include those seeking to enter the higher education sector, providers who wish to attain self-accrediting status and apply for registration in the proposed ‘National Institute of Higher Education’ category, or, indeed, for those providers seeking ‘Australian University’ status.”
Last month regulator TEQSA demonstrated how this could be done – announcing Avondale College could become a university in five years-time, having “realistic and achievable plans to meet all the criteria for an ‘Australian university’” (CMM September 2).
Reaction: Universities Australia must have sped-read the review, responding within 15 minutes of yesterday’s release. “Universities Australia has welcomed recommendations to reaffirm research as a defining feature of universities,” CEO Catriona Jackson said. UA is also pleased, “to see such clear recognition of research as a key characteristic of universities.”
As to increasing research out-put, ““We will work with government on an implementation plan to ensure universities have time to meet any new requirements.”
Adriana Verges is UNSW’s inaugural Emerging Thought Leader. She wins for, “her ability to merge science, the arts and powerful storytelling to inspire the community to respond to environmental crises, and to share this success story globally.”
Monash U has appointed two new Sir John Monash Distinguished Professors, Kim Cornish (Psychological Sciences) and Doug MacFarlane (ARC Centre for Electro-materials Science). The accolade is for contributions to discipline, university and community. Monash U also extends the Monash professorships now held by pharmacy dean Bill Charman and public health researcher John McNeil.