Plus ANU’s QILTing bee

First choice

The Dalai Lama is visiting the University of Western Australia today to speak on the importance of education. There is no truth to the rumour that he was invited after Bjorn Lomborg cancelled.

CEF June 15 3

Welcome interruption

University of Sydney has a $33m donation for medical cannabinoid research from Joy and Barry Lambert, whose grand daughter Caitlin has epilepsy which they hope the drug can help with. Premier Mike Baird attended the announcement on Friday, promising news of medical cannabis trials “soon”. The research is on “non psychoactive” cannaboids, not the smoking stuff. The high-point of the announcement was when Ms Lambert interrupted the premier answering a question on coal-seam gas to explain the reasons for the gift. “Can you come to every press conference?” Mr Baird gratefully asked.

Employment opportunities

International students are understandably focused on returns from their very expensive investment in an Australian education and often disappointed when it does not immediately deliver inflated expectations. So good thinking UTS for holding a careers fair at the Chinese Consulate in Sydney, with major employers in China represented. As competition increases in export education this sort of service will have to be part of the package sold to students. The days of airy announcements of the “industry adores our graduates’’ kind are over.

ANU June 4

The play’s the thing

The University of New England has a $35k grant to digitise a bunch of Australian playscripts from the 1920s through the ‘50s that were performed but not published. And a thoroughly good thing too – lest any future scholar think  Ray Lawler and then David Williamson said it all.

QILT continues

CMM has wondered for weeks where Minister Pyne’s promised Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching were. The project was announced as an accountability measure in the great deregulation package of 2014, which is still stalled in the Senate. However a reader at the Australian Catholic University says quilting continues, with the feds commissioning ACU’s Social Research Centre to administer the project. The complete QILT will combine data from the national student experience survey, graduate outcomes survey and employer satisfaction survey. CMM is a big admirer of the student experience survey, which provides a poultice of information on what campus and courses are like. In combination with the other two, QILT could be a really useful guide for prospective students, but only if all the data on each institution is identifiable and it is possible to compare campuses. The government originally promised to have the QUILT complete by August, CMM hopes they sew data fast at ACU.

Making friends

Henry Pepper is one of 45 global finalists for this year’s Reaxys PhD prize in chemistry. The Reaxys? It’s a prize sponsored by Reed Elsevier – want to know how journal publishers build loyalty among academics? Awards like this, honouring serious science help.

Brochureware broken 

CMM did not know about the government’s  “career information and exploration service” until discovering it on Friday, which is probably the only way students come across it. But I’m guessing they don’t stay long, because the site is as dull as it is worthy, with snappy copy encouraging students to look at new industries, such as, “an emerging occupation can be defined as being new enough that it has not yet developed clear career paths or clear job titles.” You don’t say.

It is, the use of public funds aside, harmless enough – for now. But the masses of new graduates, encouraged into university since demand driven funding started, will start joining the workforce in three years or so and they will feel very let down when their degree does not deliver the job they think they were promised. This is why smart operators like Macquarie U’s John Simon is working on building job skills and placements into Macquarie degrees. And it is why websites that look like artefacts from the ‘90s will not cut it. Now, what was it called back then, brochureware?

Think that universities can’t be ranked by employment outcomes?  Have a look at Linkedin, and think again. “By analysing employment patterns of over 300 million Linkedin members from around the world, we figured out what the desirable jobs are within several professions and which graduates get those desirable jobs. As a result, we are able to rank schools based on the career outcomes of their graduates,” it explains. Marketing directors take note, brochureware is broken.

TAFE needs to get on India’s agenda

Apart from being a good place for SA training minister Gail Gago to hide until her TAFE monopoly disaster dissipates, India is surely the market opportunity of the century. The country has half the people in the world aged under 25 and the federal government is keen to skill-up – which has got to be an opportunity for TAFE to train the trainers. South Australia is working on this (CMM June 10). But as a reader points out, while the Australian training model is on India’s agenda so are those of the UK, Canada and Germany, with the US community college model popular with planners. Time for the trainers to step up..