CQU sticks to its own, again

A learned reader reports CMM missed a very recent example of CQU promoting from within, (yesterday). Andy Bridges is replaced as DVC strategic development by Fiona Coulson. Professor Coulson has been dean of health, medical and applied science at the university for five years.

STEM leaders

Cecile Godde is the Queensland Woman in STEM. She is researching sustainable livestock production at CSIRO and the University of Queensland. Amy Chan won the people’s choice award for her research on sepsis at UoQ.

Government’s student loan bill setting up for Senate success

The government’s student loan bill (lifetime borrowing cap, lower repayment threshold) bill was in the Reps yesterday, where a couple of government speakers did their best to defend it while several hundred (at least it felt like that) Labor members explained and explained and explained how terrible it is. But among the deploreathons Rebekha Sharkie (Nick Xenophon Team – Mayo) suggested amendments can save the bill. Liberal senators have already suggested a debt ceiling rather than a lifetime cap on borrowings is a good idea, CMM March 20. Labor talked the bill right up to the adjournment debate last night but there are still two sitting days left this week.

Push to make universities regional policy central

Universities would drive federal government policy in education, employment, research and development in regional Australia if parliament backs a bill introduced by independent MP Cathy McGowan.

The member for Indi’s National Regional Higher Education Strategy proposal requires the government to “maintain a strategic plan and analysis of regional higher education and recognises the role of regional universities in sustaining economic growth and supporting employment in regional Australia.”

“Support for delivery of higher education in regional areas is often seen only as an issue of equity – focused on improved access, participation and completion rates. While equity is important, regional education is also an essential driver of growth and prosperity of regional Australia,” the bill’s explanatory memorandum states.

This is entirely on-song with the Regional Universities Network’s strategy to put member institutions at the centre of regional development spending and positions its funding claims outside the present government spending cap and policy of allocating future undergraduate places according to performance metrics. “A one size fits all approach to higher education, such as the current across the board funding freeze, is a blunt instrument, which proportionately negatively impacts on the regions, RUN chair Greg Hill said yesterday.

However the bill may never be debated in the House, with the government preferring to make policy based on the Halsey Review into regional rural and remote education, which was delivered in January but is not yet released.


Just don’t hold your breath waiting for an answer

“We are here to help higher education providers implement admissions transparency measures. If you’ve got a question, get in touch,” the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency, via Twitter yesterday. “While the sector is experiencing growing enrolments, it appears that TEQSA’s sliding timelines are the result of poor resourcing,” Rod Camm from the Australian Council for Private Education and Training advises members yesterday.

Elite unis line-up with country cousin

Universities Australia supported the McGowan bill yesterday and so did the Group of Eight universities. “While our main campuses may be metropolitan, our outreach and support for regional Australia is strong. We are committed to providing the very best in education and research to regional and rural centres,” CEO Vicki Thomson said.

This seems uncommon generous of the Eight, given the group is very focused on the need to fund research and teaching at its members. But the astute Eight also understands how its members can benefit by allying with RUN in the face of competition for resources from the generality of metro universities, including those with regional campuses and big enrolments of students from low SES backgrounds. Back in 2014 the RUN and Eight groups combined to support an enrolment threshold for access to participation programme funding. It would not have cost the Eight much but it would have helped RUN, at the expense of other unis (CMM September 9).

The Group of Eight might also want to make-nice with RUN universities given they are split over medical training in the regions. The Go8 medical schools run rural training programmes and as such oppose the push for a new La Trobe – Charles Sturt medical school in regional NSW and Victoria.

New IRU student support fellow 

Amani Bell from Western Sydney U is the new Innovative Research UniversitiesVC’s Fellow. Dr Bell, “will play a central role in guiding IRU members to identify and share good practice to advance good outcomes for students and prepare them well for future success as graduates,” IRU announces.


No time to waste for CRC P bids

Yesterday Tony Peacock from the Cooperative Research Centre’s Association was warning bidders for today’s CRC-P round to get cracking. “Understand the CRC-P form is not great. Don’t count on it working perfectly for tomorrow’s deadline. 50 per cent submitted in last hour in past – you might not get there,” he tweeted. Good advice as some 2016 CRC bidders will remember when computer problems at the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science led to bids missing the deadline ( CMM October 26 2016). The late bids were accepted but some bid teams had nervous hours.

What’s the time Professor Woolf? Time to transform university education

University of Oxford academics propose blockchain based, Woolf University, based on one to one (or more) on-line tutorials for which students pay the teaching academics.

Tutorials are the essential building block of the Woolf education system, just as they are at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge,” is the proposal’s unique sales benefit.

“The Woolf platform is designed to reduce bureaucracy, lower tuition costs, secure teaching salaries, and increase the time that students interact with their professors … no matter where they are in the world,” the Woolf whitepaper states.

If it works it will transform teaching beyond online, taking it back to its origins; “What Woolf offers is different: students attend tutorials. … these can be online … or they can be face to face. In either case, both parties ‘check-in’ to the tutorial on the blockchain. Woolf is not an online university; it is simply organised online. Tutorials provide direct and personal interaction with an expert academic .”

And did they mention, that the model removes the middleperson; Woolf U will; “will increase the efficiency of student-teacher coordination by removing intermediaries, thereby narrowing spreads between hourly tuition costs and academic wages, thus distributing money more transparently, democratically and justly.”

Not to mention generating self-employment for the precariat, replacing fixed-term jobs granted by university managements with block-chain based relationships between staff and students. “The market will provide stable teaching opportunities without requiring a fundamental change in their geography of pattern or life.

Whether it happens or not the fact that the proposal is out there demonstrates the perturbation in higher education delivery.