MOOC of the morning

At the University of Melbourne, Greg Shields and Mahesh Jayaram are teaching Foundations of International Psychiatry, via  Coursera. “This course aims to give you a more nuanced understanding of the role of a psychiatrist, developing clinical skills and therapeutic relationships.” The target audience is “healthcare professionals” working with patients “with mental health difficulties and medical and nursing students “planning on working in this field.”

UniSA hires defence biz expert

Following Edith Cowan U appointing former air vice marshal Andrew Dowse to manage defence industry liaison (CMM November 3) the University of South Australia announces the appointment of some-time soldier Matt Opie as its director for defence industry collaboration. Mr Opie joins from Saab Australia where he led industry engagement. UniSA gets on well with Saab, in May the two agreed to establish a joint centre for defence technologies, (CMM May 5).

A canon for Canberra: UniC’s old take on what new students should read

For the last five years the University of Canberra has given all commencing staff and students a book, intended to encourage “conversation, discussion and engagement.” The first five were all relatively recent, Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey, Room by Emma Donoghue, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, The Strays by Emily Bitto and The White Earth by Andrew McGahan. But not so this year, with six 20th century and one 19th century classics on the shortlist: Muriel Spark’s, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men, Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, George Orwell, Animal Farm, John Steinbeck, The Pearl, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince, and Philip K Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. If there is a pattern CMM can’t see it, unless of course while all the titles are old they were all filmed – reading entire works of fiction might strike students as alarmingly novel (sorry).

Australians believe in education (except the one’s who don’t)

Australians believe in education, with 66 per cent of people aged 20-64 having a post-school qualification, up 10 per cent since 2004 according to Bureau of Statistics figures released yesterday. The ABS also reports the per centage of graduates grew from 21 per cent to 31 per cent in the same period. And women have opened a decisive lead in university education. In May this year 35 per cent of working age women had a bachelor degree compared to 28 per cent of men. In 2004 the figure was 22 per cent women and 20 per cent men.

But not everybody has drunk the campus Koolaid. For a start, 7 per cent of people who completed a post-school qualification in 2016 were unemployed in the middle of the year. The ABS also states that 82 per cent of 2016 school leavers had completed Year 12 and 59 per cent of that group were studying. Of the 40 per cent not studying, 25 per cent were working fulltime, 36 per cent part time and the remaining 39 per cent were not employed. Say hello to the next generation of long-term welfare recipients.

The stats still say a degree delivers

Universities Australia was quick to point to the positives in yesterday’s ABS education-employment stats.

Universities Australia Chief Executive Belinda Robinson said, “while no-one was ever guaranteed employment, the data showed that having a degree significantly enhanced people’s chances. ‘These figures put paid to claims that dispute the value of a university qualification,’ she said. “It continues to be the case that graduates are less likely to be unemployed and will have higher lifetime earnings on average.”

CMM wonders if the peak lobby despatched the UA herald, in full livery accompanied by trumpeters to deliver Ms Robinson’s statement to NXT MP Rebekha Sharkie. Last month Ms Sharkie announced the party would block the government’s funding cuts if they were introduced to the Senate, (which UA liked). But in her speech she also spoke about graduate unemployment “Currently, we have students who are leaving university with high debts and little opportunity of securing stable employment in their area of study. We have too many highly qualified young people, with PhD degrees, stacking supermarket shelves or making lattes. We need to do better than this.” Whicb UA disagrees with – and know they have more stats that make their case.

The business of biz ed about to change say deans

If not the MBA then the master of business what, the Australian Business Deans Council asks its members in a new briefing paper crisply written by Leslie Falkiner-Rose. They replied with an admirable academic balance, pointing to continuing demand for the MBA on the one hand but also outlining emerging alternatives, notably:

chunks of knowledge: Ian Palmer (RMIT) suggests that business schools will eventually allow students “design the knowledge they want,” receiving credits for skills developed. According to La Trobe U’s Paul Mather life-long learning will lead to “smaller, chunk size executive education,” people take across careers. And Swinburne U’s Keryn Chalmers  suggests course refreshers will include two or three day campus study blocks and units on gamification, design thinking and analytics.

online learning: Uni Wollongong’s Grace McCarthy suggests a place for entirely on-line MBAs but it depends on what students want; “if a part of what you are doing is developing your professional networks then I think you can actually do that better in the face to face space.” Then again, ABDC president Trevor Travaglione (Curtin U) says digital delivery suits some people and can help universities to reach “diverse and disadvantaged groups.”

what’s taught: “The future is interdisciplinary. We will increasingly see business schools working with engineering schools, science schools, schools of medicine,” Colm Kearney from Monash U predicts.  “There’s a lot of lessons we can learn from the way we’ve been developing doctors, in particular to bring into management education using problems to actually develop knowledge and learning styles,” his Monash colleague Patrick Butler adds.

And there is more to business education, than business, as UniSouth Australia’s Marie Wilson points out: “business education has changed to be more engaging and to look at social challenges and social problems as well as P&L, which are still important but are only part of the picture.”


A workload wam for Deakin law academics

Deakin University law staff are worried about the university-proposed workload allocation model for research, due to start in the new year. The university wants to allocate a maximum of 60 per cent of the time of academics employed to teach and research to the latter, with points allocated according to the rating of journals where they publish. But staff say not all the inputs to the new model are clear and may change annually – making it hard for researchers to plan how to meet targets. According to the National Tertiary Education Union some in the school worry; “this research expectation model is simply designed to increase the required outputs so as to get more teaching out of people.”

UoQ senate election

The University of Queensland senate election outcomes are announced.

Academic staff reps: Greg Hainge (School of Languages and Culture), Tony Roberts (maths)

General staff rep: Rebecca Hurst (School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry)

Undergraduate: Zachary Thomas

Postgraduate: Thomas Mackay

Graduates: Dimity Dornan (speech pathologist), Douglas Cavaye (vascular surgeon), Katherine Hirschfield (chemical engineer)

However, the University senate is no workers soviet. Last week state governor Paul de Jersey reappointed five members of senate; Timothy Crommelin, Philip Hennessy, Zelle Hodge, Jamie Merrick and Grant Murdoch. Governor de Jersey also appointed three new members, UoQ graduates Julieanne Alroe, Sally Pitkin and Cecile Wake.

There are three official members, the chancellor, VC and president of academic board, eight appointed members appointed by the government, eight elected members and three members appointed by the Senate.