“You want theory with that?”

Sociologist Ruby Grant reports from University of Tasmania on Douglas Ezzy’s lecture on “Weber and the McDonaldisation in sociology,” (via Twitter).  Presumably Weber would have had a Big Max.

Nothing lost in translation

Western Sydney U students in the masters of interpreting and translation are subtitling The Handmaids Tale in Mandarin, as part of their course. Their work is now screening on SBS In Demand, with series two of the series ready to run with subtitles from its April 26 launch.

A series about an authoritarian regime which tells women what they can do with their own bodies – it won’t take many subtitles for a Mandarin audience to work that out.

What doctorates deliver: Group of Eight asks PhD graduates

The Group of Eight will survey 20 000 of its PhD graduates to discover what their degrees delivered three, eight and fifteen years after completing their doctorates.

The survey will provide comparisons with the US experience, where the Council of Graduate Schools is conducting a similar study. The Go8 is working with ANU’s Social Research Centre to ask graduates about employment outcomes, work transitions and career benefits delivered by their doctorates.

This is astute stuff, extending the government’s focus on employment outcomes for undergraduate degrees to a market where the Go8 dominate, producing half the country’s PhDs. Good results will demonstrate the Eight’s appeal to funding agencies, industry and prospective students alike.

Energy entrepreneur to ANU

Energy entrepreneur Lachlan Blackhall will lead a new ANU programme on integrating battery storage with the electricity grid. Dr Blackhall is a founder of Reposit Power which develops systems to aggregate distributed energy storage into electricity networks. The $8M research investment is funded by the university and the ACT government.

Grattan Institute experts point to benefits of the ATAR

The Grattan Institute has spoken up for the ATAR, pointing to its utility as a predictor of student performance and as an early-warning indicator of problems in admissions.

Andrew Norton and Ittima Cherastidtham make their case in a submission to the federal government’s review of the higher education data collection ( CMM January 25) system.

They call for collection of ATAR scores for all university applicants who have them, regardless of whether they are admitted to university on some other basis.  The ATAR “provides a useful insight into students’ likely performance at university,” “irrespective of basis of admission,” they argue. The also propose a broader market intelligence role for the rank; suggesting quality regulator TEQSA could use ATAR data to assess whether, “whether higher education providers are complying with the admissions standards” and to monitor applications, offers and enrolments, “especially for any unusual patterns and risks to the higher education system.”

Their support for the ATAR follows the Mitchell Institute’s recent report on its failings and suggestions of alternative entry schemes (CMM March 21).

Norton and Cherastidtham also propose extending the VET system’s Unique Student Identifier to higher education. This “would improve the government’s and the sector’s ability to accurately identify and track students irrespective of their education level or citizenship status.”

The power of one

Thanks to the learned readers who suggested one reason why the Adelaide Advertiser is following the Hobart Mercury in its admiration for Peter Rathjen, former VC of UTas, present VC of UniAdelaide. Matt Deighton was editor of the Mercury and now edits the ‘Tiser.

Space CRC bid set to launch

A CRC bid team plans to “catapult Australia as a space-faring nation” by developing a niche in intelligent satellite systems, advanced comms and analysis of earth-observation data. The University of South Australia and engineering consultants Nova Systems are sponsoring the bid, pointing to national priority benefits including in agriculture, mining, defence and transport.

“A CRC is a proven mechanism for building Australian capability and growing our economy through research-inspired innovation and knowledge creation,” the bid team claims. The partners are looking for participant commitments by May.

Brutal realism

“Being a sessional is not an apprenticeship. Doing heaps of extra hours does not lead to more work. In fact, it reinforces the belief that casual staff can be taken advantage of.” The UoQ branch of the NTEU advises the precariat there, and everywhere, Friday.

ATEM excellence awards open

Entries for the ATEM best practise awards open this morning, with the Association for Tertiary Education Management accepting submissions covering the ways administrators keep education running.

Categories are: leadership, research management, governance and policy, marketing comms and public relations, people and culture, school and faculty management, student engagement, community engagement and the Outstanding Achiever Award.

Winners will be announced at this year’s Tertiary Education Management conference, in Perth on September 10. Details here.

Nothing rotten in that borough

The Australian Electoral Commission proposes changing the name of Melbourne-fringe House of Reps seat McMillan to Monash. As yet, no one is proposing placing the seat in the gift of the vice chancellor of Monash U.

UniMelb union members to vote on industrial action

Union members at the University of Melbourne will vote on taking protected industrial action following the Fair Work Commission’s approving a ballot. According to the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union this has taken longer than necessary – due to university management going slow on accepting the comrades’ choice of provider to run the process.

After a year-plus of negotiations NTEU campus president Steve Adams and colleagues point to stand-out enterprise bargaining issues, notably the university’s push for separate agreements for professional and academic staff and to remove any commitment to academic freedom – a claim the university consistently denies.

Mr Adams urges members to vote, saying “we know that senior management is paying attention to what we are doing and it is having an impact on their bargaining position.”

Not so much doom in the data on education demand from China

QUT’s Darragh Murray has crunched the numbers on China demand for Australian education to find the market is still expanding, how fast depends on what numbers you look at.  Visas granted were up 7.9 per cent for the last calendar year, compared to a 12.2 per cent increase in 2016, then again growth in ’15 was 5.1 per cent.

The point is that with different data sets and collection periods what looks alarming in one quarter is less so as part of longer-term trends from the same data. Stats analysed half way through a financial year can also look way different to those for Jan-Dec. And then there is the role of the feds, visa numbers in July-August were down with a new system imminent, but they rocketed up in September after ministers encouraged officials to pick up the pace (CMM September 5 2016)

Concurrent stories may exist in the data depending on how you twist and turn the data sets. My lesson here is that the structure of the data is as important as the data itself,” Mr Murray suggests.

University wins in the west

With an enterprise deal finally done at Murdoch U, higher education administration and governance consultant Andrew Dempster says WA’s public universities “made solid gains” on key issues, in the now complete enterprise bargaining round including:

academic workloads and teaching flexibility: the four “now have some of the most flexible teaching delivery arrangements in Australia” with increases in permitted teaching hours

clearer change management procedures: simple consultant-then-implement processes are now in place at all four

span of hours for professional staff: professional staff at UWA, Curtin and now Murdoch can be rostered on between 6am to 8.30pm. as student need demands

conduct reviews: committees considering discipline and performance matters are either reigned in or replaced by an independent reviewer

Hot-seats filled for inaugural ARC Engagement and Impact assessments

The Australian Research Council has announced panel chairs for the inaugural round of the engagement and impact assessment.

Richard Dunford (UNSW): social sciences

Gerard Goggin (UniSyd): creative arts and humanities

John Grundy (Monash U): science and tech

Terry Nolan (UniMelb): health and life sciences

Maggie Walter (UniTas): Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research

These are fraught appointments. While industry-focused researchers have embraced the E&I case study approach there is substantial scepticism among researchers who prefer (at least compared to the new approach) the academics-writing-for-academics journal measure of the continuing Excellence for Research in Australia programme. ERA panel chairs were announced last month (CMM, March 22).

Submissions open in May.