Its turkey lurky time

CQU VC Scott Bowman will lead a staff charity walk Sunday. The university advises he will take the First Turkey Track. That’s the name of the path not one of the VC’s titles.

There’s more in the The Mail

in Features this morning, David Myton  talks to Kerri-Lee Krause and Marcia Devlin about a new push towards gender equity across the sector.


Research excellence evaluators announced

The Australian Research Council has appointed chairs of the eight research evaluation committees, “who will perform a key role in the 2018 round of Excellence for Research in Australia.”

But not as key as the chairs for ERA 15. This year ERA research publication measures share the stage with the new impact narratives and while there was never a bunch of money attached to ERA this year unis are in it for the glory alone, (CMM November 1 2017).

The chairs are:

Rose Amal, UNSW: engineering and environmental sciences

Hugh Barrett, UWA: medical and health sciences

Brenda Cherednichenko, Deakin U: education and human society

David Green, Monash U: maths and ICT

Eleanor Mackie: UniMelb: biological and biotechnical sciences

Flavio Menezes, UoQ: econmics and commerce

John O’Connor, UniNewcaste:, physical, chemical and earth scieces

Graeme Turner, UoQ: humanities and creative arts

Ask your barista if the reflectometer is working

In CMM yesterday it was capitalism and coffee in Melbourne today it is science, with La Trobe U researchers explaining processes of “extracting soluble flavour compounds” from roasted and ground beans. If your reflectometer detects 1.37 disolved solids, you are in good shape coffee wise. And there was CMM still checking to see if there were 43 beans in every cup.

Arts about argument at Monash U

Students at Monash U have complained for weeks about teaching in the Arts Faculty, claiming sessional staff are going and tutorials expanding in numbers (CMM March 16). The university’s response is that there are no cuts to the faculty budget, which doesn’t exactly rebut the student claim. And now there are more queries of the official line, with the National Tertiary Education Union getting involved. Union officials will brief staff on what management says on Monday.

The shape of marking disputes to come

Hamish Coates suggests a $1bn bill for marking student work means it must be done better and at a lower cost. But this will be easier announced than arranged (CMM yesterday). He’s right, demonstrated by a disagreement between management and the National Tertiary Education Union at the University of the Sunshine Coast over time allotted to casual staff for marking assignments.

“Research produced at USC shows that feedback on assessment is a student’s most important marking tool. … The time it takes to produce quality feedback is necessary, perhaps more so in the social sciences, as this allows us to ensure that students can be assessed on their knowledge effectively,” the union’s Kelly Chambers tells head of social sciences Ken Greenwood.

“The changes will compromise the student experience and USC’s much-marketed ‘five-star teaching’ rate, Mr Chambers adds.

Great American novel(ist)

Happy are ANU readers of great American novels because Jennifer (A Visit from the Goon Squad, Manhattan Beach) Egan speaks there on May 9.

It’s not over for the ATAR

The ATAR is not what it was. Last year university lobbies and government advisory bodies worked hard to end the way it was used and abused to make university entry opaque and status-bound. They did a pretty good job with a range of rules and reforms rolling out now. But yesterday CMM reported a new Mitchell Institute analysis detailing practical problems and philosophical failings with the entry score scheme. It generated enough attention for Universities Australia to reiterate it’s established position.

“The national data shows very clearly that an ATAR has become less important as a path to an offer as our universities have developed a broader set of assessment tools. What is not often well understood is that there are now a number of pathways into university,” UA chief Belinda Robinson said.

It could mean that ATAR attention increasing yesterday was something of a dead cat bounce. But it probably doesn’t, at least if the federal government’s new cap on places continues. If that happens universities will need a way to ration entry into courses, like, um the ATAR.

ANU’s Schmidt speaks up for academic freedom, at ANU

Comments from a student who is critical of the government’s asylum seeker policy were dropped from ANU marketing collateral (Emily Baker in the Canberra Times had the story. Which led VC Brian Schmidt to intervene.

ANU prides itself on the principle of academic freedom and I am always proud to see our students standing up for issues they feel strongly about. I am disappointed this happened and everybody has learned from it,” the VC tweeted from his official account last night. To which the ANU College of Law twitter account added. “We made a poor call not publishing a student’s comments in a marketing booklet. We’ve learned from it. We encourage students to speak out on issues they feel are important.”

It could be said a little more loudly than via Twitter, but at least it is said.

Remind you of anything? It reminds CMM of an incident at Murdoch U where a manager chipped an academic for tweeting a photo of students supporting asylum seekers in 2016 because it was political. Acting VC Andrew Taggart backed the students, being photographed wth them and their protesting placard (CMM March 4 2016).

Good that Schmidt and Taggart acted, bit of a worry they had to.