Curtin U grad support app

The university is expanding graduate career-support, with an informal-credentials app

It’s being trialled in a comms degree, with students able to earn digital badges for mentoring, network and other non-academic skills.

This is a home-grown product, in the developing marketplace for credentials that aren’t academic but are issued by a university. (Griffith U is active in the space, CMM April 8 2019).  Curtin U is a major presence in the MOOC market, (CMM September 6 2019) and this informal-learning recognition space has the same sort of potential.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning, Paul Farnhill (Curtin U) on equity in HE – it’s not happening as expected or intended. It is a new essay in Contributing Editor Sally Kift’s series on what we need now in higher education.

Plus, Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on the happy addiction of scientific research.

And Frank Larkins (Uni Melbourne) on how (really, really) exposed Group of Eight unis are to COVID-19.

Third big win for Ramsay western civ centre

Australian Catholic U is negotiating to teach a degree

The proposal is the same as those now in place at University of Queensland and Uni Wollongong, where Ramsay-funded degrees commence this semester – $50m over eight years to pay specially hired staff and fund 150 UG scholarships.

Ramsay is pleased: “This is an extremely good fit for the Ramsay Centre which seeks to give students the opportunity to study the great texts of western civilisation in small group settings,” CEO Simon Haines says.

“People assume that we wanted all Group of Eight universities but we wanted ones with different profiles.”

So is ACU:  The Ramsay vision certainly works for ACU’s leadership. Back in 2018 Vice Chancellor Greg Craven made the case for the study of western civ; “Universities are a central part of western culture. Indeed, they are the oldest continuous institutions of that culture, excepting the Catholic Church. Central to the mission of any Australian university is the need to strengthen students’ sense of belonging to this synthetic Australian expression of western culture.

And he pointed to what has now happened, “ACU … is part of western civilisation’s oldest continuous institution. It has a campus in Rome, for God’s sake. It is not frightened of Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Raphael, Shakespeare, Tolstoy or Hunter S Thompson. Obviously, it would be open to a great books course founded in western culture, provided the particular course went through the usual processes of academic assurance and approval, (CMM November 14 2018).

Professor Craven says a Bachelor of Western Civ will be taught from next year at ACU’s North Sydney campus.

The Vice Chancellor also assures staff, “the university will maintain autonomy over all key governance arrangements related to the course, and that all our activities will be consistent with the university’s position on intellectual and academic freedom.”

What’s next for Ramsay: While there are four-year reviews of the three partnerships, the plan for UG education is now in-place and so Ramsay is focusing on its PG programme.

This will support Australian postgraduates to study at prestige universities overseas. Starting next year, there will be 25 annual awards providing $80 000 per annum for two-three years.

Union protest at ACU

With two Ramsay courses already being taught there is less reason for a brawl

National Tertiary Education Union president at ACU, Leah Kaufmann calls for a guarantee, “that all university governance processes will be entirely safeguarded against any external influence,” and a commitment that no ACU employee “will have an increase in their workload as a result of any potential units or courses introduced.”

And national president Alison Barnes adds, “ACU receives public funds and therefore has a responsibility to make the details of the Ramsay agreement public. Secretive discussions may avoid controversy; however, this approach is not compatible with the goals of academic freedom that define a modern university.”

The NTEU also called on the university to release the text of the memorandum of understanding with Ramsay.

Which ACU duly did this afternoon, here.

With two universities already teaching Ramsay courses without uproar there is less reason for the union to fight this to the last ditch.

Rocking-on with another VET plan

In another move in a series starting when Sisyphus took delivery of his boulder the feds announce a consultation draft for a VET reform road map

The document delivers on COAG instructions for the VET system to be; * work-place relevant and on a par with higher education, * accessible to prospective learners and employers * and of a confidence-inspiring quality.

It sets out seven destinations to be delivered in three phases each, all across five years. It is now out for consultation.

The draft joins the 450 or so change plans for the VET sector over the past two decades.

People preparing submissions should watch-out for big rocks bouncing down the policy hill.

R&D not the only innovation answer

With no sign of research and development tax reform ever passing the Senate how fortunate for the government that it may not be the main game after all

Innovation and Science Australia reports that “business expenditure on research and development is not a strong predictor of innovation investment … sectors where many firms are actively innovating are more likely to have greater productivity, whether or not they undertake R&D.”

Innovation that isn’t R&D based includes business models, plus organisation and marketing practice.

“Given the correlations between non-R&D innovation and economic growth and job creation, there is an opportunity for government to rebalance its existing policy mix,” ISA suggests.

It recommends, “government reduce reliance on the R&D Tax Incentive as the primary support to businesses and complement support with direct measures (such as grants) to encourage non-R&D innovation investment.”

There are no sure-signs the research and development tax incentive changes (see eleventy-one CMM stories starting in the 18th century) now waiting on the Senate’s wishes will ever pass. This could be an opportunity for the government to move the grounds of the argument.


Mary-Anne Williams from UTS wins a Google award to work with the company on education content development for its open-source learning platform, TensorFlow.