Cool under fire

Yesterday with a bushfire approaching Canberra Airport and adjacent Majura Park, where the Australian Research Council is based, the ARC announced “limited help-desk support until further notice.” Hard to complain about that.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning;

Merlin Crossley (UNSW DVC E) on the trend to teaching, why it is happening and why it is good for research-strong departments.

Macquarie U’s curriculum needed work – PVC Sean Brawley explains how they transformed it.

Maree O’Keefe (Adelaide U) on teaching health in the age of Dr Google.

No issue Australia Day public holiday

CMM will be back in Tuesday.

Dementia on-line courses: like MOOCs of the morning

A range of very short courses help practitioners work with patients

Dementia Training Australia announces “free online courses” which are “short, mobile, friendly and free to the user.”  There are 10 one-three hour courses for professional caregivers, dealing, among other issues with, over-night care, antipsychotic medication, how pharmacies can help.

Courses come from DTA in partnership with La Trobe U, QUT and the universities of Wollongong and WA, No, they are not badged as MOOCs, but they look like ‘em. It’s a great way to present members’ professional qualification programmes.

No rooms at the ANU inn

Yesterday CMM reported the university was nearly back to normal, with damage done in Monday’s hailstorm pretty much repaired. Not at University House it isn’t

The university advises the much-loved heritage guest-accommodation has taken a horrible hail-hiding, that events are off and guests out until end February.

There is water damage to the entire top floor and to function rooms, with the 66 years-old original tile roof, “the major area of concern.”

University House is not flash, but it is charming, “Bertie and Jeeves would have loved it,” a learned reader remarks.

Here’s hoping the repair job is not one of those horrors where fixing one problem reveals another.

American alliance

US-based international education industry organisation NAFSA wants more friends

The, “leading organisation committed to international education and exchange,” is offering membership outside the US for US$395. The rate is $100 off the existing individual member rate.

Unis must be up-front about what a degree delivers and when says equity expert

Not all graduates are the same when it comes to employment opportunities – people who are first in family to complete a degree can do it especially tough

Sarah O’Shea (Uni Wollongong) reports the experience of first in family grads, often from equity groups, in her

fellowship report for the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education, at Curtin U.

Professor O’Shea used qualitative research and stats to identify the complex circumstances of FIF graduates. But among the detailed data and closely-argued evidence there is a stark statement;

“Many of the participants in the study felt that they had been the victim of a hard-sell in terms of their degree, and that they had been misled as to the employability outcomes of their qualification.”

O’Shea explains at-length the contexts of family circumstances and individual experiences, or the lack of them and that create such disillusion; “not all students realise the importance of participating in internships or work-related opportunities. Instead respondents in this study indicated that as undergraduates they were playing by the ‘old rules of the game’, which centred on getting good grades rather than extending themselves in terms of co-curricular opportunities.”

But she also has some suggestions for universities, including;

* “university marketing and institutional administrators need to be upfront and clear about the length of time it takes to become established in a degree-related field of work,

* “staff across careers/support services in conjunction with academic/teaching staff need to explicitly and repeatedly evidence the importance of participation in extracurricular opportunities (i.e. volunteer experiences; work related or internship opportunities) whilst students are undertaking degrees,

* “careers services in partnership with academic and technology developers (both in university and industry) should develop ways to move beyond traditional models of internships or ‘work experience’ as being place-based, block, daytime models.”

And then there is the big one;

“Independent university peak bodies should provide a realistic cost-benefit analysis for different fields of study so that students can make informed choices about the qualifications they pursue. Ongoing interrogation of the longitudinal ‘opportunity costs’ of gaining a degree need to be prioritised to ensure that learners are clearly informed about the cost benefits of different qualifications.”

Preserving e-archives

The Digital Preservation Coalition (“enduring value from digital assets”) is opening a Uni Melbourne office

The new resource will support “digital preservation practitioners across the southern hemisphere”.  Jaye Weatherburn, Uni Melbourne digital preservation project manager, is seconded to staff it.

Response to bushfires crucial to securing confidence in international education

By Dirk Mulder

We need a message now

The bushfires have created a perception among prospective international students, their families and industry agents that Australia is not safe. Images on international news channels picked up across the globe and particularly in Asia are quick to demonstrate devastation but less so to report recovery and detailed information of actual affected areas. Misinformation and fake images also circulate via social media.

This means we need a coordinated response to ensure the “open for business” message is heard and confidence in Australia as a safe destination is heard.  The immediate need is obvious, plus there is also an opportunity to reshape medium to long term strategy objectives.

 What’s underway: In the immediate, a $76m package has been announced to ensure international visitors broadly are assured Australia is open for business. This will be coordinated via the tourism portfolio with approximately $5m earmarked for international education.

Earlier this week Education Minister Dan Tehan conducted an industry roundtable, with a task force to established to look at a more holistic sector response. This will involve international students and will work alongside leading peak bodies such as the International Education Association of Australia, English Australia and Universities Australia. State governments are also represented, to ensure education is included in the tourism messaging.

 What’s needed next:  No education related messaging has yet hit the ground and this needs to be done quickly to minimise any effect on the first semester intake (late February, early March).

Dirk Mulder is CMM’s international education correspondent. Contact him @ [email protected]


Appointments, achievements of the day and the week

Of the day

Ashley Franks become PVC Research Capability at La Trobe U, where he continues to lead the microbiology research group. The role replaces the PVC Research Development function.

Lisa Kewley (ANU) wins the James Craig Watson astronomy medal from the (US) National Academy of Sciences.  It comes with a US$25,000 prize, and $50,000 to support research.

Aaron Quigley will become head of the UNSW School of Computer Science and Engineering in August. He moves from University of St Andrews in Scotland.

Justin Marshall (Uni Queensland) is joint winner of British charity, the Rank Prize Fund’s award for optoelectronics. Professor Marshall shares the award with collaborator Tom Cronin (Uni Maryland). They study light-detection by the mantis shrimp, which may be adaptable to detecting cancel cells which reflect polarised light.

 Of the week

Genevieve Bell (ANU) is named the first Engelbart Distinguished Fellow. The award is from research innovation institute, SRI International. It is named for computing pioneer Doug Engelbart.

Reuben Bolt joins Charles Darwin U as PVC Indigenous Leadership. He moves from UNSW where he was director of the indigenous programme unit.

Historian Joy Damousi is leaving the University of Melbourne for Australian Catholic University, where she will be director of the new Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences.

Jessica Gallagher is appointed Uni Queensland’s PVC for global engagement and entrepreneurship. She moves up from director of the same portfolio at the university.

Michelle Kelly (Curtin U nursing school) is a new fellow of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare.

Alastair McEwan (Uni Queensland) commences his term as convenor of the Australian Council of Graduate Research.

Former federal minister and Australian War Memorial director, Brendan Nelson becomes chair of Boeing ANZ.

 Josh Pienaar joins Uni Southern Queensland as PVC Students. He moves from CQU where he is PVC Learning and Teaching.

Deakin U promotes Ly Tran to professor. She is well-regarded for her research on international students (CMM September 20).

The board of the Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences has elected Dan Woodman president. Associate Professor Woodman is a sociologist and assistant dean of arts (advancement and engagement).


Charles Darwin U advises its 2019 staff awards;

Ryan Family AwardsMpho Dube, (Midwifery) and Daniel Gahreman, (Exercise and sports science).

VC awardsProfessional staffLynley Walker, (Education). Learning and teaching, IT Code Fair Team, Sami AzamBarbara WhiteBharanidharan Shanmugam (Engineering, IT and Environment).  ResearchMenzies School of Health Research Child Health Respiratory Team and Hamish Campbell (Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods).