Beginning as she means to go on

Tanya Plibersek sticks to the script

The shadow education minister was talking at a TAFE in Melbourne yesterday. “We are failing a generation of young people because we are under-investing in skills and education,” she said. And will keep saying for three more years.

There’s more in the Mail

Kim Fraser (Swinburne U) on why university teachers need to be qualified to teach, is this week’s feature in CMM’s series on what education needs know. (Plus, scroll down for Denise Chalmers’ new report on peer-reviewing university teacher performance.

And David Myton‘s regular wrap on higher ed elsewhere.

Peer-reviewing university teachers

Why we need it, how to do it

Denise Chalmers (UWA) addresses the issue in one of the last learning and teaching fellow reports, (quietly) published by the feds.

She proposes ExPeRT, a new model for external peer review of teaching, building on the Australian University Teaching Criteria and Standards. Following a trial of the model she specifies five core characteristics for a reviewing system.

* external reviews

* expert peer reviewers

* initial and ongoing training of assessors, “to ensure the continued rigour of the model”

* sustainability, “to maintain the process as a key component of quality assurance”

* relevance, “the ExPeRT model will provide reviewers that can rigorously assess teaching and learning quality against a range of criteria.”

Why do it: “There would seem to be significant scope for this development, particularly as the review and assessment of promotion applications from academics whose contributions largely focus on their contributions to teaching and learning and associated scholarly activities,” Professor Chalmers suggests.

As for critics: Professor Chalmers acknowledges opponents who suggest standards erode professional autonomy and require academics to work to observable and measurable standards. “Such critiques fail to distinguish between ‘process’ and ‘product’. The ‘product’ of standards can be applied in ways that facilitate or inhibit educational improvements and teacher creativity. In short, it is not standards that are the problem, it is the way that they are used that matters.”

There’s another reason: “Governments and major stakeholders in the sector continue to express concern about the quality of teaching in our higher education institutions. The commitment of tertiary institutions to reward and recognise teaching has been elusive, despite progress being made in the development of teaching criteria and the identification of appropriate evidence of teaching excellence.”

June is busting out all over

First Flinders, then Curtin and now La Trobe announce big infrastructure spends

La Trobe U joins the campus building boom, with construction starting on a $100m student accommodation (624 beds) complex at the Bundoora campus. It’s part of a campus-in-community project, to include an expanded private hospital, plus aged and child care centres. The university says it is addressing an under-supply of services in adjacent communities and plans to become, “the engine room of Melbourne’s north,” (CMM June 25 2018).

Open Day of the day

Like its name-sake, Monash U has got the planning all-sorted

Monash U is promoting its network open days with an information-rich, easy to navigate  website which sets out what’s on offer. “The thing that is the most special about Monash is our desire to make a difference. You’ll leave with a greater sense of purpose, a global outlook, and the skills and confidence to make a positive change – to your own life, and to the lives of those around you.” CMM thinks they mean studying there, although Monash being Monash they might be referring to OD. Like Sir John, the university does not understate achievements.


Indigenous HE leaders gather at QUT

QUT has hosted what CMM thinks is the first-ever national meeting of Indigenous Australian PVCs and DVCs

The meeting discussed common challenges, sharing best-practise in Indigenous higher education and forming an association of Indigenous PVCs-DVCs. The event was convened by QUT’s new PVC (Indigenous) Angela Barney-Leitch, with VC Margaret Sheil sitting-in for some of it.


Skilling up: who should learn what and where

A Swinburne U survey finds people need digital skills to stay employable. edX says the same

A  report based on the Swinburne survey by the university’s Sean Gallagher, finds Australian workers know that tech change is coming and are willing “to prepare now for the approaching future but lack the confidence to do so. An edX  survey similarly states respondents report they are lacking in data and business skills.

The question is how people will pick up the new knowledge they need.

No prizes for guessing what edX thinks.

But Dr Gallagher, from the university’s Centre for the New Workforce, has more policy-focused ideas for up-skilling the workforce, suggesting government, education providers and industry must combine to create, “learning partnerships,” that, “focus on developing learning workers, integrating learning into work, and reimagining accreditation.”

“We need to lift workers into the digital economy by providing basic digital competency. The most immediate challenge is to equip the workforce with the skills to work with digital technologies. All workers must have access to this training, relevant to the emerging needs of their organisation, industry or sector,” he proposes.

As to who will deliver it, edX reports survey respondents split, with 41% thinking it is up to them, 33% saying it’s down to employers,16% saying higher education providers should and 9% looking to government.

In contrast, Australians are more self-reliant. Dr Gallagher found 59 per cent think they are personally responsible for preparing themselves for the future of work, 15 per cent think it is a job either for the education system or “the government” and just 11 per cent looking to their employer.

Which rather makes his point about partnerships. Dr Gallagher reports, Australians, “want their learning to be informed by specialists with a slight preference for industry experts over academic experts. Australian workers might prefer online providers as a resource, but it is not their preferred learning format. To prepare to work with digital technologies, Australians workers clearly signal that ‘learning on the job’ is overwhelmingly preferred over all other formats.”


MOOC of the morning

Roslyn Petelin and Amber Gywnne are offering the University of Queensland’s MOOC on English grammar and style (via edX) – again

This is a Mousetrap (the play’s the thing!) of a MOOC, running since 2014, with edX reporting 610, 000 people enrolling over the years. AsPro Petelin extends the MOOC in two books – yes books, as in text on paper. The new run starts on July 22.

Deal done at Uni Wollongong

Professional staff have voted for a management-union backed enterprise agreement

The terms are largely in-line with deals on comparable campuses, (CMM March 29), including extending 17 per cent super to fixed term staff from mid-2022.  There are also clauses the union is particularly pleased with, including for casual staff who want to convert to continuing employment.  Staff voting are also happy, with the in-favour vote said to be 90 per cent plus. Next on the agenda is an academic staff agreement, which is said to be imminent.

Once that’s done management and union can get on with arguing about next year’s Ramsay Western Civilisation Centre-funded degree.

From Monash to Melbourne in university publishing

Nathan Hollier taking over at Melbourne University Publishing

Dr Hollier has led Monash U publishing for nine years, building a list which combines academic integrity with intriguing books for (erudite) general readers.  As MUP chair Warren Bebbington puts it, “what he has achieved at Monash aligns well with the future plans for Melbourne University Publishing.”

Dr Hollier certainly understands the industry. Back in 2016 he wrote, “the future of an academic publishing operation depends considerably on the priorities of the university and those might change with the appointment of a new vice chancellor …” (CMM February 8 2016)

He starts in July.

Appointments, achievements

Uni Queensland’s Institute for Social Science Research reports two new professorial hires; Lisa McDaid joins from social and public health science at the University of Glasgow and Rhema Vaithianathan, who works on big data and machine learning “for social good,” moves from Auckland University of Technology.

Sarah Maddison (Uni Melbourne) reports she is becoming deputy dean of its arts faculty.

Bob Carr has a three-year appointment at UTS as a professor of industry, “focusing on business and climate change.” The former NSW premier and Australian foreign minister was previously director of the university’s Australia-China Relations Institute.

The American Society of Criminology awards its Jerry Lee lifetime achievement award in experimental criminology to Uni Queensland’s Lorraine Mazerolle.