There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

“TAFE bachelor degrees are able to break away from the competency-based model of vocational education that some providers consider to be a constraint on their responsiveness to industry,” Susan Webb, Elizabeth Knight, Steven Hodge and Shaun Rawolle suggest. Why, they ask, are there not more of them, in a new contribution to Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

Plus, Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on the rhetoric of fighting in university life. There are better ways to deal with people and set goals.

Audit Office declines to investigate ARC

The Auditor General has declined Mehreen Faruqi’s request that his office look at the Australian Research Council’s administration of applications in recent research rounds.

Some were excluded due to inclusion of references to pre-prints, which broke a newish and obscure rule, causing uproar. Senator Faruqi (Greens, NSW) suggested the Australian National Audit Office investigate the process involved, which, she wrote, was “in some aspects irregular and not acceptable for an Australian Government agency, (CMM September 30, the backstory starts in CMM August 30).

But Auditor General Grant Mehir responds nothing-doing. “The ARC has provided assurance that appeals relating to the rescinded pre-print rule will be considered. I also understand that alternative external appeals mechanisms are available,” he states.

The ARC website lists the Ombudsman and the Privacy Commissioner, among other agencies, which do not look relevant to the issue, that could consider appeals. Unless, of course the Administrative Appeals Tribunal wanted to have a look. Maybe, maybe not. While the ARC lists the AAT on its external review list, it advises “the AAT does not have general power to review ARC decisions.”

What’s going on with Undergraduate Certificates

The Commonwealth seemed keen but now, not so much

Universities worked hard and fast to offer the new Undergraduate Certificate qualification but suddenly their future is not assured.

In Features this morning, Sean Brawley (Macquarie U) looks at the short history of the UC and wonders what, if anything, is next for the qualification. If it goes people who leave UG study early will be the losers, he warns.

Chief Scientist on open access

Chief Scientist Cathy Foley is on an Open Access Australasia Panel this afternoon, considering, “growing the value of research by nurturing the open knowledge ecosystem.” In August then Industry Minister Christian Porter ticked Dr Foley’s workplan which includes, “champion Open Access … including development of a roadmap, with links to research integrity,” (CMM August 31).

In March Dr Foley said was “closely considering” an OA strategy in Australia, (CMM March 18).


Tudge warns education faculties on funding

The education minister says the Government will use “the full leverage” of the $760m it provides “to insist that evidence-based practises are taught”

 Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge has slammed education faculties saying, “we have seen ideology and fads dominate instructional practice in our universities’ education faculties, instead of evidence-based practices.”

“Ensuring that every student training to be a teacher is equipped with the toolkit to be highly impactful in the classroom, “is his “top priority,” Mr Tudge said in a speech on Friday.

The minister added “ideological resistance” in teacher training has limited the classroom-use of “two highly effective teaching methods,” – explicit instruction and phonics.

And he warned education faculties, “if you are not adequately preparing student teachers to become effective classroom teachers using evidence-based practices, you should not be in the business of teacher education.

“If necessary, the Government will use the full leverage of the $760 million it provides to education faculties to insist that evidence-based practices are taught.

Mr Tudge’s warning comes ahead of the Quality Initial Teacher Education Review which is due this month.

However, Michele Simons (Western Sydney U), president of the Australian Council of Deans of Education, responded researchers and academics are waiting on the review, and, “it is important that, that any new reforms do not undermine the significant gains that have been made in building this research-led approach to accrediting ITE programmes.

“Accreditation panels play close attention to all aspects of ITE programs to ensure that only those that meet these standards are accredited. This includes the requirement for ITE providers to draw on research evidence to inform the ongoing development and quality assurance of their programs, in addition to ensuring that Graduate Teachers are able to exercise professional judgement and become discerning adopters of research in their practice.”

Rivers of gold flow at for-profit journal giant

RELX, the parent company of Elsevier reports underlying earnings up 4 per cent in the first nine months of ‘21 for its Scientific, Technical and Medical Division (where the journals and the research data products sit)

With admirable understatement, RELX does not reveal what this increase amounts to but in 2020 the STM division earned £2692m with an operating profit of £1021m, or $1844m.


ACT does a Dominic on welcoming students

Chief Minister Andrew Barr follows Dominic Perrottet in announcing his government is ready to go on international arrivals

The Chief Minister announced Friday that fully vaxed international students will be allowed into Canberra for the start of the 2022 academic year with no need to quarantine.

Of course, “students will need to follow all Australian Government vaccination and testing requirements for international arrivals.”

Which is where the hard work has to happen – organising a vax evidence system for internationals is going to be hard, but as Mr Barr makes clear that it is not his problem.

As did NSW’s Premier Perrottet when he announced his government “would welcome fully vaccinated arrivals”

Mr Perrottet gave PM Scott Morrison not a lot of options but to respond, “the Federal Government is not opening it up to anything other than Australian citizens and residents and their immediate families,” (CMM October 18).

The feds are on a hiding to nothing until they have a vax id system for arrivals, including students, that works – the Commonwealth Government either upsets the international education community by not allowing students in or it runs the risk of students bringing COVID-19 in from overseas, which would not go down well with all voters.

Vax proof to be on Monash U campuses

As of last Friday, all Monash U staff and students authorised to be on campus had to have at least their first COVID-19 vax. By November 5 both shots will be required

And everybody will have to prove they are vaxxed, keeping a confirmation email from the university. “Security staff will be present on campus and may request to see an individual’s valid permit and verification email.”

That’s the stick. The already announced carrot is spending vouchers for staff and students (CMM September 24).

“We need growth and cuts” says UWA Senior DVC

University management wants to cut six academic positions from the School of Molecular Sciences, the reasons why apply across campus

In a memo to head of school Martha Ludwig, at the start of the cuts process, seen by CMM, Senior DVC Simon Biggs wrote the university needed to move from an overall student to staff ratio of around 20 to 1 “one that is closer to 24.”

“To give us a sustainable annual surplus, we need to grow the amount we spend on infrastructure (research support for example) by trimming staff costs, noting that professional costs are to be trimmed more than academic,” he wrote.

For Molecular Science, this meant staff reductions and 80 more EFTS.

“The narrative has not shifted really, we need growth and cuts,” Professor Biggs wrote.

The Molecular Sciences savings plan follows a bitter dispute over job losses in the School of Social Sciences, where the original plan is said to now being revised.

Vice Chancellor Amit Chakma says he expects most schools to make saving targets by attrition and early retirement but that there will be “formal restructuring” in seven or eight (CMM August 2).

Majority (just) of new NHMRC grants go to women CIs

The National Health and Medical Research Council announces $85m in $5m Synergy Grants to fund multidisciplinary research over five years, “from discovery to translation.”

Chief Investigators are, * Roslyn Boyd (Uni Queensland) * Patrick Brennan (Uni Sydney) * Alex Brown (South Australian Health and MRI) * Jonathan Carapetis (UWA) * Paul Haber (Uni Sydney) * Philip Hansbro (UTS) * Monika Janda (Uni Queensland), * Mark Jenkins (Uni Melbourne), * Misty Jenkins (Walter and Eliza Hall) * Anne Kavanagh (Uni Melbourne), * Mark Parsons (UNSW), * Andrew Roberts (Walter and Eliza Hall), * Kate Schroder (Uni Queensland) * Ingrid Scheffer (Uni Melbourne), * Monica Slavin (Uni Melbourne), * Melissa Southey (Monash U) * Kate Sutherland (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute),

NHMRC is keen for it to be known that over 50 per cent of CIs are women – which may not impress signatories to a petition now circulating that calls on the council to address the gender imbalance in funding.


Appointments, achievements

The Australian Research Council announces its 2021 advisory council Calum Drummond, (RMIT), Mark Hutchinson (Uni Adelaide), Su McCluskey, (Commission for International Agricultural Research), Mark McKenzie (Council of Small Business Organisations Australia), Chris Moran (Curtin U) Michelle Simmons (UNSW), Deborah Terry (Uni Queensland) Maggie Walte (Yoo-rrook Justice Commission).  This is a second term for Professor Terry and Mr McKenzie, who have stayed on “to provide continuity.”

Fiona Brooks has started at Auckland U of Tech as PVC and Dean of Health and Environmental Sciences. She was previously Assistant DVC R at UTS.

CMO Magazine announces its top 25 marketers of the year, including: Carolyn Bendall, (Swinburne U) at 19, and Chaminda Ranasinghh (RMIT) at 21.

Helen Marshall is the 2022 South Australian of the Year. Professor Marshall is a vaccine scientist at Uni Adelaide.

Peter Scott will move from PVC E at UTS to president of Athabasca U, (“Canada’s on-line university”), in Alberta.