Growth market

With Paul Wellings announcing he is leaving Uni Wollongong there are now five VC jobs for recruiters to fill

Helen Bartlett is moving from Federation U to Uni Sunshine Coast. Peter Dawkins is leaving Victoria U. Michael Spence is leaving Uni Sydney for University College, London. Deborah Terry is moving from Curtin U to Uni Queensland.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning;

Maria Raciti (Uni Sunshine Coast)  on the joined-up education-to-occupation blueprint low SES students want. It’s a new essay in Contributing Editor Sally Kift’s series on what is needed now in teaching and learning.

Plus, Merlin Crossley (UNSW)  points out the positive prejudice when scientists give talks.

And Tim Winkler lists ten ways to deal with the virus crisis.

QILT results: where students can get satisfaction  

The QILT survey is out and the Education Minister suggests universities have a good look at the data

Undergraduates surveyed for the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching 2019 report a 78 per cent overall satisfaction rate with their overall education experience. This is down marginally on last year (78.9 per cent) but enough of a drop for Education Minister Dan Tehan to point out that it is the lowest score in the survey’s history. “I encourage all universities to look deeply at the results for their institution and continue to focus on how to improve the student experience,” he says.

The 2019 top performers are unchanged, the University of Divinity rates highest with a 99.2 per cent overall positive ranking, followed by University of Notre Dame, 88 per cent and Bond U, 87.2 per cent, well above the all uni-average of 78.4 per cent. Other unis five per cent above average include Deakin U, 83.5 per cent, Edith Cowan U, 83.3 per cent and UNE, 83.2 per cent

There is improvement at the other end of the scale, with universities that scored under 75 per cent last year lifting above it this, albeit not by much; Victoria U (75.4 per cent), Charles Darwin U (75.2 per cent).

However, Uni Sydney does badly, staying under 75 per cent for the third year running. And UNSW does worse, at 62.9 per cent, although the university attributes this to the launch of its new academic year, (below).

Overall, the student experience stays the same with annual scores moving up and down by a maximum of three per cent in the nine surveys since 2011 for skills development, learner engagement, teaching quality and learning resources. The outlier is student support, where removing a question in 2014 prevents an all-surveys comparison.

As to non-university providers – the survey results range from extraordinary to appalling; there are providers that students just love. Like the Jazz Music Institute (in Brisbane) which has an overall student satisfaction score of 97.4 per cent and the Adelaide Central School of Art with 96.7 per cent. And there are others they don’t. Like private providers scoring in the 40s. And TAFE NSW (76.5 per cent), TAFE SA (71.7 per cent) and  TAFE Queensland (73.2 per cent) are all below the NUHEP average of 79.4 per cent.

What it means. Staff at the excellent Social Research Centre, which creates QILT will be having conniptions this morning as hacks like CMM generalise about their carefully calibrated data and analysis that goes no further than the stats allow. There is, they point out every year a “negative association” between institution size and student ratings, which goes a way to explaining the top and bottom raters. But this should not cheer low rating institutions – there are now nine years of student ratings in QILT, and the results stay much the same.

Generations of students are sending unis and colleges consistent messages.

All well by October

It is deadline day for props for papers for the Australian International Education Conference in October. It’s still scheduled as an in-person event, on the Gold Coast, in October. Can’t faulting the organisers for optimism.

U Tas to cut courses now but redundancies aren’t imminent

Vice Chancellor Rufus Black tells staff 514 degrees will drop to 120

Professor Black says the university’s degrees include 2657 units, delivered across 72 study periods and it is all too hard.

“All these degrees and units have to be maintained, reviewed and managed. The countless exceptions all have to be individually managed often by multiple people. And we can only market a fraction of our hundreds of courses anyway. It is not a great experience for anyone.”

The VC says the new slim structure will be in-place for next year.

Professor Black tells staff that the course cuts, in line with other efficiencies, are essential in the face of “a very strong headwind” caused by changing patterns of international demand, Tasmania’s demography and now COVID-19; “in the face of it we are not making enough progress to be the right size to be sustainable even in the short term. The year sees us start a long way behind our budget with more financial challenges to come.”

However, Professor Black talks down job cuts. “We will lean hard on our natural turnover to achieve as much of that as possible. By getting onto this now it gives us time to do this in (a) thoughtful and planned way. We are fortunate that for us the pressures aren’t at a level requiring redundancies decided quickly and we have the time to do this well.”

U Tas observers say the campus community long saw this coming. The university signalled the issues to be addressed in last year’s five-year plan, (CMM August 5). The university had “a five-year horizon to … develop into a sustainable operation,” the plan stated.

Sounds like the timing has got tighter.

A win on the way out for Brammer

Macquarie U’s Global MBA is named CEO Magazine’s best in class for Australia and sixth in the world – which pleases departing dean Stephen Brammer

In a memo to staff the collegial Professor Brammer thanks the people who work on the degree, in the business school, broader university and partner Coursera – it’s a JV with the MOOC provider, costing $35 000, “fully on-line”.

“This is a very impressive achievement and a truly significant result … hopefully the first of many,” he writes.  But Professor Brammer will not be there to see them, he announced last month that his move to the University of Bath, (CMM February 28).

Unhappy at UNSW: undergrads score the uni last

UNSW is shaping up to its terrible QILT rating (above) with DVC Academic Merlin Crossley suggesting the introduction of its three-term academic calendar was the issue

“This major change was difficult for many of our students and for our staff. … It is notable that the scores from undergraduates were more affected than those from postgraduate coursework students,” he wrote to staff yesterday.

Professor Crossley says the university has heard feedback from staff and students, is reviewing assessment, special consideration and will introduce a revision week in term two.

And things will get better; “at other universities which have been through this type of calendar change it has led to a sharp initial fall in student satisfaction followed by a steady rise.”

Really relevant research

The new issue of Sax Institute journal, Public Health Research and Practice came out yesterday, with stories on the news pace, not common among research journals.

Raina MacIntyre (UNSW) asks if COVID-19 can be contained (it can’t). She explores what will happen next and what we should try to do about it; “we should persist with all feasible measures for as long as possible. Travel bans and quarantine are proven interventions, and especially critical for infections with pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic transmission. The public health goal is to prevent the epidemic becoming sustained in Australia, or if that is not possible, to delay it and reduce the total number of cases using all available interventions.”

And NSW Public Health researchers Wedyan Meshreky, Daneeta Hennessy, Robin Gilmour, Sean Tobin and Vicky Sheppeard publish on treating influenza in aged-care facilities.

Wellings of Wollongong announces departure

UoW’s vice chancellor will leave in June 21 after ten years in the job

Professor Wellings took over with the university in good-shape but needing to diversify its revenue base – the population of the Illawarra region it serves is growing slowly and is ageing (CMM April 22 2016).

So, he diversified it, adding colleges in Hong Kong, Penang and Kuala Lumpur to the 30-year old Dubai campus. Plus, there is now an expanding campus at Liverpool in southwest Sydney. There is also $50m over eight years from the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation to fund an undergraduate degree.

Wellings is also now perhaps the most policy-influential university leader in the country, appointed by Education Minister Dan Tehan to lead the working party which created the new undergraduate growth places model.

Before taking over Wellings told The Australian (April 26 2011) he wanted UoW to rank as one of the world’s top 200 universities and he nearly made it. Uni Wollongong is in the 201-250 bracket of the Times Higher Education institution ranking, =212 on QS, ranked in the 201-300 tier by the Academic Ranking of World Universities and 362 on the CWTS Leiden rank (scientific impact).

Needed: a support strategy for international students

They all can’t manage COVID-19 by themselves

By Claire Field

Some of you will have seen  the news from Hobart of a man who recently tested positive for COVID-19 and was asked to self-isolate but did not do so for some days. Not only did he work at a hotel, he was also a student, studying at an international VET provider.

His case got me thinking about the community response if we were faced with a situation where an international student had the virus but also needed to work and ended up causing others to be infected and people died as a consequence.

Yes, that is alarmist – but you did not need to spend long on social media when the travel ban was put in place to see the hostility to international students in parts of the community.

It seems to me that institutions need to be thinking about the following questions for students (international or regional) who do not have strong social networks around them:

* are you monitoring students who are returning from overseas even if they are not arriving from high risk countries?

* are you encouraging all of your students to go for testing if they show symptoms and to follow instructions to self-isolate?

* if your students do need to self-isolate – what support are you able to provide in terms of financial hardship assistance, practical support i.e. grocery shopping/prescription filling, as well as making classes available online?

The Border Force Commissioner advises that 25,000 Chinese students have now arrived in Australia since the travel ban was imposed, by managing the quarantine period in another country. It will be interesting to see if the financial support being offered by various universities has made a difference in terms of the make-up of this student cohort.

Claire Field advises on VET, international education and private higher education


Today is Tim Cahill’s last as head of KPMG’s higher education practice. He starts tomorrow as MD of Research Strategies Australia.

Uni Sydney announces a new chair, funded by a gift from Garry and Susan Rothwell. The three-year in architectural design leadership is awarded to French architecture studio Lacaton & Vassal Architectes.

Misha Shubert has started as CEO of Science and Technology Australia. She moved from comms director at Universities Australia.