Always print your own copy

“Counsel for RMIT alluded to the difficulties that RMIT has encountered in making discovery in this matter. Although it is a large tertiary institution, it has had difficulty accessing documents, due in part to a changeover of computer servers, and other technological difficulties,” Judicial Registrar Clayton of the Victorian Supreme Court,  in  Allon v RMIT, April 13.

 Enterprise bargaining on the couch at Macquarie U

 In happy circumstances rarely seen since Friends finished on TV, management and union at Macquarie University are comfortable on the couch, talking enterprise bargaining. The parties are using a Fair Work Commission programme which involves both sides searching for common ground rather than the other’s throat (CMM January 29).

Not all at Macquarie agree, with some National Tertiary Education Union members fearing management will use consensus instead of confrontation to gull academics into accepting workload increases. But veteran observers of MU life say the open-process is giving management insights into how much work staff already do and that the process is not as combative as usual. So far – negotiations aren’t at pay stageyet.

Nor is the union so confident about the process to use it for all staff. Negotiations for the professional staff agreement will use the traditional ordeal by argument approach.

No ANZAC Day issue

CMM is back on Thursday.

There’s more in the Mail

Today in Features – David Myton’s regular wrap on what’s happening across the world in highered.

The ATAR adds up: admission centre says gaming maths subjects doesn’t work

The NSW Universities Admission Centre is defending the ATAR,  again, (CMM March 23 ). This time UAC is responding to another claim (number quintuple in a series) that smart school students game the academic rank by doing maths below their ability.

UAC says its analysis shows that Year Ten students who are good at maths continue to study it a higher level for the HSC. And it would not necessarily help, even if they did count their capacity down, by taking on lower level maths. “Studying particular subjects won’t guarantee a student a high ATAR – what really matters is how well the student does, compared to everyone else.”

Good-oh, but just in case anybody isn’t convinced UAC also announces that the 2020 maths syllabus will make it possible to look at all subjects using a common scale, which could improve the way students’ maths achievement is reflected in the ATAR.

ACPET’s endless optimism

Rod Camm has a Wile E Coyote capacity to absorb pain. The president of the Australian Council for Private Education and Training gets pushed off policy cliffs and is clobbered with buckets of public funding his members aren’t allowed to compete for and gets up smiling. But it seems he finally finds the wallopings wearisome.

“I understand the shift to higher education enrolments, but a diverse skilled workforce is fundamental to our countries growth and prosperity. It’s no wonder skills shortages persist. Unfortunately, there are no signs the federal budget, or that of the states and territories, is going to address this failure by governments. … It seems the VET sector is going to be left to slowly decay while higher education enrolments are ‘put on ice’ over the next few years,” Mr Camm told members yesterday.

Under-skilled teacher ed grads: blaming people or practise

When poor student scores are in the media teachers are either blamed or crook curricula held responsible. Which it is depends, Nicole Mockler (UniSyd) suggests, on the education sector involved.

She analysed four years of print media stories to find that 98 per cent of mentions of “teacher quality” referred to school teachers, while 68 per cent of “teaching quality” references were to HE and VET teachers.  It’s a big distinction, people are the problem in schools, while what is taught is the post-compulsory issue.

“The ongoing use of teacher quality in relation to school teachers reinforces the idea that there is something implicitly wrong with the teachers themselves, rather than with their practices,” Associate Professor Mockler  writes for the Australian Association for Research in Education.

This is bad news for teacher education faculties, because Aspro Mockler further found that fixing problems is considered the preserve of government, accrediting agencies, “and in some cases, universities,” through controls on who becomes a teacher “and what they learn in their way into teaching.”

She concludes; “we need to make it more about helping teachers to improve the quality of what goes on in their classrooms, and less about casting them as personally or professionally inadequate in the public space. We need to make it more about teachers’ practices and less about teachers as people. We need to make it more about real, collegial professional learning for improvement and less about trying to regulate our way to quality.”

But is it people or practise in the case of literacy and numeracy tests of teacher education grads ( CMM yesterday)? A bit of both. Victoria U was singled out for accepting teacher education students with low ATARS and the university’s teaching graduates having numeracy scores 20 per cent lower than the University of Melbourne.

Appointments and achievements

Ashley Goldsworthy is the inaugural patron of the Business Higher Education Round Table.  The appointment recognises his career-long encouragement of business-university collaboration.

Fadi Charchar is the new dean of graduate studies at Federation University. He researches cardiovascular genomics there.

The Human Frontier Science Programme has announced 2018 awards including funding for Australians, largely from the University of Queensland. The grants support team members for three years.

The HFSP “funds frontier research in the life sciences.”  Members are the European Union and a collection of countries mainly from the top-income half of the OECD.

Programe Grants

Alexandrov Kirill (UoQ) is a member of a team working on electronic signals to control cellular biochemistry.

Claudia Vickers (UoQ) and international colleagues are funded to study, “protein nanocages as single molecular reactors.”

Adam Claridge Chang (originally ANU now National University of Singapore) joins with scholars studying “architecture of postsynaptic density”.

Taras Plakhotnik (UoQ) works with researchers from Japan Singapore and Russia on, “nanoscale heat transfer phenomena” for inter and intra cellular signalling/shaping

Ryan O’Handley (UniAdelaide) and others are studying transmission dynamics in a “ubiquitous parasite”

Young Investigators

Ian Parish (Peter MacCallum Centre Cancer Centre), “detecting inequity in dendritic cells”