Odds on

The Uni Sydney Gambling Treatment and Research Clinic wants gamblers for a survey on the impact of COVID-19.

Participants go into a draw to win a shopping voucher. The target audience should have no trouble with that concept.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

 Tim Winkler on five ways to overcome the crisis and expand enrolments.

Kevin Ashford-Rowe (QUT) on the digital transformation of education. Ignore it and become Kodak. It’s this week’s essay in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s series on what is needed now in teaching and learning.

Suneeti Rekhari (RMIT) on creating learning experiences in crisis-time.

Microsoft presents experts building on-line learning communities.

Uni Adelaide leadership crisis: the cause is less cash and more vision 

Acting VC Mike Brooks assured staff last night the university is on “a sound financial footing”

The university expects to be $100m under-budget this year, due to COVID-19 costs and a drop in international enrolments (expected to be down 16 per cent in second semester).

Professor Brooks sets out savings measures, including a staff freeze, a capex “pause,” “revised” budgets and growth in short-course and micro-credential revenue. He adds the university could add to its “modest” $50m debt.

There is no mention of staff cuts.

However, he did signal a slow-down in implementing the university’s Future Making strategy. “Given the disruptive impact of COVID-19, Council has asked me to review the speed of implementation of our strategy and our priorities,” Professor Brooks said.

This will surely disappoint now on indefinite leave VC Peter Rathjen whose expansive, expensive vision for the university is as an engine of economic growth and social change.

“The great universities of the 21st century will be defined by how they can help their communities to leverage this transformational change for general benefit. With this new plan … we acknowledge that the University of Adelaide is uniquely positioned to embrace this role within South Australia, and commit to a future that sees knowledge and scholarship embedded at the heart of our future, and that of our state” the Future Making manifesto stated.

But not, it seems, just now.

High performance higher education: what works around the world

Prefer data to opinion surveys in rankings of university-systems? You need Williams and Leahy

The ninth and last Universitas 21  ranking of national HE systems is out.

As with the other eight, Ross Willams and Anne Leahy (Uni Melbourne) have produced a data-thick, opinion-thin guide to higher education outputs around the world. With Professor Williams retiring it is the last, which will be a loss to policy makers everywhere.

This year’s results for Australia are much like the last, (CMM April 3 2019).

resources: 14th this year, 12th last. It is pulled down by the 34th place for public HE expenditure, “although the official data do not reflect the full cost of the student loans scheme”. Australia is seventh for total expenditure as a share of GDP

policy environment: second last year and this

connectivity: the overall measure of connection with society, international education and research links was 13th in the 2019 edition and 12th now

output: third this year (fourth last) on factors including research volume and impact, plus post-compulsory participation and graduate employment.

What nine years of data analysis demonstrates

Williams and Leahy conclude;

* there is a strong relationship between research funding and performance

* the public-private funding mix, “is of little importance for performance”

* in low population nations, informal links are easy to make between industry, tertiary institutions and government

* “there is a trade-off between the amount of government control and the level of government funding

* “the worst systems combine tight government control with limited government funding

*  there is a negative relationship between international connectivity and population size

* there is a positive relationship between connectivity and research performance

COVID-19 crisis compensation: what Curtin U students want

And what management is providing

Curtin U’s student union wants a cut to the cost of on-line units. “Students are feeling the difference in quality of education from face-to-face to online study. … Why charge students the same amount for online learning as for face-to-face learning?

They also want COVID-19 driven fail-grades excluded from their records and a six-month extension for HDR scholarships and submissions.

All three demands are in-line with student association demands across the country.

The university responds;

*  “greater flexibility” in the way grades are recorded is in-place and exam boards have “greater discretion”

* on fee reductions, Curtin U has,” worked hard to provide a good on-line study experience for our students, drawing on our long history of experience in on-line learning that is standing us in good stead right now. We are also monitoring student feedback closely”

* a “blanket extension” for HDR submission and scholarships is not necessary. “Curtin U will work closely with any HDR students who require additional support.”

Southern Cross U’s advertising for a new age

A recruitment campaign that keeps it real

The new “time to reset” campaign acknowledges this terrible time of fire and pestilence but presents study as way for people to take control of their lives. “The world as we know it may have stopped but your education does not have to,” is the pitch.

Social media is running now with a TVC to follow next week.

It’s a pitch for the university in general, for its degrees and also a sell for the federally funded short courses for the crisis.

There will be a bunch of similar campaigns to follow, focused on the practical benefits of education. The age of “become secretary general of the UN with our degrees” messages is over.

International numbers: not bad, but not for long


International students were here en masse, at least in April

In April, 80 per cent of Primary Student Visa holders were in Australia. By sector, 78 per cent of HE students were here, for VET it was 90 per cent, 71 per cent for ELICOS and 79 per cent for schools.  Close to all Indians and Nepalese were in Australia, followed by 87 per cent of Vietnamese and 86 per cent of Brazilians. In contrast, just 69 per cent of Chinese students got in before direct-entry closed.

Not bad, not bad at all, at least until the March enrolment data makes possible a comparison between active visas and actual enrolments.

And it could be worse for ELICOS, for now

While some English Language Colleges have gone under, and there is no help from the feds for ELICOS in universities, the JobKeeper package is keeping others afloat.

That, plus cost reductions, say in rent, could keep college heads above water until wage support stops in September. But from then everything will depend on the end of travel bans. ELICOS is the only education-industry completely dependent on international students.

No students, no revenue, no support, no sector.

Dirk Mulder is CMM’s international education correspondent


Naomi Flutter has a second term as ANU pro-chancellor and will serve to 2022. She joined the university council in 2014. Ms Flutter is corporate affairs manager for Wesfarmers.

Wei Xiang joins La Trobe U as inaugural Cisco chair in AI and the internet of things. He moves from James Cook U.