Open Days are back at CSU

The university announces all six CSU campuses will have Sunday ODs

CSU says they are back after a decade’s absence, (sorry, no idea why). Last year the Wagga campus tried a variation, “MyDay” which promised Y11 and 12 students, plus parents “a taste of university life for day”. The problem for working-families was that it was held on a Friday. (CMM June 27 2018).

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning Damian Barry on why we need reform of higher education governance and why it isn’t happening.

Plus Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s take-out from the Studiosity student-first symposium.

Sunshine on bargaining at USC

Industrial bargaining hasn’t been all congenial chats at the University of the Sunshine Coast

The campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union says management was not negotiating on terms for a new enterprise agreement.  To encourage the university to talk the union took protected industrial action, withholding exam results – but even this wasn’t having much impact, the union claims management was  attempting work arounds.

Until Friday, when everything changed fast.  The NTEU had asked Vice Chancellor Greg Hill to intervene so that the university executive takes over negotiations, which happened.

Word is that there will be three days of talks this week, with a member of the university executive attending for management. The union accordingly lifted industrial bans.

Duldig to ANU

Paul Duldig moves to ANU as chief operating officer

This is Mr Duldig’s third Group of Eight appointment. He spent seven years at the University of Adelaide as VP services, moving to the University of Melbourne in May 2014, where he served as head of services until January this year. That was a big job indeed, with 1600 people in nine operating areas.

At ANU Mr Duldig replaces the well-regarded Chris Grange, who announced his departure in February.

Top of Tehan’s agenda

The minister has much to discuss at his big meeting with vice chancellors

Education Minister Dan Tehan told the Sydney Morning Herald Thursday, he is meeting with vice chancellors in early August, and would discuss the need for universities to adhere to the government’s foreign influence transparency policy, (he most likely means the Confucius Institutes controversy).

That’s not all they are expected to talk about. Word around the traps is that the minister and University of Wollongong VC Paul Wellings will be briefing VCs on the long-awaited performance measures for the allocation of undergraduate growth places.

Learning to be a VC

UK based Advance HE is expanding its leadership development programme,  to include aspiring ANZ vice-chancellors

The organisation, (formerly the Higher Education Academy) is well-known for its professional practice teaching fellowships, awarded to qualifying staff around the world, including 24 participating institutions in Australia and New Zealand. There are now 2700 plus fellows at Australian universities.

The new programme, for people who want to run a university, is on in February.

Minimal support for accrediting micro-credentials

The feds have quietly released submissions to the Australian Qualifications Framework review

The vast task, being undertaken by Peter Noonan and colleagues, received 140 or so submissions, addressing all sorts of accreditation issues – micro-credentials keep coming up, not surprising universities (for example, Deakin and Swinburne ) already offer them. The peak lobbies all counsel caution.

Universities Australia: “micro-credentials are diverse and are changing rapidly. Even more than with current AQF courses, recognition of prior learning is a matter on which there is no substitute for the informed academic judgement that universities exercise on the ground.”

Group of Eight: “there is value in embracing certain types of short-form credentials in the AQF, there would be benefit ensuing the scope for this initially is not expanded beyond self-accrediting institutions, with those institutions afforded to capacity to allocate a short-form credential to an AQF Level where it leads to or offers credit towards the attainment of a qualification at an existing AQF Level.”

Innovative Research Universities: “one major policy and practical test is whether TEQSA can afford to accredit each short course from a non-self-accrediting provider. The potential array is enormous, creating a practical barrier for TEQSA, while it would impose it into the detailed operations of each non-self-accrediting provider to an extent that is not justified.”

Australian Technology Network: “the market for short course offerings is rapidly changing in the Australian higher education context as providers become more sophisticated in their offerings. As such, the ATN does not feel that there is a current need to include these in the AQF, rather the ATN would support a New Zealand styled approach of recognising the credentials without including them in the national qualifications framework.”

Regional Universities Network: “There does not seem to be a pressing reason to include them in the AQF. There is potential for a huge amount of administrative and regulatory work to be required, at significant cost, for what would essentially be courses at sub-subject level. Universities could be asked to make information about their credit recognition policies and approaches relating to micro-credentials readily available to students and the public, as part of a broader approach to increase transparency about credit recognition.”

No submissions from TAFE Directors Australia or the Independent Tertiary Education Council appear on the public list.

Appointments, achievements

Richard Kurth is the new director of the University of Melbourne’s Conservatorium of Music. He joins from the University of British Columbia.

Sallie Pearson (UNSW) joins the National Data Advisory Council. The newly created body advises the National Data Commissioner, who oversees the use of government-held information. Professor Pearson researches medicines policy at the university’s Centre for Big Data Research in Health.

 The University of Tasmania announces six new distinguished professors, for achievements in research, education, leadership, advocacy and governance. * Maggie Walter, “Australia’s leading Indigenous sociologist.” * Di Nicol, law and genetics. * Alison Venn, chronic disease, cancer and reproductive epidemiology. * Greg Peterson, pharmacy. * James Vickers, understanding and preventing dementia. * Rob White, green criminology

Macquarie U announces the first associate fellows in its new higher degree supervision programme; Joel Fuller, Rae-Anne Hardie, Emily Don, Marina Junqueeira Santiago and Ying Wang (all Medicine and Health Sciences), Alexandra Kurmann (Arts) and April Abbott (Science and Engineering).

Uni Wollongong’s good credit rating

The university is happy Standard and Poor’s affirms its “stable” AA rating for two years

Eighteen months back, the university raised $175m for ten years at 3.54 per cent, described then by UoW as, “a new record low yield, “bettering all previous medium term note debt raising transactions by Australian tertiary education institutions,” CMM December 4 2017.  It probably was then, ACU raised $200m for ten years at 3.7 per cent in July that year, but rates now aren’t what they used to be.

Confucius Institutes creating questions on uni autonomy

The confected controversy adds to conservatives’ assumptions about who is welcome to speak on campus

 Not as bad as assumed: Ideas around last week that universities surrender authority over formal curricula to an agency of the Chinese state are wrong. Certainly, Confucius Institutes are soft-power projecting agencies of the PRC, undoubtedly Beijing expects value for money and for-sure wants to oversight what they teach and by whom. Whether this makes CIs worth having is now a fine-judgement. But the comrades are not controlling accredited courses.

But perception is all: The risk is this that this will be ignored in the coverage of Chinese government connections with university leaderships and pro-PRC students aggressively demonstrating on campus –as occurred on Wednesday at Uni Queensland.

Which is why Universities Australia has reiterated its members comply with the Commonwealth’s Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme.

And why University of Queensland VC Peter Hoj reiterated late Friday that the CI there, “offers classes on Chinese language and culture to interested staff, students and members of the community. It does not teach any degree courses at UQ,” and that “any political pressure from China would be unacceptable.”

A trilogy of conservative causes: Good-o, the problem is that links between universities and agencies of Beijing is but one of three live campus free speech issues which Morrison Government front and back benchers are watching.

Critics (including at Uni Queensland) of the Ramsay Western Civ Centre are fighting to stop it funding degrees, arguing that this would involve surrendering uni autonomy – which looks to conservatives like an attempt to censor what is taught. This may be why Professor Hoj included his university’s continuing negotiations for Ramsay funding in his CI announcement, stating; “the university has made it clear, in relation to both the Confucius Institute and the proposed Ramsay Centre, that our academic freedom and institutional autonomy are not negotiable”.

The third is James Cook U looking to appeal its Federal Court defeat for sacking scientist Peter Ridd, who is critical of climate change research and researchers there. To some government backbenchers this looks like an attempt to deny him his rights to comment as an academic, rights which the court cited in declaring he was dismissed unfairly.

Creating an issue for uni managements: These are entirely unconnected issues but to conservatives they can look like numerous universities palling up with the Chinese Government, staff at some trying to exclude teaching on western civilisation and JCU sacking a researcher for criticising scientific orthodoxy.

And they could all be pulled together in a government policy responding to the French review of campus free speech.

This possibility might account for UA reiterating its oft reiterated point Thursday, that “Australia’s universities … strongly uphold their institutional autonomy and control of curriculum and standards.”

The longer these three separate issues bubble along the more government members will see them in combination, and interpret assertions by universities of their autonomy as a threat to campus free speech for conservatives.