What qualifications can’t achieve

Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties is considering the global convention on recognising HE  qualifications – widely considered a good thing

But chair Dave Sharma (Lib-NSW) had a question for officials appearing, Monday. What, he asked, about professional bodies, for example in medicine, which are “quite keen to control the number of people that can enter their professions.” An official replied that while the convention, “does support graduates seeking employment opportunities … decisions about employment and professional recognition remain at the discretion of that professional body.”

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

 Rowena HarperKatrina Strampel, and Ratna Selvaratnam on how Edith Cowan U used an institution-wide approach in professional learning to meet the COVID-19 teaching challenge. This week’s selection by Commissioning Editor Sally Kift for her series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

plus, Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on finding the excellent teachers universities need.

Uni Melbourne orders staff back to campus

But not necessarily five days a week

In a message to staff Provost Nicola Phillips, acting as VC, acknowledges “some of you may feel some uncertainty and perhaps even some anxiety about resuming work on campus.”

That might, Uni Melbourne observers suggest, be because people have been reading the university’s “campus impacts” list of locations where a confirmed COVID-19 COVID-19 case was while infectious.  The February 7th issue details 63 occasions since January 17-18.

Or it might be, as Professor Phillips puts it, “following the prolonged periods of working from home, many of us have not only overcome the challenges of working remotely but have also enjoyed different ways of working and increased flexibility.”

But return they must, “our campuses remain our principal place of work. Being part of campus life is how we can all play our part in creating a vibrant and supportive scholarly community, where both students and staff thrive, “ she states.

For people still working from home, the transition starts February 28 but perhaps they should not dismantle the home office. While not fixed for all, “as a rule of thumb, the intention is that staff will work on campus for three days a week.”

This might be a new norm – Uni SA is looking at three days on campus as standard (CMM yesterday).  But, why observers ask , while Omicron continues at Uni Melbourne and why three days?

Teacher education review imminent

Just in time for the election, the government will release its review of initial teacher education sometime, “over the next few weeks”

Acting Education Minister Stuart Robert mentioned it on Sky News. Last March then minister Alan Tudge commissioned the unfortunately acronymed QITER (for quality initial teacher education review), “to consider the next evolution of reforms to teacher education (CMM March 12 2021).  There was a discussion paper in June, which signalled issues to address, including problems at ITE providers (CMM June 21 2021).

The failings of educations faculties is an issue that exercised Mr Tudge as minister.

In October he deplored “ideological resistance” in “teacher training” to “two highly effective teaching methods,” explicit instruction and  phonics. And he warned that, “if necessary, the Government will use the full leverage of the $760m it provides education faculties to insist that evidence-based practices are taught,” (CMM October 25). He repeated the message next month (CMM November 26).

Extraordinary stuff but a way to appeal to people who think schools don’t teach what and the way they should without criticising teachers, which is never wise – given they are numerous, vocal and generally popular. None of which applies to education faculty managements.

If the government wants schools to be an election issue, criticism of ITE will shortly start.

Live and in-person at Uni Sydney

It’s back to work on-campus for academics when first semester starts on February 21

“Colleagues scheduled to teach on-campus classes are expected to do so in person,” VC Mark Scott and Provost Annamarie Jagose advise. Unless they are teaching large classes – those with 120 or more students will be live but on-line.

Teaching staff “who do not have a declared vulnerability but seek exemption from campus-based teaching should request alternative arrangements with their supervisor in the usual way.”

Other university staff can keep working from home until the end of the month, unless they are keen on going to campus.

For those who are “anxious” and need support, there is counselling “as we continue to adjust to our changing environment.”

Quick time on Charles Darwin U’s march to a med school

VC Scott Bowman proposed one in October, he has set a cracking pace since

Understandably so, he wants a first in-take in 2023, initially with enough students to meet the NT’s need for interns (CMM October 5).

And so, in November CDU and the Menzies School of Health Research established a school of medicine, teaching health emergency preparedness and response (CMM November 17).

Since then there have been announcements of medicine related courses (pharmacy and audiology in recent weeks) and expert appointments. And now there is a 14-member “strategic board,” to advise on “ the design of a medical programme that is fit-for-purpose for the Northern Territory and Northern Australia.”

Chair is Len Notaras, ED of the Darwin-based National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre. Co-chairs are Donna Ah Chee (Central Australia Aboriginal Congress) and John Paterson (Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance, NT).  (Scroll down for the full board).

Claire Field on the VET challenge: skills for life not just training for now


If we need to prepare learners to work with intangible assets and in fluid, unspecified roles then we will need to change what and how we teach

A keynote address at last week’s seventh Congress on Research in Vocational Education and Training is pertinent to the VET reform underway here in Australia.

Prof. Lorna Unwin from University College London reflected on the changing world of work and what it means for VET. In doing so she argued that if the sector is to continue to have relevance we need to shift our thinking of VET being predominantly institutionally focussed (mostly on a student’s initial post-school qualification) to a broader focus on developing learners’ expertise throughout their life.

I particularly liked her characterisation of the drivers of change in the workplace and society. In addition to the three core drivers: technology, climate and demography – she added two which receive little attention in Australia:

  • the growth in intangible assets (ideas, brands, marketing, networks, etc), and
  • lifestyle changes (an increased focus on work-life balance, and at least in the UK, a growth in craft-related hobbies)

She then went on to describe how these changes are in turn changing the way people think and talk about their work…from solely occupationally focussed, “I am a chef” to the hybrid “I am a manager”, to the fluid “I work in IT” and increasingly amongst younger people to “I am starting/building a…”

She also highlighted how the skills required in even quite traditional apprenticeships are changing. For example,  aerospace engineering apprentices who have to use “information” knowledge in meetings with clients not just their “technical” knowledge and how these apprentices are no longer seen as novices in the workplace but are expected to contribute ideas.

If Professor Unwin is right (and I think she is) and we want learners to use more than just their technical knowledge in “traditional” occupations and if we need to prepare learners to work with intangible assets and in fluid, unspecified roles then we will need to change what and how we teach.

Let’s hope the new Industry Cluster operators and VET providers themselves are ready for these changes.

Claire Field is an advisor to the tertiary education sector


Sandra Eades has returned to Uni Melbourne to be Associate Dean, Indigenous in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences and hold the Rowden White chair. She moved from Curtin  U where she was Dean of Medicine.

Sonia Fullerton becomes Deputy Chief Medical Officer at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

Emma Johnston will become DVC R at the University of Sydney, in July. She will from UNSW where she is science dean.

The planning board for the proposed Charles Darwin U- Menzies Health Research school of medicine is * Donna Ah Chee (Central Australia Aboriginal Congress – co-chair * John Boffa (NT Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation) * Marco Briceno (Rural Generalist Pathway Coordination Unit) * Kiarna Brown (Menzies School of Health Research) * Alan Cass (Menzies School of Health Research) * Jeremy Chin (Darwin and Palmerston Hospitals) * Bart Currie (Menzies School of Health Research) * Mick Gooda (Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education) * Sam Goodwin (Alice Springs Hospital) * Jo Norton (NT Government) * Len Notaras (National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre) – chair  * John Paterson (Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT – co-chair * Di Stephens (Charles Darwin U Menzies School of Medicine) * Dominic Upton (Charles Darwin U).