Reasons to be cheerful

Uni New England announces the inaugural Spring into Optimism Festival, which its SMART Region Incubator will co-sponsor next month in Armidale. “With all the controversy on campus over the former VC’s resignation and restructuring optimism is much needed,” a learned reader remarks.

There’s more in the Mail

Expert Opinion with Sven Rogge

The president of the Australian Institute of Physics talks to CMM about pre-prints, the role of the ARC, research translation and more, Expert Opinion is HERE (scroll up)

And in Features

“First in family” university students is a metric that matters – but it covers all sorts of circumstances. The challenge is to celebrate their achievement without assuming they all have the same needs, suggest Sarah O’Shea, (National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education) and Sally Patfield (Uni Newcastle). Theirs is a new contribution to Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series Needed now in learning and teaching.

and  Rhetoric about elite education is obsolete, Conor King (Tertiary Education Analysis)  argues . “Education institutions should be expected to cater for all those who needs their services. Exclusivity whose rationale is to create exclusivity should not be part of the system.”

Students in the decision tent

The Student Voice Symposium will “examine the positionality and role of students as essential partners in decision-making and governance now and into the future.”

It’s on at Uni Adelaide, September 26-27 and details are  here.

Might be worth Uni Melbourne learning and teaching management attending, (scroll down).

Growing more engineers at home

Australia has a shortage  and an industry body has ideas on how the education system can help

A new report by Michael Bell, Peter Briggs, Justine Romanis and Jane MacMaster for Institution of Engineers Australia  includes initiatives in education,notably:

* Commonwealth Supported Places for accredited engineering masters to encourage upskilling and reskilling

* incentives for engineering associate and engineering technologist quals

* financial support for engineering students to complete courses, and in minimum time

* more internships

* support for students to “strengthen inclusivity” and “diminish imposter syndrome” (especially for women)

Uni Melbourne says it has “work to do” to improve student experience

This week’s national student survey results for Uni Melbourne reveal it lagging the university system as a whole. Uni Melbourne acknowledges, “there is work to do”

The University of Melbourne regularly rates number one in Australia and in the world top 50 universities on league tables, variously based on research and other performance metrics, and surveys of academics.

But its own students do not rate it highly for aspects of the education they received during the Covid lock-down years, as revealed in the Student Experience Survey, part of the Commonwealth’s Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching resource.

The 2021 QILT, which appeared this week, sets out system-wide improvements on 2020 scores, including for Uni Melbourne, but the nation’s most internationally rated university lagged behind overall.

In 2021 system-wide student satisfaction was 73 per cent, a near five per cent lift on 2020, (still down on the pre-Covid 2019 figure of 78 per cent). However Uni Melbourne scored 52 per cent in 2020 and 63 per cent last year, the lowest rating in the system for both years.

A university spokesperson tells CMM, “we are disappointed with the 2021 QILT survey results, which make it clear that we need to step up our determination and focus on improving the quality of our engagement with students inside and outside the classroom.”

Nor is QILT an outlier, the university advises the 2021 result is “consistent with wider data.”

However, “our ambitious Advancing Students and Education strategy, which will launch later this year, aims to transform the education and student experience.” “We continue to engage with our students and staff so that we can maintain and improve our place as one of the world’s best universities,” the spokesperson added.

More women gazing at the stars

ANU claims “the largest women-only recruitment drive in Australian astronomy and space science

The university’s Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre is recruiting ten people, “who identify as women” to support development of telescopes, instruments for missions and small space craft.

The national participation rate for women in relevant fields is 15 per cent, it’s 17 per cent at ANU but these hires will move it to a third.

U Tasmania lets go of the lecture

It plans to drop almost all lectures, continuing the switch to small-group teaching

U Tas staff say timetables for next year don’t include lecture theatres and the university confirms that, “like universities around the world, we are moving away from large format lectures.”

And that’s not just in-person lectures, it’s all-over on-line as well. “Consistent with the university’s approach to teaching delivery, face-to-face and on-line lectures have been removed as a timetabling option” staff are advised in new rules.

According to DVC Education Mitch Parsell, “the information that used to be delivered through lectures is being delivered on-line in a range of ways that provide greater flexibility for our students and are not subject to timetabling constraints.”

But not in all disciplines, following a lawyerly outcry earlier this year the university said last night, “that responding to feedback, lectures continue to be delivered face-to-face in law.”

Professor Parsell adds that lectures theatres on the Sandy Bay campus will “remain available to book when required.”

The replacement for the lecture is the  “lectorial,” whicb Professor Parsell made the case for in a personal opinion piece in CMM in April 2021 HERE

“Many people wanting to keep their lectures describe what I would think of as a workshop or lectorial, introductory comments and the presentation of catalyst material by the lecturer followed by active learning by students, very often in groups. Such activities are not only worth keeping, but worth expanding,” he wrote.

Critics of the management plan to move classes to the university’s new CBD sites warn that not using lecture theatres at Sandy Bay further devalues the site and reduces learning opportunities for students.

However Professor Parsell says “lecture and performance style spaces” already exist in the university’s Hobart CBD venues.

Appointments achievements

Of the day

Merlin Crossley (UNSW) made the case for teaching fellowships in CMM HERE. Now UNSW announces its first visiting fellows, * Gregory Bennett (Auckland University of Technology) in Arts, Design, Architecture * Susan Giles (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) in Arts, Design and Architecture * Irina Gendelman (St Martin’s University, USA) in Arts, Design, Architect *  Siva Krishnan (Deakin University) in Engineering) *  Stephen Beck (University of Sheffield, UK) in Engineering * Kate Galloway (Griffith University) in Law and Justice * Karen Hauer (U Cal San Francisco) in Medicine and Health * Michael Todorovic, Matthew Barton (Griffith University) in Medicine and Health * Michael Cowling (CQU) in Business * Jason Lodge (Uni Queensland) in Science, and * Robert Kellner (Technische Hochschule Rosenheim, Germany) in Science.

 Of the week


Exercise and Sports Science Australia announces two new fellows, Amanda Benson (Swinburne U), and Niamh Mundell (Deakin U).

Sharyn Davies (Herb Feith Indonesian Engagement Centre at Monash U) receives an Indonesian Government award, for the “promotion of Indonesian in Victoria.”

 Adam Fennessy is the new CEO and Dean of the Australian and New Zealand School of Government. He moves from Public Service Commissioner in Victoria.

Simon Finn joins Navitas as head of government relations. He was previously CEO of Independent Higher Education Australia.

Nicolas Flament (Uni Wollongong) wins the 2022 David Syme Research Prize for the best original work in biology, physics, chemistry or geology.

Rowena Harper starts Monday as Edith Cowan U’s DVC Education. She steps up from director of the Centre for Learning and Teaching.

Iain Hay (emeritus professor Flinders U) is foundation director of the Royal Geographic Society of South Australia.

The journal Higher Education Research and Development announces its reviewers of the year, Nicole Crawford (Uni Tasmania) and Barbara Grant (Uni Auckland). It’s the second win in a row for Dr Crawford.

Lorne Neudorf becomes Deputy Dean, Law at La Trobe U – he moved from Uni Adelaide.

Claus Otto is inaugural director of Curtin U’s Institute for Energy Transition. It’s an internal appointment.

Mary Ryan (Australian Catholic U) is re-elected president of NSW Deans of Education. She is joined by Michelle Simons (Western Sydney U) as deputy-president, Sue Gregory (Uni New England) is secretary and Will Letts (Charles Sturt U) treasurer.

The ACT’s emerging scientist award for 2022 goes to ANU biologist Benjamin Schwessinger.

Craig T Simmons joins Uni Newcastle as PVC of the College of  Engineering, Science and Environment. He moves from ED for maths, physics, chemistry and earth sciences at the ARC.

Palli Thordarson (UNSW) is elected a fellow of the Royal Society of NSW.

Mark Blows joins the board of UniQuest (Uni Queensland’s commercialisation company). He is the university’s acting DVC Research and Innovation.  Julian Clark (tech transfer in biomed and health) is reappointed to UniQuest’s board.

The (numerous) Uni Wollongong Vice Chancellor Awards were reported in CMM for Monday, here.