Line of Flyte from Ormond College

Ormond College at the Uni of Melbourne is fundraising to restore “our iconic tower.” Apparently, “weather and age is taking its toll on this iconic part of our beautiful home and we need your help.”

Just as Ormond did in 2016, when it raised funds to restore “the beloved Picken Lawn,” which was “tired and worn from years of heavy use” (CMM August 26 2016).  And again in 2019 when gables were eroded, and (heaven forfend) gablets cracked! (CMM June 3 2019). And now the tower obviously needs to be saved, presumably so people can climb it to see Brideshead.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

The obsession with impact ignores the important – it can’t happen without scholarship. “Whether you consider yourself a teaching scholar, a research scholar, or perhaps a service scholar, being a scholar is central to all of our academic practice,” Michael A Cowling (CQU) suggests. It’s this week’s addition to Contributing Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated CMM series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

Plus, James Guthrie (Macquarie U) on the NSW Auditor General’s analysis of universities. “Negative operating results in many universities in 2020 were because of the staff redundancy programme.”

And Merlin Crossley (UNSW) crunches the QS numbers to find Australian universities are efficient and effective. “Over the last two decades as our universities expanded and took advantage of ‘economies of scale,’ remarkably, student satisfaction steadily increase

At Uni Newcastle Vaile exits before he arrives

Mark Vaile will not be the next chancellor of the University of Newcastle

Present chancellor, Paul Jeans announced Mr Vaile’s “intention now not to proceed” in a message to staff last night.

Mr Vaile withdrew after uproar across the university community with protests from students, staff and senior researchers.

“We respect Mr Vaile’s decision and recognise that he has made this decision in the best interests of the university,” Mr Jeans said.

It followed what appears a restrained statement of support by Mr Jeans on Friday, “Mr Vaile was considered by the selection committee as the best candidate in a large field of applicants across all of the appointment criteria.”

The opposition was largely based on Mr Vaile chairing a large coal miner, rather than his being a former National Party leader and deputy prime minister under John Howard. As Dan Conway, branch president of the National Tertiary Education Union put it, “(ANU chancellor) Julie Bishop who held similar roles in Liberal Governments is an appointment that I think most would be proud of.”

Mr Jeans told staff last night that council would meet today to consider “the process for the appointment of a new chancellor.” Mr Vaile was scheduled to become chancellor on July 1.

Given Mr Jeans close association with the appointment governance observers suggest he may not wish to delay his departure which would leave Deputy Chancellor Michelle McPherson in the chair.

Short and to the point

The Grattan Institute asks school teachers to complete a survey “about the pressures on teachers’ time.” Wisely, the Institute advises it will only take ten minutes.

Who knows what VET teachers need to know

It might be a degree but the numbers are still with a Certificate IV

The states, territories and Commonwealth wants to improve the quality of training assessment and the feds are accordingly asking what registered training organisations need. There’s a big bunch of ideas here.

Among which is a low-profile perennial, VET teaching qualifications.

The new survey and consultation finds, “mixed views on whether the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment adequately prepares entry level trainers and assessors for their role.”

Twas ever thus. Back in 2011 the Productivity Commission concluded, a “ lack of evidence as to the link between formal teaching qualifications and student achievement, means that the Commission does not see cause to recommend a higher minimum.”

However, in 2018 Erica Smith (Federation U) suggested what VET teachers need is a degree, “higher level qualifications in VET pedagogy make a significant difference to VET teachers’ confidence and ability in teaching a diversity of learners.”

It was a hard sell then, given 1000 or so people were studying VET teaching at universities out of 80 000 teachers with the industry-norm, Certificate IV (CMM June 21 2018).

It probably still is.

End of trail for Murdoch U’s pathway provider

Kaplan Higher Education is closing its Murdoch Institute of Technology.

The Institute states it is teaching out courses and will close this month – it has provided dips in business and IT, English-prep courses and a Murdoch U foundation programme.

The Perth closure has been on the agenda since last August, when pandemic caused declines in student numbers led the partners to agree to close now. However, Kaplan-taught Murdoch courses continue in Singapore.

Kaplan also provides pathway courses for the University of Adelaide at a campus in the City of Light. In terrible timing, the partners announced in January 2020 that  Kaplan would teach Uni Adelaide courses at a site in Melbourne’s Docklands (CMM January 22 2020). Uni Adelaide states its colleges are operating in Adelaide and Melbourne, with mid-year applications now open.

Kaplan is in good standing with the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, being reregistered in October 2020 for the maximum seven years.


The good news first

It’s NSW budget day but with so many-announcements already the coalition backbench will be able to recite the good bits as Treasurer Dominic Perrottet speaks.

One the medical research lobby already likes is the $50m for Sydney Children’s Hospital to treat severe neurological disorders.

Actively learning about on-line at Uni Queensland

The university announces $1m in teaching and learning grants for projects

There’s an emphasis on on-line assessment, digital tools content, as well as active learning in on-line and blended environments. Plus, one that may matter most in management, “expand the adoption and outcomes of existing blended and online tools, innovations or initiatives across different disciplines or contexts.”

Suitable subjects for study indeed, given the importance of engaging staff who do the developing of new digital product, sorry, teaching content.

Jasmine HuangKelly Matthews and Jason Lodge (all Uni Queensland) make this clear in a study of staff experience when management of an unnamed Australian university rolled out 16 large-enrolment blended-learning courses in 2019. Staff involved, “perceived institutional drivers for blending to be misaligned towards indiscriminately translating all courses, necessary or not, to an online format akin to a polished massive open online course product” the authors report (CMM May 28).

A learned academy award for health and medical sciences

The Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences is elevated to the research peerage

It joins the four learned academies already funded by the feds under the Higher Education Research Promotion Scheme.

The elevation takes effect with Health and Medical Sciences welcomed into the Australian Council of Learned Academies, which used to consist of the academies of Science, Technology and Engineering, Humanities, and Social Sciences.

The AAHMS describes itself as the “impartial, authoritative, cross-sector voice of health and medical research in Australia.”

Learned readers assure CMM there is no ACOLA secret handshake now known by AAHMS president, Ingrid Scheffer.