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.

Uni Queensland prepared for demonstration today

There’s a protest planned for today at the University of Queensland, opposing the Confucius Institute on campus

It follows last week’s confrontation between opponents and supporters of the Hong Kong protests. The organisers of today’s CI protest say the assembly point is the plaque commemorating people killed in the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy movement.

And this time the university is better prepared, telling the campus community there is an investigation, “into the circumstances that led to the unacceptable actions by a small number of individuals against our students and staff” last week (CMM July 26). “The university has zero tolerance for violence and intimidation,” it adds.

The university also sets out protocols for today’s demonstration and assures the camps community, police and security will “respond to any safety concerns.”

The university also justifies its Confucius Institute, “to promote the learning of Chinese language and culture, and a broader understanding of China, at the University and in the community” and makes the point it needs to make and make again, that the CU does not teach degree courses.

Working dogs

UNE’s student counselling service is pleased with a hire, Percy the calming, comforting spaniel, who helps clients in sessions.  There is a pack of pooches on campuses who are mascots but Percy is a working dog – any others out there?

Open Days of the day

Victoria and La Trobe Us position themselves as helping, not selling

 The pair have OD marketing advice for prospective students on how to get the most out of open days, not just theirs, ODs in general. “Planning to visit a few uni open days? … We have compiled a quick and easy checklist of everything you need to know to make the most of open day events,” says VU.

“Choosing where and what to study is a big step … here’s how to make the most of your open day visits,” LTU  suggests.

Smart marketing – putting consumers not providers at the centre of the OD experience. Despite bells, whistles and slogans about changing the world, ODs are about creating the basis of trust. And universities which present as wanting to help, not simply sell, are universities which prospective students will value.

ANU receives “a gift to the world”

ANU has $10m for autoimmune disease research

The funds are a bequest from Jenny and Bruce Pryor, who died in 2017. Ms Pryor suffered from dermatomyositis a rare (one in 100 000 people) muscle disease and the money is for research at the university’s Centre for Personalised Immunology.  The centre’s Carola Vinuesa says the funding “changes everything. It will enable us to build the most comprehensive discovery programme for DM in Australia and possibly the worl

“This is not just a gift to ANU it is a gift to the world.”

According to ANY the Pryors’ gift is the university’s largest bequest. The largest overall donation is the 30-year Graeme and Louise Tuckwell scholarship programme estimated to be worth $200m (CMM July 13 2016).

Time to grow for Industry Growth Centres

Reviews of the Industry Growth Centre programme are quietly released, not that it matters

The six centres are tasked to connect industry and researchers in high-growth areas, cyber security, med tech plus pharma and the like.

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has released a report on the programme, which is heavy on statistics about workshops but light-on for assessments of value for investment.

The long-awaited review the feds commissioned from consultants Nous Group is also out, praising the programme with faint damns.

Feedback from stakeholders, “is generally positive”, “data collection and performance measurement practices currently lack the rigour required for consistency and alignment,” “more work is required to develop consistent and appropriate approaches …”

And some centres are more “on track” than others. The Australian Manufacturing Growth Centre and Food Innovation Australia are “mostly on track to meet … business plan objectives and funding agreement requirements.”  The Australian Cyber Growth Centre, has met or is on track … ,” and so on.

Overall Nous judges; “it is still too early to definitively assess the levels of additionality or sector-wide impact achieved by each of the growth centres. “

But the centres should not be fussed, having time to get things done. There was $60m in new money in last year’s budget and in her prepared text for the Cooperative Research Centres Association conference in May, Industry, Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews said the government was committed to both programmes.

A problem that should not exist

Needed help for Indigenous children is essential but it is a disgrace that it is still required

The Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation, which provides primary services for the Maningrida community in the Northern Territory, has signed-on with the Menzies School of Health Research’s $7.9m Hearing for Learning Initiative.

The project is the work of the school, the Balnaves Foundation and federal and territory government to train community workers in child health.

“Up to nine in every ten Aboriginal children, under the age of three, in the Northern Territory, suffer from otitis media, or ‘glue ear’, in one or both ears, which can lead to hearing impairment and/or loss.  Researchers have long observed the negative impacts of this disease on children’s education, childhood development and social outcomes, due to late detection,” Menzies explains.

No, this is not news from 30 years ago – when hearing loss among children in remote Indigenous communities was recognised as a major health and education problem.

More power to all now involved but the fact that hearing loss among children in Indigenous communities continues is a disgrace. How can kids learn if they cannot hear?

Who knows where VET funding goes

Governments might but are not telling

By Claire Field

My analysis of the State-Territory variation in government-funded VET (CMM July 24) triggered some good discussions. One person pointed out NSW’s increase in students masks the fact that many are enrolled in skillsets. TDA has new analysis out on the decline in hours of government-funded VET and suggest it’s due to the strength of the jobs market.

Regrettably, we don’t have answers as to whether people are choosing jobs or university over VET, or if funding skillsets is a good or bad thing?  That’s because we don’t know where the government funding actually goes or its impact.

The VET sector used to have nationally agreed KPIs which meant we could all see if jurisdictions were ‘heading in the same direction’. That’s fallen by the wayside.

As a former ministerial adviser reminded me recently, Victoria then took the lead. For example, their 2015 Training Market report was 153 pages of regional, industry, student and provider-level data. Their last report was in 2017 and only 8 pages long.

Other States typically produce similarly brief lists of statistics (although the NT government has calculated the economic value of crocodile farms!)

I’ve gathered the views of a number of VET leaders on policy and reform – but to get policy right we urgently need more transparency in data reporting.

Claire Field analyses VET and international education for subscribers, here 

To keep TEQSA ticking over

The Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency amendment bill is in the Senate

The legislation lapsed when it was beaten by the election but now it seems certain of smooth passage.

It will enact those recommendations of the agency review, (required by TEQSA’s legislation) the government wants adopted, which is just about all of them. This is about incremental change to operational issues which HE regulators and clients will understand.

Appointments, achievements

Rebecca Margolis will become director of the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash U in February. She will replace Andrew Markus, who is retiring. David Slucki and Rebecca Forgasz also join, as associate professors.

Michael Bruenig is incoming academic dean and head of the Uni Queensland business school. He moves from head of the university’s IT and electrical engineering school.

Ever-announcing Health Minister Greg Hunt announces the advisory panel for the $220m cardiovascular health research programme: Gemma Figtree (chair), Uni Sydney. Garry Jennings, National Heart Foundation. Emily Banks, ANU. Ray Mahoney, CSIRO. Chris Nave, Brandon Capital Partners. Jennifer Tucker, National Heart Foundation. David Winlaw, Children’s Hospital Westmead. Livia Hool, UWA. Dominique Cadilhac, Monash U. James Hudson, QIMR Berghofer. Julie Bernhardt, Florey Institute.

Curtin U announces six staff are now emeritus professors on retirement; Paul Fairall, (law). Jeffrey Kenworthy, (Sustainability Policy Institute). Hamid Nikraz, (civil and mechanical engineering). Ram Ramaseshan, (marketing ). Dennis Rumley, (media, creative arts and social inquiry). Marian Tye, from (sport and recreation research).