Passage from (and to) India

CMM’s “working with what you’ve got” correspondent reports on Deakin U optimism

Deakin U has a degree-deal with O.P Jindal Global University, offering a four-year business analytics programme, with two years in India and then two years in Australia. Completers will graduate with a degree from each.

It depends on the borders being open in two years, which may or not happen, but is a better bet than hoping everything will be ok for second semester.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Mahsood Shah (Swinburne U) wanted to know how students learnt during COVID 19 – so he asked three peak-body leaders. Their paper is in Features this morning. It’s this week’s contribution to Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s long-running series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

The fourth and final essay in John H Howard’s (UTS) CMM series on  rethinking Australian higher education. Australian students must be front and centre – they are the one’s paying, he argues.

Foreign interference in unis inquiry: more evidence to come

People set to appear at Friday’s  parliamentary joint committee on intel and security hearing might want to read the transcript of the one last Thursday, if only to decide the thickness of hides to wear

The committee is inquiring into foreign interference on campus and members last week were polite, firm and very well informed. Witnesses to watch Friday include ANU VC Brian Schmidt, who might be asked about the great data-diamond cyber heist of 2019 (CMM October 3 2019) and Ian Jacobs (UNSW VC), whose institution attracted attention at last week’s hearing over the way it handled critical commentary of the government of China.

And Uni Queensland’s discipline case against student and human rights activist Drew Pavlou looks like it will come up. Mr Pavlou, a fierce critic of the university’s links to the Chinese government, gave evidence last week. He was thanked by committee chair Senator James Paterson, for his “helpful and powerful statement.”

The committee will hear from Uni Queensland’s Chancellor Peter Varghese, VC Deborah Terry and Provost Aidan Byrne. Previous vice chancellor Peter Høj, (now VC of Uni Adelaide) will appear separately.

A good day for La Trobe U

LT U had positives to announce yesterday, they might have sent the good news to the lab to work out what it was

The university announces $23m to create two new research hubs, connecting industry R&D to LT U research.

One is for digital innovation in “products, processes and services”.  The other is in “bio innovation”, providing wet labs for biotechnology and agri-technology companies to “commercialise research discoveries.”

Construction starts in May, with the Victorian Government contributing $17m and LT U the rest. They will join another Spring Street-Bundoora partnership, the university’s AgriBio Centre for plant, animal and microbial biosciences and biosecurity research.

Makes a change from LT U’s run of bad news, about more cuts to come and jobs to go.

Casuals make their pay case

There’s an on-line conference for the academic precariat to plan a voice in enterprise bargaining

It’s convened by the Casual, Unemployed and Precarious University Workers group which warns, “workers are bargaining with universities intent on further austerity in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Casuals need to be well-prepared for bargaining in this context, starting with what we want from our union and our universities.”

The CUPUW (formerly the National HE Casuals Network) had a huge win last week, giving evidence to a Senate committee inquiry into unlawful underpayment of employees. They had equal billing with the National Tertiary Education Union and fielded almost entirely sympathetic questions from senators.

Accounting for what training costs

There’s a problem with pricing in training – HE will recognise the response

Tony Palladino from the NSW Utilities and Electro-technology Industry Training Advisory Board reports the price of VET courses are all-over the place. (It’s in his comprehensive, weekly email).

He cites as example, a Certificate Three for electro-technology technicians which is priced at $13 500 in NSW and $19 800 in Victoria.

The difference, he suggests is probably a “legacy of past infrastructure in TAFE and the goodwill of private RTOs,” in NSW. But with prices regulated by a state independent agency it is hard for registered training organisations to, “maintain a quality outcome.”

However, help is at hand. The National Skills Commission is surveying RTOs on the costs of course delivery that meets student, government and employer needs. Deloitte Access Economics is working on the project.

If working out course costs in HE is an indication, sorting this out might not be all that easy. Deloitte was retained by the feds to analyse teaching and scholarship costs at 32 universities and its findings were not universally applauded, “whether the Deloitte report is an accurate reflection of reality is contestable,” Vin Massaro suggested in CMM (July 15 2020).


Appointments, achievements

Hazel Bateman (UNSW) is appointed chair of the Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement scientific council.

Rebecca Glauert moves from Telethon Kids Institute to scientific director at the Raine Study, (formerly known as the WA Pregnancy Cohort Study).

Renee Hindmarsh is South Australia’s first skills commissioner. She moves from SA Training Advocate, prior to which she was ED of the Australian Technology Network.

Martin Parkinson is the in-coming chair of ANU’s Sir Roland Wilson Foundation, which provides postgrad scholarships and PD for public servants. Dr Parkinson is a former secretary of both Treasury and Prime Minister and Cabinet. He is now chancellor of Macquarie U. Ken Henry is the foundation’s out-going chair.