Every little bit counts

Monash U reports 1549 “people from our Monash U community” responded to an alumni and donor survey, including 75 who are “thinking about or have a left a gift in their will”

The size of the university’s contact database is not known but CMM hopes it is does not include all of the 400 000 Monash alumni.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

 Liz Johnson (Deakin U) on six learning activities which belong on-line. This week’s contribution to commission editor Sally Kift’s series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

James Guthrie (Macquarie) took a deep dive into the UWA annual report. Here’s what he found.

Plus, Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on student cheating and what to do about it. “Given limited resources we will have to prioritise. One possibility is that we might prioritise investing more in programmatic – senior year – assessments, and rely on “assumed knowledge” in the early years. It may be foolish to attempt to grade everything, and certify every learning outcome in each educational snack from cradle to grave.”

And Kirsty Abbott and Amanda-Jane George (both CQU) explain what’s in the government’s new patent box for university researchers. Perhaps not a lot, ‘The general conclusion from existing research,” they warn, “is that similar schemes often do not achieve their desired effects of encouraging innovation or local research and development,” they suggest.

All’s well that ends with all well at Deakin U

Half five last Friday Deakin U issued an all-university message that a staff member later confirmed as a COVID-19 case had been on the Waurn Ponds campus the Wednesday prior. The university was on the case, deep-cleaning the relevant buildings and identifying and advising close contacts. It worked – DU announced yesterday, “there has been no COVID-19 transmission associated with the current exposure sites.”

Uni Queensland wants a 12th month halt on wage talks

Skirmishing has started over the new enterprise agreement due soon – management suggests a pause

This would extend the existing agreement until next June, making it four years, which industrial law allows “and” the university tells staff, “is far more common practice.”

To recommend the idea to staff, and union negotiators, the university proposes a 2 per cent pay rise in January. Another year, would “provide staff with greater stability at a time of uncertainty,” management suggests.

But industrial relations observers point out it would also allow the university time to work-out what the post (hopefully) pandemic world will look like and how much Uni Queensland could pay people, and how many of them, for the next four years.

And they wonder what staff could get in return for agreeing (the university community would have to vote for the extra year), on top of a payrise that was likely to happen anyway. The unions, for example, could ask for an undertaking on job security as was adopted at QUT last year as part of a pandemic savings package (CMM July 27 2020).

What would be interesting, high stakes, but interesting, would be if either or both unions (the National Tertiary Education Union and Together Queensland) rejected an extension and the university still put it to a staff vote. Whichever side lost would not be in a great position whenever bargaining started.

Google goes long in short course enrolments


In just a year there have been 500 000 enrolments in the training certificates it offers via Coursera

Twelve months ago Google announced a suite of six month “Career Certificates” to replace four year undergraduate degrees for data analysts, project managers and UX designers. They chose Coursera as the on-line delivery platform.

Earlier this month Coursera’s Chief Content Officer addressed the QS Europe conference. Betty Vandenbosch noted there have been 500 000 enrolments in the Google certificates. And no wonder – the price is less than US $300 (plus 100,000 scholarships funded by Google).

Not only has the level of interest been significant, the certificates also attracted a diverse group of learners: 59 per cent had no prior degree, 53 per cent are African-American, women, Latino or veterans, and 46 per cent earn less than US $30,000 pa.

Recognising that this cohort of students may need additional support, Coursera has worked with non-government organisations, community colleges and governments to provide on-the-ground mentoring, coaching and peer support.

Upon completion, graduates can apply for job vacancies at more than 130 large employers which are Google partners (for example, Intel, Walmart, H&R Block). In the US, 82 per cent of Google IT Support Professional Certificate completers report a positive career outcome (a new job, enhanced skills, promotion, or raise) within six months.

Learners can also go on to further study at one of Coursera’s partner universities, with the certificate counting for credit towards their degree. Dr Vandenbosch indicated that this year one-third of enrolments in the University of London’s BSc Computer Science had done a Google certificate and received credit for it.

It is no wonder that in Australia the Commonwealth has provided funding to UAC to create an on-line micro-credential marketplace showing the short courses available to students and the credit they will receive for them.

Many, but not all, Australian tertiary institutions are looking at short courses to complement their traditional offerings. Given the obvious success of Google’s certificates (and other industry-certified alternatives) they will need to ensure that what they offer delivers real value for students.

Claire Field has more EdTech insights from the recent QS Europe and NCVER conferences on her website, and in her latest podcast episode she spoke with Professor Sally Kift about the AQF Review, micro-credentials, credit transfer and more.

We see what you did there

Uni Queensland announces a new fast diagnostic kit for the Hendra Virus, fatal for people and gee-gees. “No horsing around” is the headline – how classy of Uni Queensland not to make a predictable joke.

Applied research grants announced (it’s not the long-awaited Linkage announcement)

Some 16 projects under the Industrial Transformation Training Centre and Research Hub programme are approved

Industrial Transformation Training Centres

* Behavioural Insights for Technology Adoption ($4.2m) at QUT * Optimal Ageing, at ($4.5m) at Monash U * Energy Tech for future grids ($5m) at Uni Wollongong * Bioplastics and biocomposites ($4.9m) at Uni Queensland * Healing country ($4.9m) at Curtin U * Facilitated advancement of Australia’s bioactives ($4.9m) at Macquarie U * Future crop development ($5m) at ANU  * Next gen tech in biomedical analysis ($3.9m) at UWA

Industrial Transformation Research Hubs

* Nutrients in a circular economy ($2m) at UTS * Supercharging tropical aquaculture through genetic solutions ($4.9m) at James Cook U * Functional and sustainable fibres ($5m) at Deakin U * Manufacturing with 2D materials ($4.3m) at Monash U * Intelligent robotic systems for real-time asset management ($5m) at Uni Sydney * Connected sensors for health ($5m) at UNSW * Resilient/intelligent infrastructure systems in urban, resources and energy sectors ($4.9m) UNSW * Digital bioprocess development ($5m) at Uni Melbourne.

According to ARC documents, Education Minister Alan Tudge is yet to decide on the new rounds of Linkage Projects and Future Fellowships.

Mr Tudge’s office released official news of the hubs and centres this morning. News of the awards was circulating yesterday in the research community.

Appointments, achievements

Andrew Fraser becomes deputy chancellor of Griffith U. “Many Queenslanders know him from various roles in state government,” GU tweets, without mentioning the roles included treasurer and deputy premier in state Labor governments.

Gail Garvey joins Uni Queensland as professor of Indigenous Health Research. She moves from the Menzies School of Health Research.

Leslie Loble will join UTS as an Industry Professor with a brief to research EdTech. The position is funded by the Paul Ramsay Foundation, (chill people, same Paul Ramsay but different philanthropy to the western civ fund). This one is chaired by Glyn Davis and supports research on ending intergenerational disadvantage. Professor Loble is a former NSW education official. She was a member of the panel that recently reviewed the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Mark Scott starts as Uni Sydney VC this week. He moves from department secretary at the NSW Department of Education.

A UWA project is short-listed for two WA Government innovation awards. It’s Apricot, which stands for advanced coronary artery assessment and it is up for innovation of the year and the wellbeing award.