Less is much the same

Uni Sydney to shorten semester

The university will adopt 17-week semester from S2 this year. It will be preceded by “a light introductory and course guidance week.” There will be 12 weeks of your actual academic content.

A university representative says it follows a trial last year. “The experience showed that we were able to provide effective learning experiences and good academic outcomes with 12 contact weeks.”

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Ryan Naylor (Uni Sydney) on what students and academics expect from each other, (it’s more in-line than you might think). This week’s selection in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s series on what we need now in teaching and learning.

Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on friendship among academics easy to make, long to last and a pleasure to be part of.

Angel Calderon (RMIT) crunches the numbers on the QS subject rankings to show why they are an impressive result for the much of a much-ness Australian university system.

Uni Queensland’s MOOC for COVID-19 mornings

The university announces AVAXX101x “training for folk encountering anti-vaxxers”

The new MOOC (via edX) is running now,  until end March. It’s taught by vaccination researcher Tom Aechtner and provides, information on vaccination safety and effectiveness, plus what to do with the vaccine hesitant, presumably by being ready with the seven persuasion strategies for the 12 vaccine myths.

This is seriously, seriously smart and the bigger the enrolment, the better for Australia.

Which is where the feds should come in – buying rights to market the MOOC hard. Translating it into community languages would not hurt.

Way more information at way less price than the standard government comms campaign, on a vital issue.

HE system in strife: the answer is to innovate

John H Howard argues a demography-driven increase in domestic students will not save universities from the collapse in international demand. Four changes in the way they work can

In the third CMM selection from his new book, Professor Howard (UTS) argues providers must respond to, “ongoing pressure around changing student and employer preferences.”

He sets four issues for universities to address

* rationalising content to meet markets

* new structures, with non-university providers delivering needed diversity

* dealing with disruption, as growth in knowledge and skill development outpaces teaching

* new markets, institutions have services to sell beyond teaching and research. They need to start selling.


The silent C in CQU stands for Cairns

It already has a campus there – but wants a bigger, better one

It started when former VC Scott Bowman commenced a long game to build-share, on what was once exclusive James Cook U turf (CMM November 11 2016).

The next year he announced plans to double enrolments there to 2500 and extend subjects taught on a new city campus – all for a mere $54m (CMM August 3 2017).

Since then CQU has used a supportive local media to keep the issue alive, with Professor Bowman’s successor Nick Klomp quick to get the hang of the strategy (CMM July 20 2020).   Yesterday Professor Klomp and colleague Jodie Duignan-George were at it again, explaining in the Cairns Post all the academically excellent things CQU could do if only there was funding for the new site.

As with the CQU push for a med school in its central Queensland heartland, (CMM, March 9 2018, CMM March 22 2019 and CMM November 13 2020), it’s only a matter of time, as measured in federal elections.

Mission too possible at ANU

Did somebody at ANU drop their film-pitch into a university-message?

“Every minute of every day malicious individuals, organisations and state-based actors are seeking to undermine our academic freedoms, steal our world-leading research, and harvest sensitive personal information of our community members,” the university’s cyber-safety site states.

Under-stated really, considering the university reports 5.7m cyber-attacks in January. And the memory of the 2019 data-diamond heist at ANU (CMM October 3 2019) should still be fresh. “Everybody needs to know all the tricks of the trade,” Vice Chancellor Brian Schmidt, says in launching the site.

U Tas desirable and less so real-estate

There’s a two-month wait for more detail on the Uni Tas plan to move muchly from Sandy Bay to the city

A staff briefing reveals planning for a $500m spend in Hobart, supported by debt and “balance sheet optimisation,” which appears to be extracting cash from existing assets. VC Rufus Black says the master-plan for its CBD sites is due within two months.

As to what is in it U Tas is not talking, other than to point to all the consultation that has already occurred and add that there is more to come.

The move to transfer much of the university into town instead of rebuilding at the Sandy Bay campus has been a while coming and is not especially popular with some staff (CMM April 9 2019) or, at least initially, in the city-community (CMM April 23). But management seems set on it happening, presumably not least because U Tas has been buying up property in town and the university’s council has signed-off on the strategy.

And presumably to help pay for the city expansion, the staff brief reports on “three key opportunities… to reimagine the role and function of the Sandy Bay campus;”  “a new mixed use destination with ancillary services,” “unlock missing markets” and “new retail and green pedestrian nodes.”

So what’s with the two month wait Professor Black is adamant applies before anything is announced?

Perhaps there are things still to do in the community comms – the recent staff briefing states “to finalise the plan, we will continue to engage with internal and external communities.”

Or perhaps there are development application issues still to address. Just before Christmas the university lost a state  Supreme Court case concerning its desire to amend the Hobart Planning Scheme as it applied to land on Sandy Bay Campus, now zoned for university purposes. U Tas wants to subdivide and sell land on the upper campus.

Murdoch U VC announces September exit

Eeva Leinonen will move to National University of Ireland, Maynooth as its president

Professor Leinonen’s departure was announced following last night’s meeting of the Murdoch University senate.  She attributed the move to the impact of the pandemic, which, “has impacted on people’s professional and personal lives and provided opportunities for reassessing what is important to us as individuals.”

“For eight years I was only ‘one flight away’ from my family and had many opportunities to connect through travel. This is no longer the case. It is for this reason that I am returning to work in Europe,” she said.

In a joint statement ,Professor Leinonen and Chancellor Gary Smith nominated her achievements at Murdoch U as including, “a clear and strong strategic plan,” and “ensuring the university is in a position of financial strength.”  Specifics also include “delivering” the Australian National Phenome Centre and securing state and federal funding for the proposed “vertical campus” in Perth’s CBD.

Professor Leinonen joined Murdoch U in 2016, moving from DVC A at the University of Wollongong, where she had been for four years.