Not so lucky-dips

TEQSA reports social media and email urging students to upload assignments and course material to file-sharing websites

The inducement is a $10 000 prize draw.

The ever-understated Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency is “concerned by the integrity risk” and warns such websites “may facilitate the operation of commercial academic cheating services.”

Who would have thought!

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Warren Bebbington (Uni Melbourne) on how universities can urgently address climate change in teaching, research and service. “It is in their core programs that universities can make the most significant contribution to ending this alarming crisis,” he writes.

plus Catharine Coleborne and Clare Lloyd (Uni Newcastle) on a new BA, with more inquiry-based subjects and interactive pedagogies. It has changed how academics think about designing and teaching humanities.

and Angel Calderon’s (RMIT) analysis of the new Times Higher impact rankings (CMM yesterday) – which Aus universities are up, those that are down, how it happens and why it matters.

Beyond the emergency row

As international education takes off join us for a zoom conference on what’s next

Speakers include, VCs Margaret Gardner and Iain Martin, policy experts Hamish Coates and Gwilym Croucher and buckle-up for TEQSA chief commissioner Peter Coaldrake in conversation with Sally Kift. Details here.

Group of Eight urges: reduce Commonwealth’s over-spend on over-sight

The cost of compliance-based reporting is over $500m a year – that would pay to graduate 1000 more doctors a year and increase engineering graduates by two-thirds

The estimates are in a new Go8 policy paper addressed to the in-coming government. The Eight points to eight new reporting requirements imposed on universities, some of which peripherally apply to higher education.

And then there is the imposition of the government’s job ready graduates policy which includes a new funding formula for some courses and student enrolment regulation.  “The government’s purpose-built IT system is still not built in 2022 which means that bureaucrats are monitoring this issue and dealing on a case-by-case basis with each university,” the Eight laments.

“While we understand the need for accountability and transparency,  the hyper regulation of  unis is holding back productivity,” Chief Executive Vicki Thomson says.

The Go8 urges the new government to require ministers to scan all legislation impacting on HE during drafting for overlap, duplication and redundancy.

CQU’s election ask

There are 30 seats in Queensland and the coalition needs to hold its 23 while Labor wants to win some back. CQU VC Nick Klomp has suggestions for both sides.

In a Friday statement Professor Klomp set out some of what CQU needs to help create the 450 000 new regional jobs over five years the prime minister commits to.

In particular, the VC pointed to a new CQU campus in Cairns, funding to complete its Coastal Marine Ecosystems Research Centre in Gladstone and a hydrogen training centre there, plus an electric vehicle and energy training centre in Mackay and a rural-remote health training centre in Rockhampton.

Labor has committed to funding for CQU projects in Cairns, Mackay and Gladstone and there is still plenty of campaigning time for a promise in Rockhampton (CMM April 19).

All centres are in mostly safe conservative seats, with Cairns (in Leichhardt) the most marginal, Warren Entsch holds it with a 4 per cent two-party margin.  Perhaps Professor Klomp hopes the coalition will decide to make them safer by announcing funding for CQU projects.

Uni Sydney COVID-19 research emails stay secret

Journalist Dake Kang wants Uni Sydney to release emails about research into the origins of COVID-19. The university declined and the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal AGREES

Mr Kang is a serious journalist, a 2021 Pulitzer Prize nominee for investigative reporting, who is pursuing a serious subject.

Tribunal member Kaye Ransome makes this clear in citing his argument, “that the public should know whether the university’s research partnerships with Chinese research institutions are taking place in an open and transparent manner. He states that the emails caught by his access request may produce information that could inform the public about whether the university’s virologists are being pressured not to say certain things. He submits that, if that is the case, it would have a direct impact on the university’s ability to educate members of the public on topics such as the Chinese government’s handling of the outbreak.”

She also notes both “the general public interest in favour of disclosure” and specific reasons for publication, “disclosure could reasonably be expected to facilitate public scrutiny of and promote transparency in research and that disclosure could reasonably be expected to increase understanding of the sequence of events that led to the COVID-19 pandemic, the origins of the pandemic and the initial health response to it by governments.”

However she concludes that questions about what is in the (unpublished) emails are misplaced, that there is nothing in them “about pressure being applied to the university’s researchers by the Chinese authorities or, indeed, by anyone else.”

She also finds, “the withheld information, in my opinion, would not assist in the identification of any alleged misconduct or negligent or improper conduct.”

And she accepts “there has been serious harassment and intimidations of individuals” who appear in the documents Mr Kang wants public.

And so she concludes, “Mr Kang urges that the balance fall in favour of release and asks whether protecting the reputation of the few prominent scientists should outweigh the potentially enormous ramifications for public health, with millions of lives and trillions of dollars at stake, which may result from nondisclosure. There is no doubt that these are weighty matters and that there is … an extremely strong public interest concerning disclosure of all information relating to SARS-CoV-2. However, on balance, I am satisfied that the public interest considerations against disclosure outweigh those in favour of disclosure even though the considerations in favour of disclosure are substantial.”


Appointments, achievements

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences announces its 2022 Fellows, including International Honorary Members, Christopher Dickman (Uni Sydney) and Lisa Kewley (ANU),

Poet Evelyn Araluen wins the Stella Prize, “a voice for gender equality and cultural change in Australian  literature.” She teaches in Deakin U’s School of Communications and Creative Arts, where she is officially known as Evelyn Corr.

Lisa McDaid become director of Uni Queensland’s Institute for Social Science Research. She steps up from ISSR’s deputy director for research.

Meredith Nash joins ANU as Associate Dean, Community in the College of Engineering and Computing Science. She moves from Uni Tasmania.