“The House will come to audible”

Macquarie U reports audiology staff and students marked World Hearing Day by showing NSW state MPs the results of hearing checks carried out in Question Time – why would anybody would want to hear what is shouted in the Bear Pit?

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Rachelle Towart and Tim Winkler, on a new era for Aboriginal university leaders.

Michael Sankey on new benchmarks for technology enhanced learning, it’s what TEQSA wants. This is a new contribution in contributing editor Sally Kift’s series on what is needed now in teaching and learning.

And Merlin Crossley on the ideal PhD supervisor (and the six others).

Lectures that work: not live, not in person

COVID-19 campus closures would not bring learning to a halt, which creates a question for universities

Lectures still work, they just don’t need to be listened-to live.  A survey of psychology students by Laurie Chapin (Victoria U) found 75 per cent used web-based lecture technology, (CMM August 27 2018). “The students who lecturers do not see in their lecture halls are often utilising the recordings and report they are confident they are getting the same information,” she concluded.

Most important, “despite different combinations of lecture attendance, WBLT and associated study techniques used by students, the outcomes are comparable.”

This is lectures, not small-group classes, but even so, there is a bunch of resources tied-up in auditoriums.

Uni Sydney needs to find $200m

The university is down $200m because of COVID-19 – here’s how it plans to claw cash back

The university is projecting a 7 per cent revenue loss on $2.8bn revenues and has announced immediate savings.

* a “limit” on all capex, apart from “large building projects already contracted”

* “a pause” on capital projects not funded by philanthropy or external grants

* “project spending” deferred

* recruitment stopped, excluding roles funded by external research grants or for appointments “at written offer”

* no international travel, unless “essential” or externally funded

* “all current and new contractor and consultant roles will be reviewed

““Our focus remains on the health and welfare of all our students and staff, both on campus and overseas, and in ensuring our world leading research and teaching can continue,” Vice Chancellor Michael Spence says.

But what does this mean for casual teaching staff, who may have far fewer international students to teach in first semester? The University of Sydney has expanded casual staff across the last decade.  Frank Larkins’ analysis of employment patterns at Uni Sydney puts casual teaching-only staff at 497 in 2009, growing to 895 in 2018.

A university spokesperson told CMM last night, “our aim is to minimise the risk of potential job losses. We have asked managers to look at the best way to manage all workloads during this period and beyond and anticipate the increased demand for online and flexible teaching will reduce the impact on our much- valued casual workforce.”

On Monday night Monash U, (657 teaching-only casuals) VC Margaret Gardner told staff the university has, “increased expenditure on our flexible programs which should reduce the impact of lower student numbers on sessional and casual staff employment,” (CMM yesterday).

Virus travel bans

Deakin U bans international trips

COO Kean Selway has announced that all approvals for off-shore travel, “are void.” Any exemptions will require specific approval. “We will assess each scenario on a case by case basis.”

“The wellbeing and safety of our community remains a priority,” he says, with the ban in place until further notice.

Uni Queensland is also said to be banning “discretionary” international travel. Last week RMIT said no to “non-essential travel, (CMM Monday).

Across the ditch, Waikato U has banned international travel.

Uni Wollongong co-hosting defence science meet

It’s a conference on “military aspects of blast and shock”

The conference is scheduled for November, at an off-campus Wollongong site, jointly hosted by Uni Wollongong, the University of Sydney and the Defence Department’s Defence Science and Technology Group. It’s for people working in, “blast and shock wave research, associated thermal effects and protective structures.”

By why off-campus, at a venue just up the road from the university’s Innovation site? Perhaps because Uni Wollongong does not want to offend anybody. In January, it withdrew from hosting the Coal Operators Conference, an event the university had been involved with since 1998, but which was vehemently opposed by the local lllawarra Climate Justice Coalition. “The university has considered the immediate needs of its communities at this time and adjusted its priorities accordingly,” UoW announced then, (CMM January 23).

Education for First Nations people: we need to do better

There is so much for us to learn by fully engaging



It is the only message I could take away from the keynote address by Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, vice-chancellor, University of Cape Town to last week’s Universities Australia conference.

Prof Phakeng challenged delegates not only to think about how education changes lives, but also how increased access to education requires us to think about how education itself should change.

Aside from her compelling personal story – what struck me most was her description of UCT’s efforts to decolonise its curriculum. In taking on that challenge she made it clear that the process was a university-wide one and involved considerable negotiation and reflection.

I wonder how many Australian universities have sat down with Indigenous students and staff to systematically examine curriculum, methodologies and processes across the university?

Indigenous studies units, scholarships, mentoring and other equity initiatives are clearly playing an important role in improving access to university for First Nations students – but are there any Australian universities undertaking system-wide efforts to look critically at what they are teaching?

In the VET sector, there are recommendations from the Joyce Review calling on governments to:

* support the development of more quality Indigenous-owned-and-led registered training organisations to provide more learning in Indigenous cultural settings, and

* specifically measure enrolment, progress and outcomes for Indigenous learners.

These are almost the only recommendations from Steven Joyce’s report to which the government is yet to respond. There is also no mention of them yet in the VET Reform Roadmap. What an opportunity for VET officials to grasp these recommendations and embrace them.

We not only do Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a huge disservice by ignoring these recommendations – we do ourselves a disservice. There is so much for us to learn by fully engaging with First Nations people. They should be at the heart of our tertiary education sector.

Claire Field advises on VET, international education and private higher education

What the publisher decides on medical care

For-profit journal giant Elsevier advises, “patients and care-givers can make requests for individual papers related to medicine and healthcare, at no cost.”

So, patients and medicos have to ask for access to research which they hope will help with care. Research which in many, many, many cases will be funded by taxpayers in the country where it was done and which the World Health Organisation thinks should be open-access everywhere.


Maryrose Casey starts at Flinders U as professor of drama critical studies. She moved from Monash U.

Xiaoling Liu is installed as chancellor of QUT. Dr Liu is a company director and minerals and mining engineer.

John Wardle is announced as foundation director of the National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine at Southern Cross University. He moves from UTS. The centre is supported by a $10m gift from the Blackmore Foundation.

DFAT officer Stephanie Williams is named Australia’s ambassador for regional health security. She is a visiting fellow in applied epidemiology at ANU.

Patsy Yates becomes the new executive dean of health at QUT, moving up from head of the School of Nursing.  Debra Thoms replaces her at nursing on a 12-month appointment. Professor Thoms is the immediate past Commonwealth Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer.