It don’t mean a thing now they ain’t got that swing

(As Irving Mills nearly wrote for Duke Ellington)

To celebrate International Jazz Day (Saturday) Uni SA is projecting appropriately hip images on the giant screen the facade of its Bradley Building provides.

Probably not ones of students performing at the now former Uni SA – James Morrison (the cool one, not the singer) Jazz Academy. Announced in 2014 (CMM October 24) the academy went out with a blast at the final student recitals last year (CMM November 15).

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

James Guthrie (Macquarie U) sets out the nine major changes to university governance and purpose proposed by staff and student organisations

plus Merlin Crossley UNSW) laments education status as social marker. “Privileging a single form of achievement will never help us build an inclusive and cohesive society.”

with Christy Collis (Uni Southern Queensland) on the digital skills gap. “Our students may know how to use digital tools, but we are not necessarily teaching them how to be successful digital workers, she warns in an essay for Contributing Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

and Angel Calderon digs (really, really digs) into the QS subject rankings to rate how the university alliances did. He found good results for the Group of Eight and the Australian Technology Network.


Universities Australia’s big research call

What research can deliver if unis get what they need : “a renewable, inexhaustible driver of productivity growth and competitiveness”

UA’s submission to the new Productivity Commission inquiry on, productivity, includes ideas on new ways the government should fund its members to teach more but research is in its big policy picture.

Responding to the present government research commercialisation strategy, UA adds to previous calls for “a balanced approach,”  which requires government “providing the patient funding” that discovery research requires.

And in terms pitched to appeal the PC’s ideological intestines. UA suggests that the existing emphasis on funding research and development through private sector tax concessions does not deliver.

“Australia firms have become slower to adopt, innovate and improve their productivity performance, which can explain part of the slowdown in aggregate productivity growth,” UA suggests.

“In 2019-20, Government provided $2.7bn of support to industry through the Research and Development Tax Incentive with almost no say in how that R&D should be focused in the national or economic interest. It is also unclear how Government measures the value or return of this investment.”

UA accordingly invites the PC to “consider the appropriate balance of the Government’s investment in university research to enhance Australia’s productivity.”

It’s not a suggestion a Morrison ministry is likely to take up – but an Albanese administration might. Labor took a proposal to the 2019 election for a 10 per cent tax premium, for businesses that “collaborate with researchers in universities and public research agencies to create new knowledge.”

Scroll down for what else UA wants the PC to do

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.


Ranking that rates prestige

The Centre for World University Rankings announces its league table

There is not much movement in the global top spots, with Harvard U number one in the world for the 10th straight year.

The same applies in the local league table, with the top ten the same as last year. Uni Melbourne is the 2022 58th in the world (up from 63) followed by Uni Sydney (unchanged at 98). They are followed by the rest of the Group of Eight, with the last of them, Uni Adelaide at 209 well clear of Curtin U (340) and UTS (356).

Stability is probably due to the way CWUR measures performance, using public data and bibliometric scores, which do not change fast. “This is a ranking that emphasises prestige, because of its reliance on the visibility of awards and recognition of academic and alumni,” Angel Calderon (RMIT) suggests, (CMM June 15 2020).

Nationals announce for La Trobe U, again

There’s a second funding announcement in a week

LT U announces it has $19.5m in federal funding for a rural clinical health school, in Shepparton, one of the regional Vic centres where the university has a campus.

The school will, “substantially increase the number of nursing and midwifery and allied health students undertaking their studies and training in the region.”

On Friday LT U announced it has $5m from the Commonwealth’s Regional Research Collaboration fund, to research medicinal cannabis cultivation.

Regional Education Minister and Nationals senator, Bridget McKenzie announced the funding again, on the Nationals web page, Sunday afternoon – which suggests Regional Health Minister and Nationals MP, David Gillespie might announce the health school tomorrow.

Unis Aus pitch to the PC  

Universities Australia calls on the Productivity Commission to “affirm” funding and policy settings that ensure universities are “a fundamental driver” of productivity growth. UA also suggests specific ways to do this

UA’s submission to the PC’s new inquiry into productivity includes headline calls for more money, notably that government subsidised places are “adequate to meet future student demand,” driven by population growth and labour market need.

But it also includes policy specifics, including,

* extend HELP to cover non award micro-credentials. “The traditional front-loaded education model immediately after school is no longer sufficient to equip employees with all the skills they will need throughout their working career. “

* time-limited funding for student placements in health-services, notably aged, disability and primary care. Without such, “increasing health graduates’ understanding and career choice in these areas is unlikely.”

* time-limited grants for universities to use technology in teaching health disciplines, “to support clinical education where access to placements is more limited”

And then there is a proposal that the PC may well like, a lot;  UA points to the six Commonwealth departments and two agencies that oversight universities and suggests the Commission consider measures, “to identify and deal with regulatory overlap.”

Private VET and HE providers: how many and doing what


Discussions about education frequently focus on the merits of public versus private. These debates though rarely go much further in examining different types of providers or the growing importance of organisations providing key services to the sector

For example, few people in VET or higher education would appreciate that “private” or “independent” providers include large numbers of non-profits, industry associations, religious organisations and others.

Even among those interested in understanding commercial, for-profit, providers there is typically little awareness of the number and type of institutions which are publicly listed. While IDP is fairly widely known to be ASX-listed, and there were a number of media stories at the time Navitas went private, there is little broader awareness of this part of the sector. Yet the public disclosure requirements of being a listed company mean these organisations actually publish much more information about their operations than other private providers.

There are at least 22 ASX-listed companies involved in education and training in Australia (and often also overseas).

They include some which operate educational businesses which are a relatively small part of their overall operations such as APM, SEEK (through its Investment Fund), and Verbrec. Other organisations like ReadyTech and TechnologyOne offer important technology platforms for the sector – but again this is as part of a much broader suite of offerings to organisations operating in a range of other industry areas.

And then there are those organisations which specialise in tertiary education. A number have a strong international education focus, some are focussed on domestic students, and others on EdTech.

With governments across Australia investing heavily in private tertiary education during the pandemic (through JobTrainer funding in VET and funding for Undergraduate Certificates in higher education) and with the significant shift to on-line education, it is surprising that only a small number of ASX-listed education stocks outperformed the broader All Ordinaries index over the last three years. (My website has more details).

In part this is no doubt due to some organisations being heavily involved in international education, but it is probably not the full explanation and it would be good to see this part of the sector more widely understood and discussed.

 Claire Field is an adviser to the tertiary education sector

Uni Adelaide Integrity Unit: right time but not there yet

There’s a sexual assault case involving two Uni Adelaide staff members before the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal

Management is not commenting but last week VC Peter Høj  assured staff management has “zero tolerance” of sexual harassment and assault and is “committed to supporting any staff member or student who makes a disclosure.”

It would have been an excellent opportunity to point to the university’s long-awaited Independent Integrity Unit, but alas it is not yet in place. Announced in June 2021, it will be 12 months by the time it launches.


Appointment, achievement

Stuart Dignam is appointed CEO of MTP Connect, (“the industry growth centre for the medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector”). Formerly COO he has acted as MTP’s chief executive since January.

Sylvia Gustin (UNSW) wins the inaugural Rebecca Cooper Fellowship. Associate Professor Gustin has $1.35m to research spinal cord injuries.