Union ticket

The Tasmanian branch of the National Tertiary Education Union offers two movie tickets as an incentive to join. No, learned readers suggesting such, it is not just for screenings of Battleship Potemkin.

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.

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.

In the third CMM selection from his new book John H Howard (UTS) suggests innovating is the answer for HE in strife.

Another teacher education shakeup

“Too much focus on theory” says Education Minister Tudge

Commonwealth minister Alan Tudge has put initial teacher education back on the policy agenda. “Some teachers are still graduating from their courses insufficiently prepared to teach in a classroom either because there has been too much focus on theory at the expense of practice, or because evidence-based teaching methods are not taught,” he said in a speech yesterday.

Mr Tudge signalled a “next evolution of reforms” to build on the work of the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group chaired by then Australian Catholic U VC Greg Craven.

“Not all initial teacher education programs are equipping graduates with the content knowledge, evidence-based teaching strategies and skills they need to respond to different student learning needs,” Professor Craven said in an announcing the TEMAG programme (CMM February 13 2015).

And apparently, Minister Tudge thinks not enough has changed, announcing a soon to be launched review to, “investigate where there is still further work to do to ensure that all ITE courses are high-quality and adequately prepare our teachers to be effective from day one.”

Mr Tudge also nominates issues to address;

* “greater input” on teacher education courses from school principals and expert teachers

* “shorter pathways” for people in mid-career to become teachers

* a system for professionals “with deep expertise and relevant experience” to teach, for example engineers and accountants, “to help us address our critical shortage of maths teachers”

And he sets a 2030 target for Australia, “to be again amongst the top group of nations across the three major domains of reading, maths and science.”

As to academics who aren’t on-board. “l will be impatient with education faculties that are not implementing evidence-based practices. It is the kids that miss out!”

Katina Zammit (deputy dean of education) at Western Sydney U responded yesterday, that “what we teach is what we have had approved through this rigorous accreditation process.” (She was quoted by the Media Centre for Education Research, Australia.)

They’ll be there for you

Wilfred Laurier U suggests courses students should take that match the shows they stream.

People who watched the Queen’s Gambit are recommended philosophy, economics and game theory. Gossip Girls links to anthropology and Friends to cultural studies and learning the guitar, but oddly, not ancient history.

TEQSA about to act on academic cheating

It’s happening “soon”

Last week CEO of regulator TEQSA, Alistair Maclean told the Commonwealth Parliament’s Joint Committee of Public Accounts “we will be announcing very shortly court orders blocking websites offering academic cheating services.”

So how soon is shortly, CMM asked and the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency responded. “TEQSA has not yet applied for an injunction under these laws but, consistent with Mr Maclean’s comments, expects to announce its first application for such orders soon.”

The public accounts committee also asked about the Australian National Audit Office finding last year that the regulator, “did not meet its targets for re-registration and re-accreditation approvals for low-risk providers.”

“That’s been an area of focus for the agency,” Mr Maclean told the committee. To “provide a more complete answer” he took the question on notice.

Perhaps the area of focus covers Murdoch U’s registration, which expired in July last year. Section 36 (3) of the TEQSA act, allows a provider’s registration to continue until TEQSA decides what to do about it.

This week CMM asked TEQSA what is happening on Murdoch U and was told, “while there is presently no completion date, TEQSA’s National Register will be updated once a decision has been made.” No word if that also is “soon”.

Staff gone but not forgotten at ANU

ANU-ites who have lost their jobs can apply for others, as if they hadn’t left

The National Tertiary Education Union reports management has agreed to its request that fixed-term staff whose appointments ended from March 2020 and through to the end of this year will be considered for internally advertised positions. This means they can access internal job-adverts and apply on the same basis as other staff. ANU adds 144 “ceased staff” are advised.

Fair Work Ombudsman investigating La Trobe U

Just before Christmas LT U announced it was inquiring into casual staff underpayment.

Not that the university, “was aware of systemic underpayment issues relating to our staff,” it just wanted to be sure. It called on casuals with concerns to come forward so records could be checked and any errors corrected (CMM December 11).

On February 3 LTU told CMM that the project had finished on January 31 but “staff members can lodge a claim with the University’s human resources team at any time if they believe they have been underpaid.” Up to then nine claims were received.

Yesterday the Fair Work Ombudsman stated it is “conducting an investigation into LT U” but did not add what it was about. So CMM asked LT U, which responded, “La Trobe U is working with the Fair Work Ombudsman on their request around the self-reporting of potential underpayments.”

The university adds, it has “engaged an independent accounting firm to review our practices and will implement recommendations from their report.”


Honouring Tracey Bretag’s memory

Study support provider (and CMM advertiser) Studiosity advises applications close April 9 for its Tracey Bretag Prize for Academic Integrity

It is for “outstanding commitment to advancing the understanding and implementation of Academic Integrity measures,” and honours the late Tracey Bretag, whose research and advocacy was fundamental to students, universities and government realising the risks of contract cheating and understanding solutions. Enter here.

Unis in peril: experts report security risks and free speech threatened

Foreign interference in Australia is at a height, “not seen since the Cold War,” ASIO Director General Mike Burgess told a parliament committee inquiry yesterday

He was appearing before the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security, which is inquiring into national security risks affecting the Australian higher education and research sectors.

Mr Burgess added Australia faces threats from more than one country, but less than ten, adding that while he is aware of the source of the 2018 hack at ANU he would name it. Officials appearing at the hearing also declined to comment on the source of last month’s cyber-attack on RMIT.

Other witnesses addressed in-person interference.

Independent research Alex Joske answered questions on attempts to influence and recruit Australian based researchers to the Chinese Government’s “Thousand Talents Programme.”  Committee chair Senator James Paterson (Liberal-Victoria) described Mr Joske’s submission to the inquiry, “as the most sobering” received.

Elaine Pearson and Sophie McNeill from Human Rights Watch also gave evidence on the need for universities to make systematic efforts to protect academic freedom from attempted interference by agents and supporters of the Chinese Government. They pointed to UNSW as an example of what not to do – the university briefly deleted an article by Ms Pearson on human rights in Hong Kong after fierce criticism and then reinstated it to a less prominent webpage.

And they spoke at length of the need to assist Chinese students in Australia from intimidation.

They were followed by University of Queensland student and human rights activist Drew Pavlou.  Senator Paterson gave Mr Pavlou the opportunity to speak at length on the university’s disciplinary proceedings against him, which he attributed to the university’s wish to silence his vocal opposition to Chinese Government influence on campus. “There is a “chilling effect” on campus free speech Mr Pavlou said.

Senator Paterson thanked him for his “helpful and powerful” statement.


The Australian Academy of Science announces its 2021 awards

Peak awards

Andrew Holmes (Uni Melbourne). Matthew Flinders Medal

Cheryl Praeger (UWA). l Ruby Payne-Scott Medal

Career awards

Thomas Maschmeyer (Uni Sydney). David Craig Medal

Mathai Varghese (Uni Adelaide). Hannan Medal

John Church (UNSW). Jaeger Medal

John Endler (Deakin U). Suzanne Cory Medal

Susanne von Caemmerer (ANU). Suzanne Cory Medal

David McClelland (ANU). Thomas Ranken Lyle

Mid-career awards

Mark Dawson (Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre). Jacques Miller Medal

Michele Teng (QIMR Berghofer Medical Research). Jacques Miller Medal

Angela Moles (UNSW). Nancy Millis Medal

Cathryn Trott (Curtin University). Nancy Millis Medal

Early career awards

Nicolas Flament (Uni Wollongong). Anton Hales Medal

Kevin Coulembier (Uni Sydney). Christopher Heyde Medal

Vera Roshchina (UNSW). Christopher Heyde Medal

Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick (UNSW). Dorothy Hill Medal

Eve McDonald-Madden (Uni Queensland). Fenner Medal

Francine Marques (Monash U). Gottschalk Medal

Bishakhdatta Gayen (Uni Newcastle). John Booker Medal

Debbie Silvester-Dean (Curtin U). Le Fèvre Medal

Christopher Drovandi (QUT). Moran Medal

Janice Scealy (ANU). Moran Medal

Xiaojing Hao (UNSW). Pawsey Medal

Joseph Powell (Garvan Institute). Ruth Stephens Gani Medal