Early on the imaging

“We’ve had so much to think about this week … but let’s take a moment to thank radiographers,” Uni Queensland News’ (complete) tweet yesterday. Perhaps they were getting in early for World Radiography Day, on Sunday.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Merlin Crossley (UNSW) https://campusmorningmail.com.au/news/merlin-crossley-asks-the-post-covid-question-what-works-best-on-campus-and-what-is-better-on-line/on who’ll be on the post COVID-19 campus.

Indigenous Research could be an unfair-fail in the next ERA. Bradley Smith (James Cook U) explains what the Australian Research Council could do.

Mollie Dollinger (La Trobe U) makes the case for student partnerships, at a same distance. It’s Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s new selection for her series on what’s needed now in teaching and learning.

David Kellermann (UNSW) on creating a serious solution for on-line lecturing. Curated content from Microsoft.

Remaking HE starts Monday

Join a cast of thousands (ideas that is) on the changes HE faces in the post (or continuing) pandemic world

The skills workers need are changing fast, so why are HE and VET teaching the same-old, same-old? Innes Willox (Australian Industry Group) and Kerri-Lee Krause (DVC-Student Life, Uni Melbourne) discuss where we are and need to be, next week at the Remaking HE on-line conference, starts Monday. Details here

Senate committee sticks with bill to scrutinise uni foreign affairs

Universities got a hearing on the bill to scrutinise overseas entanglements – but that was all

The Senate committeconsidering the Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Bill has reported and HE concerns with the legislation are included at length.

But including is not agreeing and the committee does not recommend any changes to address the university concerns that the legislation will unnecessarily interfere with research and education links with foreign institutions and involve augean amounts of admin. In fact, the committee wants to extend government oversight, “noting recent concerns in relation to Australian research hospitals entering into agreements with foreign entities suspected of breaching Australian ethical guidelines.”

This was always going to happen. At a committee hearing Liberal senators Eric Abetz and Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and Labor’s Kimberley Kitching were robust in questioning HE university organisation representatives about their members connections with the Chinese Government and agencies (CMM October 14).

And the committee reports; “Several troubling examples were raised during the inquiry where Australian universities have failed to uphold expected standards in relation to academic freedom, freedom of speech, and ethical research practice in the face of interference from foreign actors,” the examples provided all related to China.

Labor and The Greens both want changes to the bill but not so much as to end its intent.

But the enormous amount of effort universities and their industry organisations put into the inquiry will not be wasted. It was excellent practise for the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security inquiry just starting on foreign interference in universities, (CMM yesterday).

Scroll down for uni reaction

More equity students in study – just not all groups or everywhere

University enrolments from most equity groups outperformed the overall UG increase in 2014-19. But remote and regional numbers were below average and NESB numbers declined 

The figures are from a new analysis by the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education at Curtin U.

Overall UG enrolments at public and private higher education providers rose from 706 000 to 765 000 (8.4 per cent) in ’14-’19.

The big improving groups were students with a disability (44 per cent), Indigenous students (36 per cent) and low SES (16 per cent).

However, NESB students actually declined from 25 100 in 2014 to 24 400 in 2019.

And the growth rate for remote (4.4 per cent) and regionals (3.5 per cent) were well below the overall figure.

The proportion of all students who are classified as remote or regional went backwards in some university groups, notably the Regional Universities Network, where it declined across the five years reported, from 52.4 per cent in 2014 to 47.5 per cent in 2019.  The NCSEHE suggests this might be due to RUN members establishing metro campuses.

Unis to government on foreign agreement oversight: leave us alone or at least bother us less

The Innovative Research Universities responded to yesterday’s Senate committee report on their international agreements (above) with a practical proposal

“If universities remain within the scope of the legislation, a spectrum of risk should be applied to each arrangement to ensure DFAT does not disproportionally focus its resources on routine and low-risk activity at the expense of proper monitoring of higher risk activities.”

Universities Australia wants changes

Universities Australia says its members should be written out of the bill but if not, ““significant amendment is required. Our primary concerns go to both the workability of these laws that will cover thousands and thousands of agreements and the deterrent effect this could have on international partnerships.”

Appointments, achievements

Of the day

 Ed Byrne (ex Monash U VC) now president of King’s College (in London) will be a Distinguished VC’s Fellow at ANU, from February. Professor Sir Edward will be based in the College of Health and Medicine.

 Education Minister Dan Tehan has announced reappointments to the National School Resourcing Board. Michael Chaney (former UWA chancellor) continues as chair. Deborah Terry (VC Uni Queensland), who was appointed in August  is deputy. Other continuing members include, Natalie Brown (U Tas), Stephen Lamb (Victoria U), Greg Craven (outgoing VC, Australian Catholic U) and Ken Smith (ANZ School of Government).

Of the week

Deena Amorelli steps up at UNSW to become head of HR. She replaces David Ward.

Debi Ashenden leaves Deakin U for Uni Adelaide where she will take up a chair of cyber security, jointly supported by the university and Defence Science and Technology Group.

Australian Catholic U’s excellence awards are here.

THE Australian Collaborative Education Network (for work-integrated learning people) awards are  here.

Craig Batty joins UniSA becomes inaugural dean of research in the Creative Arts unit. He joins from UTS.

Warren Bebbington (Uni Melbourne) and Elizabeth Deane (Western Sydney U) have two-year terms on the board of the Commonwealth Tuition Protection Service, which assists students if their provider fails to deliver.

Melissa Brown (Uni Queensland) is the new president of the Australian Council of Deans of Science. She replaces Brian Yates (U Tas)  who continues on the council executive as past president.  Andrew Smith (Griffith U) is new secretary/treasurer. New council members are Farzad Khosrowshahi (Victoria U), Virginia Kilborn (Swinburne U),  Lee Smith(Newcastle) and Laura Parry (Adelaide). They join existing member Helen Blanchard (Uni Wollongong).

Robert Carver joins Australian Catholic U as director of the new Ramsay Programme in Western Civilisation. Professor Carver move from the University of Durham in the UK.

Kathy Laster (Victoria U) is chair of the Victorian Government’s interpreting and translating service.

Perth social worker Shelly Skinner receives Curtin U’s John Curtin Medal for 2020. The award goes to individuals/organisations who display attributes associated with PM Curtin, “vision leadership and a commitment to community service.”

Nelson Tansu is the new head of Uni Adelaide’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. He joins from Lehigh U in Pennsylvania.

Melissa de Zwart (Uni Adelaide) is elected chair of the Council of Australian Law Deans.

Setting research standards: a task for TEQSA

There is not much concern* about a minimum research requirement for universities to keep the title in the new threshold standards bill – question is how to set it

The threshold standards bill leaves this to enforcement agency TEQSA, but unless it wants to establish its own metrics the Australian Research Council has some handy.

As Western Sydney U suggests in its submission to the Senate committee considering the bill, it should include “explicit reference” to using the Australian Research Council’s Excellence for Research in Australia.

If TEQSA did adopt ERA’s “world standard” nobody will accuse it of elitism – it’s ARC speak for average (CMM October 12). There’s also a bit of an issue with ERA in general.

The ARC is reviewing the metric and submissions reported in CMM are not exactly awash with enthusiasm. There are a bunch of concerns about discipline assessment, including the way STEM fields (assessed by citation) outperform HASS (peer reviewed). Arcane it is – important it could be for universities which will be assessed on humanities and social science research output.

* Charles Sturt U isn’t happy

Charles Sturt U suggests delaying the new research threshold requirement.

In its submission to the Senate inquiry to the provider category standards bill CSU suggests that the impact of COVID-19 and the “unclear” policy and funding framework for research after 2021 makes the case for a delay. The standards should not apply until 2023 and universities that do not meet the research levels should have five years grace, “before they can be held accountable.”