“ATAR” becoming Australian for obsolete

Australian Catholic University announces high school student can apply on Y11 results

People applying via the ACU Guarantee programme may receive 2021 offers from September.  They still have to sit Y12 exams, but don’t have to sweat on their ATAR.

“At ACU we have always maintained that the ATAR is only one measure of success,” VC Greg Craven says. No doubt about it, Professor Craven has questioned the rank since 2014, at least (CMM January 20 2014), particularly for teacher education courses.

ACU joins Curtin U and ANU in recently announcing Y11 is their measure for next year.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Sophie Arkoudis (Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education) argues universities must include and assess communication skills in all courses. It’s Contributing Editor Sally Kift’s selection this week for her series on what is needed now in teaching and learning.

The Australian Association of University Professors says international students need more support now. Post COVID-19, “governments need to fully fund research and teaching and not rely on international students to subsidise educating Australians.”

The cash crisis: most unis ok – for now

The university system could face a system restructure if the funding impact of COVID-19 continues

Writing in CMM this morning policy mavens Frank Larkins and Ian Marshman warn a “major re-shaping” of the unified national system, in place since the ’90s, may be necessary if international student numbers do not recover by 2024.

“This might occur organically through a series of university-led mergers or systemically as a result of government-led policy review.”

In the short-term, they suggest all but seven universities have cash and investments sufficient to deal with the “immediate impact” of the downturn in international student revenue. The seven universities, assessed to be at highest risk are, Monash U, RMIT, UTS, La Trobe U, CQU, Southern Cross U and Uni Canberra.

Larkins and Marshman’s analysis is here.

Live and on-campus: (some) students back for second semester 

Australian Catholic U says that for semester two students “who wish to return to campus can do so”

Lectures, tutorials and workshops will be timetabled on campus where the campus has capacity that ensures we can maintain physical distancing requirements. Most units will also continue to be offered on-line,” ACU advises.

Uni Adelaide resumes face-to-face teaching in second semester

“We look forward to welcoming most of our students back to campus in semester two, “ DVC A Pascale Quester says.

However, lectures will continue on-line for the remainder of the year, “with some exceptions.”

Uni Queensland is open, up to a point

Vice Chancellor Peter Hoj tells staff the university wants, “to provide semester two on-campus experiences and learning opportunities for students.” But it will be a “blended approach: face-to-face learning – where this can be done without compromising the health of staff and students, or academic integrity – supported by digital delivery.”

Union members back deal on job-saving at WSU

Union members at Western Sydney U have agreed to a proposed agreement trading temporary concessions conditions in return for job protection (CMM May 25).

Its intent is similar to the national framework the National Tertiary Education Union pulled Wednesday after 20 or so VCs rejected it.

Word is the WSU version was carried by a thumping majority at an NTEU member meeting, which will help when the proposal goes to an all-staff ballot.

The big cost-saving idea is said to be staff purchasing five days leave from the university, which they will be able to use over the next five years. The purchase would be deducted from fortnightly pay over the rest of this year. Staff earning around $60 000 a year would be exempt.

In return, the university would commit to no staff stand-downs or redundancies and to maintain the original 2020 budget for paying casual staff.

Uni Queensland chancellor intervenes on Drew Pavlou penalty

Peter Varghese isn’t happy with a discipline committee decision

At 6.30 on Friday night the University of Queensland issued a statement from Chancellor Peter Varghese regarding the two-year exclusion imposed on student Drew Pavlou.

Mr Varghese announced, “I was today advised about the outcome of the disciplinary action against Mr Pavlou. There are aspects of the findings and the severity of the penalty which personally concern me.  In consultation with the vice chancellor, who has played no role in this disciplinary process, I have decided to convene an out-of-session meeting of UQ’s Senate next week to discuss the matter.”

Mr Pavlou was suspended earlier on Friday by a university discipline committee. He is a vocal critic of the Chinese Government’s treatment of Hong Kong protests and the university’s connections with Chinese Government organisations.

Short courses really right for the times

Menzies Health Research teaches infection disease prevention

When Education Minister Dan Tehan announced HELP-discounted short courses for people who wanted to use the pandemic to up-skill he specified they should be in “areas of national priority,” leading to “high demand jobs that will play an important role helping Australia bounce back from COVID-19.”

There is a broad view of what this covers, ANU has a course in science communication, which qualifies for the short-course scheme, but for pandemic-priority it is hard to beat the Menzies School of Health Research which newly offers, a graduate certificate in infectious disease prevention and control.

It joins James Cook U, UNSW and Uni Sydney already offering similar subjects.

Preparing to prepare for international arrivals

The process is beginning


COVID-19 shut down student visa processing and there is no announcement on when it may start at scale.

But there is movement at the station, for the word has got around that visa issuing has started, albeit in small numbers.

International education observers confirm a visa for a commencing Chinese student, now offshore has been issued – with more expected.  There is no word on how many and what the start dates will be, but it seems the first step in a long journey is taken.

Dirk Mulder is CMM’s international education correspondent

Uni Queensland announces savings while Uni SA delivers pay-rise  

In April UNI SA VC David Lloyd told staff that while things could get worse, at that stage, “we’ve got this”

It seems UniSA still has. In a new message to staff, Professor Lloyd says the enterprise agreement pay increase scheduled for June will go ahead, adding non-salary savings mean, “we can navigate our way through the rest of this year.”

“Any interventions for 2021 or beyond will be proportionate to the actual impact on our revenue and in-line with our strategic intent,” he adds.

And implemented in-line with the enterprise agreement, and in cooperation with the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union, “with whom we have enjoyed productive relations over many years now.”

However, as in his April message, the VC makes no promises on jobs he may not be able to keep, saying now, Uni SA is committed to “maintaining staffing levels to the best of our abilities.” But he does not rule out the possibility of “pausing” increment rises and reduced FTE fractions, as ways of preserving employment levels, which he mentioned as possible in April’s agenda (CMM April 20).

Overall however it is reassuring advice, “UniSA is very fortunate to have a better underlying financial position than some universities,” Professor Lloyd says.

Uni Queensland ok, for now

The university has made savings of $335m in capex, travel, recruitment for this year which VC Peter Hoj tells staff means, “we have been able to absorb the current reduction in revenue with minimal impact to our staff, teaching or research.”

But Professor Hoj warns “should future student intakes continue to be affected, starting with semester two this year, we will have no choice but to look at further measures.”

“I want to assure you that we will look at alternative measures to avoid or minimise job losses, particularly involuntary redundancies, as much as possible.”

When one set of rules will do

Dual-sector private providers are double whammied with regulation, having to meet rules set by the Australian Skills Quality Authority plus the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency

Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia thinks this is way too much regulation and argues ASQA and TEQSA should come up with a common code for issues and areas they both cover.

With the federal government keen on its new national regulator – the National Skills Commission getting to work, it can’t hurt to remind all officials of the demands they impose on people who are teaching rather than regulating.


Inviting internationals does not mean they will accept

The Victorian Opposition wants the state government to fund quarantine accommodation so international students can come to study

Good-o, but you could welcome them with a brass band at Tullamarine and put them up at Government House and they still won’t come unless campuses are open – that means libraries and lectures, cafes and pracs – the lot.

Independent Higher Education Australia proposes a “COVIDSafe corridor” for international students to return, when safe campus operations and face-to-face teaching arrangements have commenced for domestic students and onshore international students, (CMM Friday).

But what works for people already committed to Australian unis may not work for new students from next year, or the year after. As IDP head Andrew Barkla warns (CMM May 26); “our words and actions matter. Students are tuned into domestic conversations. Nationalist rhetoric is heard by students and their parents around the world. While we commend how our nation has protected its people, we need to be careful this does not come at the cost of a hard-won – and long-held – image as a welcoming and cohesive community.”


Monash U Senior Vice Provost Rebekah Brown expands her portfolio, taking on the research and research infrastructure portfolio now held by Ian Smith, who goes on leave in August, prior to retiring in December.

 Jonathan Powles leaves UNE where he was PVC for academic innovation. In August, he joins University of the West of Scotland as vice principal and PVC for teaching and learning.