The way we live now

Research by the University of Western Australia‘s WA’s Gilles Gignac, with Marcin Zajenkowski from the University of Warsaw, finds that short-tempered undergraduates in Poland overrate their own intelligence. And UWA’s Andrew Timming, with colleagues from the University of Miami, reports people with tattoos are not disadvantaged in finding jobs or in the workplace. At least, presumably, people who don’t do their blocks.

Responses to ATAR outrage

The news gods abhor a vacuum so it was filled on a quiet weekend with stories of people with woeful ATARs being admitted to teaching degrees.

TEQSA explains: Outrage ensured and it was left to the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency to remind everybody yesterday that the half of undergraduates who do not start university straight from school, don’t enter on their ATAR.  Even so, TEQSA added that it was having a look at universities who admit people with abysmal ATARS to teaching courses .

Good-o, but there is another performance measure that universities will focus on – the government’s compulsory literacy and numeracy tests that all teacher education graduates must pass before qualifying for the classroom.  Universities can reasonably argue that what graduates can do at the end of a degree matters more than what they started with – the results of the 2017 tests, (CMM April 23) go a way to making that case.

Deans complain: The Australian Council of Deans of Education also responded, which was unusual, deans generally keep their heads down during ATAR-outrage-athons. But it seems that they have had enough. ACDE chair Tania Aspland (ACU) pointed out that there are many reasons why a few people with unrepresentatively low ATARs are accepted into teaching.

Selective use of data and unfortunate comments made by those who wish to advance their own agendas continues to detract from our ability to attract quality candidates into teacher education. It also further demoralises those already in the profession or those undertaking demanding courses to become future teachers,” she added.

Lloyd declaims: University of South Australia VC David Lloyd did not have much to say about the ATAR yesterday, but what he said yesterday was well said. “We must move towards an education where the assumed truths of information are constantly challenged, such as the assumed truth that a standardised year-12 examination is in some way a predictor of future academic potential or achievement.”

La Trobe U’s sky-high partnership with Amazon

La Trobe U is partnering with Amazon and online learing provider Didasko to offer what the university claims is Australia’s first applied cloud technology undergraduate degree. Content comes from Amazon Web Service global programs, plus “cutting edge” machine learning, big data analytics and cybersecurity.

Content is all, unsurprisingly, on-line and it is delivered in three chunks, one year gets a diploma, two an associate degree and three a full UG qualification.

Didasko provides courses for the training sector and partners with La Trobe on undergraduate programmes.  LT U has prepared the curriculum, and assessment.

Course costs are $20 000 per annum and are FEE HELP eligible.

Credit where it’s due

The big reason why medical researchers pick up a poultice of public funding is because voters think longer and heathier lives is a splendid idea. But med researchers also do well due to their superlative customer service. The lobbies are always out and about promoting members and their work, explaining what a great job they do and thanking their sponsors.

A new report on the work of the ten independent research institutes in Victoria makes the point. The Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes lists their clinical trials, partnership agreements, grant income and so forth and so. And AAMRI thanks the Victorian Government for $26m in funding in ’16-17 upped to $34m in ’17-‘18, without which “these stellar outcomes would not be possible.” Gratitude is always good.


Theologian Zachariah Duke is moving from the Australian Institute of Theological Education to become assistant dean, academic at the Catholic Institute of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Total training completions

The estimable National Centre for Vocational Education and Training is reporting projections of completion rates for all-of-VET courses started in 2015-16. The centre was tasked with adding private sector data to that from public providers a few years back and the stats are starting to flow.

Overall completions for total courses commenced in 2016, at all providers, are estimated at 47 per cent. This breaks down to 48 per cent at private providers, 47 per cent at community providers and 43 per cent at TAFE.  The figures are better for publicly funded study, 49 per cent for all VET programmes and 60 per cent for FT students under 25 in their first post school course.

UniSA’s Lloyd lays down four principles for future universities

David Lloyd invoked Cardinal Newman’s idea of the university in a CEDA speech yesterday; just not in language the cardinal would have got; “Let’s be clear. Programs are products. Modules are products. The university of the future should be manufacturing great products, great products that people want and actually need,” The VC of the University of South Australia said.

And he set out four principles for a world where universities adapt, expand and embrace ideas from within and without the academy.

* “We must move towards the provision of education on demand,  towards tailored education on demand which is decoupled from the confines of strict disciplinary shackles,  education which isn’t only linked to bounded degree parchments, but rather is linked to the validated competencies of the successful learner.

* “We must move towards an education where the assumed truths of information are constantly challenged, such as the assumed truth that a standardised year-12 examination is in some way a predictor of future academic potential or achievement.

* “We must adopt new ways to admit and to assess in our university of the future.

*  “We must move towards the university of the future being a forge, where new knowledge is created from many inputs – and in partnership with others beyond the institution.

A forge?” You bet – there is one at Stanford U, built at its founding to stand for the vocational education is was created to provide and it’s a symbol Professor Lloyd likes to use to remind university communities why they exist.

“You need to keep an eye on who you are there to serve,” Professor Lloyd said in a 2015 speech (CMM October 2 2015)

New NHMRC grants: where the big money goes

The National Health and Medical Research Council has announced $188m in new grants.

With yesterday’s grants the 2018 success rate for proposals with a female chief investigator is 21.7 per cent and 21.2 per cent for men.

The success rate for early career fellowships is now 23 per cent for women and 27.6 per cent for men for the year.

The new round brings YTD grants ($245m in total) for the most successful institutions ($5m plus) to:

UniMelbourne: 36 grants, $42m

Monash U: 52 grants $28m

UniSydney: 28 grants, $18m

UoQ: 24 grants, $14m

Murdoch Childrens: 14 grants, $11m

UniNewcastle: 12 grants, $10m

UWA: 13 grants, $9m

Walter and Eliza Hall: 12 grants, $9m

UniAdelaide: 13 grants, $6m

Deakin U: ten grants, $9m

La Trobe U: seven grants, $5m

Menzies School of Health Research: five grants, $5m

QIMR Berghoffer: eight grants, $5m