Counting the uncounted: employees in Victorian public sector universities
The nine ways students want teaching to improve
Comparing research performance: there’s a better way than the H index
A learned reader advises discussions on what to call a merged UniAdelaide-UniSA keep coming up with the names of DWM scientists, ignoring far more interesting, and alive, people, like UniSA’s former VC and higher education reformer Denise Bradley and its graduate, TV chef Poh Ling Yeow. If the merger bid wants to play really safe, the LR remarks, they should go with Adelaide University, “alphabetically on top of all in Australia – whatever its ranking!”
RUN first in front on uni performance measures
The Regional Universities Network has launched a preemptive policy strike, proposing its own performance metrics. The move pre-empts the Turnbull Government commitment to allocating undergraduate growth places on the basis of as yet unannounced measures of university performance.
In a slap across public service chops RUN chair Greg Hill says, ““too much is riding on this process for a superficial approach to be adopted.”
RUN commissioned consultants Nous Group to capture the contribution of universities against the broad objectives of the Higher Education Support Act; teaching quality, equity outcomes and contribution to society.
Nous proposes assessing performance in the three HESA categories, by core, optional and instituton-specific criteria:
Core: completions, attrition, student satisfaction, equity group participation, employer satisfaction and employent outcomes
Optional: one measure from an approved list, for example, per centage of students in work places, comparative equity/all student completion rates, regional employment
Institution specific: three locally relevant metrics, for example, articulation from VET, equity performance and community service.
Institutions would also set out their achievements and explain shortfalls in a suporting submission.
Looks like a model to CMM; albeit one which could protect RUN members from what they appear to fear the feds might do – mark them down for headline attrition rates. RUN members have attrition rates five to seven times that of the University of Melbourne ( CMM June 8). Thus the Nous plan points out there are many causes of attrition which universities cannot address and that they should only be assessed on areas where they can make a difference, teaching quality, student support and learning environment.
Professor Hill goes further, ““a narrow focus on attrition does not fully capture the expectations that both government and community have of higher education. This includes: the unique experience of participation in a university education; and the skills and services this delivers, not only to students themselves, but, in the case of regional universities, to their communities and economies.”
New DVC post at James Cook U
James Cook U is recruiting a DVC students, who will also head its Cairns’ campus. The appointment was announced in March, in the second executive structure in three years. The role is in place of two abolished DVC portfolios, academic-global strategy and engagement.
NTEU says UniSydney VC Spence wants to breach academic approval process over Ramsay Civ Centre
Union leaders at the University of Sydney have condemned negotiations with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation as a breach of process.
The campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union claims that Vice Chancellor Michael Spence wants the university Senate to support any agreement and only then initiate the academic approval process.
“This proposal – like any other relating to curriculum in an area already taught at the University of Sydney – must be decided first by the regular faculty processes and by the Academic Board. Senate approval should only be sought once staff have been fully consulted,” National Tertiary Education Union branch president Kurt Iveson states in an open letter to Dr Spence.
“How could an undergraduate committee, the faculty of arts and social sciences board, or the Academic Board have full oversight if arrangements on such matters have already been agreed by Senate?” Dr Iveson asks.
And he asserts the academic authority of the 150 staff who have condemned any role for Ramsay at the university, as “western exceptionalism,” (CMM June 12).
“This is a core group of world’s best-practice academics who already teach a wide range of subjects that cover the concept of ‘western civilisation’. There must be meaningful consultation with them as regard the standards that operate in any discussions with private funding bodies that pertain to curriculum, including the Ramsay Centre.”
Dr Spence is now in a similar position to ANU VC Brian Schmidt a month back when he faced similar opposition from the union and disquiet on campus over his negotiations with Ramsay (https://campusmorningmail.com.au/anu-union-intervenes-in-the-ramsay-western-civ-centre-proposal CMM May 23). Professor Schmidt went on to withdraw from negotiations with Ramsay, on the grounds of academic autonomy; “it is clear that the autonomy with which this university needs to approve and endorse a new program of study is not compatible with a sponsored program of the type sought,” he said (CMM June 4).
Cash shines on Uni Sunshine Coast
Labor has announced $50m for a science, engineering and IT “super laboratory” at the University of the Sunshine Coast’s new Moreton Bay campus, plus $70m for new undergraduate places there. Just like the Liberals, who have previously promised funding for 3600 new places through to 2021. The government also has committed $35m in infrastructure spending for USC, plus a $121m concessional loan.
Gosh, you would think there is an election on. There is, in the next-door seat of Longman, which Labor’s Susan Lamb had to give up following the High Court’s MP citizenship decision.
La Trobe U to build a campus hospital but definitely not a med school
La Trobe U intends to create a “health and welbeing hub” at its Bundoora campus which will include a, “private hospital, primary health care clinic, aged care and child care centres.” LT U says this will address an existing undersupply of services in the surrounding community and is “one of the first elements of a university commitment to establish La Trobe as the economic engine room of Melbourne’s north.”
The university is adamant that the project, which expand an existing private hospital, will not involve “university diversion of educational funds and no use of public funding.”
Good-o, but LT U Bundoora teaches nursing, dentistry, palliative care, a range of rehabilitation services and various medical sciences and a hospital and health hub will surely be a sources of training places for students and jobs for graduates.
But not, that’s not, in letters of blood, a first step towards a medical school.
La Trobe U partnered with Charles Sturt U over many years in a campaign for the federal government to fund their proposed two-uni Murray Darling Medical School, which was rejected in the budget in favour of a joint programme hosted by a range of universities with regional training schools.
However, a La Trobe spokesman says the university is happy with the new Commonwealth brokered arrangement, where medical science graduates from its Bendigo and Wodonga campuses can enter the University of Melbourne’s medicine degree at Shepparton.
Good-o again, but what applies now may not once the new hospital opens and if a future VC decides real universities have med schools.
Want a bet the medical deans lobby will open a new dossier on La Trobe’s hospital and file it under TF, for threats, future?
MOOCs of the morning
The University of Sydney has two new MOOcs (via Coursera), Innovation through design (Martin Tomitsch and Cara Wrigey) and Design Strategy (Eric Knight). What makes them especially significant is that they are funded by a NSW government programme for entrepreneurs and small business. Such support, as CMM regularly bangs-on, is a big future for MOOCs – providing government with a way to provide information and assistance to the community at a fraction of the cost of broadcast media.
World Cup win
Finally a soccer competition Australia can win, albeit with an ally. At the 2018 RoboCup, in Montreal the UNSW engineering team rUNSWift has won the mixed-team division. They combined with the German B-Human squad to beat another German all-star outfit, DoBerMan, 3-nil.
New NTEU president’s choice for top official faces challenge
Gabe Gooding has an election to fight. The WA state secretary of the National Tertiary Education Union is on a ticket for the federal leadership, with Alison Barnes (Macquarie U) for president and Matthew McGowan, now deputy national secretary, running to replace retiring (in both senses) nat sec Grahame McCulloch. As of Friday Dr Barnes and Mr McGowan were elected unopposed but Ms Gooding was not. The Australian Electoral Commission, overseeing the elections, has not announced candidates but word is that UTS campus president Vince Caughley is running, with the support of NSW division secretary Michael Thomson. While Mr Caughley is not talking to CMM, it seems the NSW hard left is unhappy with Ms Gooding’s handling of the enterprise bargaining campaign at Murdoch U. Then again, so is Murdoch U. “Short of installing a soviet it is hard to see how Gabe could have bargained tougher,” a long-time NTEU observer says. Others suggest Mr Caughley’s challenge reflects unhappiness in the state branch, with NSW state-leadership signalling a split with Dr Barnes.
In other NTEU national results, the three candidates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander national councillor positions; Sharlene Leroy-Dyer (University of Newcastle), Terry Mason (Western Sydney University) and Christoper Davis (University of Adelaide), were elected unopposed.
Other NTEU outcomes include Tasmanian division secretary Kelvin Michael being returned unopposed, with no contested elections for other positions. Branch presidents at Flinders U (Andrew Miller), UniAdelaide (Nick Warner) and Patrick O’Sullivan (UniSA) did not face challenge. There were no contested polls in the Northern Territory Division with Louisa Manning-Watson (secretary) and Darius Pfitzner (president) returned.
In Queensland state secretary Michael McNally and University of Queensland branch president Andrew Bonnell were returned unopposed. But while there will be contested elections at other universities all will be quiet at Bond U, where nobody nominated for any position.
In WA there were more positions with no nominations than there will be contested elections, notably at Murdoch U – where nobody wants to be branch president.