To stay on track

CMM used to be a runner (not very far, not very fast) now he is a hobbler. If only he had known about the Trail Podcast, from La Trobe U’s Sport and Exercise Medicine Research Centre. It’s part of a study on the impact of running on knee joints.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

 Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on how universities can serve Australia and why now is the time to build on great research foundations.

Victoria Fielding (Uni SA) on the way enabling programmes prepare students for undergraduate study, (so why do university teachers underrate them?). It’s this week’s contribution to Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

Universities enrol to meet demand

UG commencers are up 7 per cent (11 000 people) according to “early data” from universities

Federal education minister Alan Tudge says the biggest increases are in courses where fees are reduced.

“This year more first year students are enrolling in science, agriculture, IT, education and engineering – areas where the jobs of the future will be.”

He’s right, ag and environment courses, has the biggest increase (13.6 per cent) and the largest drop in fees, from $9 600 to $3 900. But starts in “society and culture” courses also went up, 5.8 per cent, despite a nearly $8000 fee hike, to $14 500. And “management and commerce” which now also costs $14 500 a year was stable, down 0.5 per cent.

It’s early data (for 25 out of 38 universities it seems from Senate Estimates yesterday) but the evidence and its implications for university funding clearly means whatever anybody in politics will want it to.

However, Learned Readers emerge from deep in the policy weeds to suggest that universities are happy to enrol-up, because some Commonwealth funding for student places is better than none and that some have recruited strategically in IT and engineering, to compensate for the absence of internationals.

On for young and old with new research allies

You would think professors and postgrads would get sick of the sight of each other, but no

The Australian Association of University Professors announces an alliance with the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations, “on issues of common concern.”

The plan is for members of both associations to make contact on campuses and to work on joint wish-lists to go to MPs ahead of the next federal election.

Dirk Mulder on movement in pathway colleges

By Dirk Mulder

There’s been change over the last 12 months, with maybe more to come

Pathway colleges, those feeder institutions that are often on campus and offer alternative entry tracks to university via Cert IV and diplomas, are important to universities, particular in the international space. While alternate tracks for entry are often thought of as second chances for domestic students, international cohorts use them very differently.

Foreign country awards often don’t align perfectly to Australian Qualification Framework awards, so having entry points that cater for these anomalies are important. And there are big bucks for those involved.

Navitas grew out of the IBT group, which started with one college aligned to Edith Cowan University now has a market capitalisation of AU$2.09B with 33 teaching sites globally and a swag of other business. Yes, big bucks.

For most universities, these partnerships are long term, well known and established. However, the relatively consistent world of pathway college and university contracts has seen some change over the past 12 or so months.

Relative newcomer UP Education which previously had a handful of New Zealand universities in its stable has expanded to now include three Australian universities in their portfolio – Tasmania (early 2019), Swinburne (late 2019), and Charles Darwin (late 2019).

Navitas recently lost out to Kaplan for University of Newcastle’s Services in late 2020.

Flinders U has parted ways with Study Group, after a six-year relationship, seeking to broaden options with multiple providers.  The International Study Centre will remain open until June, 2021.

And according to scuttlebutt on the Stirling Highway in Crawley, the latest change will see UWA bringing in a new provider. They went to tender in late 2019 and with COVID-19 there has been a delayed process to review. CMM understands an announcement is imminent.

 Library courses deaccessioned

There were limits to the rejoicing when UTS was ranked 27th in the world (and second in ANZ) in the Library and Information Management category in this month’s QS research rankings. While Health teaches some postgrad subjects in the field, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences no longer has a strand in information management.

What Unis Aus could do better

The UA “health check” suggests a talking cure

The peak higher education lobby commissioned an external assessment during a period of well-placed media reports that chancellors weren’t impressed with UA’s relations with the Morrison Government.

While UA is not releasing a consultant’s report, it states that recommendations of the commissioned “health check” include,

* “exploring a range of mechanisms for enhanced consultations and engagement” with chancellors

* “extending UA advocacy strategy to include matters of broader national significance”

There are also suggestions for an independent non-executive UA chair and independent board members.

As to what chancellors think about it, UA quotes the chair of their committee Stephen Gerlach (Flinders U), stating they were “pleased to participate” in the process, will discuss the report, “and look forward to further consulting with UA and VCs in that regard in due course.”

Lining up research data ducks

25 unis are participating in a project to create a national approach to research data management

The Australian Research Data Commons is managing the project and providing $65 000 to each participating institution.

It’s a “Yin and Yang” the ARDC suggests.

“Data is an asset that underlies and validates the findings of their researchers and feeds into new research, motivating the preservation, sharing and re-use of data. However, data also poses a challenge in terms of the growing burden of resourcing, the management of access and sensitivity, and the need to make decisions about longer-term retention and disposal.”

Appointments, achievements

Of the day

 Griffith U announces its teaching award winners

Group Excellence in Teaching * Stephanie Schleimer (Business) * Lise Johns (Human Services and Social Work)

Group Educational Leadership * Kylie Burns (Law) * Kirsten MacDonald (Business) * Jane Evans (Health) * Caryl Bosman (Sciences)

Group Active Learning * Abdullah Karaksha (Health) *Structural Engineering Team, Hong Guan, Shanmuganathan Gunalan, Benoit Gilbert, Hassan Karampour (Sciences)

Teaching Priority Areas * Sessional: Bronwyn Reid O’Connor (Education and Professional Studies) * Early career: Di Johnson (Accounting, Finance and Economics)

Innovative Assessment * Interactive oral assessments team, Popi Sotiriadou, (Tourism, Hotel and Sport Management), Amanda Daly, (Business Strategy) and Danielle Logan, (Office PVC Business)

Enhance Learning * Baugul Baugulin Yabruma (Well, Better, Always) First Peoples Health Programme, Roianne West, Vicki Saunders, Fiona Rowe Minniss, Jessica Armao, Kerry Hall, Stacey Vervoort, Melanie Syron, Neil Willmett, Chris Levinge, Robyn Ryan, (First Peoples Health Unit) * Medical Laboratory Science Programme, Indu Singh (Medical Science), Joanne Lewohl, Ian Cassady, Rebecca King, Avinash Kundur, Vinod Gopalan, Andrew Bulmer, Jaclyn McCullen, Roselyn Rose’Meyer, (Medical Science), Lirio Calderon-Gomez, (Health Technical Services)

Of the week

Leah Bromfield (Uni SA) is named a commissioner for the inquiry into the Tasmanian Government’s response to child sexual abuse in institutional settings

 Barry Keohane (Australian Film, Television and Radio School) joins radio network Grant Broadcasters. He says, “I will still do some coaching on the side.”

Josh Mylne is appointed deputy director of the Centre for Crop and Disease Management in WA, it’s a JV of the Grains Research and Development Corporation and Curtin UniversityProfessor Mylne joins from UWA.

Leonora Risse (RMIT) is named a fellow of Women’s Leadership Institute Australia.

 UTS wins the academic category in the Australian Library Design Awards