Face first

A learned reader is pleased that university marketers have stopped talking about “a pivot” to on-line. “It involves way more than just turning sideways.”

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on what science is doing on COVID-19 and what it might, or not, accomplish.

Plus Michael Sankey (Griffith U) on reaching speed fast to teach on-line, here and here.

And Tim Winkler’s ten-tips for making working at home work.

“What “campus is open” can mean for front-line staff

Some feel frightened, others ignored

All week universities explained how they are keeping students safe by taking classes on-line and protecting staff by allowing them to work from home. And then they added campuses stay open.

There was another audience who heard the messages – the front-line staff who work, in libraries and student services and many more functions, the people who are expected to turn-up and keep campuses functioning. And many did not like what they heard, as if they are expendable, as if their COVID-19 risk matters less. All week people have been telling CMM they are anxious, alarmed and feel unvalued and abandoned.

One way to fix this is senior managers leading by walking around and talking to staff who are at work, on-campus. Or at least acknowledging the people at the sharp end. Uni Sydney shows at least some of the way, via Twitter, yesterday.

“We are so grateful for all of our Uni Sydney staff who are going to extraordinary lengths to support our students, maintain our research, and keep our community well. We are fortunate to have staff who have shown such empathy, creativity and goodwill in these challenging times.”

MOOC of the morning

And many to come

University College London, via Coursera starts Science Matters: Let’s talk about COVID-19. Helen Ward and Katharine Hauck teach four weekly units covering the science on the outbreak, an overview of the epidemic, fatality rates and what genetic sequencing shows about the disease over-time.

Curtin U honours PM who managed in a crisis

Its war-time leader John Curtin, for whom the uni is named 

The new installation is 18 brass blades, 3.5m high which feature key statements made by Mr Curtin. Sounds to CMM a little like the Potomac-side FDR memorial in Washington.  There is a bit of a cult of Curtin as a leader who marshalled the power of state and society in a crisis. We are going to hear a lot more about it this year.

Optimistic ASQA

The Australian Skills Quality Authority tells providers they have an extension on compliance declarations

They were due March 31 but given COVID-19’s impact the due date is now end April. Here’s hoping there is relief from the present difficulties by then.

On-line international recruiting: it has to be the next big thing


Austrade is working towards digital international student fairs

On-line events and conferences is already happening. While it is absolutely restrictive to primary ways of conducting face-to-face business, the current situation creates a forced opportunity to re-imagine online engagement.

Austrade has announced it is committing resources to support the sector continuing marketing and recruitment efforts globally. This follows cancelling the Latin America Study Australia Showcases and the upcoming Study in Australia Japan (30-31 May) and Korea (23-24 May).

How it will work is a question Austrade is funding a project to answer. The brief is for a model that delivers real-time student insights and maximises use of existing student-facing channels and tools. The objective is not simply a digital version of a traditional recruitment fair but an experience built from the bottom up for prospective students and providers.

Moving this way in a tight time frame requires input from many stakeholders, particularly in the ed-tech space. The time is right to invest and create, with a view to learnings and outcomes that can be used by the sector now and which will engage international students via online channels way after the present crisis.

Dirk Mulder is CMM’s international education correspondent

Case still made for demand driven funding

The learned Andrew Norton explains the Australian version to the Brits in a new paper for the Higher Education Policy Institute, where it came from, where it went

It is Mr Norton’s usual acute analysis, which should not be surprising. With David Kemp, he reviewed the system in 2014, for then minister Chris Pyne and made a definitive case for keeping it. His argument can apply to England, which still has its own version of DDF.

Mr Norton’s position in his new paper now is much what it always has been – the system worked.

“In the long run, history suggests that both block grant and demand driven systems respond to major shifts in demand for higher education. But demand driven funding does so more smoothly, letting demographic shifts quickly translate into higher education opportunities. Demand driven funding allows enrolment shares between universities and disciplines to change more quickly than is likely with block grants.”

COVID-19: latest uni responses

James Cook U pauses campus classes next week in Townsville and Cairns

The suspension is to “help lecturers fast-track the development of online course materials.” Nursing is set to start Monday with other courses ready to go on-line, launching March 30.  The remainder will start April 6.  Campuses are open next week.

Uni Newcastle is moving towards teaching only on-line but for how long is not known

Vice Chancellor Alex Zelinsky tells staff, course coordinators have/are preparing lesson-plans for three teaching weeks starting Monday. Courses will go live on-line once weekly plans are quality-assured and some will be up on Monday.

Professor Zelinsky advises a decision on whether all on-line continues for the rest of semester will be made at Easter.

“It is important to note that some face-to-face activities will still go ahead – like laboratory sessions – and we are working through these details. Our university campuses will of course remain open for those students and staff who wish to use our spaces,” the vice chancellor adds.

As of yesterday, Uni Newcastle has had no COVID-19 cases on campus

Griffith U has suspended all classes with 100 plus people

GU says this conforms with the Federal Government ban on such-size indoor gatherings, although it does not apply to HE. Classes covered are already being moved on-line. Campuses stay open.

Uni Adelaide lectures on-line but students can turn-up for tutes

All lectures are on-line as of Monday (most already are). Tutes will follow Monday week. However, students will have the option of taking tutorials on-line or in-person. In-person pracs can’t meet social-distancing requirements and are off until April 27 when, “full practical experience, critical to our world-class education, will be restored.”  The university does not state how.

Uni Adelaide is adding “student representation” to the Incident Response Team.

While students have a choice about turning-up, otherwise, the campus is open. “We have obligations to research programs and to essential services,” Vice Chancellor Peter Rathjen says.

Charles Sturt to go on-line

On-campus classes will move on-line after mid-semester break, which is being brought forward. The last day for in-room teaching is today week. The first for all-remote is April 14. This applies for the remainder of first semester. “At this stage,” campuses remain open.

So will Curtin U

Coursework teaching is “paused” next week, “to allow a smooth transition to on-line learning.” Classes are back March 30. The university says campus remains open and that it will loan laptops, provide digital texts and grant bursaries for internet access, “to help disadvantaged students remain connected.”

Uni Adelaide promises support for casuals in a shut-down

Continuing and fixed-term staff who are in self-isolation, are suffering COVID-19 or caring for a victim can access “temporary additional paid leave.”

If campuses are shut-down or there is an “ongoing disruption to teaching” Uni Adelaide says it will pay casuals for the hours they were rostered to work over two weeks.

As does Uni Newcastle

Vice Chancellor Alex Zelinsky told staff yesterday management has committed to ten days “safety net” leave for all staff – all staff, and that includes casuals.

Uni Melbourne has a case but continues

The first COROVID-19 case at Uni Melbourne was announced yesterday. The staff member was last on campus Friday and the people they saw then are contacted. The building involved is closed to Monday and has had “a deep sanitising clean.” The staffer is said to feel ok now.

Uni Melbourne  advises it continues to “work closely” with Victorian authorities, “to ensure the health and safety of all our students, staff and visitors.”

But the nearest thing to acknowledging the possibility of campus having to close is a statement that the university “will continue to act” on government advice.

QUT announces COVID-19 case

Last night the university announced its first COVID-19 infection. It is a business student who was on campus last Friday but contact with 50 or so people was so casual that Queensland Health says they need not self-isolate. QUT had already announced it was pausing classes next week.

ACU announces an infection but stays open

A student suffering COVID-19 was at the Strathfield campus, in Sydney for two hours Monday and one Tuesday. The university is “working with NSW Health” to notify people in contact with and there has been “an intensive two-step clean” of all relevant areas.

The university has been open all week, and is so today.  However, there are no classes next week, as academics gear-up to teach all on-line

La Trobe U gets serious with sport cancelled

To “mitigate” contact risks and to “focus the resources of the university on the core activities of teaching and learning” LT U cancels all campus sport and rec until April 28. Perhaps they expect things to improve by then.

And Monash prepares for the worse in research

Monash U Provost Marc Parlange advises researchers on how to brace for impact. Most of it is a higher form of “clean hands and files backed-up” but some suggests Professor Parlange fears things could go bad.

He tells researchers to plan to keep projects going with, “significantly reduced on-campus staffing load.” And he wants them to be able to “protect and preserve essential research data, samples and compositions in the event a major disruption.”