There’s more in the Mail

In Features Sally Varnham (UTS) on partnerships with students, this week’s feature on what  teaching needs now.

UA says no to national industrial agreement on free-speech

The union wants to talk, the peak university body doesn’t

The National Tertiary Education Union urges Universities Australia to join it to draw up a “statement of rights and obligation” of institutions and staff on free speech, to incorporate into enterprise agreements (CMM yesterday). But UA says nothing doing. CEO Catriona Jackson reaffirms “the university sector’s enduring commitment to freedom of expression and academic freedom,” but “the content of collective industrial agreements are a matter for individual institutions and their employees.”

TEQSA orders college: no new students

The tertiary education regulator has placed just one condition on re-registration of private provider Elite Education Institute – but it’s a beaut

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency forbids Elite enrolling or commencing any new students until August 31. The time-limit is to allow TEQSA to complete investigations into the institution.

TEQSA states it “believes on reasonable grounds” that Elite does not have “the clearly demonstrated capacity,” “to provide education of a satisfactory standard.”

Elite offers degrees and dips in business. Its voced division is separately regulated by training authority ASQA.

Uni Queensland renovating its maintenance structure

Uni Queensland proposes a comprehensive change for its property and facilities division. No punches are pulled in explaining why

“P&F’s current context is one in which there is a level of confusion in relation to organisational structures, roles and responsibilities (both internally and from a customer perspective) and the alignment of skills and knowledge to customer needs. In addition, P&F suffers, rightly or wrongly, from a perception of poor customer communication, and a lack of stakeholder consultation. Of concern is that some areas are perceived to have work practices, which are not well aligned with UQ values,” a change proposal states.

The university’s proposed replacement structure would have 30 positions, but 27 existing jobs would be disestablished. People with jobs set to go would get first crack at applying for new ones. Management hopes to have its replacement arrangement in-place by February.

Griffith U says no free speech decision before campus talks

No decision on the proposed national code without university-wide discussions

Griffith U Vice Chancellor Carolyn Evans knows more than a lot about the constantly contested ground where beliefs clash. The intersection of human rights legislation and religious belief is an issue she writes about.

As such, close observers of the campus free speech pie-fight are watching what Griffith U will do in response to the push for universities to adopt the model code in the French review and the possibility of legislation (CMM June 19)

So CMM asked and the university responds;

“Robust debate and discussion play a central role in intellectual inquiry across the educational, research and engagement functions of the university. Griffith U is considering the French model code against our existing policies and enterprise bargaining agreement, as well as its implications for the university community. The adoption of any code requires consultation with academics, students and the University Council.”

Clause 47 of the university’s academic staff enterprise agreement certainly guarantees their right to; “participate in public debates and express opinions about issues and ideas related to their academic and professional areas, about higher education issues as they affect their institution and about higher education issues more generally,” to, “participate in professional and representative bodies without fear of harassment or intimidation,” and “engage in community service without fear of harassment, intimidation or unfair treatment.”

This would seem to cover cases of staff inviting speakers with controversial views on to campus. And the university makes clear that if anything is to be done it will be after people across the university community get to speak, freely.

Uni Wollongong Council asserts authority

Council cements support for the Ramsay Western Civ Centre funded degree for 2020

The university Council “has used its legislative powers to specifically approve” the degree, which the campus staff union hopes to challenge in court.

This new endorsement is in addition to council chair Jillian Broadbent previous endorsement of Vice Chancellor Paul Wellings approving the degree, under a university rule that allowed him to by-pass the standard academic approval process (CMM April 15).  The VC acted before academic senate voted against the Ramsay course, in March.

Council is using powers granted under its NSW legislation to “act in all matters concerning the university in such manner as appears to the council to be best calculated to promote the object and interests of the university.”

“The Council had full respect for the university’s academic process, particularly the role of the Academic Senate. However, under the particular prevailing circumstances, Council has used its legislative powers to specifically approve this degree. The Council was mindful of the tight timeframes involved in preparing to begin teaching the degree in 2020 and the potential impact of any uncertainty regarding the course’s approval status,” Ms Broadbent says.

The National Tertiary Education Union responds that Council’s decision is “another example of the university not following its normal procedures in approving new courses.”

Federal president Alison Barnes says the union “will consider the impact” of Council’s decision on the case against the degree and respond, “as soon as we are in a position to do so.”

VU block buster to blow up uni education

The founder of the block teaching model says Victoria U is a “true inspiration”

David Helfand pioneered the block teaching model, where students take single units and study intensively with an academic for a month, but he has seen nothing like the way Victoria U has rolled it for first year in quick time, with the rest of the university to follow.

“It has been a true inspiration and a matter of complete wonderment to me that this institution has managed in the space of eight months to transform the education of 4500 students and is now eight months later doing it for the other 10 000 or 15 000. You have already by far a block programme with more students than all the other universities in the world combined that have block systems,” he told a VU audience earlier this month.

Professor Helfand introduced block teaching at Canadian private provider Quest U, which he led on leave from Columbia U. He argues, “we need to blow up universities and start again such that we can produce graduates worthy of the name,” and that the block-model is the way to do it.

“It is radically past the time when we need to completely re-think the role of the faculty member, the situation of the student and the purpose of education – opening their minds and leading them forth to a lifetime of learning so we have a chance of producing graduates that are going to be effective and have an impact on the world and are going 20 years from now to be happy and productive members of society.”

Appointments, achievements

At the University of Queensland, Bronwyn Lea is confirmed head of the school of communication and arts.

 Trade title Lawyers Weekly, announces its short-list for academic of the year, Phillip Drew, ANU. Paula Gerber, Monash U. Vicki Huang, Deakin U. Mark Humphery-Jenner, UNSW. Jane Kotzmann, Deakin U. Aaron Lane, RMIT U. Nicki Mollard, Monash U. Justine Nolan, UNSW. Sara Rayment, Uni Newcastle. Cassandra Seery, Deakin U.

Leon Kempler is the new president of Museums Victoria’ board. Mr Kempler is also chair of the Questacon advisory council.

The Australian Institute of Architects leadership awards are announced, including; Deo Prasad (CRC for Low Carbon Living) is awarded for sustainability, Helen Lochhead (UNSW), gender equity, Sobi Slingsby (Griffith U) student prize. Vivian Mitsogianni (RMIT) education prize.