They aren’t on a plane

Griffith U researchers report the strongest predictor of where reptile research occurs is proximity to a university campus, which may skew data used in conservation decisions. CMM resists the urge to refer to snakes in the grass around chancelleries

There’s more in the Mail

New in Features this morning

There are five big assumptions in the government’s UG funding package, some have exercised policy analysts since HECS was created. Ian Marshman (Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education), asks the questions, including the big one; “can the cost of university teaching really be determined?”  here.

 It’s a great lead into the MCSHE’ expert discussion, via Zoom this afternoon. Frank Larkins, Mark Warburton and Tamson Pietsch will discuss what Minister Tehan’s changes will mean for students and universities.

Also in Features

Michael Tomlinson suggests asking TEQSA to police enrolments is a step too far, plus the government’s plan has too many layers addressing too many dimensions.

Frank Larkins and Ian Marshman suggest how universities can profitably “modify” their student load, demonstrating what switching engineering places to arts could deliver.

 Merlin Crossley argues the ARC and NHMRC should double fellowships for young researchers

Union says no to (this) Southern Cross U savings plan

Management is asking staff to support a savings deal – the NTEU says it’s not good enough

Vice Chancellor Adam Shoemaker wants staff to give-up a pay-rise this year and defer one in 2021, among concessions to save $5.8m of the $38m the university expects to be down over 18 months, due to COVID-19.

In return the VC puts, “on record my commitment to explore voluntary redundancies before any targeted job cuts,” (CMM July 2).

To which the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union responds by warning, “management has refused to provide any enforceable improvements to job security.”

After talks with management went nowhere last week, the union is urging staff vote against the variation to the enterprise agreement management’s proposal requires.

But rather than adamantine opposition the NTEU says a “no” now will force management to consider alternatives, such as a leave buy-back scheme. “NTEU members are not saying ‘just vote no’ we are telling staff to ‘vote no to get a better deal’ … if staff sacrifice their wages for the future of the university, then the sacrifice must be offset by tangible and enforceable improvements to job security.”

This is the strategy the union successfully used at Uni Wollongong where staff voted against management’s savings options, in the hope that management would talk to the union – which is now happening (CMM yesterday).

Laureate Fellows announced

The Australian Research Council’s laureate appointments for 2020 were announced yesterday –  five of 15 are from UNSW

This year’s fellows are;

Elaine Holmes (Murdoch U) – host-microbiome signalling in ageing

Toby Walsh (UNSW) – trustworthy AI

Robert Williamson (ANU) – ethical machine learning

Alison Bashford (UNSW) – population policy in modern world history

Karl Vilonen (Uni Melbourne) – basic symmetries in mathematics

Catherine Lovelock (Uni Queensland) – blue carbon for coastal restoration

Martina Stenzel (UNSW) – nanoparticles in therapeutic drugs

David James (Uni Sydney) – genetics and lifestyle of healthy ageing

Loeske Kruuk (ANU) – changing environments for wild animals in Australia

Andrew Millar (UWA) – proteins in crops

Huanting Wang (Monash U) – advanced membranes for renewable energy

Jochen Mueller (Uni Queensland) – minimising adverse impacts of chemical exposure

Maureen Dollard (Uni SA) – human-centred workplaces, (scroll down)

Ross Buckley (UNSW) – financial data in Australia’s legal/regulatory systems

Dennis del Favero (UNSW) – using digital systems to depict unpredictable scenarios (for example, wildfire) separate to human-centred depiction

Grants range from $2.6m to $3.7m for salary supplements, four postdocs and lab funding

Sweet and Fitzpatrick Laureate Fellows

Catherine Lovelock (Uni Queensland) is the 2020 Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellow. She will take the Flying Scientists programme, promoting STEM to girls and women, to regional centres.

Maureen Dollard (Uni SA), takes the double, also being Kathleen Fitzpatrick Laureate Fellow. She will lead 50 woman who are PhD students to develop research strategies

The fellowships are worth $100 000 over five year.

Starting as he means to go on

New UWA VC, Amit Chakma took over yesterday with his first public task to thank Defence Minister Linda Reynolds for a speech, in which she announced funding for the university’s Defence and Security Programme.

Where the MOOCs with the most are

MOOCLab’s first ranking for 2020 has Deakin U 8th in the world

There are 17 Aus institutions, which offer MOOCs via Coursera, edX and FutureLearn, on the list.

Those in the global top 100 are Deakin U, Uni Queensland (global 12th), Curtin U (22nd), Monash U (48th), ANU (56th), Macquarie U (59th), Uni Adelaide (62nd) Uni Melbourne (65th), UNSW (73rd), Uni Sydney (74th),Uni Newcastle (86th).

MOOCLab ranks providers on number of courses, learning-pathways, micro-credentials, degrees and, for what it is worth, a mean averaged from the ARWU, Times Higher and QS rankings. Whatever the methodology’s merits, it’s certainly stable, Australian positions in this list are the same as on last year’s, (CMM November 27).

Three myths about contract cheating and what to do about the reality

Phillip Dawson (Deakin U) sets it all out in a briefing from TEQSA

Myth one: it’s rare. “The vast majority of students never contract cheat, the rate of contract cheating is high enough to warrant serious attention.” One Australian survey puts it at 6 per cent at universities. Another reported 7 per cent at NUHEPs.

Myth two: it can be “designed out” of assessment by using authentic assessment, tight turn-arounds for tasks and exams. It can’t – contract cheating services can cover for the first and exams are not immune. However assessment design can improve detection rates and discourage students from cheating behaviours.

Myth three: it can’t be detected.  It can – software helps and markers trained to spot contract cheating can identify it.

How to catch it: * Train markers to watch for it and have processes for them to follow-up suspicions. * Use specialist staff to detect it. * Make balance of probabilities the burden of proof. * Engage with students and their associations beyond academic integrity modules.

Aspro Dawson has a long argued that contact cheating will not be beaten by prohibition and that “it is the responsibility of academic institutions to maintain a system of checks and balances and ensure that their internal processes are working as expected, (CMM May 14 2019).