Campus Morning Mail Summer Edition

What’s Mongol for “desperate press release”

“They once ruled the largest land empire the world has ever seen. Now the language of the Mongols is set to become the lingua franca at ANU for three weeks.” Australian National University statement yesterday. Watch out for the Horde coming down Northbourne Avenue.

Griew steps up

The new higher education chain of command is in place at the Department of Education with Robert Griew stepping up. His direct reports are Jessie Borthwick (Higher Education Support Group), Dom English (Research and Strategy)  and Ann Baly (International). Mr Griew remains an associate secretary although his portfolio has expanded, he was previously responsible for research and international. He joined whatever the department was called last year after entering the Commonwealth service in 2009, when higher education was in Innovation.  Mr Griew has a long background in NSW and Victorian government health policy. 

By the book

The University of Queensland continues to play by the book last year’s research misconduct investigation into an article by former staffers Bruce Murdoch and Caroline Barwood. In September the university recommended the European Journal of Neurology retract a paper because “no primary data can be located, and no evidence has been found that the study described in the article was conducted.” UoQ also undertook to examine the authors’ publications in general and reported in November a “review of approximately 100 papers published since 2007 has so far found no further evidence of incorrect or non-existent data or of failure to obtain ethical approval.” However it “raised questions about the authorship of a small number of papers, and this is being examined further.” Which is what the university reported on last night, referring to “some concerns about the attribution of authorship of a small number of papers and the statistical approach taken in one paper. We have provided relevant details to the editors of the journals that published the papers. In all cases it will be up to the editors to determine what action to take now.” So that looks like that. The wheels of process grind slowly, but they grind exceeding fine. But why not release the details of these new findings? Last night I asked the university if they planned to do this and was politely told “not at this stage”.

Online and upwards

Growth in online education is slowing in the US with 33.5 per cent of college students taking at least one course online in 2012, up just 1.5 per cent in 2011 to 7.1 million. However 90 per cent of surveyed chief academic officers believe a majority of students will study at least one subject online in five years time. The report, by I Elaine Allen and Jeff Seaman, is published by the Babson Research Group finds that while institutions already online remain committed those that are not, generally smaller, specialist private providers, are more resolute in their opposition to e-teaching . However the majority of higher education providers have not made up their minds on MOOCs. Just 5 per cent of institutions have MOOCs, with another 9 per cent planning them. MOOCs appeal to universities with established on-line expertise as a way of building the brand while others get into the game to build recruitment.

Just on the off chance

La Trobe ARC Future Fellow Andy I R Herries tweets yesterday “If there are any potential post-docs out there interested in coming to La Trobe to do Archaeomagnetism starting in 2015 then send your CVs”

Pick the principal

A new  study by researchers from Monash and Deakin universities led by David Johnston uses Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth data to examine the relationship between student performance and residence. It’s a standard National Centre for Vocational Education Research, exercise, exhaustive, analytical and determined to go no further than the data allows. And so the paper concludes that there is no definite connection between area of residence and education aspirations and performance when other variables are effectively equal. So standby for stage two, when they will report on areas with above/below average socio-economic characteristics and below/above student outcomes.

And in the meantime consider a cautiously expressed suggestion buried in the report. “Changing the ways principals and teachers are allocated to schools and ensuring a school’s student intake is not disadvantaged through the selection practices of other schools could also help to reduce disparity in student outcomes.” Making a broad mix of kids in all schools policy might not fly (selective schools are popular with parents for obvious reasons) but the idea that the right staff for a school makes a difference is impossible to ignore.

No pause for a cause

The ACT Division of the National Tertiary Education Union is demanding Shell stop its Arctic exploration program. With deals done on enterprise agreements at ANU and University of Canberra perhaps the comrades are keen for a new campaign.


The Parliamentary Library’s research team is a national treasure – demonstrated by Coral Dow’s new  paper on how the student loan system works. No, there is nothing here you don’t know but it is an invaluable guide for anybody about to start study and wondering what it will cost them.