Make a nice change

Ministers agreed to work in close collaboration and in good faith on several key measure,” Skills minco communique, Friday

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

All the cyber bells and IT whistles do not rate unless everybody in a university can use them. “Products should meet the needs of intended audiences across a broad range of human variance including vision, hearing, speech, dexterity, neurological triggers, neurodiversity and cognition,” ADCET argues. It’s a new selection by Commissioning Editor Sally Kift, for her celebrated series Needed now in learning and teaching.

and in Expert Opinion

Elissa Newall on how 107 HE providers around the world handle first contact from prospective students – Australia and New Zealand do it well, (ep 18) HERE.

Australian Research Council in the data biz

The Australian Research Council is recruiting a number cruncher

The council’s new Data and Innovation section needs a data scientist to “unlock the potential of  its data”.

Gosh, where did that idea come from?  Perhaps from its minister, Jason Clare who wants,

“impact data to enhance the reporting on the impact value of grants funded so that more robust evaluations of ARC funded programmes and initiatives can be undertaken” (CMM August 31).

Mr Clare also wants the council’s Linkage Grants, to have “impact with industry and … take research further along the translation pathway.”

Which may be why the brief for the numbers-person includes, “working with stakeholders to understand business needs and gaps,” “fill gaps in ARCs data coverage required to meet business objectives” and “transform and use data to solve business problems.”


Always on message

Nothing if not consistent is Charles Darwin U VC, Scott Bowman

 Medical workforce shortages on Thursday’s skills priority list gave Charles Darwin U VC Scott Bowman an opportunity to again make his oft expressed point that the Northern Territory needs more medicos, which a medical school at CDU would address.

The university wants a share of the next 80 medical school places the Commonwealth is to allocate.

Theology college closer to becoming a university

TEQSA moves Australian College of Theology up a rung

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency announces the college is elevated “after the presentation of new evidence.”

The college went to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal last year after TEQSA moved it from level one of registration, HE provider, to level two institute of HE.

Now, the step to full university may depend on the college convincing TEQSA that it meets the research requirements set out in the Higher Education Standards Framework  – which the college is keen to have a go at, stating it, “conducts excellent research and looks forward to providing TEQSA with additional evidence … in the near future.”

The university college category was created by the previous government last year (CMM February 9 2021) as part of the four provider categories. Since then Avondale U has moved up from UC to full uni. With ACT there are now five university colleges, Australian Film, Television and Radio School, National Institute of Dramatic Art and three Christian institutes, the others being Moore Theological and Alphacrucis.  

Future lean for FutureLearn

The UK Open University wants out of the MOOC provider it created

OU launched FutureLearn in 2012 and sold 50 per cent to Australian jobs search site SEEK in 2019 for £50m (A$87m). The university gives no reason why it wants out, beyond stating, “we regularly review our funding position and investment portfolio and are now seeking to sell our stake in the business.”

On Friday, FutureLearn referred to an “extremely challenging” environment and that advisors are appointed to “explore the option of finding a new owner.”  SEEK did not respond to an inquiry as to whether it was a buyer.

Future Learn 2021 turnover was £11.26m ($A19.6m)with an operating loss of £16.12m  (up from a £13m loss in 2020).

Its 2021 annual report (filed this July) states that agreed new funding from shareholders this financial year “will not be sufficient” to meet objectives and that without further investment, “there remains a material uncertainty, which may cast significant doubt about the Group’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

The company attributes its troubles to, “market demand for the product offer in a sector that is still in relatively early stages of digital development and rapidly innovating.” Other issues are “the availability of in-demand content from partner universities” and FutureLearn’s technical platform (“security and performance”).

Not to mention “the ability to generate revenue models that can sustain the business in the longer term.”

FutureLearn lists 18 Australian universities among 260 partners. It offers “thousands of online courses from top universities and specialist organisations” and makes its corporate case for on-leaning in a 2020 corporate statement, HERE

VET ministers get moving on new quals and workforce

While universities wait on news of the government’s proposed accord there’s movement in voced

Skills and Training Minister Brendan O’Connor met with state and territory colleagues Friday and agreed to a VET workforce blueprint, “to support, grow and retain a quality workforce.

It will, “identify effective strategies for the attraction and retention of a high-quality workforce, along with capability and career development strategies and succession planning.”

This will be especially interesting if it finally settles whether the VET workforce need more than a Certificate IV in teaching – it’s a perennially unanswered question (CMM June 22 2021).

Other substantial commitments from the meeting include;

* “ambitious timeframes to finalise development of a new system of VET qualifications,” including micro-credentials and “better recognition” of prior learning

* release of the revised draft standards for registered training organisations with consultation starting mid-month

* new planning agency Jobs and Skills Australia undertaking a labour force and skills capacity study of the clean-energy workforce, “to support transition from ‘brown’ to ‘green’ occupations.” This will “inform” development of “clean-energy qualifications and micro-credentials.”

And just in case anybody had forgotten that “TAFE” is Labor for “VET” the ministers’ agreed that the goal is a “a VET sector with TAFE at its heart” and that the immediate skills agreement “confirms TAFE’s central role in the VET sector.”

Where international students aren’t

International students are mainly in country, according to new visa stats, which is surely why they went to the trouble getting one

But 18 per cent of the 438 000 HE visas are with people outside Australia. The Chinese are least keen to be here, even though they can, with 32 per cent ex Aus. In contrast, only 8 per cent of Indians aren’t here.

Appointments, achievements

Winners of Charles Darwin U teaching awards include, * Julia Braddon (VET)  * Raul David (Business and Law) HE * Carol Keane (Health and Human Sciences) in teaching support * Cat Kutay (Engineering) in higher education * Hooman Mehdizadeh Rad (Engineering) early career research * Debra Street (VET) * Tracy Woodroffe (First Nations teaching).

Iain Gordon (ANU) is new president of the Network of Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Research Organisations, (CMM got his name wrong in Friday’s email issue).

Mark McKenzie joins the board of Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia. Mr McKenzie is chief executive of the Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association

Clare Masters is appointed media director at Uni Sydney. She joins from the Australian Curriculum, Assessment & Reporting Authority.

The National Tertiary Education Union inducts life members, Tim Battin (Uni New England) Michael Brunger (former SA secretary) Bill Franzsen (Australian Catholic U) Ray Hingst (Uni Southern Queensland) Matthew McGowan (immediate past general secretary) Utte Mueler (Edith Cowan U) Patrick O’Leary (Federation U) Cathy Rytmeister (Macquarie U) Martin Stebbings (Australian Catholic U)

Marc Orchard joins Uni Queensland as entrepreneur in residence.

At the University of South Australia Susan Stone takes up the Credit Union SA chair in economics, to focus on the state economy. She moves from the OECD.