It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

CQU launched its “12 days of” (sort of) “Christmas” yesterday with the first YouTube clip of the year-in-review. “It would be impossible to capture all of our achievements in just 12 short videos but we’re going to try,” VC Scott Bowman says.

And Charles Darwin U announced its “12 days of Christmas” competition, with a dozen CDU reusable coffee cups to win. Day One’s prize was for the best response to “what was your proudest achievement?” Free coffee mugs! Just proves Simon Birmingham’s point about profligate spending.

CDU is not the only HE institution where the campus runneth over with cups. At Australian Catholic U researchers who provide their ORCID ID go into the draw to win a mug emblazoned with the number. Imagine that, a free mug!

The ATAR story from bottom to top

Universities must declare the actual ATARS that get people into courses next year but some institutions have started already, publishing their real ranges for 2017 rather than just declaring the most flattering figures. A learned reader investigated a range of courses at a cross-section of universities and discovered some substantial gaps between what they like to get and what they will accept.

Charles Sturt Murdoch
Lowest Clearly-in Lowest Clearly-in
Bachelor of Engineering NA NA 70.3 98.5
Bachelor of Science 60 70 60 78.3
Bachelor of Business 54 65 61 73.6
Bachelor of Arts 50 65 60.25 73.6
Bachelor of Laws < 5 offers made 85 80.45
Bachelor of Education 55 65 60.15
La Trobe UWA
Lowest Clearly-in Lowest Clearly-in
Bachelor of Engineering NA NA 76.30 (Masters) 92
Bachelor of Science NA 60 67.6 80 (75 for Broadway schools)
Bachelor of Business 34.9 50.05 70.55 (B Commerce) 80
Bachelor of Arts 31.2 50 68.35 80 (75.00 for Broadway schools)
Bachelor of Laws 70.5 90.15 93.30 (Law – Juris Doctor) 96
Bachelor of Education 50.5 (Secondary Education) 60.15 88.45 (M Teaching) 92
Monash Deakin
Lowest Clearly-in Lowest Clearly-in
Bachelor of Engineering 80.35 91 62.55 (Mechanical Eng) 70.5
Bachelor of Science 75 85 50 66.95
Bachelor of Business 75 82 50.7 65.25
Bachelor of Arts 71.3 (Caulfield) 81.05 (Caulfield) 57.05 64
Bachelor of Laws 94.75 (Honours) 98 80.75 91.15
Bachelor of Education 66.3 75 51.50 (Primary Education) 60.8

LinkedIn late

LinkedIn posted one of its standard “congratulate a work anniversary” messages for Mark Gabbott – a few days after he resigned as business dean at the University of Adelaide. He left at the end of last week. Mr Gabbott graciously thanks well-wishers, and says he is returning to NSW and “pursuing other opportunities.”

Voters oppose higher education finding cuts parliament has not approved

Voters oppose higher education funding cuts not approved by parliament, a new survey for Universities Australia shows.

The marginal seat survey also found that 63 per cent of people polled found that unspecified cuts to HE outlays “would limit access to university for all Australians.”

Sone 60 per cent of the overall sample opposed cuts without parliamentary approval to “the equity programme that supports poorer students to go to university.” This rose to 69 per cent for rural/regional voters and responders over 65. The poll was equal clear on research; with 60 per cent of the total and 67 per cent of people over 65 opposing reductions to research funding, “made without parliamentary approval.”

With the government lacking the Senate votes to pass its HE changes, which would reduce some outlays and tie other funding to performance measures, there is speculation that cabinet will make cuts that do not require parliamentary approval in the Mid-Year Economic Forecast, due before Christmas. These could include reductions to the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Programme and to the Australian Research Council.

“The government keeps coming up with creative new ways to cut funding to public universities, but the message from voters remains the same: it’s the wrong decision for Australia’s future,” CEO of Universities Australia Belinda Robinson said last night.

“The Senate has been crystal clear on this too and would quite rightly take a dim view of any bid to go around the legislative protections for higher education funding.”

Where China’s elite researchers are

For researchers interested in accessing China’s deep reserves of talent, human and cash both, the Department of Education and Training has a briefing on Beijing’s 111 Project, which aims for, “100 world leading research discipline bases in Chinese universities with 1000 top talents from the world’s top 100 universities” working with Chinese researchers. Each base must have at least ten foreign and ten local research experts.

DET reports there are 359 project bases in 80 national-level universities, mainly working on material science, engineering, chemistry, energy, agriculture, biology, maths and advanced manufacturing. The programme was established in 2006 and expanded three times since, most recently in 2016. The department provides a list of participating national universities and disciplines.

Business case made

The Copenhagen Business School won the UNSW-QUT Undergraduate Business Case competition (CMM  November 24). The National University of Singapore squad was second and UNSW third. The Danes qualify for the world final in Auckland.

Competitors had three challenges; new sales channels for a healthy food startup; a case for a construction company taking on a not-for-profit role in aged care and identifying ways for an insurer to build its brand on customer engagement instead of price.

New software to test the teaching

Among all the arguments and excuses over attrition smart money is on things universities can do to make it easier for students to stick with study. Yesterday CMM reported pilots of On Task, designed for teachers to text everybody in a course with advice and information specific to their circumstances. And now a learned reader points to Flux, an interactive programme for students that can show where they need help with course content and demonstrate to lecturers what they are getting right and wrong in teaching. Monash U tested Flux this year and an public “early access” version is due this month.

From UTS to Swinburne

Hung Nguyen will start in February as PVC of Swinburne U’s faculty of science, engineering and technology. He joins from UTS.

Grim realism in UNE’s new student recruitment campaign

UNE has produced an honest advertisement, presenting education as a buttress against hard times. It is in the form of life-advice from a new mother to her baby, advice to see the little girl through a world where the “same and familiar’ is not certain, recessions are real and the ability to adapt is essential.  It is a grimly realistic pitch to a core UNE market – prospective mature age women students who hope education can insulate their families against hard times but who are nervous of the unknown.  As such it sells to the same market as the new USQKatie, you’ve got this,” campaign (CMM November 17), which has people who love a woman contemplating mature age study telling her she can do it as she takes on challenges through her life.

Same market, similar brands – it will be interesting to see what performs, grim determination in the face of a frightening world, or sunny optimism.

Unis creating “educated poor” warns training veteran

Father of public VET Bruce Mackenzie has slammed the education system for under-resourcing training while risking, “churning out graduates who will become the educated poor, with skills formation a casualty because we do not embrace applied education at a tertiary level.”

Inept educational policy will do less overt but more damage to our country than any pink batt or banking fiasco,” the visionary former head of Holmeslgen TAFE said at a TAFE awards event.

He added that the government’s attempt to encourage university engagement with industry is “a waste of time, politically difficult and does not use the extraordinary capabilities that exist in our large diversified TAFE institutions.”

And Mr Mackenzie warned, that Australia was ignoring international trends. “The combination of research and applied universities at the tertiary level is a global trend. We seem to have stopped learning from others.”

He called for VET to be an issue at the next federal election, adding “it is almost 50 years since we reviewed our VET system at a national level.”

Monash University education and research awards

Monash University has announced the vice chancellor’s education and research awards.

Early Career Researchers:

Humanities and Social Sciences: Jennifer Windt (Arts), Selby Coxon (Art Design and Architecture).

Science and Technology: Eric Chow (Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences)

Research enterprise: Monash Centre for Additive Manufacturing

Research Impact: Graham Currie, Dr Alexa Delbosc

Research impact and enterprise: Monash University Accident Research Centre

Postgraduate supervision: Tony Patti (Science)

Citations for outstanding contributions to student learning: Adam Clulow (Arts), Jasmina Lazendic-Galloway, Thu-Ha (Hannah) Nguyen (Monash Business School), Erica Sloan (Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences)

Early career citation winner: Nick Parkin (Arts)

Teaching excellence award: James Roffee (Arts), Alistair Thomson (Arts), Dana Wong (Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences)

Priority area: Simone Gibson (Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences0

Honours supervision: Peter Howard (Arts)

Programs that enhance learning: Postgraduate Industry Experience Program, Information Technology, Gail Bourne, Chris Gonsalvez, Livia Mammarella, Peter O’Donnell, Harnam Thandi and Yiwei Zhong.

Excellence in postgraduate coursework teaching: Charanjit Kaur (Monash Business School)

Monash honour roll: John McNeill (Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences)

Heresy of the morning

“Among all available approaches, a system of income-contingent loans and means-tested grants is still the most scalable and sustainable approach to university finance. From a public policy point of view, governments should invest public resources in education over the lifetime of a young person in those stages where its impact is greatest, both in terms of efficiency and equity. Higher education is not high on that list.” Andreas Schleicher, director, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills. A rare OECD announcement which is unlikely to be approvingly quoted around the sector.