There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

James Guthrie (Macquarie U) on the corporatisation of public universities – it should stop.

Plus Les Kirkup (UTS) makes a (strong) case for the textbook. “A good textbook represents a coherent, lucid and authoritative distillation of years of consideration by the author(s) of – let’s not shy away from the phrase – discipline-focussed content.” This week’s addition to Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in Teaching and Learning.

And, Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on education-focused academics    “As I have watched the initiatives unfold in my institution I have been delighted again and again by the intended and unintended consequences.”

Nothing to celebrate on July 14 at La Trobe U

The proposal for the next round of restructuring are announced on Bastille Day

VC John Dewar will brief all staff on the University Transformation Programme tomorrow week. “This session will include the rationale for the change that will be proposed, an overview of the proposed changes to La Trobe’s operating model, and details on the consultation process, including timelines and support services,” he told the LT U community yesterday.

But lest anyone harbour hopes of what is coming Professor Dewar states clearly, “The savings we need to make can no longer be achieved through voluntary measures.”

The July 14th all-of-uni briefing will be immediately followed by meets at college/portfolio and school/division level, where managers will take questions.

As to the university-wide impact, the VC will take questions at a follow-up brief on July 28th. “This will give you a chance to absorb the changes being proposed before formulating your questions,” he says.

VU’s block model: so far so (very) good

With the model extending across all UG, plus PG, courses the university brought in independent experts to assess what has been, and needs to be, done

Veteran curriculum experts Denise Chalmers, Elizabeth Deane and Alfred Lizzio report to VU in what is less a report than a product manual on how the model works and adjustments now needed to serve a way-bigger audience than the original first-years it was introduced to serve.

And while they advise on work that is needed they write in the context of VU’s extraordinary achievement so far, not just to create a new model of teaching and learning but one which perhaps, saved the institution, which was out of touch with the learning needs of first in family HE students in Melbourne’s west. “The university was not flourishing, with low levels of student retention and satisfaction,” Chalmers, Dean and Lizzio write

The block model consists of short subjects which students study one at a time. (Trish McCluskey and Ian Solomonides wrote about it in CMM, February 2 2020).

And it has worked.

“There is much to be celebrated in the success of the university in achieving in such a short timeframe a whole of university change to almost every aspect of the way in which teaching and learning is offered … this has been an extraordinary achievement and the institution, its staff and students are justified in feeling proud of what they have done,” they suggest.

But to keep up momentum, VU needs to address and invest, in five broad areas,

* benchmarking teaching and student outcomes against other providers that do or don’t have a block model

* embed the model as VU-normal in resourcing and organising

* continual course and development and review of UG courses

* keeping the application of the model current

* assessing workload impact for continuing and sessional staff

NZ big for bized

The snappily titled Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business renews Curtin U and Uni Melbourne accreditation for business – which is good

What is better is AACSB renewing Victoria U of Wellington’s much rarer accreditation in both business and accounting.

Some 19 Aus universities are business-accredited, but none in accounting.  Across the ditch, seven NZ unis (out of eight) public institutions are accredited for business. Massey U, as well as Victoria U of Wellington are accredited for both – which is a deal indeed. While 901 institutions around the world are AASCB are approved for business, just 189 are ticked for accounting as well.

Deciding hours in the Southern Cross U day

It’s enterprise bargaining time at SCU and the campus branch of the NTEU wants protections on workloads

The National Tertiary Education Union’s log of claims includes protections for professional staff as a result of organisational change. As for academics, the comrades are keen to protect them from whatever workloads management might have in mind. The union wants hours-linked task caps and “clear and accurate characterisation of all work functions” into teaching, service or research allocations.

Plus, the academic work framework, “must be endorsed by a majority of academic staff.” Perhaps this is because a swag of staff do not trust management.

In April 60 staff wrote to then chancellor Nick Burton Taylor warning that management’s new EFTS based model would increase workloads by up to 60 per cent on the old allocation by hours. They appealed to Mr Burton Taylor, “because our communications with SCU management, containing detailed documented specific examples … are not being listened to or acted upon, (CMM April 6).  To which management replied, it “continues to consider opportunities for refinement, assisted by constructive feedback from many staff,” (CMM April 19 and May 6).

It appears the union is not convinced.

Dolt of the Day


CMM yesterday thought Rowena Harper was at Curtin U  – wrong! She’s at Edith Cowan U. How did that happen? You ask, stupidity CMM replies.

Appointments, achievements

David Doepel (Murdoch U’s, Africa Research Group) is the new chair of the WA Government’s Peel Development Commission.

 At Flinders U, Luke Havelberg becomes CIO, he has acted in the post since November ’20. Mark Schultz will become Director, People and Culture, moving from a similar role at the SA Department of Education.

 Boris Gurevich (Curtin U) wins the Reginald Fessenden Award, (exploration geophysics) from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists.