Rings their bell

“The new light rail running between Circular Quay and Randwick just got even more exciting, with UTS postgraduate business course advertising wraps,” Uni Technology Sydney’s John Elliott, via Twitter. Nothing says excitement like advertising on a tram.

There’s more in the Mail

In this first issue for 2020, Maree O’Keefe (Uni Adelaide) writes on health curricula in the age of Dr Google. It’s a new essay in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s continuing series on what is needed now in teaching and learning.

And new to CMM, UNSW DVC E Merlin Crossley’s blog, The Crossley Lab.

Rallying to the western civ colours at Uni Queensland

Word got around fast the university is starting Ramsay Centre-supported degrees

The arrangement was finally confirmed just two months back (CMM November 19) but the university had no trouble filling places in the two programmes, B Humanities (western civilisation) / Bachelor Laws and B Advance Humanities, starting this year.

Uni Queensland says 34 offers are made to date, from 123 applying-student preferences. Minimum entry scores are OP Two for humanities/law (around 97-98 for people who speak ATAR) and OP Five for advanced humanities (ATAR 92-93).

Uni Queensland adds that not everybody offered a place will be offered a Ramsay Centre $30 000 pa scholarship.

Uni Wollongong is also offering Ramsay degree/scholarships, but is silent on application numbers and entry scores.

First Linkage winners of the year

Two rounds of funding are announced

Cash for clever kit: Australian Research Council Linkage infrastructure grants were announced Friday. Some 47 projects are funded with 29 per cent of applicants receiving $30m of the $33m requested.

Monash U and UNSW have money for six projects each, in sciences, engineering and technology. Uni Melbourne wins five and UWA four. All up 20 universities are in the money for research infrastructure.

There is funding for equipment and data across STEM, with astronomy, climate, and photonics science well-represented. HASS disciplines also get a go. UWA leads a project involving all the state’s universities to digitise their “significant” HASS research collections.

First Linkage projects: The first Linkage Grants of 2020 were also announced, on the morning of Sunday January 12. (Sorry, no idea why).

The Commonwealth is kicking in $9.5m, with more from project partners. Overall success rate is 39 per cent.

Monash and Macquarie Us, plus the universities of Adelaide and Queensland win most awards, with three each. Swinburne U and UNSW have two each and 12 universities one a piece.

Among STEM and social science projects, one led by Diane Kirby (La Trobe U) and Stuart Macintyre (emeritus professor, Uni Melbourne) stands-out.

With support from the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the researchers will explore the ACTU in the Hawke-era. “In an innovative study that highlights the Hawke era to show the ACTU’s history as one of transition to governance, we aim to reveal the potential of the Australian labour movement to effect change.”

Who says research awards are party-political.

Haze of horrors

A learned reader reported last week that a banner at Monash U announced its campuses are smoke (as in tobacco) free. At least that’s what the LR thinks it stated, the bushfire-haze was particularly thick.

TEQSA chief announces departure

The higher education regulator will return to UK become a VC

Anthony McClaran will leave the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency in March, after nearly five years as CEO. He will become VC of St Mary’s University Twickenham, “a Catholic institution of higher education”, replacing Francis Campbell, who is the new VC of University of Notre Dame, Australia (CMM March 28).

Mr McClaran is well-regarded for rebuilding the HE community’s trust in TEQSA, following the over-reach identified in Kwong Lee Dow and Valerie Braithwaite’s review of the agency, (CMM August 6 2013). He simplified systems, tightened time-lines and stuck to what Lee Dow and Braithwaite called for, oversighting providers on the basis of “necessity, risk and proportionality.”

No one will ever accuse of TEQSA under his leadership of hasty decision making or being relaxed in regulating – and its briefs and rulings will never be set to music. But overall McClaran established the agency as a respected regulator.

Exit interview: Anthony McClaran on the transformation of TEQSA and what’s next  

He took over when times were tough – he leaves the agency in way better shape to face big challenges

Where it was: Mr McClaran tells CMM TEQSA’s transformation was a team-effort.
But change certainly started when he took charge of the agency, which was then regarded poorly by the institutions it regulated and largely unknown by the students it exists to protect.

This was a big issue, not just for Australian higher education but for regulators of similar systems around the world which were watching and wondering what would happen.

“TEQSA was the first agency to embed a risk-based approach to regulation.

“Self-evidently the agency had ground to make up and faced a significant task to rebuild confidence in it,” he says.

And while the elegantly understated McClaran would never say it, the task was made much tougher than it needed to be by the government reducing its resources, following the agency’s early over-reach.

At one stage TEQSA was done to 48 staff, barely half of what it has rebuilt to – Mr McClaran thanks former education minister Simon Birmingham for recognising it needed more resources.

Where it is: This helped the agency speed-up provider assessment, also made easier by reducing the indicators the agency assesses, originally 46 – now 11.

“TEQSA is now much strongly engaged with providers and students,” McClaran says, pointing to the success of its conference in November, attended by 1000 HE people, and its student advisory group, with delegates from nine peak bodies.

What’s next: Which sets up the agency for new challenges.

The government’s adoption of Peter Coaldrake’s new provider categories, the Noonan review of the Australian Qualification Framework and the introduction of performance based federal funding all mean “big structural developments,” for HE providers. “In principle” McClaran says he favours more self-accreditation of course.

And he reiterates the three major regulatory challenges that engage the agency, academic integrity, international admissions and sexual assault.

Mr McClaran repeats his assurance that while TEQSA is in the business of preparing cases for prosecution, it is the contract cheating providers, not parents it will pursue. The agency will also provide intelligence to HE institutions and work with agencies in other countries.

The agency will also continue to assess providers on protecting students against sexual assault on campus. “Our role relates to standards regarding student wellbeing,” he says.

And while he sees no crisis in English-language standards of international students, TEQSA will look at institutions making exemptions and accepting applicants’ previous qualifications.

Any advice?: With recruitment underway Mr McClaran, has three suggestions for his successor.

* “keep close to students

* partner with providers without being captured

* work with TEQSA staff to improve processes

Uni Sydney rated for MBA

The business school nearly takes the accreditation trifecta

Uni Sydney announces it is accredited by the Association of MBAs. It is already accredited by the US based Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and the European Foundation for Management Development for its EFMD Quality Improvement System.

Close to complete, but not quite – AACSB accredits business schools for business, (which Uni Sydney has) and accounting (which it doesn’t).  Then again, none of the other 17 Australian AACSB member business schools are accredited for accounting either.

Across the ditch, Massey U and Victoria U of Wellington are AASCB rated for both.

At last, a deal at UNE

Rain on campus is not the only good-news at the University of New England

There are signs in the skies that a new enterprise agreement is imminent, ending negotiations that started before the drought started to bite.

Word is that management and campus unions reached terms on substantive issues just before Christmas, with drafting to be settled before professional and academic agreements are put to a staff. Observers suggest votes next month or March.

Whenever they occur they will be the last in the present round of enterprise bargaining – ending particularly tough negotiations at UNE, occurring in the context of long-running disputes over organisational restructures, workloads and conditions. Back in September new VC Brigid Heywood complained to staff that the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union, “has chosen to adopt an adversarial form of dialogue through strike action, (which) must be challenged,” (CMM September 19).

The deal looks in-line with other universities, with pay rises of 1.5 per cent, in July ’18 and 2 per cent annual increases backdated to July ’19 and then annually in mid 2020, ’21 and ’22. There are also new provisions for domestic violence leave and fixed term staff will receive 17 per cent in super, the same as continuing workers.

There will also be a, “new hours based academic workload model” next year 2021,” which was the subject of some especially hard talking.

Murdoch U drops demand against staffer – but the case is not closed

University management has dropped its claim for damages from whistleblowing staff member Gerd Schröder-Turk

Aspro Schröder-Turk appeared on ABC TV’s Four Corners in May, claiming the university was accepting low-academic quality international students. The university adamantly rejects this (CMM May 9) and demanded damages from him, for loss of reputation and student income.

Good, but not good enough for Schröder-Turk’s supporters, who also want the university to end its move to end his membership of senate, representing staff. Schröder-Turk has gone to court to stop this and the university is defending its action.

We still fundamentally disagree with Murdoch management about what is the real essence of this matter. This is about academic freedom – the right of a staff member to speak openly about issues and concerns about their institution without fear or favour,” National Tertiary Education Union general secretary Matthew McGowan says.

However, the university responds, “The university maintains that all members of Senate must uphold their duties. In doing so, there is a requirement as both a matter of law and a matter of principle that members of the Senate must at all times act in the best interests of the university and not use their position to cause detriment to the University.”

The dispute is listed for a Federal Court case management hearing on April 20.

Whatever the legal outcome, a decision by the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency will likely shape public opinion before the parties have their day in court.

Following the Four Corners’ episode, TEQSA asked Murdoch U for information on its admission and academic standards of international students, (CMM October 14). In December, it said it would conclude a compliance assessment of relevant Murdoch U performance in the first quarter, (CMM December 11). Word is agency staff will report to the TEQSA commissioners by mid-February.

No insurance for Qld research students

Queensland postgrads work hard but aren’t workers

Workcover Queensland appears to have given up its claim that higher degree students with research stipends are workers and as such universities should pay premiums for compensation insurance. The agency based its plan to slug the state’s universities on the basis of a CQU research student’s claim. (CMM July 8 2019).

This caused conniptions on campuses across the state and the Australian Higher Education Industrial Association accordingly armoured-up to fight the ruling for each of its members. But before Christmas the Queensland Office of Industrial Relations conceded AHEIA’s appeal that the CQU student wasn’t a worker. AHEIA now asks the state’s workers’ compensation regulator to apply this to all universities. Observers suggest university HR managers are “quietly confident.”

Appointments, achievements of the summer

The University of Wollongong has appointed five lecturers to its new School of Liberal arts, which will teach its Ramsay western civ-centre funded BA; Bernardo Ainbinder (history of philosophy), Anthony Hooper (ancient philosophy), Cathy Mason (discipline not reported but believed to be a philosopher), Talia Morag (philosophical psychology and ethics), Elena Walsh (philosophy of mind and of science).

Claire Annesley is moving to the University of NSW to become dean of arts and social sciences. She leaves the University of Sussex, where she is deputy PVC for Equalities and Diversity.

Tanya Buchanan is the new chair of NEAS (“Quality assurance in education and training). Ms Buchanan joined the board in June. She is CEO of the Thoracic Society of ANZ. She replaces Denise Taylor.

Caroline Dunne joins Griffith U as chief of staff to VC Carolyn Evans. She joins from QUT where she was business transformation lead in Research Services.

Ian Henderson moves from deputy director, research to director at the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

Monash U provost, Marc Parlange is awarded the American Meteorological Society’s 2020 hydrological sciences medal. He is an environmental fluid mechanics researcher.

Helen Partridge join Deakin U in March, as PVC teaching and learning. Professor Partridge will move from Uni Southern Queensland, where she is PVC E.

The ultra-astute, definitively daunting Belinda Robinson is interim VC at the University of Canberra. Paddy Nixon, (VC Uni Ulster, ex DVC R Uni Tas), is scheduled to take-over in June. Ms Robinson is VP, strategy, joining Uni Canberra in 2018 from the CEO position at the Universities Australia.

Michael Sankey is the new president of the Australian Council on Open, Distance and e-Learning. Professor Sankey is the deputy director in Learning Futures at Griffith U.

Cindy Shannon joins Griffith U as inaugural PVC Indigenous. Professor Shannon experience includes senior appointments at QUT and Uni Queensland.