The way to WIL

It’s Ready to Teach Week for second semester at Uni Queensland – including tomorrow’s Zoom session, “Good WIL hunting: finding the hidden employability in your course.” Young academics, ask a passing media-studies professor.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

We need a curated open access repository of learning and teaching research. How fortunate there is a pilot, report Tracy Creagh (QUT) and Pru Mitchell (Australian Council for Educational) Research). New in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in learning and teaching.

plus Merlin Crossley on building a community of teaching-focused academics. UNSW’s visiting teaching fellowship is part of it.

Expert Opinion with Frank Larkins and Ian Marshman

The two policy mavens (from  the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education) discuss the Job Ready Graduates funding model – whether it can do what the previous government intended and why changing it would be very complicated indeed. “The government is in a bind on what to do about it … you can’t put Humpty Dumpty together again,”  Associate Professor Marsham says.

While the policy has important national outcomes there need modifications to make it “less perverse” than what there is now, Professor Larkins adds.

Expert Opinion is HERE.

Gosford a go for Uni Newcastle

There’s $18m in NSW state government money for a campus there

Saturday’s announcement follows a federal election campaign event when state ministers and the then local Liberal member for the federal seat of Robertson, Lucy Weeks (she lost), announced $18m in federal funding (CMM April 12).

While there was no mention of state money then, there is now – bringing the project cost, with the university’s $22m to $58m.  What? You think the state government held the funding amount for its own pre-budget pre-announcements? Honestly, some of you are such cynics!

This will be Uni Newcastle’s second Central Coast (between Sydney and the university’s home city) campus – joining the long established  one at Ourimbah. And it expands the university’s Gosford presence – former prime minister Scott Morrison opened Uni Newcastle’s $72m Central Coast Clinical School and Research Institute there in March (CMM March 15).


What students need to know about time caps (but perhaps don’t)

The seven year limit on Commonwealth funded undergraduate study kicked in January -but do new students know it affects them? Or that they can get a second go later?

The learned Andrew Norton points to a DoE (that which was DESE) document that summarise the new rules on Commonwealth Supported Places – presumably to help student-facing staff explain how they apply.

The big one is the seven year cap on UG enrolment – which makes it important that students also know courses/subject they fail or just don’t finish count.

It’s a message that needs getting out there, which may be why the department tells providers it “undertook research with students to determine their understanding of census date.”

What was discovered is (readers may not be amazed to learn) not revealed.

But it can’t have been great given, “the research resulted in a number of recommendation that apply to education providers and their communications to students about the census date.”  And so there will be advice, to “help students better understand and engage with census date.”

And as for the seven years and one is out rule, CMM maybe the last to know, but apparently, it is not final.

“Noting that students may look to upskill/reskill and commence further study later in life,” the feds will grant three more years of CSP study, starting ten years after they first enrolled.


Hard times for OA analysts

Funding appears tight at “Analysis and Policy Observatory”, the Swinburne U  supported site formerly known as Australian Policy On-line

Tight enough for director Brigid van Wanrooy  to ask readers of the open access resource to donate. “The future of APO is at risk. Swinburne UT cannot subsidise APO indefinitely, and we all have a lot to lose from its closure.”

Sounds serious, but the end may not be all that nigh. Swinburne U’s “support remains and we are always looking at sustainable options for its future,” DVC R Karen Hapgood tells CMM.


March international student numbers: what happened when the border opened


The March stats include first in-takes at institutions, using a semester timetable and are a good guide to what is going on

Overall commencers for all sectors grew by 2097 or 1.7 per cent against 2021 and are at 63.6 per cent against pre-pandemic levels (March, 2019)

Higher Education drove this growth and is the good news story, growing by 5909 or 9.7 per cent. HE is at 71.3 per cent of 2019 at the same time. Enrolments are down 45 483 or 14.3 per cent with 76.5 per cent of enrolments at March 2019.

Unfortunately, all other sectors commencers declined against 2021.

VET commencers were down 1217 or 2.8 per cent and 90.8 per cent of March, 2019. Enrolments were down 25 411 or 13.4 per cent, however enrolments are 102.8 per cent of 2019 levels at the same time.

Schools commencers are down 475 or 15.9 per cent and 37 per cent of March 2019. Enrolments are down 4188 or 33 per cent and sit at 41.7 per cent of 2019 levels at the same time.

ELICOS (Visa) commencers are down 1767 or 16.9 per cent and 28.3 per cent of March 2019. Enrolments are down 8942 or 38 per cent and sit at just 20.9 per cent of same time 2019 levels.

Non-award commencers are down 356 or 9.3 per cent and 20.7 per cent of March 2019. Enrolments are down 2524 or 25 per cent and are 25.9 per cent of same time 2019 levels.

Nothing is normal coming out of the pandemic

Higher Ed is probably what you would expect to see, growing commencements to start filling the bucket in the enrolment column in times to come. Higher Ed however is the exception.

VET appears to be starting to taper off from the strong performance during the pandemic on the back of strong Indian enrolment (CMM May 5, 2021). It maintains the strongest levels of any sector against 2019 at 90.8 per cent for commencers and 102.8 per cent for enrolments however with decreasing rates against 2021 of commencements – 2.8 per cent and enrolments 13.4 per cent is the one to watch.

ELICOS performance remains low. With 14,565 visa enrolments being registered for March 2022, it is 47.7 per cent of that in 2002 (27849). Optimism this will pick up over coming months remains and those in Higher Ed and VET will be hoping so, replenishing pathways is key to see growth rates continue and become sustainable.

Tomorrow: what’s happening in the states

Dirk Mulder advises education and business clients on trends in international education. He writes regularly for CMM

Competitive federalism for mRNA

The NSW Government announces $119m over ten years for RNA research translation into vaccines and therapeutics

It’s state budget (tomorrow week) good news in advance and the NSW VCs Committee thinks it is a splendid commitment, “which is set to transform the state into a world-leading destination for research, development and local manufacturing capabilities.”

Presumably the fund will give the state government’s $96m RNA pilot manufacturing facility, announced last October, something to manufacture.

The state government will work with the NSW RNA Bioscience Alliance, which science minister Alister Henskens describes as “an unprecedented collaboration between all 14 NSW and ACT universities.”

As to what the science is about, the UNSW RNA Institute describes it as “at the core of our biology – the software of life – translating our DNA into the very products and processes that make us human.” And as to why the investment matters,” for all the tantalising potential of RNA science, the progress has been stymied by a bottleneck of scale and, formerly, cohesion. The wealth of RNA expertise in NSW – represented by its talent and facilities – has been kept separate by the physical boundaries of research institutions and the more abstract boundaries of research discipline.”

Meanwhile, in Melbourne

That state government announces the first round of grants from the $50m mRNA Victorian Research Acceleration Fund. There’s $2m split between 12 projects but the only recipients the government identified yesterday are, Monash U which separately partners with Alfred  Health and the Florey Institute.

The Fund’s purpose is a, “a world class mRNA industry in Victoria”  Plus, the Vics remind, Moderna is “set to establish a large-scale manufacturing facility in Melbourne.

Colin Simpson’s ed-tech must reads of the week

Programme design and delivery through the lens of academic integrity from Quality & Qualifications Ireland

Kane Murdoch is the manager of the Conduct and Integrity Unit at UNSW and is responsible for investigations into student academic misconduct. This 18 min presentation to Quality & Qualifications Ireland encapsulates some of his experiences in the vexed space of student cheating and offers some surprising insights into what is needed in addressing this sometimes vexing issue. He questions whether the problem actually lies with students or with course and assessment design and offers some radical ideas for change.


11 digital whiteboarding apps from Lennart Nacke

Group brainstorming activities have long featured butcher’s paper and post-it notes but this is clearly less practical in on-line classes. This handy thread on Twitter from @acagamic steps through the basics and offers some simple comparison of functionality and features in 11 whiteboarding apps including Mural, Miro and Padlet.


Faculty perception of quality assurance in online courses (Thesis) from Theresa Mayper (Paywall)

While educators have been using on-line platforms to both support or entirely house their courses for some years now, the application of standards to ensure quality is often inconsistent or non-existent. Quality Matters from the US and, at a smaller scale, ASCILITE’s emerging TELAS scheme in Australia, offer frameworks to support this evaluation process but there has been little research on their impact on design. This doctoral thesis from Lamar University explores the perceptions of 12 academics in using the QM process as part of their course development. It’s dense but worthy.


Webinar Friday 17/6 12pm AEST – Leadership Perspectives: Mainstreaming Education Technology Research and Scaling Innovation from CAULLT

As one of the pioneers of MOOCs (among other things), George Siemens is one of the giants of research in technology in education. This webinar from the Council of Australian University Leaders in Learning and Teaching showcases Siemens and Uni SA’s Shane Dawson in what should be a fascinating discussion of the contribution that university learning and teaching units could and should be making in the practical education technology research space and the vital work they do to mainstream innovation in their institutions.


NFTs explained in 25 seconds.

While the NFT / Cryptocurrency buzz may be fading, many of us still struggle to understand what the point of non-fungible tokens is, how they work and why they are useful. This 25 second clip taken from the tv show Patriot offers the clearest explanation that I have heard yet.


Colin Simpson has worked in education technology, teaching, learning design and academic development in the tertiary sector since 2003 and is employed by Monash University’s Education Innovation team. He is also one of the leaders of the TELedvisors Network. For more from Colin, follow him on Twitter @gamerlearner

Appointments, achievements

The Australasian Cognitive Neuroscience Society announces its 2022 awards. Lifetime contribution: Young investigator: Trevor Chong (Monash U). Lifetime contribution: Frini Karaayandis (Uni Newcastle). Emerging researcher: Kelsey Perrykkad (Monash U), Angela Renton (Uni Queensland)

Chie Adachi becomes dean of digital education at Queen Mary University of London. She moves from Deakin U.

Craig Baillie is the inaugural head of Uni Southern Queensland’s School of Agriculture and Environmental Science.

Queen’s Birthday Honours List

The Companion (AC) and Officer(AO) awards include HE and research people (with apologies to anybody missed)

AC: Anne Green (physics) Uni Sydney. Tanya Monro, Chief Defence Scientist. Patricia Selkirk (conservation science) Macquarie  U.

AO: Janette Brand-Miller  (nutrition research disability advocacy) Uni Sydney. Peter Choong (orthopaedic medicine) Uni Melbourne. Michelle Craske (psychology) UCLA. Joseph de Bruyn (higher education) Campion College. Basil Donovan (sexual health) UNSW. Warren Ewens (biology, data science) Uni Pennsylvania. Marnie Hughes-Warrington (tertiary education) Uni SA. Mary-Louise McLaws (medical research) UNSW. Guy Marks (respiratory medicine) UNSW. Peter Saunders (tertiary education) UNSW. Catharyn Stern (gynaecology) Uni Melbourne.