What’s green and learned?

Russell Goulbourne (Uni Melbourne arts dean) tweets his pleasure at ALDI promoting the humanities, arts and social sciences, with its “Hass it up” promotion for in-season avocados.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Liz Johnson (Deakin U) on six learning activities which belong on-line. This week’s contribution to Commission Editor Sally Kift’s series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

James Guthrie (Macquarie) took a deep dive into the UWA annual report. Here’s what he found.

Plus, Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on student cheating and what to do about it. “Given limited resources we will have to prioritise. One possibility is that we might prioritise investing more in programmatic – senior year – assessments, and rely on “assumed knowledge” in the early years. It may be foolish to attempt to grade everything, and certify every learning outcome in each educational snack from cradle to grave.”

And, Kirsty Abbott and Amanda-Jane George (both CQU) explain what’s in the government’s new patent box for university researchers. Perhaps not a lot, ‘The general conclusion from existing research,” they warn, “is that similar schemes often do not achieve their desired effects of encouraging innovation or local research and development,” they suggest.

The aisles have it for some international students

The federal government has lifted the 40 hour per fortnight work cap for international students with jobs in NSW and Victoria supermarkets, “and associated distribution facilities” during lockdown

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke says the industry requested it, “as many staff are subject to self-isolation orders.” ​

It’s an extension of the cap-lifting in March 2020, when Mr Hawke suspended the then 20-hour a fortnight cap for international students working as supermarket shelf stackers (CMM March 16 2020). And it brings supermarket workers into line, at least in terms of hours, with international students in the tourism and hospitality sectors. In May Mr Hawke lifted the forty hours per fortnight cap for them. The minister also added tourism/hospitality to the 12 month 408 Covid-19 Pandemic Event Visa (CMM May 10 2021.) There is no word of this occurring for internationals in supermarkets.


You gotta love a Monash U Lamington

Monash U and Pennsylvania State U have won the International Federation of Library Associations’ marketing award for their “great books bake-off

The contest was to use four recipes from rare books in the respective library, rather make a cake about a book. The contest was one of quantity (photos of cakes baked in four days). Yes, Monash U included a Lamington – way better than one of U Penn’s – the less than delectable-sounding  wet shoe fly pie.

Dosh of the day

Australian Catholic U will share in $US4m from the National (as in US) Football League for a study of prevention and treatment of hamstring injuries. The ACU connection is David Opar, from the Sports Performance, Recovery, Injury and New Technologies centre. Uni Wisconsin leads, with Springbok Analytics also participating (presumably named for the rare Blue Ridge springbok) of Charlottesville Va.

The NSW Government is slinging the Royal Society of New South Wales $320 0000, “to expand its vision of enriching lives through knowledge and enquiry.” The gift comes in the Society’s centenary year.

Earth sciences erode at Macquarie U

Applications close today for heads of the new schools of Life Science and Fundamental Science at Macquarie U – which marks the end of another job-shedding restructure

The schools were created by department mergers. Biological Sciences, Earth and Environmental Sciences and Molecular Sciences become Life Science. Maths and Stats, Physics and Astronomy are now in Fundamental Sciences.

In terms of the 15 FTE jobs gone there is bad news all over – but observers suggest it is another blow for earth and environmental sciences. Its disciplines took a hit in 2019, when earth and planetary sciences merged with environmental science, people left and there were cuts to what was taught. The research and teaching merits of this were debated back then but observers also suggested it was a way to reduce headcount after a science faculty early retirement scheme had not reached savings target (CMM July 9 2019).

Last year earth and environment teaching took a hit when MU management established a 50- student minimum for undergraduate majors and specialisations across the university (CMM September 15 2020). And with four FTE lost in the new round observers of what was left of earth and environmental science suggest pre-pandemic cuts and COVID-19 have, “basically finished them off.”

This is a research-loss for Macquarie U. Earth science research was rated in the 76-100 band in the 2018, ’19, ’20 and ’21 editions of the Academic Ranking of World Universities (CMM June 27 2019, June 30 2020 and May 2021).

But it is a loss management accepts. As Vice Chancellor S Bruce Dowton said about the original merger involving earth and planetary sciences.

“It is true that EPS has been ranked highly at an individual discipline level as have a number of other disciplines across the university and those achievements are to be applauded. It is also true that we need to consider the rankings of fields where the university either has large student numbers (several of the business school fields) or is growing student enrolments (computer science, engineering etc.).  Rankings are clearly taken into account when considering any change proposal but they are by no means the only factor … there are several pathways and relevance points for institutional and discipline renown.  With careful consideration, each are valid and none are mutually exclusive,” (CMM August 7 2019).

Professor association speaks up for U TAs college

The Australian Association of University Professors is upset with U Tasmania’s proposal to sack professors at its Australian Maritime College

Yes, two of the AMC professors are AAUP members, but the association is long and rigorously on the record as opposingmanagerialism and a loss of voice of academics in Australian Universities in general”.

The association also warns against, pitting senior against junior academic or academics against professional staff. No AMC professional staff are targeted by the proposal but it does state that unless five professors and aspros go 7-8 lecturer roles will be abolished.  And fewer professors could mean permanent positions for an unspecified number of fixed term staff, (CMM July 13.)

AAUP adds, the AMC is, “an institute of international standing which represents a significant asset for the country that would be impossible to replace.

What works in the virtual classroom

Worth knowing now on-line lockdown learning is back in NSW and Vic

The Australian Council on Open, Distance and E-Learning surveyed ANZ universities on their 2020 experiences (CMM January 29) and followed up with discussions in April. Sherre Roy (CQU) and Michael Sankey (Charles Darwin U) report on the project finding here.

What was used: LMS tools and discussions and Zoom, followed by Microsoft Teams which was nominated as really resource rich

Big issues in managing on-line: The three most common were, time and workload pressure, “lack of familiarity” with on-line and perceptions among academics that they were being moved from face to face to on-line, “rather than creating new experiences”.

Assisting students: “the importance of coordinated centralised IT and Library support where fundamental to providing a complete package of support for students”.

The take-out: while institutions provided emergency staff support, “some institutions have found is that their educators are not necessarily prepared for a more permanent paradigm shift for creating new experiences in virtual environment.”

“Realising the benefits of collaboration and group-work for students’ learning in an online or blended environment will require investment in developmental opportunities for academics that help them to embrace the paradigm shift and expand their knowledge and skills for learning and teaching in the virtual space.”

A duck called Etta

ANU cancelled its Friday graduation ceremony, “due to the uncertainty in our region affecting travel to and from the ACT”

But graduands on the ground could still arrange to collect their Etta (the stuffed-toy duck). And Chancellor Julie Bishop was there, undoubtedly in spirit and certainly as a life-size cardboard cut-out. This was so graduands could at least get photos with her, sort-of.

Vice Chancellor Brian Schmidt was also there in cardboard and fleshly form – even though he does not qualify for a stuffed graduation duck.

But why a duck called Etta? Chenonetta Jubatas, or Australian Wood Duck, likes to quack it up on the ANU campus (CMM December 7 2020).

Appointments, achievements

Kingsley Dixon (Curtin U) is the new chair of the board of the Society for Ecological Restoration.

 Kathomi Gatwiri (Southern Cross U) is in-coming president of the Australian Women and Gender Studies Association.

Uni Melbourne appoints Anne Orford a laureate professor. Not to be confused with her appointment as Australian Research Council Kathleen Fitzpatrick Laureate Professor (2015-16).

Edward Palmisano joins the United States Studies Centre at Uni Sydney as COO. He was last at the university in 2014-15 as director of government relations.

 The Queensland Government announces its 2021 women in STEM. Judges’ Award: Chloe Yap (Uni Queensland), Inclusion Award: Christabel Webber (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries), Commendatinons: Fiona Holmstron (founder, STEM Punks), Kate Kingston (Griffith U) and Sally McPhee (Griffith U)

 Human Rights Commissioner Ed Santow will join UTS in September, as Industry Professor-Responsible Technology. He will lead a UTS initiative on AI.