It’s a start

The first 250 international students in the NSW pilot arrived yesterday – and were sent off to 72 hours of quarantine. Not as originally intended but Omicron changed things. A second flight is due Christmas Eve.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Frank Larkins and Ian Marshman (Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education) estimate public uni income streams and how institutions would cope with a decline in the international student fees for this year. (Looking good ANU).

They base their prediction on investment income returning to 2019 levels, the known distribution of the federal government’s $1bn in emergency funding for research and a 5 per cent rise in government grant income, HECs payments and related income streams.

plus Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on access and equity to post school education – expanding h

and, where there’s WIL there’s a way towards graduate-level jobs for new uni completers. Denise Jackson (Edith Cowan U) and Anna Rowe (UNSW) on outcomes of work integrated learning. It’s a new selection by Commissioning Editor Sally Kift for her celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning

TEQSA timeline for new undergrad certs

The regulator advises providers which aren’t self-accrediting that it will “expedite” assessment of UG certificates that combine four units from an existing accredited course

However, for any that aren’t, “the standard application and assessment process” applies. Which means any such certs will likely have a couple of years to run before the new, 2025 end-date for such courses.

A cluster fund from the feds

Minister Robert invites people to apply for funding create industry clusters

Now minister for all things educational (CMM December 3) Stuart Robert urges “industry and businesses to “develop their applications for grants now.”

Details of the particular grants are here. They will go to successful bids to create “industry clusters” which will be “groups of aligned industries with a strategic leadership role to identify, forecast and respond to the current and emerging skills needs and workforce challenges of industry.” They will replace the 67 Industry Reference Committees, which presumably were supposed to identify, forecast and respond, but didn’t.

Anybody outside the training bureaucracy with the time, energy and optimism as to outcomes to get their heads around this has to March to apply

Since when do ministers have to gee-up people to ask for funding? CMM wondered. “When few have clues about what the money is meant to do,” a learned reader responded.

What works wherever for UNSW

A 2020 survey found 3 per cent of staff want to work on campus full time – they are going to have room in the office to spread out their stuff (CMM July 22 2020)

Management appears to have got the message, with a flex work policy proposal circulating that would allow continuing and fixed term staff to work wherever suits.

The prop includes get-outs and caveats to keep managers happy, “the importance of in-person connection,” and “productivity and outcomes” define performance, but overall it’s a pandemic policy, for people who have got used to working from home.

“Staff may choose to work from home or in an alternative work location outside the office that is both safe and productive. … A hybrid model may combine the best aspects of remote work with the benefits of coming to campus for collaboration, team-building, and non-remote tasks.”

It may indeed. Researchers from Swinburne U’s Centre of the New Workforce find that everybody they asked who has worked from home wants flex-work, (in and out of the office).

The UNSW prop is out for consultation until Friday.

Labor’s appeal for its base

Sunday’s campaign announcement of a bunch of money for TAFE and unis is a hit with some unions

The Australian Education Union which represents many TAFE teachers is pleased.

“This announcement places TAFE at the centre of the Federal Election debate. Voters will have a clear choice when they head to the polls,” federal president Correna Haythorpe says.

The NSW Community and Public Sector Union judges, “Labor’s announcement one step closer to rebuilding TAFE.”

In contrast the National Tertiary Education Union was quick to comment Sunday that, the “funding boost” was welcome “but not enough.”

Unenthused at ASQA

The training regulator has an overall employee engagement score of 65 per cent in this year’s Australian Public Service staff census – in-line with its tertiary education equivalent TEQSA, 66 per cent, (CMM yesterday).

Both scores are around 10 per cent below all regulatory agencies and small ones.

As with TEQSA, staff are committed to the agency’s goals and views of their immediate supervisors are in-positive line with those in other agencies.

But just 16 per cent of ASQA staff think “change was managed well,” 24 per cent below the comparable agency average.

This could have something to do with structural change and senior staff movement, as outlined by CEO Saxon Rice at a June 4 meeting of the Senate’s Employment and Education and Employment Legislation Committee(start 16:08)  here. (Senator O‘Neill (Labor-NSW) asked the questions).

Colin Simpson’s Ed Tech must reads of the week

Three Lenses on Lurking: Making Sense of Digital Silence from International Perspectives in Online Instruction (paywall).

The practice of reading the discussion in an on-line forum without engaging with it is sometimes referred to as “lurking.” I’ve never been a fan of the term as it casts a shadow on what can be perfectly reasonable behaviour. Kuhn et al essentially agree in this thoughtful chapter which examines lurking in on-line learning spaces – where ideally there is a greater need for students to be active participants. They offer some valuable nuance to the types of “lurker” behaviour that offer opportunities to rethink how we create welcoming spaces for students.


Aussie gov takes on trolls from Vertical Hold: Behind the Tech News podcast

Given the current government’s track record in the technology/defamation space, it’s unsurprising that the recent announcement of plans to hold social media platforms more accountable for defamation on social media platforms have a few people wondering what the end game is. Monash Uni’s Emily van der Nagel shares her thoughts on these proposed changes relating to privacy, power and moves toward “banning anonymity” (2:38 – 18:22).


Open/Technology in Education, Society and Scholarship Association Journal from OTESSA (open access). This shiny new Canadian Open Access journal comes from OTESSA, an organisation formed “with the goal to provide an inviting community to drive innovation, research, and practice in areas where either technology or openness intersect with education, research, and, more broadly, within society.” The first edition covers topics ranging across video-conferencing technologies, on-line faculty development for effective graduate supervision, and Open Educational Resources in mathematics and learning communities.


50 Most Common WordPress Errors and How to Fix Them from Beginner’s Guide for WordPress

WordPress has quickly become a ubiquitous platform for blogging and web publishing and it often fills the gaps when officially sanctioned institutional education technologies can’t quite do what educators want. Skimming through this handy list for troubleshooting WordPress for beginners, I recognised at least a dozen things that I could/should do to quickly fix my own site.


Dream app for easy AI art from Wombo

A few months ago, I shared some information about VQGAN+CLIP tools that let you use AI to generate art from basic text prompts. These are great but can be complicated, so it is little surprise that there are now simple apps that let you do this in a couple of clicks. The outputs don’t go through as many iterations as the full tools do and there is speculation that the company sells the “artworks” as non-fungible tokens (the 21st century Tulip mania) but if that doesn’t bother you, it’s a fun tool that lets you download your images in seconds.

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 achievement

Stephen Brady becomes (interim) MD of TAFE NSW. He moves from COO of the NSW government’s Department of Customer Service.

Charles Sturt U announces its staff excellence awards. * Admin team, Graham Centre and National Wine and Grape Industry Centre  * Ally Network Teams (advising the university on LGBTQI inclusion) * Finance Liaison Team (analysis and advice) * Peter Greening (student admission and conversion) * Joanne St John (Division of People and Culture)

Flinders U announces its (too numerous to mention) staff awards here.

National Party minister for regions Bridget McKenzie announces former Nats federal minister Fiona Nash is regional education commissioner. Ms Nash now advises Charles Sturt U on regional engagement and government relations.

Uni Sydney has two wins at the Public Relations Institute of Australia awards. There’s a gold for a regional comms campaign about studying medicine. The media and PR unit in the medicine faculty also won gold in the in-house team category.

Murdoch U announces new VC

Andrew Deeks comes home to WA

Professor Deeks will move from Ireland, where he is president of University College, Dublin.

UK born, he is UWA educated and was head of its engineering school 2004-09, before moving to Durham U in the UK as PVC Science. He moved to his present role in 2014.

He is expected to start in April, until when Jane den Hollander, who came out of retirement to provide needed leadership, will continue to act.

This is a challenging appointment for Professor Deeks. While the vastly experienced den Hollander has been a calming influence she has only been at Murdoch for months, not long enough to end anxiety over a series of restructures and internal rancour. Significantly, Deeks  states he wants Murdoch to be a university, “where free thinking underpins innovative and impactful contributions.”

He will also have to build Murdoch U’s policy influence and political presence. Where University College is politically important in Ireland, Murdoch U is widely considered a second-tier institution in WA, with a low national profile.