The final siren

Melbourne based TEQSA advised clients that it was closed on Friday, for the public holiday celebrating the AFL Grand Final. “If TEQSA was umpiring, Richmond would still be waiting on the result,” a learned reader remarks.


There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Angela Brew on undergraduates as researchers. This week’s selection by Contributing Editor Sally Kift for her series on what we need now in teaching and learning

Angel Calderon wraps a great ranking year for Australia.

Luke Hesson feared leaving medical research – he found a new life when he did.

David Kellermann (UNSW) on creating a serious solution for on-line lecturing. Curated content from Microsoft.

Setting standards on what makes a uni

The government’s legislation establishing new higher education provider category standards is in the Senate – where there are questions

The new standards are based on the Coaldrake review of provider categories, as extended by the government. Where Peter Coaldrake proposed a category called “national institutes,” Education Minister Dan Tehan decided private providers who meet standards could become university colleges, (CMM December 11 2019).

The bill was sent to a Senate committee a fortnight back (CMM October 12) and submissions are starting to arrive. But the Senate’s scrutiny of bills committee has questions of its own.

It wants to know why “significant matters” like the standards framework and assessment of providersquality of research are in the delegated rather than primary legislation. “The explanatory memorandum contains no justification regarding why it is necessary to allow such significant matters to be set out in delegated legislation,” the committee comments.

The committee asked for a response by Friday, which the government did not deliver.

Organisations in the HE community are using the inquiry to have another go at stopping bits in the bill they don’t like

Notably allowing private providers of sufficient standing to call themselves university colleges.

The Innovative Research Universities accepts the bill should pass but warns the text does not directly address Minister Tehan’s “unfortunate decision” to rename Coaldrake’s “national institute” category “university college.” “immediately recreating the potential for confusion between a university and other providers. “

And the National Tertiary Education Union warns that HE providers wanting to call themselves “university colleges” is the very reason they should not be allowed to.

“The term university should be used to denote that a higher education provider has met certain threshold standards, and not as a way of attracting potential students.”

The union suggests replacing “university college” with “higher education college” or “institute of higher education”.

Australian Catholic University proposes a simpler way of distinguishing between universities and not-quites. U-colleges, “may use the word ‘university’ in their institutional branding only when their full category name ‘university college’ is used … the words ‘university’ and ‘college’ be given equal prominence in such institutional branding.”

Still standing, getting moving

The pandemic has changed teaching and learning – universities need a new value proposition

At the ReMaking HE conference: Lanxi Huang (Uni Melbourne) will discuss how Chinese international students understand wellbeing. She will join marketing veteran Rob Lawrence and conference host Tim Winkler talking about big questions for international recruiters.

ReMaking HE: ideas for the post (or continuing) pandemic university. Dates and details for the on-line conference here.

Way of the day to improve ERA

The Australian Research Council is reviewing its two research metric schemes, Excellence for Research in Australia and Engagement & Impact

The metrics should include work by HDR research students, Harry Rolf, Peter Derbyshire and Nigel Palmer argue in their submission, made as three former presidents of the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations.

“Comprehensive linked meta-data on research student contributions would improve the usefulness of this data in informing decisions, shaping policy and conducting research related to the contributes made by research students to research impact and engagement in Australia,” they suggest.

Get the word out

The ARC plans to release submissions to the research metrics review after it is out, which seems a bit late for a debate. So, CMM will report and/or link to, as many submissions as it can – send them in people.

Elsevier in the money

As Australasian Open Access Week ended, for-profit research publisher Elsevier announced earnings

Owner RELX reports the STM division, which includes publishing and data analytics, recorded a 2 per cent increase in YTD revenue. A driver was “expansion of analytical products supporting research (and) evaluation of science.”

Last year the STM division’s revenues were £ 2637m, with £982m in adjusting operating profit, (that’s A$1.86bn).

In Europe and the US RELX’s pay to read/pay to publish journal model is being eroded by government and university demands for various OA models – it is responding by adapting strategies and creating/buying products to monetise its vast holdings of research data.

Like Monty Python’s peasant on the plague cart Elsevier is not dead yet.

Minister calls (again) on Charles Sturt U to release finance report

Regional Education Minister Andrew Gee has expressed “concerns” in Parliament about Charles Sturt U’s finances

Speaking in the Federation Chamber, Mr Gee stated “CSU’s chancellor has flagged with me in my office a litany of systemic issues that required investigation.”

Mr Gee has previously called on CSU to, “open up the books and to shine some light on its finances, management and operations,” (CMM August 7).

In September acting VC John Germov said consultants KPMG had reviewed the university’s “financial position” and had “broadly confirmed the key points” in the university’s financial projections.”

Professor Germov added he hoped, “our students, staff and community stakeholders are reassured that our actions are returning the university to financial sustainability,” (CMM September 17).

But in parliament last week Mr Gee renewed his call for the university to release an independent audit of its finances. “As of today, the report remains hidden from the communities CSU serves. It’s a secret report.”

CSU responded Friday, telling CMM, “the matters referred to by the minister have been investigated and closed out.”

As to CSU releasing “the full report” – it isn’t going to happen, “as to do so would break our legal obligations and provide commercial-in-confidence information to competitors.”

CSU does not enjoy the most supportive of relationships with all its local members. Staff from two CSU campuses live in Mr Gee’s seat of Calare.  And Joe McGirr, NSW state member for Wagga Wagga, where the university also has a campus, sailed into CSU in the Legislative Assembly, suggesting, “there is now concern the university has become just another second-tier corporate education provider,” (CMM October 21).

There is staff concern at CSU campuses over course cuts and job losses.

The long view on women’s health

The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health has $8.5m in new federal funds to keep it running for three more years

The study follows 57 000 women from four generations, born in 1921-26, 1946-51, 1973-78 and from 2013,1989-95. Its run by Uni Newcastle and Uni Queensland.


The WA Government announces the advisory council for the Future Health Research and Innovation Fund. Research representatives are, Sandra Eades (dean of medicine, Curtin U), Dale Disher (adjunct professor Monash U and Swinburne U) and Christina Mitchell (executive dean, medicine, nursing, health science, Monash U).