ARC asked for edits on hundreds of research applications

A consultation paper from the Sheil Review of the Australian Research Council reports the ARC asked for revisions to National Interest Test statements in 332 applications (8 per cent multiple times).

Some 37 per cent of Discovery Indigenous applications were sent back compared to 8 per cent of those for Laureate awards.

Scroll down for much more on the paper.

There’s more in the Mail

In Expert Opinion (ep 22) this morning

BINDI BENNETT (Australian Catholic U) talks to TIM WINKLER talk about students engaging with Indigenous communities. It’s a pointer to today and Friday’s on-line conference on the future for Indigenous leadership in Australian higher education.

and in Features

GEORGINA BARRATT-SEEELLA KAHU and KATHY EGEA on ways to avoid burnout. “We can only be compassionate caring educators if we are well ourselves,” they write. New in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in learning and teaching.

plus PhD students did it tough in the pandemic. AI TAM LE (Deakin U) sets out six ways to help them

plus JIM NYLAND (Uni Southern Queensland) on why we need an engaged universities accord and what should be in it.

Where the frogs are

CMM is not entirely convinced of the official status of National Frog Week, starting Friday, but it’s a good enough reason to report that it’s the time to download the  FrogID App and record calls, for an “intensive snapshot” of how frogs are doing across Australia.


Course set for micro-credentials

The feds are funding pilots – but not for any old m-cs mind, only those that are covered by the previous government’s framework (CMM March 23) and will come from HE providers

who gets what: First up public universities (Table A) can get $100 000 per m-c for design – with total funding capped at $2m. There’s a total $2m more for delivery.

All A providers can compete for a second pot of $14.5m “to support delivery” of micro-credentials, to 4000 students over ’22-’23 to ’25-26.

Why only them? Sorry, no idea.

A second and third round are open to all HE providers, providing funding for delivery. Applicants “who provide evidence of industry endorsement” will receive, ”additional weighting.”

The government is separately legislating for m-cs to be FEE HELP-able. And the long awaited “micro-credentials marketplace” will be live next month (CMM October 31).

reaction: Universities Australia was quick to welcome the pilots, which will, “support universities to work with industry in developing micro-credentials in areas of skill needs.”

But private provider lobby Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia lamented, the government’s “siloed approach,” which leaves out private providers and the mass of ”high utility” m-cs that already “upskill and reskill” workers.

And analyst Andrew Norton points out the government is getting into a market which is already operating. “Micro-credentials add certification and perhaps standardisation to short courses, which might increase short course informational value in the labour market. But lack of these things has not stopped this market functioning on a large scale,  he writes.

Meanwhile in the world of learning stuff for work: Engineers Australia announces it partners with the NSW Building Commissioner to provide very micro courses on practical needs, including cladding remediation for buildings. Couple of hours for $140-$200.

More days of pain

A committee of Tasmania’s Legislative Council is inquiring into provisions of the University of Tasmania Act and is inviting witnesses to appear

If written submissions are any indication university management is at no risk of being overwhelmed by the expressions of support. There must be days, a learned reader remarks, when VC Rufus Black and colleagues wish they had never come up with the unpopular plan to relocate the university to the CBD. Make that months, unless it is years.

Murdoch U management responds to “budget challenge”

Restructures used to be all but routine under previous management at Murdoch U but not since Andrew Deeks became VC in April – at least until now

“Murdoch University’s financial position has been reviewed. With the current deficit and debt levels, there is a need to reduce costs for the 2023 Budget,” Professor Deeks told staff last week.

The problem is, “recent reductions in domestic student intakes have placed the University in a situation of declining student load, which will not be fully compensated for by returning international students, and this presents an ongoing budget challenge.”

And so four units are set for restructure, covering learning and teaching, property and commercial services, research support and curriculum. While management isn’t commenting around 35 positions, filled and vacant, are said to be set to go.

What’s next for the Australian Research Council

The Sheil Review of the ARC asks questions it wants answered and seeks responses on issues where it has ideas

The review consultation paper was quietly released yesterday, responses are due December 14, although chair Margaret Sheil and colleagues already appear to have a fair idea of what the research establishment will wear, having “sought input” from “peak bodies, university groupings, learned academies, publicly-funded research organisations and focus groups.”

Positions the consultation paper points to include

* opportunities” to simplify the ARC Act to ensure continuing investment in Discovery research, “to underpin the remainder of the research ecosystem”

* a five – seven member board with charges including “development and convergence” of ARC policies and strategies and appointing the agency’s College of Experts

And then there are the big ones

* ministerial approval of grants

“The panel is seeking recommendations that may give confidence to the academic community such that when a minister intervenes in genuine and extraordinary circumstances, they would be obliged to notify that intervention and give reasons in detail to the Parliament, in addition to their obligations under guidelines, Senate orders and the provisions of any other legislation.”

* National Interest Test

“There is potential individual and collective benefit to be gained by researchers if public understanding of and support for research can be extended and consolidated. The astute use of national benefit provisions in the selection criteria may be appropriate, or there may be better ways to communicate the possible outcomes of ARC recommendations in a way that the language is more easily understood by the community.”

* Performance measures: “it can be argued that Excellence in Research for Australia has achieved its initial purpose and that the time and resources involved may be better re-directed to other evaluation needs.”

* Both ERA and Engagement and Impact are, “framed around the performance of individual institutions and drive institutional comparisons and competition in ways that often lead to counter-productive duplication of expertise.”

Innovative Research Universities announces agenda

The IRU lobby turns 20 next year, it plans to celebrate with more policy

IRU announces its five year strategy, including,

* a focus on the Pacific

* a team-up with other university groups, “such as the Australian Technology Network” and “ensure a more coherent voice to government.”

* an IRU “consortium approach” in India for joint teaching and “an in-country presence to strengthen partnerships and pathways”

* evaluate and share IRU outcomes in “supporting student equity and success.” “In partnership with the new National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education we will share the findings to create the broadest positive impact.”  “New” NCSEHE? Education Minister Jason Clare announced $20.5m over four years for a “step change” at the NCSEHE, “trialling, evaluating, implementing and monitoring the sorts of things that will really shift the dial,” (CMM July 11).


Academy of Social Sciences leads appointment, achievements

Ben Eggleton moves to PVC R at Uni Sydney. He is now, among other roles, director of the university’s Nano Institute.

Danielle Logue is leaving the UTS business school to become director of the Centre for Social Impact at UNSW.

Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia announces its 2022 fellows

Rachel Ankeny (Uni Adelaide), Sascha Becker (Monash University), Peng Bi (Uni Adelaide), Kathy Bowrey (UNSW), Robert Breunig (ANU), Henry Brodaty (UNSW), Tom Calma (Uni Canberra), Mandy Cheng (UNSW), Monica Cuskelly (Uni Tasmania)

Cheryl Dissanayake (La Trobe U),  Kim Dovey (Uni Melbourne), Michele Ford (Uni Sydney), Michelle Foster (Uni Melbourne), Bronwyn Fredericks (Uni Queensland), Marylene Gagne (Curtin University), Geoff Gallop (Uni Sydney), Lisa Given (RMIT), Evelyn Goh (ANU)

Anita Harris (Deakin University), Harald van Heerde (UNSW), Guyonne Kalb (Uni Melbourne), Grace Karskens (UNSW), Simon Killcross UNSW)  Janet McColl-Kennedy (Uni Queensland)

Sharynne McLeod (Charles Sturt U), Francesca Merlan (ANU), Tiffany Morrison (James Cook U) Hans Pols (Uni Sydney) Ben Saul (Uni Sydney), Brad Sherman (Uni Queensland), Russell Smyth (Monash U), Deborah Street (UTS), Jakelin Troy (Uni Sydney), Roger Wilkins (Uni Melbourne)