All is revealed

“How to game the ATAR,” the NSW Universities Admission Centre announces, before advising that it can’t be done. “It’s a rank, so if your results place you in the top percentile then you’ll get the top ATAR.” UAC has been out arguing for the efficacy of the ATAR for the last couple of weeks, in response to criticisms that it does not address individual circumstances and it is to blame for low numeracy among undergraduates.

Lecturing without tiers

Back in 2015 Marnie Hughes Warrington (CMM July 9015) reported declining lecture attendance at her ANU.  But big classes are still scheduled so at ANU MHW and colleagues used the current campus-build to custom-create a new space for lectures, a flat “super-floor” for “interactive personalised learning” – for 300 students at a time. It’s a lecture-theatre but with the tiers taken out.

“Our ‘superfloor’ has been a long time in the making. There are few examples of large innovative teaching spaces that are not lecture theatres, and that means it is hard to break from tiers when you are given a blank design sheet.“ DVC  Hughes Warrington explains in a new essay in her series on rebuilding ANU.  But this is what ANU deans and teachers, plus a retired director of Canberra’s schools created, a new form that fulfils an ancient function, in a shape that embraces the advantages of small-group teaching.

Exactly as intended

The Victorian Government is funding free training courses, but only at TAFE. This, the Australian Council for Private Education and Training says, is unfair to private providers and props up the public system. Talk about precisely-targeted policy.

Stressed-out by study

Student attrition is expected to be a funding metric under the government’s plan for allocating growth places – which makes reducing the rate undergraduates dropout at a big deal indeed. New research by Colin Jevons and Sophie Lindsay from Monash points to the factors that drive students who have survived first year to give it away (CMM April 20). And now online study support provider (and CMM advertiser) Studiosity has identified a big source of stress across UG courses across the country– academic workloads – making the case for investing in support to show undergrads how to get through their work.

Studiosity surveyed international and local students and found 66 per cent reporting high levels of psychological stress.  Some 34 per cent of them identified study load as a big cause, followed by the difficulty of their course at 15 per cent. In contrast, just 8 per cent worried about the study debt they are piling up.

Commendably concise

UWA VC Dawn Freshwater has a weekly column for staff which she keeps brief.  This week’s is just 115 words – which she uses to tell staff that WA VCs and state education minister Sue Ellery agree that STEM is important for future jobs and that UWA alumnus Kim Beazley is the new governor and that he will do a good job. CMM can think of VCs whose first sentence would be longer.

ARC announces ERA research evaluation committees-they come from all over

The Australian Research Council has appointed members to the new Excellence for Research in Australia evaluation committees. Back when ERA was the major research measure close scrutiny of committee memberships provided conspiracy theorists with hours of fun but not so much now that engagement and impact are included. Even so, the spread of membership still says something about where research strengths are – which is pretty much everywhere.

The institutional spread by committee is:

Biology and biotech: Chair: Eleanor Mackie (UniMelbourne). Members from: Murdoch, 2. Deakin, 1. Sunshine Coast, 2. UNE 1. Adelaide, 1. UNSW, 1 LaTrobe, 1. Imperial College London, 1. UTas, 1. RMIT, 1. UniSydney 2. UTS, 1.

Economics and commerce: Chair: Flavio Mendes (UoQ). Members from: UniSA, 2. UniSyd, 1. ANU, 1. Deakin, 2. Griffth, 1. Curtin U 2. La Trobe, 1. UWA, 1. UoQ, 2 (one plus chair). UTS, 1. UNSW, 1. UniWollongong, 1

Engineering and environment: Chair: Rose Amal (UNSW). Members from: UniAdelaide, 1. UoQ, 2. Nottingham Trent U, 1. UNSW, 2 (one plus chair). UWA, 1. UNE, 1. Curtin U, 2. UniCanberra, 1. UniNewcastle, 1. Deakin U, 1. UniSA, 1. UTas, 1. UniSydney, 1. Monash U, i.

Eduction and human society: Chair: Brenda Cherednichenko (Deakin).  Members from: UniNewcastle, 1. UniMelbourne, 1. Uni Amsterdam, 1. UTas, 2. La Trobe, 2.UTS, 2. Southern Cross U, 1. UNSW, 1. UoQ, 1. QUT, 1.  Flinders U, 1. Western Sydney U, 2. Monash U, 2. UWA, 1.

Humanities and creative arts: Chair: Graeme Turner (UoQ). Members from:  UniAdelaide, 2. UWA, 2. Monash U, 1. UniMelbourne, 1. UniNewcastle, 1. Macquarie U 2. Deakin U 2, UniSydney, 1. Griffith U, 1. UoQ 2, (one plus chair). Murdoch U, 1. RMIT, 2. La Trobe U, 1. U Tasmania, 2. James Cook U, 1. UniCanberra 1.

Medical and health sciences: Chair: David Badcock (UWA). Members from: Macquarie U 1. Uni Southern Queensland, 1. UniSA, 2. UniSydney, 3. Uni Adelaide, 2. Monash U, 1. James Cook U, 1. Uni Newcastle, 1. QUT, 2. La Trobe U, 1. Flinders U, 1. Griffith U, 1. U Tasmania, 2. UTS, 1. Uni Sunshine Coast, 1.

Math, info and computing science: Chair: David Green (Monash U).  UniTas, 1. UWA, 1. UniSydney, 2. La Trobe U, 1. Griffith U, 2. Monash U 2 (one plus chair). Western Sydney U, 1. Macquarie U, 1. RMIT, 1. UniSA, 1. UniWollongong, 1. ANU, 1, Deakin U 1.

Physical, chem and earth science: Chair: John O’Connor (UniNewcastle). Deakin U, 2. James Cook U, 1. Flinders U, 2. Uni Southern Queesland, 1. Monash U, 1. Curtin U, 1. ANU, 1. UWA, 1. Uni Sunshine Coast, 2. UoQ, 1. Uni Oslo, 1. Uni Sydney, 1. UniMelbourne, 1. Macquarie U, 1.

If these appointments are a proxy for research leadership then it is distributed across the university-system. The two universities with the most REC representatives are Deakin U and University of Sydney with ten each, followed by the University of Tasmania with nine and Monash University and the University of Queensland with eight.

Appointments of the week

Sometime British film producer David Puttnam becomes an adjunct professor at RMIT. He is also an ambassador for the university’s appeal to restore Melbourne’s Capitol Theatre as a cinema, education and function venue.

Michelle Lincoln is the new executive dean of the heath faculty at the University of Canberra. She joins from the University of Sydney. She is joined by Eileen McLaughlin as UniCanberra’s new ED of science and technology.Professor McLaughlin now holds appointments at the universities of Auckland and Newcastle.

 Warren Bebbington will chair the board of design college LCI Melbourne, part of a global 21-campus chain, founded in Canada. Professor Bebbington was VC of the University of Adelaide from 2012 until 2017, when family circumstances necessitated a move to Melbourne.

UWA’s David Harrison is moving to Murdoch U. The corporate comms and government relations chief leaves UWA after six years.  According to Murdoch VC Eeva Leinonen he will be responsible for “vice chancellery managerial affairs.”

Mike Brooks is appointed provost at the University of Adelaide.  He takes on oversight of the university’s five faculties in addition to his existing job, DVC R.

James Giggacher returns to Canberra to join the comms team at Universities Australia. He moves from RMIT, prior to which he was at ANU.

Vicki Chen is the new executive dean of  the faculty of engineering, architecture and information technology at the University of QueenslandProfessor Chen joins from UNSW, where she is head of the school of chemical engineering.

Maria Raciti (University of the Sunshine Coast) is 2018 research fellow at Curtin U’s National Centre for Student Equity in Higher EducationAspro Raciti will work on disadvantaged students’ perception of the risks of studying at university.