Covered on eCAF

“We understand providers are always eager to stay updated on plans to mandate the Government eCAF,” the Department of Education, Skills and Employment assures all who hang upon its every announcement.

They can relax,  for now, while “there are no immediate plans to mandate the government eCAF,” “with the change of government and a new minister for education, plans regarding the mandating of the Government eCAF may change.” DESE will communicate any that come up “as soon as we receive them.”

CMM wonders if eCAF is on top of Minister Clare’s list.

* (as everybody but CMM probably knew eCAFs are Commonwealth Assistance Forms, as used for student entitlements).

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Dawn Gilmore (RMIT) and Chin Nguyen (Curio) set out pros and cons to make on-line learning partnerships work. This week’s excellent selection in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in learning and teaching.

with Angel Calderon explaining the new Leiden research ranking.

plus AI in teaching and student support is imminent. Josiah Koh (Open Polytechnic NZ), Michael Cowling and Meena Jha (CQU), and Kwong Nui Sim (Auckland UT)  explain what’s about to happen as learning packages create the base for educational intelligence.

and Merlin Crossley (UNSW) who argues students should not be paying the bill for research sophistication.

in Expert Opinion

Angel Calderon (RMIT) on the new Leiden research rankings – why it’s the one the experts rate and what the new edition means for Aus unis.

Josiah Koh and colleagues talk about what AI can deliver for teaching and learning and student support,

Both (and all the other episodes) are HERE



NSW unis really relied on China in ‘21

The country was the leading source of international student revenue for seven of the ten public universities in NSW, according to the state’s Audit Office

“This creates not only a concentration risk for each university, but for the NSW university sector as a whole,” the Auditor General warns in the report on universities’ 2021 performance.

The state-wide headcount of overseas student enrolments was down 8.6 per cent last year on 2020, to 138 900. However dependence on those from China increased, with numbers up by 2500, to account for over half the state total.

Both UNSW and Uni Sydney grew their revenue from students from China last year by 8 per cent in 2021 – accounting for around 80 per cent of their international student income.

ELICOS still doing it tough


Visa processing data seen by CMM shows just how bad things are in the ELICOS sector

ELICOS was one of the hardest hit sectors of education during the pandemic and it appears the woes continue.

For the 2021-22 programme year, from 1 July 1 2021 to May 31 2022 there were 314 388 student visas lodged globally. This includes 167 596 visas lodged in the Higher Education sector, 96 093 in the VET sector and 26 685 for ELICOS. Through the same period 228 150 student visas have been granted globally, with 130 171 in HE, 67 113 in VET and 13 424 to the ELICOS sector.

This equates to processing rates of around 72.6 per cent overall. 77.7 per cent in Higher Ed, 69.8 per cent for VET and only 50.3 per cent for ELICOS. Meaning 40.7 per cent of ELICOS visas applications that have been lodged haven’t completed being assessed as yet. This is driving longer than usual wait times and frustration amongst ELICOS sector members.

Brett Blacker, English Australia CEO is concerned there are further issues within the system. Saying “English Australia’s own data analysis for grant rates (those that have been assessed and granted) are also down. In Jan-March the ELICOS grant rate is down to 85 per cent from levels above 90 per cent in 20119, ‘20, and ‘21.”

English Australia has analysed country by country grant rates between Q1 19 and Q1 22. The countries most affected are: Turkey which is down 16.9 per cent; Taiwan down 16 per cent; Chile down 15.4 per cent; Peru down 13 per cent; and Italy down 10.9 per cent.

There are two possible reasons for this decrease. Firstly, an increase in integrity issues which Blacker says is “unlikely” given the countries listed have not historical integrity problems. The second is a “case load management” strategy put in place by Home Affairs which sees visa processing shifted from the country of application to a third country to balance load across the network.

While no certainty exists that this is driving these results, Home Affairs have undertaken to minimise case load transfer wherever possible. This makes sense, an understanding of the education system and the cultural attributes that are attached to each application are best achieved by those who know, locally.

Dirk Mulder advises education and business clients on trends in international education. He writes regularly for CMM

Where unis underpaid staff $50m

The NSW Auditor General reports universities have over and underpaid “certain staff” for “several years”

The  2021 report states universities recorded provisions of $50.8m as of December last($57.6 million in 2020) “relating to historical underpayments of staff wages and entitlements.”

This was down from $57.6m in 2020.

Nine of the ten NSW public universities started or completed procedures “to mitigate the risk of future staff underpayments” last year with the unnamed other set to begin.

The report attributes under and over payment of staff, to “complexity in enterprise agreements and inconsistent interpretation of the terms within those agreements.”

The findings are in the state audit office’s report on universities for last year.


Yet another NSW government tech investment

The state government will fund the Semiconductor Sector Service Bureau, to, ”build connectivity and collaboration, and support commercial impact”

That’s semiconductor as in computer chip.

The bureau will bring together “leading experts” from the Australian National Fabrication Facility, CSIRO, Macquarie U, UNSW and Uni Sydney. Intent is to, “secure a brighter future for NSW by accelerating our participation in the global semiconductor market.”

There is no word on funding but CMM suspects it will come out of the $378m for research in two streams announced in last week’s state budget (CMM June 24).

Med schools Hong Kong approves

HK is short of medical doctors and is looking offshore to meet the shortfall

Graduates of select universities can now sit the HK licensing exam and seek registration to practise in the public health system.

Aus med schools that make the cut are at ANU, Monash U, Uni Adelaide, Uni Melbourne, UNSW, Uni Queensland, Uni Sydney.

The majority of approved med schools are in the US and UK.

Colin Simpson’s ed tech reads of the week

Colin Simpson’s ed tech reads of the week

University Administrators Views on the Outsourcing of Online Learning from Evan Silberman (Thesis)

Adding to the excellent CMM feature story from Gilmore and Nguyen about On-line Programme Managers (OPMs), businesses that partner with universities to deliver online courses, comes this doctoral thesis from a doctoral student at NYU. Silberman explores these partnerships through a lens rarely used in HE research, that of institutional management.  He explores the rationales behind these partnership, the impact on innovation and the trust relationships between the organisations in these partnerships. The growth of OPMs is one of the most significant trends in learning and teaching in Higher Ed today.


What do we mean when we talk about scale? Towards a definition of ‘at scale’ in higher education – Uni of Sydney Co-Design Research Group

Most research into learning and teaching in Higher Ed tends to focus on the micro-level, centred around examining the impact of local interventions in technology and teaching practice. Most of the significant change however needs to occur at the macro-level to be sustainable – what is generally referred to in institutions as “at scale”. This post from Peter Bryant at Uni Sydney describes how this works and why thinking at scale is important, regardless of how it may be seen.


Are We in the Upside Down? Course Hero, Lumen Learning, and All Kinds of Strange Things are Afoot in Ed-Tech from Edu Geek Journal

Open Educational Resources (OER) have long been considered of the bright spots of the education internet – rich, free, learning and teaching resources shared for the common good. Lumen Learning has been one organisation of many providing a rich catalogue of OERs. Hosting material on-line costs money and recently users have noticed that many Lumen Learning OERS are now being hosted on the controversial commercial service Course Hero. This article explains why this is happening and what the larger implications are for open resources.


The tricky questions for assessment to answer from The Ed Techie

The shift to on-line exams at scale in recent years has led to much discussion about the nature of high stakes summative assessment in Higher Ed. Are they authentic enough, how do we deal with cheating as AI writing tools and resource “sharing” services become more prevalent and how do we ensure that learners are really demonstrating and applying what they know? This thoughtful piece from Martin Weller takes us through these thorny questions and offers some ideas for ways forward.


Learning, testing and developing Adaptive Expertise: our learning design – Webinar Thurs 30/6 12pm AEST

Drs Lis Conde and Sheryl Maher of the Victorian Academy of Teaching and Learning present their fascinating recent work in using Adaptive Expertise to develop new capabilities in online learning for educational leaders.


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


Dolt of the day

Is CMM, who got wrong the name of James Cook U’s VC in yesterday’s email issue. It is, of course, Simon Biggs.

Appointments, achievements

Sue Barrell (fellow, Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering) is laureate of the IMO Prize from the World Meteorological Organisation. Sbe is honoured for her leadership of the international weather, water and climate community.

Lise Barry is dean of the Macquarie U law school. She became interim dean when Marc De Vos left (CMM October 28 2021).

Michael Fay is appointed foundation chair and director of the Mark Hughes Foundation Centre for Brain Cancer Research at Uni Newcastle. He continues what the university describes as “connections” with the Hunter MRI.

Kudzai Kanhutu is appointed dean of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians

Kylie Readman will become DVC Education and Students at UTS in November. She moves from a similar role at Murdoch U.