The Week That Was (15 March)

Want to pitch your campus to 18-24 year olds? Turn off the telly. The Australian Communications and Media Authority reports that 18 per cent of them watch free to air television. But 86 per cent engage with short form, user generated videos. Tim Winkler talks about what this means and what to do about it, for Future Campus: WATCH NOW

After delays getting going, property developer Exal commences construction on a $150m Perth project to house 900 students from first semester 2026. It’s in Waterford, convenient to Curtin U and independent school/pathway provider, Canning College. It will be run by international (as in students and markets) accomm specialist Yugo, which operates in Melbourne, Adelaide and (already) Perth.
The start occurs as planning authorities approve a new 800 bed tower block, near the new Edith Cowan U city campus.
According to State-Government-and-institution-funded industry agency Study Perth, the city has one bed per 27 students, which sounds uncomfortable; compared to one for 17 in Victoria. “The extremely tight rental market poses a challenge for students to find alternative housing options at an affordable price,” Study Perth submitted to a Commonwealth Parliament committee inquiry last year.

The Skills Ministers Qualification Reform Design Group reports, “a large proportion of current VET qualifications have low use or no use.” It refers to the 21 per cent of qualifications with no enrolments and the 39 per cent with fewer than ten a year. Future Campus suspects the chance of any university discipline lobby being so frank is somewhere between buckleys and none.

There is no risk of being killed in the rush to become a peer reviewer for the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Ideas Grants. Apparently there were “difficulties” with a first invitation – which may or may not be a face-saving way of stating the response was not great. So, a second invite has gone out. “We rely on the participation of many peer reviewers to advance research excellence and funding outcomes,” NHMRC states. People are probably busy, unless some can’t be bothered with all the work reviewing for a scheme where there were 2,097 applications last year, with 11 per cent funded.

CQU will host a three-day conference in July for First Nations HDR students and their supervisors from Regional Universities Network and Northern Australia Universities Alliance institution.

Maths homework can be bad for parents and not great for kids. Lisa McDonald (Uni SA) and colleagues studied eight Canadian families where mothers got really, if not always successfully, involved. ‘If children are struggling in the classroom where they are aided by a trained professional, it is unclear how continuing with difficult schoolwork at home will improve outcomes. These difficulties are compounded when the person trying to help at home finds the mathematical work challenging.”

Jobs and Skills Australia reports that Professional, Scientific and Technical Services had the lowest recruitment rate in the economy last year, 37%. Cynics ask what employers were doing with all that Research and Development Tax Incentive – but what can you expect from cynics.

Our More Hide than Jessie correspondent reports Uni Sydney, UNSW and The Ethics Centre are fundraising for a world-first, national ethics centre, “an independent body to advise on the profound ethical questions that face the nation.” Apparently, research indicates “a 10% improvement in ethics across Australia would produce an uplift on GDP of $45bn per annum.” Which is presumably why the public-spirited three are calling for the Feds to kick in $33.3m for the proposed centre.

The Tuition Protection Service invites providers who pay levies to consultations on what they are up for this year. It’s a chance to change what they will pay, although maybe not a good one. The TPS advisory board has already provided draft advice to Director Melinda Hatton.

Chief Scientist Cathy Foley will be on ABC TV’s Q&A Monday night, talking about her plan to make “research more accessible.” “If knowledge stays behind paywalls, it impedes the advancement of our country,” is the pitch, per the platform formerly known as Twitter.
Dr Foley has worked on this for a while – for-profit journal giant Springer-Nature made positive noises about her thinking in 2021, (Campus Morning Mail November 5 2021). And in 2022 she proposed a national agency negotiating payments with publishers to make research open access (Campus Morning Mail June 30 2022).
Since then, the Council of Australian University Librarians has reached agreements with 20 or so publishers on a more modest version of a national scheme, Campus Morning Mail December 14 2022.) CAUL members pay publishers for research articles written in Australia to be open to us all, as part of their journal subscriptions. (Monash U librarian Bob Gerrity explains the scheme HERE).
Whatever Dr Foley wants to happen will needs be adopted, sharpish. After a three-year term as Chief Scientist, Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic reappointed her just before Christmas, to the end of 2024.

The ACT joins NSW and Vic in subsidising students in courses where the government needs more qualified workers. Students in nursing, midwifery and allied health at Uni Canberra and Australian Catholic U can receive $9000 over three years, plus $1000 per study placement. A start, if not an especially generous one. There is also talk of money in the Federal Budget for placements.



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