Campus Review | The latest in higher education news in Australia
Campus Review is Australia's leading independent tertiary education print and digital content provider. Our widely respected journalists engage an audience of more than 111,000 people every month, delivering over 50,000 leads a year in an industry worth about$84 billion per annum. We are widely read by VCs, academia, researchers, professors, technical staff, heads of faculties and support..
A student might be offered little more than a raised brow when asking their careers adviser about the skills they need to become a nostalgist or cyborg psychologist but those are some of the jobs Australian researchers say might exist in the future.
A team from Deakin and Griffith Universities compiled a list of 100 jobs that, the report said, provides “an authoritative snapshot into future work and future possibilities while offering a glimpse of the skill-sets likely to be rewarded in the future”.
The researchers said in the future few jobs will look the way they do now, some will disappear entirely and some will be created that have never been thought of before.
To get an idea of what those new jobs might look like, the team interviewed 11 experts from different industries like farming and tech.
Should the careers adviser relay the information in the report to the budding nostalgist – someone who works to recreate remembered experiences for the elderly – they would tell them that nostalgists must have a love of history and an eye for historical detail.
Or, if the student was more interested in cyborg psychology, the adviser might let them know that to help people who have synthetic organs, robotic limbs and body implants come to terms with the changes to their bodies, they’d need to develop their listening and oral communication skills.
Other jobs that formed the list included chief ethics officers, employed by large companies to ensure they’re being genuinely ethical in their practices; space tourism operators, tasked with taking shuttle-loads of tourists into orbit to visit space stations; swarm artists, who use hundreds of drones moving in formation to create performances; and trendwatcher, who will know what is likely to happen next and how to make the most of it.
“Within the job descriptions there is optimism about possibilities for future human and community lives, but also warnings, for instance, about privacy issues, sustainability challenges and what needs to be in place to tackle these,” the report’s authors wrote. “There are also challenges for how we think of ourselves in relation to ever more complex, personal machines that will increasingly become central to our lives.”
They added that there have been few times in history when the future of work has been less like the past.
In the future, relationships are likely to be as important as what is produced and while “in the past, when you became something you were known as that type of worker, in the future people are likely to go on becoming new versions of themselves as they continuously learn new skills”.
A Swinburne University student adviser has been swamped with offers to help look after four chickens he adopted for one of the student residences.
Civil engineering and business student Trent Williams set up the ‘Res Pets’ initiative to help foster a better sense of community for those living on campus and make newcomers feel more at home.
Williams said students previously lacked outdoor activity and interaction with animals.
“The idea came from my rural background and growing up around animals,” he explained.
“We thought the inclusion of chickens would promote the sense of community within the student residences by encouraging the students to be more responsible, connect with one another, and get outside and be active.
“In turn, this would benefit the students’ mental health, while also making the student residences feel more homely, particularly as many of the students are from the countryside.”
Swinburne resident adviser Trent Williams with one of the chickens. Perhaps Rowan. Perhaps not. Photo: Swinburne University
Williams helped set up groups of students to look after the chickens on a rotating weekly basis. Tasks include cleaning the coop, topping up the chickens’ water, feeding them and collecting eggs.
He said he had a “tremendous” amount of offers from those hoping to help care for the animals.
While three of the chicken are yet to be named, one has been called Rowan, after Swinburne’s associate director of student housing and finance Rowan Tan.
“Without Rowan Tan’s support we would not have been able to make this happen, so it was only fitting we named one of the chickens in honour of her,” said Williams.
The students will run a competition to name the other chickens, which they hope will help fund the Student Residences Ball.
Imagine you are at least halfway through your degree (93 per cent for me) and your university decides to spring on you that you now have to complete another hurdle before you are allowed to graduate. Not work. Graduate. Well that is exactly what universities, in collaboration with the government, have done to thousands of student teachers across the country.
That ridiculous thinking consists of letting us enter our teaching degrees and then throwing us a large curveball. That large curveball is two tests that involve money and added stress. That large curveball does not take into consideration that we got accepted into these degrees in the first place. That large curveball essentially looks to test what we were taught at school, which has no relevance to how we are as teachers. Does this truly make sense?
In my education course, the emphasis was to focus on the individual learner in the classroom. The emphasis was on how they learn better. Are they a visual learner, a kinaesthetic learner, an auditory learner, etc? Yet, here they are giving us standardised tests. Standardised testing and personalised learning are the antithesis of each other. Hypocritical much?
Shouldn’t the focus be on the actual education system? It should not be on some random, useless tests that, according to my messages with Simon Birmingham, measure my personal numeracy and literacy skills.
In an email from the Victorian Department of Education and Training in February of 2018, I was told I had to sit and pass the LANTITE prior to graduation. Sounds easy enough to pass, right? Pass as in 50 per cent. The halfway mark. The mid-point. In the next paragraph I was told that my personal numeracy and literacy has to be in the top 30 per cent of the population. So, which one is it? Pass or top 30 per cent of adults? As our scores are scaled, how do we know whether our own personal numeracy and literacy is up to standard or not? By scaling our results, doesn’t that then indirectly set us up to continually fail? Since there are no scores on the document of results, how do we know our true results? Therefore, there is no concrete evidence to ascertain whether each of us “failed” or not. Also, I must ask: Since when do standardised tests equate to the implementation of knowledge? At best, a standardised test is synonymous with rote learning. In our education degrees, we were taught to focus on personalised learning, which is the antithesis of rote. So, which one should we, the educators, be focusing on?
In April 2018 I sent Simon Birmingham, the Minister for Education and Training, a Facebook message about my dilemma. He replied: “It is important to note that the test examines an initial teacher education student’s personal literacy and numeracy skills, not their ability to teach these skills to school students.” Huh? OK. Let me get this straight. These tests should measure our personal numeracy and literacy skills, not what we can teach in the classroom. Am I missing something? If they don’t measure anything of value in the classroom, which they do not, why are we wasting approximately $93 for each test? We are all in education programs to work as educators, so if these tests do not measure our ability to teach, what is the point of them? OK, someone help me. I think I am really missing something here. Education degree – educator. Test = how good our teachers taught us. Again, what is the point of testing us on material that does not measure our ability to deduce the way our students learn best and thus plan accordingly? As one student wrote, these tests do not measure our ability to teach students concepts like nouns and verbs. Despite my own personal numeracy not being great – according to these tests – I successfully managed to teach students various multiplication strategies.
On a Facebook page dedicated to the LANTITE, many student teachers are at a loss as to what to do next since many (myself included) will have wasted years of effort and money for a degree they will not receive. One student teacher was kicked out by her university for not meeting whatever requirement needed, despite having only one subject left. Many students felt confused after they completed their third attempt (which used to be the maximum, but now it has changed to five). Many students cannot continue with their placements because they have not “succeeded”. One student wrote: “Ours tacked the LANTITE onto our third year prac from this year. It has become an assessment piece, you don’t get your grade for the whole subject until you pass all assessable components. Therefore, you also can’t proceed to the 4th/5th prac as the others are pre-requisite and of course we [can] not graduate.”
Again, what a complete waste of time. One student commented their efforts were now “useless”. If they are now deemed useless, can we get HECS refunds please as we did not graduate and are not able to work? I was of the opinion that the government wanted a better education system. An article in The Australian from 2016 notes that the LANTITE was the brainchild of the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group (TEMAG), which was founded in 2014. According to website education.gov.au, TEMAG issued a 2015 report that highlighted the need for a difficult selection process for education courses. I am assuming the LANTITE falls into this category. Sadly, what TEMAG fails to comprehend is that teaching is more than a test. TEMAG and thus the government is equating the standard of who I am as an educator with whether or not I can meet an apparent standard on a test, thus encapsulating the entire teaching profession to marks on a piece of paper.
In a 2015 paper, University of Southern Queensland Senior Lecturer Stewart Riddlle noted that the demonstration of basic grammar skills on a test and the ability to teach literacy within the classroom do not have any relationship with each other. If, as Simon Birmingham states, it is about personal literacy and numeracy, how in the world does that relate to being inside a classroom? Riddle (2015) states that “reducing the complex work of teaching to performance on a test… only works for those wanting a fast headline and political advances”. Boy, is he right!
A 2018 article by Melissa Barnes, a Monash University lecturer in Education, and Russell Cross, a Melbourne University Associate Professor in Education, states that there is no evidence to suggest a correlation between the tests and excellent teachers. They also note that, as a policy initiative, the LANTITE suggests that the selection of students into educational programs is the first step to ensure a higher teacher quality. In that case, why were we all accepted into the programs by universities? Shouldn’t the LANTITE, if there is substantial proof that it creates better teachers (so far there is not), be administered to incoming teaching students, not those of us who have spent years working towards being able to teach only to be told that there is another hurdle? This hurdle essentially means that many universities around the country are holding many of our deserved degrees hostage. To be fairly blunt, ensuring a higher quality of teachers will not come from a test or two. Teaching is apparently a highly valuable profession and yet many are overworked and unbelievably underpaid. How about start there?
What I do not understand is how meeting some benchmark on two standardised tests automatically proves that a person is qualified to teach. Meeting marks on tests does not take into consideration any of the 37 professional teaching standards of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL).
The 7 Main Standards, which are further categorised into a total of 37, are as follows: 1. Know students and how they learn, 2. Know the content and how to teach it, 3. Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning, 4. create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments, 5. Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning, 6. Engage in professional learning and finally, 7. Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community. How are any of these standards depicted in the standardised tests, which apparently prove an individual is ready to teach?
A quote that is attributed to Albert Einstein is “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is.” Along with this quote is the cartoon image of a monkey, a penguin, an elephant, a fish, a seal and a dog all standing in a line. In front of them is a teacher sitting at a desk telling them to take the same test, in this case, climbing the tree behind them. This exquisite image is, in a nutshell, the education system in this country. Standardised testing works apparently, above all else, despite the fact that in our degrees we are told to cater to the individual learner in the classroom. Again, which one is it? Standardised testing or personalised learning? The government can’t have both. Having your cake and eating it too just does not work. Trust me, I have tried. The double standards here actually prove one thing: that the government and the universities are absolutely clueless in that they have no idea what they are doing. As far as I am concerned, this is purely a money-making exercise by the government. It never was about producing better teachers. It is a facade.
Mihad Ali is a Master of Teaching student who lives in Victoria. She is currently a teacher’s aide at an aftercare school program. She hopes to graduate soon and fulfil her dream of becoming a teacher.
New analysis has highlighted a 6 per cent decline in government-funded VET students across Australia between 2015 and 2018, sparking concerns about the state of the sector.
However, two jurisdictions bucked the trend by showing growth, analysis by Claire Field and Associates shows. Her findings follow the release of the latest National Centre for Vocational Education and Research (NCVER) report.
New South Wales, for instance, posted a growth of 26 per cent over the same period. In 2015 there were 318,375 government-funded VET students in the state studying at TAFE as well as ‘other’ providers. The figure jumped significantly to 421, 095 the following year before falling back to 390,945 in 2017. In 2018, government-funded VET students in NSW increased again to 400, 890.
Annual 1.9% decline in government-funded VET is not the most worrying figure. There’s been a 6% decline since 2015 – which includes growth in NSW of 26%. Excluding NSW the overall decline was 18% @NCVER@TafeDirectors@ITECAust
The ACT was also another standout jurisdiction in terms of government-funded students. In a similar vein to NSW, the ACT posted solid numbers in 2015 (16, 275) before experiencing a decrease the following year. Government-funded VET student numbers increased again in the following years, with 17,745 such students in the ACT in 2018.
New figures from @ncver show another annual decline in the VET sector. Student numbers down 1.9 per cent in 2018, with new enrolments falling 5.7 per cent. Business wants urgent action to boost the ailing sector. https://t.co/vWsywCzR0c
All other states and territories recorded declines in student numbers, with Victoria recording a whopping 26 per cent decrease.
Last year an estimated 1.1 million students in Australia were enrolled in a government-funded VET course. The NCVER report also found that overall subject enrolments dropped by 5.7 per cent between 2017 and 2018 and hours and full-time training equivalents decreased by 6.4 per cent over the same period.
All the more reason that #FreeTAFE in Victoria is so important
Looking forward to a significant boost in Victorian #VET numbers for 2019
Our two-million-year-old ancestors continually breastfed infants from birth until they were about one year old, an analysis of teeth has revealed.
Led by Southern Cross University and Monash University, the international team behind the study looked at teeth from Australopithecus africanus, which hailed from what was likely a somewhat harsh limestone landscape in South Africa.
Study contributor Professor Andy Herries, head of La Trobe University’s Archaeology and History Department, said the research potentially shows that living in these environments was difficult for our early ancestors, particularly as the climate began to change around 2.3 to 2 million years ago. The species faced long alternating periods of abundance and scarcity of nutritious food. And it wasn’t long until Australopithecus africanus was extinct.
Artist’s impression of Australopithecus africanus mother and infant Image: Garcia and Renaud Joannes-Boyau
It was those tough conditions that caused mothers to supplement gathered foods with breastmilk, explained geochemist Dr Renaud Joannes-Boyau, from the Geoarchaeology and Archaeometry Research Group at Southern Cross University.
We are what we eat
As teeth are the only part of the human skeleton that has direct contact with the environment and form through incremental layers of enamel and dentine, the authors said they are particularly valuable for reconstructing biological events from an individual’s early life.
Chemical signatures locked in the teeth reveal what young fossil humans were eating from day to day, month to month, explained Dr Alistair Evans, an expert in hominin palaeoecology at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI).
To release the information about our ancestor’s consumption, the researchers used specialised laser sampling techniques to vaporise microscopic parts of the tooth’s surface that could be analysed for chemical signatures.
One of the trace elements the team zeroed in on was barium, as previous research has shown that the levels of barium in teeth correspond with increases in mother’s milk intake and slowly decreases during weaning.
Published in the journal Nature, the study found that barium, along with lithium and strontium, increased for the first year after birth and then continued in a cyclical pattern in the child’s early years.
University of New England Professor Stephen Wroe, a collaborator on the study, said this switching on and off of milk supply to sustain offspring when times were tough reveals mothers developed strong and persistent relationships with their children.
Dr Luca Fiorenza, an expert in the evolution of human diet at Monash BDI, said that finding makes researchers rethink the social organisations among our earliest ancestors.
The team will now turn their attention to species that evolved after 2 million years to develop the first comprehensive record of how infants were raised throughout the extinction of Australopithecus and the first occurrence of Homo.
New insight into the way our ancestors raised their young - YouTube
There are many fad and buzz words in the higher education sphere. Most recently the terms authentic learning and authentic assessment have been spruiked as essential to good pedagogy. But what is authentic assessment and do we need it in higher education? The short answer is yes. However, it is more complex than it first appears.
Authentic assessment aims to provide students with the replication of tasks they will complete in “industry”, which in itself is a very broad term. Does this mean the tourism industry, auto industry, fashion industry, or some other yet to be defined industry for Gen Z graduates (born after 1995)? In addition, given the relatively new focus on authentic assessment, does this mean that what we have previously provided students was inherently inauthentic assessment? Hopefully not.
Yet, while providing a real-world context for assessment appears logical, the continued dominance of essays and exams across many disciplines suggests we have a way to go in terms of “authenticity”.
Authentic assessment and student engagement
In addition to forging stronger industry knowledge, authentic assessment is heralded as the answer to dwindling student engagement in higher education, especially for on-campus learners. Indeed, attendance at most universities has dropped significantly as technology provides students with the flexibility of studying from home, on the train or even at the beach or pub.
Authentic assessment is the application of “real world” tasks that enable students to demonstrate the attainment of new knowledge and skills within an educational context. There is growing evidence that authentic assessment can enhance student engagement and learning outcomes. This assessment can come in a variety of forms, including simulation of a discipline-relevant task, conducting field research, or pitching an idea to industry, academics or peers.
The role of “Industry”
Most definitions of authentic assessment claim that having links to industry, and even co-creation of assessment, enables more authentic assessment. Yet, this in itself creates issues in terms of quality and academic rigour and compliance, as employers are usually unaware of tertiary education standards or the importance of curriculum mapping. It is arguable that most industry training is better suited to the vocational education sector rather than higher education, where more lofty aims are postulated.
This said, there can be little argument that the workforce of tomorrow will be more volatile and complex than that of today, signifying the importance of strengthening industry engagement. It is argued that more active involvement with industry provides students with a taste of the future that awaits them outside of university, and therefore better prepares them for the future world of work.
Is authentic assessment the “cure” for student cheating?
Despite earlier claims by some that implementing authentic assessment will mean cheating will be non-existent, we now understand this is not entirely true. Authentic assessment can help reduce the likelihood of plagiarism and contract cheating, however, it does not provide a silver bullet.
Although authentic assessment is widely recognised as an important feature of good assessment design, even the most authentic and personalised assessment task can still be outsourced. As previous scholars have suggested, what is important is that the motivation and opportunity to cheat is minimised. The best thing we as academics can do to reduce student cheating is to design engaging, and perhaps even fun, assessment tasks where the inherent value in completing that task is obvious to the student.
Developing a shared understanding of authentic assessment
Authentic assessment has the potential to benefits all parties, including students, teachers, administrators and ultimately employers. However, a clear understanding of what authentic assessment is, and how to successfully implement it throughout a degree, is needed.
Importantly, this involves a recognition that authentic assessment occurs on a continuum and that there are degrees of authenticity. Indeed, not all assessment tasks must involve working directly on an outcomes-based project for an industry partner. Not only would this be a logistical nightmare, given the number of units in a degree, but it would also be difficult to accomplish given the number of students in some units. It is also unfair to expect first year students to be able to produce work that is of an acceptable standard for industry. After all, this is what they are at university to learn, otherwise they would most likely be employed already.
Instead, other forms of authentic assessment such as case studies using real-world data, analysis of recent media articles, or the development of role-play scenarios, may be more appropriate. To embrace authentic learning, teachers need to better understand the opportunities and limitations of authentic assessment and be prepared to move away from the comfort of more traditional assessment tasks. Universities and administrators need to support teachers who want to create innovative and authentic assessment tasks that motivate and engage students. This means providing time, technical support services, professional development opportunities and potentially even financial support to staff.
At the same time, industry needs to understand the broader objectives of higher education, around skills development, communication, problem-solving etc. and work within the existing regulatory frameworks that govern the quality of higher education courses. Students, too, need to understand the benefits of more authentic assessment, and realise that not every assessment will be an exact replication of what they will (hopefully) be doing upon graduation. Some tasks will help to develop more generic skills, such as communication and team-work skills.
If all stakeholders understand and commit to their role of engaging with authentic assessment, then the potential benefits for all parties, including society, will be realised.
Dr Ryan Jopp has co-ordinated a range of undergraduate, postgraduate, and online units at various institutions, across the fields of management, tourism and marketing. After completing his PhD in 2012, he has had several articles published in top-rated journals and has presented his findings at international conferences. In his role as Academic Director at Swinburne University, he is responsible for ensuring quality and consistency of course delivery. He has also developed his research in scholarship of teaching and learning, particularly relating to authentic learning and assessment.
Hi and welcome to another Campus Review weekly roundup of the top news stories we covered this week. I’m Wade Zaglas, the education editor. All stories can be found on our site, campusreview.com.au. You can either read this summary or listen to the podcast below.
A Four Corners report on alleged links between two Australian universities and China’s ‘re-education’ camps hit the headlines this week. The explosive report revealed that the University of Technology Sydney and Curtin University were reviewing their research funding and approval procedures over concerns research associated with both was being employed in detecting and detaining ethic minority groups in Xinjiang, China.
Both universities condemned the alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang and denied any links.
Associate Professor James Leibold from La Trobe University, an expert in ethnic minority groups in China, urged Australian universities to sever any links they have with the Chinese Communist Party.
“I think UTS and other universities here in Australia that have connections with any party state company, particularly in the military or security sector, needs to end those contracts, and to pull out of those collaborative arrangements,” Leibold told Four Corners.
This week the Grattan Institute revealed it will be ending its Higher Education Program, which is as old as the institute itself. The decision coincides with the departure of program director Andrew Norton, who will leave the institute in September.
The Higher Education Program contributed significantly to the policy directions of the sector over the years and offered practical solutions and recommendations to improve it.
Reflecting on Andrew Norton’s time at as the institute, Grattan CEO John Daley said: “Andrew [Norton] is truly irreplaceable, and in view of his departure Grattan has made the difficult decision not to extend the Higher Education Program further.”
Finally, another set of international rankings was released last week – the Times Higher Education Reputation Rankings. Australian universities doubled their representation in the rankings this year, with six Australian institutions ranking in the top 100.
The University of Melbourne was our top performer this this year, securing equal 44th – three spots higher than last year. The University of Sydney, ANU, Monash, UQ and the University of New South Wales also secured top 100 spots.
The Reputation Rankings is based on an invitation-only survey of more than 10,000 leading academics from 135 countries. The questionnaire asks each respondent to list the top 15 universities for teaching and the top 15 universities for research.
And that’s another weekly roundup for Campus Review.
The Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings for 2019 have been released, with six Australian universities securing a top 100 ranking – doubling its representation since last year.
The University of Melbourne was Australia’s highest ranked institution this year, coming in equal 44th with the Georgia Institute of Technology in the US and the University of Hong Kong. The university has improved its reputation ranking since last year, rising three spots.
The University of Sydney (USYD) also ranked well this year, securing a spot in the 61-70 band with other well-known universities such as Michigan State University and the University of Southern California. Australia National University (ANU) achieved a 71-80 ranking, while Monash University, the University of Queensland (UQ) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) all ranked in the 91-100 band.
US universities continued to dominate the reputation rankings, with 42 institutions in the top 100. Harvard University took out the top spot for a second year in a row, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University. The University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford ranked fourth and fifth respectively this year.
The Reputation Rankings is based on an invitation-only survey of more than 10,000 leading academics from 135 countries. The questionnaire asks each respondent to list the top 15 universities for teaching and the top 15 universities for research.
“This outcome is a great tribute to our academic and professional staff who are doing so much to lift the performance of the University in education and research,” Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at USYD Professor Duncan Ivison said.
“In the past few years, we’ve undertaken some of the biggest reforms in a century to both our curriculum and our research approach; and it’s starting to pay off.”
The Grattan Institute is to end its Higher Education Program, coinciding with the departure of the program’s director Andrew Norton in September.
The program has been around as long as Grattan has, launching eight years ago, with Norton its leader for the entirety of its impressive run.
“Andrew [Norton] is truly irreplaceable, and in view of his departure Grattan has made the difficult decision not to extend the Higher Education Program further,” said Grattan CEO John Daley.
Reports produced under program, funded for the first four years by The Myer Foundation, contributed substantially to discourse on and action around the higher education sector. While little original data was produced, its work was valued by various stakeholders for its synthesis of existing research. Offering practical applications through clear policy recommendations, it became a leading voice on what the status quo looked like, and how it should change.
With an annual budget of just $5 million, it’s influence on policymakers is not to be sniffed at.
“For the past eight years anybody interested in Australian higher education policy has come to be highly reliant on the work of Andrew Norton in his role as the Grattan Institute’s higher education program director,” wrote the Australian’s Education Editor Tim Dodd.
“The secret to [the program’s] success is that its people not only do the work but they also present it in readable reports that any interested person who is not necessarily an expert in the field can grasp,” Dodd continues.
“That is something universities – which seek to make an impact in public debate – frequently forget.”
Published reports cover research funding, as well as student fees, debt and drop-out rates. It advocated for a 15% loan fee on HELP, and asked universities to be more upfront with prospective students about the risks of enrolment
Mapping Australian Higher Education, a review of the sector published five times over the eight years, will be remembered as a particularly useful resource.
There’s no word on where Norton’s headed next, but one suspects his time in higher education isn’t over yet.