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Emma McKeon, Alicia Coutts, Brittany Elmslie and Bronte Barratt after winning the 4x200m Freestyle Final. Emma and Brittany are also undergraduate students at Griffith University. Emma McKeon, Alicia Coutts, Brittany Elmslie and Bronte Barratt after winning the 4x200m Freestyle Final. Emma and Brittany are also undergraduate students at Griffith University. Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Nail it or fail it – how student athletes juggle sport and study

Australia sent 417 athletes to the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games – its largest ever contingent – and based on our 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympic Games competitors, around 40% are university students…
With true market competition, universities will have a new purpose to fulfil. With true market competition, universities will have a new purpose to fulfil. mirsasha/Flickr

Pay up: the market forces about to hit universities

The debate about opening Australian universities to competition has so far been dominated by discussions about fees. While this is of particular interest to students whose education will receive a smaller…
Spreading growth around. Spreading growth around. The_Virgo/Paul Callan

Deploy universities to fix England’s regional divide

Imbalances in the share of growth across the regions continue to be deep-rooted, the Office of National Statistics has confirmed. By 2012, the South East was the only region that had only just crept ahead…
Don’t blame the timetable. Don’t blame the timetable. non-partizan

Explainer: what is the maths behind an exam timetable?

Sweaty-palmed and reciting facts over and over in their heads, the hordes of university and school students sitting down to exams this month will have precious little time to think about how their exam…
One more coffee, then we’ll get our £1m idea. One more coffee, then we’ll get our £1m idea. jisc_infonet

Why universities are the best places to start a business

Creative ideas and how we turn them into successful business ventures and social enterprises are vital to the UK’s global competitiveness. But how do we best support this? Of course there are many different…
Gerry Adams, flanked by Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, speaking after his release from custody on May 4. Gerry Adams, flanked by Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, speaking after his release from custody on May 4. Brian Lawless/PA

Gerry Adams arrest: when is it right for academics to hand over information to the courts?

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams was arrested by the Police Service of Northern Ireland for questioning over an abduction and murder committed in Belfast in 1972. He maintains his innocence and after four…
We got credentialised! We got credentialised! climbnh2003

The box-ticking future of a university education

Among the many changes currently sweeping through US public universities is a move away from traditional seat-time in class. Known as “competency-based education”, it is often done online, asking students…
Now, write an essay on the Pre-Raphaelites. Now, write an essay on the Pre-Raphaelites. Ellieboat via flickr

Arts A Levels need to be tougher for universities to accept them

As part of the recent announcement that A Levels and GCSEs in arts subjects in England are to be made more “rigorous and demanding”, the secretary of state for education, Michael Gove, said he was “passionate…
I’m doing a straw poll. How much would you pay? I’m doing a straw poll. How much would you pay? Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive

Universities need more than a pledge to reduce student fees

I’m an unabashed political junkie. Who’s up, who’s down; who’s in, who’s out. Yet it’s fair to say that pretty much all the day-to-day policy spinning, posturing and firefighting rarely percolates outside…
Headaches ahead. Headaches ahead. Tired businessman image

New standards could make university finances appear at risk

Winning large research and capital grants could soon bring unwanted headaches for UK universities along with all the acclaim. From the next academic year, their accountants will be expected to adopt new…
If we want to open up the university campus further to a wider community,we could start with removing the physical barriers to people flows. If we want to open up the university campus further to a wider community,we could start with removing the physical barriers to people flows. www.shutterstock.com.au

Rethinking an inclusive university campus

With technology changing the landscape of higher education, The Conversation is running a series “Re-imagining the Campus” on the future of campus learning. Here, Tom Kvan explores how design should make…
Why aren’t there more black professors? Why aren’t there more black professors? bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock

There are fewer than 100 black professors in Britain – why?

It is a shocking statistic that there were just 85 black professors in UK universities in 2011-12. In stark terms, this means that there are more higher education institutions than there are black British…
Higher standards. Higher standards. shutterstock

Facing up to the C word – corruption in higher education

By definition, corruption is any type of deviation from an ideal. Ideals, as well as ideas, are core business for higher education. So when we fall short it matters. Reputation is becoming ever more important…
Lost in translation. Lost in translation. Gwenaël Piaser

We need to fall back in love with learning languages

The drop in applications to European language programmes at UK universities will not have come as a great shock to anybody teaching languages. For at least the past 15 years, the number of students applying…
Laden with bad economics. Laden with bad economics. thisisbossi

Why the government shouldn’t privatise the student loan book

The announcement that the government intends to sell off part of the student loan book is perhaps no surprise, but it is bad economics. Debt from student loans is currently a groaning £46.6 billion on…
How many R&D teams does it take to fix a lightbulb? How many R&D teams does it take to fix a lightbulb? ed_needs_a_bicycle

Business drops the baton in higher ed innovation

There is a tired old mantra that periodically echoes along the corridors of Whitehall. It goes something like: “The UK is great at science but poor at turning it into innovation”. Yet since the Conservative…
Xu Zhiyong, jailed for four years. for inciting public disorder. Xu Zhiyong, jailed for four years. for inciting public disorder. Wikimedia Commons

China’s war on thought is being waged in Western universities

In the past decade, US and UK universities have embarked on a program of developing formal relationships, exchanges, and partnerships with their counterparts in China. No scholar interested in promoting…
Chalk and talk maths classes are not going to cut it for modern students. Chalk and talk maths classes are not going to cut it for modern students. Maths image from www.shutterstock.com

Who learns in maths classes depends on how maths is taught

Students who are ill-prepared in mathematics are entering university and creating challenges for mathematics departments. There are lots of ideas out there on what to do about this but little evidence…
So says Universities UK, anyway. So says Universities UK, anyway. Tavallai

Segregation and censorship on campus must not be tolerated

While mourning the loss of Nelson Mandela, many are also celebrating the staggering achievement of those who struggled with to overthrow apartheid in South Africa. Lest we forget, apartheid means separation…
Gloomy outlook for free speech. Gloomy outlook for free speech. ucloccupation

Policing on campus is a brazen attack on free speech

Relations between student protesters and police in universities have broken down. From demonstrations demanding that “cops stay off campus” to protests against the heavy-handed way in which students have…
Australia should adopt a US program that brings students into prisons to learn with prisoners. Australia should adopt a US program that brings students into prisons to learn with prisoners. Prison image from www.shutterstock.com

Inside out: why we need to bring students and prisoners together

Over the past 15 years, a criminal justice professor in Philadelphia named Lori Pompa has quietly grown an innovative education program that brings together university students to learn alongside prisoners…
If this isn’t acceptable, why would gender segregation on campus be? If this isn’t acceptable, why would gender segregation on campus be?

Segregation on campus is never OK, whoever makes the rules

I don’t like to take off my shoes in the house. Where I grew up, this was considered “uncultured”. These days, with clean, fragrant carpeting and super-polished hard wood floors, or for reasons of culture…
Some have suggested there’s a rise in the use of so called ‘smart drugs’ – but how much do we know about their use and effects? Some have suggested there’s a rise in the use of so called ‘smart drugs’ – but how much do we know about their use and effects? Brain image from www.shutterstock.com

Drugs for grades: the realities of academic doping

The use of drugs to improve academic performance goes by a number of names – “academic doping”, “cosmetic neurology”, “neuroenhancement”. A recent survey suggested that Australian university students are…
Take your pick. Social scientists have got skills galore. Take your pick. Social scientists have got skills galore. Erich Kesse

‘Lazy’ social scientists? Just what your business needs

A report by the Campaign for Social Science is challenging some tired stereotypes about social scientists. As The i reported, social science graduates are defying the “layabout myth”. The report “What…
Doing a PhD can feel pretty lonely but online social platforms are here to help. Doing a PhD can feel pretty lonely but online social platforms are here to help. PhD image from www.shutterstock.com

Doing a PhD can be a lonely business but it doesn’t have to be

Completing a PhD is no small feat. It requires both high intellect and a great deal of tenacity. But it can be lonely at the top, with many PhD students struggling with stress, feelings of isolation and…
Media studies is on offer at top-tier universities. Media studies is on offer at top-tier universities. wayneandwax

Top universities teach media studies, so why brief against it?

Media studies gets a hard time in higher education and the top universities in the UK are not making things any easier by continuing to take a contradictory stance as they advise students on what to study…
Will philanthropy in Australia change because of the recent donation by Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest to Wes Australian universities. Will philanthropy in Australia change because of the recent donation by Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest to Wes Australian universities. Seed image from www.shutterstock.com

Of Forrests and acorns: philanthropic gift may seed other university giving

This week’s A$65 million pledge by Nicola and Andrew Forrest to all five West Australian universities alters the philanthropy landscape in Australia. The Forrests' donation comes less than a year after…
Will the hype around free high quality higher education last? Will the hype around free high quality higher education last? Online image from www.shutterstock.com

From MOOCs to HARVARDs: will online go mainstream?

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) draw a spectrum of responses. Should we be spruiking MOOCs? Spooked by MOOCs? Or hoping the hype will fade and the fad will pass? Most of us know the headlines. Free…
A prize for everyone in rankings season. A prize for everyone in rankings season. RichardTurnerPhotography

What rankings don’t tell you about university excellence

Autumn is the season for university rankings. We’ve already had the the Academic Ranking of World Universities, produced in Shanghai, the QS ranking and the Leiden Ranking. Now the Times Higher Education…
David Willetts: not blue enough. David Willetts: not blue enough. Policy Exchange

Where next for universities under Conservative reforms?

The Conservative Party is in Manchester for its annual conference, a gesture that some in the city view as a provocation. Such a view is informed by more than the historical irony that the Manchester Central…
The head of Newcastle University explains why we need to keep our universities open. The head of Newcastle University explains why we need to keep our universities open. University image from www.shutterstock.com

A Vice-Chancellor’s defence of the uncapped university system

As the new government settles in, there has been heated speculation around major changes to the higher education system. Education minister Christopher Pyne’s comments to the media have raised questions…
New education minister Christopher Pyne wants to review the Australian university system because of concerns about declining quality. New education minister Christopher Pyne wants to review the Australian university system because of concerns about declining quality. AAP/Julian Smith

Pyne’s higher education policy rethink should keep universities' doors open

On the surface, Australia’s fourth and fifth ministers for higher education for 2013 - Labor’s Kim Carr and the Coalition’s Christopher Pyne - have political views that are many miles apart. Even by the…
Finally! A UK MOOC can be mine. Finally! A UK MOOC can be mine. CollegeDegrees360

MOOCs open for business in the UK

Massive Open Online Courses landed in the UK today with the launch of FutureLearn, a project led by the Open University and including around 20 universities from the UK, Monash University in Australia…
Are mature students being put off study by higher fees? Are mature students being put off study by higher fees? uonottingham

Mature student numbers down 14% as higher tuition fees bite

A report published today by the Independent Commission on Fees shows that the number of mature students applying to study at university has fallen by 14% since the introduction of tuition fees of up to…
From massively open to really massively open. From massively open to really massively open. oxyman

Google and friends put the ‘open’ back into MOOCs

The entrance of Google into the Massive Open Online Courses market this week has the potential to reignite the spirit of openness that saw these alternative routes into higher education emerge in the first…
Unfair working conditions are nothing new in academia. Unfair working conditions are nothing new in academia. chancellorgriffin

Zero-hour contracts shame British universities

Further and higher education institutions have a long and ignoble history of employing staff on zero-hour contracts, so figures released last week by the University and College Union come as no surprise…
Not all pursuits can have their worthiness calculated in dollars and cents. Not all pursuits can have their worthiness calculated in dollars and cents. epSos.de

Guess who defines ‘waste’ in ARC-funded research

I doubt anyone truly believes governments are infinitely resourced. Even the most rabid, single-issue monomaniac can appreciate that to add public money from bucket X, it must come from bucket Y. So it’s…
Innovation is transforming the singular Australia idea of a university. Innovation is transforming the singular Australia idea of a university. Image from shutterstock.com

The Australian idea of a university

This is a transcript of the 2013 Newman Lecture delivered on Wednesday at Monash University’s Mannix College. Let me quote a much-respected contemporary Australian scholar and philosopher, Raimond Gaita…
Teaching skills: 5, Lab facilities: 3. This is no way to choose a university. Teaching skills: 5, Lab facilities: 3. This is no way to choose a university. stevedotcarter

Don’t fall into the rankings trap when assessing a university

The idea that we should audit universities is, in many respects, a good one. It can be used to keep them accountable and it can be a driver of change. University rankings – such as those offered by Times…
The stress of results day. The stress of results day. City of Stoke on Trent Sixth Form College

A Level results are in and the fight for students is heating up

The last-minute hunt for places on university courses that we call “clearing” begins today. The name takes on a particular irony this year for both school leavers and universities, because the situation…
Which self are you expressing when you vent online? Which self are you expressing when you vent online? west.m

140 thoughtless characters cost dear in academia

The censuring of an academic in the US for sending out an offensive tweet has led many university tweeters to pause for thought. Geoffrey Miller, an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University…
Australia has had a grand experiment in providing greater university access to disadvantaged students. Australia has had a grand experiment in providing greater university access to disadvantaged students. University graduates from www.shutterstock.com

Does equality come at the cost of quality in universities? Let’s look at the evidence

With a new leader at the helm, a new higher education minister and an election not too far away, university policy seems to be up in the air. Since starting his new portfolio, minister Kim Carr has floated…
A new report shows that universities that conduct a large amount of research aren’t necessarily better at teaching. A new report shows that universities that conduct a large amount of research aren’t necessarily better at teaching. Lecture image from www.shutterstock.com

Is university research good for teaching?

Australian higher education is dominated by its universities, and therefore by institutions that have dual teaching and research missions. There is a long debate about whether these two activities complement…
Universities just got a little more chilling … Universities just got a little more chilling … emdot

Spying on academics will not help fight terrorism

Universities in this country are under increased pressure to share information about the activities of students and staff whether for immigration purposes, in relation to activism on campus or even in…
Australian universities should look to the American university model of philanthropic funding. Australian universities should look to the American university model of philanthropic funding. Piggy bank image from www.shutterstock.com

Raising capital: the problem of philanthropy and funding in Australian universities

In the last few weeks, we have seen a number of universities begin to push for extra funding from Australian philanthropists. While this move to broaden the revenue base of universities is welcome, to…
The government is considering changing a fundamental part of its higher education policy – but does it need to? The government is considering changing a fundamental part of its higher education policy – but does it need to? University image from www.shutterstock.com

Searching for equity or excellence in universities – or is it just about the money?

The recent news that higher education minister Kim Carr may reconsider A$900 million worth of cuts imposed on universities at the expense of the demand-driven system for funding undergraduate places has…
Second tier universities should embrace the new university trajectory and avoid mimicking the traditions set by institutions such as Oxford. Second tier universities should embrace the new university trajectory and avoid mimicking the traditions set by institutions such as Oxford. Shutterstock

Why our ‘second tier’ universities are responsible for social and economic change

The modern Western university has five major historical trajectories, four of which were dominant for more than 400 years. But the fifth, while spanning no more than 50 years, has been a crucial driver…
MOOCs aren’t the answer to all higher education’s questions. MOOCs aren’t the answer to all higher education’s questions. Kanaka Menehune

MOOCs and the battle to open up higher education

Foundation essay: This article on the rise of massive open online courses by Martin Weller, Professor of Educational Technology at The Open University, is part of a series marking the launch of The Conversation…
New higher education minister Kim Carr is considering a rethink on the opening up of university places. New higher education minister Kim Carr is considering a rethink on the opening up of university places. AAP/Julian Smith

Should higher education student numbers be capped?

Australia may be going through higher education ministers at an extraordinary rate, but they seem determined to use their time in office. First Craig Emerson announced major funding cuts to universities…
Big promises, but has Grayling silenced his critics? Big promises, but has Grayling silenced his critics? Ian Scott

Grayling’s private college is a model of narrowing participation

Faculty and students at the New College of the Humanities can breathe a sigh of relief – they have survived their first year. For some, AC Grayling’s private undergraduate college is a pioneering project…
Traditionally, students took exams on site at a university. But how does assessment work with online courses? Traditionally, students took exams on site at a university. But how does assessment work with online courses? Exam image from www.shutterstock.com

Proving knowledge by degrees: MOOCs and the challenge of assessment

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have certainly got higher education folks talking. These free online courses, often from prestigious universities, have prompted one obvious question: why should students…
Despite myths to the contrary, humanities graduates can enjoy their passions and look forward to job opportunities too. Despite myths to the contrary, humanities graduates can enjoy their passions and look forward to job opportunities too. Student image from www.shutterstock.com

Honing the mind and nurturing the soul: why the humanities are underrated

As a vice chancellor, I conducted many graduation ceremonies and welcomed scores of proud graduates to the fellowship of educated men and women. One regular feature of these ceremonies was a queue of students…
Measuring the impact of research in the real world sounds a bit impossible, but Australia is going to do it anyway. Measuring the impact of research in the real world sounds a bit impossible, but Australia is going to do it anyway. Research image from www.shutterstock.com

Research meets the real world – now comes the hard part

So you’re just recovering from the last ERA (Excellence for Research Australia) assessment? Dust yourself off, Excellence in Innovation for Australia (EIA) is heading our way. This is the new paradigm…
A longer academic year would have serious drawbacks for university students and staff. A longer academic year would have serious drawbacks for university students and staff. Academic image from www.shutterstock.com

Idle time? Why we don’t need a longer academic year

This week Coalition MP Alan Tudge wrote a piece in the Australian Financial Review calling for an end to the 26-week academic year. In his article, he said students were spending the remainder of their…
Universities Australia Chair Sandra Harding looks at the future of universities. Universities Australia Chair Sandra Harding looks at the future of universities. University image from www.shutterstock.com

National Press Club address: Sandra Harding on the future of universities

Professor Sandra Harding, the Universities Australia chair and Vice-Chancellor of James Cook University addressed the National Press Club in Canberra today. Here is a copy of her speech. In his novel set…
The recent cuts to universities are only likely to make the health problem growing in the academic community worse. The recent cuts to universities are only likely to make the health problem growing in the academic community worse. Stressed academic image www.shutterstock.com

Uni cuts will lead to health problems for academics

The consensus on the recent A$2.3 billion funding cuts to the tertiary sector is they will do more harm than good. Plenty of commentators foresee diminishing quality of teaching and research, possible…
There’s renewed debate around whether universities need to specialise in research or teaching. There’s renewed debate around whether universities need to specialise in research or teaching. University image from www.shutterstock.com

Research and teaching – what do we actually want Australian universities to do?

“We must give universities more freedom to focus on what they are good at… If that means that some universities want to focus significantly more on teaching, then they should confidently do so… Government…
The institution you come from shouldn’t be the main factor in research funding allocation. The institution you come from shouldn’t be the main factor in research funding allocation. Evaluation image from www.shutterstock.com

The best and rest: why we should fund ‘average’ research

Increasingly, it’s not the quality of the research or researcher that is determining who gets funding in Australia’s universities but the reputation of the institutions they work for. This is now reflected…
A university event where women and men were asked to sit separately raises more questions. A university event where women and men were asked to sit separately raises more questions. Islamic women image from www.shutterstock.com

The real story behind Melbourne University’s gender segregation case

The fallout from an event at the University of Melbourne where women and men were asked to sit separately has been intense. The media coverage so far has focused on the issue of segregated seating in a…
Tertiary education minister Craig Emerson yesterday announced significant changes to higher education funding. Tertiary education minister Craig Emerson yesterday announced significant changes to higher education funding. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Should universities suffer to pay for school funding?

Anyone believing new tertiary education minister Craig Emerson was just minding the higher education shop until the election has been proved wrong by this weekend’s announcement of funding cuts. About…
Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University, Sir Leszek Borysiewicz talks with one of our academic experts about the changing role of universities. Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University, Sir Leszek Borysiewicz talks with one of our academic experts about the changing role of universities. Cambridge University

Leszek Borysiewicz and Lynn Meek In Conversation – full transcript

To listen to the conversation between Leszek Borysiewicz and Lynn Meek, please see the link below. An edited transcript is available here. Lynn Meek: Hello, I’m Professor Lynn Meek from the LH Martin Institute…
Universities do have a role to play in helping developing countries. Universities do have a role to play in helping developing countries. University image from www.shutterstock.com

Universities and the poorest billion

The following is based on the Monash Richard Larkins Oration given by Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University last night in Melbourne. You can read and listen to our In…
There’s lots of “problems” to be fixed in education, but what does the evidence say? There’s lots of “problems” to be fixed in education, but what does the evidence say? Teacher image from www.shutterstock.com

Millions wasted in education? That’s not what the evidence says

Over recent years we have seen a wave of angst about Australia’s school education. The complex issue of teacher quality is, of course, part of the equation, but state governments are also concerned that…
What should students really expect after doing a PhD? What should students really expect after doing a PhD? PhD image from www.shutterstock.com

Are PhD graduates expecting too much?

When it comes to PhD graduates, it’s clear that supply now far outstrips demand. It used to be that doing a PhD almost guaranteed you an academic position but now, any guarantees are long gone. My own…
Australian universities need to trim down their bureaucracies. Australian universities need to trim down their bureaucracies. University image from www.shutterstock.com

Reform Australian universities by cutting their bureaucracies

Universities drive a knowledge economy, generate new ideas and teach people how to think critically. Anything other than strong investment in them will likely harm Australia. But as Australian politicians…
New tests could be in store for trainee teachers to demonstrate their emotional intelligence. New tests could be in store for trainee teachers to demonstrate their emotional intelligence. Emotions image from www.shutterstock.com

Do we need emotional intelligence tests for teachers?

With the newly announced federal government reforms to teacher training announced this week, emotional intelligence is now firmly on the agenda for trainee teachers. Under the proposed rules, prospective…
What is it that we’re trying to fix in teacher education? What is it that we’re trying to fix in teacher education? Teacher image from www.shutterstock.com

Teaching standards to fix a ‘crisis’ that doesn’t exist

The past week has been a tumultuous time for university education faculties. First the NSW government announced minimum entry requirements for teaching degrees, and then the federal government trumped…
The Coalition looks set to only tinker around the edges of higher education policy. The Coalition looks set to only tinker around the edges of higher education policy. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Decoding Tony Abbott’s plans for universities

What should universities expect from a Coalition government if Tony Abbott wins the September election? In his address to the Universities Australia conference in Canberra, the signals were fairly reassuring…
In his new role as tertiary education minister Chris Bowen said enroling more disadvantaged students would not drag down quality. In his new role as tertiary education minister Chris Bowen said enroling more disadvantaged students would not drag down quality. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Equality or quality? Measuring the effect of more uni students

Quality in education is something that seems so obvious - until you try to define it. This week the new Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research Chris Bowen said that “the quality…
A PhD is never easy but is there a way to make it easier? A PhD is never easy but is there a way to make it easier? Phd graduate image from www.shutterstock.com

A PhD by publication or how I got my doctorate and kept my sanity

Doing a PhD is a difficult business. Long hours, personal stress, institutional pressure to complete on time – and all this for what? Increasingly a PhD alone does not guarantee an academic career. We…
University textbooks are expensive for a reason. University textbooks are expensive for a reason. Textbook image from www.shuttestock.com

Required reading: here’s why textbooks are so expensive

Although student life at university is generally enjoyable, one aspect that blemishes the experience is the astronomical cost of textbooks. As many students head back to university this year, they can…
The future of higher education doesn’t look so bright. The future of higher education doesn’t look so bright. Higher education image from www.shutterstock.com

University 2060: the brave new world of higher education

Higher education, 2060: academics are out of a job. All the brand name universities have made all their courses free online, easily doing away with one side of the teaching and learning equation. Pretty…
Academics need to trying new teaching methods in introductory classes if they’re to engage students. Academics need to trying new teaching methods in introductory classes if they’re to engage students. Pirate image from www.shutterstock.com

Kill your Powerpoints and teach like a pirate

Despite my university title, I’ve always thought that someone, one day, will discover that I’m not a “real” academic. This hasn’t been helped by the fact that when it comes to teaching, I’m by no means…
Measuring the quality and impact of university research is notoriously difficult but it’s time to watch this space. Measuring the quality and impact of university research is notoriously difficult but it’s time to watch this space. Measuring image from www.shutterstock.com

The dawning of a new ERA: getting research measurement right

Before this morning’s release of the Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) report, the scheme’s champion Aidan Byrne flagged that it could soon be looking at more than just research quality. Measuring…
There are plenty of misunderstandings about what regional universities do, but they can play a big part in shaping Australia’s future in the knowledge economy. There are plenty of misunderstandings about what regional universities do, but they can play a big part in shaping Australia’s future in the knowledge economy. Flickr/WilLiao

Clever regional unis can form the backbone of a clever country

Most urban Australians don’t tend to think about regional Australia, and when they do it’s often hazy notions of a place blighted by natural disasters, economic gloom and declining population. But for…
NSW premier Barry O'Farrell needs to reform the law to give Sydney University more responsibility for its colleges. NSW premier Barry O'Farrell needs to reform the law to give Sydney University more responsibility for its colleges. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Why a solution to the St John’s scandal lies with Barry O’Farrell

Why is the University of Sydney powerless to stop bullying behaviour in what the public sees as “its colleges”? This has been a constant refrain in recent weeks as the controversy surrounding the behaviour…
President Barack Obama addressing a large crowd at University of Wisconsin – could he or his competitor Mitt Romney change higher education in Australia? President Barack Obama addressing a large crowd at University of Wisconsin – could he or his competitor Mitt Romney change higher education in Australia? EPA/Tannen Maury

Why the US election matters for Australian higher education

US presidential elections generally have little direct impact on Australia. And broadly speaking, this campaign is shaping up to be no different. Despite their ideological differences, Barack Obama and…
Take part in The Conversation’s Future of Higher Education symposium here. Take part in The Conversation’s Future of Higher Education symposium here. Online learning image from www.shutterstock.com

Live-stream: Future of Higher Education symposium

Five of our authors will today present their ideas on the future of higher education in a conversation with Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans. And you’re invited to take part. For two weeks our authors…
Universities campuses need to adapt to the new reality of mobile students and online education. Universities campuses need to adapt to the new reality of mobile students and online education. Flickr/Jill

The university campus of the future: what will it look like?

FUTURE OF HIGHER EDUCATION: We continue our series on the rise of online and blended learning and how free online courses are set to transform the higher education sector. Today Victoria University’s David…
Australian humanities subjects need to get on board with MOOCs and develop Australian voices in online learning. Australian humanities subjects need to get on board with MOOCs and develop Australian voices in online learning. World image from www.shutterstock.com

Deadset? MOOCs and Australian education in a globalised world

FUTURE OF HIGHER EDUCATION: We continue our series on the rise of online and blended learning and how free online courses are set to transform the higher education sector. Today Ruth Morgan looks at the…
Online learning has shown a better way to design courses. Online learning has shown a better way to design courses. University image from www.shutterstock.com

Radical rethink: how to design university courses in the online age

FUTURE OF HIGHER EDUCATION: The rise of online and blended learning and the development of free online courses is set to transform the higher education sector. We’ve asked our authors how to remake the…
Squeezing a thesis into three minutes sounds impossible. But it’s an important skill to learn. Squeezing a thesis into three minutes sounds impossible. But it’s an important skill to learn. Lecture image from www.shutterstock.com

A thesis in three minutes: making research accessible

Imagine condensing a thesis – which would normally take nine hours to read aloud – into a presentation just three minutes long. Today at the Australian and Trans-Tasman Three Minute Thesis competition…
Using technology to tackle plagiarism is important, but universities need to understand why students do it in the first place. Using technology to tackle plagiarism is important, but universities need to understand why students do it in the first place. Student image from www.shutterstock.com

Carrot or the stick? Technology and university plagiarism

Trying to control and prevent plagiarism is a problem for all universities, and nearly all universities these days use some kind of technology to combat it. But in a recent article on The Conversation…
Ranking universities is useful for only understanding the bigger picture. Ranking universities is useful for only understanding the bigger picture. University image from www.shutterstock.com

Limited numbers: what university rankings can (and can’t) tell us

The release of The Times Higher Education World University Rankings will be welcomed by many people in the Australian university sector. See the full list of The Times Higher Education World University…
Ah, excuse me, I’d like my money back. Ah, excuse me, I’d like my money back. University image from www.shutterstock.com

Are Australian universities being honest with their students?

Would you like to go to a university where “free thinkers from all over the world come together to make a difference” or, if you like getting to know people, you could go to a university where you can…
La Trobe’s Vice-Chancellor John Dewar defends his cuts to the humanities program. La Trobe’s Vice-Chancellor John Dewar defends his cuts to the humanities program. ABC News

Vice-Chancellor: La Trobe protestors abused freedom of speech

On Sunday, La Trobe University held its most successful Open Day ever, with more than 19,000 visitors. But the day was disrupted by student protests against recently announced changes to our Faculty of…
The pressure on academics is becoming too much, there needs to be cultural change. The pressure on academics is becoming too much, there needs to be cultural change. Stressed image from www.shutterstock.com

Cracks in the ivory tower: is academia’s culture sustainable?

The pressure is on. More and more universities and academics are working in a culture that is untenable and cracks in the ivory tower have already begun to appear. The work environment is now characterised…
By deliberately making false historical sources, students can learn to think more critically. By deliberately making false historical sources, students can learn to think more critically. Historical hoax image www.shutterstock.com

Teaching students to lie: historical method through hoaxes

What happens when you teach students how to lie? Answer: they become better historians. More than a decade ago, back in the days of Web 0.5, a student of mine submitted a generally well-written essay on…
The rise of open online courses will affect almost every part of higher education, including the international student market in Australia. The rise of open online courses will affect almost every part of higher education, including the international student market in Australia. AAP Image/Julian Smith

Online open education: yes, this is the game changer

Mass Open Online Courseware (MOOCs) is less than a year old but it is already clear this will be the game changer in higher education worldwide. Right now it is reverberating through Australian universities…
Education minister Peter Garrett along with his state counterparts have agreed upon some pretty big changes to teacher development. Education minister Peter Garrett along with his state counterparts have agreed upon some pretty big changes to teacher development. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Building a profession: teacher performance reviews not just about ‘bad teachers’

Finally, perhaps the time has come. The Australian Charter for the Professional Learning of Teachers and School Leaders and the Australian Teacher Performance and Development Framework, both signed off…
Art history is falling out of favour with universities but why? We need to look at the reasons behind this change. Art history is falling out of favour with universities but why? We need to look at the reasons behind this change. AAP Image/Warren Clarke

Falling for future-porn: the demise of art history and the rise of university marketing

The impending closure of art history at La Trobe University has drawn sharp criticism from academics. They have pointed out that students enjoy art history: it is economical, has enduring value and demonstrably…
Universities sell more than just lectures and lessons. Universities sell more than just lectures and lessons. Flickr/Butler University

When courses are free online, what’s left for universities to sell?

When some of the world’s most prestigious universities – including Harvard and MIT in their edX venture or Stanford and Princeton through Coursera – start putting courses online for free, it tells you…
Much like the development of the railway in the 19th century, the National Broadband Network (NBN) will transform our society. Much like the development of the railway in the 19th century, the National Broadband Network (NBN) will transform our society. Wikimedia Commons

How the NBN will change education: Australia’s “Last Spike” moment

When I grew up in Canada there was a famous painting on the wall of nearly every primary school classroom. It was called “The Last Spike” and it depicted the final railway track connection being hammered…
Entire universities may one day fit in students' pockets. Entire universities may one day fit in students' pockets. KidzConnect

Tech for teaching: five trends changing higher education

More than 1,000 years of formal university learning and teaching does not change quickly, or without a struggle. But we are starting to see some key tech trends engaging staff and students – and therein…
Students from the next generation are heading to university, how should we teach them? Students from the next generation are heading to university, how should we teach them? Flickr/iwouldstay

A lecture on the art of lecturing: A how-to guide to teaching young people

Narcissistic, lazy, and overly confident – this is the way some see the new generation of young people starting to go to our universities. According to teacher Lynn Van Der Wagan, who sparked an online…
Future students need more than rankings to make the best choice. Future students need more than rankings to make the best choice. AAP Image/Julian Smith

University ranking rankles: playing the prestige game

Australian universities compete with providers all over the globe. The stakes are high and it is hard to ignore world rankings. In The Conversation recently, however, University of Southern Queensland’s…
The global movement towards open access publishing has taken another step with the release of the Finch report. The global movement towards open access publishing has taken another step with the release of the Finch report. Flickr/liikennevalo

Finch inquiry’s open access tune won’t resonate in Australia

A committee convened to examine how UK-funded research could be made more accessible released its report this week. The committee, chaired by Dame Janet Finch, was set up last year by Minister for Universities…
There were protests against cuts to the ANU’s school of music, but the changes were sorely needed. There were protests against cuts to the ANU’s school of music, but the changes were sorely needed. Flickr/Orangedrummerboy

ANU music school cuts: Musicians need to keep in time

The current crisis at the ANU School of Music has widely been reported as being, fundamentally, about money. The Australian National University’s (ANU) Vice-Chancellor Ian Young has cut ten academic and…
All cut out to fit the same mould? We can’t assume that all universities are trying to be the same. All cut out to fit the same mould? We can’t assume that all universities are trying to be the same. Flickr/walterh

Universities can’t all be the same – it’s time we embraced diversity

James Cook University drew a lot of attention in the higher education sector recently by publicly “opting out” of the Times Higher Education (THE) World University rankings. Their reason was simple enough…
Universities are centres of research… but what kind of research? Universities are centres of research… but what kind of research? flickr/pcgn

A question universities need to answer: why do we research?

Fundamentally, there are two big motives for research. On the on hand there is intellectual ambition: the desire to know and understand the word, to appreciate the best that has been said and thought on…
The University of Western Sydney has a proud history. Now it must compete on the market. The University of Western Sydney has a proud history. Now it must compete on the market. Colt Group

National Press Club address: Glyn Davis on the quiet revolution in higher education

Can anyone recall why Monday 12 December 1983 was such a crucial date in Australian history? It was – of course – the day everything changed for the Australian economy. On that December morning the Australian…

Collegiality is dead in the new corporatised university

The collaborative spirit once embraced by universities in the pursuit of community service is giving way to confidentiality and secrecy as top-down managerialism takes hold, a conference on higher education…
When jobs are disappearing, why are we training more journalists? When jobs are disappearing, why are we training more journalists? flickr

Can journalism graduates get jobs?

It usually begins mid-way through their university career. My office begins to fill with panicked journalism students who have seen the dismal job vacancies in their field and are starting to think their…
The mining boom has protected Australia from ill economic winds but will not continue forever. The mining boom has protected Australia from ill economic winds but will not continue forever. AAP/Le May

Why 2012 will be a crucial year for Australia

2012 will be a critical time in our development as a nation with huge uncertainties in many areas both in Australia and globally. Over more than ten years we have lived through a remarkable mining boom…
Central Queensland University should reconsider its plans to offer a chiropractic degree. Central Queensland University should reconsider its plans to offer a chiropractic degree. Aidan Jones

There’s no place for pseudo-scientific chiropractic in Australian universities

It’s difficult enough to counter the massive amount of misleading information provided to consumers through the media and online. But the task becomes much harder when tertiary institutes give an undeserved…
Shane Warne is just one unlikely member of the PhD club. Shane Warne is just one unlikely member of the PhD club. AAP

Honorary doctorates: well deserved, or just a bit of spin?

What do Shane Warne, Kylie Minogue, Muammar Gaddafi, Mike Tyson and Kermit the Frog have in common? Believe it or not, all have been awarded university doctorates. Yep, that’s right, Dr Warney. Southampton…
China’s government has made a massive investment in research, and student funding. Australia can learn a lot. China’s government has made a massive investment in research, and student funding. Australia can learn a lot. AFP/Information Services Department

Keeping up with the Joneses: Why Australia is falling behind the neighbours on higher education

In recent weeks two commentary strands have intertwined and are extremely important to Australia’s future, and with special resonance for the higher education sector. Beginning with the announcement of…
Chinese students may have a different take on the media, but universities in Australia can learn from them. Chinese students may have a different take on the media, but universities in Australia can learn from them. Flickr/badbrother

Different media: Why universities should learn from international students

There is a vast difference between how China is reported inside and outside the country. And that extends to how media and communication is taught in China and Australia. One of my new PhD students, who…
An Indonesian stamp marking a 1959 Colombo Plan conference. An Indonesian stamp marking a 1959 Colombo Plan conference. flickr/karen horton

Colombo Plan: An initiative that brought Australia and Asia closer

AUSTRALIA IN ASIA: In the sixth part of our series, David Lowe of Deakin University examines an education project which brought us closer to our Asian neighbours. The Colombo Plan for aid to South and…
Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser is ‘uneasy’ about Liberal leader Tony Abbott because he is unpredictable. Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser is ‘uneasy’ about Liberal leader Tony Abbott because he is unpredictable. AAP

Malcolm Fraser: ‘we have lost our way’

Welcome to our “In Conversation” between former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser and Melbourne University political scientist Professor Robyn Eckersley. First elected to Federal parliament in 1955, Fraser…
Speedy and decisive action is needed from the government to ensure our future energy security. Speedy and decisive action is needed from the government to ensure our future energy security. Flickr/Cayusa

Eureka! Teaching threshold concepts to students

That “Eureka” moment when a student thunders over an educational hurdle opening up a new realm of learning, is the holy grail for educators. The technical term is a “threshold concept”, and they’re being…
Universities need to remember why they research: to advance knowledge. Universities need to remember why they research: to advance knowledge. Flickr/Gates Foundation

Forget profits. Universities need morals.

Steven Schwartz, vice-chancellor of Macquarie University, recently claimed that universities should break from being treated as businesses and recapture their moral purpose. He used the example of Jonas…
More maths teachers means better outcomes for students. More maths teachers means better outcomes for students. Flickr

Mathematics: Why we need more qualified teachers

There is a crisis in the education system, and it’s affecting the life chances of many young Australians. The number of secondary teaching graduates with adequate qualifications to teach mathematics is…
International education might not be as healthy as it seems Tim Ellis/Flickr. International education might not be as healthy as it seems Tim Ellis/Flickr.

Figures for international student enrolments can be misleading

International education has become a vital industry for the Australian economy, in recent years rivalling coal and iron ore as one of our largest export industries. But the way we’re calculating international…
Academics should talk more openly about their research and help influence public policy AAP. Academics should talk more openly about their research and help influence public policy AAP.

Why academics should get involved in public debate

Raymond Da Silva Rosa’s article, also published on The Conversation, kindly refers to my recent piece in the Australian Literary Review, which examined why generally academics exert so little impact on…
Are these the sorts of speakers you go to a university to hear? AAP. Are these the sorts of speakers you go to a university to hear? AAP.

Why academics should steer clear of public debate

The most important issue raised by Lord Monckton’s controversial appearance on two Western Australian campuses is not the limit of free speech or Monckton’s scientific competence. Rather it is whether…
Exams aren’t the only way to turn out graduates ready for the world of work. Exams aren’t the only way to turn out graduates ready for the world of work. Flickr/Reality-check

Why we should abolish the university exam

The time has come to abolish university examinations. Just because something has been around a long time there’s no reason to assume it’s outdated. But in the case of exams that assumption would be right…

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