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Analysis and Comment (36)

Was it worth it? Was it worth it? Brunel University

Hard Evidence: can dropping out of university be positive?

University dropout seems a dreadful thing to happen. From the perspective of a student you might feel you’ve failed and have to pay off debt for a life time. The university gets penalised if student non-completion…
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…
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…
Inadvertently, universities may be constructing courses and learning environments that encourage cheating. Inadvertently, universities may be constructing courses and learning environments that encourage cheating. Cheating image from www.shutterstock.com

Universities could be encouraging students to cheat, without even knowing it

A few years ago a group of psychologists from two North American universities ran a fascinating experiment designed to see whether the quality of light in a room influenced people’s willingness to cheat…
The cost of a degree depends on the colour of your cash. The cost of a degree depends on the colour of your cash. Nick in exsilio

The UK split over tuition fees is bad news for students

The different countries of the UK have very different ideas about a lot of things, and university fees are no exception. With the introduction of £9,000 tuition fees in England, Wales and Scotland both…
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…
Are students “customers”? The answer is not so simple. Are students “customers”? The answer is not so simple. Piggy bank image from www.shutterstock.com

Students aren’t customers…or are they?

With the rise of mass higher learning, tight public funding and intense competition for students, universities are often encouraged to see students as “customers”. But should they? Commentators who criticise…
A universal student ID could be on way for Australian students. A universal student ID could be on way for Australian students. ID image from www.shutterstock.com

One student ID to rule them all?

Is a universal (and cradle to grave) identity number on the way for all Australian students? The government is now seeking to create a mandatory universal identifier for all Vocational Education and Training…
There are other ways to improve undergraduate writing that don’t involve teaching grammar explicitly. There are other ways to improve undergraduate writing that don’t involve teaching grammar explicitly. Writing image from www.shutterstock.com

Grammar lessons not the solution to undergrad writing woes

University students across the nation will be handing in their first assignments of the academic year over the next few weeks. Academic staff will sigh, as they do every semester: “my students can’t write…
Many students are confused about grammar and sentence structure – so should universities teach it explicitly? Many students are confused about grammar and sentence structure – so should universities teach it explicitly? Words image from www.shutterstock.com

Back to basics: should universities teach grammar?

Imagine a student turning up at university and not knowing basic multiplication. He or she could be hard-working, bright, enthusiastic but completely unable to answer a basic question like: what’s six…
Are students really paying for their degrees in exchange for sharing their beds? Are students really paying for their degrees in exchange for sharing their beds? Degree image from www.shutterstock.com

Swapping sex for a degree: the myth of the ‘sugar daddy’

This year has already seen a flurry of media commentary regarding the “sugar daddy” phenomenon, much of it self-generated for publicity reasons by sites such as SeekingArrangement.com. Sugar daddies (and…
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…
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…
Despite a government target, students from poor backgrounds risk being left out of higher education. Despite a government target, students from poor backgrounds risk being left out of higher education. University student image from www.shutterstock.com

A low target: enrolling poor uni students remains a challenge

According to the Federal Government, Australian public universities need to be more inclusive, particularly when it comes to enrolling poorer students. They’ve set a target to have 20% of undergraduate…
Online education might not cut it for students who want quality learning and more access to staff. Online education might not cut it for students who want quality learning and more access to staff. Student image from www.shutterstock.com

What students want and how universities are getting it wrong

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…
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…
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…
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…
Asking what higher education students should pay is a deceptively straightforward question. Asking what higher education students should pay is a deceptively straightforward question. University image from www.shutterstock.com

Public vs private benefit: what do subsidies for university fees pay for?

The Grattan Institute’s most recent report Graduate Winners by Andrew Norton has generated valuable debate about what financial subsidy government should provide for university students. But before adjusting…
The government is trying to entice more young people to go to university – but can they do it? The government is trying to entice more young people to go to university – but can they do it? AAP Image/Julian Smith

Creating university places is easy, motivating students to take them is hard

In 1973, the Whitlam Labor government abolished university tuition fees. In 1987, the Hawke Government radically created thousands of extra university places by creating a national system, financing it…
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…
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…
Australian universities must raise their game to compete in the global education market. Australian universities must raise their game to compete in the global education market. Flickr/Reality-check

Sink or swim? Australian universities in the next decade

The world is in a state of transition. The Indian and Chinese economies continue to grow at around 9 and 10 per cent respectively each year, while the North Atlantic economies - the 20th century epicentre…
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…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Chinese Premier Hu Jintao. Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Chinese Premier Hu Jintao. AAP

Learning to live in the Asian century

AUSTRALIA IN ASIA: In the fifth part of our series, Kathe Kirby of the University of Melbourne examines whether our education system is preparing children for the future. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has…
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…
Bringing research, education and health care delivery together will improve patient care. Bringing research, education and health care delivery together will improve patient care.

Explainer: why Australia needs Advanced Health Research Centres

In an attempt to bring Australia’s medical research, education and healthcare sectors into line with world leaders, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is planning to develop a new…
Bad behaviour isn’t cause to ignore these TV shows. Bad behaviour isn’t cause to ignore these TV shows. Flickr/Number Stumper

Scrubs, House, Grey’s Anatomy: Are medical students learning bad habits?

Television loves particular careers: detectives, lawyers, forensic experts and, perhaps most of all, doctors. Popular long-running shows such as House and Grey’s Anatomy join a long list of medical programs…
A portrait of President Assad in Midan, Syria. A portrait of President Assad in Midan, Syria. Brian Stoddard

The situation in Syria: a first hand account

Emeritus Professor Brian Stoddart, former Vice-Chancellor at La Trobe University, returned recently from an extended assignment working with universities in Syria. Below is his account of his time in a…
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…
The best and the brightest put themselves put themselves through an intellectual ordeal to end up here. The best and the brightest put themselves put themselves through an intellectual ordeal to end up here. Flickr/Tejvan photos

Exam ‘over’ at All Souls College, Oxford, your time starts now…

The most feared exam in the world has been dropped. For over a century those hoping to study at All Souls College in Oxford opened an envelope with trepidation to discover just one word inside. They then…
Jobseekers are the true target of a government clawback on student deductions. Jobseekers are the true target of a government clawback on student deductions. AAP

Labor: taxing the rich or screwing students and the unemployed?

Under the cover of last week’s budget splash, the Federal Government has quietly changed tax laws which currently allow students and potentially jobseekers to claim a deduction for expenses against government…

Research and News (9)

Research Briefs (3)

Texting in class affects learning

Tertiary students who send text messages during lectures pay less attention and demonstrate lower levels of learning as a…