Thursday 10 October

International education policy

The sector has responded positively to Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s policy commitments to maximise the international student market while maintaining visa integrity and educational quality; however, some commentators (including the NTEU) have suggested that an increased focus on international student revenue could be part of a strategy to avoid increasing government funding to universities. Among the reforms proposed include extending streamlined visa processing to selected non-university providers, easing visa restrictions and increasing post-study work rights.

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Engagement with Asia

Higher education expert Simon Marginson has highlighted global integration through university networks and the rise of post-Confucian higher education in Asia as the key areas of opportunity that Australia will need to harness to ensure it maintains its position internationally. Marginson suggests that hybrid East-West models for higher education and science are likely to emerge through connections with increasingly influential East Asian nations, and that Australia must engage proactively.

An international education conference has also heard that Universities will need to respond to changes in transnational education, with enrolments are growing as students develop their own non-traditional outbound mobility activities. This self-directed approach sees students view their education as a suite of customisable modules across institutions and countries, rather than as a single program.

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Teaching and research

A new report by the Grattan Institute on the teaching-research nexus has found that there is “little reason to believe that teaching is improved when it is undertaken with research”, and that the hypothesis that students would be more academically challenged in a high-research environment was not supported. The report also found that high- and low-research departments have similar teaching practices, and that teacher traits between these groups also not vary significantly.

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Rankings and student choice

The Conversation assesses the various university ranking systems and metrics, as well as their impact on the domestic and international student markets. The analysis concludes that a change in rankings could make Australia less attractive to international students, but that focusing on rankings at the expense of other factors that influence student choice may be counterproductive.

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Peer review merit

A new analysis by British researchers has found that peer reviewers may not be the best judges of scientific quality, tending to overrate papers in high profile journals, regardless of their merit. There was also little link between the merit of papers and the number of citations each accrued. The research concluded that the 'only way to obtain a largely unbiased estimate of merit is to have pre-publication assessment, by several independent assessors', but noted that this could be unwieldy.

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