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  1. Promoting leadership in Australian universities (AUR 59 01)

    Posted 10 February 2017 by Ian Dobson (NTEU National Office)

    By Andrew P Bradley, Tim Grice & Neil Paulsen, University of Queensland 

    In this paper we review current practices for developing and promoting academic leadership in universities. We consider the forms of leadership that are appropriate for academic organisations, while exploring the types of leadership favoured by recruitment and promotion committees. Using the Australian higher education context as a case study, we critique the current situation as promoting a restricted form of leadership focused on technical leadership within an academic discipline, rather than the broader array of leadership skills necessary for effective academic leadership. We go on to consider a number of ways in which this broad range of leadership skills can be fostered and developed within academe.

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  2. Careers of professional staff in Australian and UK universities: A mixed methods pilot study (AUR 59 01)

    Posted 10 February 2017 by Ian Dobson (NTEU National Office)

    By Michelle Gander, Murdoch University

    This article confirms the reliability of a protean and boundaryless career attitudes scale, tested in a pilot study. Additionally, it summarises the results of this study into the career attitudes of professional staff in Australian and UK universities. A mixed methods approach was taken using a survey consisting of both closed questions on a 5-point Likert type scale, and an open text question that asked for respondents’ career stories. The convenience sample consisted of 19 staff from Australia and 12 from the UK. The findings suggest that professional staff create a hybrid approach to managing their career, showing aspects of protean, boundaryless and traditional career attitudes and that there are no significant differences between the career attitudes of these staff in Australia and the UK. There is a clear need for further research to test these results, which could be used to inform universities’ human resource strategies.

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  3. Getting cited: A reconsideration of purpose (AUR 59 01)

    Posted 10 February 2017 by Ian Dobson (NTEU National Office)

    By Martin Davies & Angelito Calma, University of Melbourne

    Michael Calver’s recent exhortation ‘Please don’t aim for a highly cited paper’ (AUR, 57(1): pp. 45-49) is welcome and a timely reminder of the problems associated with seeking citations at any cost. While not disagreeing with the concerns he raises we offer another way of looking at citation-seeking; thereby outlining a reconsideration of its purpose. We suggest that citations indirectly help to shape the terrain of a discipline. By providing an analysis of citation data from two key higher education journals, we show how citations are a measure of the ‘geography’ of a discipline, i.e., the networks of influence of key thinkers and the keywords that reveal scholarly interests and practices. This, in turn, provides us with information that is revealing about the nature of disciplines themselves. This paper provides a summary of data from an ongoing research program we are conducting that analyses the citation metrics of key journals in the field. 

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  4. Ideology, ‘truth’ and spin: Dialectic relations between the neoliberal think-tank movement and academia in Australia (AUR 59 01)

    Posted 10 February 2017 by Ian Dobson (NTEU National Office)

    By Lester Thompson, Southern Cross University & David Wadley, University of Queensland

    The context of contemporary universities restrains their ability to drive public policy. Yet, currently, they confront the relative success of a global network of neoliberal institutes, referred to as think-tanks, promoting freedoms derived from particular ideologies. Neoliberal reasoning has so moulded classical ideas of individual freedom into a radical hegemony of market supremacy that, in one application, it discounts scientific acknowledgement of anthropogenic climate change and seeks to deny its existence. This article links think-tanks, commercial and government media within a neoliberal alliance, which aims to ‘balance’ public information through ideological promulgations. It further contends that, largely of their own making, universities lack the philosophical positioning, will and the organisation effectively to meet this challenge. Situational analysis, strategy formulation and changes to practice are required before any meaningful response can be contemplated.

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  5. When rating systems do not rate: Evaluating ERA’s performance (AUR 59 01)

    Posted 10 February 2017 by Ian Dobson (NTEU National Office)

    By Paul Henman, University of Queensland & Scott D Brown & Simon Dennis, University of Newcastle

    In 2015, the Australian Government’s Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) assessment of research quality declined to rate 1.5 per cent of submissions from universities. The public debate focused on practices of gaming or ‘coding errors’ within university submissions as the reason for this outcome. The issue was about the in/appropriate allocation of research activities to Fields of Research. This paper argues that such practices are only part of the explanation. With the support of statistical modelling, unrated outcomes are shown to have also arisen from particular evaluation practices within the discipline of Psychology and the associated Medical and Health Sciences Research Evaluation Committee. Given the high stakes nature of unrated outcomes and that the evaluation process breaches public administration principles by being not appealable nor appropriately transparent, the paper concludes with recommendations for the strengthening ERA policy and procedures to enhance trust in future ERA processes.

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  6. Student activism: An exploration of pre-service teacher engagement (AUR 59 01)

    Posted 10 February 2017 by Ian Dobson (NTEU National Office)

    By Jason van Tol

    This study investigated university student activism from both a theoretical and applied perspective. The aims were to explore some of the elements that might enable or constrain student activism and to facilitate the students’ opportunity to act on an issue of their choice. The three elements of self-efficacy, group work, and time were reviewed in the literature and used as a framework to gather data, the collection of which was completed in three sequential phases: a questionnaire, interviews, and an action research project. Sixty questionnaires were returned and, from these, eight students were interviewed and engaged in the action research project. Results from the questionnaire indicated that students were quite time poor with the median student spending more hours per week working than studying. Further results from the questionnaire as well as the interviews and action research project suggested that the element of self-efficacy had less of an effect on students’ activism than did group work or time, both of which were enabling when present and constraining when absent.

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  7. Widening participation in higher education: A play in five acts (AUR 59 01)

    Posted 10 February 2017 by Ian Dobson (NTEU National Office)

    By Tim Pitman, Curtin University

    Policies and programs to address higher education disadvantage reveal four distinct approaches, each revealing certain assumptions about the nature of educational disadvantage. These are: creating mass higher education systems; redistributing or allocating certain places to disadvantaged students; changing the cultural practices of institutions; and shifting the policy focus from access towards higher education outcomes or benefits. Using the Australian higher education sector as a case study, each of these approaches is defined, identified and examined in regard to its impact on widening access and participation in higher education. An alternative approach – a fifth act – is proposed; one which concentrates on the need to understand the identity of the student, both in terms of how he/she understands disadvantage and what he/she wants out of higher

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  8. Collaboration in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences in Australia (AUR 59 01)

    Posted 10 February 2017 by Ian Dobson (NTEU National Office)

    By Gaby Haddow, Jianhong (Cecilia) Xia & Michele Willson, Curtin University

    This paper reports on the first large-scale quantitative investigation into collaboration, demonstrated in co-authorship, by Australian humanities, arts and social sciences (HASS) researchers. Web of Science data were extracted for Australian HASS publications, with a focus on the softer social sciences, over the period 2004 – 2013. The findings show that collaboration has increased over the last ten years, with strong intra-region collaboration concentrated on the east coast of Australia. International collaboration occurred most frequently with English speaking countries at vast distances from Australia. On average, fields in the social sciences collaborated at higher rates and attracted higher citations than humanities fields, but co-authorship of any kind was likely to increase citation rates. The results provide a snapshot of collaboration by Australian HASS authors in this time period and can be used as a benchmark to explore collaboration patterns in the future. 

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  9. Indigenous Tutorial Assistance Scheme. Tertiary Tuition and beyond: Transitioning with strengths and promoting opportunities (AUR 59 01)

    Posted 10 February 2017 by Ian Dobson (NTEU National Office)

    By Judith Wilks (Southern Cross University & Notre Dame University), Ellen Radnidge Fleeton (Southern Cross University) & Katie Wilson (Victoria University of Wellington)

    The Indigenous Tutorial Assistance Scheme-Tertiary Tuition (ITAS-TT) has provided Australian government funding for one-to-one and group tutorial study support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students attending Australian universities since 1989. It has been a central plank supporting Indigenous university students in their studies. However, evaluation of the scheme has identified quality limitations, under-utilisation, administrative burdens, and eligibility issues, and criticised the deficit or low academic expectations assumptions inherent in the scheme. In the 2016-2017 Budget the Australian government modified ITAS into an Indigenous Student Success Program. Reporting on research undertaken at a time of impending changes to funding arrangements and the continuation of ITAS, this paper builds on recent research into the transition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders into higher education. The paper investigates the scheme through the perspectives of ITAS tutors and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students receiving ITAS tutoring in two regional universities in New South Wales. Qualitative research found that ITAS tutoring has enabled many students to manage their transition through university and complete their studies. Students and tutors identified limitations in the scheme in terms of guidelines, institutional expectations, access to learning management systems, and the timing of support. The study outcomes suggest that ITAS provides valuable support but has become static, and is not keeping up with developments in online learning and administration.

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  10. Students flourish and tutors wither: A study of participant experiences in a first-year online unit (AUR 59 01)

    Posted 10 February 2017 by Ian Dobson (NTEU National Office)

    By Andrea Dodo-Balu, Murdoch University School of Education

    Contemporary higher education has been affected by policy pressures built around ‘flexibility’. The policies of widening student participation and expanding flexible online delivery combine to provide the opportunity for a university education to students hitherto largely excluded. Flexible employment policies have increasingly placed university teaching into the hands of casual tutors without permanent academic positions. This article contextualises and outlines initial findings from a qualitative case study of a first year, online unit which is a representative microcosm of the teaching and learning conditions produced by these pressures. While the students in the study felt able to enter the academic community successfully and experience empowering and transformational learning, the tutors felt disempowered and devalued with little hope for a future in the

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