vu connections - Victoria University

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vu connections - Victoria University
ISSUE 10 SUMMER 2009
WWW.VU.EDU.AU
VU CONNECTIONS
DESIGNER
WORKSHOP
FROM MICE TO MEN . INDIA AT HOME . OUR BEIJING BEST . WALKING TALL
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19
23
CONTENTS
2
4
VC WELCOME
4
IN BRIEF
8
A GYM FOR
ALL REASONS
10
CHANCES
OUT WEST
The VC writes about VU’s
Sustainability project as being one
of the many initiatives that are
shaping VU as a highly successful
and distinctive institution.
VU’s first graduations in China;
two new honorary degrees; and
construction of the $68.5m Learning
Commons at Footscray Park are
just three of this issue’s in briefs.
The Aquatic and Fitness Centre
is not just a place for staff and
students to keep fit. It is also used
by the wider community, from
schools to professional athletes.
A new scholarship program in
partnership with Western Chances
means HECS-free undergraduate
degrees for twelve lucky students
over the next four years.
16
TOP MARK
TEACHERS
19
SUCCESS
THROUGH ACCESS
20
SUPPLY CHAIN
IS MY GAME
22
FROM MICE
TO MEN
This year’s ALTC citation awards
were the most successful for the
University, with five academic
staff receiving teaching excellence
citations.
Compared with more affluent areas,
Melbourne’s west has low rates of
academic achievement and school
completion. VU is taking action to
create a more level playing field.
Many think of the transport and
logistics profession as an ‘old economy’
industry involving loading trucks
and unloading containers. Nothing
could be further from the truth.
New research could lead to a pill
that speeds up your metabolism
to make you leaner and increases
blood glucose clearance to reduce
your risk of diabetes.
27
NEW FACE OF
CONSTRUCTION
28
MORE THAN
SKIN DEEP
30
INDIA AT HOME
31
EDUCATION
AT WORK
Working on a building site is
no longer a job just for the
boys. Women now make up a
steadily rising 14 per cent of the
construction workforce.
About 40 per cent of beauty therapy
study at VU is science based. The
commitment to teaching chemistry,
biology, anatomy and physiology is
proving to be a winning formula.
MBA graduate Rajesh Bhatia
has built a thriving chain of
supermarkets in Melbourne, at the
same time revolutionising the look
of the Asian grocery store.
VU’s new Work-based Education
Research Centre is shaping the
future of tertiary education with
research focused on improving trades
education and workplace learning.
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12
10
11
RUNNING ON
ELECTRONS
12
DESIGNER
WORKSHOP
15
FLIKS ON THE RUN
VICTORIA
UNIVERSITY
CONNECTIONS
New research is consolidating
existing technology to make
commercially viable the retrofitting
of conventional petrol-fuelled cars
with electric motors.
$1.3m of new computerised laser
and design equipment means
students at the new fabrication
workshop at Sunshine Campus
are keeping up with the rapid
manufacturing revolution.
Armed with mobile phones
supplied by Nokia, a group of VU
multimedia students overcame
technical hurdles to produce some
snappy short films.
PUBLISHER
Marketing and Communications Dept.
Victoria University, Australia
PO Box 14428
Melbourne VIC 8001, Australia
© Victoria University
CRICOS Provider No. 00124K
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PAYING
ATTENTION
24
OUR
BEIJING BEST
26
GOT
A PROBLEM?
A groundbreaking study on the longterm impact of ADHD treatments
has found that behavioural
intervention may be more
successful than first thought.
VU reached sporting heights with
six current students plus three
alumni competing at the 2008
Beijing Olympics and Paralympics.
VU is one of the few universities
in the world to transform its
engineering curriculum from
traditional lecture-based teaching to
hands-on Problem Based Learning.
32
OPINION
34
WALKING TALL
35
NEW BOOKS
PHOTOS
Sharon Walker
Tim Burgess
Ann Marie Angebrandt
Yannick Thoraval
Conor King urges the Commonwealth
Government to break down the lines
of demarcation between higher
education and vocational and further
education to create a genuine
cross-sectoral tertiary system.
As an 11 year old in Bosnia, Selmir
Gosto suffered horrific leg injuries
when a landmine exploded beneath
the family car. Now a VU graduate,
he has a new chance at life.
A history of Australian Rules
football and a celebration of those
associated with Kew Cottages are
among the topics of new books
by VU authors.
COVER PHOTO
The Minister for Education, Julia Gillard,
at the opening of VU’s new Fabrication
Workshop at Sunshine Campus.
CONTACT US
Phil Kofoed – Managing Editor
PHONE +61 3 9919 4956
EMAIL [email protected]
www.vu.edu.au
This publication is printed on recycled paper.
3
Vice-Chancellor
and President
Elizabeth
Harman.
VC Welcome
In Brief
As we look back over 2008, it’s impossible to avert our gaze from the worldwide economic
slowdown that dominates the landscape. There has never been a more important time to place
the University on a sound financial footing.
At VU we are working to towards long-term financial sustainability. We are mindful that the western
suburbs are diverse and access to quality education is critically important.
More than ever, we must meet the needs of students and industry by ensuring that our courses
are attractive, competitive and will maximise the chances of graduates securing employment.
The refurbishment of the Fabrication Workshop at the Sunshine Campus is a fine example of this
approach, which is featured in this issue of Connections. Staff scoured the world for best practice
models and we spent $1.3 million upgrading equipment and introducing new courses incorporating
the latest laser manufacturing technology.
Another story covers our outstanding success at this year’s Australian Learning and Teaching
Council citations, in which we won five awards. In fact, VU’s Faculty of Arts, Education and Human
Development was ranked first in Australia for the number of students who get jobs after completing
their studies at VU, and sixth in Australia for the number of students who continue on to further study.
It is our best performance to date and testament to the investment we have made in teaching excellence.
This issue of the magazine also includes a story on the establishment of the Work-based Education
Research Centre, which is another teaching and learning initiative, with a focus on vocational programs.
In this issue’s opinion piece, some of the implications of the Federal Government’s Bradley Review of
Higher Education are included and reflect on the value of seamless pathways between vocational and
higher education, drawing on the success we have experienced with these pathways here at VU.
Finally, we are no more than the sum of our parts, and the building blocks in any university are its
people: the students, staff and the members of the community who interact with us. In this issue
there are inspiring stories from alumni and current students that I commend: Selmir Gosto, the
young man who came to our country from the tragedy of the Bosnian war and was helped on his
way by a VU scholarship; and the inspiring story of Alex Bogart-King who is undertaking a double
degree in civil engineering and business after receiving a Western Chances VU Success Scholarship.
We can continue into 2009 with the confidence that VU is addressing the tough challenges we face,
that we remain in step with our community and our industry partners and that we continue to meet
the diverse needs of our students.
Professor Elizabeth Harman
Vice-Chancellor and President
February 2009
4
BEIJING FIRST
Victoria University held its first graduation
ceremony in China last June. The event marked
the first Melbourne-based university to hold
a graduation ceremony in China, demonstrating
VU’s strong links with that country.
With eight university partners and more than
2000 students in VU’s China-based programs,
VU is among the most engaged Australian
universities in China.
One hundred and sixty-five students graduated
from the three VU higher education faculties and
from one vocational education (TAFE) faculty.
Many of the graduates now hold senior positions
in Chinese government and commerce.
On the same weekend, VU held its 2008
China teaching and learning conference,
and an alumni function to introduce its 2008
graduates to the VU China Alumni Network
(Beijing). Attendees included local alumni,
partner institution staff from across China,
representatives of the Australian Government
and VU staff visiting Beijing for the Teaching
and Learning Conference and graduations.
VU Chancellor Justice Frank Vincent and
Vice-Chancellor Elizabeth Harman attended
all three events.
Terri Bracks
(right), pictured
with Deputy
Chancellor
Di Foggo, prior
to receiving
her honorary
degree.
In Brief
DEGREES OF HONOUR
PARTNERS IN SCIENCE
ARC GRANTS
VU granted two honorary degrees in the final
round of graduations for 2008.
A partnership between Victoria University
and Shimadzu Scientific Instruments resulted
in the donation of high-tech scientific equipment
to twelve schools in Melbourne’s west.
Last October, VU received three ARC Linkage
Grants totalling $456,840, and two ARC
Discovery Grants totalling $470,000.
Dr Terri Bracks, founder and chair of the
charitable organisation, Western Chances, and
Dr Fiona Myer, chair of the National Gallery of
Victoria, Contemporary, were admitted to the
degree of Doctor of the University, honoris causa.
The prestigious award recognised the recipients’
commitment to supporting the local community.
Since its inception in 2003, Western Chances
has had a remarkable impact on the vitality
of Melbourne’s western region. Almost 700
students have received scholarships, over a
thousand new or renewal scholarships have been
awarded, and more than one million dollars has
been invested directly into encouraging young
people to discover and believe in their abilities.
Dr Myer is a successful artist who promotes
contemporary exhibitions and supports programs
which nurture young artists, ensuring the artistic
community continues to flourish in this country.
The schools each received a UV-Visible
spectrophotometer and printer for detailed
analysis and measurement of materials using
ultraviolet and visible light. The instruments
cost $7500 per school and will give students
exposure to scientific equipment used at
universities and in industry.
VU will assist the schools in designing
experiments that make use of the equipment.
Shimadzu will provide opportunities for
learning in the workplace for the students.
The donation tied in with the opening of a new
laboratory fitted with Shimadzu equipment
at VU’s Werribee Campus. The $1 million
laboratory will be used by researchers from VU’s
Institute of Sustainability and Innovation, and
by undergraduate science students, allowing
them to take on more applied research.
VU’s new Linkage projects include: improving
the delivery of potable and recycled water to
communities and industry; developing new
and improved techniques for the rescue and
rehabilitation of wildlife affected by oil spills, and
for the remediation of contaminated foreshore;
and collaborative research with East Asia Summit
(EAS) networked experts on topics of mutual
interest to benefit Australia’s long-term economic
priorities and engagement with Asia.
The new Discovery research projects include:
designing the surface and structural properties
of membranes for low energy ion selective
desalination of salt water; and creation of
new directions in the research of private data
warehouse query, which is applicable to stock
exchange data warehouses and pharmaceutical
data warehouses where the user is reluctant to
reveal his query to the data warehouse operator.
Shimadzu is a global leader in the
manufacture of scientific, industrial,
medical and aircraft equipment.
5
Rachael Dacy
(right) with
fellow Australian
pole vaulters
(l–r) Tracey
Shepherd and
Emma George
at the 1998
Commonwealth
Games in Kuala
Lumpur.
Copyright: Duane Hart/SPORTING IMAGES
In Brief
TOP OF THE POLE
MIND OVER MATTER
DAISY ETERNAL
Pole vaulter Rachael Dacy is the newest inductee
into Victoria University’s Sporting Hall of Fame.
Research by VU psychologist Dr Erin Pearson
shows that creating a mental association
between social identity and exercise goals
can help people keep active.
VU Diploma of Laboratory Technology students
are assisting research to ensure the survival
of the Swamp Everlasting Daisy.
The Hall of Fame recognises outstanding sustained
performance in sport by both current students
and graduates who have retired from elite level
sport. Only one nomination can be accepted each
year and Rachael is VU’s seventh inductee.
In a national and international career spanning
seven years, Rachael represented Australia at the
1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur
and at two World Student Games.
Now retired from international competition,
Rachael is considered to be one of the top
five all-time Australian female pole vaulters.
At VU, she completed a Bachelor of Science
(Physical Education) and undertook a
Graduate Diploma in Sport Business before
progressing to a Masters in Sport Business.
Rachael currently works in New Zealand as
Group Manager City Events for Auckland
City Council and is also Chair of the Auckland
Rugby World Cup 2011 Steering Group.
6
Dr Pearson identified two types of social
identities, characterised as strong and
independent, or as spiritual and caring.
“By creating a mental association between
a valued aspect of their social identity and the
goal of physical activity it was possible to get
them (women in the study) to increase their
rate of exercise activity,” says Dr Pearson.
In future, exercise providers could classify
people according to their social identities and
then design interventions that will continue
to be effective over the longterm.
The implications for the research extends
beyond exercise, including education and
training. Dr Pearson aims to conduct further
research into the effectiveness of interventions
designed around a person’s social behaviour
and personal identity.
With only 33 wild populations existing across
three states, the yellow daisy is listed as
vulnerable in Victoria, primarily a result of
habitat loss and changes in the quality and
availability of water.
The plant grows to between 30cm and
100cm and flowers from November to
March, with bright yellow flowers up to five
centimetres in diameter.
Under the guidance of School of Sport and
Science researcher Ian Baglieri, students
develop skills used in real-life field work, such
as risk auditing and environmental sampling,
to analyse the genetic diversity of the species.
Commissioned and funded by the Department
of Sustainability and Environment, the project
encourages personal and professional development
for emerging environmental researchers.
The environmental conservation project
reflects Victoria University’s commitment to
sustainable environmental practices through
projects and research.
Five VU
Apprentices
took part in
the WorldSkills
Australia
competition held
in Sydney.
In Brief
TOOLS AND TALENT
HORN OF AFRICA DVD
WORK ON THE COMMONS
VU students proved they possess some of
the best trade talent in Australia during the
WorldSkills Australia competition held in
Sydney last September.
With support from Centacare Catholic Family
Services and the Horn of Africa Communities
Network, VU has produced a DVD and
accompanying booklet about the Australian
workplace for Horn of Africa students.
Work on the $68.5 million Learning Commons
and Exercise Sport and Science Project at
Footscray Park Campus has commenced.
The biennial contest tested the skills of more
than 500 talented young apprentices from
across Australia in 50 trade and skill categories,
ranging from floristry to floor-tiling.
Five VU apprentices made it from the Victorian
regional heats to the three-day national finals.
Three of them received medals.
Silver medallist David Jackson completed
his fitting apprenticeship at VU in early
2008. Bronze medallist Jamie Morrison,
now in his third year of a four-year signwriting
apprenticeship, took home a bronze medal.
Marc Nichols, a student at Mowbray College
and a VET-in-Schools participant at VU, was
part of a gold-medal-winning team in carpentry.
WorldSkills Australia provides young Australians
with an opportunity to compete against their
peers in their chosen trade, as well as to
celebrate skills excellence.
The DVD, titled ‘Working in Australia’,
is recorded in English and four community
languages – Dinka, Amharic, Somali and
Arabic. It is one of the only resources of its
type available, and will assist the transition
of students from Horn of African backgrounds
into further study or work in Australia.
“The DVD contains footage shot at 14 different
workplaces, representative of the seven broad
categories of jobs in Australia,” says Rob
Vague, Careers Educator with VU’s Student
Career Development. “It explains the Victorian
education system and the education and training
pathways that may lead into each of the jobs.”
The booklet, in English, contains a simple
career planning process, to assist students
to reflect on their skills, values and interests.
The project was funded by Skills Victoria.
The Learning Commons will provide an
environment that promotes high quality
learning, with a shift from a teacher-centered
to a learner-centered curriculum, and seamless
support services to students and academic staff.
It will offer a vibrant new social setting for students.
The Exercise Science and Sport precinct will
strengthen the University’s national reputation
for leadership in the sports education and
research, and underpin partnership activities
with the Western Bulldogs and the Sport
and Health Science Academy.
The building will incorporate many significant
environmental features, such as rainwater
collection, natural fresh air ventilation and
solar hot water. The University is aiming
for a 5-star environmental rating.
The new facility, due to open in 2010, will
become the defining feature of the University
and ensure the appeal of Footscray Park Campus
to successive generations of future students.
7
Sudanese
Hawalti Tsegay
is a student at
Maribyrnong
Secondary
College.
Aquatic and Fitness Centre
A GYM FOR ALL REASONS
Victoria University’s Aquatic
and Fitness Centre at Footscray
Park Campus is much more
than a place for students
and staff to keep fit.
When it opened in 2003 at a cost of $7.4 million, there were no sports
facilities of its calibre in Melbourne’s west. The three-level swimming,
sport and teaching complex includes a 25-metre-long heated pool with
commanding views over the Maribyrnong River; a gymnasium with
specialist weight training and cardio equipment; multi-purpose aerobics
and martial arts rooms; exercise physiology labs; a group cycling
(spinning) room; an ultra-modern lecture theatre; sports courts;
and a large performance studio.
8
Students account for about half the centre’s 200,000 visitors each year,
and staff a further 20 per cent. The remaining 30 per cent is made
up of visitors from a regional residential population in excess of
600,000, many of whom access a range of community programs.
First-generation Australian teenagers who had never set foot in a pool
had the experience of a lifetime when they became part of VU’s Sudanese
Swim Project. The Maribyrnong Secondary College students teamed up
with VU students learning to be sports teachers. The pre-service teachers
prepared lessons and taught swim skills to the teenagers as part of their
learning in the workplace and the community studies.
VU aquatics lecturer, Loretta Konjarski, described the program as “one of those
meaningful projects that make the hair stand up on the back of your neck”.
Maribyrnong Secondary College health and physical education co-ordinator,
Mark Zahra, volunteered to bring Years 7 to 10 students to the centre
after school hours. He says the swimming skills of all the novice
swimmers improved enormously.
The centre is
also a training
ground for elite
athletes and
national sports
teams.
Aquatic and Fitness Centre
The student teachers got as much out of it as the school students.
Many say the project was among the most fulfilling they had undertaken
while working toward their teaching qualification.
“It is a juggling act. Strategically, we are here to facilitate the
educational requirements of the University. Then we have certain
commercial ideals, where we have to try and cover our costs.”
Other community groups that use the centre’s facilities include scuba diving
clubs, dance groups, lifeguard trainers, and primary and secondary schools.
About 1700 members are enrolled in the centre’s health club,
training in the gym or pool, or in an array of classes ranging
from combat-conditioning to Pilates.
The centre is also the training ground of elite athletes and national
sports teams. AFL stars Jason Akermanis and Brad Johnson from the
Western Bulldogs are regulars, as are players from the Essendon and
Carlton football clubs, the Melbourne Tigers basketball team, and the
Melbourne Storm rugby team.
Conveniently, the School of Sport and Exercise Science is housed in the
same building. Research fellow, Dr Itamar Levinger, uses the health club to
train and monitor the fitness of participants involved in a study he is now
conducting on possible links between diabetes, exercise and osteoporosis.
The centre’s health club offers fitness programs and assessments,
for not only VU staff, but also for those of other large organisations.
“I just come downstairs from my office when I need to talk to the
participants and see how they are doing,” Levinger says.
“There should be enough places for staff and students, and the top-up
is for the community,” says Customer Service Co-ordinator Rohenna Young.
Sports professionals that use the School’s high-tech expertise in fitness
assessment, include golfers, jockeys and racing-car drivers.
ANN MARIE ANGEBRANDT
9
Werribee
Secondary
College student
Alex Bogart-King
was “over the
moon” when told
he had won a
Western Chances
VU Success
Scholarship and
all fees for his
undergraduate
degree were
covered.
Scholarships
CHANCES OUT WEST
Alex Bogart-King is an ambitious 19 year old with an equally
ambitious dream.
A talented musician, successful school student and skilled athlete,
Alex has long had plans to join the Air Force as an airfield engineer,
travel the world and help build aviation infrastructure in distant places.
Earlier in 2008, Alex furthered his likelihood of doing exactly that
when he was selected to be one of the first set of students to receive
a Western Chances VU Success Scholarship.
“I had thought about university, but financially it wasn’t that realistic,”
says Alex.
Now the Laverton resident is doing a five-year double degree in civil engineering
and business at VU, advancing ever closer to his high-flying career goal.
The VU scholarship program was launched in May 2008 in partnership
with Western Chances, an organisation that has had a remarkable
impact on primary and secondary school students in Melbourne’s
western region over the past five years.
Since 2003, Western Chances has assisted young people with special
talents and a capacity for achievement, but with limited financial
resources. More than 1000 scholarships have been awarded, helping
school students purchase text books, computers, transport cards,
musical instruments and pay school fees.
Now VU has taken the next step in the educational journey of some
of those students by offering fee-free undergraduate degree scholarships
to three commencing students each year from 2008 to 2011. Over the
four years, the scholarships will pay the HECS fees – more than
$300,000 – for 12 students.
10
A former student at Werribee Secondary College, Alex Bogart-King
says he was “over the moon” when told the fees for his undergraduate
degree were covered.
He was already a recipient of a Western Chances scholarship at
secondary school, and was encouraged by his music teacher to apply
for the new VU scholarship.
“I wasn’t that confident about getting it,” says Alex. “I thought,
‘as if someone’s going to pay for my whole degree’, so I was quite
amazed when I was told.”
Alex officially received his scholarship in May last year, along with the
two other 2008 recipients, at a reception that included VU Chancellor
Justice Frank Vincent, Vice-Chancellor Elizabeth Harman and Dr Terri
Bracks, founding chair of Western Chances.
“Each of the students selected for this program has special talents
and they will no doubt contribute immeasurably to our University,”
Professor Harman said at the May reception.
While Alex is finding his first year of uni life challenging compared to
secondary school, that won’t prevent him from pursuing his career plans.
“This has taken the pressure off me and given me a lot of motivation
and confidence,” he says.
For more information about the Western Chances VU Success Scholarship
program, or any of the other many scholarships available to VU students,
visit www.vu.edu.au/scholarships or phone the Scholarships Office on
03 9919 5568.
ANN MARIE ANGEBRANDT
Will many
motorists soon
be bypassing the
petrol bowser and
recharging their
cars by plugging
into a home
power point?
© istockphoto.com / Karen Keczmerski
Sustainability
RUNNING ON ELECTRONS
Someday, electric cars will gently whir over grass-paved streets leaving
only a tail of vapour in their wake. Maybe.
Until then, what can be done about the exhaust fumes of the 15 million
conventional petrol-driven passenger vehicles currently registered in
Australia? These account for about eight per cent of the country’s
greenhouse gas emissions.
Research at Victoria University aims to blunt the impact of vehicle
exhaust on climate change by converting petrol-fuelled cars to vehicles
that are powered by a battery-powered electric motor.
Of course, Victoria University is not the first university to explore
electricity as a way of loosening the noose of oil-dependent transport.
But most other universities and commercial vehicle manufacturers have
focused on developing battery technology for the cars of the future.
At VU, work centres on what can be done with all those petrol-driven
cars already on Australia’s roads.
“The research is not about developing battery technology,” says
Dr Akhtar Kalam, a professor of electrical engineering at the University’s
Footscray Park Campus. “It’s about finding ways of consolidating existing
technology to make retrofitting [conventional cars with electric technology]
safe and commercially viable. This is a practical project, something with a
foreseeable outcome – the kind of ‘hands on’ project this University does well.
“If we can solve this issue, it’ll go a long way to helping the environment.”
A successful conversion would mean that a conventional car, which
produces an average of 3.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, becomes
one that produces no carbon emissions at all.
A converted car would run on lithium-ion batteries, which are similar
to the type now used in mobile phones and laptops. These batteries
have a long life span, don’t need to be drained before recharging and
are environmentally friendly enough to discard in a municipal tip.
But designing a safe and affordable retrofit is not a straightforward
process. Trial electric conversions have meant that cars first need
to be gutted in preparation for their electric transplants.
The vehicle’s engine, exhaust system, radiator, battery, fuel system and
a good deal of the electrics have to be pulled out. The electric motor then has
to be mated to the gearbox and mounted in place of the old petrol engine.
“For this technology to be commercially viable, we need to be prepared
to give mechanics ‘turn-key’ training so they can just follow a conversion
blueprint,” says Kalam.
If Kalam and his team can successfully design a prototype electrical
conversion kit, he believes the Australian public could retrofit their cars for
about $2000, depending on government subsidies. Motorists could then
bypass the bowser and recharge their cars by plugging into a standard home
power point – for about the same energy cost as running a clock radio.
But whether they take over Australian roads in the near or distant future,
electric cars will do little to slash emissions if they depend on brown
coal-generated electricity to charge their batteries. But that’s another
problem to be solved.
YANNICK THORAVAL
11
DESIGNER WORKSHOP
Engineering
Situated at
Sunshine
Campus, the
new Fabrication
Workshop is the
best equipped
of its type in
Australia.
12
12
The pace of change at
Victoria University’s fabrication
workshop at Sunshine Campus
is so rapid that everything
new is soon old.
It’s not only the machinery that is evolving faster than a flu virus.
The technology tsunami will soon revolutionise the courses as well.
So much so, that staff at the workshop are not content with the $1.3
million worth of computerised equipment rolled out earlier this year.
They are already planning for the next wave of technology that is about
to revolutionise manufacturing, rendering their new machines obsolete
within a decade.
Driving the rapid manufacturing revolution is a technique that marries
computerised design with laser shaping and cutting – a process known
as Selective Laser Sintering (SLS). Instead of being cut from milled
steel, componentry made using SLS is built by a moulding process using
layers of powdered polymers made from a variety of plastics and metals,
and then shaped with lasers.
Far from being overawed by this new order, program manager of
automotive and mechanical engineering Ken Barnett takes it all in his stride.
“The future of industrial design and manufacturing is limited only
by our imagination,” Barnett says. “It means that processes that once
took months can now be completed in hours. It’s not only saving huge
amounts of time, it also means we will end up with longer-lasting
componentry because of design improvements.”
Using SLS, designer-operators can draw and build new components from
scratch in a few days, cutting out four steps and months of production time.
“German companies are using this technology to make components
in 32 hours that previously took six months,” says Barnett. “It is mainly
being used in aeronautics and medical science, but it is becoming more
commonplace in other manufacturing.”
Barnett recently returned from a study tour of the UK to examine
the impact of the technology.
To keep in step with these advances, VU is planning ahead so that its
graduates qualify with a full suite of computerised skills. Degree and
advanced diploma students at the fabrication workshop are already using 3D
scanning tools and computer-assisted design and manufacturing techniques
– skills that will gradually be introduced to other courses, including trades.
Final-year Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering student Ben Stewart-Steele says
his class asked for access to the new equipment to complement their theorybased study. “We approached the University and the fabrication workshop
about getting some hands-on time in design and manufacturing,” he says.
Ben is designing a sump for the University’s entry in the Society of
Australian Engineers (SAE) Formula Car competition, where students
showcase their ingenuity and skill by building open-wheel, formula-style
racing cars to compete in various static and dynamic events.
The new additive-layer technology the engineering students are sampling
is expensive. The polymers used in the SLS process cost $250-$300 per
kilogram, but the price is expected to halve over the next few years as
demand grows. This will then make the new materials highly competitive
with steel, especially when wastage is taken into account. When steel is
shaped and cut, up to 50 per cent goes to waste. With polymers it’s rare
for more than five per cent to be thrown out.
Engineering
Fitting and
machining
apprentices are
trained using
a combination
of machines
such as lathes
and mills, and
also modern
technologybased
equipment.
13
In the engineering apprentice workshop, program manager David Akers says
the new computerised equipment means students from first-year apprentices
upwards are working on machinery that’s as good as you see in the industry.
The workshops are set up to imitate a modern industry environment.
“Fitting and machining apprentices are trained using a combination of
machines such as lathes and mills, and also modern technology-based
equipment that can produce products to a high degree of accuracy,”
says Akers. “The blend of traditional machining and computer-controlled
equipment means we offer skills that are needed in modern industry.
“Some of the computerised machinery has a high degree of accuracy
and what is known as ‘repeatability’ – you can make the same product
many times and it will all be exactly the same. Apprentice employers
care about these things. They care about accuracy, quality and what
goes into their apprentices’ training.”
The use of individualised programs allows students to progress at their
own pace. This means that a student who is at the top of his class can
complete his work in less time.
“In industry there’s always a sense of urgency,” says Akers. “Efficiencies
contribute to a company’s bottom line and we try to foster that culture.”
The updated facilities have opened up the possibilities of attracting
international students. The first steps were taken earlier this year when
workshop staff designed a welding course for a company that had
employed Chinese welder-fabricators on temporary residency visas.
Interest has also come from Vietnam, China and Malaysia.
On the workshop floor, the students are clearly impressed with the
state-of-art facilities. First-year boiler making apprentice Jamie Rose
joins his fellow trainees on the workshop floor once a week.
“Everything here is very well set up,” Rose says. “You can see the new
equipment, the new press, and the new rolls. It cuts your fabrication
time in half, pretty much. I was at a couple of other schools and they
didn’t have many tools at all. It just slowed down the process of how
quickly you could learn. It’s a lot different here with lots of good help.
It’s a good environment to be in.”
In another section of the building, Year 11 VET students Sarron Caddy
and Dylan Sheppard are being instructed on how to use a metal lathe.
Their VET program gives them access to the same equipment that
apprentices use and they end up with a pre-apprenticeship trade certificate.
“It’s fun and the teachers are helpful,” says Caddy. “The equipment
is 10 times better than we have at school.”
The Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, opened VU’s new Fabrication
Workshop last June.
JIM BUCKELL
Engineering
Ken Barnett:
“I never foresaw
the technology
getting to this
level.”
WHAT KEN LEARNED
When Ken Barnett completed his apprenticeship as a fitter and turner, he
had no idea the extent to which his industry would develop over the next
35 years.
“I never foresaw the technology getting to this level,” he says. “It’s leaps
and bounds beyond what I could have imagined.”
Ken is now program manager of VU’s School of Automotive and Mechanical
Engineering Technology at Sunshine Campus. He is particularly passionate
about rapid manufacturing (RM) technology. Long ago, he identified RM as
an emerging technology essential for VU.
The technology is heralded as the next industrial revolution, with its ability
to replace traditional factory tools and expensive injection moulding.
Instead, 3-D scanners send electronic data to 3-D printers, which add and
bind materials in layers to build a physical object. Applications range from
toys to aerospace components to prosthetic body parts.
“The laws of traditional manufacturing don’t apply any more,” says Ken.
“There are no restrictions on designs, shapes, or even the materials used to
build the layers.”
Last year, Ken was selected as one of six TAFE teachers in Australia to
receive a $7000 fellowship from the International Specialised Skills
Institute, an organisation that addresses deficiencies in Australia’s work
skills and knowledge by sending professionals on overseas study tours.
Ken spent three weeks in the UK at universities in the Midlands, an area
acknowledged as leading the world in RM.
14
But what British universities aren’t doing, says Ken, is using RM
in vocational and undergrad education – reserving it instead for
postgraduate study and high-level research.
Ken believes that teaching vocational and undergrad engineering students
how to think creatively and use the technology from the outset of their
education is important.
“I’m teaching RM to my colleagues so they’re aware of it for their own
teaching,” he says. “That puts us up as one of the leaders in education in
new and emerging technologies in Australia, and even the world.”
ANN MARIE ANGEBRANDT
VU multimedia
students shot
some snappy
films at the
3Dfest using
mobile phone
cameras. Picture:
Alan Morgans
Multimedia
FLIKS ON THE RUN
Take one mobile phone with an inbuilt video camera. Toss it to some
students and ask them to go to a play rehearsal, shoot some footage
and make a film – all in the space of a few days.
So began the challenge facing a group of first-year students in VU’s Diploma
of Multimedia program at St Albans and City Flinders Campuses.
The project was part of the 3Dfest, a series of workshops to develop
and perform short plays by students from Victoria University and four
other Melbourne universities in conjunction with the Malthouse Theatre.
Nokia supplied the N93i phones and two hours of training to the
12 students. Then it was over to them, with a little guidance from
their teacher, Alan Morgans.
“Basically, they were thrown in at the deep end and asked to make
a film from scratch,” says Morgans. He says the exercise proved that
when timing is tight, it’s all about getting it right the first time.
“The project was a real challenge for the students because they went
in to the shoot knowing nothing about it. They were forced to come up
with what they could on the one rehearsal day allocated for the shoot.
“There were also some technical challenges: the audio pick-up was not
of the same standard that students are used to in regular video cameras
and the images tended to break up in low lighting.”
“It was a really good exercise for us,” says Alysha. “The phone camera
was easy to use and the quality of the film was good too. The problems
we had were mainly because we were required to shoot at rehearsals
and work with the conditions we found there.
“The main difficulty was that the cameras don’t work all that well in
darkness, so we had to find ways around that. We shot when they had
their own lighting on and we used a few stills to overcome the poor light.”
Alysha says that although she would normally prefer to shoot using
a regular camera, the mobile phone camera proved to be a workable
alternative, given its portability and convenience.
“If you’re out and about and you see something cool, you can always
capture it. It means you never have to miss anything. You wouldn’t use
the camera for regular shoots, but it’s great as a back-up if you see
something when you aren’t expecting it.”
Certainly this sentiment is backed up by Nokia. Project manager
Rob Ellaby says the video application on its phones is all about
sharing: “It provides the flexibility to record and share footage
when and wherever, all in a high-quality format.”
JIM BUCKELL
The students took the technical hurdles in their stride and produced
some snappy short films that have been downloaded to their student
websites and the Nokia site. Student filmmaker Alysha Privitera says
the project went remarkably well, given the circumstances.
15
Penny Bassett
(second from
right): “It’s
important for
students to feel
confident about
expressing
themselves
because much
of what they
will do in their
professional
life is based
on effective
communication.”
Teaching Excellence
TOP MARK
TEACHERS
The Australian Learning and Teaching
Council (ALTC) promotes excellence in
higher education by recognising, rewarding
and supporting teachers and professional
staff through awards, fellowships and
grant schemes.
This year’s ALTC citation awards were the most successful for the
University, with five citations made to academic staff.
VU’s Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education Programs, John McCallum,
says the awards are recognition of the depth and diversity of teaching
talent at the University.
“I’m delighted at the improvement in our performance at this year’s
awards,” Professor McCallum says. “Winners cover a wide range of
fields, from management and computer science, to maths, education
and science. This is a testament to the importance placed on teaching
excellence at the University.”
ALL POWER TO COMMUNICATION
Ms Penny Bassett
Lecturer, Management
Faculty of Business and Law
PowerPoint presentations are banned in most of Penny Bassett’s
postgraduate classes. “They don’t encourage discussion,” says Bassett.
Assisting her students to gain confidence in presenting at public forums
and engaging in debate is a top priority because so many come from
culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. “Confidence in large
group discussion is not as developed in many of these students as it
is for those who have grown up in English-speaking homes,” she says.
Rather than allowing her students to make passive presentations using
projectors, Bassett prefers classroom activities such as roundtable
discussions and role-plays to develop communication skills. “It’s
important for students to feel confident about expressing themselves
in management courses, because so much of what they will do in their
professional life is based on effective communication,” she says.
Bassett won her citation for internationalisation of the curriculum and
for developing a range of innovative classroom tools for her students,
including online and roundtable discussions. She places particular
emphasis on cross-cultural communication, allowing students to
learn from each other based on their own experiences.
One reason she believes her approach has been so effective is because
the activities she has developed are designed to celebrate cultural
diversity and to ensure that both international and local students have
inclusive and valuable learning experiences.
Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Bassett consistently scores
ratings of at least 4.5 out of 5 on student evaluations, well above the
University average. The student who nominated her for the citation said:
“I have never come across a lecturer/tutor who contributed so much to
the learning experience of their students.”
After entering the workforce upon completing his studies, another
student wrote: “The first few months on the job were very interesting,
as every day I had the chance to validate and compare the things
learned from University. There were even times that I imagined myself
in those four walls of the classroom listening to my lecturer about
exactly the same thing that I do at work. It was great!”
16
16
Professor Stephen
Bigger: “It’s
always been my
aim to provide
students with
opportunities to
learn through
experience and
experimentation,
and to relate
theory and
practice to
everyday life.”
Dr Alasdair
McAndrew:
“Students
need to be
placed within
a teaching
and learning
environment
that is
supportive.”
Teaching Excellence
ELEMENTS OF HIS OWN MAKING
ADDING VALUE, SUBTRACTING PAIN
Professor Stephen Bigger
Associate Dean – Teaching and Learning
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
Dr Alasdair McAndrew
Senior Lecturer, Mathematics
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
Stephen Bigger has never been one to back down from a challenge.
Faced with a lack of suitable teaching materials for his chemistry
students, he set out to make his own. He started fairly modestly,
putting together some laboratory experiments, but his initial success
spurred him on to bigger projects, including software packages that
are now used in teaching labs around the world. This year his efforts
won him a prestigious ALTC Citation.
Maths can be daunting for many students – even at university.
Overcoming this can be complex and there is no one formula for success.
Number crunching is a compulsory component in courses such as business,
science and computing, but many students in these disciplines have not
progressed beyond basics. The challenge for VU senior lecturer Dr Alasdair
McAndrew was how best to meet the mathematical needs of a diverse cohort
of students studying at different levels across a wide range of courses.
“It’s always been my aim to provide students with opportunities
to learn through experience and experimentation, and to relate theory
and practice to everyday life,” Professor Bigger says. “As a result, my
teaching style primarily involves classroom delivery strongly supported
by original, innovative teaching tools and by experimentation, always
recognising that chemistry is a laboratory-based, hands-on discipline.
His efforts over 20 years to improve the teaching of maths won
him his ALTC Citation. Starting with commercially available Computer
Algebra Systems (CAS) software, which takes the pain out of complex
calculations, Dr McAndrew then tailored the software to a learning
environment. His aim was to free students from memorising formulas,
allowing them to concentrate on problem solving and the creative
processes that underscore mathematical solutions.
“However, for some core elements of the curriculum there were few or
no good resources or teaching activities, so I started filling in these gaps.”
In putting together his materials, Professor Bigger faced another
challenge: his undergraduate students came to his classes with
a wide range of skills and knowledge. To be effective, his experiments
had to be adaptable to suit the full range of his students’ abilities.
After success designing laboratory experiments demonstrating such
things as the properties of polymers and the dynamics of molecular
oscillation, Professor Bigger began building software to identify the
chemical composition and structure of matter.
“One of the ways chemists do this is by using mass spectrometry,”
he says. “I decided to simulate the equipment in a computer program
that gives students a thorough understanding of the principles and the
working of the instrument before they embark upon using a real one.”
The result is a computerised curriculum module that allows students to progress
further with the analysis of data than they would with an actual spectrometer.
Professor Bigger’s work has been widely acknowledged by his peers.
In 2005 he won the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence.
The following year he was awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s Medal for
Research Supervision.
“Students who enter a university-level mathematics program with
knowledge deficits, misconceptions, a superficial grasp of fundamental
principles, and most of all a lack of confidence, need to be placed within
a teaching and learning environment that is supportive,” Dr McAndrew says.
To do this he adapted Learning Management Systems (LMS) educational
software, allowing students to access documents at any time, communicate
with the subject convener and each other, and check their progress.
They can also receive and provide feedback.
“Students began to feel a sense of connection – a relational approach
to learning – which supports their efforts,” he says. “I have used the
LMS environment to encourage peer tutoring and mentoring, extending
this to the classroom, to build confidence and to access the body of
knowledge across the diverse student cohort. In turn, students have
responded by demanding even more from the system.”
The enthusiastic response from students has been echoed by educators and
software companies. The LMS software program is being rolled out in other
courses in Dr McAndrew’s Computing Science and Mathematics Department,
and software developers have incorporated many of his innovations.
The outcomes for students are the real test, and they have all been
excellent: pass rates are up, as is student satisfaction. Better still in
a country with serious skills shortages in mathematics and science,
enrolments are improving in subjects previously shunned by students
because they were perceived as being too difficult.
17
17
Dr Iwona
Miliszewska:
“Our students
are expected to
strictly adhere
to the project
guidelines, just
as computing
professionals are
in industry.”
Dr John Martino
with pre-service
teaching student
Belinda Saulic.
Teaching Excellence
AWARD-WINNING SUPERMODEL
MANY CAME TO PRAISE HIM
Dr Iwona Miliszewska
Senior Lecturer, Computer Science
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
Dr John Martino
Lecturer, Education
Faculty of Arts, Education and Human Development
Faced with the task of adapting the delivery of a final-year computing
project unit from onshore to offshore, Dr Iwona Miliszewska’s response
was both pragmatic and creative.
So impressed was one of John Martino’s students with the quality
of his lecture work, that he wrote an unsolicited email to the
Vice-Chancellor, Professor Liz Harman, to praise him.
She restructured the project as a software engineering application
using the very principles the unit was teaching to drive the unit itself.
The students – studying the VU course at a partner institution in
Hong Kong – were asked to develop software in line with industry
practice by carving up the task into manageable chunks of activities
with strict deadlines and defined outcomes.
“As an experienced senior mathematics and computer science teacher
I can immediately recognise good teaching when I see it,” the student
wrote. “In this case, I was so pleased with my experience in your
Graduate Diploma of Secondary Education course, under the direction
of Dr John Martino, that I am compelled to bring it to your attention.”
“In software engineering, a successful project will have a well-defined
purpose, clear time allocation, unambiguous aims and definite deadlines,”
Dr Miliszewska says. “Our students are expected to strictly adhere to the
project guidelines, just as computing professionals in industry are expected
to follow project specifications when developing software systems.”
Students took part in real-life software engineering tasks, with all the
pressures of the business world. They even had to find a project to work
on using their business contacts in their home town of Hong Kong.
Assessment (akin to client satisfaction – using Dr Miliszewska’s model)
was adjusted according to the difficulty of the task. Students would lose
marks, for example, for failing to meet mandatory requirements, but
had the chance to recoup those marks by rectifying deficiencies. Groups
choosing simpler tasks were not eligible for higher scores unless they added
sought-after features such as high-quality user interfaces and help features.
Dr Miliszewska’s students have consistently rated her teaching at 4.6 to 4.7
on a scale of one to five, well above the faculty average of four. Students
nominated several benefits of the hands-on approach: an understanding of how
separate components of their studies come together; the value of teamwork;
project management skills; and seeing their software being used in business.
First introduced in 1996, the model developed by Dr Miliszewska is today
used in Malaysia as well as Hong Kong. It has been developed and adjusted
over time, but the core components remain largely unchanged. Earlier this
year she was invited to include the project model as a case study in an
upcoming book, Educational Design and Technology in the Knowledge Society.
18
The student went on to outline Dr Martino’s enthusiasm for leading
students through activities that stimulate creativity and maximise benefits.
His email triggered Dr Martino’s successful nomination for an ALTC Citation.
Dr Martino’s graduate diploma course trains overseas teachers wanting
to gain an Australian qualification and domestic students retraining as
teachers. It provides trainee teachers with the skills to engage students
who arrive at school already immersed in multimedia and new technology.
To meet these needs he designed a subject called New Learning that
draws on a range of emerging social technologies and new media to
engage his trainees in the digital world that school students inhabit.
Dr Martino describes his largely mature-age students as “digital
immigrants” because they must pick up skills required to use technology,
whereas these skills are native to those who have grown up with new
media all around them. The unit encourages students to evaluate and
adopt a range of emerging social technologies such as blogs and wikis.
In another unit that teaches the social context of the classroom,
pre-service teachers work in teams to construct a vision of a school that
engages with the major issues confronting young people. They not only
have to design a new school – from buildings to curriculum – but also
work out how it will address critical issues such as bullying, racism, class,
poverty and sexism. They then have to sell their vision to the parents,
requiring them to defend and promote their educational decisions.
These sorts of activities have earned Dr Martino praise form across the university
community, including the head of the School of Education, Associate Professor
Tony Kruger, who says Dr Martino is charting new pedagogical terrain.
The experience of developing and managing the project in two different
overseas locations encouraged Dr Miliszewska to research the field in
greater depth for her PhD thesis, A Multidimensional Model for Transitional
Computing Education Programs, which she completed in 2006.
“The New Learning units, whose development John has led, have been
a model for other courses in the School,” Professor Kruger says.
Prior to receiving her 2008 ALTC Citation, Dr Miliszewska received the
Vice-Chancellor’s Peak Award for Excellence in Research and Research
Training in 2007.
The Australian Learning and Teaching Council was formerly known
as the Carrick Institute. It adopted its new name in May 2008.
JIM BUCKELL
VU student
teachers Emma
Hojski and
Vanessa Jeeves
(centre left
and right) take
Roxburgh College
students Yasmine
Kassab (far left)
and Julie Murat
(far right) on a
tour of Footscray
Park Campus.
Education Access
SUCCESS THROUGH ACCESS
Kylie is a Melton secondary school student who grew up without books
or computers at home, and has never been on holiday. Sang, a Footscray
teenager, is a first-generation Australian whose parents don’t speak
English. He is the first in his family to remain at school after the age of 15.
The education and employment prospects of these two teenagers are
restricted by their circumstances and limited opportunities, the same as
thousands of others young people in Melbourne’s west. Compared to the
city’s more affluent areas, the west is a region with rates of low aspiration,
academic achievement and school completion, and high unemployment.
Victoria University has taken action to address this situation and create
a more level playing field, responding to one of its key missions to
transform the lives of Melbourne’s western residents through education.
By gathering teachers, parents, principals, and VU staff and students,
Access and Success was created as a University-wide project to support
and empower the young people of Melbourne’s west through a series
of school-based partnerships.
Tony Edwards, VU’s Access and Success partnerships manager, said the
program has generated more than 60 meaningful projects with schools
and communities in the region since it started in 2006. Each project
focuses on improving a range of factors, such as students’ educational
experience, their access to post-compulsory schooling, and professional
development of their teachers. Most importantly, all are designed
in collaboration with partner schools, and all are long term.
“This is not just riding in at sunset or brokering what we see as
a solution,” Edwards says. “There is an emphasis on mutual learning,
collaboration, and recognition of the successful and creative work
already being done in many schools.”
One such project is situated in what is known as the project’s Youth
Access stream, which provides support for young people wanting to learn
more about work and careers by giving advice on transition pathways
and offering support for academic study.
Roxburgh College, a large, new and multicultural school in Melbourne’s
northwest, has placed VU third-year pre-service teachers with some of
its Year 9 students.
Recognising that students begin to seriously address their career goals
and tertiary education decisions by age 14 or 15, the VU pre-service
teachers have been working with 20 students identified as having
high capacity, but relatively low aspiration.
Within a climate of trust and sincerity, the teenagers and pre-service
teachers have made several excursions to VU campuses, where the
teenagers have asked questions about uni life, recorded their observations
in diaries, and found out about big picture issues such as career pathways,
as well as seemingly trivial matters such as how to fill out government forms.
Vanessa Jeeves and Emma Hojski, both third-year Bachelor of Education
students at VU’s Melton Campus, have spent time as classroom teachers at
Roxburgh College, as well as participating in the Access and Success project.
Both agree the project has added to their knowledge and experience
as up-and-coming teachers.
“It was a bit of a struggle at first to get it going, but we are all seeing
the value in it now,” Vanessa says.
Year 9 Roxburgh College students Julie Murat, an aspiring nurse, and
Yasmine Kassab, a would-be journalist, say the project has helped them
focus on long-term goals.
Access and Success organisers may use pedagogical terms when
describing the project by saying it increases the area’s “educational
capital” and improves its “learning outcomes”. But one thing is certain:
the program is making a difference, one student at a time.
ANN MARIE ANGEBRANDT
19
In 2008, Industry
Skills Training
launched a onemonth Ready-toWork program at
VU to fast-track
students into
the industry.
Industry Skills
SUPPLY CHAIN
IS MY GAME
For an industry that accounts for about
15 per cent of Australia’s gross domestic
product and is worth nearly $60 billion
a year to the economy, the Australian
transport and logistics profession has an
image that’s in bad need of a makeover.
Many continue to think of it as an ‘old economy’ industry involving loading
trucks and unloading containers. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Now known more correctly as supply chain management, the industry
plays an important strategic role that involves thousands of workers, and
supports every business in Australia.
20
When done well, it offers a competitive edge not only to companies, but
also countries. Getting the right groceries or steel or pharmaceuticals
to the right place at the right time – and at the right price – requires
sophisticated systems with leading-edge technology.
Victoria University is at the centre of workforce training for this burgeoning
industry, especially now that Melbourne’s west has been earmarked by
the Victorian Government to be made the site of a ‘logistics city’.
Industry Skills Training (IST) at VU’s Werribee Campus trains students in
a range of supply chain skills. Built on a 50-hectare site, the $20 million
complex has been purpose-built, and is unique in Melbourne. Fleets of
assorted trucks are used for driver training, while full-size warehouses
offer hands-on instruction in a range of activities, including moving pallets
with forklifts, and electronically generating and dispatching orders.
Peter Jacobson, IST Head of School, said the industry is becoming more
desperate in its call for skilled workers.
Industry Skills
Training at
VU’s Werribee
Campus trains
students in a
range of supply
chain skills.
Industry Skills
“We keep hearing from businesses that if they could get 10 more
drivers, they’d buy 10 more trucks. We want to change the perception
that this is an industry of last resort and you drive trucks or work in a
warehouse if you can’t find anything else.”
Peter said interstate truck drivers or warehouse managers could earn
$100,000-plus a year – better salaries than many white-collar jobs.
IST in February 2008 launched a one-month Ready-to-Work program to
fast-track students into the industry. Students learn the basics of a range
of skills, including driving a heavy vehicle, operating a forklift, workplace
communication, fatigue management, and occupational health and safety.
After completing the course, students are assisted in finding work with
organisations such as the family-owned business, Peter Sadler Transport,
one of the program’s major partners.
Dave Sadler, the company’s business development director, said that
with scores of job opportunities now on offer to young people, the
company wanted to do something at the coal-face to promote the
industry around the skills and capabilities that are required.
“At the bottom rung, you might start out driving a small van doing
courier work, but with the right attitude and training, you can easily
move up,” Dave said.
IST offers many of its courses through employment agencies, helping careerchange adults to learn a new set of skills and become logistics professionals.
VU is in a unique position in Australia and the Asia Pacific as it provides
supply-chain training not only at the certificate and diploma level, but
also in higher education, right up to doctoral degrees.
The University’s Institute for Logistics and Supply Chain Management
collaborates with leading companies in the industry. Most recently,
it joined with Linfox Australia, to provide management education and
associated research.
Peter said: “Someone interested in this industry could follow a seamless
progression of lifelong learning at VU, from straight out of school to an
executive position.”
ANN MARIE ANGEBRANDT
21
FROM MICE TO MEN
Imagine there was a pill that could speed up your metabolism to make
you leaner and reduce your risk of contracting diabetes.
“They also ‘cleared’ glucose much faster than normal, and faster glucose
clearance rates are strongly associated with a reduced risk of diabetes.”
That is the promise of new research being led by VU nutrition expert
Dr Michael Mathai, a senior lecturer in the School of Biomedical and
Health Sciences.
Most importantly, the researchers were able to show that the ACE-deficient
mice ate the same as ordinary mice. They also exercised at the same rate.
“Our initial testing on mice has given us some very promising results,”
says Mathai.
As often happens in science, the researchers stumbled upon one
phenomenon while investigating another.
“We were using a special breed of mice to study blood pressure and
noticed that in addition to lower blood pressure, they were also thinner.
Our tests showed these mice lacked a hormone called agiotensin
converting enzyme or ACE,” says Mathai.
The observation was so intriguing the team set about securing additional
funding and equipment to look at whether ACE deficiency was a
significant factor in causing reduced body weight.
“It was possible that the ACE-deficient mice were simply eating less or
exercising more, so we needed to monitor these behaviours in order to
make comparisons with a control group of normal mice,” says Mathai.
The team bred mice deficient in ACE and found they weighed 20 per
cent less and had about 60 per cent less body fat, particularly in the
abdomen, compared with normal mice.
“The slimming and leanness appears to be linked to a quicker
metabolism, which was sustained even as the mice aged,” says Mathai.
Biomedical and Health Sciences
Mathai says the most novel aspect of the research was being able to put
all the pieces of the jigsaw together to get the full picture of how the
energy in food was handled by the mice.
“Thanks to great work by my colleague Richard Weisinger at La Trobe
University, we were able to obtain the necessary detailed information
about how much energy the mice used at rest and when they were
active, to support our conclusions,” says Mathai.
“The only known way to improve metabolism in people has been
through regular exercise, which we know is not always an option
– particularly for those people with disabilities that reduce mobility.
Any human treatment that eventuates from this research would be of
particular interest to people suffering from these sorts of conditions.”
The research team is hoping to begin human trials within a year.
The trials will last for about three months and participants will be
given an ACE inhibitor to block the function of the enzyme.
“If the treatment is effective then we could have a commercially viable
therapy in the form of a pill within five years,” says Mathai.
Ever the nutritionist, he is also investigating micro-nutrients in food
as some of these have been known to target the same enzyme molecule
as the ACE inhibitors.
“We are broadening the study to look at a range of naturally occurring
micro-nutrients,” Mathai says. “If these micro-nutrients are found
to be effective, then it is very likely we would begin advising people
to eat more of the foods that contain them.
“I say this to anyone who will listen: but it is absolutely true that the
importance of eating a balanced diet along with daily exercise cannot
be overstated.”
The collaborative research team includes experts from Victoria University,
the Howard Florey Institute, La Trobe University, Deakin University, the
Baker Institute and the University of Melbourne.
CRAIG SCUTT
22
PAYING
ATTENTION
Helping parents to improve the behaviour of children with Attention
Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has been a key outcome of
research by Victoria University psychologist Dr Monique Roper.
The groundbreaking study is one of the first to assess the long-term
impact of ADHD treatments, and opens up the possibility that behavioural
intervention may be more successful than previously thought.
For her thesis, Dr Roper compared two forms of treatment for children
with ADHD. In one group she examined the impact of medication alone
and in another, medication combined with low-intensity family therapy,
a program she worked out with parents and caregivers of children with
ADHD. The combined treatment was found to have significantly better
long-term results. Although children on both forms of treatment showed
improvements over three months, only those on the combined treatment
continued to improve over six months.
“For the general public, parents and teachers, ADHD is associated
with poor behaviour, and treatments are seen to be effective if they
improve behaviour that has been out of control,” Dr Roper says.
“However, little attention has been paid to the underlying problems
governing the thought processes that produce this behaviour.”
To explore these underlying conditions, the research focused on what
neuropsychologists call “executive functioning”, abilities relating to the analysis
of complex information, planning and organisation, and self-monitoring.
“Current researchers have highlighted one key aspect of executive
function – inhibition – as being primary to ADHD,” Dr Roper says.
Inhibition comes in to play in situations requiring the withholding
or sudden interruption of a behavioural response.
“Inhibition is one of the key behaviours that guide interaction between
people,” Dr Roper says. “It is often poorly developed in children with
ADHD, leading to socially inappropriate behaviour such as interjection.
“In ‘normal’ children, response inhibition allows for a delay in
responding that provides time for other self-regulatory thinking processes
to occur. Children with ADHD lack normal inhibitory responses and their
thought processes are prevented or interrupted.”
In her study, Dr Roper examined the impact of stimulant medication
– commonly known by its commercial name, Ritalin – on two aspects
of inhibition: cognition and behaviour. This enabled her to measure
changes in behaviour, as well as to examine how cognitive processes,
in particular those relating to inhibition, were affected.
“We sat down with parents and caregivers to work out what behaviours
needed improvement and then brainstormed solutions together. The aim
was to discourage poor behaviour and to reinforce good behaviour with
praise,” Dr Roper says.
“We asked parents to keep a weekly diary about what worked and what
didn’t, and reviewed their efforts along the way.
“It was all about cheering them on from the sidelines. We would say,
‘If you stick with this you will get results’ – and that’s what eventuated.
On both measures we were looking at – cognitive and behavioural
– the group of children who had the family therapy showed greater
improvements over the longer term.”
Dr Roper’s research was supervised by VU senior lecturer in psychology
Dr Alan Tucker, who has a longstanding research interest in ADHD. Dr Tucker
says the study raises the possibility that behavioural therapy alone may
achieve good outcomes. “This is an area that warrants further investigation.
It may offer solutions for parents who do not want to use medication.”
Dr Roper was awarded her Doctor of Psychology (Clinical Neuropsychology)
degree earlier this year.
JIM BUCKELL
Psychology
Dr Monique
Roper and
parents
Joanne and
Geoff Holmes
watch children
Courtney and
Zachary at play.
23
Ali Abdo: wrestling
Tania Luiz: doubles badminton
Erin Carroll: singles badminton.
Sports
OUR BEIJING BEST
It would be a coup for any university to
have one or two students talented enough
to compete at the Olympics Games.
Twenty-five-year-old Tania Luiz, one of two VU students competing in
badminton, went to Beijing as one-half of Australia’s number-one ranked
women’s doubles’ team. The first-time Olympian is completing a double
degree in marketing and psychology, and after graduating hopes to
establish a business specialising in sports psychology.
But VU did better than that. It had a contingent of six current students,
plus three alumni, competing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and
Paralympics. They included two badminton players, a wrestler, a judo
competitor, a synchronised swimmer, a wheelchair tennis player,
a hockey player, a mountain biker and a road walker.
For Erin Carroll, a chance to compete against the world’s best in the
leading badminton nation of China was unexpected. Then came a lastminute phone call from Olympic organisers to let her know a change to
quota allocation places meant she was on her way to Beijing. The twentyone-year-old Bachelor of Applied Science (Physical Education) student
now has her eyes on a medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2010.
Although none came home with a medal, to reach such sporting heights
is a great accomplishment, particularly when studying full time.
At just 27 years, elite wrestler Ali Abdo competed in his third Olympics.
The Master of Osteopathy student has been studying at VU for most
of his Olympic career. He earned a University Full Blue Award at the
inaugural Victoria University Sport Awards in 2002, after representing
Australia at the Sydney Olympics. He also received VU’s Male Athlete of
the Year award in 2004 after his next Olympic appearance in Athens.
24
When Bachelor of Education student, Dennis Iverson, 27, injured his
back in 2005, his doctors told him he would never again compete in
judo at an elite level. How wrong they were. He made a remarkable
comeback and successfully qualified for his first Olympics in Beijing.
Dennis Iverson: judo
Tarren Otte: synchronised swimming
Danni Di Toro: wheelchair tennis
Sports
Charting new waters was second nature for synchronised swimmer
Tarren Otte. The twenty-year-old was a member of the first Australian
synchronised swimming team to compete at an overseas Olympics.
Working toward her goal of becoming a secondary school sports teacher,
Otte is also flying the flag for her sport in Melbourne’s west by helping
teach synchronised swimming to young girls at VU’s Aquatic Centre at
Footscray Park Campus.
Chinese medicine student Danni Di Toro, 34, was lured out of retirement
to compete in Beijing. The former world number one in women’s
wheelchair tennis left her sport in 2005 to concentrate on her studies,
but a fortuitous event changed her mind. She was offered an opportunity
to coach junior wheelchair tennis, and after picking up a racket, she was
hooked again. The chance to compete in China was important not only
for Danni’s sporting career, but it also gave her a chance to visit the
birthplace of Chinese medicine.
VU alumni were also well represented, with three graduates making
their Olympic debuts in 2008. Luke Doerner, a 2004 graduate of VU’s
Bachelor of Arts degree in Recreation Management, was a star defender
on the Australian men’s hockey team, the Kookaburras. Dellys Starr, who
earned an Associate Diploma of Arts in Recreation and Fitness Leadership
from VU in 1998, competed in cross-country mountain biking. And Chris
Erickson, a 2003 double degree graduate in Sports Administration and
Business Management, competed in the men’s 20km road walk.
Other VU alumni worked behind the scenes as media experts, including
five-time Olympian Andrew Gaze, undoubtedly Australia’s most
successful basketballer. A graduate of VU’s Bachelor of Applied Science
in 1996, Gaze was also the first athlete inducted into the VU Sport Hall
of Fame in 2002.
Gaze was joined by fellow VU alumnus and five-time Olympian, Mike
McKay. McKay was part of the famous ‘oarsome foursome’ team of coxless
rowers and helped bring home gold medals in 1992 and 1996, silver in
2000 and bronze in 2004. McKay earned a Bachelor of Applied Science in
1987 from VU’s predecessor institution, Footscray Institute of Technology,
followed by a Masters of Business Administration from VU in 1998.
ANN MARIE ANGEBRANDT
25
First-year
engineering
students work
on increasing
the efficiency of
motor vehicle
traffic at an
intersection by
adapting the
timing of traffic
lights.
Problem-Based Learning
GOT A PROBLEM?
Two young men are standing in a lecture
theatre full of medical students. One of the
young men leaves. The other turns to the
students and says, “You have just seen
a man with an inner-ear infection.”
The example above demonstrates how lecture-based learning has its
limitations, which is why VU is one of the few universities in the world to
have transformed its engineering curriculum from traditional lecturebased teaching to Problem–Project–Practice based learning, or PBL.
PBL is a teaching and learning approach usually constructed around a
series of problems and projects that encourage students to adopt a more
hands-on approach to their studies. Instead of just listening to a lecture,
students learn to assess a problem, convert it to a project, set a series of
tasks and then form teams to complete them.
This teaching method has been adopted across all undergraduate
engineering courses in the Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science at
VU’s Footscray Park Campus.
“By using PBL, VU students not only develop engineering skills by being
exposed to industry-relevant projects from day one, they also develop the
‘soft skills’ that industry requires,” says Dr Alex Stojcevski, director of the
Office for Problem-Based Learning. “Our classrooms are the real world.”
For example, first-year engineering students at VU may be asked to
develop a system to increase the efficiency of motor vehicle traffic at
an intersection by adapting the timing of traffic lights to the traffic flow.
26
Students observe traffic flow at a given intersection, take notes on what they
see, and then work in groups to develop working models of the intersection
with automated timing mechanisms to adapt existing traffic flows to the
variables they observed, such as varying speed limits and traffic density.
“PBL produces graduates with competencies in technical knowledge,
communication and information literacy, creativity, interpersonal and teamwork
skills, problem solving and business project management,” says Stojcevski.
The PBL system was introduced into the VU engineering curriculum in
2006 and today about 500 engineering students study architectural,
building, civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering using PBL.
Third-year engineering student Daniel Carvajal says that since
commencing his electrical engineering degree at VU, the problem-based
learning component of the course has been by far the most challenging
and rewarding of all of his subjects.
“PBL teaches you more than just good technical knowledge,” says Carvajal.
“It requires good communication, time management, organisational and
problem solving skills. These very important traits cannot be learned in an
old fashioned lecturer-to-student teaching environment.”
One of the first applications of PBL was for students studying medicine.
Since its adoption in the 1960s, PBL as a teaching method has spread
to other higher education disciplines such as engineering, mathematics,
business and architecture.
Stojcevski says many, if not all, VU courses may eventually adopt PBL.
YANNICK THORAVAL
Women
with trade
qualifications
are changing the
public perception
of a once
male-dominated
construction
industry.
© istockphoto.com / Ann Marie Kurtz
NEW FACE OF
CONSTRUCTION
Pre-Apprenticeships
VU PRE-APPRENTICESHIPS
Twenty years ago, female presence on construction sites was nothing
more than pictures hanging from staffroom lockers of calendar pin-up
girls lying provocatively across the bonnets of hotted-up cars.
VU’s Faculty of Technical and Trades Innovation offers the following
pre-apprenticeship courses, which provide the basic skills to gain access
to apprenticeships and traineeships.
Fast forward to 2008 and women now make up a steadily rising
14 per cent of the construction workforce.
Certificate II in Engineering – Production (Boatbuilding)
Training in the construction, repair and maintenance of boats.
Su Hauck is just one woman proving that working on a building site
is no longer a job just for the boys.
Certificate II in Furnishing (Cabinet Making/Wood Machining
/Furniture Polishing)
Develops basic skills and knowledge for employment in the furniture industry.
A qualified naturopath, Su dropped her remedy kit for a tool belt earlier
this year. She enrolled in the pre-apprenticeship Certificate II Course
in Building and Construction (Carpentry) at Victoria University’s Melton
Campus. The 16-week course offers students hands-on training and
provides them with the necessary skills, knowledge and ability to
work as apprentices in the construction and building industry.
“The Certificate II qualification gives students a better chance of gaining
an apprenticeship because it offers attractive incentives for employers,”
says course co-ordinator Ross Firth. “The students are more confident,
have a far greater understanding of the industry and what is expected
of them in the workforce than someone straight out of school.”
Su is now working for a Daylesford carpenter who is aiming to employ
her as an apprentice and believes that although her gender may have
initially been a drawback, her work speaks for itself.
Even though the industry doesn’t scream femininity, Su believes that
working in construction can be very satisfying for women.
“It leaves you with some very useful skills, both professionally and personally,”
she says. “I enjoy attempting new things and seeing them work, and
I like how varied my job can be – there is always an opportunity to learn.”
The Melton course has created a great deal of interest from prospective
students, and at least one woman has been enrolled in each course
intake since its introduction.
Certificate II in Building and Construction (Painting and Decorating)
Provides basic skills and knowledge of the painting and decorating industry.
Certificate II in Joinery/Shopfitting/Stairbuilding
Provides basic knowledge and skills involved in the fabrication
and installation of fittings, as well as construction techniques.
Certificate II in Building and Construction (Bricklaying)
Training in building and construction for the bricklaying industry.
Certificate II in Building and Construction (Carpentry)
Training in building and construction for the carpentry industry.
Certificate I in Electro-technology (Engineering)
Provides the knowledge and skills to start a career in electro-technology.
Certificate II in Automotive Technology Studies
Pre-vocational skills, knowledge and practical experience in automotive studies.
Certificate II in Plumbing
Provides basic skills and knowledge in plumbing.
“Females can be a stabilising influence on the class and they have
always remained enthusiastic and focused on what they would like
to achieve from the course,” says Firth.
LAUREN HALE
27
MORE THAN SKIN DEEP
Classrooms in Victoria University’s hair
and beauty programs come fully equipped
with scissors, styling mannequins and
a sheep’s carcass.
“Science underpins the knowledge that students get here,” says Dylan Webb,
who teaches nine science subjects, including chemistry, biology, anatomy
and physiology in VU’s beauty therapy program at City King Campus.
Webb says the sheep shins lined up on dissecting tables in one of the
science teaching labs are part of an anatomy lesson where beauty
therapy students learn the underlying mechanics of body massage.
The fridge in the lab is filled with petri dishes containing various moulds and
bacteria, such as penicillin, lacto basilicas and E. coli. The samples are used
to demonstrate the application of proper hygienic practices in the salon.
School of Personal Services
VU’s hairdressing
program is the
only one in
Australia to be
awarded three
Gold Stars – the
highest possible
– by the Institute
for Trade Skills
Excellence
28
“When I first saw my job advertised I thought it was a joke,” says Webb.
“I thought, ‘why would the University need a science teacher for a
beauty therapy course?’. But I discovered that what I was teaching here
was similar to the physiotherapy program I had been teaching before.”
About 40 per cent of beauty therapy study at VU is science-based.
“No other education provider in this field has someone like me on staff,” says
Webb. “We’ve actually had some students come in to beauty therapy programs
and get so into the science that they go on to do PhDs in biochemistry.”
Jann Fullerton, head of VU’s School of Personal Services, says the
science component of the Beauty Therapy program is part of VU’s overall
commitment to give students a holistic educational experience in all
of the school’s personal service programs, which include hair, beauty,
modelling and makeup studies.
“Because VU is a university, students learn the founding principles of
their trade, not just the latest trends,” says Fullerton. “Their education is
about the underpinning knowledge, not just the mechanical skills. Some
of the industry people we work with say they only want VU graduates
because they know they’re the best. But don’t take my word for it, ask
the students why they’re studying here.”
Third-year VU hairdressing student Lynda Cooper says she has friends
studying at other places who say their learning experience isn’t as good
as hers. “Some places are stuck on what’s new, what’s fashionable
– they don’t teach the basics,” says Cooper. “But styles change.”
With 54 other hair and beauty education providers in Melbourne alone,
competition for students is fierce, but the University’s commitment
to teaching the basics is proving to be a winning formula.
The University’s hairdressing program is the only one in Australia to be
awarded three Gold Stars – the highest possible – by the Institute for
Trade Skills Excellence.
VU Hair and Beauty students also swept recent industry awards. Five
students received top honours at the annual Hairdressing and Beauty
Industry Association awards, including hairdressing student Natasha
D’Allura who was named Victoria’s Outstanding Student in Hairdressing.
“I was completely shocked winning this because I was competing
against all the city girls from Melbourne,” says D’Allura.
There are 1500 students enrolled in Personal Services programs at VU.
YANNICK THORAVAL
With over 500 enrolled hairdressing apprentices, VU is the leading
industry trainer in Victoria.
School of Personal Services
VU science
teacher
Alan Brown
explains the
workings of the
cardiovascular
system to beauty
therapy student
Mandy Le as
she dissects a
sheep’s heart.
29
Rajesh Bhatia
outside his
India at Home
supermarket in
Footscray. His
supermarket
chain will
increase to more
than ten stores
over the next
few years.
Alumni
INDIA
AT HOME
Rajesh Bhatia has revolutionised the look of the Asian grocery store with
his India at Home supermarket chain. Absent are the crowded shelves,
narrow aisles and exotic smells typical of Melbourne’s traditional
Chinese, Vietnamese or Indian grocery shops.
Instead, the Victoria University MBA graduate has proved that Australia
is ready for Indian supermarkets with the same clean, bright and
contemporary style as their western counterparts – ones that use
modern marketing techniques, such as customer loyalty programs,
online shopping, and slick, targeted advertising.
“The concept was to establish an express-style modern grocery store,
specialising in Indian products, because nobody had really done that
before,” Bhatia says.
Since 2004, Bhatia has built a thriving supermarket business in Melbourne
by targeting neighbourhoods with a high concentration of Indian residents.
His chain of five supermarkets have a huge range of products, many
sold under the company’s own label, India at Home. They range from
Bollywood DVDs, giant pails of ghee and religious statues to vacuumpacked somosas, henna hair dye and freshly made lassi.
So successful has India at Home been, with outlets in Dandenong, Clayton,
Footscray, Hawthorn and Box Hill, that at least five more stores are planned
around Melbourne over the next few years. Turnover has gone from $1 million
to $6 million since 2004, and staff numbers have increased from four to 30.
In the future, Bhatia plans to expand to Sydney and beyond.
That’s quite an accomplishment for someone who moved to Australia
from Delhi on a student visa less than 15 years ago, with a vague idea
about starting some kind of business.
After graduating from VU in 1999 with an MBA in international trade,
Bhatia decided to turn those loose plans into India at Home. He chose
food importing because of the knowledge and experience he gained
while working part time for a food importer during his university studies.
“I always had in my mind that I wanted to run my own business,” Bhatia says.
“My time at VU helped me focus on what I wanted. Many of the teachers
came from industry and knew exactly what was happening in the world of
international marketing. I learned a great deal about operations, marketing
innovation and specific strategies so that my business would become a success.”
His company motto, ‘Bringing you back what you left behind’, draws
a steady stream of expatriates and students from India, as well as from
Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Fiji.
Bhatia estimates that Melbourne had about 100,000 people of Indian
culture when he opened his first supermarket, but says that number has
now doubled.
His outlets attract Indian food lovers from other backgrounds as well,
reflecting the fact that Indian cuisine, with its rich curries, delicious dahls
and crisp pappadams is Australia’s fastest growing ethnic food type.
Now with a wife and two young children, the Endeavour Hills resident
wants his stores to be as integrated into the Australian community as he is.
An Indian restaurant is planned for the upstairs floor of his Footscray
supermarket, and another at the Hawthorn site.
Besides selling Indian products, Rajesh has introduced little “extras”
that keep his customers coming back. For the festival of Karva Chauth
held in October, he offered a free ‘hand henna’ ceremony for any female
customer who wanted to ensure wedded bliss.
“We bring our customers the products that let them experience a slice
of India in their home,” he says.
ANN MARIE ANGEBRANDT
30
WERC is
providing
fellowships
for research
projects that
aim to reshape
the future of
teaching areas,
including clinical
practice in
nursing.
Work-Based Education
EDUCATION
AT WORK
Victoria University’s new Work-based
Education Research Centre (WERC)
is shaping the future of tertiary education.
WERC offers leadership in research to support teachers and new
researchers interested in improving existing teaching
and learning methods in vocational and work-based education.
“Our ongoing goals will be to build research capability within the
University while undertaking research that is timely, relevant and, above
all, useful to those who are preparing people for the world of work,”
says centre director Berwyn Clayton.
WERC is doing this by bringing together industry and researchers
in order to take teaching research out of the books and into the
classroom and workplace.
WERC has established the WERC CIRCLE, a network of researchers and
VET practitioners interested in the possibilities of work-based research.
Network activities include sharing and testing of research ideas and
resources; investigating opportunities for collaboration; helping in
developing funding submissions for National VET research and evaluation;
financial support for presenting at conferences; holding seminars on
current VET research; and meeting with visiting VET researchers.
Since opening in May 2008, WERC has provided two VU teachers with
fellowships to undertake research projects that aim to reshape the future
of their respective teaching areas.
One of the research projects is on language literacy and numeracy
support in vocational education, and is being undertaken by Corinna
Ridley of VU College, which supports the transition of students into,
through and beyond university studies.
“WERC is a great initiative,” says Ridley. “It’s been really useful to
have the support of the centre to help define and apply my research.”
The other project is being conducted by nursing teacher Jane Elvy
on improving clinical practice in nursing.
Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education Services) and Director TAFE,
Professor Richard Carter, says the new centre marks a major innovation
on a matter that is of national significance.
“It will undertake cutting-edge research in vocational education, partly
focused on improving trades education, partly focused on how skills are
best taught or learned in workplace settings,” says Professor Carter.
“At a time of skills shortages and a large drop-out rate from
apprenticeship courses, these issues are regarded as being of critical
importance to employers and the government. The centre’s work in these
areas is particularly timely given that the volume of funded research
in vocational education in Australia is actually shrinking.
“Victoria University’s commitment to building leading practice
in vocational education, growing links with industry, and providing
25 per cent learning in the workplace means that work-based education
research has a strong future at VU.”
YANNICK THORAVAL
31
Opinion
FUNDING ON DEMAND
Allowing students easy passage between
higher education and vocational and
further education (TAFE) is the first step
in modernising the tertiary education
system, writes Conor King.
The Report from the Rudd Government’s review of higher education was
released late in December 2008. Its response to this report and to the report
on the National Innovation System (Culter Report) is due in February 2009.
Starved of public funding for more than a decade, universities are
struggling to meet the needs of students, employers and our fastchanging economy. The gradual shift over the past two decades from
Commonwealth funding to a user-pays system increasingly dependent
on student fees has failed to address inequity of access. It has created
a tertiary education sector that is over-reliant on fee income and unable
to deliver the education needs of significant populations and regions.
Particularly disadvantaged regions include western Melbourne and Sydney,
northern Adelaide, and most rural and remote regions across Australia.
32
To rectify these shortcomings, Victoria University proposed that the
Commonwealth Government break down the lines of demarcation
between higher education and vocational and further education to create
a genuine cross-sectoral tertiary system that assists students to move
freely across sectors. We believe this would allow providers to offer the
courses they wish to target within a framework that provides quality
assurance, adequate funding and affordable student charges.
The final section of the Review Report takes up the VU proposal to argue
that its own proposals for student-driven, demand-based funding tied
to enhanced, standards-based quality arrangements could apply to a
national tertiary system across higher and vocational education.
We need a national tertiary system that works effectively across the
human life cycle. The system we would like to see would continue to
provide the traditional post-school options but also engage with that
large group of working people who do not apply for additional education
and training in the years immediately after school, thereby improving
workforce participation in education. It would also meet the expected
growth in demand for second, third and subsequent awards and nonaward training across all sectors. Individuals would look for education
across multiple sectors, thereby strengthening the value of common
education systems and making choice and access more flexible.
Conor King: “The
Commonwealth
Government
(needs to) break
down the lines
of demarcation
between higher
education and
vocational
and further
education to
create a genuine
cross-sectoral
tertiary system.”
When there is free movement between vocational and further education
(TAFE) and higher education, students do not attach any stigma to
either sector; instead, they view courses as opportunities to gain skills.
In VU’s engineering programs, for example, higher education bachelor
degree students approached the University to include a new vocational
education subject on laser manufacturing in their course. The students
were responding to opportunities in the vocational education sector that
had not found their way into their higher education program.
In addressing the shortfall in government funding, it would be easy
for universities to simply argue for a set increase in grants to make
up for diminished government spending over the past 12 or so years.
However, VU believes greater value can be extracted from government
funds. We believe that the Government must not only significantly increase
university funding but also target these funds to desired outcomes. This
would replace the current Commonwealth Grants Scheme that allocates
funding largely on the basis of student places. Under the VU proposal
universities would attract base-level funding for each place provided,
but would also be rewarded for meeting benchmarks, including the number
of socially disadvantaged students, and the quality of teaching and learning.
These proposals are very similar to those put forward by the Review.
Other significant outcomes that we believe should attract funding include
targets for graduates and workers who upgrade their qualifications to
meet the needs of industry and their local communities. Similarly, we
would like to see greater financial incentives for employers to provide
training for their staff.
Opinion
As a university whose catchment is one of the most socially and economically
disadvantaged areas of Victoria, VU has learned the value of outreach
programs targeting school students. Our experience shows that such
contact is invaluable as a means of encouraging school children to consider
a university education. We are very pleased that the Review supports such
activities as the keystone to improving access to higher education.
We propose that each university receive block funding for research, based
on a broad conception of research as knowledge generation, and on the
response of universities to student and industry demand. We also argue
that support for research students should be open to international as well
as domestic students to encourage highly-skilled overseas researchers
to come to Australia. This is the case in New Zealand where international
research students are treated exactly the same as domestic students.
This not only attracts overseas expertise but also encourages international
students to stay in the country once their research is completed.
The rising cost of living, especially of accommodation, means increasingly
larger numbers of students face financial hardship. This needs to be
addressed urgently. This view is strongly supported by the Review, which
argues for many improvements to income support payment arrangements.
We urge the Government to take up the Review’s proposals.
Finally, inflexible immigration laws rob us of the opportunity to take
advantage of the skills and perspective of international students after
they have finished their studies. We urge the Government to allow
international students the option of working in Australia and becoming
Australian citizens upon completion of their studies.
VU does not support the notion that areas of research be allocated to
particular universities or types of universities. This argument amounts
to picking winners, a notion that governments and others long ago
rejected. Rather, through support for research output and performance,
universities with more targeted research strengths should be able to
intensify existing strengths and target new areas for development while
working collaboratively with researchers in other institutions.
Conor King is VU’s Institutional Strategist. He compiled VU’s submission
to the 2008 Bradley Review of Higher Education, on which this opinion
piece is based.
VU’s full submission to the Bradley Review of Higher Education can be
viewed at:
http://www.vu.edu.au/vusubmissionbradleyreport
33
Selmir Gosto
(centre) with
Chancellor Frank
Vincent and
Vice-Chancellor
Liz Harman at
his graduation
ceremony in
2008.
Alumni
WALKING TALL
“It was a hard decision to make – Hamilton is not Europe,” says Selmir.
“It’s difficult to leave your family at that age, but mum said, ‘It’s your life.
You’ve been given an opportunity that you won’t get here. So you are
free to go if that’s what you want to do’.
When he was plucked from the Bosnian war zone in 1997 and flown
to Melbourne for surgery, 11-year-old Selmir Gosto was quite literally
a shattered boy.
A few months later he was attending Monivae College in Hamilton and
staying with parish priest Peter Hudson.
After the cessation of fighting in his homeland, Selmir was returning with
his family to what they assumed was the safety of their home in the
suburbs of Mostar, the second largest city in Bosnia. However, when their
vehicle ran over a landmine, Selmir’s life was to change dramatically.
His father was killed and Selmir’s left leg was shattered with hundreds of
pieces of embedded shrapnel and burns covering 90 per cent of his body.
“I was in hospital in Sarajevo for two months for plastic surgery on
my leg,” Selmir says. “When I returned to Mostar, Moira Kelly from the
Children First Foundation gave me the opportunity to come to Melbourne
for further surgery. At that stage I had been in a wheelchair for months
and was walking on crutches, but I couldn’t move my foot up and down
and I was still in a lot of pain.”
The foundation was established by Kelly to assist children throughout
the world injured during war.
After more shrapnel was removed and surgeons reconnected nerves
and ligaments, Selmir was able to start a rehabilitation program that
has returned almost 100 per cent of movement in his leg, despite 200
fragments of metal remaining.
“The surgery vastly improved the way I could walk and had a massive
impact on my back, which had been strained and painful,” Selmir says.
Selmir returned to his mother and family in Mostar, but not before a second
offer was made that would change his life once more. The foundation,
impressed with the young boy’s grasp on life – and his rapid grasp of
the English language – left open for him the chance to return and stay in
Australia. A billet had been tentatively lined up with a priest in the Western
District of Victoria, and a place was available at a local high school.
34
He took to country life with glee, shining on the sporting field, where his fully
recovered leg was no longer a hindrance. To the contrary, the surgical repairs
meant Selmir was on the way to reaching his full stature of two metres, and
he was in demand on the basketball court and the Aussie Rules field.
After he completed his schooling, Selmir enrolled in a Certificate IV
course in Information Technology at VU’s Footscray Nicholson Campus.
His decision to attend VU was influenced by the generous intervention of
the foundation once again. After an approach to the University, Selmir’s
tuition fees and expenses were covered by a VU scholarship for the four
years of his study. Within a year he had taken credit for his Certificate
work to advance to a diploma in web design and then enrol in the BA in
multimedia at St Albans Campus, which he finished at the end of 2007.
“Melbourne is my hometown now. It’s where my job is at Open Universities
Australia, and all my friends are here. I’ve kept involved with the Foundation
and help out where I can. It’s important to me to be a bit of a role model for
young kids coming here in similar situations to myself all those years ago.”
Selmir often meets children as they arrive at the airport from the world’s
trouble spots to drive them to their accommodation and introduce them
to people and new places. In a sign of the times, the Foundation’s work
has expanded to provide assistance for children damaged by poverty
as well as by the violence of war. It also has two programs that assist
disadvantaged children in Australia.
“It’s work I always want to do, for the kids injured or sick through
no fault of their own,” says Selmir. “I’ll definitely never let that go.”
JIM BUCKELL
VU Books
NEW BOOKS
A National Game: The History of Australian
Rules Football
Bye-Bye Charlie: Stories from the Vanishing
World of Kew Cottages
By Bob Stewart, Rob Hess, Gregory de Moore and
Matthew Nicholson
By Corinne Manning
Published by Penguin Books
Opened in 1887, Kew Cottages was Australia’s first
and largest specialised institution for people with
intellectual disability. By combining oral testimonies
from those associated with the institution, including
residents, staff and policy makers, and documented
evidence, Manning celebrates the lives of those who
have long been forgotten.
Published by UNSW Press
This is the only comprehensive history of the
evolution of Australian Rules football from its
humble origins 150 years ago to the multimillion
dollar budgets of today’s elite teams. It describes
how football has come to dominate the national
sporting landscape.
Multimedia Information Storage and Retrieval:
Techniques and Technologies
It keeps me sane: Women, craft, wellbeing
By Enza Gandolfo and Marty Grace
By Philip Kwok Chung Tse
Published by Vulgar Press
Published by IGI Global
Multimedia applications can now store, manipulate
and make available at warp speed a variety of
media, including text, graphics, images, sound,
audio and video among many others. This presents
many challenges to the multimedia industry.
This groundbreaking book by VU PhD computer
science graduate Dr Philip Tse offers solutions.
This book explores the roles and meanings of
craftmaking in contemporary women’s lives. It
explores the links that women perceive between
craftmaking and wellbeing, including creative and
self expression, community and intergenerational
links, and passion for the craft itself. Fifteen
individual women and one group are highlighted
in the book.
Rethinking Education with ICT
The Shallow End
By Nicola Yelland
By Ashley Sievwright
Publisher: Sense Publishers, Rotterdam
Published by Clouds of Magellan Publishing
This book brings together academics who have
conducted research and written about effective
practices and pedagogies that incorporate the use
of information and communications technologies
(ICT). The book is intended for teachers and
graduate and undergraduate students in teacher
education programs, as well as those interested
in contemporary educational issues.
Filling his hours sunbathing at the Prahran Pool
in Melbourne, an unnamed observer becomes
intrigued by the disappearance of a fellow swimmer.
The Shallow End cruises through issues such as
heartbreak, sexuality, media sensationalism and
happiness. This book has been shortlisted for the
Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book 2009.
VU FACTS
HISTORY
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Technical School and established
as Victoria University in 1990
STUDENT POPULATION
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than 49,400 enrolled students
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more than 10,900
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WEB
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and VU College
35
VU ART
ARTIST/STUDENT: Desalegn Gebrezabeher
COURSE: Diploma of Arts (Visual Art)
TITLE: Cityscape from Footscray
DATE: 2008
MEDIA: Acrylic on Canvas
WWW.VU.EDU.AU
CRICOS Provider No. 00124K