Australia – HERDSA
HERDSA is the peak professional body for the dissemination of scholarly works in tertiary learning and teaching in Australasia (http://www.herdsa.org.au). HERDSA has around 1,000 members from Australia and overseas and promotes the development of higher education policy, practice and the scholarly study of learning and teaching issues and their dissemination. HERDSA’s regional networks are active in the ACT, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, New Zealand and Hong Kong. These regional networks are important venues for encouraging and disseminating research on learning and teaching in the tertiary education sector.
HERDSA provides the following services:
• a refereed journal, HERD, published six times a year and given an A ranking by ARC
• a newsletter with substantial articles published three times a year
• HERDSA Guides which provide useful ideas and information on many aspects of learning and teaching
• an annual conference and conference proceedings
• branch networks extending beyond Australia which include networking activities, mini-conferences, seminars and branch meetings
• a weekly email digest that focuses on current happenings in higher education
• a successful and respected Fellowship Scheme
Current President until July 7 2011
Professor Geoffrey Crisp; Dean of Learning and Teaching, RMIT University; Building 57, Level 6 Room 20A, GPO Box 2476, Melbourne, Victoria 3001. firstname.lastname@example.org Tel (03) 9925 0358
New President from July 7 2011
Professor Shelda Debowski; Director Organisational and Staff Development Services, University of Western Australia; Room G12, Love House, 28 Broadway, Crawley, Western Australia. email@example.com Tel (08) 6488 3845
A. Please explain an aspect of your network’s activities which you think has been especially successful this year.
HERDSA has traditionally run an annual conference that attracts between 300-400 participants. The 2010 conference was in Melbourne and was very successful with around 370 participants and the 2011 conference will be at the Gold Coast in a couple of weeks and is looking to be just as successful with over 350 participants.
The HERDSA journal HERD has been granted an A ranking (levels are A*, A, B and C) by the Australian Research Council. This is a pleasing result for HERDSA and its members.
HERDSA branch activity has increased significantly with more local events being organized. We have had 3 new Fellows over the past 12 months and many HERDSA members have been successful in obtaining national grants and awards for learning and teaching. HERDSA has been able to maintain its membership at a constant level.
B. Please explain a particular difficulty your network experienced this year.
Funding for learning and teaching initiatives continues to be an issue at the national level.
C. In your national higher education context, please consider how you expect your network to develop over the next year.
A couple of major issues in the Australian Higher Education sector (HERDSA is Australasian, so includes Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, Hong Kong, Singapore).
The Australian Government has decided to close the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC); this was the major national funding body for developments in learning and teaching in universities for the country. This was essentially a political decision but was proposed as a funding cut to government expenditure in response to a series of natural disasters that will impact on the Australian economy. After a major campaign from the higher education sector to retain the ALTC, the government decided to retain much of the funding for learning and teaching grants but move it to another government department and still close the ALTC. This decision has had a major impact on the status of learning and teaching development in universitie4s in Australia.
HERDSA, as well as a number of other national bodies representing various aspects of learning and teaching in higher education, have put in proposals for funding to retain the extensive networking and leadership activities of the ALTC. We are currently waiting to hear the outcomes from these submissions.
The other major development for the higher education sector is the change in the body for quality audits for universities. The Australian Universities Quality Agency (AUQA) is to be replaced with the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA). There will be a significant shift in the emphasis of the quality audits which will now incorporate aspects of reporting on the standards of learning outcomes for students. HERDSA will be involved in discussions with various stakeholders in this new approach to quality audits and the use of learning outcomes in the disciplines.
Professional Development in Learning and Teaching
The Graduate Certificate in Higher Education (or equivalent) is not mandatory in the majority of Australian or New Zealand universities, although a few have made it mandatory for Associate Lecturers and Lecturers new to university teaching. All Australian universities have a mandatory introductory requirement for new teachers to do a “foundations” course in university teaching. Each university mandates this; it is not a legal requirement. Most often, the “foundations” course is a portion of a Graduate Certificate program, or can be used as credit towards the formal qualification.
The Council of Directors of Academic Development (CADAD) has recently published a document on “Benchmarking Performance of Academic Development Units in Australian Universities”. This project is now complete and the final report is available below from: