University induction packages are tailored for home-grown academics and fail to address the specific needs of new academics from overseas.
Simple advice, such how to open a bank account, get a tax file number, find a school for dependent children and get a driver’s licence, can make the difference in helping academics from overseas adjust more readily into Australian life.
But universities tend to provide work-related information only in their induction programs, while ignoring everyday practicalities.
To complicate things even further, researchers from Charles Sturt University argue that induction processes and packages are generic in nature, and can leave overseas academics, especially those from a non-English speaking background, floundering in a sea of “cultural assumptions and taken-for-granted local practices”.
Instead, often the most useful sources of practical information, of both a personal and professional nature, are gleaned on an ad hoc basis from well-meaning colleagues.
Writing in the most recent edition of the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, Dr Sue Saltmarsh from CSU and Teresa Swirski from Macquarie University argue that despite the global nature of the academic workforce and assumptions of a seamless transition when relocating, their interviews with 12 participants from four continents did not back that up.
“Most reported their initial struggle with the assumed knowledge upon which induction and professional development activities were reliant, including those whose tertiary education and work histories had taken place in developed, Anglophone countries,” the researchers write.
“Similarly, most experienced initial bewilderment about routine, everyday activities such as arranging banking and finance, driver’s licences, professional memberships and so on, and none had been formally provided with information about locally available support networks and community services.”
Participants spoke of not realising just “how different the higher education system actually is” in terms of class structure, student expectations, assignments and the like.
“No one explains these things to you. You just kind of figure them out as you make mistakes.”
Another spoke of the jargon and assumed knowledge inherent in the higher education sector. “A lot of it has gone over my head,” they said.
And even for those who found the induction and training programs beneficial, the sheer volume of information, from initial induction process to faculty forums to individual inductions in everything from IT to HR, was overwhelming.
“A lot of it just went in one ear and out the other.”
The authors write that “questions of personal, cultural and social identity” emerged as a significant tension, arguing there are significant policy implications for universities in terms of recruitment planning, workplace induction and other programs aimed at staff development and retention.
“Implications of our study include the need to ensure that incoming international staff are provided with adequate information not only about working at the university, but also about government and local resources that might aid in their initial transition,” Saltmarsh and Swirski write.
While the research was conducted at only one comprehensive regional university, they say the lack of information specifically tailored for international staff is common across Australian institutions.
“However … the communication of even seemingly generic information about university services, information sources and so on is culturally specific, and may not be readily understood by those from other linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
“There is thus a need to ensure that induction programs are responsive to cultural difference.”
Even simple steps to amend this could greatly assist in the transition of new overseas academics, they conclude.
Source: Campus Review – 17 May 10 by Julie Hare
PRIVATE college numbers have surged by 20 per cent in the past year, defying the federal government crackdown and prompting a warning the sector is still expanding too fast for regulators to cope.
As scores of colleges have collapsed or been wound up in the past two years, another 100 providers have sprung up mainly in key problem states of Victoria and NSW, latest official figures show.
“It’s too much, too fast. It’s exceeding the capacity of the regulators to keep on top of it all,” the University of Melbourne’s Leesa Wheelahan said.
“Education isn’t a quick and dirty business. It takes time to build capacity and expertise.”
Former Australian Council of Private Education and Training chief executive Tim Smith said the figures were unprecedented.
“The new compliance regime is biting and will drive quality improvement. But on balance it’s healthy,” Mr Smith said.
The comments follow evidence to the Senate by federal education department secretary Lisa Paul that 100 new providers had been registered, and Ms Paul expected the sector “to continue to grow”. However, Professor Wheelahan said the growth in private providers had been “so big and fast”, it had exposed problems in regulation and quality assurance. The figures highlighted the potential for “phoenixing”, where businesses close down and re-emerge with a new name to escape debts.
“The various state governments need to explain the arrangements they have in place to ensure that a deregistered provider in one state doesn’t pop up in another guise in another state,” Professor Wheelahan said.
The figures come as Education Minister Julia Gillard announced the successful passage of the re-registration of providers bill, which will apply to all providers registered to teach international students. “Only those who have met the strengthened entry requirements will remain on the register from January 1, 2011,” Ms Gillard said.
Yet the peak vocational regulator declined to say whether the 100 new providers would be subjected to increased checks.
Students affected by closures had been supported by consumer protection arrangements, ACPET chief Andrew Smith said.
source: The Australian Higher Education
Jónsi Þór Birgisson of Sigur Rós has begun to reveal his new solo album side project ‘Go’. He’s not giving much away at the moment but I’m sure all will become clear in due course. In the meantime, there’s a free track available to download on his website atjonsi.com once you’ve signed up to the mailing list. Be sure to click the letters of Jónsi on the homepage, it plays snippets of other songs from the album. The ‘j’ is amazing.
Boy Lilikoi – Jónsi
From the tags on this mp3, it is revealed that the album is to be called ‘Go’ and is set to be released worldwide on or around March 22nd 2010. Unlike most of his songs, the lyrics this time are in English. I’m not sure whether the rest of this solo album will be in English but it could show Jónsi trying to gain a more foreign listening audience.
Grow Till Tall
‘Go’ Tracklist (announced 07/12/09)