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Curtin University
Vice-Chancellor
Note to staff

21 April 2015

 
 

Four Corners program

Many of you will have seen last night’s episode of Four Corners, which focussed on issues arising from universities being reliant on international student income. Among the matters raised were increased casualisation of the workforce, the vulnerability of international students under family and financial pressure, plagiarism and how it is dealt with, unscrupulous agents and lax systems which potentially allow unqualified students to gain entry into Australian universities.

The focus of the program was primarily on universities in New South Wales and on a report issued by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in that state. The only mention of Curtin was a reference to a 2009 case of serious misconduct by a former academic staff member. That matter was thoroughly investigated by the Corruption and Crime Commission at the time, and the University immediately implemented a range of changes in response, both to address weaknesses in our systems and procedures and to develop a values-based culture at Curtin.

Some of the measures we took included forming the Professional Standards and Conduct Unit (now known as the Integrity and Standards Unit) to develop Curtin’s Code of Conduct, to educate staff and students about how to complain if they have concerns, and to ensure any complaints are appropriately investigated. Our induction processes were expanded and strengthened to ensure all staff were aware of the Code of Conduct and of the University’s expectations and standards.

Weaknesses identified in our teaching practices were addressed through improvements, for example, to grade centre; the adoption of plagiarism detection software; and better policies and processes for all staff, including sessional teachers. We have strict processes in place to ensure our agents act in accordance with all applicable legislative requirements and standards, and for the past couple of years we have brought agents to the Bentley campus for training. (More information about our expectations of our agents can be found in the information we provided to the ABC.)

Perhaps most importantly Curtin has also introduced the Living Our Values project to create a strong and cohesive values-based culture. The University’s existing values were reviewed in consultation with staff and students, and a new set of values and signature behaviours was developed and is being implemented.

This will be an ongoing process and as I mentioned in a recent Note to Staff, we will now broaden the remit of the Living Our Values program to strengthen our culture, improve the lived experience of staff, and build a sense of belonging and commitment to the Curtin community.

As last night’s program indicated, universities are facing many challenges in the current environment. Curtin is aware of these issues and will continue to address them proactively and transparently.

 

 

 
 

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