ACUADS Chair’s Report (August 2008)

Posted on August 31, 2008

Posted on 31 Aug 2008

Su Baker, Deputy Dean, Victorian College of the Arts

It is hard to believe we are in September 2008 already and are soon to be meeting in Adelaide for the Annual Conference. Where does the time go?

So far this year ACUADS has been involved in responding to the new Government’s initiatives including the Review of the National Innovation System submission. Copies of last year’s ACUADS conference publication on research excellence were sent to the review team.

Excellence In Research for Australia (ERA)

The ERA initiative is being developed by the Australian Research Council with advice from the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.

The new framework aims to:

  • Identify excellence across the full spectrum of research activity 
 Compare Australia’s research effort against international benchmarks 
 Create incentives to improve the quality of research, and
  • Identify emerging research areas and opportunities for further development.

ERA will undertake evaluation of the research in Australian higher education institutions in each of eight discipline clusters one of which is Humanities and Creative Arts.

The new research assessment process is underway through the ARC and the ERA process. There is a sense of déjà vu of course, and it seems like we may be making our arguments anew in this new process. ACUADS will of course be an active participant in this process through the various forums available.

ACUADS also contributed to the review of the Journal rankings exercise, with particular thanks to Professor Anne Marsh from Monash University for her attention and contribution to this process.

Indicator Development Group, Creative Art Sub-Committee

For many years ACUADS has played a significant role in the challenges, debates and evaluation propositions around the nature and quality of research in the Creative Arts, in particular in Art and Design.

As Chair of ACUADS, Su Baker has been appointed as one of a six person Creative Arts Sub-Committee and welcomes the opportunity to continue that participation in finding appropriate and discipline-specific methods of evaluating high quality research outcomes in this field and to establish a productive and meaningful place for the creative arts in the research culture in Australia.

Future-proofing the Creative Arts in Higher Education: a scoping project for quality in creative arts research training (ALTC funded Project)

Project Leaders: Su Baker, Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne; Brad Buckley, Sydney College of the Arts Graduate School, University of Sydney; and Project Manager Giselle Kett, Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne

This scoping project is an Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) funded initiative conducted in partnership between the Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools (ACUADS), the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), University of Melbourne and the Sydney College of the Arts (SCA), University of Sydney.

The project aims to survey the current state of doctoral programs in the creative arts in Australian universities and to investigate corresponding programs in a sample of overseas universities. Key areas the study will address include: the structure of doctoral programs; expectations of supervision, coursework, and examination practices; multiple research outcomes produced; new knowledge evolving through these models of research; institutional support required; and the needs and expectations of research candidates. See

Roundtable – Scoping for quality in tertiary creative arts research training

After some discussions with fellow ALTC and other Grant recipients, a Roundtable discussion is to be held at the VCA in Melbourne on 14-15 September 2008 to share the scope of the various projects and to find common areas of concern.

As the creative arts PhD becomes the defining benchmark of quality and innovation in the field, the graduates, artists/researchers, will be the academics of the future. Their experiences and the quality of their work will substantially determine the future shape of the higher education art and design sector. It is therefore a timely opportunity to build high quality performance into the next generation of creative arts academics.

There are considerable synergies appearing in the initial discussions and we are keen to develop these further.

Publication Section – ACUADS Web Site

Following discussion over several meetings, the Executive has agreed that ACUADS will offer, as a core project, a publishing service to members through the establishment of a Publications section on our web site with its own masthead.

It is proposed that given the need to publish research outputs and to do so with maximum independence (to avoid suggestions of ‘vanity press’), ACUADS will provide an online publishing service to members through which refereed conference/symposia papers could be reviewed to ensure that they satisfy appropriate requirements for refereeing and then uploaded to the ACUADS website. The proposal would not require ACUADS to manage the refereeing process; ACUADS would merely verify that the particular conference/symposia organisers had followed the proper procedure and secured the required statement, etc. However a small committee drawn from the Executive would ‘sign off’ on the relevance of the subject matter to art and design practice and research and the appropriateness of the process used by the organisers.

It was noted that exhibition catalogues and the like also had potential to be acknowledged as ‘published’ in DEST terms with a version of this proposal.

It is proposed that the material be uploaded as PDFs and could be available in hard copy.

The project will be launched at the Adelaide Conference in October.