Costing a bomb: the Defence White Paper delivers for universities

 

Plus the Productivity Commission asks hard questions (just not here) and Cameron bails from UWA

App of the Day

The University of Adelaide has a guided, interactive campus tour app for smartphones and tablets, claimed as the first of its kind in the world. Audiences are prospective students, their parents and people whose lives will not be complete without visiting UofA in-person or on-line.

Campus Morning Mail

Cameron bails from UWA

Alec Cameron is UK bound. The University of Western Australia DVC is moving there to become VC of Aston University in September. Prior to joining UWA in 2013 Professor Cameron was dean of business at the University of New South Wales.

This is a bad time for UWA VC Paul Johnson to lose a senior manager, especially one not closely associated with the unpopular restructure and retrenchment proposal, led by senior DVC Dawn Freshwater.

Professor Cameron joins another UNSW veteran moving to England. Iain Martin is leaving Kensington to become VC at Anglia Ruskin U.

Costing a bomb

Before anybody starts designing a syllabus for a fee-paying masters on submarine construction, relax, there are money-making research opportunities aplenty in the Defence White Paper – even for universities that aren’t in Adelaide! According to the DWP the Next Generation Technologies Fund will spend $730m over ten years with defence science organisations, including cooperative research centres, via the ARC’s Linkages Programme. And the Defence Innovation Hub (“a virtual organisation”), “will assist Australian companies, and academic and research organisations to assess whether innovations have a defence application and will provide access to funding to collaboratively mature those ideas.”

The idea is to integrate defence engagement with research; “together our small, medium and large enterprises (along with Australian research institutions and academics) have a track record of producing some of the world’s most innovative defence technologies. However, these enterprises have often found it difficult to engage with Defence due to the fragmented nature of innovation programs and complex entry processes.”

But this is all going to change and everything will be outlined in a (and don’t tell CMM you did not see this coming) future policy statement, “Science and Innovation for National Security.

DVC R’s to your battle stations!

Fair warning

Yesterday CMM reported that Western Sydney University had admitted to reading some staff emails but VC Barney Glover promised it would not happen anymore without targeted staff knowing. But what CMM wondered was whether they would be told before or after it happened. The university advises it will be before, “unless the university is given a lawful direction by a court or external agency.” Good-oh, but won’t that rather restrict what people under surveillance email on their university accounts?

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High price of knowledge

The case for academic access has long included textbooks as well as research. Barack Obama had Joe Biden and then education secretary Arne Duncan make it a third order election issue in 2012. Mr Duncan even funded work on an open access textbook programme. Now and again locals here also kick up, as the National Union of Students is doing now with its “Fight for a Fair Price” campaign. The obvious argument is that the authors of best-selling texts, of the Introduction to Alchemy kind, have a right to make a quid from their IP – but now that publishers do not control the means of production why they get to set and take a fair slice of prices is not obvious, at least to CMM. As Marnie Hughes Warrington from ANU points out in a discussion of why academics should open access to study guides, “If this were a discussion on access to affordable medical treatment, there would be public outrage.”

Setting the bar as low as it can go

The peak for-profit training lobby has bought into the argument against the, for now, back channels push by TAFE supporters for a re-regulation of what VET students can study. “It’s very difficult for governments to ‘pick winners’ and start setting prices for course delivery that reflect the diverse needs of students and industry,” Australian Council for Private Education and Training chief Rod Camm says.

“If the government is too prescriptive there won’t be any innovation and flexibility in delivery. That would take us back 20 years and significantly limit student choice.”

The obvious response is that the way shonks in the training business conned the credulous into enrolling in crook colleges demonstrates that students are incapable of making informed choices.

To which Mr Camm replies; “some commentators appear to be trying to design a scheme based on the worst providers. That makes little sense as poor providers must be excluded from the program.”

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Business schools as usual

Deakin U is very pleased to report that it rates 16th in the QS best Distance Online MBAs. Warwick U and the Madrid-based IE Business School are in the top spots but aside from this strong Spanish showing it is pretty much business as usual for rankings, with 17 US and nine UK schools in the top 30.

At marvellous Melbourne

That Andrew Trounson is out of News is, well old news. What CMM did not know was where The Australian veteran had gone –  to join Sir John Moore and Associates? Tricky without a time machine. The story broke, sort of, yesterday when Mr Trounson filed a story on gene sequencing – for the University of Melbourne’s Pursuit team.

Still honoured by ACU

Retired bishop of Ballarat, Ronald Mulkearns apologised at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse yesterday for his handling of complaints against abusive priests in the diocese on his watch. That will be the bloke whose name was stripped from a facility at the Australian Catholic University‘s Ballarat campus (CMM July 7 2104) in 2014 but who kept the honorary doctorate  ACU awarded him in 1998 (Campus Morning Mail July 21 2014).

Dolt of the day

Is CMM. Yesterday Campus Morning Mail confused the year Macquarie U outgoing business dean Mark Gabbott started there with when he arrived in Australia, to take up an appointment at Monash. Professor Gabbott joined Macquarie six years ago.

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Better asked at a distance

The education union is having conniptions over the Productivity Commission’s issues paper for its inquiry into tertiary education. Understandably so, the PC is questioning campus unquestionables, like the link between teaching and research, implications across institutions and subjects of teaching economies of scale and whether prospective students have enough information to make informed choices. There are 70 plus more but you get the idea. Great questions that will really advance the debate – in New Zealand. It’s the Kiwi PC that is upsetting the industry there. On this side of the ditch Education Minister Simon Birmingham says he wants to hear from experts while he is deciding what to do next but CMM suspects asking the Australian PC is not what he has in mind.

Know something the world needs to know? Anonymity guaranteed but lots of questions asked, stephen4@hotkey.net.au