Sport the flaw

“The hard science behind surviving a zombie attack,” UniMelb headlines a research story, yesterday.

There’s more in the Mail

Universities and industry have always cooperated on research. The challenge now is to create partnerships that cross cultures. Some already are. David Myton and Stephen Matchett look at the growth of the industry-based PhD  in the first issue of a new CMM series.

ANU union demands assurance on the Ramsay Civ centre proposal

Back in April it looked like the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation was an all but done deal at ANU, with staff and student consultations concluded. Courses were to be approved through ANU processes, and academic governance and staffing selection procedures were ready for final approval.

But then former prime minister and centre board member Tony Abbott published a praising piece on the project in Quadrant. “The key to understanding the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation is that it’s not merely about western civilisation but in favour of it,” Mr Abbott wrote.

Which the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union did not like one bit. “It would appear the Ramsay Centre seeks to pursue a narrow, radically conservative program to demonstrate and promulgate the alleged superiority of western culture and civilisation. Any association, real or perceived, with this divisive cultural and political agenda could potentially damage the intellectual reputation of the humanities at ANU and the ANU more broadly, union branch president Matthew King warns Vice Chancellor Brian Schmidt.

Mr King is also concerned that Ramsay Centre staff will, “wield considerable influence over staffing and curriculum decisions.”

The union calls on the VC to make a “clear statement” of the university’s commitment “to academic freedom, integrity, autonomy and independence” and that the university’s academic board will be “the ultimate arbiter of academic standards.”

“We feel it is important to recognise that these core principles reflect deeply-held ideals shared by the ANU community, and if the Ramsay Centre agreement is perceived to compromise on these principles, it will be rejected by staff, students and other stakeholders, and could lead to significant anger, protest and division,” Mr King adds.

The Ramsay Centre plan is to teach up to 60 students in each academic year, using a “socratic approach” with 40 members of a class on $25 000 scholarships.

That should fix it

“International students host tea party to help beat cancer,” UofQ media release, yesterday.

Good as his word: Rufus Black delivers on UTas student accommodation

In March, new University of Tasmania VC Rufus Black promised 150-200 new beds by second semester for students caught in the Hobart accommodation shortage. He is on schedule to deliver with the university buying Hobart’s MidCity Hotel, (“the room was dated however the bed was comfortable , the shower had plenty of hot water and the room was clean,” reports TripAdvisor).  A refurb to accommodate 140 students is scheduled to complete by the start of next semester in July with a second stage adding another 50 beds for 2019.

Hobart is booming and in March there were 150 students on the university’s accommodation waiting list, (March  29).

Unis fund the growth in higher education R&D outlays

Higher education organisations spent $10.878bn on Research and Development in 2016, according to new numbers from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Growth was driven by universities spending their own general funds.

The ABS reports HERD spending was up seven per cent in current prices on 2014 and double the 2006 figure. As a share of GDP, higher education R&D slipped from 0.63 per cent in ‘14 to 0.62 per cent in 2016.

While spending from general funds was up $610m, or 11 per cent, on 2014, outlays from competitive grants were down $159m or 9 per cent.

The biggest increase was in Victoria, up 11 per cent while South Australia went backwards, down 2 per cent.

Medical and Health Sciences accounted for 28 per cent of HERD spending, followed by engineering (10 per cent), biological sciences (9 per cent) and studies in human society (4 per cent).

In news that will surprise as many as no postgraduate students, the ABS reports they did most (57 per cent) of the research work.


Relax HASS

The learned Research Whisperer wondered what is going on with ARC Linkage Grants, pointing to a programme reference on the federal government’s Grant Connect site where STEM is described as “a primary category” and HASS “secondary”. “Have I misread the rules, has there been a change of policy?” Research Whisperer asked.

The HASS community is having a bad May. Last week peak bodies were outraged when they discovered they would get access to a couple of million dollars from the government’s $1.9bn research infrastructure plan announced last week. But no, it turns out HASS is not lesser for Linkages, that it is a form-design issue. “Rest assured, all fields of research remain equally regarded and important,” the ARC advises.

Once bitten on the Barrier Reef

It’s International Volunteer Week, which makes the timing terrible for James Cook U in the matter of Mathew Vickers and a shark. Mr Vickers was volunteering with JCU researchers on the Great Barrier Reef when a shark bit, as in made a meal of, his left arm. This was serious stuff and Mr Vickers is raising money because after surgeries and 12-weeks rehabilitation he still can’t work. Nor, he says, has JCU been much help, with the insurer it uses to cover volunteers paying him $555. The university responds that because he was not an employee he has no access to its work cover. What’s more, “at the time of the incident, some of the field trip participants were taking part in snorkelling, which was not part of the planned field trip.” JCU adds that it has offered Mr Vickers “trauma counselling.”  For the bite or the mess that it has left him in?

Murdoch U in the market for a biz site

Murdoch U’s School of Business and Governance wants to know what biz students look for in a university website. Standard stuff; although the uni sites that interest MU demonstrates its aspirations. The survey asks takers what they think of various biz school sites of which only two are Australian – UNSW and UoQ. There are a bunch of Brits, including Cass (at the University of London), Durham, Edinburgh, Kent, Nottingham and Stirling a couple of Canadians and the occasional European – but only one US institution, Babson College.  Their sites are all similar on a bunch of attributes, including being less text-heavy than Murdoch’s brochureware.

Appointments, achievements

Emma Kowal is appointed to the Genomics Health Futures Mission Steering Committee. The committee oversights the $500m project, which is funded by the Medical Research Future Fund.  Professor Kowal is a medical doctor and anthropologist.

QUT’s Patsy Yates has received the 2018 distinguished researcher award from the (US) Oncology Nursing Society.

Jeremy Glaros returns to South Australia to lead the University of Adelaide’s executive education unit.

The sharp end at Charles Darwin U

A learned reader reports that enterprise bargaining at Charles Darwin U is at the threatening industrial-action stage. The campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union has gone to the Fair Work Commission applying for a member vote on industrial action, including stop-works and over-time and out of hours work bans. The NTEU has also asked DVC Meredith Parry to lead the university team at bargaining meetings.

Happy VET international students

The estimable National Centre for Vocational Education Research has  surveyed international students who studied VET in Australia to discover nearly 90 per cent would recommend the training they undertook.