At ANU Brian Schmidt paints the big picture

plus another Monash exit

degrees finally made mandatory for financial planners

the baton picked up at ANU Music

and the week’s big job news

In case they missed it

UNSW VC Ian Jacobs has sent staff a note on things they might have missed over the summer, quite a long one. Professor Jacobs details the university’s numerous achievements and briefs staff on what he got up to over the break and how his soccer team did. Just about the only issue not covered is the job-cutting admin restructure getting underway.

ANU Schmidt’s successful sell

Brian Schmidt has a Twitter hit, and how often do you get to write like that about the snarkiest social media? But comments on the ANU vice chancellor’s strategic plan, and  announcing speech that CMM saw yesterday were pretty positive.

Understandably so, Professor Schmidt appealed to the ANU community’s sense that their’s is an elite institution, a university for the nation, that it has obligations to lead, in research, in teaching, in indigenous participation and gender equality. Thus the vice chancellor committed ANU to “seeking solutions to national priorities” and creating a university-wide research effort on “five globally significant research questions,” with a policy incubator presenting important ideas as yet “too risky” for government. He said the university would create a distinguished educators programme and end undergraduate access based solely on the ATAR.  And, while there are no numbers he committed ANU “to ensuring that women achieve the full promise of their careers,” using the Athena SWAN objectives as a “framework of reflection and action.”

Professor Schmidt also mentioned activities already on the agenda, closer entrepreneurial engagement with industry, fund raising and an Augustan building programme. And he sold it all is painless; “this university has to change and it has to look different five years from now than it does today. This does not mean people losing their jobs. It means us doing things differently,” he said.

Overall his speech and new strategic plan weaved the work of his first year in office into a grand vision which less reflected than burnished ANU’s ego.

“What we do here is important. What we do here is essential. We actively help shape the world that coming generations will inherit,” Professor Schmidt said.

And if all this did not sell his audience promising to involve them did.

“We want to be more collegial.  We want to be part of a university that is b by its structures and organisation. We want to be free tob, and in partnership with industry, government and society.  We want an environment that encourages and supports collaboration and collegiality. One that will enable interdisciplinary work to flourish.”

Of course there is another reason why the address was such a success – the traditional ANU BBQ that followed –it wouldn’t be the Australian national university if staff did not love a snag.

Another exit at Monash

Monash University librarian Cathrine Harboe-Ree leaves her job in June after 15 years. However, she will stay on at Monash until year end “in order to shepherd” the Monash- led Australian National Data Service into the new environment of the National Collaborative Infrastructure Strategy. It’s the third executive exit in the week for Monash. On Tuesday Vice Chancellor Margaret Gardner announced the resignations of Darrell Evans, VP learning and teaching and Kim Langfield SmithVP for academic performance.

Cut price science

National Science Week in August is one of those projects on which government spends as little as possible to show it cares – $500 000 nationally does not buy a bunch of exposure. Funded projects for this year are here.

Dawned by faint praise

“While perhaps presenting a more human face than her predecessor, Professor Freshwater has nevertheless been at the helm of significant and highly problematic organisational change processes within the university and which have resulted in hundreds of job losses since late 2015, meaning her appointment will be viewed with caution by many,” the National Tertiary Education Union comes as close as it ever will to welcoming Dawn Freshwater’s appointment as vice chancellor of the University of Western Australia.

MOOCs of the morning

The University of the Melbourne and the Chinese University of Hong Kong have created “two unique new online courses for anyone interested in learning optimisation technologies – without a textbook,” ( Twitter yesterday). Basic modelling and advanced modelling for discrete optimisation are both available via Coursera.

“This will allow you to unlock the power of industrial solving technologies, which have been perfected over decades by hundreds of PhD researchers. With access to this advanced technology, problems that were considered inconceivable to solve before will suddenly become easy,” the blurb for the beginner course states. Both courses are provided in English and Chinese and are pitched at senior undergraduates and above who have programming skills and maths knowledge. It’s brilliant brand building and a strong sales pitch for people considering postgraduate study.

Baton finally passed

The ANU has looked within for a new head of the School of Music appointing the school’s artistic director Kenneth Lampl. The Julliard graduate and composer (20 symphonic works and 70 film scores) joined the university in July. His appointment follows five years of controversy that started with former vice chancellor Ian Young announcing staff cuts and programme changes to reduce a then $2.7m music school deficit. Protests and resignations followed with discord continuing until Andrew Podger’s review of its management last October recommended a path forward and the university committed $12.5m over five years to set it up. This was not enough to convince at least one prominent music academic who declined the baton that Professor Lampl has bravely picked up.

Education deficit

The federal government has announced higher standards for financial planners. And about time too: after a round of financial planning failures nearly a decade back CMM had a look at mandatory qualifications in the industry and found academics and practitioners split between backing competency based training and academic qualifications. Nothing seems to have changed until yesterday when Revenue Minister Kelly O’Dwyer  announced new standards.

From 2019 commencing financial advisers will need a degree before they are eligible to sit a new compulsory exam for practitioners. Existing advisers will have to pass the exam but also reach degree standard by 2024. The education requirements will be set by a new Commonwealth appointed body.

This has to be a new source of fee paying students for universities at least the ones which do not consider financial planning as inferior to accounting, finance and economics as a subject to study.

Engaging not selling

The Queensland Government has committed $6m to support “industry initiatives aimed at growing Queensland’s vibrant international education and training sector.”

Successful projects could include smart ideas to showcase Queensland to the world, educating international students before they arrive, building regional international education support networks and increasing community engagement with international students,” deputy premier and trade minister Kate Jones says. CMM wonders what the minister would make of ideas to actually enrol fee-paying students. Anybody interested in finding out has a fortnight to apply for funding.

HEADS UP

Moves of the week

University of Sydney philosopher Mark Colyvan has won the Carl Friedrich von Siemens Research award for achievements in the philosophy of mathematics and logic. The award will fund visits to research institution in Germany.

Curtin U is losing business school PVC Tony Travaglione who is moving to the University of Newcastle to become PVC for business and law. At Curtin he led the establishment of the school of law and the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre.

Stephen Simpson has a second five-year term as academic director of the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre. Biologist Professor Simpson has led work at the centre since its 2012 foundation. He says the centre will continue work on precision medicine, nutrition, and models of integrated care for chronic disease and a new commercialisation and innovation system.

HR researcher Stephen Teo is leaving RMIT to take up a professorial research fellowship at Edith Cowan University.

Mark McMillan is the inaugural deputy PVC for indigenous education and engagement at RMIT. Professor McMillan moves from the University of Melbourne law school.

Jordan Nash is the incoming dean of science at Monash University. The physicist joins from Imperial College London and will take over in July. The hire has taken a while. The previous dean, Scott O’Neill announced he was standing down to return to research in January last year, (CMM January 19 2016) since then Cristina Varsavsky has acted.

Notre Dame adjunct professor Julie Quinlivan is the new director of the Professional Services Review, which reports to the health minister and investigates doctors inappropriately providing services and prescribing drugs via Medibank and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

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