Big winners in new research ranking

There’s many more than Melbourne

Industry group steps up to help graduates into work

Adelaide’s Quester launches another argument over uni access and ATARs

Hard lessons

Murdoch University chancellor David Flanagan  presents a leadership seminar next Wednesday called, “learning the hard way.” Sadly, he will source examples from his iron ore business, not his experience during the difficult departure of former Murdoch VC Richard Higgott.

Evidence injection

The University of Wollongong research office has tweeted a link to the new Australian Academy of Science  pamphlet on vaccine efficacy and safety (“vaccines in current use in Australia provide benefits that greatly outweigh their risks”). This publication addresses confusion created by contradictory information in public domain on topic of immunisation” it tweets. That will be the UoW which last year awarded a PhD to anti-vaxer Judith Wilyman.

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And the winner is … Melbourne!

The University of Melbourne is, (what a surprise!) the top Australian institution in the National University of Taiwan’s Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers, which ranks 500 universities for research productivity, impact and excellence on the basis of scientific papers published and cited.

UniMelbourne is 31st in the world overall, (up one place on 2015 and four on 2014).

It’s not alone, demonstrating the continuing impact of research investment in Australia there are 18 universities plus Walter and Eliza Hall, on the list. There are five universities in the top 100, UniMelb, UniSydney 38, UniQueensland 43, Monash 70, UNSW 86. The rest of the Group of Eight follow, UWA 134, ANU 160 and UniAdelaide 162.

The Group of Eight are ahead of Walter and Eliza Hall Institute at 296, Curtin 370, Wollongong equal 382 with Griffith, Macquarie and Newcastle equal at 394, Deakin U 404, James Cook 411, UniTasmania 417, QUT 425 and Flinders U 480.

The rankings by discipline group reveal areas of specific research expertise, with universities that do not make the big list also appearing:

AGRICULTURE: UoQ 1 and 7th in world, UWA 2 and 29, UniMelb 3 and 35, James Cook 4 and 42, ANU 5 and 47, UniSyd 6 and 50, UniAdelaide 7 and 51, UNSW 8 and 69, UniTas 9 and 87, Monash10 and 107, Macquarie 11 and 133, Griffith 12 and 175 and Murdoch 13 and 229.

CLINICAL MEDICINE: Uni Syd 1 and 27, UniMelb 2 and 33, Monash 3 and 69, UofQ 4 and 79, UNSW 5 and 95, UWA 6 and 124, UniAdelaide 7 and 183, UniNewcastle 8 and 254, FlindersU 9 and 270 and DeakinU 10 and 288.

ENGINEERING: UNSW 1 and 46, MonashU 2 and 58, UoQ 3 and 64, UniSyd 4 and 120, UniMelb 5 and 124, UniAdelaide 6 and 142, UniWollongong 7 and 150, ANU 8 and 200, RMIT 9 and 207, Deakin 10 and 226, UWA 11 and 253, Uni Newcastle 12 and 260 and QUT equal 12 and 260.

LIFE SCIENCES: UniMelbourne 1 and 25, UoQ 2 and 41, Monash 3 and 56, UniSyd 4 and 69, UNSW 5 and 90, UWA 6 and 144, Walter and Eliza Hall 7 and 166, UniAdelaide 8 and 201 and ANU 9 and 269.

NATURAL SCIENCES: ANU 1 and 95, UniMelbourne 2 and 107, Monash 3 and 114, UNSW 4 and 117, UniSyd 5 and 127, UoQ 6 and 141, UniAdelaide 7 and 232 and UWA 8 and 281.

SOCIAL SCIENCES: UoQ 1 and 25, UniMelbourne 2 and 29, UniSyd 3 and 31, Monash 4 and 46, UNSW 5 and 57, ANU 6 and 79, Deakin 7 and 100, Griffith 8 and 115, equal with UWA 8 and 115, QUT 10 and 131, Curtin11 and 175, UniWollongong 12 and 202, UniAdelaide 13 and 209 equal with UniNewcastle 13 and 209, UniSA 15 and 219, La Trobe U 16 and 222, UTS 17 and 224 and UTas 18 and 263.

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Hunt for a hub

Innovation, Industry and Science Minister was onto something when he mused about the potential of industry-university research clusters (CMM yesterday). Monash University VC Margaret Gardner certainly agrees, pointing to successful examples including one at her Clayton campus and at Monash’s UK partner Warwick U. But to work they need commitments over time and “strategic investment from government,” she says. Which is where Mr Hunt is supposed to come in. Of course he could just work with existing programmes like the Industrial Transformation Research Hubs, 2017 applications for which have just opened but perhaps one can’t hub a cluster – unless it is the other way around.

MOOC of the morning

The University of Queensland via edX has created, “Deep learning through transformative pedagogy,” one of five MOOCs for school leaders. The course is funded by Microsoft and launches in January. This is a great example of what MOOCs can provide – extending the skills of professionals who often do not have the income or access required for high-cost postgraduate programmes.

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AI on the job

Education Minister Simon Birmingham yesterday launched the Australian Industry Group’s Jobs for Grads  programme, which is a seriously good idea, super-suited to the times. AI will offer new grads a job matching service, plus advice on how to land a position and mentoring for people who do. Employers who place posts with AI get candidates who are up to speed and will also have help settling in. The service is free to grads with costs being born by employers, and participating universities. AI is also is looking for funding from the feds.

This is a seriously smart scheme – as the beneficiaries of student centred funding start hitting the streets looking for work universities who do not deliver on their sales pitches about their graduates being in demand will take reputational hits. From UQ to Deakin and across to Flinders universities that recognise students now expect assistance with employment are building job skills programmes and employer contact schemes and sooner rather than later every university in the country will be. This will be a growth market for people who can do it better and cheaper than university administrations not overburdened by entrepreneurial flair.

Light on dark matter

ANU astronomer Ken Freeman will receive the UNSW Dirac Medal for Theoretical Physics and deliver the medallist lecture on Thursday. Professor Freeman is a pioneering expert on dark matter, which he says we know accounts for five sixths of matter in the universe but have no clue what it is. Book to be baffled here.

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Why university isn’t for everybody

Debate about the demand driven system is set to flair, with an essay by University of Adelaide DVC Pascale Quester arguing the focus on higher education ignores the needs and aspirations of the majority of young people who do not want to be undergraduates. “With every cohort of young people who are pushed by their parents or by society at large in the wrong direction, it is individuals who will experience neither fulfilment or satisfaction but instead carry with them – for the rest of their lives – the stigma of a failure they did not need to have, and the weight of a debt they should never have faced,” she writes in the Group of Eight newsletter.

People with ATARs under 80 should not be made to feel they are obliged to go to university and those who want to take other education pathways should not feel they have failed, she suggests. Should ATARs disappear, as has been stridently called for by others in the sector, then the peril to the students is both real and immediate.”

Professor Quester’s is a substantial and considered piece but CMM suspects students in peril without the ATAR will be the bit that is remembered.

Course set

The Australian Maritime College, (part of the University of Tasmania) has launched its first ever export course, teaching coastal seafaring in the United Arab Emirates. With 15 students this is not exactly going to earn a bulk carrier of bullion in fees for the AMC, but it’s a start – and it demonstrates the mass of specialist VET export markets out there. CMM once reported Roy Stall from the Challenger Institute of TAFE in WA who taught maritime English in China. Back in 2010 Mr Stall said the Chinese market was so big that he could spend the rest of his life teaching there. UTas also teaches maritime English, picking up an award for its course from English Australia in 2013 (CMM September 30 2013).

Grinning and bearing

“Good to meet up again today with Rod Camm from (the) Australian Council for Private Education and Training  for a positive discussion about skilling Australians for jobs of the future,” Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills Karen Andrews Facebooked yesterday. There was a photo of the pair smiling as they studied a document – CMM suspects it wasn’t a list of courses taught by Mr Camm’s members which were dropped from Monday’s list of fed approved programmes, if only because Mr Camm described their discussion as “fantastic.” Then again what else could he say?

Dolt of the day

Is CMM who had as Peter Noonan as a member of the Lomax-Smith base funding review yesterday. In fact he was a member of the Bradley Review.

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