Birmingham links graduate employment to university performance

plus I used to ERA (but it’s all over now)

and The Rachels: UNSW wins for Facebook friends

Thomas leaves USQ

Vice Chancellor Jan Thomas is leaving the University of Southern Queensland to become VC at New Zealand’s Massey U. She will take over in January, replacing Steve Maharey, in the post for eight years. Professor Thomas is a former DVC at Murdoch U. USQ says recruiting a new VC will begin “soon.” Her move means the Regional Universities Network, which she chairs, is also looking for a leader.

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Employment opportunities essential

Education Minister Simon Birmingham has signalled incentives to link university performance to graduate employment. “Students seek many things out of their education, but first and foremost for the vast majority of students going into universities, higher education providers and vocational education providers they seek enhanced employment prospects for the future,” the senator said in a speech launching AI Group’s graduate employment service on Tuesday (CMM yesterday).

“I’m committed to continuing the policy work we’ve been undertaking to work towards incentives and policy settings in higher education that encourage excellence in innovation within our universities.

“The measure of that excellence has to be employment outcomes for graduates, and the achievement of those employment outcomes from those universities and higher education providers partnering with business and industry to make sure the skills provided are relevant.”

Senator Birmingham has already tied loans for VET student study to job related courses.

Ada honoured

Wednesday was Ada Lovelace Day honouring Ada, Countess of Lovelace, the creator of the first computer programme and celebrating women’s achievements in STEM. Swinburne U used the opportunity to announce five VC‘s STEM research fellowships for women, after three years the posts will go to a standard teaching and research format.

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Imminent economist in Adelaide

Gareth Myles is moving from the University of Exeter to UniAdelaide. He will become head of the school of economics in January.

I used to ERA but it’s all over now

The Turnbull Government has tied capital funding for research to its innovation agenda with a new funding model to begin in January. Under the new structure, research publication output as per Excellence for Research in Australia will not be used to allocate funding. Instead cash will be distributed on the basis of research quality and “success in industry and other end-user engagement.”

“These changes will encourage your university to broaden and deepen its engagement with industry and other research users, while still retaining a focus on academic excellence,” the policy statement advises researchers.

“Over time, more researchers will have the opportunity to form meaningful collaborations with industry and other users of research, pursue entrepreneurial opportunities and help transform our economy.”

As previously reported (CMM September 19), the new funding structure replaces the existing six block grants with two schemes. The $879m in 2017 Research Support Programme will provide “a flexible funding scheme to support the systemic costs of research.” The $1.01bn Research Training Programme will fund research students.

According to the government, “publication track record remains an important indicator of research quality” and as such will be “recognised in competitive grants and ranking.” However the new system “give(s) equal emphasis to success in industry and other end-user engagement as it does to research quality.

The government has long signalled its commitment to applied research with engagement and impact preferred metrics but this announcement spells out the end of big dividends delivered by Excellence in Research for Australia. In ERA 18 universities will compete more kudos than cash.

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That’s what gets results

The University of New South Wales wins the inaugural Rachel for the Australian university with the most Facebook friends. CMM thought up the Rachels yesterday, when the university announced it had reached 500 000 plus Facebook likes. CMM thought this sounded quite a few and checked to see where the numbers of friends on Kensington’s couch rated. Likes for official pages of universities around the country (grouped by state and in 000s) are:

Queensland.  James Cook: 53, CQU: 59, Sunshine Coast: 35, Griffith: 77, Southern Queensland: 83, QUT: 121 and UoQ: 209

NSW. Southern Cross: 13, UNE: 24, Newcastle: 72, Charles Sturt: 39, Macquarie: 470, UTS: 83, UniSydney: 299 UNSW: 501, UniWollongong: 130

ACT. ANU: 191, UniCanberra: 112

Victoria. LaTrobe: 113, Federation U: 27,Uni Melbourne: 230, Monash: 236, Swinburne: 168, Deakin: 276, RMIT: 158, Victoria U: 106

Tas. UTas: 203

Flinders: 53, UniSA: 148, UniAdelaide: 108, Torrens: 11

WA . Edith Cowan: 88, Murdoch: 21, Curtin: 274, UWA: 87

NT. Charles Darwin: 28

National . ACU: 76, Notre Dame: 7

All the league table caveats apply, in this case likes matter less than (unrevealed) engagement and larger and richer universities have more to work with. Even so there are enough examples that point to the quality of social media marketing shaping share. Like Curtin being so far ahead of UWA and Murdoch lagging every other public university in WA and like the University of Sydney being way behind Macquarie, let alone UNSW. And like Deakin leading LaTrobe. It seems in social media comms, it’s not what you have it’s they way that you use it (that’s what gets results).

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Very big prize for very small science

UNSW electrical engineer and quantum physicist Andrea Morello has won the American Physical Society‘s Rolf Landauer and Charles H. Bennett Award in Quantum Computing. According to UNSW, the award recognises recent outstanding contributions in quantum information science, specifically using quantum effects to perform computational and information-management tasks that would be impossible or infeasible by purely classical mean(s).

What’s the deal with the JD?

In its first two years Swinburne U law has stayed small with enrolments around 80 per annum, this has helped keep its ATAR up, second to Monash, according to head of school Dan Hunter. It’s an example of what focusing on the what market wants can deliver, Professor Hunter says, pointing to Swinburne’s integrated LLB and graduate diploma in legal practise. But what he does not get is demand for juris doctor degrees, offered by Melbourne, Monash, RMIT, La Trobe and Deakin.

“I simply can’t understand why a student would choose to do a degree for more than $30K when they can get the same qualification for $10K. My academic discipline is in trademarks, especially luxury marques and fashion, so I understand the significance of branding but there is really some weirdness going on when universities can extract a $20K differential from the consumer surplus based just on the title of the degree,” Professor Hunter says.

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