Business gets a say on new research chief

plus job cuts at the University of Queensland extend to IT

and helping out Macquarie’s new business dean

Not impressed with UBER 

The University of Sydney Business School hosts “disrupt Sydney” next week, a conference to consider “what differentiates ‘disruption’ from mere change or innovation.” So where does Uber fit in on the Sydney scale? Nowhere special just yet for UniSyd it seems. “Travel by Uber is not currently an allowable travel method but that policy is currently being looked at as part of a wider review of travel policy and procedures,” a university spokeswoman advised CMM.

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Fears of fewer and lower level jobs at UofQ

The planned restructure in finance and HR at the University of Queensland (CMM Wednesday) has administrative staff worrying that if they hang onto jobs they will be at a lower level. The formal proposal is that HEW grades will be determined “through an independent evaluation process” but while higher HEW jobs are already identified to go the proposed structure cites very few roles at Level Five.

The university has also announced a separate cost-cutting exercise in IT with 14 per cent of jobs there set to go by the end of 2017. According to IT chief Rob Moffatt “improved technology and IT service delivery means there’s an opportunity to consolidate areas across information technology services and to direct efforts and investment in IT capability enhancement.” A proposal is expected in the middle of October.

Adding b for biz to the ARC

A panel is appointed to advise Education Minister Simon Birmingham on the next chair of the Australian Research Council, which sounds like, but isn’t standard operating procedure. Where once mandarins would have met to appoint somebody in the Sir Humphrey sense of “sound” this group includes people from outside universities and the bureaucracy, Business Council of Australia president Catherine Livingstone and head of IT comms company Aconex, Leigh Jasper. They join education department secretary Michele Bruniges, public service commissioner John Lloyd, and former chief scientist Ian Chubb. This sends a clear signal that the government wants a research chief who speaks fluent biz and who will be aware of industry cas the ARC implements the impact and engagement agenda from next year.

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Fed U’s senior team

Swinburne U has new courses in partnership with Richmond FC but Federation U points out it could field a premiership side from AFL players who study there. This might strike some as a touch obsessive, but to footie fans it will look like an entirely sensible thing to do. Fed U’s dream team includes players from North Melbourne, Hawthorn and Essendon, with Matthew Egan (Essendon) as coach.

No time to waste

Macquarie U has appointed Stephen Brammer executive dean of business and economics, starting January (Heads Up, below). However the appointment has not stopped interim dean Kevin Jameson from getting on with the job. Yesterday Professor Jameson announced a review of the Department of Accounting and Corporate Governance saying it is well overdue. The last one was seven years ago when the university requires one every five. “This review, which will have a strong focus on strategic issues and will be very much forward looking, will enable us to understand the department’s distinctive strengths, accomplishments, needs, and future expectations and positioning.  In turn, this will enable the faculty and university to offer support and provide appropriate resources, including recruitment,” Professor Jameson told ACG staff yesterday.

“So, the new dean’s biggest department with the largest number of accounting students in Australia will be reviewed before he arrives,” a close observer of Macquarie life said last night.

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Yes prime minister

The prime minister chaired the Commonwealth Science Council the other day which undoubtedly had nothing to do with members’ strong support for government policy and admiration for its many achievements, such as “the great strides in positioning the education system,” to build the nation’s STEM skills base. But there were signals of work to come for some as the council “strongly encouraged consideration of a requirement for discipline-specific professional development for teachers as part of the review of school-funding … and a greater subject-specific focus in teacher training.”

It seems we are also going to learn about emerging trends through “horizon scanning reports” with synthetic biology, energy storage and precision medicine as first starters.

All will be revealed

The UNSW 2025 strategic plan is scheduled for next month and with the work done (including how it will be paid for) management will hold “town halls” over the next few weeks to brief staff.

A plan is not a solution

Getting industry and academics to collaborate on research is the Australian equivalent of the Singapore government’s trying to lift the birth rate; everybody agrees it is essential, except the people who can actually do something about it.

The Australian Industry Group explains why in a new report.

Public research funding has been allocated based on metrics that privilege raw academic output and intellectual influence via citations, with little scope to recognise commercial impact or wider economic benefits. As a result, public sector research organisations, with the best will in the world, may focus resources on more academic research and take a more transactional approach when they do work with businesses. They may be particularly unlikely to collaborate with SMEs, which may present smaller branding and reputational opportunities than larger businesses, have less financial resources to contribute, and be less able to navigate the hurdles to involvement.”

Certainly AI acknowledges that business is bad at reaching out to universities but when researchers stay in discipline silos and don’t talk to other academics it’s not surprising they don’t share ideas with people altogether outside the academy.

The AIS says the government is reforming research funding to address this as indeed the Australian Research Council is with its plans for impact and engagement metrics. But changing policy does not necessarily change behaviour.

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Murdoch and NTEU in court

Murdoch University are due in the Federal Court this morning with the university seeking an injunction against National Tertiary Education Union officials. The union says management wants to hold NTEU people personally accountable for union information on Murdoch’s enterprise bargaining position (CMM September 14). Murdoch University has not responded to multiple requests for comment.

Badly engineered

It was Engineers Day in India yesterday, not that the profession has much to celebrate, what with a major employment survey in January reporting up to 80 per cent or so of new graduates are unemployable in core engineering functions. This has to be a market for Australian educators and trainers.

Arty outcomes without degrees

Labour market theory holds that people who want to perform for a living will over-invest in education, to distinguish their talent and determination from the mass of others auditioning. (Think of the SAS approach to jazz education in the film Whiplash).

Not so, suggests Jason Potts (RMIT) and independent researcher Tarecq Shehadeh who  find that there is less credential signalling by aspiring performers than by creative people in less artistic occupations, at least in terms of formal education and training. What young performers do instead is signal their credibility, “in effect doing things that only a ‘true type’ high quality creative could do. These are the hoops through which you must jump and the perpetual credentialing networking and curriculum vitae building exercises that are the nature of the game in markets for ‘experience goods’.

Potts and Shehadeh use HILDA data to demonstrate that rather than young creatives relying on formal qualifications the arts have an under-education problem and conclude; “there may be a substantial gain to be had in increasing creative education and training.” Heads of performing arts schools take note.

HEADS UP

Stephen Brammer is the new dean of business and economics at Macquarie University. He will join Macquarie from the University of Birmingham in the UK. His substantive predecessor Mark Gabott, has joined the University of Adelaide as dean of business.

Murdoch University awarded an hon doc to former federal Labor leader Kim Beazley on Wednesday night.

Michael Wesley is the new dean of the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific. The eminent scholar of geo-political strategy replaces Veronica Taylor, who moves to the university’s School of Regulation and Global Governance.

Andrew Parfitt will be the next provost at UTS. He is now DVC Academic at the University of Newcastle. Professor Parfitt will arrive in December and take over from long-serving Peter Booth in February.

Christina Keneally is joining the board of the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. The former NSW premier grew up in Ohio.

Leanne Holt is Macquarie University’s new director of Indigenous Strategy. She joins from the University of Newcastle.

The University of Adelaide has made Susannah Eliott a doctor of the university. Dr Eliott is founding CEO of the Australian Science Media Centre.

Irene Watson is the first PVC for Aboriginal Leadership and Strategy at the University of South Australia. A University of Adelaide law graduate, since 1989 she has taught at all three SA universities.

A test cricketer, a comedian and a premier walk onto a stage. And walk off it with hon docs from Edith Cowan U. Justin Langer, Ben Elton and Carmen Lawrence were all honoured by ECU this week.

 

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