Campus Morning Mail, Thursday: Our ideas absent election

The cuts are really biting

From the University of Sydney; “two thirds of Australia’s ‘most awesomest’ comedy band, the Axis of Awesome, will entertain guests at a free concert at the University of Sydney’s  Open Day 2013.”

So there is such a thing as a free lunch

University of Ballarat reports “Greens leader Christine Milne visiting for FREE lunch.” Perhaps she will send the bill to the mining industry. Find out at UB’s St Helen’s campus, 12.30 today

Oxygen of ideas absent

University of New South Wales research boss Les Field, wearing his Academy of Science hat, welcomed the Greens R &D policy yesterday, saying he hoped, “the release of the Greens’ science policy statement would prompt a higher election campaign focus on education, science and health. The community expects the major parties to put forward their plan for science in Australia.”  It doesn’t you know, otherwise they would.
This is one of the worse campaigns for policy that CMM can remember (and I can remember quite a few). Lobbies representing every interest group from defence to disadvantage have lamented the absence of any policies (generally a synonym for spending commitments) from the major parties and they are right. This is because neither side dares propose significant policies outside the signature schemes, schools and disability for Labor, maternity pay for the Libs. The sooner this ideas free election is over the better.

Kim’s core concern

Senator Kim Carr tweets, yesterday: “Federal election no longer just a referendum on whether or not we make cars, it’s about whether or not we have a manufacturing industry.” And there CMM was thinking he was supposed to be higher education minister as well as looking after industry.

Games people pointlessly play

Cynics suggest that research metrics are always gamed by academe’s equivalent of the algorithm experts who manipulate money markets.  But in fact it seems we may be living in the best of all possible research worlds, according to Michelle Duryea, manager of research quality at Edith Cowan University. She will have a better idea than most, having worked on the original ERA for the ARC (oh alright, Excellence in Research for Australia for the Australian Research Council, and thanks to Vicki Thomson from the ATN for the lead).
Ms Duryea does not deny adepts in the dark arts of metrics manipulation might try to game research measurement and that there is no sure way to stop them if they do. Thus she refreshingly writes, “with every government policy there are always elements of unintended or even perverse outcomes. It would be naïve of the government to expect that this wouldn’t occur on some level.”
But trying to manipulate the rules could well be pretty pointless. “The fact remains that we still can’t predict the outcomes of the ERA evaluation process, or even fully understand exactly what happens behind those closed-door panel discussions, so any attempts to maximise ERA outcomes may ultimately be futile.” So what to do? Instead of trying to work out which journal will deliver the best score researchers should simply publish where their work ‘will reach the right audience’.”
“Or am I being a little naive?” Ms Duryea asks. Far from it CMM replies. Trying to game any complex system is like using maths to predict markets – sooner or later smarties stuff up.

Candidate of the day

Julie Melrose running for the Greens in the seat of Canberra is a law student at ANU. I suppose there are Green supporters who aren’t working or studying at a university.

 All care taken but leaks not our fault

Universities are announcing their winners of  Office for Learning and Teaching teaching citations but don’t look for an overall list from the OLT. The office quite reasonably says the customary statement from the minister can’t occur while government is in caretaker mode. However, as the universities are advised, there is nothing to stop them getting in ahead of the full announcement (apart from not wishing to show off). Perhaps there should also be an award for self-promotion of pedagogues.

 Smart Swinbunnies

CMM has no clue to the source but in a shameless desire for a good lead is happy to repeat Swinburne University’s claim that people all over the world waste, sorry spend, three billion hours a week playing computer games.  Which has to mean Clinton Woodward’s new Swinburne MOOC subject  “concepts in game development” has a big potential market. The four-week subject teaches the basics of game design and development to give students a sense of the game creators craft.
When the Swinbunnies launched their MOOC presence CMM thought it was a brilliant marketing ideas – demonstrating what the university does and letting potential purchasers sample its wares. This unit makes the point. Sure the vast majority of people who start it will never enrol at Swinburne, but some will and many, many more will think well of a brand they would otherwise never have heard of. This is where the clever line about games is supposed to go but given CMM’s absolute ignorance of anything after Grand Theft Auto it is probably best not to try.

 Prediction of the morning

Dr Richard Stanton, senior lecturer in political communication at the University of Sydney does not quite predict the Liberals will hold Bennelong. “I think a number of tactics on the ground have worked for (sitting member) John Alexander and will continue to work,” Stanton told ABC local news.

Monash takes the triple 

Most business schools seem similar, which makes independent accreditation important for anybody contemplating the cash a postgraduate degree costs. So the Monash money persons must be pleased the university network (campuses in Victoria, South Africa and Malaysia are covered) is now accredited for business by the AACSB. In the small world where people actually know what this involves accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is the bare minimum to qualify as a serious competitor in an intensely competitive market. Monash is already accredited by the other two important agencies, AMBA (for Association of MBAs) and EQUIS, the acronym of the European Quality Improvement System. So that’s that. Um, not quite, what Monash missed mentioning is that it does not have the AACB’s other accreditation, in accounting.  But not to worry, only three Australian institutions do, the universities of Sydney and NSW as well as, and this must hurt out at Caulfield, the University of Melbourne.

What a surprise

In the US students have responded to textbook price hikes of 80 per cent over the last decade by purchasing less and pinching more. According to the US Book Industry Study Group some 34 per cent of students download course content, up from a fifth in 2010. The figures for scanning or photocopying from classmates are almost exactly the same.  CMM is a big believer that authors and those they license have a right to make a return on their investment. But charging what the market will bear only works until the market will not bear it anymore.

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