Deakin waits in Warrnambool

plus complicating Watt simplified in block grant funding

Chris can’t talk and Simon isn’t saying

chance for Uni Melbourne staff to hear plans to transform teaching

App of the Day

Researchers at the University of Queensland are working on an app to help chronic pain sufferers. Prashanth Jutty Rajan, Kathleen Yin and Alan Robertson’s app is for people to record experiences of pain so they, and their doctors, can identify patterns and customise solutions. Great idea, shame about the name, PainPal – there’s nothing matey about misery.

Tuesday June 21

Deakin waits at Warrnambool

It seems Deakin University management is contemplating staying wedded to Warrnambool, where it has previously announced it wants another institution to take over its campus. Last week VC Jane den Hollander assured Warrnambol students there that they will be able to complete their degrees on campus. She has increased Warrnambool’s recruitment budget and the university-wide open day will also occur there. Yesterday Professor den Hollander also told staff that “contrary to current rumours “ Warrnambool courses will be in the 2017 VTAC guide “as normal.” “This is what I mean when I say that we are open for business, until, or unless a different decision is made,” she said.

Which will not be until after the election. While Federation University’s council is supposed to be deciding on a takeover of Warrnambool by the end of the month Deakin says it will wait for the next minister. As the VC told staff last week; “no decision has been made and due to the election currently in play none will be made until after the election is settled and we know who is in government.”

Griffith rates permanent PVCs

Griffith U is recruiting a PVC for the sciences portfolio. Physicist and dean of learning and teaching Robert Strang is acting in the job – which management makes clear. The university leadership webpage has a link to every member’s biography except his.

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At last, FlexAp info

Gregor Kennedy will brief University of Melbourne staff on the Flexible Academic Programming Project tomorrow, or at least on one of the eight components of what has the makings of a compete transformation of teaching at the university. “The presentation … will consider in more detail how we currently structure curricula – and could potentially structure curricula – for the benefit of staff and students,” management states. And yes there will be time for questions. Although there may not be many, Uni Melbournians say the event was quietly announced but not promoted in staff newsletters. It’s on at 12.30, seminar room 515, level 5 207 Bouverie Street.

It’s hard to tell what will Professor Kennedy will talk about given the discretion with which FlexAp teams are working, although perhaps there is a clue in what he had to say last month about the university’s engagement with Coursera, “(it) has been incredibly valuable to the university on a number of fronts, including the development of innovative practices in teaching, learning and assessment, and also research opportunities in the area of learning analytics. It’s helped encourage many academics across the university to consider the ways in which technology can benefit teaching and learning across the whole institution, and not just in MOOCs.” (CMM May 17).

Social Media for dominies

The University of Queensland is offering staff a three-hour course on, “how and why academics should use social media to build a profile, boost engagement and share knowledge with the wider community.” Run by “communications wizardKate Rowney, “it will cover UQ‘s social media guidelines, how to use social media, how to deal with issues, reporting using analytics and how to find content. Examples of good and bad social media are included, as well as practical activities.” And all in three hours! No, it isn’t compulsory, at least not yet.

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Sage advice

The Science in Australia Gender Equity project will hold a Friday seminar in Sydney on the Athena SWAN pilot. Run by the Australian Academy of Science and the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, the programme is based on a UK model to increase the number of women working in science. Some 24 universities and five medical research institutes are participating.

Watt’s to complicate

The story so far. In December Ian Watt released his comprehensive review of research funding (CMM December 7), which the feds adopted. One of the big changes was replacing the six research block grants with one fund to support systemic costs of research and another to support research training. Last month the Department of Education and Training proposed ways the new system could work and asked for responses. An invitation like that was too good to miss for those wonkiest of policy wonks at the Innovative Research Universities here.

This is a precision policy debate, focusing on the machinery of outlaying and accounting for funds and the IRU points to problem with the department’s plan. For example, excluding general capital costs of property, which “ignores that the building does need to exist for research to take place in it.” Overall the lobby suggests the department’s proposals are overly complicated and gets in the way of universities administering their own research operations. “Many of the options raised hold back from giving universities the responsibility to use the resources provided in the way they consider best to generate future research outcomes, with further funding dependent on success,” the IRU argues.

Simon isn’t saying

The clash of titans Chris Pyne and Kim Carr at the National Press Club yesterday wasn’t at all titanic and both sailed away unscathed. Mr Pyne lost more paint, resorting to charm to navigate around a question on whether unlegislated cuts would stay on the books, but he got more laughs. This wasn’t the debate some on-board wanted to hear. Senator Carr lamented that he was not getting a chance to debate education minister Simon Birmingham and one question to Mr Pyne was about higher education, thus allowing the innovation minister a plausible reason for not answering it. He did the same when Leigh Sales asked him about government education policy on ABC TV last night. Still, with Senator Birmingham off air people can but try.

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Libs silent on Launceston

When Malcolm Turnbull called the election (so long ago he announced it in Latin) Tasmanians thought money for the state’s university to build flash new digs in Burnie and Launceston was a sure thing. But with two weeks to go nothing is doing. This must alarm UniTas and Launceston City Council, which is keen on the deal. Brett Whitely who holds the marginal seat of Braddon (covering Burnie) in the Liberal interest and his colleague Andrew Nikolic, who holds Bass (including Launceston) for the Libs, can’t be too thrilled either, particularly as Bill Shorten has committed $150m for the project if Labor wins.  This could mean the government has written them off, unless it thinks they are safe or, and don’t laugh at this bit, it is considering the proposals on their merits independent of the election.

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