The University of Queensland leads the country for money-making ideas, but have a look at Curtin  


plus UWA does a deal, breaking the bargaining stalemate in the west

The NUW lobby pitches to the big end of Sydney town


and: exit ACPET the private training lobby knows it needs a new brand

Firstest with the dronest

Who’s on first with a drone course?

Universities are always announcing ranking achievements (“in the world top hundred for universities with VC’s names that are palindromes’) but now the claims  are getting serious. There is a suggestion the University of Adelaide is the first in in the country to offer a drone pilot licensing course. This may well be, although Charles Darwin U, announced its a couple of weeks ago.

Big bucks in the marketplace of ideas

More research is moving from lab to marketplace

Universities and other publicly funded research agencies established 42 start-ups in 2015, “a significant increase over previous years’ data,” according to Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Arthur Sinodinos.  And intellectual property sharing revenue rose by 40 per cent in 2015 over the previous year, to $183m.

Overall consultancy, collaboration and contract income in the system reached $1.7bn.

The figures are in yesterday’s release of the National Survey of Research Commercialisation.

The survey also reveals research agencies investing in selling their ideas, with commercialisation staff doubling to 571 in 2015. Some 52 of the 66 agencies surveyed also offered industry skills training to help staff work with industry.

Across all indicators, universities led the charge into the marketplace of ideas. They established 29 of the start-ups, some 69 per cent of overall businesses created to commercialise research. Higher education institutions also accounted for 74 per cent of consultancy-collaboration-contract income. Universities additionally  made 75 per cent of invention disclosures, a statement used to determine a need for patent protection.

The overall performance for earnings from consultancy, collaboration and contracts is predictable – with Group of Eight institutions in front. Except for Curtin U, which earned more than half the Go8.

Group of Eight institutions earned the following consultancy-collab-contract income in 2015: University of Queensland $246m. Monash University $133m. University of Adelaide, $83m. University of Sydney $74m. University of Melbourne $58m. UNSW $50m. ANU $44m and UWA $12m.

The Australian Technology Network universities picked up: Curtin U, $67m. QUT, $55m. University of South Australia, $39m, UTS, $21m. RMT, $15m.

Major unaligned institutions received: Macquarie U, $27m. Wollongong U, $26m and Deakin U $15m.

UTS achievers

Scientists and an education researcher honoured

UTS microbiologist Cynthia Whitchurch has won a David Syme Research Prize. Her UTS colleague, physicist Igor Aharonovich also receives a Syme. The prize is named for The Age newspaper’s publisher, David Syme, who established the prize in 1904. The last woman to win it, in 1982, is the now past president of the Australian Academy of Science, Suzanne Cory.

Also at UTS, Jane Hunter from the faculty of arts and social sciences has won the 2017 early career researcher award from the Australian Teacher Education Association.

Deal done at UWA

The University of Western Australia is the first in state to reach a new staff agreement

What’s happened: While Murdoch, Curtin and Edith Cowan are holding to hard lines in enterprise bargaining, UWA and the National Tertiary Education Union have issued a joint statement on a new agreement. They are jointly recommending staff approve the offer in a vote next month.

Why now: As CMM suggested last week (CMM July 5) the deal provides new VC Dawn Freshwater with clean air. As DVC she drove a restructure which was as unpopular as painful.

“Our university has to modernise its processes and procedures, and staff members are driving that change …these agreements provide fair and equitable outcomes that reward employees for their valuable contribution to our future,” she said yesterday.

It is also a great result for the NTEU – at a state level it breaks the united management front. At a national level, it demonstrates the similar deal with Deakin University was not a one-off based on local circumstances.

What’s the big deal: The agreement includes a carefully calibrated payrise, similar in style to the deal done at Deakin. UWA staff will receive a 4.6 per cent pay rise across the three-year agreement, commencing next year. In addition, there will be $1100 payments for all in January 2018 and 2020. The university and union state this translates to a 9.5 per cent pay rise for staff “in lower classifications” and 5.9 per cent for those in “the highest.” And while the union fails in its push to extend to casuals the 17 per cent management superannuation contribution the payment will go to fixed term employees.

In an achievement for union negotiators, it appears the new agreement does not include stripped-down statements of terms and conditions, which is a big issue at other universities, notably Murdoch U. As NTEU state secretary Gabe Gooding pointedly puts it in describing the UWA deal; “the agreements are an indication of what can be achieved when all parties approach bargaining constructively.”

Why it matters: This is a big win for the NTEU, in the state where the Australian Higher Education Australia is making its stand for simplified agreements, without the complex codification of staff rights which the union uses to assist members in dispute with management. The question is which model managements at Edith Cowan and Curtin, now follow, UWA or Murdoch.

Who get’s what: Andrew Dempster from Proofpoint Advisory has crunched the numbers and is explaining what they mean to clients this morning. An all-up 9.5 per cent pay rise over four years only applies to administrators at the lowest pay grade. Staff at HEW Six will get 7.6 per cent with the rate of increase dropping to 6.6 per cent across the agreement at the top of the scale. Similarly, while the most junior academics get 8.1 per cent, the highest grade picks up 5.9 per cent over the deal. Higher paid academics will not see much of their extra money early in the agreement, with 40 per cent of the increase delivered in the last year.

Chemistry is right

Two researchers shortlisted for big award

Two ANZ based researchers are shortlisted for the Reaxys Prize for chemistry PhD researchers or recent completers. Hiu Lam is at the University of Adelaide and Ryan Schwamm is at the Victoria University of Wellington. The prize will be announced in Shanghai in October. Reaxys is a chemistry database owned by for-profit research publisher Elsevier.

 NUW lobby launches

The new force in higher education advocacy launches in Sydney on Friday, when the universities of Newcastle, New South Wales and Wollongong, establish the NUW alliance

CMM thinks ( CMM May 31) this will be a powerful voice, with a good claim to represent a swag of the nation’s STEM research in the economic powerhouse that is eastern Sydney and its coastal satellites.

It looks like NUW knows it, with a launch in and for the big end of town, in the ballroom, no less, of the flash CBD Westin Hotel on Friday week. Said end of the city agrees – Premier Gladys Berejiklian is doing the honours.


You can’t see the private education industry’s image for the mud all over it so the peak body is re-branding

The Australian Council for Private Education and Training is asking members to propose a new name, suggesting this is necessary because the existing brand is trashed. “Bad news stories have clearly outweighed the good. Regardless of how much effort we put into changing the balance, something untoward happens such as the demise of a major training provider, once again pushing us onto the back foot,” ACPET CEO Rod Camm told members yesterday.

The move follows member concerns that the shonkery that destroyed VET FEE HELP has poisoned the press and public’s perception of all training providers that are not TAFE.

Largely lawyered-up

Managements bring in the heavies

With enterprise bargaining underway across the country the National Tertiary Education Union is running a recruitment campaign. This makes sense. If the 70 per cent plus of staff who are not union members don’t pay attention to arguments over wages and conditions now they never will.  The union’s message is that bargaining is an “us and them” standoff, the “them” often being law firms brought in by managements. “Some managements take aggressive approaches bringing in big lawyers to sit at bargaining tables to erode or remove your conditions,” the union warns. It’s certainly so that managements, including at Murdoch U and Western Sydney U, have used law firms in the industrial process, as well as to advise.