Wollongong and UNSW strut their stuff

 The unis set out different strategies to sell on engagement and impact

Unicorns in Ultimo

and the ARC names new members of the college of experts

Science set free

In a speech at UNSW the other day assistant industry, innovation and science minister Craig Laundy said there is a plan coming which will “make it easier for business to interact with government by reducing regulation and help industry sectors move into the future with the help of a long-term science and innovation plan.” How fortunate that government plans are always red-tape free.

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High gloss and data in detail

The University of Wollongong should have been very pleased with itself yesterday, releasing a report it conducted with Cadence Economics which shows it contributed $1.21bn to the national economy. At least for a few hours, until the University of New South Wales reported a Deloitte Access Economics study showing it kicked in $1.76bn.

The UoW brochure included plenty of pics of happy people in pleasant campus surrounds, with case studies to show how university research kept the Illawarra region afloat, as its old manufacturing base sinks.

“The University of Wollongong is making a major contribution to Wollongong ’s economic and social transition from a steel city towards a more diverse, highly skilled and globally competitive region. We will help create the new industries and jobs for the future,” the report assures all.

Overall this looks like a draft overview for the research impact and engagement reports the Australian Research Council will collect next year.

The UNSW report is much heavier on stats, making the case for the university as a generator of resources, with an estimate that it produces 7 per cent of NSW’s total education and training output. It also looks like a trial for next year’s research measures with impact case studies of projects in the faculty of engineering, plus a pitch for more money.

“As commodity prices fall and the returns from the decade long mining boom recede Australia will need to find other areas of economic growth, principally in the form of higher levels of labour productivity. Indeed, for growth in national income over the next decade to remain at the level experienced from 2001 to 2013, labour productivity will need to increase by almost 3% annually from 2014 to 2023 – around twice the level of productivity growth experienced between 2001 and 2013. … a 10% increase in university research spending (per capita) compared to 2013 levels would increase labour productivity by around 1.8% annually over the long run. Based on the estimates provided for this study, the productivity benefits of this investment in research would generate almost a third of the required rate of labour productivity growth required to maintain our growth in living standards over the next 35 years.”

Of the two products Wollongong would win on engagement while UNSW would collect for impact – unless of course neither approach suits the ARC’s yet to be released requirements.

APP of the day

Or maybe all time if they get it right. Swinburne U reports researchers are trialling an app to “combat loneliness”. The app “focuses on building social confidence in people who are lonely” via videos. Here’s hoping the app isn’t called Samantha.

Unicorns in Ultimo

The NSW state government-backed $25m Sydney School of Entrepreneurship will be based at TAFE’s very inner-sity Ultimo campus. The school announced in the state budget includes all the state’s universities plus TAFE as participants. So that’s ticks for funding, institutional allies and location – Ultimo is start-up central and only marginally less hip and happening than next-door Chippendale. The plan is for 1000 students from partner institutions a year to “learn, collaborate and experiment” so they can “kick start innovative businesses“. Good-oh but with so many universities involved there is surely a risk of committees producing camels not unicorns.

Myer at Melbourne

Barrister and investor (a BRW rich-lister) Allan Myer will become University of Melbourne chancellor as of January. Mr Myer is foundation chair of the university’s Believe fundraising campaign, which launched in 2013. He replaces Elizabeth Alexander, chancellor for six years.

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Stats on stage

An astronaut and a bunch of physicists have done stand-up shows in Australia but Jeffrey Rosenthal is the first performance statistician CMM has heard of. Professor Rosenthal opened a two-week tour last night at QUT. He is best known for cracking a Canadian lottery fraud where ticket sellers were winning more often than by chance. According to the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute the tour gives “broader audiences the opportunity to engage with field leaders.” CMM is sure it is more fun than this makes it sound.

UniMelb education promotions

Four Melbourne Graduate School of Education staff are promoted to full professor, Sophia Arkoudis, Helen Cahill, Janet Clinton and Dianne Vella-Brodrick.

Digital ends distance

Armidale is on a roll. Last week the University of New England campus there was named the new home of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Authority (CMM yesterday). And now the NSW Government has named the city home for TAFE Digital’s distance learning base. And yes Armidale is already on the ABN. This will cheer Greg Hill no-end. The Regional Universities Network chair suggests access to the NBN is key to extending education in the regions.

Equity fellows announced

The National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education at Curtin University has announced its three equity fellowships for 2017. They are Matt Brett (LaTrobe), Louise Pollard (UWA) and James Smith (Charles Darwin).

ARC names new College of Expert members

The Australian Research Council has released the new members of its college of experts (CMM, Friday and yesterday)

CSIRO: Filomena Pettolino. Curtin U: Gretchen Benedix, Ottmar Lipp, Phil Bland, Carey Curtis. Deakin U: Wanlie Zhou. DSTO: Albert Wong. Edith Cowan U: Catherine Ann Hope. Griffith U: Yongsheng Gao. James Cook U: Lin Schwarzkopf, Carl Spandler. La Trobe U: Marija Tabain. Monash U: Maryrose Casey, Kate Smith-Miles. QUT: You-Gan Wang, Steven Bottle, Margot Brereton, Anthony Clarke. RMIT: Xun Yi. Swinburne U: Sarah Maddison. ANU: Geoffrey Clark. Flinders U: Sarah Wendt, Amanda Elllis, Michael Brunger. UofMelbourne: Jennifer Lewis, Katrina McFerran, Laura Parry, Ann Roberts, Stephen Swearer. UofQ: Heather Douglas, Susanne Schmidt, Kerrie Wilson. UofSydney: Seok-Hee Hong,Dianne Wiley, Ariadne Vromen, Andrew Leach. UofWA: Mark Edele, Peter Veth, Michael Johns, Simon Driver, Philip Mead. UofAdelaide: Vincent Bulone. UoCanberra: Janine Deakin. UofNewcastle: Joy Wanless. UniofSouthAustralia: Enzo Lombi, John van Leeuwen. UofTasmania: Nathaniel Bindoff, John Bowman, Andrew Chan, John Edgar, Aron O’Cass, Brett Paull, Dirk Baltzly. UTS: Anthony Dooley. UofWollongong: Madeleine du Toit, Kate Senior. UNSW: Melissa Tate, Tapabrata Ray.

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