The national university rated 25th in the world for an international culture

When national is local

ANU is doing its part to bring Canberra to the world and the world to Canberra,” university VC Brian Schmidt on its top Australian placing in the Times Higher international ranking (below).


Everybody can’t be right

Unanimous agreement can indicate system failure according to University of Adelaide probability expert Derek Abbott and colleagues. They created three tests, witnesses confirming the identity of a criminal suspect, identification of an archaeological find and reliability of a cryptographic system and found unanimous agreement “weakened confidence in the result.” So what does that mean for the unanimous opinion Torrens-side campus that Uni Adelaide is the best in the world?

Gago gone

As widely predicted (CMM January 14), South Australian training minister Gail Gago has resigned from state cabinet.

Cosmopolitan campuses

It took the Times Higher team two whole weeks to publish their first university league table for 2016 but at least when they finally got around to it yesterday the results were not the same old same old. The list is of the top 200 universities for “international outlook,” based on proportions of international staff and students and papers by staff collaborating with a co-author based in another country.

This is not your average ranking headed by alpha anglosphere institutions. Qatar University is number one in the world, followed by the University of Luxembourg, there are four Swiss schools in the top ten as well as the University of Hong Kong, the National University of Singapore, the University of Macua, with Imperial College London tenth. The leading antipodean institution is the Auckland University of Technology at 12th.

Perhaps reflecting the after-shocks of empire, the UK dominates the list with 30 per cent of entries. In contrast there are only eight US institutions, starting with MIT at 90 and ending with Purdue at 196. Ten Canadian schools make the cut as do five of New Zealand’s eight universities.

Australia reflects the global pattern; with elite institutions not in the top spots. Yes ANU is first at 25th but Curtin is second at 26th, followed by UWA (31), UTS (46), Macquarie (49), UNSW (54), UoQ (55), UniSA (57), Murdoch (61), Monash (63), UniMelb (67), UniWollongong (71), UniAdelaide (79), Swinburne (82), UniSydney (86), RMIT (97), Griffith (102) UniTas (118), LaTrobe (127), Deakin (135), QUT (144) UniNewcastle (145), James Cook (173) and Edith Cowan (188).

ANU Dec 15 2

Not a feather to fly with

In a major setback for the extinct flightless bird export industry trans-Tasman researchers report “introducing Australian emus and cassowaries to New Zealand to fill the ecological gap left by the extinction of the moa would most likely fail.”

From regions to the world

The Chief Economist has released a report on, “how regional universities drive regional innovation” which comprehensively covers pretty much what regional lobbies have long argued. Government policy favours research over industry engagement, bush universities lack resources to build links with major business and need to focus on areas of immediate interest to their communities. “A strategic focus on local regional issues builds trust and respect within regional communities because those communities can see the relevance of the university for their needs,” the report argues. But this does not mean they cannot act locally while thinking globally, “the dual local and global positioning of regional universities permits them to entertain strategies that drive local business innovation, and strategies that plug regionally generated innovations into global markets.” It seems sensible but CMM missed the bit that upset the National Union of Students yesterday,

“While the report claims to be about how regional universities can better engage in innovation of industry, it does little to ease the fears of thousands of students preparing to attend a regional university in 2016 have that their degree will not come with a lifetime of debt, or that their course will even exist at their university in the future. Despite claiming that regional universities are underfunded, the report offers no credible suggestion as to how to overcome this, merely stating that a new funding model is necessary,” NUS thundered.

Fair enough, then again neither did the report address the specific problems regional universities would face if attacked by zombies.

Of the two-legged kind

Greens senator Lee Rhiannon spoke yesterday at Macquarie U on animal politics and law reform. She called (yes, really) for a “watchdog.”

Hard cash from soft power

Canberra expects international student numbers to keep growing. Problem is Beijing has the same ambition, except that where Australia sees education as an export China uses it to project soft power. The obvious example is the Confucius Institute programme, there are 13 at Australian universities. But according to German consultants ICEF, China also has 8 per cent of international students growing from a small base at the turn of the century to nearly 400 000 now and on track to reach half a million by 2020. China is also building on its investments in Africa with programmes to create 40 000 training places for Africans and to offer 30 000 scholarships, both in China.

Closer to Australia’s traditional markets, China is making nice on education with ASEAN members, to build on the 180 000 southeast Asian students already studying there.

Bet the house on UoQ

“One student leapt for joy so much at UQ study offer that her mum thought house would fall off stumps!” the University of Queensland tweeted yesterday. She should enrol in engineering.

A win for Murdoch

There is good news from Murdoch U (and it’s a while since CMM could write that) with the UK Higher Education Academy accrediting two professional development programmes for staff collectively known as the MU Learning and Teaching Certificate. According to the HEA, “accreditation provides external and independent confirmation that professional development is aligned with the UK’s – professional standards framework.”

It’s a boost for education at Murdoch, which rates third in Western Australia for teaching quality on QILT, behind Notre Dame and Edith Cowan but ahead of Curtin and UWA. However MU only scored “at world standard” for the three research areas in the discipline assessed for Excellence for Research in Australia last month.

More of the same

A University of Sydney reader points out that changes in senate membership mean that alumni members will be appointed by Senate, not elected by graduates, (CMM, January 13)