Plus defence spending as a giant STEM jobs programme and Tanya Monro moves up to CSIRO

One and the same

“It’s never too early to plan your career (or find a casual job),” the University of Sydney advised yesterday. Of course it would never occur to UoS staff that for some graduates the latter will be the former.

Campus Morning Mail

Monro moves up

Did the University of Adelaide realise how big a gap Tanya Monro would leave when she left? Arriving there in 2005 she soon exceeded her KPIs, to build the university’s rep in phototonics. She served on state and federal committees and became a poster-person for women in science and for SA’s research standing.

Such a poster-person, that the University of South Australia lured her away in 2014 to become DVC R. While she left a bunch of research money at UoA she took her prestige with her, which is very good for UniSA. Professor Monro’s appointment to the CSIRO board yesterday is another win for her but also the university.

APP of the day

Is from Built Environment (architecture, urban planning, construction management, that sort of stuff) at the University of New South Wales. People at BE teamed up with architects Cox Richardson to create the Urban Pinboard App, which makes building and planning information available across the fragmented fiefdoms that are state and local government jurisdictions in Sydney.


More than just numbers

It’s a golden age of influence for the National Tertiary Education Union, which is certainly accomplishing more with the same membership it had a decade ago. The union now claims 28 000 members whereas in 2004 it reported just under 27 000. This isn’t much of a rise, especially as overall higher education employment has risen from 92 000 to 123 000. But it’s not bad at all compared to the overall decline in union membership across the country, down to 15 per cent in the overall workforce. Then again, some 39 per cent of public sector workers, think nurses, teachers and emergency service workers, are unionised.

Many mates

The University of South Australia is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a web page where its friends post congratulations. And what a diverse bunch of mates they are; politicians and polemicists, students and sportspeople, comedians and cyclists. Stars of screen and space are there – actor Stephen Fry and NASA boss Charles Bolden. So are local heroines, former VC Denise Bradley and workplace researcher Barbara Pocock. By a university’s friends shall you know it.

Deakin’s big biz

The ratings biz is brisk at Deakin U’s Business School. Last week it rated 16th in the QS online MBA top 30 (CMM February 26) and yesterday the European Foundation for Management Development renewed its MBA and B Comm accreditation. Deakin is one of nine Australian schools accredited by the EFMD.


More please, in the national interest

The First Law of Funding Announcements holds the bigger the bucket of money the greater the number of organisations who will see an opportunity. Thus Engineers Australia responded to the $30bn in increased spending in the Defence White Paper within a couple of days, warning that engineers would be needed.

Yesterday the University of Tasmania was spruiking the role of its ARC Research Training Centre for Naval Design and Manufacturing, which “aims to transform Australia’s naval manufacturing industry.”

In case other academics aren’t quick on the uptake Innovation Minister Chris Pyne showed them how it’s done in Reps Question Time, taking a dorothy to  explain how defence spending and in particular last week’s White Paper  are great for STEM discipline employment. “The government’s policies on defence and innovation are doing exactly what the Australian people want us to do, create jobs and get our economy growing again,” he said.

Moran moves west

Chris Moran is leaving the Sustainable Minerals Institute at the University of Queensland for Curtin U where he will be DVC Research. He replaces Graeme Wright who will retire mid year.

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Local hero

Andrew Southcott is the member for Boothby, the federal electorate covering Flinders University and he is obviously keen to keep it that way. He was on his feet in the Reps last week praising the university, which is about to turn 50. Listing initiatives, be added he was looking forward to seeing what Flinders will have accomplished when it turns 60. With 50.35 per cent of the primary vote and a 6 per cent swing to him in the 2013 election Mr Southcott could still the university’s MP when that anniversary rolls around.

Publishing pain

The Australian Universities Review is always a great guide to what HE practitioners think and the issue about to be out reflects anxiety with an ever-more competitive campus culture. There is an essay on “talent management” in universities, a title that will still alarm plenty of people and Andrew Bonnell from the University of Queensland, worries about the impact of research metrics.

“Driven by competition for international student numbers, not to mention the quantified KPIs of individual managers, and seeking to justify charging higher fees than their competitors, academic managers chase rankings, and use crude quantitative levers to try to extract more and higher-profile publications from their staff. It is not sustainable,” Dr Bonnell writes.

Editor Ian Dobson demonstrates just how demanding the push to publish makes things in a piece outlining the impact on editors of having to assess evidence and then decide what constitutes first publication of original research.

Setting standards

Rod Camm did well last year, presenting the legitimate for-profit training industry as an essential part of voced right through the VET FEE HELP storm. And now the Australian Council for Private Education and Training chief is setting out a strategy to present his members as meeting new federal standards. In this first case it is on behalf of his NUHEP (as in non university higher education providers) members.

ACPET has established a joint-venture consulting service to assist members meet the finally in place Higher Education Standards Framework. It will benchmark providers on required data, create plans for required improvement and measure NUHEPs against their peers (anonymity assured). For a $4000 starting price this looks a less good than essential deal.