Cider house rules at U Tas

They will be queuing in the apple aisle for this course

There’s a career option for the dozen or so Tasmanians not making whisky – cider. Uni Tasmania is offering an on-line course in cider, with a weekend of science and sipping on the ground.

The course starts today.  And people who want to learn more can move on to an associate degree in fermentation science.

Uni Newcastle drops UG education at coastal campus

But its expanding at many more

The University of Newcastle will teach-out undergraduate courses and then focus on rsearch and post-graduate study in Port Macquarie on the NSW north coast. The university now teaches nursing, midwifery and teaching there, with around 50, mainly casual staff.

Vice Chancellor Alex Zelinsky tells the university community the move is due to changes in HE supply since the university opened there, in 2003. The Charles Sturt U regional-network now has a campus in Port Macquarie and UNSW has introduced a medical degree.

“The long-term interests of the community and of students who want to study locally is now being met in a variety of ways through new collaboration and multiple providers,” Professor Zelinsky says.

Observers suggest this is less a retreat than releasing resources for the university’s ambitious expansion in its heartland.  There are plans to expand in the Gosford-Ourimbah region, to the north of Sydney, which is under-serviced in higher education. The university has development application in for early work on its Honeysuckle precinct, on the Newcastle CBD fringe –including accommodation for 300 students. Honeysuckle is ultimately intended to have five times the floor space of the NEW building, the university’s flash new central-city centre. And there are three new projects planned for the main Callaghan campus, including a major new STEM building.

ACU promises its own free speech protections

Australian Catholic U is drafting a code

VC Greg Craven has commissioned the university’s counsel to produce a code for its Senate to endorse.

“The code will serve as a touchstone document that provides members of the university community with certainty and clarity around freedom of speech,” he says.

The decision follows Education Minister Dan Tehan’s push for universities to adopt the model code in the French review of university free speech and news (CMM Tuesday) that he has asked for advice on changing legislation and regulation governing universities.

But Professor Craven appears to want it understood that while ACU supports Mr French’s proposal the university is not being pushed into anything.

“The proposed ACU code will be modelled closely on the French code and  …  will be adapted to suit the university’s characteristics and mission,” he says.

The ACU announcement follows Uni Melbourne’s council endorsing a freedom of speech policy (CMM yesterday).  Vice Chancellor Duncan Maskell said the new policy, “follows extensive consultation within the university community both before and after the French Review was undertaken.”

Looks like the start of a trend.

Labor looking for an ATAR argument

Minister Tehan could take the Plibersek or Pyne paths on teacher education entry

“Marks to get into teaching are getting lower and lower. The quality of some teaching degrees is simply not good enough. For years Labor has been saying we must take action to raise the standard. We believe our school kids deserve the best. When will the Libs do something to fix this?,” Labor education shadow Tanya Plibersek, via Twitter yesterday.

Smart politics, because the government has not taken the populist path of attacking teacher education faculties over entry scores.

Instead of demanding higher ATARS, former education ministers Chris Pyne and Simon Birmingham both acted to enforce new teacher ed standards, notably mandatory literacy and numeracy exams for graduates. And Education Minister Dan Tehan presents as a friend to classroom teachers, commissioning a House of Reps committee inquiry into the status of the profession (the election was called before the report was tabled, but the substance of the committees conclusions were in CMM for April 9).

But the ATAR has a powerful appeal for people who want higher entry scores to attract students who will combine teacher education degrees with building quantum computs. As Tania Aspland, deans of education association chair, said in April, “we, as the stakeholders, need to give the politicians something to run with if we don’t want them to run with the ATAR figure,” (CMM April 17)

The teacher ed community needs to watch which policy path Mr Tehan takes.

Australian research healthy in state of Nature

The elite science publisher reports another year of improved performance

The index measures institution’s publishing performance in 82 elite science journal. The Nature group politely acknowledges there are all sorts of reasons for performance changes but makes it clear that it really rates its ranking, “the specificity of our metric is also its strength: top-notch research in the natural sciences, pure and simple.”

Overall, it’s an improving performance for Australian institutions, Curtin U in particular, on the global top 500 list.

All research Institutions 2019: Uni Queensland, 79 in the world (110 in ’17), Monash U 98 (119), UNSW 100 (130), Uni Melbourne 127 (158), ANU 133 (178), Uni Sydney 194 (228), UWA 333 (347) , CSIRO 360 (372), Curtin U 379 (489), Uni Adelaide 385 (389), QUT 446, RMIT 454 and Uni Wollongong  466 (436)

This is a strong result across the board for Australian institutions.

All Go8 members, ex Uni Adelaide are up, with Uni Queensland confirming its top spot with a big increase into the world top 100.

And is another outstanding outcome for Curtin U, rising 90 places –  and making it into the top eight Australian universities (CSIRO is eighth over all). QUT and RMIT also join the world 500

All institutions (chemistry): no Australian institutions make the global top 100. The local top ten, in descending order are: UNSW, Monash, Uni Queensland, Uni Sydney, ANU, Uni Melbourne, QUT, RMIT, Uni Adelaide, Uni Wollongong

All institutions (earth and environmental science); Five institutions make the world top 100; Uni Queensland (33), UNSW (47), ANU (56) Curtin U (81), Uni Melbourne (96). The rest of the Australian first ten are, Monash U, CSIRO, UWA, U Tas and Uni Sydney.

All institutions (life sciences):  Locals in the world top 100 are Uni Queensland (56), Uni Melbourne (79), Monash U (89). Followers in the Australian top ten are: Uni Sydney, UNSW, ANU, UWA, Walter and Eliza Hall, Uni Adelaide and CSIRO.

All institutions (physical sciences): The first 100 is Australian-free. The local top ten is, ANU, Monash U, UNSW, Uni Queensland, Uni Melbourne, Uni Sydney, Uni Wollongong, RMIT, Griffith U and UTS.

Full-service western civ study at Uni Wollongong

The canon and the whole canon

Theo Farrell, University of Wollongong law, humanities and arts dean, points out the university has offered a politics, philosophy and economics degree since 2014 and from next year it will be available in a double degree with the Ramsay Centre-funded western civilisation programme. Professor Farrell responds to a learned reader (CMM, Wednesday) who says PPE programmes offer a better understanding of western civ’s origins and achievements than a classic books course. “it might be said that from next year, UOW will offer the most comprehensive study of western civilisation in Australia,” he says.

This may placate a learned reader who took exception to the suggestion (also CMM Wednesday) that reading the Federalist Papers rather than Middlemarch was more useful for understanding the west’s achievements, saying – “anyone wanting a historical insight into some of the major issues facing our society today (such as the status of women, the nature of marriage, self-interest, social inequality, political reform and coping with change) could do far worse than read Middlemarch.”

Productivity Commission analysis: a bunch of students left out

The Innovative Research Universities has data points (pointy points) to make about the Productivity Commission’s analysis of the demand driven system

The PC’s report (CMM Monday) found equity group HE participation declined slightly during the demand-driven UG entry years. But the IRU dug into the data to find the PC did not consider students over 23 impacted apparent outcomes on four issues.

* 28% of undergrads are 24 years and over and their numbers grew faster in the DDS years than school-leavers. This trend is not captured in Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth data, which the PC used

* 34 per cent of low SES students in 2016 were over 24, up from 32 per cent in 2012

*  All Indigenous students doubled (to 12 000) 2009-2016, with 43 per cent over 24 years in 2016, thus not included by the PC

* Regional and remote students aged 24 plus also accounted for 24 per cent of that equity group in ’16 and were accordingly not in the PC analysis

A demon for data suggests that the overall outcomes the PC identified would not have been much different if outcomes for older students were included but it would have added evidence that “overall the sector delivered for the 100% it enrolled.”


Another Elsevier expansion

Journal giant announces its International Centre for the Study of Research

“Its mission is to encourage the examination of research using an array of metrics and a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods.”

Elsevier adds the centre will help researchers measure the impact of their work. This will also, undoubtedly incidentally, assist Elsevier. “One of the things we’d expect the centre to influence directly is the way metrics are displayed and presented in context – in the platforms and solutions Elsevier provides,” the company’s Andrew Plume suggests.

The European open access Plan S challenges Elsevier’s existing journal model and the company is responding by expanding its data services.

Dolt of the day

Dolt of the day

Is CMM twice. Western Sydney U’s new Moodys rating is Aa2, not A2, as reported yesterday. Also yesterday, the Uni Melbourne VC’s surname was less misspelt than wrong – its Maskell.

Appointments and achievements of the week

Gabriella Edelstein (Uni Newcastle) has a $46 000 fellowship to fund work in the British Museum on censorship in 16-17th century English plays. The money comes from the Uni Melbourne administered S Ernest Sprott Fellowship which funds research on English literature of that period.

The WA cancer researcher of the year is Gary Lee from UWA.

Ann McGrath is the new Hancock professor of history at ANU. The chair is named for Keith Hancock, the university’s foundation professor of history.

The Australian Academy of Science announces Louise Moes is manager of diversity and inclusion. Ms Moes has a strong background in government and the welfare sector. She is a former Labor staffer.

Kevin Dunn has a 12-month appointment as Western Sydney U PVC R. He moves from dean of social sciences psychology and lead dean, rankings.

Uni Sydney politics professor Simon Tormey is off to the UK to become dean of social sciences and law at Bristol U.

The Lowitja Institute names Indigenous maternal health researcher, Catherine Chamberlain (La Trobe U) its Research Leadership Award winner.

John Church (UNSW) is a co-winner of the BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge award for climate change science. He receives Euro 400 000 in recognition of his research on sea level response to climate change. BBVA is a Spanish bank.

The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering’s awards are announced.

Innovation: Thorsten Trupke and Robert Bardos (both USW). Solar cell manufacturing

EntrepreneurJane Oppenheim (Ego Pharmaceuticals). Sales growth.

Knowledge commercialisationAnthony Weiss (Uni Sydney). Synthetic skin for wound care.

Batterham MedalMichael Milford (QUT). Autonomous vehicles and robotics.

ICM Agrifood Award (i): Lee Hickey (Uni Queensland). Plant breeding and genetics for cereal crops.

ICM Agrifood Award (ii): Lydia Ong (Uni Melbourne). Molecular study of dairy protein and fat.

Ezio Rizzardo Polymer ScholarshipNaomi Paxton (QUT). Biofabrication of body parts.