Just in time for Christmas

Publisher Routledge announces the holiday-reading book of the season, Samier and Milley (eds) International perspectives on maladministration in education. John Smyth (Federation U and University of Huddersfield) contributes, “A Critical Theory Analysis of the Production of Toxic and Zombie Leadership in the Context of Neoliberalism” and Scott Eacott, (UNSW) offers “Beyond the normative: theorising maladministration relationally.”

Nought to brain snap in 60 seconds

Does the Australian Research Council want Labor research spokesman Kim Carr’s head to explode? The eminent agency yesterday announced a new training centre at RMIT; “to accelerate transformation of Australia’s automotive industry.” Um in a world without Ford, Holden and Toyota production lines “industry” is a bit of a stretch.

Apparently, the new ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre in Lightweight Automotive Structures “will develop new lightweight technologies, manufacturing processes and energy storage” – presumably for vehicles assembled overseas. It’s the sort of science Senator Carr would have liked to see used to keep manufacturers here.

Claim of the day

“Our fifty years of teaching and learning alone didn’t put us in the top echelon of world universities,” no regulator is every going to accuse Flinders U of making claims that don’t stand up.

UniAdelaide working on work readiness

The University of Adelaide is launching a research centre on the changing nature of work and what it means for job skills. Kostas Mavromaras will join UniAdelaide from Flinders U to lead the work.  He nominates defence, health and aged care as well as the future for transitioning workers, like those in the former car industry, as priority areas.

Perhaps he will have a word with the people designing the university’s intern programmes for undergraduates. The university already offers a range of programmes, including a 75-partner arts-student scheme. If universities are to defend their claims about what a degree can do in the job market they will need to help students survive in it.

Med dean at Bond U

Kirsty Forrest is the incoming dean of medicine at Bond U. Professor Forrest is now deputy head there and a consultant anaesthetist at Gold Coast University Hospital.

Natural selection: Flinders researcher names ecology’s must-read articles

With research rolling off the PhD production line young ecology researchers searching for a sense of the science-culture foundations of their discipline are easily overwhelmed.  There are, Flinders U’s Corey Bradshaw and French colleague Franck Courchamp write, half a million ecology papers on the Web of Science. So, Bradshaw and Courchamp asked hundreds of ecology experts to name the journal articles all researchers should read.

Their results demonstrate what researchers want; modelling studies led from “argumentation papers.” Community ecology, biodiversity distribution, population ecology “and, to a lesser extent,” evolutionary ecology, conservation biology and functional ecology are the big subjects among the 17 fields covered by articles on the top 100 list.

And in an unhappy result for advocates of cash-machine metrics, Bradshaw and Courchamp found; “most recommended papers were not published in the highest-ranking journals, nor did they have the highest number of mean annual citations, showing the limitations of using such citation-based indices as metrics of article or researcher impact.”

Not that environmental scientists need to have read an article to recommend it; “a remarkable example is the top-ranked paper in the all-article list which is entirely absent in the read-only top 100,” they write.

Not, you understand that this is a problem, they charitably explain; “even though many of the recommended papers had not been read per se, the proponents possibly knew enough of their content or main message via partial readings, discussions, related readings or their mentors’ previous recommendations.”
So, who you ask, is author of the number one article all ecologists should read? Some bloke called Charles Darwin who wrote with A R Wallace, “On the tendency of species to form varieties; and on the perpetuation of varieties and species by natural means of selection” in 1858.

TAFE chief to create a VET alliance

Craig Robertson is creating a coalition of VET leaders, to address the mess, sorry mass of training qualifications. “This is not just a TAFE thing. It’s something I passionately feel the sector needs to address and I want to work with others with the same passion to see how we can contribute to change, “the executive director of TAFE Directors Australia says.

Mr Robertson wants a meeting of ministers scheduled for Friday to address “the high number of bespoke qualifications” for individual occupations. “The extent of qualification capture to industry demands and employment rent seeking, compared to the smooth passage to work these qualifications can offer needs close examination,” TDA he says.

Nor is Mr Robertson happy with the Commonwealth’s interim “tuition assurance scheme” for VET students, set to start next year.  “Federal Minister Simon Birmingham, seems to imply that TDA has not been up to the task for cleaning up the mess for Careers Australia.  Well, we have and we have placed at a cost of $30m to TAFEs and other providers students that we did not have a responsibility for,” he said last night.

Dolt of the day

Is CMM. Yesterday’s email edition reported Kylie Simmonds moving from head of comms at UNSW Canberra to the University of Canberra. Ms Simmonds isn’t moving and has never talked to UoC about a job. CMM got this wrong.

UniSA’s great new advert for the university of everywhere on-line

The University of South Australia has a new TVC for its expanding suite of online courses (CMM August 10). “Study on demand” consists of young people doing young people things with their phones and laptops (for the young fogies), listening, reading, mashing avocados. The voice-over made the entirely reasonable point; “the way we engage, consume, create and manage our lives has changed. Ours is a world on demand, so why should the way we study be any different? Discover a more connected way of building your career with degrees designed specifically for on-line learning.”

Good-o, trouble is even with prominent branding this is more of an advert for digital study than it is for study at UniSA.

UniMelbourne’s big new engagement investment

Another week, another transformative announcement from the University of Melbourne in Glyn Davis’s last year as vice chancellor. On Friday CMM reported a big expansion in who and what the university will teach. And now UniMelb is moving to grow its innovation precinct in its colony of Carlton.

The university is in partnership with a Lendlease-led consortium to redevelop the former Royal Women’s Hospital to house innovators and locals alike. The project builds on the success of the Lab14 prototype, where researchers and entrepreneurs worked alongside students and – what a surprise – international students. Campus housing developer Urbanest is another partner in the new project.

It’s all very MIT, a community of researchers among a community of residents as part of the Carlton Connect plan and it reflects Glyn Davis’s vision for the future of universities (at least big, rich, research-intensive ones in the flash-inner city) which engage with the communities they are part of. In September he hosted a conference where people from 25 research-intensive universities discussed, “how universities can enrich their cities, the impact of the changing role of universities as public institutions and how to create economic and commercial value.”

Joy prevails as the Academy of the Humanities announces a new president and fellows

Historian Joy Damousi is the new president of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. Professor Damousi is based at the University of Melbourne.

The academy has also announced newly elected fellows are:

Susan Best (art history – Griffith U), Jianfu Chen (socio-legal researcher, La Trobe U), Robin Derricourt (African archaeology, UNSW), Gerard Goggin (media comms, University of Sydney), Yingjie Guo (Chinese politics, University of Sydney), Greg Hainge (French literature, University of Queensland), Michael Haugh (linguistics, University of Queensland), Julie Holledge, (theatre and arts, Flinders University), Dexter Hoyos (Roman and Carthaginian history, University of Sydney), Neil Levy (philosophy and ethics, Macquarie University), Yixu Lu (German literature and European history, University of Sydney), Marion Maddox (religion and Australian politics, Macquarie University), Ann McGrath, (Indigenous relations and colonialism, ANU), Kirsten McKenzie (Australian colonial and imperial history University of Sydney), Rachel Nordlinger  (Indigenous language, University of Melbourne), Ingrid Piller (sociolinguistics, Macquarie University), Stuart Robson (Javanese literature and language, Monash University), Catherine Speck (war in Australian art, University of Adelaide), Shurlee Swain (history and social work, Australian Catholic University), Julian Thomas (culture, media, comms, RMIT), Clara Tuite (19th century literature and affect studies, University of Melbourne

Nestor to retire from Monash University

The much-admired Pauline Nestor has announced she will leave Monash University at the end of March. Professor Nestor has served Monash for 30 plus years and is now vice provost, research. “Monash University has recently attained an unprecedented level of international recognition for the quality of its research, much of which has been a direct outcome of Pauline’s expertise and guidance, and her effective championing of excellent research and researchers,” Vice Chancellor Margaret Gardner told staff late yesterday.

“Many meetings will not be the same, missing her acerbic wit, as well as her intellect. Her generosity of spirit will be greatly missed by very many,” the vice chancellor said. “She is well known for all three, and will be a loss” a learned reader agreed last night.