plus location, location: where the elite researchers are

and fit for purpose: Swinburne entrepreneurial agenda

Good show chaps

With “25 new ATSE fellows includes several women,” the Academy of Technological Science and Engineering takes out the patronising headline award for the week. Imagine, that, women! The new fellows, men and women both are reported below. One of the blokes is Barney Glover, president of Universities Australia and VC of Western Sydney University).


Location, location

So much for bourgeois bohemians, research is generating inner-city energy. Australia is 12th in the world for “high-quality science output” according to Nature, which assesses performance on the basis of publications in 68 journals. But when the publisher says Australia it really means research hotspots in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

In Melbourne the centre of the research universe is Parkville, home to the University of Melbourne and its assembly of associates, with Monash, followed by La Trobe and bay-side Deakin outlying concentrations of research power. The connections in the centre are so strong that Melbourne, the city, rates tenth in the world as a connected research community. In Sydney it’s UNSW and the University of Sydney at the centre, with links from the inner city out to Macquarie U.

But the stand-out city is Brisbane which grew fastest in research output between 2012-15, largely due to the University of Queensland, which Nature says made the largest contribution by share of authorship to papers in tracked journals.

Where would be without ASQA

With parliament focused on legislation to replace the disgraceful VET FEE HELP fiasco it’s good to see the Australian Skills Quality Authority focused on the big issues. ASQA reports it has signed an MOU with the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications.


Humming alone

CRC-Project applications were filed yesterday and it appears the Department of Industry’s computer system accepted all 70 or so without a murmur. This made a change from Friday, when the system would not accept four of the seven short-listed applications for full Cooperative Research Centres. The picky programme threw at least one out because spreadsheet cells that had no content were left blank instead of being coded zero (CMM yesterday). However it seems sanity has prevailed and that the four will go forward to final consideration.

You know who you are

“You may have seen some breathless press releases about dark matter & dark energy lately. Don’t throw out your textbooks just yet,” University of Melbourne astrophysicist Katherine Mack has a go at unnamed people about science nobody else understands, via Twitter yesterday.

Eternal Vigilance

The Innovative Research Universities Conor King is pleased with the government’s voced loan legislation for the way it “reduces the habitual confusion of VET specific issues into higher education debates.” He is referring to the Parliamentary Budget Office’s warning that HELP loans would grow fast, which lumped the well designed university student debt scheme in with the honey pot that was the rorted training loan.

Mr King also warns that eternal vigilance requires programme purity; pointing to the possibility that for-profit VET providers may now seek to switch to offering more lucrative higher education courses. The longer, harder HE accreditation process makes this a minimal risk, he suggests.  “However, the potential for the shift does need to be recognised.”


The George Institute has won one of the judges’ votes in the Google Impact challenge for its app that texts advice and reminders to people at risk of strokes and heart attacks, among other horrors. That’s $750k to The George. This leaves La Trobe U still in the running for a prize to be announced today. La Trobe has an app that helps identify autism (CMM Oct0ber 5).


Fit for Purpose

Swinburne U has a PhD scholarship on offer to identify, encourage and retain gym members using data on current consumers and their consumption patterns. It is part of a project with the Richmond Football Club’s chain of gyms CMM September 15). As a way to demonstrate Swinburne is keen on the study of entrepreneurs it is hard to beat and a curtain raiser to next year’s relaunch of Swinburne’s Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship. Swinburne started teaching entrepreneurship in 1975 and set up the first school dedicated to it in 2001. The new! and improved! GSE will provide short online intros to studying a new masters of entrepreneurship, which “focuses on the specific needs of entrepreneurs seeking to successfully commercialise an idea and covers a broad range of knowledge areas.”

High powered panel

NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer Mary O’Kane has joined the review of energy security in the national electricity market chaired by the commonwealth’s chief scientist Alan Finkel.

OA opportunity

Brilliantly timed for Open Access Week, Clive Baldock (PVC R Research Development UTas) has an essay on the relationship on free-to-read research and rankings in a new anthology, Downing and Ganotice eds World university rankings and the future of higher education, details here.

For university strategists interested in using research citations to influence rankings OA is the way to go, he argues. Piling the evidence on, Professor Baldock suggests, “there is a significant so-called citation advantage to be gained by publishing in OA journals.” J

Games unis play

The University of New South Wales has extended its sponsorship with soccer club Sydney FC, which will put the university logo on kit worn by players in the A league and women’s competition. Is there a university in the country that does not sponsor a national-level ball game team?

Simon never stops

Simon Birmingham has disarmed the ticking time bomb that was the VET FEE HELP horror. He has blamed Labor for the whole mess, despite it continuing on the coalition’s watch. He has deplored the behaviour of the spivs who rorted the loan system, although legit private providers are now collateral damage. And he has proposed a new scheme, which effectively takes us back to a time when officials decided what the training system offered. It’s brilliant politics and the minister never stops selling. Yesterday he was assuring the arts community how much it is valued and that plenty of its courses qualify for loans “including graphic design and visual arts, screen and media, live production, photography and music industry.” The arts training sector could scream loud and long without anybody noticing but Senator Birmingham wants everybody onside.

USQ after Thomas

Janet Verbyla will act as VC of the University of Southern Queensland in December-January following the departure of Jan Thomas to become VC of New Zealand’s Massey U. She will then become interim VC until the university finds a permanent replacement for Professor Thomas. Professor Verbyla is now USQ senior DVC.


ATSE honours

The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering has  named the 18 men and seven women who are its 2016 fellows. They are: Michele Allan (Charles Sturt U chancellor), Simon Biggs (dean of engineering, architecture and IT at University of Queensland), Phillip Butler (manufacturer), Stuart Cannon (Defence Science and Technology Group), Jacqueline Craig (former head of cyber electronic warfare, Defence Science and Technology), Dimity Dornan (executive director Hear and Say), Eileen Doyle (non executive director Boral), Abigail Elizur (professor aquaculture biotechnology University of the Sunshine Coast), Jackie Fairley (CEO Starpharma), Barney Glover (VC Western Sydney U), Hong Hao (faculty of science and engineering Curtin U), Thomas Hatton (chair WA Environment Protection Authority), Tony Haymet ( Scripps Institute of Oceanography, UCal San Diego), Gernot Heiser (computer science and engineering UNSW), Svend Peter Klinken (WA chief scientist), Peter Langridge (molecular geneticist University of Adelaide) Larry Marshall (chief executive CSIRO), Eduardo Nebot ( field robotics, University of Sydney), Cecile Paris (research scientist CSIRO), Christopher Pigram (CEO Geoscience Australia), Ian Reid (computer science University of Adelaide), Jeffrey Rosenfeld (Monash University Institute of Medical Engineering), Thorsten Trupke (photovoltaic and renewable energy UNSW), Ian Tyler (Geological Survey of WA) Alex Wonhas (ED environment, energy and resources, CSIRO),

Foreign Fellow: Robin Grimes (material physics Imperial College London). Honorary Fellow David Hurley (governor of NSW)

 Dolt of the day

Is CMM. A learned reader supplied a breakdown of Group of Eight subject performance in the US News and World Report’s top 50 by subject ranking yesterday. ANU was quoted as having four when it has five and UNSW three when it has four.