Parking sticker-shock

UNSW staff are revved up over management’s 2019 parking prices. This year staff earning less than $40 000 are charged $774 for an annual permit, next year the ceiling rises to $55 000, but so does the price, to $976. And staff earning above $55 000 will pay $1947, up from $1542. Anybody who wants to park with the gentry in the “reserve zone” in 2019 will be up for $5841 – compared to $4625 now. There is no information on what the parking spot reserved for Nobel Prize winners will cost.

“So much for enterprise bargaining pay rises” says a learned reader clutching a bus timetable.

Why women leave engineering and grads have slow starts

Victoria’s Chief Engineer, Collette Burke explains why women start but don’t stay in engineering in her new report on engineering’s circumstances in the state. She has ideas on improving career starts as well.

Where women aren’t:  Girls stay clear of STEM at school, which flows on to university, where woman make up 15 per cent of engineering enrolments. And those that do study engineering favour biomedical, environmental and chemical engineering, with just 20 per cent taking mechanical, electrical; or civil eng courses. Women also prefer research to practise. “Research careers often lead to a more flexible lifestyle in terms of work hours, which may be why women prefer to pursue higher qualifications in engineering,” she writes. (Not that it gets them that far, Professor Burke states 7 per cent of engineering professors are women.)

And of women who do enter the engineering workforce one in six between 20 and 39 leave –compared to one in 100 men. “Limited work flexibility, a large pay gap and difficulties in career progression are often the cause,” she carefully comments.

So, what is to be done? “The causes of the lack of diversity in the engineering profession are complex. Fundamentally, we need to challenge cultural and social perceptions and stereotypes, and drive toward a long-term education strategy for parents, teachers and the community. We also need to keep investigating why, despite the many initiatives currently underway, we are not seeing the desired outcomes.”

Slow starts in engineering and what to do about them: Dr Burke warns the proportion of graduates finding FT work has dropped over the last decade adding the industry advises this is due to undergraduates lacking relevant experience before completing study.

“This highlights a critical gap, which provides a major opportunity for educational institutions, industry and government to collaborate and ensure future engineers are prepared with real-world experience,” Dr Burke suggests.

She urges engineering educators to follow medicine, nursing and law and adopt work-integrated learning via internships, cadetships and traineeships.

 Well done Wicking

The University of Tasmania’s Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre is the state entry in the health and biotech category of the Australian Export Awards, presumably for its two marvellous MOOCs,  Preventing Dementia and Understanding Dementia, both scheduled to run again next year. Has CMM mentioned that these are great resources, available to anybody who needs them around the world?

Expert opinion on the new Course Seeker Guide

The feds released the new Course Seeker Guide this week (CMM yesterday) so CMM asked Sebastion Marx for an expert assessment.

Course Seeker, the Australian Government’s latest foray into the realm of university recruitment was released this week.
Expectations in recruitment circles were not high – especially after government-led admissions transparency changes left many prospects drowning in tokenistic jargon when well-known descriptive terms were removed.

The promise was a one-stop shop to compare the nation’s degrees on the basis of entry score, delivery mode and duration. (Course Seeker would also make a great platform to compare degrees on cost as well, should fee deregulation ever find a friendly senate.)
In terms of providing a basic degree search engine – Course Seeker meets the bill but still needs work on search terms. A good illustration of this is how a search for geology might encourage prospects to pursue careers in veterinary science, dentistry and medicine before a BSci program even appears on the list.

To improve the service, Course Seeker might consider introducing a major/minor search, to assist prospects find the appropriate program for them. Displaying information on majors more prominently is also important for the many Australian degrees with dozens of options.

Course Seeker is let down by the reliance on data gained through admissions transparency. The designers have opted to publish the lowest unadjusted entry score without any context, despite individual institutions arriving at them differently. Some institutions have very specific admissions schemes for prospects in very specific situations. Some universities give out as many as 12 adjustment points – others cap at five. Without context, the final score is worthless.

Course Seeker’s decision to use unadjusted scores was misinformed and creates the sort of confusion that transparency was meant to prevent.

Sebastion Marx is a domestic university recruiter at the University of Queensland.

App of the day

University of Queensland researchers are trialling a new app to help stop stillbirths. The app encourages pregnant women to be aware of their baby’s kicks and tell their midwife/obstetrician about changes. My Baby’s Movements is trialling in Australia and New Zealand.

Meanwhile, at the boat face

Defence Minister Chris Pyne has finally launched the “transformativeNaval Shipbuilding College, in Adelaide. But he did not have to speak up to be heard above the noise of anybody actually learning how build a ship. The College has a website where you can register “for tailored advice from a career consultant to help find the right education or training pathway for you” and “be matched with future job or apprentice opportunities.”

Alternatively, anybody interested in learning shipbuilding skills could talk to providers who already have scores on the slips. Like the University of Tasmania’s Australian Maritime College, which actually knows a bit about marine engineering – it’s part of a US Department of Defence research programme on hull shapes and propellers (CMM February 19). The College is systematically establishing alliances with TAFEs to offer pathway programmes, signing with WA’s South Metro TAFE in August, (CMM August 23) and NSW TAFE yesterday.

Want research with that?

Chris Dubelaar from Deakin U, with colleagues from France, Macquarie U and UTS tested health/unhealthy snack consumption to find people will eat more good stuff if portions are bigger. Then again, they do the same for bad snacks. Environment also influences consumption – watching food-focused scenes in a movie reduced the amount subjects ate.

Portion sizes can strategically be used to influence the consumption of healthy foods; however, any such manipulation needs to be covert where individuals are not subjected to food related cues.” Broccoli burger makers take note.

Three minutes on minute science

The Universitas 21 alliance has a Three-Minute thesis competition, won this year by UNSW’s Jonathan Berengut, describing his research on bio-nanobots. Big ideas, polished performance, expect to hear him soon on a TED Talk stage.

ANU leads Times Higher humanities ranking

The new Times Higher humanities ranking is out, and for the second time this week the University of Melbourne is not number one (CMM Monday) – no, it’s not a trend. Just three Australian universities make the global top hundred.

But, with all the usual caveats about scores bouncing around over years and methodological quirks, one thing that CMM noticed was the University of South Australia ahead of the University of Adelaide. Perhaps this is why UniSA is said to have pulled the pin on the merger talks.

The ANZ universities that make the list are: ANU (33), UniMelbourne (41), UniSydney (47), Monash U (101-125), UoQ (101-125), Uni Auckland (126-150), Macquarie U (126-150), UNSW (126-150), Victoria U of Wellington (126-150), Uni Otago (151-175), La Trobe U (176-200), Uni South Australia (176-200), UWA 176-200, Uni Wollongong (176-200), Uni Adelaide (201-250), Murdoch U (201-250), RMIT (201-250), UTS (201-250), Uni Waikato (201-250), Western Sydney U (201-250), Australian Catholic U (251-300), Uni Canterbury (251-300), Curtin U (251-300), Flinders U (251-300), Griffith U (251-300), QUT (251-300), Deakin U (301-400), Uni Newcastle (301-400), Swinburne U (301-400), U Tasmania (301-400), Massey U (401+)


Appointments, achievements of the week

Former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick is elected an honorary fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.

Curtin U senior lecturer Katharina Wolf is the Public Relations Institute of Australia’s educator of the year.

William Locke will become director of the University of Melbourne’s Centre for the Study of Higher Education in February. He will move from University College London where he is now director of the Centre for Higher Education Studies and deputy director of the Centre for Global Higher Education. 

The PVC digital learning appointment QUT announced in May is filled. Kevin Ashford-Rowe, moves from Australian Catholic U.

UTS dean of arts and social sciences, Mary Spongberg is moving to Southern Cross Uwhere she will be DVC Research.

Monash U is establishing a robotics research facility to be led by Dana KulicProfessor Kulic will move from the University of Waterloo in January.

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation has announced $300 000 funding for Peter Harrison(Southern Cross U) and Matthew Dunbabin (QUT) to propagate coral by larval reseeding.

Robert Wood is to join UTS to lead the Future Academy in the university’s business school. Professor Wood joins from UNSW. The Future Academy’s, now being planned, will “focus on helping individuals reskill and upskill.”

Sports scientist Ben Jackson from UWA is the Western Australia Young Tall Poppy for 2018.

Naomi Dempsey is Victoria U’s new PVC Students. She is promoted from student services director at VU.

Curtin U planetary scientist Katarina Miljkovic receives a L’Oréal-UNESCO Women in Science Fellowship.

Xuemei Bai from ANU has won the Volvo Environment Prize for her research on the causes and consequences of urbanisation.

Virginia Haussegger is the ACT Australian of the Year. She leads the University of Canberra’s 50/50 by 2030 Foundation which works for gender equality in public-sector leadership.

2018 Green Gown award winners

The Australasian Campuses towards Sustainability 2018 Green Gown awards were announced last night. Campus health, food and drink: University of Wollongong. Continuous Improvement: Institutional Change: RMIT. Impact: James Cook U. Learning, teaching and skills: Deakin University. Leadership team: University of Melbourne executive. Student engagement: Victoria University of Wellington. Sustainable campus: University of Otago. Staff excellence: John Pederick, University of Melbourne. Student excellence: Rachel Hay, University of Tasmania