Straight from the horse’s mouth

“I would respectfully suggest to my colleagues elsewhere that they may need to look as cautiously as we did at the teeth of this particular gift horse,”ANU Chancellor Gareth Evans advises universities on negotiating with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, in an Adelaide speech today.

A happy coincidence at UNSW

UNSW reports the main library’s tower is being illuminated to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth. “It’s an opportunity to reflect on his profound contributions to India as a nation and to humanity as a whole,” the university states. In a happy coincidence UNSW is promoting in India its entry scheme for masters students from Jindal Global Business School (CMM July 30).


RMIT’s new unforgettable  face

An RMIT team has created the excellently named Sans Forgetica, “the world’s first typeface specifically designed to help people retain more information and remember more of typed study notes.”

The font is designed with “degrees of distinctiveness” designed to hold readers attention on each word, “giving the brain more time to engage in deeper cognitive processing, to enhance information retention.”

The RMIT team tested it with 400 students on-line and in a lab. The font is free and deserves ARC big ticks for applied research.

This is the second university-font CMM knows of. In 2013 then University of Canberra VC Stephen Parker created a $10 000 competition for a typeface to commemorate Canberra’s centenary (CMM November 5 2013).

“All fossils, out now!”

On Tuesday UNSW security shut-down the chancellery because of a protest against the university’s investments in fossil-fuel companies.  The protestors were still there yesterday, “chanting loud and clear, ‘make my degree fossil free’”. Unkind thing to say about senior academics.

Dress for success

“If you are aiming to get into venture capital, never, ever wear a tie or tuck your shirt in,” expert advice from CRC Association CEO Tony Peacock, yesterday.

Gareth Evans on free speech, adapting to digital learning and why ANU rejected Ramsay

The University Chancellors’ conference is hosting a governance gathering in Adelaide, addressing university issues of the hour. ANU Chancellor Gareth Evans will set the scene this morning, with his usual expansive address, including.

adapt or be ignored: “There is a real prospect – particularly if university teaching methods do not adapt to the new information environment – of very bright students bypassing university altogether because they believe they can get all the instruction they need from online platforms, and learning by doing in entrepreneurial settings”.

on negotiating with the Ramsay Civ Centre: The chancellor sets out in detail ANU’s view on why  no arrangement for the centre to fund courses was reached, all of which go to his core point; “no university deserving of the name can yield its independence to the agendas of others, whether those others be governments or philanthropic foundations or anyone else, when it comes to staffing and curriculum and research priority choices. curriculum and staffing decisions.”

free speech is fundamental: Professor Evans is explicit in, “maintaining totally intact, with no qualifications whatever, the traditional idea of the university as the home of free speech, of the clash of ideas, of unconstrained argument and debate.” While he acknowledges limits on speech that apply everywhere; “causing not just offence or insult but definable harm – including outright incitement of racial hatred, or gender or political violence, intimidation or humiliation,” he explicitly rejects the idea, floated by Education Minister Dan Tehan, that opponents of a controversial speaker pay for campus security at an event.

“If we are serious about free speech – which must mean allowing views we might find abhorrent to be heard – it would be unconscionable to make either those sponsoring the speech, or those wanting to protest against it, to pay for their exercising their rights.  Of course we would prefer to be spending our scarce resources more productively, but bearing these precautionary costs ourselves, on the likely very rare occasions when they should ever become necessary, seems to us just to come with the territory.”

“The bottom line seems to me … . Learning to live with uncomfortable ideas, and responding to them appropriately, is part of the business of growing up. How can anyone cope with the world if sheltered from awareness of any views he or she does not already hold? Lines have to be drawn, and administrators’ spines stiffened, against manifestly unconscionable demands for protection against ideas and arguments claimed to be offensive.”

The people of UofQ have spoken

There was a 96.4 per cent yes from University of Queensland staff voting on the management-union proposed enterprise agreement in the poll that closed yesterday. Close, bur not enough to beat the University of Southern Queensland where the enterprise agreement was approved yesterday by 97 per cent of staff.

ANU understands every $50k helps

ANU knows a bit about fundraising – what with campus-transforming donations from Graham and Louise Tuckwell with an estimated value of $200m (CMM July 18 2016). But the university also values small sum campaigns, focused on the immediate needs of stuents. Like today’s Giving Day which has a $50 000 target for  rural-regional students to get a start at ANU. The university kicks in $10 000 for every 100 donations, regardless of size. Entirely admirable, except perhaps for the site’s URL , NSW bushranger Captain Thunderbolt was not known for educational philanthropy.

Rhi humour

Unicorns are real. They’re well built, powerful and roam our Melbourne campus in groups of three,” La Trobe U tweeted yesterday. The accompanying image was of statues of three rhinoceros on the Bundoora campus. “A case of rhi-humour?” a learned observer of La Trobe life suggests.

UniSydney Ramsay debate rolls on

The Ramsay Centre debate at the University of Sydney rolls on while standing still. This isn’t a debate over accepting millions of donor dollars to fund courses on the study of western civilisation but a discussion over terms for any negotiation. This week Academic Board met with neither side convincing the other. University top management says western civ is a legitimate subject of study, the university would never surrender its autonomy to a donor and the money would be good. Opponents say “western civ” is a synonym for “colonial values” and accepting the Ramsay money would reduce the university’s independence. Which is where the two sides were when the argument started.


Troy Williams in the incoming CEO of the Australian Council for Private Education and Training. He joins from the Australian Dental Industry Association.

Sue MacLeman is the new chair of federally funded med tech and pharmaceutical growth centre MTP Connect. She replaces Bronwyn Evans, in the chair since the agency was established in 2016. In July Ms MacLeman was replaced as MD of MTP by Dan Grant, who moved from La Trobe U.