Not so much sunshine state

“Winter is over. Daylight saving is coming…this weekend in fact,” Uni Queensland Medicine, via Twitter, yesterday. Good-o, but Queensland does not switch to daylight saving this, or any, weekend.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning:

* Cathy Stone (Uni Newcastle) on the mass of students who don’t study on campus and why universities should stop policies and processes designed for school leavers,  here .

*  A learned reader explains how the government’s international student visa risk rating works and why it matters for universities here.

* And, an insider’s view of NHRMC Investigator Grant peer reviews by Wendy Ingram (Adelaide Medical School, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, University of Adelaide) here.

VC Schmidt reports on the ANU digital diamond heist

ANU has released a comprehensive, but careful history of the security breach which led unknown interlopers to roam around its system

The report is fascinating reading, setting out how they got in, where they went and how they covered their tracks. But it is silent on what they wanted and what they planned to do with it. Understandably so, ANU does not know and wisely leaves speculation to others.

VC Brian Schmidt says the data breach was less smash and grab and more “diamond heist”. So, what gems where the villains after?

When first announced mid-year there was speculation it was all about access to research files – ANU academics certainly work closely with the defence and intel deep state. But now the university reports the attacks breached human resources, financial management and student administration systems and that “there is no forensic evidence” the villain accessed, or was interested in, research.

Yesterday there were suggestions that the student system would include records of graduates who have gone on to work for the security services, which is true. Then again, it also includes information on grads who went on to be apiarists. And if the jewel thieves wanted information on now important people their student records may not be the most recent data in the diadem.

And reports last night that 19 years of data was grabbed are wrong – ANU states, “the amount of data taken is much less than 19 years’ worth”. Although it also admits it, “is not possible to determine how many, or precisely which, records were taken.”

As to what happens next ANU states, “the university continues to scan online sources for evidence of stolen data being traded or used illegally. At the time of this report, there is no evidence of such activity.” Thousands of staff, students and graduates will surely let ANU know if they are targeted via information in university records.

Red fish research into black at U Tas

U Tas researchers report the world is down to its last hundred Red HandFish, now known only in Hobart waters, (the Spotted Handfish and Ziebell’s Handfish aren’t doing well either)

Because each Red HF is identifiable by unique markings a U Tas team cataloguing them suggests supporters pay $1000 to name a fish on the research database.

You can  cough-up here. Rufus the Red strikes CMM as good name.

A level playing paddock for regional uni research

The feds want advice on enhancing research in regional universities

The Australian Council of Learned Academies is charged with advising on “research outcomes from Australia’s regional, rural and remote universities” (remote?) and has asked for input. The Innovative Research Universities, which has members with regional, if not remote, campuses, responds.

IRU suggests that quality in RRR-located research looks no different to studies in cities. “Regional campuses may look more towards their local community and industry to support their research, but this as such does not make the research worthy by virtue of having a stronger local relevance.”

And location should not drive what RRR researchers work on; “overall, the region should inspire the university and its staff, but their research should not be limited to the needs of regions in which they thrive.”

But there are areas where research in RRR universities have a case for specific help. For example, in research funding, where they are disadvantaged by block grant funding formula and by having staff more likely to be in teaching-research roles.

IRU proposes;

*  more research block grant funding for “regionally relevant” research

* a regional loading for research outcomes outside big cities

* support for teaching-research staff to develop as researchers

* support for international student recruitment (fees can fund research)

* reducing the inner city-centric location of National Collaborative Research Infrastructure kit. Infrastructure with “no intrinsic locational logic can be used to stimulate the whole Australian research system through a distributive intent, with resulting benefits for regions and potential reduction of pressure on major population centres.”

NSW Nat joins Charles Sturt U

Former NSW National Party deputy leader Niall Blair is to join CSU as professor of food sustainability

Mr Blair will resign from the state’s Legislative Council to take up the post. CSU points to his parliamentary achievements in reform of water, fisheries and agriculture research-innovation. Mr Blair resigned as state minister for primary industries, regional water and trade and industry and moved to the backbench in April, just after the Coalition government was returned at the March 23 election

He joins former National Party colleague, Fiona Nash who is CSU’s regional engagement and government relations advisor. Ms Nash is a former federal cabinet minister.

Case for a Chief Human(ities) Officer

There’s a Senate committee inquiry into “nationhood, national identity and democracy.” The Australian Academy of the Humanities has some ideas

Its submission warns there is declining trust in some core institutions, media, business, government and NGOs but not incultural and collecting institutions and our university system” …  “We would urge the Inquiry to consider ways to harness the collective experience and expertise of these sectors in support of strong and democratic communities.”

The academy points to three core areas where it can assist.

* a socially engaged agenda to make the most of digital transformation for Australia; “a national strategy framework, involving government, business, community, and our cultural institutions, will be necessary for Australia to improve outcomes.”

* “Australia’s diaspora advantage“. “There is a significant opportunity to build on the innovative regional cultural networks and infrastructures that have been established by independent cultural sector and civil society players, including Asian and Pacific diasporas.”

* “Humanising Australia’s future”: “The academy has developed an agenda, an eight-point plan to humanise Australia’s future, for a human-centred approach to policy-making, which requires all government agendas to be informed by ethical, historical, creative and cultural expertise.”

This will require, “incorporating expert advice from evidence-based research into the processes of government.”

And the academy has an idea how – adapting the “extremely effective” chief scientist model (snaps to Dr Finkel says CMM). “The establishment of a similar formal mechanism for providing social and cultural expertise, including Indigenous research and knowledge – in coordination with science-based advice – is necessary.”

Good-o, but what to call the role – Chief Human?

Appointments, achievements

Company director David Armstrong will become chair of the George Institute for Global Health – he is now acting. Mr Armstrong has been a board member for five years.

Kingsley Dixon (Curtin U) has taken the professional award from the Australian Native Plants Society. Professor Dixon is director of the Australian Research Council Centre for Mine Site Restoration.

In January Kirsty Dwyer will leave the University of Canberra, where she is head of People and Diversity. She will start at Griffith U as Chief People Officer in February.

At Uni Newcastle, John Fischetti moves up to PVC for education and arts. He has acted in the post since late last year. Professor Fischetti is widely recognised as a champion of Big Picture Education. The university announced the first degree using it, in public and community health, last month (CMM September 12).

UWA’s Kadambot Siddique is awarded the Chinese Government’s Friendship Award, to “recognise foreign experts who have made outstanding contributions to China’s modernisation and reform.” Professor Siddique is honoured for agriculture research collaboration with Chinese institutions.

The always-announcing Health Minister Greg Hunt announces the expert panel to draft a roadmap for the $150m stem therapies ten-year research programme.

Co-chairs are, Melissa Little (Murdoch Children’s Research Institute / University of Melbourne) and Mark Kendall (WearOptimo / Australian National University).

Members are: Pritinder Kaur, (Curtin University). Siok Tey, (QIMR Berghofer MRI). Simon Koblar, (Uni Adelaide). Stephanie Watson, (Uni Sydney). Christine Walker, (Chronic Illnesses Alliance). Dan Grant, (MTPConnect). Megan Munsie, (Uni Melbourne). Peter Rathjen, (VC, Uni Adelaide). Maria Kavallaris, (UNSW/Children’s Cancer Institute). Iona Novak, (Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute).