Go Cats

“Evidence that devils suppress cats; researchers suggest mainland trial,” U Tas research announcement, Wednesday.

Well, they will just have to wait. There is no chance of state-team the Tasmanian Devils team playing Geelong this AFL season

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning;

Merlin Crossley on welcoming guest-speakers in science, watch out for explosions of positive prejudice.

Plus, Tim Winkler on ten things unis need to do in the virus crisis.

And Michael Sankey on new benchmarks for technology enhanced learning, it’s what TEQSA wants. This is a new contribution in contributing editor Sally Kift’s series on what is needed now in teaching and learning.


Group of Eight plays it straight

Critics are itching for an opportunity to slam universities for calling for an end to the ban on direct arrivals from China.  It isn’t going to happen

Vicki Thomson from the Group of Eight demonstrates why. Following the government announcing yesterday that direct arrivals from China are banned for yet another week she was out expressing sympathy for the 55 000 Go8 students still caught and explaining how her members help them study at a distance.

But there was no light between bat and pad in backing the feds. “The Government is clearly responding to increased numbers of cases in Australia and internationally and the Go8 will always support decisions that put the health of the Australian population first.

“It is also important for the Go8 to restate that it has always held the strong position that it is not its place to request any lifting or partial lifting of this ban and has not attempted to do so. We know the Government is at all times acting on the latest and best possible medical advice.”

Art of war explained elsewhere

ANU’s lock on teaching strategy to Defence community could end

The feds are tendering for a university to run the courses taught by the Australian War College, which is responsible for the delivery of “joint professional military education,” in-person and via DE to people in the armed forces and public sector.

ANU’s Defence and Strategic Studies Centre now teaches strategy, operations, Australian strategic and defence policy and command/leadership for the AWC.

ANU staff are based at the college, “to ensure that the educational opportunity for students is of the same high standard as that delivered at the ANU main campus.”

Given the university’s deep-state standing with the national security establishment this is surely a tender it will want to win.

ANU did not respond to a written request for comment.

Macquarie U hopes for the best

Campus life goes on and travel bans only apply for a month

The university has imposed an international travel ban but it only applies to April 4. Vice Chancellor S Bruce Dowton says the MU executive will “review this decision on a regular basis.”

Anybody who wants to go overseas anyway needs to make a case to management, but Professor Dowton warns, “ultimately, any decision on travel will be determined by myself and will be final; it will only be permitted in the most exceptional circumstances.”

Late yesterday the registrar, Gail White emailed to assure students, “key activities in the student lifecycle,” exams, graduations, are all on and that “it is safe to come to Macquarie U (which is) operating as normal.”

“I am hopeful that these difficult times will soon pass,” Professor Dowton says.

La Trobe U says it needs to save 10 per cent

The university anticipates an income drop up to $60m, and it’s not all COVID-19 caused

 LT U needs to make savings in the face of revenue declines, Vice Chancellor John Dewar told staff late yesterday.

Professor Dewar pointed to;

*  an unspecified impact from the ban on students arriving from China

* a 5 per cent drop in secondary students applying to all Victorian universities via the state admission’s centre

* a 30 per cent fall in students from India applying to Australian universities

* “a dramatic effect on enrolments”, particularly at LT U regional campuses from the Victorian Government’s “free TAFE” policy

To make the savings Professor Dewar announced;

* a review of all proposed appointments

* a single academic promotion round this year

* a hold on discretionary bonuses

* a “limit” on consultancies

“By acting now, we will be able to maintain normal operational expenditure, including staff salaries,” the vice chancellor said

ANU incentive for China students to stay enrolled

The university announces a $5000 payment for students “impacted by the mainland China travel restrictions”

It is available to students not able to reach campus when semester started last week and who are still enrolled on June 30.

“This bursary is to assist you with costs reasonably incurred due to the travel restrictions, including self-isolation, travel, accommodation and other related expenses,” DVC A Grady Venville told students last night.

The payment is extra to previously announced support for students kept out of Australia by the government arrival ban up to February 24, when semester started. This included a “hardship” scholarship for new students and no charge for repeating a failed subject.

UNSW’s capital works

The plan for its long awaited new campus in Canberra is announced (just not the detail)

The university will build a city-fringe campus in Canberra, with the ACT Government providing the land. The campus created will accommodate 6000 students. Which is way fewer than the 10 000 mentioned when the plan was first floated, back in 2017 (CMM August 17 2018).

As to detail on the new deal, who knows? In January, somebody FOId the territory government for the October 2018 proposal and was knocked back.  But yesterday ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr called it a “worthy and essential investment.”

And what will occur on campus? Sorry, we will have to wait for that as well. “I look forward to having many announcements over the coming years about the growth of our campus,” UNSW Canberra’s rector, Michael Frater said yesterday.

Dedicated science advice

Science and Technology Australia announces its second set of STEM advisors for MPs

The scheme provides a federal politician with their very own science consultant. It was set up in 2018 and first ran last year, with STEM people paired with members of the Reps, (no senators).

Some 20 pols signed up for the pilot last year – all of whom were Labor, apart from Karen Andrews (now science minister), another Lib, a Nat and SA independent Rebekha Sharkie, (CMM May 3 2018).

This year Labor leads again, with 11 MPs – including deputy leader Tanya Plibersek. There are seven Libs, plus Ms Sharkie and independent Zali Steggall.


Appointments, achievements

Of the day

 Viv Ellis is the new dean of education at Monash U. Professor Ellis will join in June from Kings College London.

Maria Kavallaris (UNSW) is the NSW Premier’s woman of the year. Professor Kavallaris researches childhood cancer.


Of the week

Maryrose Casey starts at Flinders U as professor of drama critical studies. She moved from Monash U.

Jennifer Gore from the University of Newcastle is named a 2020 Fellow by the American Educational Research Association.

Michael Kidd is jointly appointed professor of primary care reform at ANU and the Commonwealth Department of Health’s principal medical advisor.

Xiaoling Liu is installed as chancellor of QUT. Dr Liu is a company director and minerals and mining engineer.

Macquarie U appoints Magnus Nydén as executive dean of science and engineering. He will start mid-year, moving from technology companies in Sweden. He was previously a  professor at Uni SA.

Debra Thoms becomes head of QUT’s School of Nursing, on a 12-month appointment.

John Wardle is announced as foundation director of the National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine at Southern Cross University. He moves from UTS. The centre is supported by a $10m gift from the Blackmore Foundation.

Matthew Warren will lead a new cyber security research centre at RMIT. Professor Warren moves from Deakin U.

DFAT officer Stephanie Williams is named Australia’s ambassador for regional health security. She is a visiting fellow in applied epidemiology at ANU.

Patsy Yates becomes the new executive dean of health at QUT, moving up from head of the School of Nursing.