Universities Australia warns “collaboration is the lifeblood of world-leading university research”

plus UK Higher Education Academy’s ANZAC expansion

and the three (just three) local business  schools the FT rates


Define “official”

“It’s official: we’re home to the top business school in Australia,” Macquarie U via Twitter yesterday. “Official’ insofar as the Financial Times MBA league table makes it so (details below).

Trump’s migration ban deplored

Universities Australia has “expressed concern” at US president Donald Trump’s executive order banning people from seven Middle East countries entering the country. “If brilliant scholars from the seven countries named in the executive order are based in the US and visit Australia to collaborate on research, they would not be able to return to the US,” UA CEO Belinda Robinson warns.

“Collaboration is the lifeblood of world-leading university research and is vital to the economies and societies of both of our nations,” she adds.

ANU VC Brian Schmidt agrees. He is among the 37 Nobel laureates and 7000 US academics who have signed a petition condemning President Trump’s executive order.

“These bans, as proposed, have consequences that reach beyond the scope of national security. The unethical and discriminatory treatment of law-abiding, hard-working, and well-integrated immigrants fundamentally contravenes the founding principles of the United States,” the petition states.

Professor Schmidt followed up yesterday with a letter to the ANU community expressing “alarm and deep concern,” at the ban and stating ANU “welcomes our students, staff and visitors from these countries without prejudice.”

Science of fame

That scientists are as unregarded as they are underfunded is an article of faith among, well scientists, but when Cooperative Research Centre chief Tony Peacock had a look at who has been named Australian of the Year down the decades he found it wasn’t so (the bit about honours that is). On his count scientists have won the award as often as sportspeople.” It doesn’t look to me like any field of Australian endeavour is particularly favoured in the Australian of the Year Awards. … Perhaps we are best to concentrate on the excellent achievements of the honoured individuals?,” Dr Peacock suggests. Good-oh, but CMM suspects that medicos probably rate more mentions in Order of Australia announcements than other other occupation. There was a ward of them in last Thursday’s hons list.

Birmingham sticks to the script

Education Minister Simon Birmingham says his higher education policy will be out “soon” but while he will not discuss the details the issues he wants it to address have been clear for months –employment focused courses and reduced attrition. He was at it again yesterday on Sky News, explaining how the government is keen on “incentivising universities to perform at the highest quality in terms of decisions they make about enrolment practices, how many students they enrol, what they enrol them in, holding them accountable for the outcomes of those students in terms of them successfully completing their courses to a high standard and having good strong employment outcomes.”

That’s “incentivise” not instruct. As the senator made clear, it is important “we don’t go back to an era where government bureaucrats sit in a dark room and randomly allocate places in different courses to different universities … we have to find the right mechanisms to hold universities accountable for the places they offer, the students they enrol, and ensuring the success of those students.”

Incentives and accountability – expect to hear the words again, and again.

Stem Cells Australia appointments

Stem Cells Australia has a new head, with University of Melbourne, scientist Melissa Little appointed to lead the $21m Australian Research Council funded initiative. The university’s Christine Wells joins as deputy. The project’s inaugural director Martin Pera is returning to the United States to continue his research.

Stem Cells Australia was founded in 2011 with $21m over seven years. Partner institutions are University of Queensland, Monash University, University of NSW, Walter and Eliza Hall, Victor Chang Institute, The Florey Institute, CSIRO and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. The initiative connects 120 researchers in bioengineering, nanotechnology, stem cell biology, advanced molecular analysis and clinical research.

Not so big in business

The Financial Times Global MBA ranking is out, with the usual US-UK-Euro institutions dominating. Australia has three representatives. It’s a last hurrah for the Macquarie Graduate School of Management in its old form, it is now folding into Macquarie’s business and economics facultyMacquarie is ranked 49th on the list of 100, up from 56 last year, and 58 on a three-year average. The Australian Graduate School of Management at UNSW, now part of the business faculty there, also improved, up 12 spots to 54 (65th on a three year rating). The Melbourne Business School, at UniMelb, improved 11 places to 76 (it rates 84 over three years).

What is a good result for three schools is not so flash for the overall reputation of Australian business education. While Sydney has two schools so does Singapore – the business schools at both Nanyang Technological University (=24) and the National University of Singapore (=26). And number one rated INSEAD also has a campus there. India and China (including Hong Kong) have four listings each.

Only the Melbourne Business School appears on any of the ten discipline specific top ten lists, being number three in the world for marketing.


Westpac backs Go8 students

Westpac has awarded 22 students $120 000 each to undertake postgraduate study plus participate in a leadership programme. The students are all at Group of Eight universities, plus the University of Tasmania. ANU has three, Monash U one, Uni Adelaide two, UniMelbourne three, UNSW two, UoQ three, UniSydney five, UTas one and UWA two.

In December the bank announced a placement programme for stem and medical science PhD students at Group of Eight universities (CMM December 13).

UoQ new dean

Andrew Griffith is the new dean of business, economics and law at the University of Queensland. He moves up from leading the university’s business school.

HE academy awards

Murdoch University’s Sara de Freitas is a new principal fellow of the UK based Higher Education Academy. So is Janet Gregory, DVC of Swinburne Sarawak.

Principal fellows are appointed on the basis of a  “sustained and effective record of impact at a strategic level in relation to learning and teaching.” With ANU and QUT, Murdoch U is accredited to assess staff applications for HEA fellowships (CMM February 9 2016). Professor Gregory was assessed via ANU.

With 700 HEA fellows in Australia and New Zealand the academy is also expanding its presence in Australasia, with a meeting in Canberra next month to establish an advisory board. The new body will include representatives of all participating ANZAC institutions; QUT, UniTas, Murdoch U, ANU, Massey U, Auckland U of Technology, UoQ, UniSyd, UniAdelaide, the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australia, the Council of Australian Directors of Academic Development and the New Zealand Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence.


Policy makes the case for more cash

The Cooperative Research Centre Association’s budget bid calls for a return of cash lost in previous budget cuts on the grounds that the government is backing the programme as “a major source” of collaboration with industry. It calls for $108m over three years to “partially restore” cuts across previous forward estimates.

In particular, the CRCA suggests that the very success of the new CRC P programme makes the case for more money. Just 9 per cent of first-round applications for industry-need- specific grants were successful, compared to 30 per cent plus for the also industry focused ARC Linkage scheme. “Given that the government wishes to encourage more Australian companies to collaborate with public research organisations, it is important that the CRC-Ps remain competitive with other programmes,” the association argues.

How to speak biz

CMM’s You Don’t Say! desk reports that the Australian Research Management Society plans to produce a guide to working with industry. “Governments of all persuasions are seeking to increase collaboration between industry and universities and/or other public funded research agencies. Public policy drivers are being put in place to encourage these collaborations, e.g. engagement and impact in Australia. Yet, many researchers and research institutions do not seem to be equipped for such collaboration, ARMS writes.