Redirecting bolts from the blue

A team including ANU and Uni Canberra researchers is working on a way to use lasers to “control the path and direction of lightning.” The idea is to redirect dry-lightning strikes to hit low-damage targets in in bushfire season.

Good-o, as long as nobody gets the coordinates wrong and targets chancelleries.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on the three roles that ensure learning will always be a human game.

Jeffrey Smart (Lygon Group) proposes a five-step national plan to bring international students

What VCs in NSW are paid – James Guthrie and Tom Smith (Macquarie) report the salaries.

Rola Ajjawi (Deakin U) on helping, not blaming, students for academic failure. This week’s selection by Commissioning Editor Sally Kift on what is needed now in teaching and learning

David Kellermann (UNSW) on creating a serious solution for on-line lecturing. Curated content from Microsoft.

At Uni Sydney 501 people ask to exit

Applications for voluntary redundancies closed Tuesday but not everybody will get to go

Not all 501 will get to go – “this is the start of a process through which there will be further consultation with colleagues and consideration of the impact of the proposed VRs on the institution. Some assessments will be simple and others more complex, and the process will include consideration of whether the removal of the position will have a significant impact on our education and research,” Vice Chancellor Michael Spence tells staff.

To address this there is a new seven-day consultation with work units on VRs management wants to accept (independent of any invoking of Enterprise Agreement processes).

This appears a concession to National Tertiary Education Union concerns that staff-cuts, are “part of a long-term process of restructuring the university workforce,” which “would see permanent jobs replaced with fixed-term and casual jobs that can come and go at management’s whim,” (CMM September 23).

However, the campus branch of the Community and Public Sector Union takes a more immediate view. While it specifies five conditions for VRs, the CPSU tells members, ““It would seem perverse to prevent people going if they can do so with a financial package, particularly as this may help to reduce the need for forced redundancies,” (CMM November 3).

In September, 100 VRs was speculated as the minimum management was looking for (CMM September 23).

Whatever is in the diary, we’ve got better ideas

Who’s talking at our ReMaking HE on-line conference today

It’s a big finish for the last sessions of our ReMaking HE on-line conference. Live at 11 (AEST) Rob Lawrence, (Prospect Research and Marketing), Lanxi Huang (Uni Melbourne), Joe Chicharo (Uni Wollongong) talk to conference director Tim Winkler about redefining to bring students back to campus

And at noon Iain Martin (VC, Deakin U) and Adam Shoemaker (VC designate, Victoria U) discuss where the pandemic has placed universities and what they can do about it.

You can join register for $31.19 a session  here .

A new med-school partnership for CQU   

There’s a new med school programme for Rockhampton and Bundaberg

Starting in 2022 up to 40 students a year will do a CQU three-year Bachelor of Medical Science there, as a pathway to a locally taught Uni Queensland four-year MD.

The new programme will be a partnership between CQU, Uni Queensland and the region’s two hospital and health services, Central Queensland and Wide Bay.

Today’s announcement is the result of years of planning and politicing.

Former CQU VC Scott Bowman started pre-op in March 2018 when he and Queensland Health executive Steve Williamson briefed local media on why CQU Rockhampton was a great place for the medical school the region needed, (CMM March 9 2018).

And last year present CQU VC Nick Klomp and the two health services signed an MOU for a “full medical programme” in Bundaberg and Rockhampton by 2022 – in the presumably approving presence of then state health minister Steven Miles (CMM March 22 2019).

And now there will be one.

As to where the training places will come from – Uni Queensland already has a clinical training school in Rockhampton.

No delay on campus free speech vote

The campus freedom of speech legislation seems set to go straight to a Senate vote

Yesterday the Selection of Bills Committee recommended that the Higher Education Support Amendment (Freedom of Speech) Bill not got to committee and the Senate agreed. This denies senators with difficult questions a platform in advance of a debate in the chamber. The Senate is back on November 30.


Swinburne U staff vote no confidence in management

People are cross with new VC Pascale Quester

An open to all staff meeting at Swinburne U has voted no-confidence in university management. The meeting, convened by the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union follows management launching a 150 max compulsory redundancy round. It follows a VR programme.

Professor Quester says revenue is down $75m, the university faces a $45 deficit this year and will face “unprecedented levels” of competition for domestic students next (CMM October 21).  The union responds that “in comparison to most Australian universities” Swinburne U “is well protected from the impacts of COVID-19.”

“This is a time when we need real leaders who listen and fight for our staff and students more than ever,” NTEU Victorian Secretary Mel Slee says.

Which is unlikely to faze Professor Quester. As a DVC at Uni Adelaide she led enterprise agreement negotiations for management in a particularly frank bargaining round (CMM June 2014).

At Uni Melbourne Considine concludes as provost

Professor Considine will return to teaching and research in political science

After three years in the role Mark Considine will leave the provost position at year end. Prior to this role he was dean of arts for a decade.

Professor Considine appears to have intended an earlier exit, with recruiting for a new provost starting at the start of the year but he stayed to work on the university’s pandemic response. DVC R Jim McCluskey will act as provost from January and Mark Hargreaves (PVC Research Collaboration) will act as DVC R until a permanent appointment is made.

Exits and arrivals in Macquarie U Learning and Teaching

At Macquarie U the PVC Learning and Teaching portfolio makes the awaited announcement on jobs that could go

Some 31 people applied for voluntary redundancy but only 20 are accepted – meaning staff who want to stay may have to leave. The portfolio now proposes “disestablishing” ten positions, relocating nine to other areas and bringing in four from other parts of the university.

So that’s it for existing staff, apart from giving those who stay new colleagues – 14 new positions are proposed.

Appointments, achievements

Of the day

 The Australian Institute of International Affairs announces its 2020 Fellows:

 Nick Bisley (La Trobe U), Caitlin Byrne (Griffith U), Peter Grey (Corrs, Chambers, Westgarth) Miles Kupa (ex DFAT), William Maley (ANU), Tessa Morris-Suzuki (ANU)Ryan Davis (Kolling Institute) is president elect of the Australian Society for Medical Research.

 Henry-James Meiring (Uni Queensland) wins the Annals of Science 2019 best paper prize, for “Thomas Robert Malthus, naturalist of the mind.”

Of the week

 The Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia announces its 2020 Fellows, here (CMM November 11).

 The Australian Business Deans Council inaugural award winners are at CMM November 9).

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association announces the 2020 Sidney Sax Medal for development/improvement of healthcare. Joint winners are the ANU’s Bushfire Impact Working Group and Patricia Turner, from the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.

Engagement Australia announces the shortlist for its community service awards (CMM November 11)here. EA took on the awards programme from the now closed Business Higher Education Round Table.

Bronwyn Fox (Swinburne U) receives the Royal Society of Victoria’s Medal for Excellence in Scientific Research.

Thomas King leaves Griffith U, where he is deputy chief digital officer. He moves to Microsoft to be industry executive for HE.

Peter Lay (Uni Sydney) is awarded ANSTO’s Australian Synchrotron Lifetime Contribution Award). The early career researcher award goes to Wei Kong Pang from Uni Wollongong.

Helen Milroy (UWA) and Gordon Parker (UNSW) are joint winners of the Australian Mental Health Prize for 2020.

Minister Tehan’s expert panel on research translation is; Jeff Connolly (Siemens), Alan Finkel (outgoing Chief Scientist), Dig Howitt (Cochlear), Andrew Stevens (Innovation and Science Australia), Michelle Simmons (UNSW), Deborah Terry (Uni Queensland), Paul Wellings (outgoing Uni Wollongong) and Shemara Wikramanayake (Macquarie Group).

Stuart Parsons (QUT) is the new president of the Australian Council of Environmental Deans.

Stacey Reinke (Edith Cowan U) wins the Metabolomics Society’s President’s Medal (for early career researchers).  The discipline studies, “small molecule metabolites in biological systems”.

Brendan Rodoni (Ag BioCentre) wins the inaugural Kim Ritman award for Science and Innovation (for biosecurity research).

The Tasmanian Government announces its STEM awards here (CMM November 10)

John Wardle Architects is a winner in the education category of the National Architecture Awards for Uni Melbourne’s Ian Potter Southbank Centre. So is Lyons, with Silver Thomas Hanley, for Curtin U’s Midland campus project.