Hospital pass: University of Newcastle to set up new med school campus while La Trobe and CSU miss out 

 Giant publisher’s new plan: if you can’t beat ’em buy ’em

And job news of the week

The Leiden research rankings deliver credibility through complexity while unions and management in Perth get cross and in South Australia they jam about life, the university and everything.

Meet and greet

Back in December Prime Minister Turnbull met humanoid robot Asimo in Japan and  smiled courteously, as he would when greeting a new butler. The other day Labor’s Kim Carr met Pepper, CQU’s human-ish looking robot (thanks to Jason Cartwright at techAU for the pic). Senator Carr cast a cautious gaze upon the cyber comrade as if he suspected it of being part of a Centre Unity branch stack.


Big win for Uni Newcastle

In the worst keep secret on the NSW central coast (Campus Morning Mail May 3)  Simon Birmingham has promised medical school places at the new Gosford Hospital if the government is returned. It is a big win for the University of Newcastle, which will be funded to shift load and build resources in its southern catchment. The feds will be good for $30m with the NSW government talking of kicking in $20 more million. This is a big win for Uni Newcastle but a huge loss for Andrew Vann (Charles Sturt U VC) and John Dewar (La Trobe U). They want to create a new Murray Darling Medical School to serve rural and regional southern NSW and north east Victoria, a proposal loathed by existing medical schools and ignored by health ministers for years.

Last night Professor Vann complained; “rural people feel that the safer their political seats are, the less they get. The loyalty and trust rural people have shown towards their elected members is not being repaid.” Professor Dewar added; “we have consistently been told by the government that they understand the importance of a rural medical school to address chronic shortages of doctors in our regional areas, but that the current fiscal environment prevents the capital investment that would be required. I think the people of Bendigo and northern Victoria will now be asking why their needs are less important than people in Gosford.”

Jam sesssion

The University of South Australia was delighted with day one of UniJam, the online, real-time comment site which 4000 people had used to discuss life, the university and everything future. After eight hours jammers had made 4600 comments in 470 conversations

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Up in Leiden lights

When it comes to research rankings marketers quote QS and DVCs R look to Leiden. The Leiden University rankings are based on the Web of Science citation indexes from Thomson Reuters. The measures are adjusted for university output and co-authorships. Leiden also includes figures for the number of a university’s publications in the top 10 per cent of citations for the field and proportion of its publications in the top 10 per cent. This does not make Leiden infallible, just asks a metrics expert, (not that you will necessarily understand the reply) but at least it does not rely on employer and academic opinions. However ratings do bounce around a bit, this year a lot with the top order Australians way higher than last year and some spectacular movements in the batting order among them. But the joy of Leiden is it includes so much credible data there is always something to spin for universities that make it onto the list, a case of every vice chancellor wins a prize.

This year 24 Australian universities made the cut of 842 institutions on the impact measure. The first ten consists of the Group of Eight, in descending order; Sydney, (32nd in the world) Melbourne, (34th) Queensland (41st), UNSW (58th), Monash (60th), UWA (148th), ANU (190th) and Adelaide, (201st) followed by Griffith and QUT. The following five are Curtin, Newcastle, Wollongong, Deakin and Macquarie.

By discipline area the local heroes are: biomedical and health, Sydney (23) and Melbourne (24), Life and earth sciences, Queensland (12) UWA (37), maths and computer science, UNSW (67), Melbourne (122), physical sciences and engineering, UNSW (94), Monash (105) and social science and humanities, Queensland (21) and Sydney (27).

The global top ten demonstrates the rise of Asian institutions. Last year the Americans accounted for nine of the worldwide top ten, this year it is five. The world-beaters are; Harvard, Toronto, Michigan, Zhejiang, Johns Hopkin, Shanghai Jia Tong, Stanford, Tokyo, Uni Washington-Seattle.

Forget the front page

Edith Cowan U reports research showing news editors worry journalism graduates lack “basic news writing skills” and are not good with deadlines. Good story, CMM thought, which it was when the research was released – in 2014. It’s called the news for a reason people.

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Name that crane

Did no one at ACT Health pay attention to the news about the UK contest to name a research ship that came up with Boaty McBoat Face? The agency has invited 6-12 year old Canberrans to name the construction crane at the University of Canberra Public Hospital project. Given how sophisticated even kinder Canberrans  are CMM predicts Fraser McCrane Face will win.

Wild in the west

The Murdoch University branch of the National Tertiary Education Union is upset with management’s approach to enterprise bargaining saying the university’s side is proposing the same protocols as their colleagues at Curtin, asked the union a bunch of questions about its log of claims without revealing their own and wants to talk directly to staff at meetings next week. Murdoch U did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

Hardly hanging offences but certainly much tougher than in the last round when Edith Cowan, Murdoch and Curtin managements settled on generous terms. The universities have signalled a no more Mr/Ms Vice Chancellor approach ( CMM May 16) and it’s starting to show.

The union and three universities were also in the Fair Work Commission yesterday seeking conciliated settlements. The three managements want the union to withdraw statements that the universities claim misrepresent their positions in bargaining. The NTEU wants the Commission to direct the universities to bargain in good faith, which the union says they aren’t.

This may take quite some time.


If you can’t beat ’em buy ’em

There is outrage in open access land that Relx (still generally known as Elsevier) has bought HASS and buseco preprint server SSRN, an invaluable source of no-cost access to research. Understandably so Relx’s journal model is to charge up for research that taxpayers, not it, paid for. However the company is starting to adjust its business model to compensate for increased opposition to its most profitable, notably by expanding research search services models. This is probably why it has bought SSRN, Relx certainly says, “SSRN will retain its freemium model, with content ‘free to submit, and free to download’ for its users.” SSRN chair Michael Jensen believes his new owner. “Our copyright policies are not in conflict — our policy has always been to host only papers that do not infringe on copyrights. I expect we will have some conflicts as we align our interests, but I believe those will be surmountable.” He might be right, although commentators suggest that Elsevier’s for-profit model can only compromise SSRN. But what the outrage ignores is that SSRN is a private sector provider and as such its owners could do what they like with it, there’s no such thing as a free research resource, except for companies like Relx.


the week’s movers 

David Beanland will receive an hon doc today from RMIT, the university he led through the transformation of the Dawkins reforms a generation ago. Professor Beanland was VC from 1992 to 2000.

Gracelyn Smallwood has joined CQU in Townsville as a professorial fellow charged with expanding indigenous enrolments in health and opening new clinical placements. This is a coup for CQU. The prominent community leader has had a long association with neighbouring James Cook U.

Stephen Leeder is the incoming editor of the International Journal of Epidemiology. The University of Sydney professor of public health will take over at the start of next year . Professor Leeder was editor in chief of theMedical Journal of Australia 2013-15, leaving when the Australian Medical Association outsourced production to for-profit journal giant Elsevier, “which has an approach to business that worries many academics and researchers,” he wrote in May 2015, (The Conversation May 6).

UNSW has abolished the CIO role with Michael Kirby-Lewis leaving after eight years in the role.

Ian Jacobs has completed his UNSW top management restructure with Nicholas Fisk’s appointment as DVC ResearchProfessor Fisk will come to Kensington from the University of Queensland where he is dean of medicine and biomedical science. He

Following Universities Australia meeting this week Barney Glover (WSU) stay on as chair and Margaret Gardner (Monash) continues as his deputy. New board members are John Dewar (La Trobe), Jan Thomas (USQ) and Andrew Vann (CSU). Jane den Hollander (Deakin), Peter Lee (SCU) and Ian O’Connor (Griffith) retire.

The University of Melbourne is recruiting three women for continuing senior teaching and research positions in applied mathematicspure mathematics and statistics. “The university plan seeks to increase the diversity of the workforce and the representation of women in areas they have been traditionally under-represented” the school states.