World beaters: five universities make the global top 50 and seven the world top 100:

A handbook for HEPPP: what universities have done others can follow to improve equity in enrolments

Innovation Research Universities warn: the budget can end the innovation agenda


Nothing to drink for

Lukas Danner from the University of Adelaide and colleagues report research showing that the amount of information consumers had about a wine before tasting the more likely they were to like and buy it. Sadly, Elsevier the publisher of the journal where the report appears, uses the same approach. To read anything other than the abstract costs $41.95. CMM read the synopsis and decided to spend the money on a decent bottle of wine instead. When it comes to research from Australian public universities, taxpayers get the wine list not the bottle.

How to end innovation

Universities are a linchpin of innovation which means they must be properly resourced, argues the IRU.

The Innovative Research Universities group response to Innovation and Science Australia’s 2030 Strategic Plan Issues Paper is an unsurprising endorseathon. But always on message, the IRU warns budget cuts could muck everything up.

“Faced with revenue reduction there will be pressure on innovations to strengthen graduates’ readiness for the changed world of work of the 2020s. Stunting a vital and integral part of the innovation system during a development and formative stage, impedes and risks the ISA vision for an innovative nation. … The current measures would see universities forced to look inwards and shift into maintenance mode, protecting teaching and research output, narrowing and sapping their capacity for an innovation focus.”

Cantata for the Cats

Deakin University’s contemporary sculpture prize, was awarded yesterday to Richard Stringer by VC Jane den Hollander, surely the successor to Stephen ‘renaissance prince’ Parker. When he ran the University of Canberra Mr Parker was a patron of the arts, with a prize for poetry, a song contest, even commissioning a font to celebrate Canberra’s centenary. But Professor den Hollander could do more.  To celebrate the university’s club connection with the club a competition for an oratorio in the style of Bizet celebrating the Geelong Football Club is in order.

How to help HEPPP

A recent report for the feds outlined the achievements of the major programme focused on increasing higher education participation by low SES students. (CMM May 22). It made a good case why the government was wise to keep it alive. And now Nadine Zacharias has provided a manual to ensure all universities can do more.

Her advice is in a major review of the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Programme. Dr Zacharias, a research fellow at the Curtin University based National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education, finds:


not all unis are equal: growth in low SES did not occur across the public university system. “Some universities contributed disproportionately to the national increase in low SES participation rates.”

demand driven funding is not the growth engine: “there were no clear correlations between the changes in low SES participation rates over the period 2011-2015, institutional growth, the amount of HEPPP funding received, and the size and diversity of the undergraduate student cohort,” she writes.

The review included three case studies which delivered different results.

One “large metropolitan institution” used HEPP funding for 33 programmes. The strategy was “grounded in a sophisticated understanding of its local communities, their needs and challenges and the core commitment to use higher education and the resources of a large university to advance the region.” The result was an increase in low SES participation double the system average.

The second is another large metro university, with a regional campus, which used a central team to make participation core business. “By the time HEPPP money flowed, the university was absolutely prepared for it. … everyone knew what the problem was and the role they had to play to address it.”

However, the strategy was about student, not university interest. “The focus was placed instead on applications to tertiary education providers from partner schools across the state. That means the collective effort and outcomes were seen as more important than institutional increases in access rates.”

The third university is “a selective metropolitan institution with a regional campus and a small, fairly traditional undergraduate student cohort.” It used “combined layered outreach initiatives in disadvantaged communities across the state, alternative admission processes and personalised transition support. The consistent focus on attainment was critical to translating outreach efforts into increased participation rates at an elite university.”

Overall, Dr Zacharias suggests, HEPPP has delivered, providing “universities with the flexibility to develop and implement bespoke programs which best fit their institutional profile and priorities.”

Dr Zacharias produced more than a report, she has written a guide for use by all universities committed to using education to create social mobility among disadvantaged Australians.

Big F for fakes

Deakin researchers report experienced markers can pick fake papers. Phillip Dawson and Wendy Sutherland Smith found that seven experienced markers could identify 60 per cent plus of papers students purchased for a psychology assignment and 90 per cent of students’ own work. What gave the fakes away included, not answering the question, or following instructions, problems with structure and an inadequate psychological framework. But regardless of who wrote them surely papers like this would fail anyway.


QS really rates Australia

Seven Australian universities are in the world top 100, compiled by ranking agency QS. ANU, the University of Melbourne, the University of NSW, the University of Queensland, and the University of Sydney are in the top 50.

This morning’s World University Rankings for 2018* reports the ANU is the first Australian institution in the world at 20th (up two places on the last issue) followed by the University of Melbourne, equal 41st in the world, up one. UNSW is 45th (up four) and the University of Queensland joins the first 50, also up four places to 47th. The University of Sydney slides four to 50th.

The big five are followed by the rest of the Group of Eight, all of which improved their positions, with Monash U rising from 65th to 60th in the world, the University of Western Australia, reaching equal 93rd, a nine-place lift and the University of Adelaide ranking equal 109th, 16 higher than the last ranking and four above its position two years ago. The remaining two in the top ten are UTS, which at 176 improved from 193rd in the world and the University of Newcastle, which lifted from 245 to 224.

QS attributes Australia’s improvement to three factors, “tangible enhancement in institutional performance,” “exogenous shocks” to global higher education in the last 12 months (CMM thinks the agency means Brexit and President Trump). The third factor is a methodology change. While QS previously rated international employers’ opinions of universities graduates higher than domestic responders in this issue both have equal weight. However, the agency is careful to point out that Australia improved across all six QS metrics, with Group of Eight institutions all improving on citations per faculty and universities in general, “nurturing graduate employability.”

Curtin University is perhaps the most significant overall Australian improver, rising a substantial 44 places, to 262th in the world. This is notable given last year’s 306th place was down from the previous 284th position.  All other Australian Technology Network universities also improved, with UTS up 17 to 176, RMIT up five to 247 and equal with QUT, which improved 29 places and the University of South Australia up nine to equal 279. La Trobe also improved, up 26 places to 360

*QS says the report is 2017-218 but even though it’s a bit early just badging it 2018 it works for social media metrics

Frances to ANU

For those who had forgotten, ANU has announced historian Rae Frances is the new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Her appointment was reported last October CMM October 16). Professor Frances “was most recently” dean of arts at Monash U. At ANU she replaces Paul Pickering, who returns to being director of the Research School of Humanities and the Arts.

Gopalan becomes PVC

Deakin University has appointed Sandeep Gopalan, PVC Academic Innovation. Professor Gopalan recently stood down as dean of the university’s law school. The university states while he was dean the school lifted its position on the QS discipline and SSRN research rankings, opened an “innovative” law clinic and “embarked on an exciting internationalisation agenda.” He will continue as a professor of law.