Not as, but still, serious money

A NSW regional paper reported a $750m gift to Uni Newcastle yesterday. Before Gladys Berejiklian calls VC Alex Zelinsky for a loan, sad to relate the paper left out a decimal point after the seven. Scroll down for what the real money is for.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Danielle Stevens with Sarah Hattam and Anthea Fudge (both Uni SA) on why the prime minister must commit to keeping Enabling education. This week’s addition to Contributing Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.


Merlin Crossley (UNSW) makes the case for staying in your research lane. “It makes great sense to search where you have a chance of finding something … because there is so much more to discover.”

Australians ambivalent about uni-China connections

A new survey is very bad news for the push to bring international students from China back post COVID-19

A UTS survey finds 48 per cent of the sample agree that “Australian university ties with China compromise Australian freedom of speech” and 81 per cent think unis are “too financially reliant” on students from China.

The findings are in a new report by Elena Collinson and Paul Burke, from the Australia-China Relations Institute.

In bad news for university lobbies, the survey reports Australians evenly divide (40 per cent agree 41 per cent don’t) that international students from China “are potentially reducing the quality of education at Australian universities.”

And in disastrous news, 42 per cent think students from China, “mean there are less places for domestic students to study in their choice of Australian university.”

Not that this is necessarily based in hostility to students themselves, 58 per cent agree they “help strengthen the people-to-people links between the two countries.”

And 76 per cent recognise the economic benefits that flow from students from China on campus.

It’s just that international education is not a priority. Half of survey participants were either opposed (28 per cent) or indifferent (26 per cent) to students returning being a post-COVID 19 priority.

Responders are also ambivalent over research connections with China, two thirds think they are “beneficial” but just 48 per cent think they make Australia “more competitive internationally.”

The survey reports that responses to some questions correlate with age and allegiance, older and LNP voters are likely to hold negative views.

Want to know why coalition MPs attack universities over research connections with China and the federal government appears in no rush to allow international students to return?

Engagement Australia awards open

The seven categories are an opportunity for ANZ universities to show-case their engaging and innovating with communities

The awards emerged from those offered by the now no-more Business Higher Education Roundtable and include, industryresearch impact and leadership plus categories for alumni and Indigenous Engagement.

CMM’s fave from the 2020 awards is Uni SA’s winning entry in community engagement for its patient and practitioner programme on dealing with chronic pain.

Entry details are here.

Formalising micro-credentials: later rather than sooner

A new Swinburne U report to be released this morning, recommends, “embedding a robust system of micro-credentialing into the Australian Qualifications Framework”

It isn’t going to happen, at least not now – but it should.

The 2019 Noonan review of the AQF states, “stakeholders did not support including shorter form credentials in the AQF as qualification types.”

Which is as good an excuse as any for governments to do nothing.

But what the review did do is set out a bunch of work needed to include mcs and enabling programmes in the AQF-universe, by recognising shorter-form credentials as being for-credit and aligned to Australian Qualification Framework bands.

Which makes a case that keeps being made, notably by the NSW Productivity Commission – which calls for mapping MCs to the AQF (CMM June 2).

The Noonan review has set out a way to adapt the existing training system to the less emerging than arriving skills parallel-universe, where employers and skill-seekers can create the courses they want independent of the government-mandated system.

The Commonwealth adopted all the Noonan review recommendations on higher education and commended those on training to the states (CMM December 10 2019).

But that appears to be it and the Noonan review is deep in the policy weeds, where it is in danger of being forgotten. That would be very bad indeed.

$7.5m for Uni Newcastle brain cancer research

The funding over five years will come from the Mark Hughes Foundation

 Mr Hughes is a former player for the Newcastle Knights team in the National Rugby League competition. The money will support a chair in brain cancer and research team. “The commitment serves as a solemn reminder that treatments have shown little progress over the past 30 years,” Uni Newcastle says.

ARC to change the way it rates research

The Australian Research Council announces new rules and requirements for Excellence in Research for Australia and Engagement and Impact

The ARC announced the review last August (CMM August 20) and now sets out a new “vision and objectives” for both schemes. “Rigorous and transparent research assessment informs and promotes Australian universities’ pursuit of research that is excellent, engaged with community, industry and government, and delivers social, economic, environmental and cultural impact,”

How metrics based on research publications demonstrate community engagement may not be immediately clear to all, but the ARC sets out a range of changes, many requiring work yet to be done, to deliver it

For ERA these include,

* use peer review to assess Indigenous research

* streamlining the submission process by aligning ERA requirements with existing data sets.

And then there are the big two,

* “recalibrating the ERA rating scale, the peer review and citation analysis assessment benchmarks, and the definition, appropriateness and application of the ‘world standard’ benchmark”

* empower assessment committees to exclude submitted information, “where significant miscoding has occurred and request a recalculation of citation profiles”

Key EI changes are,

* a new (to be developed by the ARC) definition of approach to impact, to, “provide clearer expectations” for universities and assessors

* a means to determine the number of impact studies required per unit of assessment

* “an expanded, more granular and meaningful rating scale for engagement, impact and approach to impact”

But what are not changing are the schedules for both ERA and EI,

“The ARC considers that three-yearly evaluation cycles are desirable for ERA and EI to ensure timely data

Unless they are,

“The ARC will consult with universities post-ERA 2023 to inform options on ERA and EI reporting frequency”

Appointments, achievements

At Edith Cowan U exercise scientist Chris Abbiss is confirmed as Graduate Research Dean. He has acted in the role since November.

Andrea Carson (La Trobe U) becomes a research fellow of the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia.

Bronwyn Fox is CSIRO’s new chief scientist. She will move from Swinburne U where she DVC Research and Enterprise

There are two Australian based researchers among pharma company Johnson and Johnson’s six Women in Stem for 2021; Gayathri Naidu (UTS) and Shayanti Mukherjee (Hudson Institute of Medical Research).  They each have $150 000 in research funding from J&J.

Mike Ryan becomes interim PVC R at Monash U. He moves from Deputy Dean (Research & Research Infrastructure) in the Faculty of Medicine.

Wendy Wright is Federation U’s new Dean of Graduate Studies. She steps up from Associate Dean, Research Training.


National Health and Medical Research Council awards

The NHMRC announced its awards in Canberra last night.

2020 Research Awards

Leadership: Don McManus (QIMR Berghofer MRI)

Emerging leadership: Joshua Vogel (Burnet Institute)

Basic science leadership: Sarah Robertson (Uni Adelaide)

Clinical medicine and science leadership: Angela Morgan (Murdoch Children’s Research Institute)

Public health research leadership: Allison Tong (Uni Sydney)

Health services research leadership: Karen Canfell (Cancer Council NSW)

Investigator grant award: Luke Burchill (Uni Melbourne)

Investigator grant award: Marios Koutsakos (Uni Melbourne)

Postgraduate scholarship award: Jonathan Pham (Uni Melbourne)

Ideas grant award: Ian Alexander (Uni Sydney)

Innovation award: Peter Psaltis (Uni Adelaide)

2021 Biennial Awards

Outstanding contribution: Sharon Lewin, (Doherty Institute)

Ethics award: Ian Olver (Uni Adelaide)

Consumer engagement: Anne McKenzie (Telethon Kids Institute)

Research quality award: Charles Perkins Centre (Uni Sydney)

Science to art award: Frédéric Hollande (Uni Melbourne)