New ranking lists the most famous scientists you have never heard of


plus ANU takes the cake

UNSW restructure challenged (again)

and QILT reveals student and employer satisfaction (but universities aren’t celebrating)

CMM is off for Easter – back on Tuesday

UNSW restructure challenged

The restructure at UNSW’s Australian Graduate School of Management is being challenged by the campus union, which is taking the proposal to Fair Work Australia, claiming it is in breach of the university’s enterprise agreement. A further challenge, to the restructure in IT, is on the agenda unless, the National Tertiary Education Union states, “employee and union responses and concerns about this proposal are not addressed to the satisfaction of the union and its members.”

Nothing half-baked about ANU

Three-minute thesis! Ho-hum. Dance your PhD – that’s all you got? For real research communication ANU takes the prize with its competition to present doctoral work in a cake baking competition. VC Brian Schmidt judged entries yesterday.  One winner is Bethany Ellis who presented Barbie (as in doll) drilling coral – her thesis is on past climates and environmental impacts. Marine geochemist Katherine Holland, who created a cake presenting her work on calcification fluid in planktic foraminifers and corals (imagine the icing on that!), is the other. CMM is reliably informed that if they ever get sick of scholarship Adriano Zumbo hasn’t a chance.

Hiding under the QILT

Yesterday’s release of university students rating of their education experience in the government’s Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching was widely ignored by the higher education community.

Universities Australia pointed to 80 per cent student and employer satisfaction rates, adding “the survey results made it clear university students were happy with the quality education at Australia’s universities and that employers recognised the high-level skills of Australian graduates.” UA also declared itself, a “big supporter” of the QILT website, “it’s a great way to help students make informed decisions about their university education.”

But individual universities had less to say, a lot less.  Last placed UTS told the Sydney Morning Herald that it was in the process of changing teaching structures and Group of Eight VC Peter Hoj welcomed the strong system-wide result. But that was about it. While universities trumpet to the skies every overseas rating agency’s results the judgement of 178 000 of their own students was ignored.


US Studies appointments

Maureen Dougherty and Greg Medcraft have joined the board of the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. Ms Dougherty is president of Boeing for ANZ and the Pacific. Mr Medcraft chairs the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

QILT conveys satisfaction

Some 80 per cent of Australian higher education students are happy with their overall education experience, according to the Commonwealth’s Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching 2016 report (CMM yesterday). Based on 178 000 survey responses, QILT found similar response rates at both universities and other higher education providers, although non-universities were 13 per cent behind uni students 86 per cent satisfaction rating for learning materials. All providers scored just 62 per cent for learner engagement, a figure effectively unchanged since 2014, but up by 15 per cent since 2012. Across the board 81 per cent of students rated positively teaching quality and their skills development.

Overall student approval by discipline area at all institutions ranged from 74 per cent for computing and information systems to 84 per cent for humanities and social sciences.

QILT also surveyed 3000 direct supervisors of graduates in the workforce and found an overall satisfaction rate of 84 per cent. This ranged from 78 per cent for supervisors of creative arts graduates to 89 per cent for those managing newly graduated engineers. QILT also found that it was the experience of studying at university that delivered the biggest benefit. “While higher education qualifications may not be ‘important’ in the sense they are ‘mandatory’ or ‘required’, they nevertheless prepare graduates for employment very well,” the survey states.


Super cited researchers

The Spanish Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas’s Ranking Web of Universities has released a new list of the world’s most highly cited scholars. Funded by the European Commission, the CSIC ranks 1612 researchers with an H-index (published papers and times cited in other papers) higher than 100. They are identified “according to their declared presence” in the Google Scholar Citations database.

Even with all the methodological caveats, the list is a good-enough guide to a mass of enormously important researchers you have never heard of.

With apologies to any missed the ANZ contingent in descending order are:

1612: Elizabeth Dennis, CSIRO – plant biology. 1601: Michael Horowitz, University of Adelaide – medicine. 1600: William Laurance, James Cook U – conservation biology. 1582: John Mattick, Garvan Institute – medicine. 1460: Yuri Kivshar, ANU – photonics. 1444: Graeme Hankey, UWA – neurology. 1421: Jonathan Sprent, Garvan Institute – immunology. 1390: David Krofchek, University of Auckland – nuclear physics. 1337: Ian Paulsen, Macquarie U – microbial genomics. 1305: William Griffin, Macquarie U – earth science. 1299: Richard Shine, University of Sydney – evolutionary ecology. 1243: Graham Giles, Cancer Council of Victoria – epidemiology. 1214: Robert Costanza, Australian National University – ecological economics. 1133: Rajkumar Buyya, University of Melbourne – cloud computing. 1072: Edward Holmes, University of Sydney – evolutionary biology. 1022: Alan Lopez, University of Melbourne – global health. 991: Andrew Stewart Coates, Monash U – heart failure. 990: Adrian Bauman, University of Sydney – public health. 845: Anthony Jorm, University of Melbourne – mental health. 783: Samuel Berkovic, University of Melbourne – neurology. 697: G D Farquhar, ANU – plant biology. 694: Martin Sevior, University of Melbourne – physics. 601: John Hopper, University of Melbourne – cancer. 524: Peter Hall, University of Melbourne – maths. 475: Paul Zimmet, Baker IDI – diabetes. 456: Paul Jackson, University of Adelaide – particle physics. 414: Colin Masters – University of Melbourne – neurodegenerative disease. 379: Bruce Yabsley – University of Sydney, particle physics. 249: Nicholas Martin – Queensland Institute for Medical Research-Berghofer, genetics. 228: Herbert Marsh– Australian Catholic University, educational psychology.


Marcoms change at UoQ

Long-serving marketing and communications director Graham Bethune has left the University of Queensland on what CMM hears were good terms, with all the right people speaking fondly at his farewell. Deputy director Shannon Holborn is acting.

 Plenty of planners

The federal government has appointed a reference group for its smart cities plan. It includes Universities Australia CEO Belinda Robinson and Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute chief Ian Winter.  With 23 members, the group would qualify for its own postcode in Tasmania.

Study Group downsizing in VET

The VET private-provider shake-out is picking up pace, following the federal government’s restrictions on institutions that can access loans for students. Major provider Study Group told CMM yesterday that it “decided not to apply to participate in the system” and in consequence, “we took the hard decision to rationalise our course suite and to downsize our vocational education staff numbers, including sales and marketing staff.” SG says existing VET students will be able to complete courses with it.

Study Group adds that it’s higher education pathways programmes will continue, ”our activities in international and higher education continue undiminished in all respects.”

University partners are assured of our commitment to our services,” a spokesperson said last night. Study Group is in business with ANU, Charles Sturt U, Flinders U and the universities of Sydney and WA.

WEHI delivers while waiting on NHMRC

Doug Hilton is keen to demonstrate his Walter and Eliza Hall Institute’s commitment to practical measures for gender equity in medical research, notably WEHI’s 100-place childcare centre now under construction. “Without improving gender equity, Australia’s medical research sector will continue to lose significant talent. In the long-term this will make the difference in our ability to continue to meet our biggest health challenges, and improve lives,” he  writes.

A point worth making as the medical research centre wonders how the National Health and Medical Research Council will address the gender imbalance in grants in the long-awaited plan for research funding reform.

Coal continues

Hume Coal is offering three scholarships for engineering, environmental science and business students at the University of Wollongong. Given coal built the Wollongong region, this isn’t surprising and while it may not go down well with the Fossil Free UoW group the university is not for moving.  “Approximately 5 per cent of funds under management are invested in resource industry-related stocks and we have no plans to divest our investments from these industries,” a UoW spokesperson says.

“In order to achieve long term investment objectives at appropriate levels of risk, environmental, social and governance principles are considered in conjunction with financial factors.”