plus in research performance its medicine then daylight

and art school shambles at Uni Sydney

Get hip to this timely tip*

Don’t get your man-bun in a knot but it appears that hipsters have the evolutionary edge on clean-shaven blokes. Barnaby Dixon from the University of Queensland and colleagues find that “beardedness may be attractive when judging long-term relationships as a signal of intrasexual formidability and the potential to provide direct benefits to females.” * thanks to the great Bobby Troup.


The real competition

Despite all the good news in the Australian Research Council’s analysis of discipline performance (CMM yesterday) a learned reader reminds us that rankings at or above world standard don’t really hack it, that the comparisons that matter are Western Europe and North America, (although China will be along in a while). As former chief scientist Ian Chubb put it; “when we turn to the average and compare ourselves to a selection of countries in Western Europe and North America-countries that we like to think we could be like – our average field weighted citation is below them all,” (CMM September 19 2014).

Artistic shambles

Colin Rhodes is out at the Sydney College of the Arts. The dean is departing as the student occupation of the college continues in protest over University of Sydney management’s plan to relocate the SCA to the main campus. The students have now escalated their demands to include “an elected representative committee of staff and students to head SCA until they accept our demands and put art before the mindless pursuit of profit.” They also wants Provost Stephen Garton to resign as well. The future of the art school has been a shambles since UniSyd proposed to ship it off to rival University of New South Wales and then abandoned the plan in the face of furious protests, that have continued.

Help for headache

CMM thought Headache Australia was the name adopted by the Senate crossbench but no, it’s a division of the Brain Foundation, which runs the national headache register. So in Headache and Migraine Week (on now – who knew?) it’s worth recognising the register. People who self-select receive information on research, more important they are a source of participants for treatment trials.


Investment outcomes 

Funnily enough the teacher education establishment has not had much to say about last week’s Productivity Commission report on education data, especially the comment that “greater effort needs to go into producing high-quality and relevant research and in making the findings from that work available to decision makers. … the type of research that delivers high-quality evidence on what works best is rare,” (CMM September 6)

It was harsh, but was it fair? According to Tuesday’s release of Australian Research Council data on discipline performance, in 2015 81 some 81 education research units were evaluated as at, above or well above world standard, with 10 per cent or so on the top shelf. While the per centage was the same for the studies in human society group some 16 per cent of the language communication and culture and 28 per cent of psychology research groups were in the highest group.

But the performance of medical researchers put everybody else in the shade. Of the 295 assessed units no less than 54 per cent rated “well above world average.” Given medical research has about the same amount of funding as all areas managed by the Australian Research Council this is probably understandable – in research you get what you pay for.

Back to Plan A

Now for the hard part. At the University of Adelaide staff opinion recently knocked off VC Warren Bebbington’s plan to get researchers out of their silos by breaking down faculties and building up schools. As the plan was never about saving money it was easy to abandon. But not so Plan A the Professional Services Reform, which is said to have a savings target of $6m pa by 2017 and is now back on top of management’s agenda. Draft proposals for the faculties of arts, sciences, professions and engineering and IT are expected by the end of the month. A plan for savings is also expected for student services and admission is also expected.


Callers not connected

ANU’s Crawford School of Public Policy is hosting a seminar on Tuesday on “strengthening public policy through the random recruitment of public officials.” But should academics be screened out of the pool? As William F Buckley famously put it; “I would rather be governed by the first 2000 people in the Boston telephone directory than by the 2000 people on the faculty of Harvard University.”

Free kicks

Swinburne U has established a two-diploma programme (sports management and development) in conjunction with the Richmond Football Club. There is no word what the dips will cost and whether they are HECS eligible but the possibility is mentioned of students finding work in Richmond FC’’s subsidiary chain of “aquatic and recreation facilities.”

In other football education news CMM wonders whether Western Sydney University is thinking of changing its name to Giants U if the local AFL team wins the grand final.

Researchers dive in

The Gold Coast campus of Southern Cross U today hosts the 2016 Surf Industry forum. “Our aim is to inspire students and young entrepreneurs to continue developing careers and businesses in surfing and the action sport sector,” says SCU professor Ian Eddie.

and pedal on

Charles Sturt U is running tweed rides next week. These hipster outings are favoured by fans of the fixie, and hipsters prepared to be seen in public looking like extras from Jeeves and Wooster. Riders who can’t make it in person are invited to post pics – well, it is for hipsters.