Plenty of passages to India

The University of Sydney is sending 60 staff, 60! to India to “meet with institutional and industry partners”

They will “coincide” with a visit by Education Minister Tehan. The university will also announce a new equity scholarship for students from North Delhi slums. Vice Chancellor

Vice Chancellor Michael Spence says Uni Sydney “would love to welcome more Indian students”. Now where would anybody get the idea he is looking for an alternative if demand from China drops.


There’s more in the Mail

In CMM Features, Gary Velan and Patsie Polly (UNSW) in creating teaching excellence metrics, here.

And Gretchen Dobson and Dirk Mulder, on finding and activating the lost international alumni opportunity here.

On Monday, look for Commissioning Editor Sally Kift on Connectedness 2.0, the best higher education chance for all.

Carolyn Evans sets course for Griffith U

The vice chancellor releases her first strategic plan this morning

Professor Evans became VC in February and spent much of her first months in the job listening to staff. Now she is starting her strategy, with a plan for the university through to 2025.

Griffith U observers suggest many of the ideas she raised early-on (CMM April 4) are in the plan, with a commitment to infrastructure, both physical and digital. A new learning culture is also expected with an extension of the university’s digital badges, recording not-for-credit student achievement.

Barnaby Joyce: friend to research

The member for New England is pleased indeed with funding

There are four Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards for University of New England staffers and the local member likes them.

“The research projects will address issues that are relevant to our community. … These are world-leading research projects, led by academics right here on our doorstep, addressing important issues that will make a real difference to every Australian,” Mr Joyce said yesterday, in a joint statement with Education Minister Dan Tehan.

It’s part of Mr Tehan’s policy of enlisting Coalition members in the cause of research funding by giving them announcement glory.

The four projects should appeal to Mr Joyce’s constituents; Deborah Bower will research farm dam management, Priscilla Gerber will work on respiratory disease in poultry, Benjamin Henderson, will create a policy strategy for carbon neutral agriculture by 2040.

Work by Valentina Gosetti, will surely resonate for My Joyce, “prominent regional voices swept aside by the powerful forces constructing national identity.”

Macquarie U VC to address all-staff meeting on cuts

After meeting with his leadership team Vice Chancellor S Bruce Dowton schedules a “town hall”  for next week

Professor Dowton is expected to talk about the emerging operating environment and specific university issues, notably the plan to save $4m by closing the Faculty of Human Sciences and reallocating its constituent departments.

Which is what he covered in his message to staff, last week (CMM November 6).

Perhaps the Vice Chancellor intends to explain in-person why there is no alternative to the savings strategy, a petition has requested him to at least try to convince staff. Unless he hopes to calm the uproar on campus with a concession, say to modify the block on new hires and the review of all fixed term contracts up for renewal (CMM November 1).

Given Professor Dowton’s response to a letter from a hundred-plus professors (CMM Wednesday) sticking to his plan looks much more likely.

UWA wants major museum collection “open and accessible”

UWA describes its Berndt Museum as, “one of the most significant collections of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural material in the world” so why are there campus concerns for its future?

Staff speculate it is set to go the way of the university press, which is being disbanded in its present form, with staff retrenched. UWA observers say Berndt staff on contract fear they will not be renewed. A UWA spokesperson tells CMM, “the university does not comment on individual HR matters.”

As to the future of the museum, a UWA statement to CMM this week quotes Vice Chancellor Dawn Freshwater; “the university is examining new ways to connect in a coordinated and contemporary way with local, regional and international communities,” including: “ensuring that the university’s extensive and anthropologically significant collections are more open and accessible to the people of Western Australia and visitors to the state.”

But that does not necessarily mean the museum remains as is – the changes at the press may set a precedent for a change.  According to a planning paper from the university’s Global Partnerships portfolio, UWAP will close in its present form, with the money saved, invested in “open and digitised access to information and knowledge” in “support of the university’s academic writing and research” (CMM November 11).

The Berndt does not have its own home now, located in the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery on campus. Perhaps it is going to get one, Professor Freshwater refers to making, “more strategic use of campus space.” Or perhaps not.

Study home is where the hub is

The Regional Study Hub symposium is on today in Jindabyne

Hubs provide study spaces, video-conferencing, computing facilities and internet access, plus academic support for distance education students enrolled at partner universities. There are 20 or so around the country and Education Minister Dan Tehan is keen on them indeed, as part of his commitment to lifting higher education RRR enrolment and retention outside cities (CMM June 14).

Foreign interference guidelines: the people who will use ‘em like ‘em

Universities are happy with what they have got

A win for Dan Tehan: The creation of the guidelines (CMM yesterday) are another successful example of his better to have VCs in the tent strategy. He could have imposed oversight on universities. Instead he got the sector on-side with vice chancellors and representatives of two lobbies (UA and Go8) working on the new rules, sorry guidelines.

The next time university cyber security is compromised or a researcher falls into a foreign honey-trap Mr Tehan will be able to point to the guidelines all universities now own and leave a hapless vice chancellor to do the explaining

A win for universities:  The new rules, apologies, guidelines, will be a pain for institutions to adhere to. But they could have been way worse if national security officials had the opportunity to extend oversight and authority. (Last year the Department of Defence made an unsuccessful submission to the Thom review of the Defence Trade Control Act, which advocated government having more effective control to strategic technology).

And with the minister giving them seats at the lab bench universities are able to present the guidelines as their own, not imposed on them.

Reaction: Universities Australia backed the guidelines yesterday, (CEO Catriona Jackson was a member of the project taskforce), focusing on its members’ independence. “University autonomy remains a foundational principle of Australia’s university system, and this partnership approach respects this central tenet of universities whilst managing risk,” UA president and Curtin VC Deborah Terry said yesterday.

The Group of Eight, which had most to lose in any heavy-handed regulation of research, was also comfortable. “

It has been positive that the Morrison Government has chosen to seek sector inclusion in its process rather than take the heavy-handed over-reach approach of the US; which would have stifled academic freedom, ruined invaluable research partnerships and added regulatory burden and additional compliance,”  CEO and (taskforce member) Vicki Thomson said.

The Australian Technology Network is also happy with the outcome, both for its members and the national interest. “Increasing our focus on cybersecurity and sharing other best practice will be key to Australia keeping the international research collaboration engine running, which is vital for progress of humanity and Australia’s economic prosperity,” chair and UTS VC, Attila Brungs said.

Green Gowns announced

The tenth annual awards are announced – honouring ANZ education institutions and individuals, “making a positive change towards a greener future

Winners are,

2030 climate action: Uni Queensland

Benefiting society: Macquarie U

Continuous improvement: Charles Sturt U

Creating impact: Uni Melbourne

Learning, teaching, skills: Victoria U of Wellington

Student engagement: Uni Wollongong

Staff excellence: Dennis Frost, Uni Sunshine Coast

Student excellence: Clayton McDowell, Uni Wollongong

Appointments, achievements

Of the day

The Australian Research Council announces the 2020 College of Experts, nearly 200 of them, here.

Armando Maria Corsi is named best wine educator at the Wine Communicator Award, when not explaining the Albarino to Zinfandel of wine he researches consumer behaviour at Uni SA’s Ehrenberg-Bass Institute of Marketing Science, which CMM considers a corker, (sorry).

Janet Nelson will become DVC for research and innovation at the University of Newcastle in February. Professor Nelson joins from the University of Idaho where she is Chief Research Officer.

Western Sydney U announces three new deans, Kerry London (Built Environment), Eileen McLaughlin (Science) Tanya Meade (Psychology). Professors London and Meade are internal appointments. Professor McLaughlin was most recently a dean at the University of Canberra.

Of the week

The Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia announces its 2019 fellows,  here.

The Academy also announces its Paul Bourke early career research awards,  here.

Debra Bateman starts at Flinders U as dean of education in the college of Education, Psychology and Social Work.  Her recent CMM essay, “Unis behind a compliance rock and a quality hard place,” is here.

Alison Booth (ANU) is a new fellow of the (international) Econometric Society

Mark Brimble will become dean, learning and teaching, for Griffith U’s Business School, in January. He will move up from head of the accounting, finance and economics department.

Edith Cowan U announces its VC staff excellence awards, here.

Curtin U technology is the basis of the WA Innovator of the Year award. Jacques EksteenElsayed Oraby and colleague in the university’s WA School of Mines developed an environmentally friendly system for extracting metal from ore. It is licenced to company Mining and Process Solutions which won the award.  Andrew Guzzomi and Carlo Peressin from UWA, with colleagues from the University of Sydney, designed the winner of the Emerging Innovation category – a weed chipper, which can be an alternative to herbicides in large-scale cropping.

Curtin U also announces its learning and teaching awards, here.

Annie Fogarty is the West Australian of the year. Dr Fogarty is founder of the UWA Fogarty Scholarship Programme.

Rhys Pirie (Uni Queensland PhD student) wins the Young Innovator of the Year award at the Falling Walls innovation conference in Berlin. He proposed a process to turn waste glass into sodium-silicate based products.

The UTS teaching awards are here.

Iain Walker is to join ANU as director of the Research School of Psychology. He moves from Uni Canberra.

Sally Way switches lobbies, joining the Australian Technology Network from the Innovative Research Universities. She becomes engagement manager at ATN.