Turn up or feel the heat

Uni Sydney reports another climate-strike protest is expected today week – but there is no pass for students with exams 

The university has 58 exams on November 29 and HR chief Karen Haywood warns, “rescheduling these is unfeasible for the many staff, students and administrative logistics involved.”

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning, part 3 of Dobson and Mulder on the international alumni opportunity  here. Plus, Sally Kift  on Connectedness 2.0, the best HE chance for all.

And on Monday, Lambert Schuwirth (Flinders U) wonders whether universities will matter in a decade.

Postgrad researchers: few friends on the factory floor

Industry roles in postgraduate research support aren’t even bit-parts

The vast majority of higher degree research students had no “end user engagement,” last year. Newly released federal figures for 2018 show 61 000 of 65 000 did not connect with industry off-campus.

The statistics present HDR student participation in various categories; research internships-512, joint supervision-3563, joint or full-funding from “end user”-828, formal training-524 and “other engagement activities”-957.

Reporting for all categories was not compulsory last year but the situation stills seems clear. As to trend-defying standouts – not really.

It is an issue John McGagh and colleagues identified in a 2016 review of the research training system for the Australian Council of Learned Academies, (CMM April 14 2016).  “With a majority of higher degree graduates moving into careers outside university research, providing candidates with an opportunity to collaborate with industry partners can help improve their future employability while giving industry an insight into the benefits of employing researchers,” they wrote.

Dr McGagh proposed a national placement scheme for HDR students looking to connect with industry, to be run by an independent agency – it would not want for work.

Start planning the pitch

CMM is resolutely ignoring the approach of yo-ho-hoing, but tempus fugits, and Universities Australia is already promoting a 2020 event

It’s  “the pitch it clever” video presentation for PhD students and early career researchers to be held at UA’s February conference.  Place-getters win (not much) money but the chance to present research to the conclave of vice-chancellors is worth its weight in research applications.

Macquarie U cuts to continue

VC Dowton got points for fronting a staff meeting on the proposed staff cuts this week – but not enough to convince people of his case for cuts  

The VC has warned a looming deficit requires savings and he plans to break-up the Faculty of Human Sciences, among other moves.

After weeks of staff disquiet, Professor Dowton took questions from sceptical but courteous staff (and less-so students) on why the uni is in deficit and what is to be done. Campus-observers say he stuck to his script on the case for cuts (CMM November 6), which has not and is not, convincing sceptical staff (CMM November 11).

What happens next: While Professor Dowton heard the message from staff he is not for turning and the process for closing Human Sciences and reallocating its academic departments is set to start next week.

This may not be as bad as it sounds, for now. Word is HR is cooperatively on the case to redeploy admin staff from Human Sciences and minimise redundancies. But this might not be so in the new year, where more staff-reducing restructures are feared.

Uni Canberra sets a text

Uni Canberra gives incoming first-years a book, to create campus conversations and be included in curricula

For the 2020 class it is the Anita Heiss (Uni Queensland) novel of the Cowra Breakout by Japanese POWs in 1944, Barbed wire and cherry blossoms. This years was Australian novelist Charlotte Wood’s “provocative exploration of contemporary misogyny,” The natural way of things.

Industry leader’s idea for skills ministers

For admirers of vocational kabuki, the COAG Skills Council performs today

State and federal ministers meet in Brisbane and Innes Willox, from employer organisation Ai Group, has a suggestion. “Now is not the time for the federal government and its state counterparts to emphasise points of difference, argue over minutiae or play games of petty politics or one-upmanship. Industry, the education and training sector and the wider community need a national agreement now on how to best lift productivity and fill our emerging skills gaps and needs.”

Whatever can he mean? The Victorian Government decision to run its own VET review (CMM November 4) while the feds work on implementing the Joyce plan nationally and the Productivity Commission considers funding and student loan models (CMM November 18), you say?

Jove but some of you are cynics.

Philanthropy costs up, funds flat, but fear not it’s just a blip

The annual review of ANZ uni fundraising finds reasons to be cheerful

Last year the 26 institutions surveyed raised $630m in “new funds” – down 6 per cent from 2017, which was up 15 per cent more than in 2016.

“Year-over-year variations in fundraising are common … large gifts or pledges, often secured in the early stages of a campaign, drive numbers up in one year, leading to a comparative decline in the subsequent year,” is the advice of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

The decline in new funds, donations delivered and promises made, was matched by a drop in 2018 cash income down, 7 per cent, to $491m. The falls are not for want of investing. Survey participants spent $97m on fundraising and $53m on alumni.

Overall the Group of Eight collect most of the money, $339m of the $491m total.

Half of all “new funds” for all institutions are specifically for research, in line with the “general trend of donors’ moving away from blank cheque gifts and instead being more targeted and intentional with their giving.”

Minister makes mates in Malaysia

Dan Tehan pitches Australian education

Speaking at the National University of Malaya the other day the Education Minister talked of common interests – voced in schools, short courses, studying on different campuses, closing the skills gap. He added benefits for Malaysians studying in Australia, like work-rights and he explained how Australians enjoy studying in Malaysia. It was as much partnership as pitch.

What also worked was his description of a Malaysian student who studied at what is now Deakin-Warrnambool (in his electorate) 50 years ago and liked it so much he stayed and of Malaysian leaders who have fond memories of their study-experience in Australia. “The relationship that we have, which has been formed by education, I think, is truly unique and truly remarkable. … It is something that we all should cherish and should ensure that we continue to grow it.”

Makes a change from marketing that presents Australia as doing international students a favour.

Appointments, achievements of the day, of the week

Of the day

Noelene Buddle is the new chief executive of the Royal Institution of Australia. The Institution, “promotes public awareness and understanding of science.”

Stephen Muecke joins Flinders U as professor of creative writing. He moves from Uni Adelaide.

 Macquarie U announces academic staff awards

Research leadership: Roger Chung (Medicine-Health Sciences)

Research excellence: Deborah Schofield (Business), Kate Lloyd, Sandie Suchet-Pearson (Arts), Karu Esselle, David Bulger, Maria Kovaleva (Science and Engineering), Celia Harris (Human Sciences), Phillip Taylor (Science and Engineering)

Research supervision: Jennie Hudson (Human Sciences)

Early career researchers: Katrina Hutchinson (Arts), Bingyang Shi (Medicine-Health Sciences)

Higher degree research: Nicholas Everett (Human Sciences), Stephanie Rayner (Medicine-Health Sciences)

Student-nominated learning and teaching: Tiffany Mary Jones (Human Sciences), Alexandra Bhatti (Medicine-Health Sciences), Bruno Alves Buzatto (Science-Engineering)

Learning and teaching-sessional staff: Lauren Florentia Ehrenfeld (Human Sciences)

Learning and teaching-early career: Alexandra Bhatti

Teaching excellence: Matt Bower (Human Sciences)

Learning innovation: Kira Westaway (Science-Engineering), Michael Rampe (Arts), Matthew Cabanag (no affiliation listed)

Educational leader: Catherine Dean (Medicine-Health Sciences)

Of the week

 David Abramson wins the Pearcey Foundation’s (for ICT technologies) medal for life-long achievement. Professor Abramson is director of Uni Queensland’s Research Computing Centre. If there is award for IT theatricals he would win that too – in 2016 his play about research integrity, “Purely Academic”, was performed at the university (CMM October 25 2016).

Brian Anderson (ANU emeritus professor) is awarded Engineers Australia’s Peter Nicol Russell medal for career-contribution.

Anita Ho-Baillie is the inaugural John Hooke chair of Nanoscience at the University of Sydney. Dr Ho-Baillie is now an associate professor working in renewable energy engineering at UNSW. She appeared last night on the 2019 Web of Science Highly Cited Researcher list. The late Mr Hooke donated $5m to the university in 2011 for nanoscience research, including a chair.

The Victorian Government’s prizes for science and innovation (via VESKI) go to, Michael Berk (Deakin U) – mental health and Anthony Burkitt (Uni Melbourne) – bionic eye, artificial vision

Stacey Coates (Western Sydney U PhD candidate) is in-coming president of the National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Association.

Urban water researcher Peter Coombes joins Southern Cross U as chair of engineering.

Nick Crowley will become Macquarie U’s HR director today week, he is now deputy director. He replaces Nicole Gower who moved last month to VP, people and services.

Teresa Finlayson is confirmed as Monash U chief information officer. She has acted in the role since August, stepping up from her substantive position of director, strategic enablement.

Tracey Horton is named chair of the Commonwealth’s new Australian Industry and Skills Committee. Ms Horton is a former business dean at UWA and chair of Navitas.

Karl Kruszelnicki (Uni Sydney) wins UNESCO’s Kalinga Prize for popularising science.

Darren Pennay wins the inaugural industry leadership award from the Association of Market and Social Research Organisations. Mr Pennay is honoured for founding and leading for 19 years, the Social Research Centre, now owned by ANU. The SRC creates the excellent Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching.

Recent Uni Adelaide graduates Amber Smith and Anthony Cox​ win the South Australian Water Award student prize.

Ryan Tilley (RMIT) takes third place in the James Dyson Award for adapting a manual wheelchair for off-road access. The awards, from the British manufacturer are for undergrads/recent grads, (CMM October 24)

Jon Watson is appointed executive dean of UWA’s faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. He has been dean of medicine at Deakin U since 2014.

The Academy of the Humanities announced 2019 Fellows (CMM Tuesday) here.

Macquarie U announced six distinguished professors (CMM Thursday) here.

The National Library of Australia’s new research fellows (CMM Wednesday) are here.

Research Australia announced 2019 awards (CMM Monday) here.