Easily done

At Uni Sydney, Dean of Engineering Willy Zwaenepoel says, “it’s important we start breaking down the silos and work together on bigger problems,” (via Twitter). Dismantling a silo should not take engineers long at all.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

 It’s enterprise bargaining time!  Elizabeth Baré, Ian Marshman, Teresa Tjia and Janet Beard (Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education) explain six ways new agreements can make universities better places to work and learn

Tracy Creagh on the big role for open access in teaching and learning research and communities. This week’s contribution in Sally Kift‘s celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

Changes to the Fair Work Act can mean secure employment for casual academics. Jim Hacketexplains how .

Teaching select scientists how to sell

“Past attempts to invigorate commercialisation have looked at industry and research as two different entities that need to be forced together,” says Science and Technology Australia. It has a better idea

STA has bought into the research commercialisation debate with a proposal that calls for a cadre of, “bench to boardroom scientists.”

“We should focus on equipping up to 2000 leading researchers with the skills to champion the translation of technologies,” STA suggests.

But rather than train them up through PhD programmes STA suggests recruiting existing early and mid-career researchers, “with a strong aptitude and EQ to be these key connectors to industry and then providing specialist skills training and support will be crucial in a quest to shift the dial on research commercialisation in Australia.”

Sound hard to organise? Not with STA there to help.

“We have a uniquely deep reach into the worlds of both research and industry. Our membership includes start-up incubators and scientists based in industry. This positions us to play a powerful partnership role to broker expertise, deliver commercialisation skills transfer and draw on proven track records of strong commercialisation success from our own leadership, membership and networks.”

As to picking research areas that will translate to commercial success, STA ambivalently approves of some of the ideas in an education department discussion paper, (CMM March 2), including,

*stage-gated funding: STA backs support for projects in “the nearly there” stage

* STA renews its call for a research collaboration premium in the Research and Development Tax Incentive

* and it calls for empowering researchers to connect with industry, “free from many of the more stultifying elements of university bureaucracy”

“Commercialisation projects located at a university could operate with strong autonomy, and could pay to use central university resources and be able to take on students in a co-supervisory fashion as many independent medical research institutes do.”

Needed now in teaching and learning: the conference

Sally Kift has invited policy makers and opinion shapers to talk about what is to be done in the world COVID-19 made, where the old ways won’t always work

It extends her long-running CMM series, Needed now in teaching and learning and will be a whole-lot-of on-line conference for not much time and money.

But don’t take CMM’s word for it – check it out here.

More cuts to come at UTS

Despite job cuts last year management wants more savings – and that is bad news for FASS

Arts and Social Sciences dean Alan Davison tells staff the faculty will need to “adjust its academic staff profile” and “develop actions that address principal areas of focus,” in teaching and research priorities, discipline mix and “functional needs.”

Despite voluntary separations in the university last year (CMM October 22) FASS is now required to cut salaries by $3.2m this year and this time people will not get a choice about leaving. “Some selected roles will need to be made redundant,” Professor Davison advises.

And it isn’t only academics who will go, with the faculty GM assessing whether, “we have the right mix of roles and levels of professional support for the activities we undertake.”

There will be a formal consultation process once decisions are made and a town hall on Thursday.

UTS has a recovery plan through to 2027, which is not off to a good start for FASS, there is a drop in local demand for its courses.

Ratings agency Standard and Poor’s estimates that in 2019 UTS had the cash and financial assets to just cover outstanding debt, with the second lowest coverage of all universities.


Uncontested isn’t an election

Turns out Lachlan Clohesy will not be elected unopposed as NTEU division secretary in the ACT (CMM April 28)

The Australian Electoral Commission reports Milan Pintos-Lopez (ANU) is also running. Present division secretary Cathy Day wants to return to her old job, as assistant sec. She is being opposed by Lina Koleilat (ANU).

Budget win for private providers

Education Minister Alan Tudge  and Skills Minister Stuart Roberts back the sector with $53m in four votes of confidence

They are expected to announce today;

*5000 additional short-course places for private providers. The Commonwealth funded programme was created by former education minister Dan Tehan to help people retrain out of industries disrupted by the pandemic. Private providers will welcome more places to make up some of their continuing loss of international students

* Exemptions on FEE-HELP loan exemptions to continue until December for 30 000 private HE students. The levy, which only students at private providers pay, was suspended as a COVID-19 recovery measure last year. Providers will welcome the extension as a saving for students which adds to the case for dropping it permanently

* the government also intends to extend the pause on fees owed to the higher education and VET regulators and for registration as providers of courses to international students

* there is also funding for private providers to develop course content for on-line and off-shore delivery

What works for always on message ATN

The Australian Technology Network, with its Uni Newcastle pal, wants its MO built into the research threshold standards to be set by TEQSA

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency proposes ways of measuring research outputs from institutions, that want to achieve or keep “university” in their title (CMM April 15).

In its response to the TEQSA draft standards, ATN acknowledges that most of the metrics proposed are already out there. But the always-on-message network wants more measurement of research that leads to commercial outcomes.

And ATN reminds TEQSA that the Australian Research Council’s research quality and impact measures are under review.

“Perhaps instead TEQSA’s focus should be on the university’s strategy for research outputs, including their focus on encouraging, measuring and assessing their own output (e.g. citations, publications, patents, licences, commercial activity, partnerships, social impact),” ATN suggests.

ATN also shares the Innovative Research Universities concern with ambiguities in the threshold standards’ text, including what “researcher” and “engaged in the research community” mean, (CMM April 29).

This is a big issue for ATN members that work with industry R&D.

Swinburne U to go boldly where no universities have gone before

VC Pascale Quester announces a “bold and ambitious plan”

Professor Quester says her Horizon 25 strategic plan, is to build Swinburne U “as the prototype of a new and different university, one that is truly of technology, of innovation and of entrepreneurship and proud of it.”

She told staff yesterday that Swinburne U would eschew “incremental steps” and commit to four “moon shots,” by the end of 2025.

* “every Swinburne learner gets a work experience

* “every Swinburne graduate gets a job”

* “every Swinburne partner gets a tech solution,” and

* Swinburne U “is the prototype of global best practice

It is a fundamental plan to build the brand – research last August reported while 30 per cent of prospective students “would consider Swinburne,” “lack of familiarity was the key barrier.”

The university’s consumer brand (to launch next week) is, “Next Gen_Now” with positioning to “act like a tech company, positioning Swinburne at the cutting edge of what is happening right now, with an unveiling of our new upgraded offering each year.”

“It’s not how a university would normally talk, it’s the way tech companies position a new product, and that’s very deliberate,” staff learned yesterday.

Research achievement: it’s all relative innit

The Regional Universities Network is ok with TEQSA’s proposed research threshold standards, as long as they recognise its members circumstances

The research standards are important to RUN –when the Coaldrake Review (on which the standards are largely based) came out there was speculation that some regional unis may not meet suggested targets for research performance by 2030 (CMM October 16 2019).

This went away, but nevertheless the lobby is keen for standards to adjust to university circumstances.

Thus, RUN recommends, “citation volume should be normalised for the size of the university in question. A measure such as the percentage of research productive staff per FTE staff in higher education at an institution would be appropriate.”  And it suggests. “consideration of the financial support for pursuit of research and the number of researchers at the regulated entity should be normalised for the size of the university in question.”

RUN also proposes, “the economic and social impact of a university within a region should be considered”.

Way-back pay owed

Last August then VC Michael Spence reported payroll problems meant some staff had been underpaid (CMM August 14). He was right

Now VC Stephen Garton tells staff that an on-going analysis back to 2014 finds errors in paying overtime and “minimum engagement entitlements” for casual professional staff. “A small number of errors” also affect academics. People owed money will start seeing it in second semester.

Uni Sydney is not alone. Across town UNSW has extended a completed review of casual academics in bized being underpaid to other faculties (CMM February 22).

Appointments, achievements

Of the day

Rachel Huang is Uni Queensland’s new Chief Student Entrepreneur. She takes over from Rachael Dagge.

The Australian Council of Graduate Research announces its awards, * Leadership – Jeanette Fyffe (La Trobe U) * Supervision – Kay Crossley (La Trobe U) * Industry Engagement –Dugald Close “and team” (Uni Tas).

CSL reports four $500 000 Research Acceleration Initiatives awards, “to fast-track the discovery of innovative biotherapies to address unmet patient needs.” * Livia Hool (UWA) – drug to treat inherited heart disorder, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, * Mark Coulthard and Trent Woodruff (Uni Queensland) – a “therapeutic candidate” for recovery/survival in “solid organ transplant” * Michelle Wykes (QIMR Berghofer MRI) –an “immunological target” to treat rare autoimmune diseases * Christian Engwerda, (QIMR Berghofer MRI) 0 –also an “immunological target” but to “improve stem cell transplantation”

Of the week

 Reem Joukhadar wins a 2021 Women in Triticum (which is wheat) award. She is a research scientist at the Victorian state government and La Trobe U JV, AgriBio.

Sharon Lewin (Doherty Institute) is appointed president of the scientific advisory board of the new French research agency on emerging infectious diseases.  

The US National Academy of Science announces new members, including; Elizabeth Dennis (CSIRO), Lisa Kewley (ANU)

National Computational Infrastructure announces the 2021 Australasian Leadership Computing Grants go to, Ben Corry (ANU), Alan E Mark (Uni Queensland), Bernhard Müller (Monash University), Ekaterina Pas (Monash University), and Julio Soria, (Monash University).

The United States Studies Centre at Uni Sydney announces Mick Mulvaney is a new non-resident senior fellow. Mr Mulvaney was President Trump’s chief of staff (2019-20) and director of the Office of Management and Budget. He is joined by Duncan Lewis, formerly Director General of Security at ASIOJennifer Jackett, on leave from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet joins as a non-resident fellow.

At UWA Lesley Cala (Med School professor) is warden of convocation, Brett Davies (Law School adjunct professor) is elected to Senate and deputy warden). Convocation is graduates and sundry senior members of the university community.

 The US National Academy of Science announces new members, including; Elizabeth Dennis (CSIRO), Lisa Kewley (ANU)