A ranking to star on

Swinburne U astrophysicist Matt Agnew is this year’s Bachelor (if you don’t know by now you probably will not want to). Can’t be long until QS or competitors add staff starring in reality TV shows as a performance category.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning, Sally Varnham on partnerships with students, this week’s feature on what  teaching needs now.

And David Myton’s  regular wrap on international HE.

Citations stars for journal impact

The Web of Science report reveals what has to be close to all

The Clarivate Analytics owned product presents the performance of 11,877 journals across 236 disciplines, publishing three million items. The journal impact factor is based on citations divided by the number of items.

There are 283 new journals in the mix and three new disciplines, quantum science and technology, development studies and regional and urban planning.

Local listings with a first-time journal impact factor are, Asia and the Pacific Policy Studies, Current Issues in Language Planning, Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association and South Asia: the journal of South Asia Studies.

Innovation: Organisation and Management is listed as new although it was previously there, as Innovation, Management, Policy and Practice/

Deakin VC goes in glory

Jane den Hollander’s farewell address was state of art, convincing, compelling, celebrating staff, sharing success

“There was a time when few in Victoria chose Deakin.  Today we are a university of choice,” she told staff in a speech last week, marking her retirement.

“There was a time when we were in the bottom 10 of the sector for research excellence. Today our results reflect a university currently ranked ten in Australia.  Our graduates are the most satisfied in the state, our digital approach is regarded as world leading.  We are renowned in India. We are robustly financial, we are stylish and, best of all, we like each other.

“By any measure you can be proud of your university. However, what I most admire about us is the strength of the collective effort to go in the same direction, a non-trivial task for those of us who have worked in universities our whole lives!

I thank you for your many acknowledgements of me as the leader but whatever comes in the future you, Deakin staff, are the wind in the sails of this place. “

She will be missed by campus and community both. As the Geelong Advertiser put it, “Professor den Hollander has made an indelible mark on Geelong, as the city emerges triumphant after a period of immense upheaval.”

Group of Eight asserts its independence on free speech protection

The elite-university lobby stands its ground 

“We have and will protect freedom of speech on our campuses and have codes and regulations which are well-suited to this purpose. Amongst other things, this means we will not tolerate no-platforming,” the group states.

And the Go8 makes it clear that its members need no directing on how to do it.

“We regularly review our approach to freedom of speech as new issues arise and in that context we welcome the report prepared by the Hon Mr Robert French AC. Go8 universities support the strong freedom of speech principles as outlined in the draft code, and are assessing how they can enhance existing codes or regulations or be adopted alongside them,” the Eight state.

The lobby also points to its 2013 adoption of the Hefei Statement, which sets out the ten characteristics of a research university, including;

“A tolerance, recognition and welcoming of competing views, perspectives, frameworks and positions as being necessary to support progress, along with a commitment to civil debate and discussion to advance understanding and produce new knowledge and technologies.”

The Group of Eight’s statement follows reports of a push for universities to adopt as a system-standard the model-code of campus free speech protection set in the French review.

Below: The National Tertiary Education Union calls on the government to legislate to protect staff free speech

More unis with property plans

The builder also known as the University of Tasmania announces expansion of its new Launceston campus and that’s before sod-all is turned

The university originally expected the new Inveresk precinct to cost $240m but what with federal commitments and private sector investment, there is now $344m committed.  Plans are now out for the three-stage project, set for completion by 2024. According to the university it will, “increase access to education, attract students to the city, boost the region’s economy.”

The university also has a major plan to move much of its Hobart campus from suburban Sandy Bay into the CBD

And in Bathurst Charles Sturt U wants to take gown into town

Learned readers say CSU is interested into a downtown presence, nothing major mind, but something to connect with the community. The university’s Bathurst campus is just out of town.

They join Curtin and Flinders universities, which have announced major property developments in the last month.

International grads and the 485 way to stay

They’re being asked about their post study work visa

International graduates of Australian universities can use the 485 visa to stay and work here for up to four years after graduation.

It’s a great sell for unis and popular with people who qualify, around 50 000 of them this year. But Ly Tran and Mark Rahim (Deakin U), with George Tan (Uni Adelaide) wonder what 485 life is like.

They are surveying visa holders on their experience in getting and holding jobs, what they do and earn and how much use their university was in preparing them for the Australian world of work.

Union demands legislation to protect uni staff free speech

The National Tertiary Education Union says the Robert French proposed model code is not enough

The NTEU has intervened in the campus free speech debate to urge the government to legislate, saying “academic freedoms must be defined in law.”
“The right to speak without fear or favour in a place of higher learning is important for our democracy,” NTEU general secretary Matthew McGowan says.
Mr McGowan adds the voluntary campus free speech code and changes to legislation proposed by former chief justice Robert French are not sufficient. “If we are serious about academic freedom, a voluntary code is not good enough, and unless staff have workplace protections in their collective agreements, changes to legislation will not guarantee freedoms.”

The NTEU national executive also calls on the federal government; “to implement the recommendation to amend the existing Higher Education Support Act and the Higher Education Standards to incorporate the definition of academic freedom set out by Justice French, and the recommendation to require all higher education providers to have a policy that upholds freedom of speech and academic freedom.”

The union also calls on Universities Australia to negotiate with it on a statement of “rights and obligations” of universities and staff on academic and intellectual freedom for incorporation into enterprise agreements.

In April, the Federal Court rejected James Cook U’s attempt to dismiss Peter Ridd over outspoken criticism of research at the university. Justice Vasta found Dr Ridd’s statements were covered by clause 14 of JCU’s enterprise agreement.  (CMM April 18).

“The NTEU strenuously defends the rights of members who exercise academic and intellectual freedom, including in cases where these individuals have expressed unpopular views, and notes that freedom of speech includes the right to protest, the union states.

Griffith U’s big data: the truth is in the tweets  

It wasn’t hard predicting media interest when Bela Stantic nailed the election result but there are surprises in the other questions he can answer

The head of Griffith U’s School of Information and Comms Technology,

Professor Stantic  spoke last week on what he and colleagues are analysing and raised an issue that he struggles to understand.

Professor Stantic set out the extraordinary resources social media -Twitter and Instagram, Flicker and Facebook – provide for understanding the way we live now. And he explained, short of giving away research secrets, how algorithms analysing content and context of vast amounts of tweets and picture and posts can predict everything from psephology to food poisoning.

He did not make it sound exactly easy but he certainly set out what very big data can reveal.

But the puzzle his analyses do not explain is why take-up of the science is patchy. “Any company or institution that does not venture into big data analytics probably will not be competitive and struggle to survive,” he said,

Growth gift for Charles Sturt U

On Thursday Uni Newcastle announced it would teach out UG courses, (teaching, nursing, midwifery) at its Port Macquarie campus – cue Charles Sturt U offering to fill that gap in teaching and nursing. CSU set up there in 2016.

Case for three classes of university

Private provider Navitas suggests spreading the title about

University responses to the Coaldrake Review of provider standards generally agree that “university” should only be used by institutions that teach and research. But $1bn pathway provider Navitas thinks the name can be spread about it.

In a submission to Coaldrake, finally released by the Department of Education, Navitas proposes four categories of higher education providers;

* HE providers which, like now, have no self-accrediting authority

* teaching universities, with “some-level” of self-accreditation, which provide courses up to masters level and doctoral degrees in disciplines where they have staff undertaking research

* specialist universities, also with some accreditation rights. They would undertake research in disciplines where they award doctorates.

* comprehensive universities, institutions now using the title

Navitas’ suggestion is on-song with the discussion paper from the department released when the review was announced and which is widely thought to reflect issues Professor Coaldrake is interested in addressing.

“Should the requirement for universities to offer both undergraduate and postgraduate courses be relaxed, allowing freedom for a university to specialise in only undergraduate or only postgraduate courses, with or without research, as appropriate? Should specialised research institutes with a proven record become eligible to use the ‘university’ title and even offer postgraduate research-based qualifications? While this review presents an opportunity to explore all possible options, the implications of any change must be carefully weighed, particularly where change may have consequences for reputation and outcomes,” (CMM December 10)

But Navitas has another idea, which some universities will like even less than a wider use of their name. While it does not propose a category for third-party providers; “the onus is on the accredited higher education provider to strictly adhere to the Threshold Standards in respect to its third-party arrangements,” Navitas suggests.

“We therefore support greater transparency of these arrangements, including through the potential establishment of a public register administered by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency.”