plus $3.7bn for research infrastructure found down the back of Canberra’s couch

Uni Adelaide invests in research fellows

and Heads Up: the week’s winners at work

Energetic Andrews

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews is making the most of a visit to China. Yesterday he announced plans for a translational research centre involving Walter and Eliza Hall, Cancer Trials Australia, the University of Melbourne and “prestigious” Nanjing University. La Trobe also appears to have been involved at some stage. Mr Andrews also joined Swinburne U’s DVCR Aleksandar Subic at the announcement of a joint research centre in advanced manufacturing with Shandong University.


Challenging times

An intriguing aspect of Ian Jacobs ten-year plan for UNSW is where the money will come. VC Jacobs told staff that 25 per cent of the cost will come from “reprioritising existing resources,” and “greater efficiencies” back in February  (CMM February 5) which sounded then like jobs and programmes to go (CMM March 7). And now we are about to find out. Yesterday Professor Jacobs told UNSW that the change timetable will be available “in the next few days.”

“Change on this scale, while providing exciting opportunities, will also be challenging for some staff. … Your divisional head, dean or head of school will meet with you to explain and discuss what is planned in your area,” he said.

“Challenging for some staff,” has an ominous sound to it.

Especially for people in service areas where there is, “inconsistency of service experience, duplication of roles and functions, job levels that don’t align, and unclear career paths for professional staff.” Professor Jacobs says to deal with these problems there will be “more shared services, refinement of existing models in a number of functional areas, more efficient processes and better-aligned career paths.” Probably including some that lead away from the university.

Cash for kit

The Group of Eight want $3.7bn, originally intended for education and now parked in the Future Fund, allocated to research infrastructure. And it wants an independent advisory body to oversight outlays on big kit. The recommendations are in the Eight’s submission to the research infrastructure capability paper.

While the Eight accept “successive periods of fiscal restraint” make it essential to carefully consider infrastructure investment the submission points out industry has committed $1.06 for every public dollar allocated to the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy. The $3.7bn is the remains of the Education Investment Fund, which was abolished in the 2014 budget, which on the Eight’s assumption can create a bunch more money for high tech capacity.

The submission also discretely suggests more direction on governance for the boards of infrastructure agencies to ensure which users pay how much for what purposes is understood. It specifically calls for “more streamlined governance arrangements” for the National Computational Infrastructure and the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre.


IRU future focused

The great and the good from the Innovative Research Universities group will meet at Murdoch U on Tuesday to consider achievements and establish objectives, exemplified by the conference theme, “creating globally relevant graduates.” “It is an opportunity to explore questions about and challenges to the value of university education, the nature of future graduates and the skills they need in a changed working environment.” This is seriously sensible, having made a compelling case for expanding access to university IRU members need to do everything they can to ensure that the implicit promise of good jobs for graduates is met.

Adelaide invests

Mike Brooks is rolling out a new stage of his five-year research plan for the University of AdelaideCMM, June 8). This morning the DVC R will announce $10m over three years for 20 one-year and six three-year research fellowships for early and mid-career researchers. The fellowships are part of his strategy to move Uni Adelaide to the global top 120 in both the Times Higher ranking (it moved up seven places to 142 in yesterday’s TH) and the Academic Ranking of World Universities (139 last month, up from 170 in 2015, CMM August 15). Heads Up, below lists everybody who has accepted a fellowship.

More on metrics

It seems that next year’s trial of research engagement metrics will use the Australian Research Council’s preferred top-level research code, not an industry classification. Following up on Monday’s report on the new plans for research performance CMM’s dark arts correspondent also hears that impact will definitely be assessed on the basis of supplied case studies. However just who will do the assessing is still up for grabs.


Under-performing private providers 

The public training lobby will love  new research on the fate of early school leavers enrolling with private providers, from the estimable National Centre for Vocational Education and Training. George Myconos, Kira Clarke and Kitty Te Riele surveyed 130 small private providers and interviewed others to find while some claim their connections with employers mean they can assist disadvantaged young people into employment too often they flat-out fail.

“The very features private RTOs ascribe to themselves and which they consider to be most advantageous when engaging early school leavers — most notably small-scale and adaptable operations — may also be vulnerabilities. The early school leaver ‘niche’ is necessarily associated with complex needs and there is an imperative to provide appropriate supports. Few would deny that these supports are labour-and capital-intensive, and we might question, for example, whether private RTOs and their partner employers are able to devote the staffing resources needed to attend adequately to the cohort before, during, and after work-based training. Indeed, we might question whether small-scale private RTOs in particular have the capacity to address students’ needs in other than an ad hoc manner.”

Dolt of the day

Is CMM. In yesterday’s Times Higher coverage he reported Monash U at 73, which was last year. This year it is 74. And he moved Maastricht from the Netherlands to Belgium.


the week’s winners at work

After 11 years at Monash U, five as head of chemical engineering, Karen Hapgood is moving to Deakin, where she will lead the school of engineering.

University of Queensland neuroscientist Ross Cunnington is one of three winners of the first UNESCO Science of Learning Fellowships.

 Anna Moore is the new director of the Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre at ANU’s Mt Stromlo Observatory. Professor Moore has previously built “major instruments” in Japan, California, Hawaii and the Australian Astronomical Observatory. She joins ANU from Caltech.

 Mirko Bagaric is leaving Deakin U law school and moving to the start-up at Swinburne. The  prodigiously prolific, occasionally polemical Professor Bagaric says that, “after 16 enjoyable years at Deakin, I believe I have more to contribute to a newly-formed law school, than a well-established one.”

Anne Marie Lansdown has joined the Office of the Chief Scientist in what CMM hears is described as “an overarching policy role.” Ms Lansdown is a maven among mandarins with extensive experience in the bureaucracy and policy community, including a previous term in the chief scientist office. Most recently she was deputy CEO at Universities Australia.

Robyn Schofield is a newly elected member of the International Ozone Commission. The University of Melbourne atmospheric scientist is the choice of members International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics.

Virginia Hausseger is leaving the ABC to join the University of Canberra in November. The journalist will lead the university’s 50/50 by 2030 project, which lobbies for gender equality in public sector leadership.

Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur (appointed last month by Premier Palszczuk) has joined Bond UMark Sowerby is now an honorary adjunct in the business school.

The Academy of Social Sciences has elected 39 new fellows: They are: Philip Adams, Victoria University, Jonathon Barnett, University of Melbourne, Amanda Barnier, Macquarie University, Kerry Carrington, QUT, Louise Chappell, UNSW, Fang Lee Cooke, Monash University, Jenny Corbett, ANU, Louisa Degenhardt, UNSW, Tim Dunne, University of Queensland, Nicholas Evans, ANU, Andrew Goldsmith, Flinders University, Fiona Haines, University of Melbourne, Richard Holden, UNSW, David Kavanagh, QUT, Andrew Mackinnon, University of Melbourne, Andrew Martin UNSW, Jane McAdam, UNSW, Pauline McGuirk, University of Wollongong, Julie McLeod, University of Melbourne, Flavio Menezes, University of Queensland, Martin Mills, University of Queensland, Melanie Nolan, ANU, Anne Orford, University of Melbourne, Fiona Paisley, Griffith University, Martin Parkinson, Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Haig Patapan, Griffith University, David Rowe, Western Sydney University, Matthew Sanders, University of Queensland, Anthony Scott, University of Melbourne, Virginia Slaughter, University of Queensland, Laurajane Smith, ANU, David Stern, ANU, Carolyn Strange, ANU, Philip Taylor, ANU, Rabee Tourky, ANU, John Trinder University of Melbourne, Christina Twomey, Monash University, Robert van Krieken, University of Sydney, Rosalie Viney, UTS.

The government has expanded the board of Innovation and Science Australia with two international appointments, GE executive Elizabeth Comstock and Israeli innovation author Saul Singer. The board is chaired by Bill Ferris with Chief Scientist Alan Finkel deputy chair (CMM March 16).

The Pope has appointed Australian Catholic University VC Greg Craven to the Vatican body that oversees Catholic education around the world.

David Norman (ex Royal Dutch Shell) is the new head of the Energy Pipelines CRC. He replaces Professor Valerie Linton who will now consult to the centre.

The new University of Adelaide research fellows (above)  are: Abel Alejandro SantosKatie BarclayVashetharan Chandrakanthan, Sandra HodgeKaren JonesBatien LlamasCarlos Lopez, Caroline MillerAmanda PageDanny WilsonSara BorazjaniMartin BreedBart EijkelkampHelen Barrie (nee Feist), Miftar GanijaDaniel GreggZhora LassiDominick LinzLingqiao LiuMarijana MarkoviMalcolm PattinsonIsuru RanasingheEmma Sherratt and Guo Chuan Thiang. Two offer are yet to be accepted.