Walter and Eliza Hall Institute builds its own childcare centre


For innovation in IT ask a theatre studies student


plus  walking the talk: Fed U on track


and Heads Up: winners of the working week


Not many, yet

The University of the Sunshine Coast graduates its first law school class tomorrow but harrumph not deans of ancient academies who hate upstart institutions getting involved – there are but ten of them, at least this year.

Vann goes slow

The universities staff union is keen to get moving on enterprise bargaining at Charles Sturt University but management, not so much. Kevin Poynter from the National Tertiary Education Union says its claims went to management weeks back but the university has not responded. “Inefficiency,” you suggest, “tactics” CMM replies. Vice Chancellor Andrew Vann is an astute operator – he won a staff vote on the last EB against the active opposition of the NTEU and he, like the four public university vice chancellors in Western Australia, may want to signal he is interested in a good deal not a quick one. Professor Vann is also president of the Australian Higher Education Industrial Association, which is advising WA unis. This may be another reason he wants to go slow-ish.

Walking the talk

Every July Federation U staff and students walk the Kokoda Trail. It’s a great tradition and brilliant brand-builder, defining the aspirational but achievable values that Fed U focuses on for students too practical to fall for university campaigns of the “our degrees qualify you to run the UN” kind. There’s a briefing session at the Mount Helen campus on Wednesday.

Diverse students, better ideas

Engineers Australia knows the profession has a problem with women, there are not many of them in it – last year just 12.4 per cent of engineers were women. For EA the more palatable explanation is that women do not study the STEM subjects engineering requires. However, for those that do the workplace can be an isolating environment. As Mark Stewart puts it in a new EA report, “from the male dominated courses grows a male dominated profession, which is an unsustainable situation.” Susan Silbey’s opinion of the situation in the United States, where women account for 13 per cent of engineers, addresses the issue less obliquely. Of those that graduate some do not stay;  “the hegemonic masculine culture of engineering (is) itself as a reason for leaving.”

The obvious answer is all will be well when many more women do high-level maths at school, go on to graduate as engineers and pursue the profession through their working-lives, creating a gender balanced workforce. But people who do not want to wait that long should consider how Northeastern U in Boston has expanded and inspired computer science study.

Dean Carla Brodley set out the strategy to the Times Higher Young Universities Summit at QUT yesterday. Finding that students from all sorts of disciplines who take one IT course enjoy it so much they then take another the university created 30 joint degrees so that economics through journalism to theatre studies students can graduate with dual degrees. “Not everyone should be a computer scientist but everyone should have a bit of computer science,” she says.

It’s good for graduates, who have diverse skills base. The university’s placement programme shows it is good for employers, who need computer skilled staff who bring new approaches and insights.

“What would your iPhone’s apps look like if they were created by a more diverse population? What would all of technology look like if someone who had been an undergraduate major or in English or theatre or in classics created apps? By bringing these disciplines together we have the ability to have greater innovation and disruption in research and tech,” Professor Brodley says.

As for IT, so for engineering, – the science engineers require can’t change but perhaps the scope of their learning culture, the people it appeals to, and from there on to the workplace, can.

Value for money

Competition for medical research grants is fierce – the success rate can be below one in five. It’s particularly hard for people who take time out from climbing the competitive ladder, notably women who care for children, and so the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute is building an in-house childcare centre. The Victorian Government is kicking in $650 000 to the project, “medical breakthroughs just don’t happen on their own – we need the best people in our labs,” Premier Daniel Andrews says. Smart man the premier- a big injection of positive perception for not much cash.

Privatising the data

Journal publisher Elsevier’s business model is immensely successful (revenues of £2,320m, operating margin of 36.8 per cent, CMM February 28 ) which is why it keeps coming up with new services for authors and new arguments explaining why open access publishing just does not work.

A new paper from Elsevier and the well-regarded Centre for Science and Technology Studies at Leiden University claims that just 15 per cent of researchers share data in a repository and “data sharing mandates by funders (or publishers) are not considered a driver by researchers to increase their data sharing practices; 64% of researchers believe they own the data they generated for their research.”  “Our study suggests that the concept of open data speaks directly to basic questions of ownership, responsibility, and control,” the report states. As a way of ignoring why publicly funded research appears in private and for-profit publications this is neatly done.

Dolt of the day

Is CMM. In yesterday’s email edition CQU was cited in the wrong band of the THE young university ranking – it is now in the top 100, at 90. And the University of Canberra was right behind at 91, not in the 101-150 group.


Heads Up

winners at work this week

The University of Wollongong law school has a new dean. Colin Picker joins from UNSW where he was associate dean, international.

Eugene Sebastian will take over as director of the Australia-Indonesia Centre after Easter. Dr Sebastian moves from RMIT where he is Deputy PVC Business International.

Irini Giannopulu joins Bond U to lead the School of Psychology. The neuropsychologist is now with the Pierre and Marie Curie University, in Paris.

Dirk Zeller is joining the University of Western Australia as professor of marine conservation. He is now executive director of the University of British Columbia’s Sea All Around Us project, which researches global fisheries and their impact on marine ecosystems.

Veteran sports journalist and news reporter Tracey Holmes joins UTS to teach its new graduate diploma in sports mediaMs Holmes will continue to broadcast on ABC NewsRadio.

Julie McLeod is the University of Melbourne’s new PVC for research capability. She moves from the university’s Social Equity Institute where she is deputy director.

Marcia Langton is the University of Melbourne’s inaugural associate provost. She will, “provide leadership on relevant areas of engagement, cultural connections and other heritage issues and in the development of indigenous teaching and research activities.”

Curtin U has announced six new and two continuing recipients of its “highest academic honour’ the John Curtin distinguished professorship, awarded for academic success and contributions to the university. The title is awarded for a five-year renewable term. Newly honoured are Nikos Ntoumanis (health science), San Ping Jiang (electro-chemistry and fuel cells), Suvendrini Perera (social justice), Adrian Baddeley (statistical science), Pete Kinny (geochemistry), Andrew Putnis, (geoscience). Anna Haebich (cross-cultural research) and Moses Tade (chemical engineering) continue as John Curtin professors.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has appointed Curtin U DVC A Jill Downie to the government’s advisory commission on UNESCO.

Monash U’s Jane Montgomery Griffiths has won best actor in the Melbourne Green Room awards.  Associate Professor Montgomery Griffiths is head of the university’s Centre for Theatre and Performance.

University of South Australia chancellor Jim McDowell joins the board of the Adelaide CrowsMr McDowell also chairs ANSTO.

Professor Kieran Harvey is joining Monash University’s Biomedicine Discovery Institute as a joint appointment with the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, where he will continue a substantive appointment.

Les Field will step down in December from his UNSW post as senior DVC, “to return to research.”