Of mice and men

A UNSW media release announces that scientists there and at Harvard U have found a way to improve physical performance as humans age. “A decline in the blood flow to tissues and organs with age can be reversed by restoring molecules that improved exercise capacity and physical endurance in mice.” Presumably the mice will shout encouragement.

There’s more in the Mail

In Feature’s this morning David Myton’s wraps what’s happening across the highered world.

Local heroes at CQU

CQU Chancellor John Abbott is asking staff to take an on-line survey on what they want in a new VC to replace Scott Bowman, who leaves at year end, and to recommend anybody who would be good. He says that so far he is hearing they want a new VC who is “approachable, driven, good-humoured and committed to our values particularly when it comes to openness and inclusiveness.”

That probably excludes a tribe of ambitious DVCs who would struggle with CQU’s relaxed culture. But CQU observers wonder whether the established culture of promoting from within will apply to the top job – only one member of Professor Bowman’s executive team came from outside.

DVC Engagement Pierre Viljoen joined CQU 12 years ago to lead the Gladstone campus. DVC Finance Narelle Pearse was previously a member of the university council. DVC R Grant Stanley was promoted from dean of medical science. The departing DVC for strategic development Andy Bridges was formerly dean of human, health and social sciences. DVC student experience Joanne Perry is a 22-year veteran of CQU’s administration and senior DVC international and services Alastair Dawson is the one recent outside appointment to the university leadership, joining from a career in local government.

Deakin promotes Peeters

Anna Peeters is promoted director of the Institute of Healthcare Transformation at Deakin U.  She is now professor of epidemiology and equity in public health there.


China scholars warn espionage bill puts research at risk

Senior China scholars have spoken out against the government’s espionage and foreign interference bill, which “will imperil” academics contributions to policy debate. And they warn the debate on Chinese Government influence “has created an atmosphere ill-suited to the judicious balancing of national security interests with the protection of civil liberties.”

In a  submission to the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security’s review of the legislation some 31 scholars of China and the Chinese Diaspora say they “see no evidence … that China is exporting its political system to Australia, or that its actions aim at compromising our sovereignty.”

The signatories, including first ambassador to Beijing Stephen Fitzgerald also “strongly reject” “any claim that the community of Australian experts on Chinas, to which we belong, has been intimidated or bought off by pro-Peoples Republic of China interests.”

And they warn the legislation threatens research by criminalising the receiving of information deemed harmful to the national interest. “While exemptions have been proposed for journalists, this does nothing to assuage our concern that the freedom of scholars to fulfil their public function will be threatened by these laws,” they say.

The scholars also argue that debate around the legislation is placing Chinese-Australians under undue pressure. “The complex political landscape of Chinese Australia is not reducible to a simplistic “pro” or “anti-Beijing” binary. Yet, if the debate continues to be conducted in these terms, with commentators speculating as to the supposed divided loyalties of Chinese Australians, or contemplating punitive measures to restrict the rights of those identified as “pro-Beijing” we run the risk of creating just such a polarisation.”

Not your average MBA ranking result

CEO Magazine’s MBA rankings are out and like all the other league tables they are not, with less famous names leading. This is interesting given the magazine uses the standard inputs, except research is not mentioned (unless it is included in the “quality of faculty” criteria ).

CEO’s general MBA ranking is divided into US, Europe and rest of the word lists, in which third category Australian and NZ universities account for eleven of 18 – listed in alphabetical order; CQU, Griffith U, La Trobe U, RMIT, UniAdelaide, UniOtago, UniSA, USQ, UniWaikato, UniWollongong, VictoriaU, WesternSydney U.

On the global MBA ranked list (to 91) UniWollongong is 30, RMIT is 33 and Western Sydney U is 82.

The global online MBA category includes, UniSA (nine), USQ (11), LaTrobe U (=13), Griffith U (16), RMIT’s EMBA (19) and just ordinary RMIT (28), plus CQU (53).

NSW education minister’s (very early) warning: STEM isn’t everything in education

If Rob Stokes tires of being NSW minister for education he should be snapped up by the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation. His speech last week on the fadification of STEM and the enduring power of the humanities was on-song with the Ramsay message that the western canon counts.

Mr Stokes deplored the focus on STEM saying, “it has become an educational fad that places academic disciplines into silos – pitting the sciences against the arts in a self-defeating zero-sum game of intellectual snobbery.”

But he can relax, for now, total university enrolments show the humanities (the feds define as “society and culture” and creative arts fields) are not losing their appeal.

Total university STEM and arts enrolments for each of the five years from 2012 are: (2012) STEM: 241 000, arts: 364 000, (2013) STEM: 256 000, arts: 380 000, (2014) STEM: 270 000, arts: 389 000. (2015) STEM: 280 000, arts: 397 000. (2016) STEM: 249 000, arts: 322 000.

However things might change in 15 years. Yesterday federal education minister Simon Birmingham announced funding for interactive apps to teach 4000 pre-schoolers about STEM. “This program will be a launch pad for a life-long interest in STEM for thousands of pre-schoolers,” Minister Birmingham said.