Innovating ATN

The Australian Technology Network’s “Innovation driven future” on-line conference is on next week, with three-themes covered over three days, collaboration, innovation ecosystems and globalising them

There are bunch of ATN speakers, plus high-profile policy people including Chief Scientist Cathy Foley, Chief Defence Scientist Tanya Monro and Education Minister Alan Tudge. Former education, industry and science and defence industry minister (but not all at once) Christopher Pyne leads Wednesday – there is no word if he will report on innovations in just-in-time lemon delivery.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Claire Macken (RMIT) on the last chapter of the tome-like textbook, and what can replace it.

Mitch Parsell (Uni Tasmania) on the good the bad and the ugly reasons to keep the lecture. This week’s addition to Sally Kift’s long-running series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

Plus Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on what to do when there is not enough good data. “When you really don’t know, it is better to be like Socrates, and admit you don’t know. Then in shared ignorance you make a good faith agreement rather than a decision. The group agrees which way to go, rather than the leader insisting that they are Moses and can lead everyone out of the wilderness.”

All over for Indonesian at La Trobe U

Current students will be taught out but that’s it

Last year LT U announced it wanted to stop teaching, Greek, Hindu and Indonesian, because “market demand and student enrolments have been consistently low for several years,” (CMM November 23).

A community campaign followed on behalf of Greek, (the Victorian Government even kicked in $40 000 for ten one-year scholarships, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Greek independence!) and lo, LTU relented committing to teaching the language for three more years (CMM January 29).

And then it was hooray for Hindi, which survived, after “considerable discussion with staff and students, community groups, government and other stakeholders.”

“Notwithstanding the significant financial challenges faced by the university, there are compelling reasons to continue teaching our Hindi programme, including the increasing importance of Hindi language proficiency for diplomatic and commercial activities,” LT U announced (CMM February 9).

Which sounded like a case to keep teaching the language of Australia’s nearest big neighbour but apparently not, with “consistently very low” demand for Indonesian meaning this year’s in-take was the last.  Any future LT U students who want to study Indonesian will have access to cross-institutional enrolment.

Naval Shipbuilding College does something educational

“They want you, they want you as a new recruit!”

Since being established in 2017 the Naval Shipbuilding College has not actually taught anybody anything about shipbuilding. Certainly, it has done workforce planning and helped create a guide to welding, but as to actually training anyone on to build a ship, “the name perhaps is a slight misnomer,” an official told a Senate committee last year, (CMM March 20 2020).

But now there is a 30 minute “on-line taster course” on what the navy uses ships to do and “common shipbuilding terminology, (and) production processes.”  It’s not quite in the navy – but at least its about ships.

Cooperative Research Centres: they’re (already) here to help

There’s  already a way for industry to link with researchers on applied research

The government’s research commercialisation paper, asks for ideas on how to improve industry-university collaboration and points to UK and Canadian examples, which appears to puzzle the Cooperative Research Centres Association.

As it’s response to the paper politely puts it, “we urge the committee to pursue policy interventions that are not simply copies from other countries but are shaped for Australia’s unique circumstances and strengths and build the capacity of Australian industry to invest and participate in research and development.”

Which is what, the association points out, its members do.

“The programme has improved the lives of Australians by harnessing our sovereign research capability to create new industries, businesses, and products. It leverages government financing with co-investment from industry and universities, returning on average three times the value of the Australian Government’s contribution. The program creates an environment that makes investment in research collaboration for step-change rather than incremental change more attractive and less risky for Australian businesses.”

Good- o, so once the research priorities are set why not just use the CRC model to translate research into commercial practice?

Perhaps because CRCs are independent and time-limited and as such not a revenue stream for individual universities, which the government will need not to oppose the proposed translational research strategy.

Monash U’s popular provost

Monash U provost Marc Parlange is reported the last candidate standing for president of the University of Rhode Island (“go rams”) after the other front-runner withdrew

Professor Parlange is a Rhody native son, although Connecticut, Washington state and Queensland can also claim him as their own.

What reads like a pitch for the job, as reported by Donita Naylor in The Providence Journal is here.

Professor Parlange joined Monash U from the University of British Columbia in June 2017.

CMM messaged him yesterday asking for a comment on the URI job but alas, he did not reply.

Redundant but still relevant at Macquarie U

A prominent professor at Macquarie U is ambivalently exiting via voluntary redundancy – but he will keep supervising PhD students  

The reasons cognitive scientist John Sutton tells his friends he is going are no less unhappy for their being so common – workplace change which may mean no place for him. But at least he will maintain an affiliation with the university, including he says, “supervising my great PhD students.”

Which rather makes it hard to see how he can be redundant but that aside can scholars whose services are not needed still supervise students?

It seems they can. The Higher Education Standards Framework requires “a principal supervisor” for research students, who is on-staff, is an adjunct with a relevant appointment, or “is otherwise formally contracted and accountable to the provider for supervisory duties.” Plus, there needs to be “at least one associate supervisor with relevant research expertise.”

There is no specific on supervisory workloads – which may mean an “associate supervisor” with more time than they used to have, can continue to work with the postgrads who used to be their students – and effectively still are.


Deakin U VC Iain Martin is the new chair of the Australian Technology Network (Deakin U, UTS, RMIT, Uni SA and Curtin U). He replaces UTS VC Attila Brungs, whose two-year term is up.