Life skills at TAFE

Which cheese will complement a malt brown beer? … We have all the answers for you in our newest short course: Cheese and Beer Matching,” TAFE SA, via Twitter, yesterday. Quite right, as the Labor training policy puts it, “we know that TAFE is the best place for young and adult Australians to gain knowledge and skills in the communities that benefit from them.”

All politics is local, accept when it’s global

Deakin U is on a $2m promise from Labor

The Opposition promises a battery manufacturing plant for Geelong, “to help accelerate an electric vehicle future.” The commitment includes funding for Deakin U to establish a battery pilot. Deakin VC Jane den Hollander joined the platoon of her peers who support Labor, without actually endorsing it. ““It has never been more important for governments to support universities like Deakin to help drive the renewable energy revolution,” she said.

Labor commits $15m for health-climate change research at UNSW

The promised centre would “bring together research and responses” of the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Research Council, plus governments and universities and be overseen by an independent advisory board. Funding is from the proposed $300m University Future Fund – which must be running out of uncommitted cash.

Three big ideas for social sciences

The social sciences academy election wish-list is on-line with other lobbies, except for one big idea  

The Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia released its election wish-list on Monday, accounting for the absence of its ideas in the leader debates. Two are standard stuff, increasing national R&D spending and restoring cuts to research funding.

But one addresses an important infrastructure issue, a national approach to accessing humanities and social science databases. “Much infrastructure for HASS data has been project-based and operates at an institutional level. Data infrastructure is uncoordinated and minimally integrated,” ASSA argues.

Another will cause conniptions among research measurement mavens, “a public value metric which accounts for economic, environmental, and social impact, as well as properly accounting for distributional impacts.”

And then there is a really big idea, an income contingent loan scheme for industry start-ups in partnership with university. “This instrument could be implemented during a time of budgetary restraint, while at the same time enhancing financial sustainability for the future,” ASSA suggests.


Audit of research integrity process at three Qld unis

Relax, it’s an audit not investigations

The state Crime and Corruption Commission reports it, “continues to receive allegations of corrupt conduct involving research fraud.” Evidently enough, and sufficiently serious, for the commission to announce an audit of the University of Queensland, University of Southern Queensland and QUT.

“Publications are a significant part of the academic environment, with researchers expected to publish original articles about their work. For a researcher, publications in peer-reviewed journals build professional credibility and assist in securing ongoing or temporary employment, promotion and pay rises. The ability to attract research grant funds also demonstrates expertise and research leadership in a given field,” the CCC explains.

The Commission cites issues involved as;

* authorship ranking

* number of articles published

* impact factor

The audit will evaluate whether universities “prevention measures” “are adequate to build resistance to research misconduct and fraud” and how universities deal with allegations of corrupt conduct.

The CCC says it will benchmark uni performance against the “vulnerabilities and prevention measures” set-out in its 2017  report on the prosecution and conviction for research fraud of University of Queensland academics Bruce Murdoch and Caroline Barwood.  The six-month inquiry is scheduled to start in July.

Last night QUT’s DVC R Arun Sharma said the university, “welcomed” the audit.

Cash for copyright: what unis do not have to pay, yet

Universities and the Copyright Agency Limited are in the Copyright Tribunal over how much the latter should pay the former in licence fees (CMM November 13)

CAL says the unis should pay up the $32.5m set under the expired old agreement, until a new payment is determined. The universities say they should only be up for half that because the amount of material copied has halved since an interim price was set in 2017 and $16m.25m will turn out to be the new payment the Copyright Tribunal sets. Until there is a figure, the universities say $16.25m should be held in a joint account. CAL thinks this is bad idea and would like that money now because authors and publishers will suffer from a delay.

But in the Copyright Tribunal this week Justice Perram went with the universities, saying, “the irremediable hardships identified by CAL are somewhat limited in scope. Although it is crude to put a raw figure on it, I do not think they are worth anything like $16.25 million if it was necessary to cost them. I regard that tool of analysis as being distinctly limited … the irremediable harm to CAL is not the 50% reduction in its income per se but the delayed payment.”

As to delays in paying authors, Justice Perram found what they might, or might not, get in any year, depended on, “a sampling method which generates results which appear, at least to the uninitiated, eccentric,” making payments for some, “something of an occasional bonus.”

Appointments, achievements

 Of the day

Evalotte Morelius, (ex Linköping University in Sweden), will become professor of nursing for children and young people at Edith Cowan U. It is a joint appointment with Perth Children’s Hospital and its Foundation.

UWA announces Kevin Pfleger is director of the new WA Life Sciences Innovation Hub.

Paoli Magni (forensic science, Murdoch U) has won Australian Fame Lab (it’s a three-minute thesis style event). She will now compete in the world-final in the UK.

Curtin U has made four recently retired academics emeritus professors; Brian Kinsella, Jonathan Majer, and Jie Sun, are from the science and engineering faculty and Janette Hartz-Karp is from humanities.

Armando Corsi from the University of South Australia is named a future industry leader by the federal industry agency, Wine Australia. Aspro Corsi researches consumer behaviour at the University of South Australia’s Ehrenberg Bass Institute for Marketing Science.

Of the week

Nadine Zacharias joins Swinburne U as director, student engagementDr Zacharias is a big-picture painter on equity and access, the author, with Matthew Brett, of a platform statement on where Australia needs to be in a decade, ( CMM March 6).

Monash U has appointed Louise Adler and John Funder as vice chancellor’s professorial fellows. Ms Adler is the former head of Melbourne University PublishingProfessor Funder is a cardiovascular endocrinologist, who has published 600 scientific papers.

Maria Saarela joins the SA Research and Development Institute as research director, food scienceSARDI is based at the University of Adelaide’s Waite campus. Dr Saarela joins from the VTT Technical Research Centre in Finland.

Sally Wheeler becomes PVC International Strategy at ANU, sharing time between the new appointment and her continuing role as dean of the College of Law. Professor Wheeler joined ANU from Queens U in Belfast in January 2018.

Prue Monument joins the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency from the national charities regulator. Ms Monument will become TEQSA’s inaugural executive director for quality assurance and regulatory operations.

Rowena Harper is moving to Edith Cowan U, where she will be director of the Centre for Learning and Teaching. Professor Harper leaves the University of South Australia.

Portfolio movements at Griffith U: DVC A Debra Henly adds the senior DVC role to her responsibilities. She replaces DVC R Ned Pankhurst who retires. Sheena ReillyPro Vice Chancellor (Health) will act as head of the Gold Coast campus until year end. Andrea Bishop becomes PVC R and will act as DVC R while Professor Pankhurst’s successor is recruited. Professor Bishop is now director of the Research Office.