Shorten talks TAFE, Turnbull speaks of  schools – is higher ed off the political radar?

plus fewer links in the applied research chain: 500 Linkage applications knocked back

and open access the Queensland way

QUT and UoQ lead for research available to all


Location, location, location

“You get a degree at any university but it is the lifestyle that really draws you into a particular place.” The University of Tasmania spruiking its cosmopolitan campuses, via Twitter yesterday.

Lots of broken links

A learned reader suggests the government’s move to fast-track industry-university research grant applications  (CMM Jan 30) may not address the cause of what Education Minister Simon Birmingham  calls the “ ‘appalling’ reputation internationally for collaboration between industry and higher education researchers.” The reader points to Australian Research Council  stats for the Linkage Scheme showing, that despite a rebound between 2006 and 2009, application success declined from 45 per cent or so in 2003 to just over 30 per cent last year. In 2016 500 applications were knocked back.

”It’s worth remembering that for each of the proposals not funded there were industry partners who pledged cash and academics willing to work with them,” the LR remarks.

“The government, ARC and university managements collectively pressure academics and researchers to increase engagement with industry through funded joint research projects. How is this supposed to work, I wonder, without appropriate levels of Linkage funding.”

Excellence in open access

The first 2017 edition of the Ranking Web of Repositories is out which assesses institutions according to “the free access to scientific publications in an electronic form.”  Some 2200 institutions are listed with Cornell U’s arXiv collection of  STEM and related sciences in top spot. Of the top 10 per cent Queensland leads the Australian contingent with QUT in 18th place, followed by the University of Queensland in 19th. The University of Wollongong is 33rd, followed by the University of Sydney at 107, across the ditch the University of Canterbury represents New Zealand at 132. The Australian Policy Online site is at 141 and the University of Tasmania is in 147th spot, with Edith Cowan at 166 and Curtin U 179. Bond is 208 and Murdoch 221. The complete Australian list is here and the New Zealand one, here.

Bipartisan indifference

The prime minister outlined his issues for the year at the National Press Club yesterday and while schools got a mention universities didn’t and there was just one line about innovation and science. It’s a big difference from Mr Turnbull’s first term when he ran hard on the transformative power of research but it was in-line with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s Tuesday speech where he talked up TAFE and barely mentioned universities. It looks like HE is off the agenda for ’17.

Binks to BHERT

Peter Binks is the new CEO of the Business Higher Education Roundtable. Dr Binks has a PhD in astrophysics and has spent his career at the research interface of industry and education. He succeeds the long-serving Sharon Winocur.

MOOC of the morning

The University of Adelaide says its suite of MOOCs, via edX, has cracked 400 000 students. The next course, Nick Falkner and Brad Alexander’s, Introduction to data structures starts in March. Participants will “learn how to build a program from small pieces and understand why organisational approaches make such a difference to some very common approaches to solutions.” The course builds on another Adelaide MOOC, Think, create code.

What do you know!

German economists Matthias Gnewuch and Klaus Wohlrabe analysed articles in economics journals and found those with short titles and a “non alphanumeric character,” (a ! or ?, for example,) “achieve a higher citation count.” “The safest way to be cited frequently is to write a great and influential paper,” they helpfully suggest but if not keep the title snappy.

Composer to Sydney Con

Composer Liza Lim has joined the University of Sydney Conservatorium of Music, “to nurture women composers”.

Cosmopolitan campuses

Times Higher’s new “world’s most international universities” is out, with (for a change) no US institutions in the top ten. Switzerland is home to the two leaders, ETH Zurich and Ecole Polytechnique Federal of Lausanne. They are followed by the University of Hong Kong, the National University of Singapore and Imperial College, London. ANU is the lead ANZAC campus in the top 150 at seven, followed by UNSW (14), University of Melbourne (18), Monash U (21), University of Sydney (23), University of Auckland (25). Overall Australia rates fifth and New Zealand sixth, behind Singapore, Switzerland, Hong Kong and the UK as the most international education nations.

The ranking is based on the proportion of international staff and students, research co-authors from other countries and votes for an institution in the THE academic reputation survey cast by academics elsewhere.

Vic lit win

UNSW refugee law researcher Madeline Gleeson has won the non fiction category in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards for her book on asylum seekers, Offshore: Behind the wire on Manus and Nauru.