Plus wind farm research will not blow away

and Uni Newcastle known by the company it keeps

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Hooray for the footy season, which starts tonight, and hooray for Swinburne U sports statistician Stephen Clarke whose programme had a 69.6 per cent success rate last year. His first round tips are here.

One club that may not be looking forward to the season after a shaky start is the University of Melbourne. Their team was beaten by Monash U last night, a week after losing to the University of Adelaide by 88 points (CMM March 18).

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Blowing on the wind

“I would love someone to please make a list of diseases that got less NHMRC funding than windfarms,” Krystal Evans via Twitter yesterday. The CEO of the BioMelbourne Network was commenting on $3m in National Health and Medical Research Council funding for research on the impact of wind turbines on health, (CMM yesterday). CMM suspects somebody will have the list ready right after Easter. The NHMRC did not make much of its announcement on Tuesday, but this story will run and run.

CQU steps up

CQU has joined Duke and Johns Hopkins, Cornell and Brown as an Ashoka Changemaker. There isn’t a lot of ivy at any CQU campus but a commitment to service has put it in elite company.

Ashoka is a foundation fostering an entrepreneurial culture of service. It’s Changemaker programme recognises universities that “have embedded environments for change making across the entire institution.” Assessment takes two years and CQU insiders say the university qualified on the basis of a range of programmes, from community engagement across its network to the Regional Social Innovation Incubator at Gladstone and on to its scholarship programme in New Delhi. Say what? CMM certainly did not know that CQU funds accommodation and education for up to 30 street children there. “The university has done well from the Indian market and wants to put something back, a CQU insiders says.

CQU was not in a financial condition to donate anything to anybody when Scott Bowman became VC in 2009. That it has built a service culture as soon as it can afford to says a great deal about the university under his leadership and all of it good.


Use-by date for excuses expired

“The government is committed to cleaning up Labor’s mess in VET FEE HELP,” training minister Scott Ryan said yesterday as yet another for-profit provider went broke leaving people who should never have been enrolled in doubtful training with debts and no courses. As diversions go this is up there with the Australian Skills Quality Authority explaining how the rorts that went on were outside its authority plus the Department of Education did not give it early information on the mess

Yes, the mess began on Labor’s watch but it grew on the government’s. Yes, Senator Ryan has only had the job for a month – but the need for a new system is now on his watch.

As Labor’s Kim Carr and Sharon Bird said yesterday, “despite numerous reports in 2014 of shonky providers ripping off vulnerable people the Liberals failed to stop the flow of billions of dollars to fast-growing colleges – some of which were just out to make a quick buck.”

April foolery

On Tuesday the prime minister referred to a question on higher education funding policy by saying he will talk about health and schools “and so forth” after COAG – without mentioning the states have nothing to do with university funding. A reader points out the next  COAG meeting is on April 1.


What’s in a working week

At Monash University no one knows how who gets to teach what hours is decided– which must make management and union officials wonder why they bothered hammering out an agreement on teaching loads for the 2014 enterprise agreement. A reader advises that the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union thinks there should be around 40 work allocations per academic units but it has only seen seven – and they generally do not comply with the agreement.

First bid

The first expression of interest in taking over Deakin U‘s Warrnambool campus is in. Rachael Houlihan reports in local paper The Standard that Southwest TAFE chief Mark Fidge wants to talk to Deakin about a higher and further education partnership model. Deakin VC Jane den Hollander has announced the university will abandon the campus because despite investment in courses and facilities student demand has declined. Mr Fidge was appointed to save the TAFE after it also suffered a drop in demand.

With no university publicly putting its hand up this is the first sign of any interest in keeping higher education open in Warrnambool, however CMM wonders why Deakin did not talk to its neighbour before going public with its decision to close.

Scholarly skippy

A presentation to the Association of MBAs conference in Venice on Tuesday argued business schools need fewer gurus and more “kangagurus”, a balance of tenured faculty, adjuncts and professors of practice. Presumably this does not mean business academics should expand to plague proportions in good seasons.

Company it keeps

Last year the University of Newcastle hired Broadspectrum Services (Transfield that was) to provide cleaning and maintenance services. At the time this upset campus activists who were unhappy at the university using a service company that also worked at the immigration detention facility on Nauru and Manus. A week before Christmas VC Caroline McMillen said it was the right decision but things can always change. They haven’t yet and with no calls to drop the company since March it looks like Broadspectrum is safe. “The crux of the issue is that this contract jars sharply with UON’s record, and community expectations.  UON prides itself on its strong equity record and claims in its strategic plan an ‘enduring commitment to social justice.’ This contract is not a good fit,” a Newcastle academic tells CMM.