Australia is now third in the world for first-100 universities on the top-rated ranking

Diabetes and how to deal with it makes this new MOOC a huge community resource

Cracking the code: ATN partners with Cisco to give students a big chance

and WA science award winners

How about UNSWACT?

Canberra’s Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, wants the University of New South Wales to expand into Canberra. The university already has a big presence in the national capital, which it badges UNSWCanberra, in line with the naming switch from University of New South Wales to UNSWSydney. This is presumably because Sydney is a name international students get while University of New South Wales sounds like it might have been set up when the old University of South Wales was replaced by a coal mine. Brand consistency is a great idea, apart from the national capital not being in New South Wales.

MOOC of the morning

The benefits of an open online course on dealing with diabetes are massive

Patricia Marshall from Curtin University is set to launch a MOOC (via edX) on understanding diabetes. The course is designed for diabetics who “want to confidently manage their disease.” It covers the types of diabetes, what diet and exercise can do to deal with them, sets out options for delivering insulin and details types of medications, their efficacy and side effects. The course is self-paced and starts on September 4.

This is a less good than great example of the MOOC as community service and while participants do not pay, grateful governments should. Ms Marshall will meet an enormous demand for information on the disease in Australia and beyond, information that now is easiest to acquire via the health system. If just a few thousand people enrol and make one less GP visit because of what they learn in this MOOC it will reduce sufferer stress and save the health system money.

Why the feds do not fund academic experts to produce all manner of MOOCs on health and welfare issue which are important to millions of people eludes CMM.

Average is the answer

 The feds are tendering for the $24m rural and regional enterprise scholarships and have issued Q&As to answer queries from interested organisations

Question Nine and the answer are revealing Q: “are there incentives for high levels of qualification completion? Are there contractor performance payment penalties for awarded attrition?” A “No.”

Local heroes

While way behind the US, Australian now has more top 100 universities than anywhere other than the Americans and UK

Australia ranks third in the world for top universities according to the prestigious Academic Ranking of World Universities report, released yesterday. The US leads with 48 in the global top hundred, followed by the UK, with 9 and Australia with six.

All up Australia has 23 universities in the global top 500, China has 53 and Japan 17.

The University of Melbourne continues the perennial premier Australian university, ranked 39th in the world, up one from last year. The other institutions ranked in the top 100 are the University of Queensland, stable at 56, Monash U, 78 (79 in 2016), University of Sydney, 83 (82), UWA, 91 (96). ANU remains in the elite group, just – dropping 20 places to 97.

They are followed by the University of Western Australia and the University of Adelaide, stable, and close together in the 101-150 band.

The big winner this year is Curtin University which continues to rocket up the ranking. The university was in the 400-500 band in 2013 but this year breaks the 200 barrier, overtaking Macquarie U, the only other Australian institution in the 151-200 group.

The other Australian and New Zealand universities in the top 500 remain in the same bands as last year, with some big movements – largely due, as Kylie Colvin explains below, to star researchers .

Measured responses

 Education Minister Simon Birmingham was out early yesterday, with a careful statement that welcomed “the exceptional talent, innovative ideas and cutting-edge partnerships” the rankings reflect. The senator suggested that “to maintain our competitiveness we need to keep building partnerships with business and industry, bolstering and diversifying our research capacity, to keep focused on student outcomes and to make our universities more accessible and sustainable.”

No space between bat and pad there, which will have disappointed education advocates hoping for a chance to suggest how ARWU achievement will be harder if funding is cut.

The generality of universities were delighted to announce improves, even of one or two spots while the losers kept quiet. Big winner Curtin confined itself to expressing pleasure and announcing the obvious; that VC Deborah Terry’s strategy of investing in researchers is working.

Star Power

ARWU 2017 rankings sensitive to changes in highly cited researchers

by Kylie Colvin, Executive Director, Lead, Planning and Analytics, Higher Education Consulting Group

The 2017 Academic Ranking of World Universities again tells a very good story for Australian university research, with 23 universities in the top 500 for two years running.

Noteworthy was Curtin University, with a great result moving them into 9th spot in Australia. Curtin have not only increased the number of their highly-cited researchers from three to four, but have improved scores across all publication measures.

Several other universities’ rankings are at the mercy of institutional movements among highly cited researchers, particularly given the 20% weighting this element receives in this ranking. Significantly, ANU fell from 77 to 97, solely due to the loss of 2 researchers, with all other metrics consistent between 2016-17.

Along with Curtin, other beneficiaries of increased numbers of HiCi researchers in 2016 were Wollongong, La Trobe, Swinburne and RMIT.

Other universities only managed to maintain their position by virtue of their HiCi researchers, despite other component scores decreasing.

Questions have been, and will continue to be, asked about the worthiness of HiCi researchers as a 1/5th component of this ranking, and whether the resulting volatility means ARWU will no longer hold the #1 prestige position in university world rankings.


2017 Rank 2016 Rank 2015 Rank 2014 Rank Change in Rank 2016-17
The University of Melbourne 39 40 44 44 1
The University of Queensland 55 55 77 85 0
Monash University 78 79 114 114 1
University of Sydney 83 82 117 117 -1
The University of Western Australia 91 96 88 88 5
The Australian National University 97 77 77 74 -20
The University of New South Wales 132 134 125 130 2
The University of Adelaide 139 139 170 183 0
Curtin University 181 214 271 302 33
Macquarie University 200 208 232 237 8
Deakin University 213 216 398 412 3
University of Wollongong 251 332 263 81
University of Tasmania 283 294 306 307 11
Queensland University of Technology 291 299 491 8
La Trobe University 302 336 34
James Cook University 332 279 313 302 -53
Swinburne University of Technology 337 425 391 372 88
The University of Newcastle, Australia 355 352 345 345 -3
University of Technology, Sydney 355 368 388 13
Griffith University 379 318 363 382 -61
Western Sydney University 393 394 1
Flinders University 413 318 372 379 -95
RMIT University 422 488 66

Based on 2016 Clarivate Highly Cited Database, formerly Thomson Reuters

Swinburne scientist honoured

Long before research impact was on the agenda Tom Spurling was delivering

Swinburne U’s Tom Spurling is the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science’s medallist for 2017. Professor Stirling is honoured for a range of research that has gone to market, including a water purification system a 30-day contact lens and plastic banknotes. He is now researching applying social economic analysis to commercialise public sector research and why firms invest in innovation.

If you build it they might smile

It takes more than utility to create a campus

There was an aerial short of ANU on Twitter yesterday, advertising Open Day. From the air it made ANU look like a bunch of buildings occupying space, not a place which is different for all of the people who shape and are shaped by it.

But ANU is a mass of places shaping experiences that will change as the university rebuilds. It’s an idea that exercises DVC Marnie Hughes Warrington as she chronicles the reconstruction of her campus. “Space is ‘cultivated’, ‘activated’, ‘programmed’. It has to be nurtured very deliberately if it is to support the beliefs that people have about the potential of new spaces to deliver transformational outcomes for their communities,” she writes in the new essay in her series on building anew both the physical ANU and the experiences it creates.

She explains how important place can be, especially for young academics and PhD students enduring the “unrelenting pressure” of their fragile professional lives and how their experiences could, can, be improved by senses of belonging that are shaped by a sense of place.

Vale Stephen Wooldridge

Stephen Wooldridge, Olympic cycling gold medallist and UNSW development director for the engineering faculty, has died suddenly. Last night Vice Chancellor Ian Jacobs told the university community Mr Wooldridge “was truly an outstanding man who will be deeply missed by his colleagues and the wider UNSW community … Steve was admired by all who knew and worked with him at UNSW.  He was a friendly, approachable, caring and generous man who played an important role at UNSW.”

Everybody wins

Students at the technology-focused universities have “premium access” to the Cisco Networking Academy

In an agreement announced yesterday students at the five Australian Technology Network universities can study “digital literacy streams” in IT giant Cisco Systems’ online training programme. Participation is free with acceptance based on students’ courses. The academy curricula are aligned to Cisco certifications in digital security, programming and networking.

The programme will “deliver access to a world-class talent pipeline for Cisco and give students access to “foundational and career-ready skills.” Study is free to students.

The WA Premier’s science awards are announced

Scientists of the year: Harvey Millar, UWA and Christobel Saunders, UWA

Early career scientist: Asha Bowen, Telethon Kids Institute

Science Hall of Fame: John Pate

Student scientist of the year: David Gozzard, UWA

Science Engagement Initiative: CoderDojoWA (coding clubs for kids)