What’s next for Uni SA

VC David Lloyd tells staff “we will control what we can and let go what we can’t”

Leading the to-do list is a single integrated teaching and research plan, “that joins up our core functions.”

And top of the don’ts is a professional organisation transformation, to follow this year’s Academic OT – “a watched POT never boils in my experience,” Professor Lloyd says.

Instead, the task for ‘21 is to look at simpler ways of doing what needs be done, for implementation in ‘22 and ’23.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

What VCs in NSW are paid – James Guthrie and Tom Smith (Macquarie) report the salaries.

Rola Ajjawi (Deakin U) on helping, not blaming, students for academic failure. This week’s selection by Commissioning Editor Sally Kift on what is needed now in teaching and learning

Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on who’ll be on the post COVID-19 campus.

David Kellermann (UNSW) on creating a serious solution for on-line lecturing. Curated content from Microsoft.

Whatever is in the diary, we’ve got better ideas

Who’s talking at our ReMaking HE on-line conference today

At 11am Duncan Bentley (Federation U), Alistair McCosh (Deakin U, Warrnambool) and Sam Birell (Committee for Greater Shepparton) on education in the bush; regions rising or country crisis.

And at noon federal Labor MP Anne Aly, Allison Doorbar (Eduworld) and John Ross (Times Higher Education) address the issue of the hour- why isn’t HE a priority for Australians

You can join register for $31.19 a session  here (and have a look at what’s on tomorrow).

Underpay days at Uni Newcastle

Management discovers some 7171 workers were under or overpaid at some stage between February 2014 and August 2020

The university is not saying how many are owed how much – but overall remediation costs are $6.29m.

People on staff will get what their pay, with interest, in today’s pay-run. Former workers are being contacted. Anybody overpaid gets to keep it.

The university attributes the problem to errors in recording pay and allowances owing, or to mistakes in applying Enterprise Agreement conditions.

Uni Newcastle has form in mucking payments up. In 2018, it called Deloitte in to address “potential anomalies” in paying people’s super, (CMM July 27).

Uni Queensland proposes a “pivot” for architecture

The school has “enjoyed a strong reputation in the discipline for many years,” but “it remains one of the few schools in the country with a narrow architecture focus”

The university accordingly proposes a “pivot” for the School of Architecture, to “strengthen its national and international standing in the disciplines of architecture, design and urbanism.”

“The school’s current trajectory is not sustainable and through growth and diversification the school will be able to position itself for the future,” says Vicki Chen, ED of the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology.

The proposal, put to staff yesterday, would “disestablish20 people (19.5 FTE) in continuing academic positions and establish 18 new continuing FTE jobs in architecture, design and urbanism.

The proposal is up for a three-week consultation.

Dan Tehan and great research expectations

It’s all very well for research to succeed in the marketplace of ideas but the Education Minister is keen for academics to translate their work into the marketplace of markets“Australia must get better at turning university research into new products and innovation that helps power Australia’s economic recovery,” the education minister said yesterday.

He’s here to help: To move things along Mr Tehan announces an expert panel to advise the scoping study announced in the budget, for a research translation scheme (in appointments/achievements below).

This isn’t the usual “discovering faster than light travel is all very well, but I can’t find a plumber” response to research funding. Mr Tehan is a fan of pure research, the purest. He has spoken in support of the ARC funded lab for dark matter particle physics, (yes, it’s in his electorate, but it wasn’t when established). “We can’t see dark matter but we know it exists and unlocking its secrets has the potential to transform our understanding of the universe,” he said last year, (CMM August 29 2019).

But there’s a science in the sell: “If I can put a compelling case to my colleagues that we are absolutely instrumental in driving productivity in this nation for the next decade then I think that we can get the support that we need to grow the sector,” Mr Tehan told a VC meeting last year (CMM September 2 2019).

Which is where a translational fund would work:  Mr Tehan has no need to convince the research community – there was a scramble yesterday to congratulate his new panel and Misha Schubert from Science and Technology Australia “commended” Minister Tehan’s “visionary approach on research translation.

““There’s a huge opportunity here for Australia to do job creation at greater scale and pace by creating a new research translation fund, leveraging extra private sector investment in research and development and delivering strong returns,” she said.

And there’s a model: the Medical Research Future Fund, which; “is a terrific proof of concept for a similar vehicle.” “A non-medical sister fund could take more of Australia’s STEM research and turn it into STEM-driven ‘deep tech’ start-ups and spinout companies,” Ms Schubert says.

“What the $20bn capital MRFF?”, you ask: That’s the one. Which establishes a benchmark Mr Tehan might struggle to meet – there are not the sort of savings in his budget to match those in health that created the MRFF.  But anything short of $5bn-$10bn for a fund will not compare well.  And if translational funding became an annual budget item, the comparison would be worse.

As then chief scientist Ian Chubb said in a speech on translational research in 2012, “funding is not a matter of ‘well we’ve spent all our money, we will not fund anything from this point on’. Funding is a matter of prioritising.”

There have long been hopes for a non-medical translational research fund. Now there are expectations – great ones.


La Trobe wants to cut courses

The university proposes ending some degrees and changing delivery modes in HASS and education

A proposal sent to staff yesterday includes, suspending a creative arts degree, a “cessation” of Hindi, Indonesian and Greek studies at the metro Melbourne Bundoora campus, “reconfiguring” the philosophy curriculum and moving the BA at regional campuses fully on-line.

Education courses to close are the ed tech bachelors and masters in linguistics and TESOL.

Five positions would go in education under the plan, with people being offered VRs in the first instance. The proposals now go to staff consultation.


Appointments, achievements

Bronwyn Fox (Swinburne U) receives the Royal Society of Victoria’s Medal for Excellence in Scientific Research.

Peter Lay (Uni Sydney) is awarded ANSTO’s Australian Synchrotron Lifetime Contribution Award). The early career researcher award goes to Wei Kong Pang from Uni Wollongong.

Minister Tehan’s expert panel on research translation is; Jeff Connolly (Siemens), Alan Finkel (outgoing Chief Scientist), Dig Howitt (Cochlear), Andrew Stevens (Innovation and Science Australia), Michelle Simmons (UNSW), Deborah Terry (Uni Queensland), Paul Wellings (outgoing Uni Wollongong) and Shemara Wikramanayake (Macquarie Group),

Brendan Rodoni (Ag BioCentre) wins the inaugural Kim Ritman award for Science and Innovation (for biosecurity research).


Minister Tehan’s expert panel on research translation is; Jeff Connolly (Siemens), Alan Finkel (outgoing Chief Scientist), Dig Howitt (Cochlear), Andrew Stevens (Innovation and Science Australia), Professor Michelle Simmons (UNSW), Deborah Terry (Uni Queensland), Paul Wellings (outgoing Uni Wollongong) and Shemara Wikramanayake (Macquarie Group),