Count your kangas

“What’s that Skip? You should have your own funding metric!”

Belinda Robinson (Uni Canberra VP-strategy) has come up with a sure thing, suggesting yesterday (via Twitter) a “kangaroos on campus” photography competition – her’s would certainly be a front hopper (sorry). CMM waits for the Regional Universities Network to propose number of kangaroos on chancellery lawns as a funding measure.

CRCs set to recycle not so fantastic plastic

The AFR reported yesterday that the government is “ramping up a push” on plastic recycling.  This may not have been all that newsy news to Karen Andrews

Back in May the minister for industry, science and technology announced $20m for applied research on the pestilence of plastic waste, through Round Eight of the excellent Cooperative Research Centre P scheme. “We want to see improved plastic collection and sorting systems in recycling plants and better quality of products made using these recycled plastics in areas like manufacturing and construction,” Ms Andrews said.

Tony Peacock from the CRC Association suggests the funding announcement is expected “in a few weeks.”  And none too soon – the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Programme presently funds just one project which has potential for recycling plastics.

Analogy of the day

CAPA ties its funding colours to the policy mast

“Implementing performance-based funding without providing an adequate amount of funding to universities is like bailing out a sinking ship using a cup,” Natasha Abrahams, Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations, yesterday.

Crocodile innocs

Karla Helbig (La Trobe U) reports “she is excited to be vaccinating 1600 crocodiles this week”

No, Aspro Helbig is not on La Trobe’s Bundoora campus – snakes in the grass may be there, but not crocodiles. The project uses farmed crocs in the Northern Territory.

The process involves pre-bleeds, administration, husbandry and syringe loading. “It will take three people, 20 hours over two days!” she says.

Hopefully the first crocodiles tell the others she’s trying to save them from crocodilepox virus.

Demand driven funding: gone and now forgotten

Dan Tehan’s authority over higher education funding is now unchallenged

The return of demand driven funding was a live issue in the election, with many in the HE policy community assuming a Labor win. They know better now and have accepted that the performance-driven growth funding formula announced this week is all they are going to get, certainly while the coalition is in office.

University lobbies have lined-up to accept the performance-linked funding measures set out in the government-approved Wellings Panel paper (CMM yesterday), and yesterday new Universities Australia chair Deborah Terry (VC-Curtin U) was making nice.

The government’s funding freezecreated difficulties for universities but it did come after a period of rapid growth,” she told ABC RN’s Patricia Karvelas.

And Professor Terry got in behind Mr Tehan’s announcement that, the $80m performance funding pool will, “incentivise universities to focus on their core-business, producing job-ready graduates.”

“We are absolutely committed to ensuring that we can provide the graduates to support and drive our economic prosperity,” she said.

Professor Terry also declined an opportunity to find fault with the proposed metrics, “what the panel has done, I think very carefully, is to consider the four key measures, to look at how, in a sense, thresholds can appropriately be set … that take into account a range of different factors.”

This is certainly in-line with her position when she took over at UA, telling CMM “a one size fits all model is hard to apply, … arrangements need to be nuanced.”

So, what happens next? Work in the policy weeds followed by a meeting with the minister at the end of the month, where UA will provide member feedback. There may be discussion of details but Mr Tehan has won.

“Demand driven what?” Mr Tehan now commands an authority in HE that Chris Pyne and Simon Birmingham never managed.

A farewell address by Andrew Norton

He is set to speak at a Grattan event on (you guessed it, education and training)

The ultra-learned Andrew Norton announces what may be his last Grattan Institute event on education and training, before he leaves. It’s a discussion of post-school education and training options. Mr Norton will be joined by Frances Coppolillo (Melbourne Polytechnic), Linda Kristjanson (VC-Swinburne U) and Peter Noonan (Victoria U and Australian Qualifications Framework review). Tuesday week, Victorian State Library, 6pm – plus it will be YouTubed.


ANU to close legal-practice school

After nearly 50 years, the university is closing the School of Legal Practice

The decision follows a review last year and consultation this. ANU observers suggest reasons for the decision include tough competition in the preparation for practice market and the school not suiting the College of Law’s emphasis on research-led teaching. The review is said to have proposed the school either continue with teaching-only staff or be closed.

Last night the SLP’s webpage still promoted its, “active research profile exploring aspects of the legal profession through the Centre for Profession, Education and Regulation in Law.But clearly to no avail.

Up to 29 academics will go, however the law school, within the college, is in the market for two FT and one PT academic staff.

The school will teach out courses and close at end 2021, but the college will take-over the military law programme. ANU will continue to offer four course-work law qualifications and research higher degrees.

The SLP says its graduate diploma, “has maintained its position as the leader in online education, and the graduate diploma of  legal practice has been integrated with today’s employment market demands.”

Bad hair day for ranking interpreters

by A Learned Reader


There’s a risk of hair self-harm as metric mavens struggle to understand the construction of the new league table from the Centre for World University Rankings (CMM yesterday).

Whilst the performance of Curtin U (and others) in the CWUR ranking is admirable, the main frustration for many institutions is that CWUR appear to have again changed the methodology to produce this ranking, with the changes not explained on its website, as of yesterday afternoon.

This is on top of changes in 2018, where CWUR’s quality of education, alumni employment and quality of faculty indicators were reduced to 15 per cent each (previously 25 per cent each). There was also a greater emphasis on research outputs, with a new measure of them, relating to volume, introduced, while two previous measures (broad impact and patents) were removed.

This year, CWUR ranks “research performance” along with quality of education, alumni employment and quality of faculty.  Perhaps the previous indicators relating to research outputs (volume, citations, quality and influence) are now included in ‘research performance’ measure, but this is unknown.

The methodology page on the CWUR website simply indicates that “the methodology will be enhanced for the 2019-2020 edition of the rankings to give equal emphasis to the learning environment and research.”

This causes hair-tearing frustration for university staff who report on rankings and provide analysis on ‘why our ranking has changed’ to senior management.

The learned reader is a research analyst at an Australian university

Learn to distinguish

On Tuesday CMM got the name of the Australian Society for Medical Research wrong calling it the “Australian association … “, instead. To confuse things further, Aimee Sanderson from the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes wants it known her organisation is entirely different.

Appointments, achievements

Of  the day 


QUT adjunct professor Rosalind Mason receives the International Insolvency Institute’s founders award for work which builds insolvency as a “respected discipline.”

 Sandy Steacy is the incoming head of school for Environmental and Life Sciences at the University of Newcastle. Professor Steacy joins from the University of Adelaide and starts in November.


Of the week 


Nicholas Procter becomes Australia’s national representative at the International Association for Suicide Prevention, with a term running to 2023. He holds the chair of Mental Health Nursing at Uni South Australia.   


Chief Defence Scientist Tanya Monro is the South Australian winner in the awards for excellence in women’s leadership. Professor Monro was previously DVC R at Uni SA.

Dan Hunter will return to QUT in November, as executive dean of law. He moves from Swinburne U, where he founded the law programme.  Prior to that he led the IP and innovation programme at QUT.

The Design Institute of Australia names its graduates of the year. The national award winner is Jordan Domjahn (QUT). Other awards go to, * fashion: Eitan Broude (Curtin U). * Interior decoration, Oscar Giraldo (Torrens U). * Interior design, Zarah Baitz, (UNSW). * Textile design, Lauren Stringini (RMIT). * Visual comms design, Emily Renner (Uni SA).

At Monash U Xinhua Wu is appointed PVC for precinct partnerships. She continues as director of both the university’s Centre for Additive Manufacturing and the International Advanced Manufacturing Hub.

Jill Benn (UWA librarian) will take over as chair of the Council of Australian University Librarians, she is now deputy. Ms Benn follows University of Wollongong librarian Margie Jantti who steps down after two terms.

Joanne Cys (PVC UniSA) is awarded an honorary fellowship from the Australian Institute of Architects.

Caroline Chan joins the Australia-Indonesia Centre as skills futures fellow. Professor Chan is president of the Australian Council of Professors and Heads of Information Systems.

The Queensland Government announces members of its second Multicultural Council, including, Ignacio Correa-Velez (QUT), Aparna Hebbani (Uni Queensland), Nkosana Mafico (Uni Queensland).

Sharon Goldfeld is the new director of the Centre for Community Child Health, stepping up from deputy director. The centre is a collaboration between the Royal Children’s Hospital, in Melbourne and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. She is also a Uni Melbourne professor.

Griffith U’s Wendy Moyle is inducted into the International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame for research on depression, dementia and delirium. Amanda Ullman, also Griffith U, receives the Emerging Nursing Research Award. Both are honoured at the Sigma (“celebrating nursing excellence in scholarship, leadership, and service”) nursing research congress.