plus Swinburne’s open day of the day

big win for Boyle at UNSW

and don’t get your hopes up for research policy reform

You get what you pay for

Monash Law School offers selective masters units to “valued alumni and their friends” at a “fraction of the cost.” No they don’t count towards a degree, which rather makes the point that as knowledge becomes a commodity what you pay for in a degree is the brand.


Warrnambool learns its fate today

Deakin VC Jane den Hollander will today brief Warrnambool staff on the future of the campus, in doubt for months since she announced that it was not sustainable. “No stone has been left unturned but our efforts, and those of the community, have simply not translated into the enrolments needed. In fact the reverse has occurred,” she told staff in March (CMM March 21). Back then the great hope was regional network Federation University would take over but nothing has emerged since Fed U’s June council meeting, which was supposed to make a decision. Last month Professor den Hollander assured Warrnambool students that they would be able to complete their degrees and that the campus would be in the 2017 Victorian tertiary study guide, although she did not say if its own staff would teach Deakin courses. She also said no decision would be made until after the election. That’s now but with no announcement of a new minister expected this week it looks like a definitive decision is made and the VC sees no point in waiting.

Neither sheep nor goats

TAFE NSW ran a perfectly sensible story for students starting semester two yesterday. But perhaps illustrating it with a herd of young goats was not the best idea. Then again, using sheep would not have been any better.

Tues July 12

Innovation iconoclasts

The Grattan Institute’s briefing for the new government includes eminently achievable proposals for higher education, which should pass even the most suspicious Senate. Who, for example will argue with the Commonwealth demanding universities improve the quality of teacher training, apart from deans of education, that is. Other recommendations, keeping demand driven funding and basing Commonwealth money for student places on actual costs will be familiar to the many admirers of the Institute’s Andrew Norton. But what will put the Institute on the outer with university leaders who have embraced (unlike electors) the prime minister’s innovation agenda is the suggestion that it may not accomplish much on campus.

“In real terms, nearly five times as much was spent on applied research in 2014 compared to 20 years before. Despite this, universities are the direct source of only 3 per cent of business innovation ideas … The nature of the academic research culture, and the capacity of universities to pursue their own research goals independent of government funding, means that expectations for the latest round of research policy initiatives should be modest,” the Grattan brief suggests.

Open day of the day

It’s recruitment season and universities around the country are pitching their campuses to prospective students on open days – like agricultural shows but without animals and very rarely rides. For a generation that expects to study online and spend as much time on campus as they can spare from their jobs open day is archaic. And yet prospective students always turn up, which means open day is a big deal, especially for the poor devil in charge of organising it. Woe betide the OD director who cannot announce record attendance.

Today’s open day of the day is Swinburne’s and it looks like high-tech fun tied to courses. There all sorts of simulators and sundry cyber sites – a games arcade, flight and earthquake simulators, a three dimensional film on the solar system, student movies and computerised manufacturing, for starters. More important there are course information sessions at multiple times (hint to organisers: don’t let academics write “why study X” there is one here could bore for Australia). The site is slick and ties to Swinburne’s regular student information site. If Swinburne’s “most open of open days” does not pull in people it won’t be the fault of the marketers.

NUFPC 728pixels x 210pixels

Fazakerly arrives

The now not so new Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Melbourne finally has a permanent head with John Fazakerly taking over yesterday. He replaces acting dean Brian Leury. The faculty was created in 2014 by merging vet with ag courses, which were moved from the “disestablished” School of Land and Environment.

They’re old and they vote

Charles Sturt U political philosopher Piero Moraro wants to give some people more votes than others, but not as CMM expected, the educated. In a statement that will not turn up in CSU marketing, he says “many ‘educated’ people appear less politically savvy than the ‘average Joe’.” Instead Dr Moraro thinks the young should get more votes than the old. Pointing to Brexit, where the young voted stay where oldies supported leave, he says multiple votes should go to the people who will have to wear a decision into the future. “Older voters (say those older than 60) should accept that their opinion, though valuable, should be accorded less weight than that of younger citizens, who have more at stake in the specific electoral outcome.” Good-oh but it might be a struggle getting the idea up, what with people over 60 being more interested  in voting than the young (which is said to be why Brexit won).

Sublett out of ANU

After three years managing alumni relations for ANU Lea Sublett is moving to Saudi Arabia to manage alumni at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. She has previously worked in the Middle East for AusTrade and the Department of Education and Training in education related roles. Understandable move in the depths of a Canberra winter.

UNSW covered for engagement and impact

When Brian Boyle was representing Australia’s bid for the Square Kilometre Array he travelled ceaselessly and lobbied endlessly, demonstrating the intellect and energy required to be a great research entrepreneur. He has been in the research leadership space at UNSW since SKA, first as PVC R and director of research strategy and recently acting DVC R (CMM May 3). But now that Nicholas Fisk has arrived to run research Professor Boyle has moved into a job that makes the most of his energy, the new role of DVC Enterprise. VC Ian Jacobs has obviously embraced the PM’s innovation agenda. He now has DVC Fisk to handle research impact and Boyle to manager engagement.


Fewer funds on the health frontline 

The GP’s rooms are where most medical treatment occurs (137m consultations in 20140-15) but where there are lot less clinical trials than in hospitals, Tania Winzenberg (U Tas) and Gerard Gill (Deakin U) argue in the  Medical Journal of Australia. But they are not calling for new money, they will settle for a bunch of programmes that are gone or going, to continue. This has already led to universities under-resourcing primary health care research. They suggest some of these problems could be fixed by the Medical Research Future Fund and there’s no doubt that the MRFF’s brief covers primary healthcare research. Except that is, for the unwritten clause that the MRFF should not upset the medical research institutes and their university allies. Which money going anywhere but to them would undoubtedly do.

Genome Foundation’s new boss

Dr Irene Kourtis is the new CEO of the Australian Genome Research Facility. Dr Kourtis has a PhD in medical research and years of experience leading medical research foundations.