No cases of hives

“Got election fatigue? Consider World Bee Day instead!” Uni Sydney Media promotes research, election-eve.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Stephen Parker (Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education) on the Shakespearean future for universities.

plus Sarah Lambert (Deakin U) on the why and how of replacing dated, print textbooks. This week’s selection in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed know in teaching and learning.

and Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on the magic of the in-person conference. “Their value is being sensed by all those who are again coming together at these meetings. I predict that many conferences will simply snap back to their pre-COVID formats.”

Macquarie U stands up for Ukraine

Good for MU, offering five PhD scholarships to Ukrainians whose study has, in the understatement of the day, “been disrupted”

It’s a standard stipend, ($28 850 per annum) for three years – which won’t go far towards covering life in Sydney. But at least scholars won’t be shot at.

Last month Uni Sydney’s Mathematical RI announced  six month visiting fellowships for three researchers from the National University of Kyiv.

Election win for universities

A Labor Government that needs votes in parliament is a good result for HE lobbies

Education all-over had two wins on Saturday.

One is Tanya Plibersek being, as is widely expected, education minister. Ms Plibersek knows more about her former shadow portfolio than any other starting minister since Craig Emerson a decade back and more than every minister since at the end of their term.

The other is the power of the crossbench. Although Labor will have a majority in the Reps, the expected presence of four Greens, six Teals and half a dozen other independents mean there will be many, many opportunities for HE lobbies and individual institutions with cases to make.

And then there is the Senate, where Labor will need cross-bench votes to pass legislation, which means the 12 Greens will have the ability to assist university staff, a core constituency for the party. This is not necessarily good for university management – the Greens Mehreen Faruqi is strong in her support for casual staff underpaid by university managements. But overall a Labor-Green de facto coalition on higher education issues means university communities will spend the next three years focused on winning more resources.

It is an article of faith with many in HE that Labor always governs better for universities – perhaps because the $2.3bn “efficiency dividend” announced by Craig Emerson in  April 2013 ended up being legislated by Chris Pyne. But even if economic ministers in the new government come to have any such in mind, cuts that require legislation this term would be hard to come by – the Greens would see to that.

reaction:  Universities Australia recognised the new reality in congratulating Labor yesterday, “Universities look forward to working with the government, and across the entire parliament.” So did Science and Technology Australia, “which looks forward to working with every MP and senator across the parliament to advance the sector’s key policy priorities.”

The Innovative Research Universities group went further, supporting via Labor’s proposed Accord, which “will support coherent long-term policy for higher education and research and we look forward to being involved.”

The National Tertiary Education Union anticipated, “working closely with the government and crossbench to implement important policies.”  The comrades also specified what they want, including, “measures to ensure” the conversion of casual to continuing employment and to deal with university managements underpaying staff.

As did the Group of Eight, which summarised policies it wants to see and added its members, “ stand ready to  partner with the  incoming Albanese Government to ensure the nation can reach its full potential.”

Impact from long-term engagement

Three Australian organisations win an excellence in practice award from the European Foundation for Management Development

It’s for productivity improvements with irrigators in three African countries over nine years. The trio are ANU, Uni SA and the Commonwealth’s Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.

Uni SA included this in its submission to the Australian Research Council’s 2018 Engagement and Impact review.

The difference a plague makes

Charles Darwin U’s new CBD campus was planned to accommodate the international enrolments the university desperately needed to pay its way. Now it needs them to help fill the the campus

The flash Darwin city site was originally a big part of a plan by previous management to get the university out of a financial hole, the university has just shy of $250m in federal government loans to build it. (CMM December 12 2019).

But now federal funding means the university does not need the money the way it did, there was a 14 per cent revenue increase  and a $40m surplus in 2020 – which is good.

What isn’t is that post (fingers crossed) pandemics international arrivals are not as sure a thing as they once were.

But CDU will need international students by ’24 to “fill our new city campus” and so VC Scott Bowman and colleagues are on a sales-trip to the universities biggest markets, Bangladesh, India and Nepal.

What parly needs: independent science advice

The Australian Academy of Science adds to the case

Along the lines of the one at Westminster, such in Canberra would  provide Commonwealth MPs and senators with advice independent of the executive and the internet.

This is especially important for parliamentary committees, the academy argues, because they “are not well set up to identify poor quality information and are therefore vulnerable to erroneous data and deliberate misinformation.” This rather underestimates the nous of most members and senators and the acuity of committee staffers but does not detract from the case. Which was well made in CMM last year by then Labor senator Kim Carr.

But the coalition wasn’t interested,  stating that “a new body would see more taxpayer money spent on more bureaucracy … and see no appreciable gain in the effectiveness or the efficacy of scientific advice”.

Worth asking in-coming deputy prime minister Richard Marles, whose portfolio in opposition included science. Labor and Green senators backed  holding a committee inquiry into an office last year, (CMM August 6 2021),

Now for the hard-thinking part at ANU

The university is to get bigger in, not out of neuroscience
In March last year Russell Gruen (dean of health and medicine) proposed an end to the Eccles Institute of Neuroscience, which was said to lack the scale necessary to attract funding

Cue outrage, within and beyond ANU. The idea as abandoned and a growth plan commissioned (CMM May 14 2021)

A year on the Eccles Institute, now also covering brain science, is still in business, with new boss, John Watson (ex UNSW) charged with developing, “ANU-wide clinical and commercial partnerships that will allow it to flourish and grow.”

“A big adventure,” Professor Watson says, “but I’m going to give it a red hot go!”

Appointments, achievements

The Australian Critical Trials Alliance awards include, * Trial of the year: Lisa Higgins (Australian & New Zealand Intensive Care Society) and Monash U School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine * Excellence in trial statistics: Andrew Forbes (Monash U) and Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists * Consumer involvement: Anna Singleton (Uni Sydney) * Industry partnership:  Kim Bennell (Uni Melbourne Centre for Health, Exercise and Sports Medicine) and Medibank

 AusCert (cyber emergency responses) 2022 awards include, * individual: Marcus Mroczkowski, (Federation U) * individual excellence: Greg Sawyer (Council of Australian University Directors of Information Technology).

Leigh Carriage (Southern Cross U) wins the Humanitarian category at the Australian Women in Music Awards.

Uni Melbourne’s Arts Faculty announces the 2022 Ernest Scott Prize winners, Janet McCalman (Uni Melbourne) for Vandemonians: the Repressed History of Colonial Victorians (Miegunyah Press) and Lucy Mackintosh (Tāmaki Paenga Hira/Auckland War Memorial Museum) for Shifting Grounds: Deep Histories of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland (Bridget Williams Books).