Big job, long title

A learned reader claims to have spotted the longest job title at an Australian university. Monash U has appointed Ian Smith is Interim Senior Vice-Provost and Vice-Provost (Research).

UNSW’s April first foolery

UNSW announced new branding on Sunday: “UNSWe, “we start with U and end with We” (via Twitter). Learned readers noted the date.

Expanding the joke, the university also issued a long mock-statement about the change, quoting a fictitious “DVC Corporate Culture” dismissing critics saying the university should address “grand challenges” in research; “if we waited for the grand challenges to be solved we would never get anything done. And besides, branding is a global challenge. Isn’t it the major issue facing most large international companies today and isn’t it what they are spending their resources on? Surely universities should do the same.”

Droll indeed but learned readers warn that given the enormous effort the university puts into corporate identity, not everybody will realise it is a joke.

Murdoch deal shorter, which is the point

A learned reader suggests CMM (Thursday’s issue) underestimates Murdoch U’s achievement in finally securing a new enterprise agreement. The university’s goal was a simplified agreement and they at least got a shorter one. The old arrangement ran to nearly 190 pages, the new one is a third that.

McGowan aspires to Oxbridge on the Murray

Last week MP Cathy McGowan (Ind-Indi) proposed a bill to put country campuses at the core of regional development (CMM March 27) and now she tells her local paper how education can turn Albury Wodonga into an Oxford (or Cambridge) equivalent, by uniting the cross-border twin-cities’ two universities, La Trobe and Charles Sturt, plus Victorian and NSW TAFE. ““I’ve been talking to (Education) Minister (Simon) Birmingham about what happens in England with Cambridge University and with Oxford University,” she told the Border Mail’s Shan Morgan.  Albury and Oxford, Wodonga and Cambridge – hard to tell them apart.

Not waving, applauding

Southern Cross University is stoked to be on-board for the 2020 Global Wave Conference.” Not only that; “PVC Ben Roche said Southern Cross was proud to be announced as one of the partners.” And did they mention “we are thrilled to host the academic and industry-facing elements.” The university gets excited in a media release Thursday. Now SCU will just have to endure Griffith U banging on about the Commonwealth Games for 12 days.

UNE management workload model waits on staff approval

University of New England management loves a reorganisation, but staff not so much. The three faculty structure adopted in August did not go down well with all staff  (CMM October 9 2017) and now union members are not happy with a proposed academic workload policy for the faculty of humanities, arts, social sciences and education.

The campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union took the matter to Fair Work Australia, which decided on Thursday that the new workload policy could not apply unless HASSE staff vote to approve it. Until that happens (and it may not) the old constituent school workload policies continue.


Hold the phone

In 2016 tech developer b2Cloud won a Design 100 award for an app that networked Android phones left on over-night to research data for the Garvan Institute, (CMM May 19 2016). 122 000 people participated and their phones’ processing power were used to make 75 million calculations for a cancer research project, completing the crunching of data at twice the rate of standard computing time.

Ian O’Connor replaces Shergold on peak standards panel

Griffith U VC Ian O’Connor is the new chair of the Higher Education Standards Panel, replacing Peter Shergold. The HESP advises government on quality and standards.

Other new HESP members are  Kerri-Lee Krause (La Trobe U) , Don Owers  (Council of Private Higher Education)  Adrienne Nieuwenhuis (UniSouth Australia), Sadie Heckenberg (UniSouthernQueensland) and Kent Anderson (UWA). Phil Honeywood (International Education Association of Australia) and Krystal Evans (BioMelbourne Network) continue as members.

In addition to Professor Shergold, outgoing members are ACU VC Greg Craven, former UWA VC and previous HESP chair Alan Robson and Adelaide lawyer Karen Thomas.

Professor O’Connor is widely considered a safe pair of hands in Canberra, cultivating a media profile less low than subterranean, which allows him to complete projects before anybody notices.  He led the government’s working party advising on product development for the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching, which many VCs do not like, but which was released pretty much before they realised what it would accomplish (CMM September 16 2015).

Education Minister Simon Birmingham’s brief for the new panel includes; overviewing provider category standards, working with the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency, “to improve its regulatory approach and considering the effectiveness of credit transfer policies and standards.”

UniMelb’s Lopez wins peak Canadian award

Alan Lopez from the University of Melbourne has jointly won the John Dirks Canada Gairdner Global Health Award for his work with Christopher Murray from the University of Washington. The pair co-founded the Global Burden of Disease study, which started in the ‘90s and is still running. The Gairdner Foundation awards, “celebrate the world’s best biomedical and global health researchers

ANU sets out details of Ramsay western civ study programme    

Establishing the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation at ANU is starting to look like an all but announced done deal. Just before Easter the College of Arts and Social Sciences updated FAQ’s on why the university is negotiating and what the western civ centre would do, with matters of academic governance, staffing and authority now settled, subject to final approval.

“The different courses within the program consider books from a variety of genres or disciplines (predominately works of literature, history, philosophy, religion, politics) but also including architecture, art and music,” the briefing states, but students will have will be able to  “to study Asia-Pacific alongside the study of western culture.” The relationship between the Ramsay programme and existing ANU courses was an issue raised by participants at an open meeting last month, (CMM March 7).

The Ramsay course will be restricted to 60 students a year, up to 40 of each second-year cohort on a $25 000 scholarship and they will be taught through a “Socratic approach.” “The program aims to create active learners engaged with primary texts in classes of no more than six to eight students. These small-group discussions will be supplemented by a series of panel-style discussions where academics from different perspectives engage in discussion with each other and with students.” Curriculum will be “considered through the normal ANU academic processes.”

What Griffith U wants in a new VC

Ian O’Connor told staff in December that he would end his term as Griffith U VC at the end of this year and he spoke on a panel of outgoing VCs at the Universities Australia conference. But it’s only out in the wider world now, with the job being advertised Thursday.

According to the usual recruitment guff, “the next vice chancellor will be a truly inspirational leader of great intellectual distinction who has the humility to respect the university’s values and culture and who possesses the passion, commitment, personality and confidence to take Griffith forward.” Not to mention skilled in rhetoric, demonstrating how humble they are will reveal the cunning candidates.


The Florey’s Hayward wins major prize

Kathryn Hayward from the Florey Institute is a winner of a Bayer Foundation €30 000 early excellence in science award. Dr Hayward researches the neurobiology of recovery from strokes.

Pressure on Monash Arts over class sizes and in-person teaching

The last CMH heard from Monash University management was that there was no budget cut in the Arts faculty. Good-o, but this is not the same as reducing spending on teaching and a month back students stared protesting that casual staff were having hours cut, which meant larger and fewer in-person classes. Just before Easter the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union got involved and the Monash Students Association has a petition calling on Arts dean Sharon Pickering to; “to reverse the changes and include student consultation on any future course changes. It is the only way to protect the quality of your education.” There is talk around the traps that the university might reinstate caps of 25 per class in some courses and recall some casual teachers but as of the Easter break nothing was confirmed.

At last – Pyne to make an announcement on shipbuilding college

Late yesterday Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne signalled there is news on the long-awaited naval shipbuilding college. The college is expected to be Adelaide based and to involve universities and VET providers around the country. Minister Pyne announced the project in March 2017 with an original start date of January this year. Mr Pyne will speak at 8.45 Adelaide time this morning.