Takes the cake

“Emma strudels the fence in an amusing combination with her studies and baking.” The University of Queensland on dentistry student Emma Sievwright to compete on TV’s Great Australian Bake Off.

No issue tomorrow

CMM is taking Australia Day off, back on Monday.

Unis Aus warns there is no case for cuts

Universities Australia says universities cannot afford the government’s MYEFO cut, with “almost” one in six universities in deficit in 2016 and the lowest system-wide operating surplus since 2009.

UA was responding to Education Minister Simon Birmingham’s scathing attack yesterday directed at universities budgeting and spending priorities.

“The figures also reflect the reality that – despite efficiencies – some fixed costs within university budgets such as electricity and gas bills have skyrocketed in recent years,” UA acting CEO Catriona Jackson said yesterday.

New figures from the Department of Education and Training also show universities spending on staff also grew by 5.6 per cent, ahead of the system’s 5.4 per cent revenue rise.

Bizoids still waiting on local knowledge

The Australian Business Deans Council says “it is currently finalising an expert panel” to review the methodology of its journal ranking. Which is what the ABDC said last August (CMM August 28 217).  Bizoids are anxious about the review, fearing that research on Australian subjects will suffer if it is conducted by offshore academics and rates international journals above ones with a local focus. This may be why the ABDC says at least one reviewer, “will be an Australian academic based in Australia,” although why this could mean a focus on local subjects eludes CMM.

Fewer and better reports on student data

The federal government wants to update the Higher Education Information Management System to take advantage of improving technology and address changes since the last audit, in 2004. In particular the departments of Education and Training and Social Security propose:

Replacing entering student data multiple times with a single-entry system. This would reduce the overall “reporting burden” and make student data available six months earlier. It could also end providers having to report HEIMS data weekly to DSS.

Replacing the three higher education student identifiers with a single ID code. The VET system’s unique student ID, “provides a viable model of a more robust identifier that could be allocated.”

Ending collection of 30 data elements, “that no longer add value to program management, statistics or data analysis.” This could be contentious, with a case already being made for the retention of one element, on parent education attainment.

Clean up data prone to “poor reporting practices and/or misinterpretation of what is required.”

Only report raw ATARS, subject to the Higher Education Standards Panel’s report.

Responses to the proposals are due February 9.

You read what you pay for

Founding father of the Australian open access movement, Colin Steele was in The Australian yesterday warning; “Australian research is largely locked up behind expensive multinational publishing pay walls.” The online version of the article was behind the publisher’s pay wall.

Déjà vu for Western Sydney U in enterprise agreement error

Western Sydney University has been in the Fair Work Commission for the second time over bodgy paperwork in its last enterprise agreement.

The first was back in 2015 when it asked to change a clause so that professors would not get an automatic pay rise instead one at management discretion, as intended. The union agreed that this was the agreement’s intention but sadly for the university, Commissioner McKenna said nothing doing, that the agreement was what it was ( CMM August 20 2015). The university had to go a Commission full bench to get the change made. WSU was back before Commissioner McKenna this week seeking another change, this one to ensure consistent leave loadings under the agreement. Given the fullbench ruling on the previous matter this time she agreed. Her ruling is just ahead of the new agreement.

Tas TAFE minister ahead of himself

New change manager appointed to TasTAFE,” Tasmanian education minister Jeremy Rockcliff headlines a statement on the continuing investigative audits into the agency, yesterday. “I am pleased to announce that a new senior level change manager will soon be appointed at TasTAFE,” his next sentence.


US lead in R&D declines as China increases share

The US National Science Foundation reports the United States leads the world on research and development spending, but not by much. The NSF’s bi-annual study shows the US spent US$496bn on R&D in 2015, 26 per cent of the world total, but China accounted for 21 per cent, with expenditure increasing at an average 18 per cent per annum since 2000.

The US is also losing appeal for international graduate students in key technology disciplines, with numbers dropping by 13 per cent for computer science and 8 per cent in engineering between 2016 and 2017.

New round of Medical Research Future Fund grants

Health Minister Greg Hunt is maximising the political benefit of Medical Research Future Fund grants, starting to make announcements a regularly thing. There were 19 yesterday, for work on cancers and rare diseases. It may be only $69m, but little and often has much more community impact than the bi-annual National Health and Medical Research Council mega-lists. Yesterday’s winners are:

Maher Gahndhi ($1.642m) – UoQ: brain lymphomas

Rishi Kotecha ($0.314m)– Monash U: acute lymphoblastic leukaemia

Kerrie McDonald ($1.446m) – UNSW: glioblastoma

Andrew Scott ($1.564m) – La Trobe U: brain cancer

Andrew Wei ($1.507m) – Monash U: acute myeloid leukaemia

Martin Delatycki ($1.227m) – Murdoch Children’s Res Inst: cerebellar ataxias

William Hague ($1.191m) – Uni Adelaide: intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy

Clement Loy ($1.905) – UniSydney: Huntington Disease

Anne-Louise Ponsonby ($0.887m) – ANU: multiple sclerosis

Thomas Snelling ($3.545m) – UWA: cystic fibrosis

Adam Vogel ($0.498m) – UniMelbourne: ataxia

Claire Wainright ($2.09m) – UoQ: mycobacterium abscessus

Erica Wood ($1.750m) – Monash U: aplastic anaemia

Steven Chadban ($1.117m) – UniSydney: end-stage kidney disease

David Curtis ($1.570) – Monash U: bone marrow transplant

Stephen Davis ($1.285m) – UniMelbourne: intracerebral haemorrghe in strokes

Janet Hardy ($1.363m) – UoQ: medicinal cannabinoids

Ian Harris ($0.934m) – UNSW: effectiveness of aspirin in treating blood clots

David Pilcher ($0.735) – Monash U: oxygen levels for heart and lung failure