Sunk costs

South Australia’s three public universities have invested in relationships with French defence companies which all of a sudden are not as useful. Not to worry, another opportunity has surfaced (scroll down).

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Garry Carnegie (RMIT) on rankings and how they create competition when cooperation between universities is needed.

James Guthrie on Macquarie U’s finances and the impact of savings on staff and students.

And Rachel Sheffield and Dale Pinto (Curtin U) on the need for university teachers to be part of a community and how their university works to create one. Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s new selection for her celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning

Right sort of mining research at Uni Newcastle

The university has launched the snappily titled Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Enabling Eco-Efficient Beneficiation of Minerals

That’s that Uni Newcastle, the one where former Nats leader and deputy PM Mark Vaile declined an offer to become chancellor following uproar over his chairing a coal company.

Which may be why the launch-announcement yesterday emphasised the new centre is about mining for good, “new and more sustainable mining technologies as demand for minerals – including those used in white goods, smartphones and solar panels – increase.”


Talent quest at RMIT

A learned reader advises RMIT has an “employer branding manager,” perhaps Ziggy and Martin left when they heard

Just now the EBM is emailing people around the traps suggesting they apply to become vice chancellor research fellows, “the most prestigious research positions within RMIT.”

“We’re looking for not just the best and brightest researchers, but those who also want to have an impact,” the branding manager writes.

So, on what basis are people being approached – after reading their research, checking their H-index, asking RMIT scholars for recommendations? Not that the EBM mentions, “your Linkedin profile suggests you might be a great candidate,” the branding manager writes.  At least it isn’t a dating app.

La Trobe U rolls out restructure

Management has consulted with staff and is sticking with its plan

The university announced major changes in July, including abolishing its two-college structure and centralising student administration and engagement and learning-teaching support. Some 200 FTE positions, mainly professional staff were in-scope to go, (CMM July 15).

There appears no significant change following the mandatory staff consultation, with management stating yesterday there is, “minimal adjustment to the operating model and high-level organisational structures.”

However, LT U president of the National Tertiary Education Union Alysia Rex says 2600 university staff responded to management’s model, “a clear indicator that the plan is deeply flawed and requires significant reworking.”

This is the second university-wide restructure in a decade – in 2014 the college model now to go was created and four of 15 schools were abolished (CMM June 24 2014). The university now projects revenue to be down $165m on 2019 by next year and that income may not recover until 2028.

Adelaide unis mixed response to subs news

Flinders U sets a cooperative course

The Group of Eight’s Vicki Thomson was quick to announce her members are “well-placed to play a major role in the development of Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine capability.”

And the Australian Institute of Physics urged the government “to consider Australia’s capabilities in training a highly skilled physics-educated STEM workforce as part of this discussion.”

As to Adelaide’s public universities, Flinders U recognises an opportunity when it sees one glowing. “We are keen to see more detail about the announcement so that we can examine our curriculum and our research priorities to best support the national interest,” a university representative said yesterday. Flinders U already teaches nuclear energy generation, including the basics of building a reactor, material engineering capabilities and energy storage research.

However, Uni SA enthusiasm was not curriculum changing.  The university advises it teaches ergonomics, human machine interfaces and augmented and virtual reality, “applicable to surface ships and submarines alike.” But it does not have “research skills in nuclear power or propulsion and has no plans to establish this.”

Uni Adelaide did not respond to CMM asking if it taught anything related to nuclear propulsion.

Going nuclear with UNSW

If the feds are keen to get cracking on local talent for the new submarine programme they could give the uni a call

UNSW has a cross-university research programme, four core courses covering reactor physics, the fuel cycle and nuclear safety, security and safeguards.

“By combining our core nuclear courses with others in the Engineering Faculty in naval architecture, electrical drives, mechatronics and systems engineering, and leveraging existing close partnerships with universities and national labs in the United States and UK, we are well-prepared for the challenge of educating a new generation of Australian naval nuclear engineers, nuclear programme head Edward Obbard told CMM yesterday.

Uni Melbourne leads on new science rankings

Times Higher Education subject rankings are released. The usual Aus unis move not much in the global top 100s

Physical sciences 2022 and (21)

ANU =43 (46) Uni Melbourne 57 (66) UNSW 82 (=75) Monash =100 (84)

Life Sciences 2022 and (21)

Uni Melbourne 35 (37) Uni Queensland 40 (=40) Uni Sydney =60 (52) Monash U 63 (=54) ANU 65 (=56) UWA 79 (=83) UNSW 88 (not ranked)

Psychology 2022 and (21)

Uni Melbourne 24 (23) UNSW 29 (34) Uni Sydney 36 (=31) Uni Queensland 46 (52) ANU 77 (67) UWA =95 (91)

Clinical and Health 2022 and (2021)

Uni Melbourne 14 (11) Uni Sydney 33 (35) Monash U =34 (31) Uni Queensland 51 (=54) UNSW 69 (57) Uni Adelaide 73 (101-125) ANU =81 (73)

It is hard to detect improvements and otherwise outside the top 100, with THE grouping institutions in bands of 25, 50 and 100 so a change could be a one-place improvement, or 99.

The same 13 performance indicators in five areas are used for these subject rankings as for the THE institution-rankings (teaching, research volume, research citation, “international outlook” and industry income. THE says they are “carefully recalibrated” for each subject.

Swinburne U funded for assistive tech

Every VC wins a prize with Vic Gov funding

Swinburne U has $6.7m from the state government for MedTechVic, a research and development hub for “assistive technologies” for people with disabilities.

It’s another example of state funding for research and community-focused projects which has made the Andrews Government as popular with Vic unis as the Morrison Government isn’t.

Monash U has just received $21m for capex from the state HE Investment Fund, including a medicines manufacturing centre (CMM September 2).

With support for Swinburne U, only RMIT and Federation U are waiting on Spring St announcements.

Appointments, achievements

of the day

Georgina Long (Melanoma Institute Australia) wins the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences’ inaugural Outstanding Female Researcher Medal.

Olivia Perks is Uni Sydney’s new General Counsel. She joined the university in 2006 and has been director of Legal Services since 2014.

Derek Wilding (UTS) becomes chair of the expert research panel at the Public Interest Journalism Initiative in Melbourne.

Of the week

James Charles is the new director of Griffith U’s First People Health Unit. Professor Charles moved from Deakin U.

Gursel Alici is confirmed as executive dean, Engineering and Information Sciences at Uni Wollongong. He has acted in the role since June.

Sarah Bourke (ANU) wins the Stanner Award (for an academic manuscript) from the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.

Linda Colley moves from CQU to the Queensland Public Service Commission to become special commissioner for equity and diversity.

Eleanor Huntington is leaving ANU for CSIRO. The dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science will become ED of Digital, National Facilities and Collections there.  She leaves ANU on October for a November start at CSIRO. Also at CSIRO, Jonathan Law moves from the Mineral Resources Business Unit, to become ED, Growth.

The (Australasian Council of) Deans of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities announce their inaugural awards. Education, innovation, employability:  Karen Sutherland (Uni Sunshine Coast). Engagement and public comms: Grant Duncan (Massey U). Indigenous: Maggie Walter (Uni Tasmania). International: Deborah Lupton (UNSW). Research partnership and social impact: Nick Thieberger (Uni Melbourne)

Fiona Foley (Griffith U) wins the Queensland Premier’s Award for a work of state significance for her book, Biting the Clouds: A Badtjala perspective on the Aboriginals Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act, 1897 (UQP).

Denise Goldsworthy is the in-coming chancellor of Edith Cowan U. She will replace Kerry Sanderson in January. Ms Goldsworthy joined council in 2013 and is now deputy chancellor.

Nicolas Hart is appointed deputy lead of Flinders U’s Caring Futures Institute, for “a future where the highest standard of health and care is available for all.”

Jill Jones (Uni Adelaide) wins Uni Melbourne’s Wesley Michel Wright Prize in Poetry.

David Lancaster is the inaugural EOS chair in laser physics at Uni SA. EOS is Electro Optical Systems Pty Ltd.

Christopher Lawrence becomes dean, Indigenous Engagement in Curtin U’s Science and Engineering Faculty.  He joins from UTS.

Ronika Power (Macquarie U) joins the board of the Australian Institute of Policy and Science.

Uni Queensland announces its 2021 research awards: Joel Carpenter (Engineering, Architecture and IP). Gary Chan (Health and Behavioural Sciences). Loic Yengo Dimbou (Institute for Molecular Bioscience). Camille Guillerey (Medicine).  Jody Peters (Science). RuiRui Qia (Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology). Marnee Shay (Education). Ya-Yen Sun (Business, Economics, Law). Susannah Tye (Queensland Brain Institute).

At UTS Mark Evans moves from head of the School of Communications to PVC Enterprise Learning. Tony Macris will act in the comms school role pending the results of an external recruitment campaign.

The Victorian opposition frontbench is announced.  Melina Bath is the assistant shadow for education. David Hodgett is the education shadow. Bridget Vallence is the new shadow minister for innovation, digital economy and medical research

Johanna Weaver becomes inaugural head of ANU’s new Tech Policy Design Centre. Ms Weaver is a former head of DFAT’s cyber affairs branch.

The 2021 Young Tall Poppies of Science for WA are announced, including Christopher Blyth (UWA), Mark Hackett (Curtin U), Joanna Melonek (UWA) Eleanor Sansom (Curtin U), Billy Sung (Curtin U), Alexander Tang (UWA), James Tweedley (Murdoch U)