University of Melbourne VC says replacement process set to start

Swinburne to expand into architecture

New VC for University of Southern Queensland

All the new Academy of Science Fellows

Workforce training places: little demand, not much supply


And the keep-it-brief-awards go to …

The Academy of Science inducted new members yesterday. “New fellows will each have 10 minutes to present their life’s work,” it promised.

Grand generosity

Andrew and Nicola Forrest have donated $65m to Western Australia’s five universities, doubling their 2013 commitment and setting an Australian record for philanthropy. The mining magnates’ new funding will go to the Forrest Research Foundation, (CMM October 15 2013).

Swinburne builds big

Architect Jane Burry is the new dean of Swinburne U’s School of Design with her appointment another move in the university’s step-up in strategy. Professor Burry moves into the role as Swinburne prepares to expand into teaching architecture. An announcement on the new academic programme is expected in coming weeks.

Swinburne will be the fifth university in Victoria teaching architecture, joining Deakin, Melbourne, Monash and RMIT. Swinburne’s last major move into teaching a new profession was in 2014 when it launched a law school. The move into teaching high-status professions matches DVC R Alexsandar Subic’s big investment in applied research, with the new institute structure announced this month (CMM May 10).

UNSW recruiting researchers  

UNSW’s $500m recruiting drive rolls on, with the university looking to hire 40 research fellows and 125 PhD students to start in 2018. Last year the university hired 19 fellows and 40 PhD students. The objective is to recruit 1000 “of the world’s most talented early and mid-career researchers” by 2025.


Davis exit strategy starts

Glyn Davis has started his exit strategy. The University of Melbourne VC’s term ends in 2018 and last night he told staff that the process to replacement was underway. “In recent weeks I have been working with Chancellor Allan Myers and the council of the university on the search for the next vice-chancellor. The chancellor has mapped out a thoughtful process, to begin in the months ahead.”

Professor Davis used his message to outline university achievements, in undergraduate teaching, research and fundraising, making this “the right time to think about the next part of the journey and the new leadership that journey needs.”  However there was no mention of the transformative plan for teaching, the flexible academic programme scheme, now in development for the last 18 months.

As to what he will do next, Professor Davis said, “for me, a change in role will allow a welcome return to scholarship and teaching, a chance to complete long-standing research projects and begin some new writing. The University of Melbourne has been the still centre of my turning world for a long time now. I treasure my 12 years at this extraordinary place and look forward to the times still ahead.”

USI launches

The long-awaited VET Unique Student Identifier is up. The USI provides people with an online record of their training records, across states and between providers, which they can share as they choose. Given the size of the system, there are six million USIs already, and that it works across states and between providers this is no mean feat.

The USI will greatly assist individuals who need to demonstrate qualifications, and employers who need to know if a job applicant can do what they say. Over time it will also make easier research into the way people use training over their careers. The system starts with 2015 records.


Geraldine Mackenzie is returning to the University of Southern Queensland as vice chancellor. She was foundation dean of law there in 2007-08 before moving to Bond University. She is now DVC R at Southern Cross U. Professor Mackenzie replaces Jan Thomas who moved to become vice chancellor at Massey University.


Science of employment opportunities

For all the rhetoric about the need for more scientists, new graduates can feel more appreciated in the abstract than the job market. The Australian Council of Deans of Science (with funding from the Chief Scientist) has acted to address this. Its new report sets out what science faculties are doing, and can do, to assist their students by developing work integrated learning programmes, “which embed the world of work inside student learning.”

 Nothing matey about the economy

Cameron Murray (economics-University of Queensland) and Paul Fritjers (ex UoQ now London School of Economics) have a new book, Game of Mates. It’s “the story of how Australia became one of the most unequal societies in the western world, while merely a generation ago it was one of the most equal.” Apparently without the economic power of rorters and rentiers we could all retire 15 years earlier. The Brisbane launch tonight is sold, out but the book is here.

Garden grows

They like to share the wealth at the University of Tasmania, where an online course on the Science of Gardening already offered this year, was such a hit that it will run again, starting the end of June. (CMM November 21 2016). Like the first time, it will be free, despite being a unit in the university’s diploma of general studies. Generous they are at UniTas.

Man of measures

Andre Luiten from the University of Adelaide has won the National Measurement Institute’s Barry Inglis Medal which, “celebrates outstanding achievement in measurement research and/or excellence in practical measurements.” Professor Luiten holds a chair of experimental physics.

Less supply and declining demand

According to the nation’s senior scholar of VET research Tom Karmel, (formerly at the estimable NCVER and now at Flinders U) there are now fewer apprentices and trainees in many occupation than there were in 2002.

This is often attributed to an end to public subsidies and the Fair Work Commission increasing apprentice pay in 2014. But in  research for the FWC Dr Karmel concludes that while both have had an effect, they are not the entire explanation, over award payments for apprentices are “prevalent,” for example.  There is a bigger, scarier reason – managers just do not want to hire beginners.  “Employers are becoming increasingly less enamoured with the apprenticeship and traineeship model, independent of government policy changes,” he writes.

When combined with a generation drinking the campus kool-aid and assuming higher education is superior to VET the training system has a huge problem. Employers who supply the jobs are not interested, which is good because ever-fewer people want them.

Academy of Science fellows announced

New fellows of the Academy of Science were inducted last night. They are:

ANU: Ian Chubb (“Well-deserved acknowledgment from a tireless science and research advocate,” says Universities Australia’s Belinda Robinson)

CSIRO: Anita Hill, Evans Lagudah, John Volkman

Curtin University: Igor Bray

Griffith University: Jennifer Martin

Hudson Institute of Medical Research: Melissa Little, Lois Salamonsen

Monash University: Thomas Davis, Cameron Jones, Nicholas Wormald,

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute: Melissa Little

Swinburne University: Karl Glazebrook,

University of Melbourne: Jane Elith, David Gardner

University of Newcastle: John Patrick

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute: Mark Smyth

University of Adelaide: Jozef Gécz

University of Queensland: Philip Hugenholtz, Tim Ralph

University of Sydney: Dietmar Müller, Branka Vucetic