Vintage insight

“At the end of the day, the majority of retail purchases are made because of what is available – someone may love your wine but if it’s not easy to source, they’re less likely to buy it,” University of Adelaide wine marketing researcher Steve Goodman says. Now who would have ever worked that out? Advice worth bottling

 Limo leaders

A reader who noted the Times Higher story on Russell Group VC pay suggests the collective noun for vice chancellors should be a “limousine,” which reminded me of Tim Devinney and Grahame Dowling’s research on what university chiefs are paid in the US, UK and here. They found the limousine leaders are in Australia. Their research in mid 2013 stated the average US president of a top 100 public school earned A$480k, a comparable UK VC received A$456k, while the Australian figure was A$720k. Devinney and Dowling found no correlation between institutional performance and pay and was puzzled why Australian VCs were so well paid, suggesting universities here are not harder to run than in the US and UK. “Our findings suggest that there could be some inefficiency in the Australian market for university leadership that are not exhibited in the US or the UK,” they wrote. I have no idea what accounts for the difference.

Win for Glyn

The day after the University of Melbourne was named as one of three universities to participate in Westpac’s new $100 million scholarship foundation Vice Chancellor Glyn Davis got a gong for his leadership of the university – including fundraising. The Council for Advancement and Support of Education named him as recipient of its 2013 Asia-Pacific leadership award at a Hong Kong conference. It came a week after the university received a gift of $6.9m for art restoration practice and education. Yesterday’s award is recognition of Melbourne’s “Believe” campaign, which is giving arch fund raising rival the University of Sydney a run for (other people’s) money.

Stroke of genius

Short of flashing neon signs it is hard to imagine what more the feds could do to demonstrate they are desperate to save money on health. But desperation and doing are different and so any source of saving is significant. Which is why Canberra should have a solid look at University of Sydney research, which shows that an IPhone App can detect a person at risk of a stroke. The authors suggest pharmacists could conduct the test. As a preventive health measure this seems hard to beat and surely it could save the health budget a bucket of money. However I look forward to the doctor lobby explaining why only GPs should be allowed to conduct the test.

Publish and podium

Want to know why the prestigious journal publishers think they can ignore the open access movement? Here’s an explanation, in a tweet from a prominent science commentator congratulating David Fairlie (UofQ), James McCluskey (UniMelbourne) and Jamie Rossjohn (Monash) for an article published yesterday in Nature. “Publishing a paper in Nature is like winning a gold medal in science.” It will be a while before anybody writes that about an open access journal.

Sydney staffs up

While Glyn Davis was being gonged in Hong Kong, back home Michael Spence was pinching his people, well one key person. Yesterday the University of Sydney Vice Chancellor announced that Pip Pattison was leaving Uni Melbourne (where she is DVC Academic) to join him as DVC (Education). Dr Spence also announced the promotion of Tyrone Carlin from PVC (Education Operations) to DVC (Registrar). While Professor Pattison is charged with teaching and curriculum Carlin looks like having the huge challenge of reforming admissions, enrolment and recruitment. The VC recently nominated lifting student services as a priority for 2014 and users wish Professor Carlin lots of luck.

Tough task for Tyrone

And not just in stopping situations where students who want to vary their subjects are told they have never been enrolled at the university (no, it isn’t apocryphal). Dr Spence has a new recruitment strategy, which might be something of a sell with faculty chiefs in competitive enrolment markets. “It is particularly important at a time of great change in higher education nationally and globally that the university’s messages to external stakeholders should be aligned. So in 2014 our focus will not be on specific course advertising or on the production of one-off brochures, but on the implementation of coordinated and integrated campaigns that enhance our reputation within Australia and overseas, and to recruit the student population we are seeking,” the Vice Chancellor told staff yesterday. Every marketing director who has had to deal with a dean who wants his own strategy and creative will understand the sense of this – even so imposing an integrated strategy will be a task for Tyrone. And then there is the challenge of creating a brand that consistently positions Sydney in its many, many different markets.

Counting on experience

In Arts at UNSW eight PhD students are going to get six paid teaching hours per week for two years to provide then with experience that should help them compete for academic jobs when they graduate. Good oh, but I wonder if any casual staff member, say somebody who has completed a doctorate but survives on sessional teaching, will lose work because of the plan. The plight of the academic underclass of highly qualified, poorly paid, casual teachers is something the National Tertiary Education Union is trying to address in enterprise bargaining across the country. But not yet at UNSW, the university said last night that bargaining has not begun there and this is an entirely independent initiative. Fair enough, here’s hoping the teaching experience the postgrads wrack up will help them get full time jobs, rather than just add them to the sessional pool.