Cop it in writing

Medical researcher and member for Higgins in the Reps, Michelle Ananda-Rajah, complains of research agency demands re fonts, margins and the like in funding applications, (CMM yesterday).

To which a learned reader wise in the ways of bids says style specifics are necessary to create layouts the eyes of ageing reviewers can read.

Another (way-younger) LR points lots of lecturers setting individual requirements for layouts, across different courses irritates students no-end.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Tim Winkler (HEJobs) on how to make working life better for the ageing academic workforce, plus the people waiting for their jobs, HERE.

with The skills musicians need include coping in the gig economy and being future-ready for the opportunities and otherwise that turn up. Diana Tolmie (Griffith U) reports on preparing students for the challenges of this most precarious of professions, and for jobs in general. HERE  (New in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift‘s series, Needed now in learning and teaching.)

and on Monday: Maree Meredith (Uni Canberra) calls on university people to speak up for The Voice. “This is not an issue that should be the sole responsibility of Indigenous academics and students – but rather every university community member, regardless of race, who cares about fairness, equity and representation.”


Siemens powers-up at Swinburne U

Its kicking in $5.2m for a “future energy grid lab”

This will be a “digital twin” of an energy grid, to be used for teaching and research.  It builds on a range of similar investments at universities across the country, for example, a “virtual oil rig” at UWA, a digital manufacturing plant, set up at Swinburne U in 2017and a product managing system for big shipbuilds at Uni SA.

In 2021 Siemens also established a digital energy test lab at RMIT to model how wind and solar supply will work on the grid. .

Applied research resources for the times.



More than hat tips for techs

Uni Sydney joins the UK Science Council’s Technician Commitment

It is about, “ensuring visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability for technicians working in higher education and research.”

Uni Syd states it will work closely with UK counterparts to “development and implement self-assessments and an action plan.”

Good-o but perhaps this is but part of a bigger issue – the way technical staff are covered by the Higher Education Workforce industrial award, which originated a generation back and includes job classifications for professional staff that do not suit high-skilled workers who keep Himalayan-high tech kit ticking over. (The same issue surely applies to the ed-tech/learning management communities).

Directors of 22 National Collaborative Research Infrastructure facilities are on to this, proposing  a “simple, fit-for-purpose classification for research infrastructure specialist roles  … such as by creating a new job-family” with its own KPIs, (CMM November 8 2022).

Tech Eng academy’s three ways to help mining out of a reputation pit

“Practices that have damaged the environment and culturally significant sites have impacted on the mining and minerals sector’s reputation and social licence to operate, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, warns

At the peak of the last drought, Uni Wollongong cancelled hosting what was then known as the Coal Operators Conference, which it had done for 20 years (CMM January 23 2020). UoW stated it had “considered the immediate needs of its communities at this time and adjusted its priorities accordingly,” (CMM January 23 2020).

And the following year former National Party deputy PM Mark Vaile withdrew his acceptance of Uni Newcastle’s council invitation to become chancellor, after staff uproar. The problem was not his being a Nat, it was that he chaired a local coal miner (CMM June 22 2021).

When university communities in cities built by mining turn against it, the industry obviously has problems – both in social reputation but also in sourcing the next generation of engineers and researchers.

And ATSE  knows it. “Despite the mining and minerals sector’s central role in the Australian economy and importance in building global sustainability, public perceptions remain poor,” it states in a new position paper.

And it proposes three ways for the industry to dig itself out of trouble.

* “the mining and mineral resources industry should place a higher priority on the research, development and industrial scale deployment of lower-impact mid-stream processing, advanced industry 4.0 technologies to improve operational and environmental efficiencies, and low-carbon processes to increase environmental sustainability.”

* use the UN Sustainable Development Goals, “as a framework to improve the sustainability and safety of operations, processes, and investments.”

* communicate and collaborate: “fostering collaborative partnerships across key sector, research, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and other key bodies (such as funders, government, industry, and business) can support innovation, enhance the appeal of careers in minerals and mining, and enable environmentally sustainable, culturally appropriate, and economically rewarding solutions.”

Grand tertiary alliance ready for trial by skills combat

Universities only got on Jobs and Skills Australia’s legislated call list by the grace of Senator David Pocock (Ind ACT), (CMM October 28 2022) – but peak bodies are making the most of the opportunity

A submission to the Jobs and Skills Australia discussion paper calls for tertiary education providers to be included in the JSA advisory group.

The pitch comes from what only cynics would describe as an unholy alliance of Universities Australia, TAFE Directors Australia, Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia and Independent Higher Education Australia.

They also call for,

* a JSA workforce analysis “that will support universities, students and other tertiary education provides to support the nation’s workforce needs”

* including providers in workforce planning

* JSA to be “arms-length” from government and industry “to avoid potential conflicts of interest”

There is more of the same, much indicating that the grand tertiary coalition recognises that JSA could become a bureaucratic battlefield of interest groups and arguments and if so it will be up for the fight;

“it will be essential for effective engagement, strong outcomes and building trust that the various activities undertaken by JSA – through the advisory body, sub-committee, expert advice, its own internal mechanisms and other means – all support each other and are clear in  the remit of the work.”

Inspiring stuff.

Appointments, achievement

Richard Franklin (James Cook U) is the new president of charity KidSafe Australia.

Cathy Henkel (Edith Cowan U) wins the Australian International Documentary Conference lifetime achievement for documentary film making.

Peter Poulet becomes director of the UNSW Cities Institute. He moves from chief commissioner at the NSW Government’s Central City District Commission.

Martin Shanahan (Uni SA) wins the life-time achievement, E O G Shann award, from the Economic History Society of ANZ