There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning, Commissioning Editor Sally Kift on Connectedness 2.0, the best higher education chance for all @

Plus, Gretchen Dobson and Dirk Mulder:  finding and activating the lost international alumni opportunity

Keep calm and Macquarie on

With a faculty to be broken-up and a review of fixed -term positions up for renewal, life for many at Macquarie U is not a bag of bluebirds

But despair not, a correspondent for the university’s learning and teaching blog proposes “a more stoic approach.” He urges people to; “be an example for our students,” “reset your compass,” and “build and strengthen your relationships”. “He missed one,” a learned reader suggests “don’t worry about the mortgage.”

Senate says no to Greens on genes

Australia’s gene technology regulations were established in 2001 and are way behind the science – so the government decided to update them

The Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes thought this was a splendid idea, “new technological developments have meant the previous regulations have become outdated, leading to ambiguity and confusion as to what is and is not regulated.”

Not so The Greens. Senator Janet Rice  urged the Senate to vote against the changes, saying they would allow potentially dangerous deregulation, “and poses huge economic risks to Australia’s $48 billion agricultural export industries.”

To which Labor’s Kim Carr said the Senate should not leave the exist regulations in place; “if we want to build an enlightened future for this country, a future that does not reject science.”

The Senate went with him – voting Thursday 42 -13 to adopt the new regulations. The Greens, South Australians Rex Patrick and Stirling Griff, plus Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts voted to leave the existing regs in place. The Coalition and Labor for change.

What the doctors ordered

Health Minister Greg Hunt reports there is now $17bn in the Medical Research Future Fund and next year’s budget will provide for it to reach the $20bn target within 12 months

This is a big win for the medical research community – and for health ministers way into the future, who will always have spending statements to make.

Making the point, late Friday the ever-announcing Mr Hunt revealed $55m from the MRFF for rare cancers research.

All the DECRAs announced

The Australian Research Council released the complete DECRA list Friday

Where the big DECRA dosh went: Overall there is $81m in Discovery Early Career Research Awards. The Group of Eight did best. Uni Melbourne (22) and Monash U (22) lead the institutional split. Uni Queensland (19) and Uni Sydney (19) are close behind. Researchers at UNSW and ANU win 15 at each. Uni Adelaide and UWA both pick up five. All up the Group of Eight account for just over half the awards.

But it isn’t all the auld elite, with Australian Technology Network members out performing Uni Adelaide and UWA. UTS has nine, QUT and RMIT eight each.

Disciplines in the money are:  The discipline areas with ten plus awards are; history and archaeology (ten), chemical sciences (ten), psychology (11), medical and health sciences (12), mathematical sciences (14), “studies in human society” (21), biological sciences (22) and engineering (25).

Who missed out:  Pretty much everybody applying is who. “With a 16 per cent success rate DECRA people may as well apply to the National Health and Medical Research Council,” a research admin observer tells CMM.  As to the states, WA score just four, (just behind Tasmania and SA). In contrast NSW and Victoria picked up over 60.

OpenLearning looks to list

The higher education “software as a service” provider is looking to list, claiming $5m in commitments from institutions, getting on towards its target 

Open Learning says it provides “a next-generation online learning platform, (for) learning designers to transform your expertise into world-class courses and marketing support to attract new students from around the world.” It claims 70 providers in Australia and Malaysia as clients.

CEO is Adam Brimo, board members include former Navitas CEO David Buckingham and micro-learning expert and ex Deakin DVC E Beverley Oliver (CMM August 6)

Linkage grants: from comrades to the cloud

Theres another rolling announcement of Linkage Grants 

Just eight were announced Friday, compared to 60 plus in July. UNSW wins two and Curtin U, La Trobe U, Swinburne U, Uni Notre Dame Australia, Uni Sydney and Uni Tas one each.

In announcing the awards Education Minister Dan Tehan singled out three;

Cable failure in mines (Serkan Saydam from UNSW and colleagues), lupin seed for human use (Stuart Johnson from Curtin U and team) and Jinjun Chen from Swinburne U, plus two, are funded to work on “full lifecycle privacy protection for records held in the cloud.”

One project the minister did not mention is to Diane Kirkby (La Trobe U) and Stuart Macintyre (Uni Melbourne) who are funded, by the ARC and the ACTU for “an innovative study that highlights the Hawke era to show the ACTU’s history as one of transition to governance … we aim to reveal the potential of the Australian labour movement to effect change.”

Uni Sydney puts its money where its mortarboard is

The university wants to “transform the learning experience of our students,” so it is encouraging staff to take its Graduate Certificate in Educational Studies (HE)

As in really encouraging, the university will pick up the $24 000 cost of the one-year programme.

The excellent Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching might explain why. Uni Sydney had a 77.7 per cent rating by undergraduates for teaching quality in 2018, the fifth lowest in the country and down on the national average of 81.3 per cent.

The course is also free to “affiliates who teach Sydney students” so one way or another sessional staff appear included.

Professoriate powers-up

The new Australian Association of University Professors is not mucking about

It has members at 23 universities and observers suggest it is on-track to reach 20 branches. The association is also intent on expanding numbers, extending membership to aspros and emeritus professors.

A conference is scheduled for next year but the first public stance will be releasing the association’s manifesto, “Ten Pillars of a University”.  Adrienne Stone, director of Uni Melbourne’s Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies, is working on a preamble. A final draft is scheduled for a member vote in January.

Griffith U strategy includes Mount Gravatt to go   

Vice Chancellor Carolyn Evans’ first five-year plan commits to a $1bn physical infrastructure spend over a decade

The 2025 strategy released to staff includes;

* closing the Mount Gravatt campus, which “is no longer viable as a separate campus” in the next five-seven years. Mount Gravatt teaches 4000 humanities and social sciences students, who will move to new facilities on the adjacent Nathan campus.

* a “major new campus” in Brisbane city, housing the Queensland College of Art, Griffith Film School, English language school, “along with disciplines such as business, public policy and law, “where engagement with key players in the CBD will enhance the student experience and research partnerships”

* “major capital investment” in a dedicated advanced design and prototyping technology building in the Gold Coast Precinct.

Other commitments include,

* a “major investment” in digital infrastructure for learning and teaching, research and engagement

* establishing professors of practice as a staff category, “who will focus on external partnerships and obtaining industry funding”

* “a sustainable and successful suite of micro-credentials, including stackable credentials that lead to qualifications, suited to worker-learners”

Oh good, another training review

The Productivity Commission is reviewing the National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development  

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg released terms of reference Friday.

They include;

* “options for nationally consistent government funding and pricing arrangements

* “consistency in funding and loan arrangements between the VET and higher education sectors

* “potential for future funding arrangements to achieve further targeted reforms …and other relevant recommendations’ from the Joyce Review of VET.”

The Commission has a year to report, but Mr Frydenberg wants advice by March on; funding, national coordination and return on investment for VET spending

A couple of weeks back the Victoria Government appointed Jenny Macklin to review voced in the state (CMM November 4). At the time, it looked like a way to slow the feds rolling out the Joyce review recommendations. It still looks like that, plus a brake on whatever the PC proposes in March.

Appointments, achievements

Nick Crowley will become Macquarie U’s HR director today week, he is now deputy director. He replaces Nicole Gower who moved last month to VP, people and services.

Darren Pennay wins the inaugural industry leadership award from the Association of Market and Social Research Organisations. Mr Pennay is honoured for founding and leading for 19 years, the Social Research Centre, now owned by ANU. The SRC creates the excellent Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching.

Ryan Tilley (RMIT) takes third place in the James Dyson Award for adapting a manual wheelchair for off-road access. The awards, from the British manufacturer are for undergrads/recent grads, (CMM October 24).

Research Australia (“the voice of health and medical research participants”) announces its 2019 awards, including

Discovery award: Christine Keenan (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute)

Peter Wills medal: Kathryn North (Murdoch Children’s Research Institute)

Research excellence: Brendan Crabb (Burnet Institute)

Data innovation: John Lynch (Uni Adelaide)

Philanthropy: Pamela Galli (Lorenzo and Pamela Galli Medical Research Trust)

Advocacy: Gordon Lynch (Uni Melbourne)

Frontiers research: Jeremy Micah Crook and team (Uni Wollongong)