plus a new student newspaper (as in actual print)

feds announce search for a new ASQA chief

and the week’s big job news

All ears now

The University of Melbourne is asking students to participate in  discussions of the new student precinct. See, a learned reader says, if management had actually been monitoring mobiles, rather than just tracking the location of signals, they would have already known what people think (CMM, August 15).

Friday Aug 26

Not what the doctors ordered

Griffith University has nailed a problem for all but the research establishment in its submission to the National Health and Medical Research Council’s review of how it allocates funding. The NHMRC proposes three new models but Griffith U knocks them all back because, “they do not place the support of high quality health and medical research as the underlying premise of all schemes. Instead all models focus on meeting the needs of researchers at different career stages or track record achievement. Arguably, this support can best be achieved through firstly supporting the best quality and most significant research to improve health outcomes.”

The problem, Griffith suggests are both structural and cultural. First, “The proliferation of NHMRC schemes is symptomatic of an overly complicated structure whereby a new scheme and application process are created for each new priority.” Second the med research community sees grantpersonship as a numbers game; “a common view of applicants is that it is a “numbers game” and the more applications submitted the better the chance of success.”

In place of three ways of divvying up the dosh Griffith proposes allocating funding by five types of challenge, long-term multidisciplinary research, new knowledge in different research areas per funding round, projects ready for commercialisation and translation, career and skill development fellowships in priority areas and retaining innovative research leaders.

The Griffith model is backed by lobby group, Innovative Research Universities but while NHMRC chair Anne Kelso has suggested none of the council’s proposed options may not be the one finally adopted but CMM suspects the Griffith model may not be what she has in mind.


Hard job to fill

The feds have announced an international search to replace Chis Robinson as chief commissioner of the Australian Skills Quality Agency. Unless they mean inter-galactic, word of the VET FEE HELP shambles will surely put off everybody on this planet.

That Mr Robinson would leave at the end of his five-year term, which is up shortly, has long been known and assistant minister for VET Karen Andrews used yesterday’s announcement to set out his successor’s challenges, saying “the new appointment would flag a significant step in reforming the sector and rebuilding confidence. Vocational education and training has not always measured up to community expectations.”

“The role of the ASQA chief commissioner was to help restore full confidence in all vocational education and training delivered by Australian registered training organisations,” Minister Andrews added.

Mr Robinson’s original deputy, Dianne Orr left last December, “to spend more time with my family and try new things,” (CMM November 13).

Press help

University IT chiefs are contemplating a change in support for members. “The sector – and individual institutions – are going through major disruption and transformation. … The role of the CIO / CDO / Director of IT is also changing, including being more business focused and engaged,” the Council of Australian University Directors of Infrmation Technology states. The council will consider new areas at its September meeting.


A tiger for work

Fed U PhD student Babu Ram Bhattarai needs to fund a research trip back to his native Nepal for his dissertation on saving tigers, which now uncomfortably coexist (or commonly don’t) with communities adjacent to national parks. His thesis “will explore ways for whole communities to benefit from tiger conservation. If local people are rewarded, they are more likely and more able to support conservation. At present, local people wear the cost of conservation, but have little access to financial benefits.” The crowd funding campaign to support his work is here.

Brace people

Next week will be big for bragging, or at least spinning, as universities explain their achievements in a regiment of rankings. The Times Higher people promise a “reveal” on Monday (their time) followed by the QS league table, plus the AMRWU is releasing their world’s top 200 research universities in STEM, medicine and social science disciplines at the end of the week.

Easier with Elsevier

Thanks to the leader reader who pointed CMM to journal giant Elsevier’s new US patent on a system for authors to automatically submit articles to relevant journals, and resubmit after rejections. The process isn’t new and yesterday Elsevier’s Tom Reller tweeted the patent “is simply meant to protect our own proprietary waterfall system from being copied.” But it does, the reader suggests, demonstrates one of the way the journal giants are responding to open-access publishing, “if they can’t control where the content goes they can create system that make their publications easiest to use.”

News that’s fit to print

Uni Melbourne grads Liz Peak and Patrick Clearwater have launched a weekly newspaper for the campus student community (yes a paper, no? Well its like newsite, but not on a screen and it, oh, never mind). The paper (yes, it’s sort of like The Age, just not dull) is called Parkville Station and it is distributed around campus on Monday in semester. No faulting the publishers for optimism.


Out of the industry

Yesterday CMM reported the commonwealth has revoked VET provider approval for the Open Training Institute but thanks to a learned reader for pointing out it seems this is fine with the institute. OTI is a wholly owned subsidiary of Open Universities Australia, which will teach out existing students but accept no new enrolments. According to Open Universities CEO Paul Wappett, “current and forecast demand for OTI’s courses by prospective students in the wake of scrutiny of the vocational education and training sector following revelations of the practices of a small number of providers had contributed to its commercial decision.”

According to Mr Wappett, OTI’s offered 23 full-fee business courses, which were not VET FEE HELP eligible.

The organisation is also reviewing all its online tertiary courses, “in light of the enormous changes in online learning in recent years.”


The week’s movers and shakers at work


The Wellcome Trust has granted Monash University $7m for neuro-generative disease research. The grant will “underpin’ collaboration between Monash professors Patrick Sexton and Arthur Christopoulos and the University of Glasgow. 

Joanne Cys will become head of the University of South Australia’s School of Art, Architecture and Design in the new year. She is now an aspro in interior architecture at UniSA.

Monash trauma psychologist Eva Alisic is co-chair of the InterAcademy Fellowship, an association of 130 country based and trans-national discipline academies in science, engineering and medicine charged with supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Michael Thomson is the new state secretary of the NSW branch of the National Tertiary Education Union, replacing Genevieve Kelly who will retire in October after eight years. Mr Thomson has served as the union’sbranch president at the University of Sydney for 13 years, leading enterprise bargaining negotiations and opposing redundancy rounds over the last four years. Dr Alison Barnes (Macquarie U) joins Mr Thomson, having won the unpaid assistant state secretary position.

Kathleen Newcombe is a new life member of the Australian Council for Private Education and Training. The  Sarina Russo Education Group CEO  is honoured for her “enormous contribution” to tertiary education.

Monash graduate Mick Dodson is taking up a three year vice chancellor’s professorial fellowship at the university. He is now a professor of law at ANUProfessor Dodson is a former commissioner at the Human Rights Commission and was the 2009 Australian of the Year.

Pia Aqulia is the new head of screenwriting at the Australian Film, Television and Radio SchoolDr Aqulia has previously taught at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She is now an adjunct aspro at theUniversity of Newcastle.

A bare two years after his appointment Graham Schaffer is leaving La TrobeProfessor Schaffer was recruited in July 2014 to run the College of Science, Health and Engineering, one of the two pillars of VC John Dewar’s new academic structure. Professor Schaffer joined from the University of Queensland where he was executive dean of engineering. He is moving to the University of Melbour

Anna-Maria Arabia will become chief executive of the Australian Academy of Science in October. She moves from the office of the Leader of the Opposition.

Joseli Macedo is the new head of the School of Built Environment at Curtin University. She moves to Perth from the University of Florida.