UoQ union sets conditions for Ramsay Western Civ Centre

The University of Queensland branch of the National Tertiary Education Union has told the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation it isn’t welcome at St Lucia, except on conditions the union approves of.

Not that Ramsay has asked, it is said to be waiting for the University of Sydney to decide whether it wants to welcome it. But the union leadership at UoQ has laid down terms just in case, specifically “threshold principles of university autonomy and academic freedom” must be agreed when any negotiations begin.

The union also specifies the university must make appointments and programmes must be approved by Academic Board.  And in particular Ramsay would not allowed to vet anything or anybody; “any suggestion of surveillance of teaching or ideological monitoring of staff’s teaching or research is completely unacceptable and in violation of principles of academic freedom. No agreement should be entered into that allows for such inhibitions of academic freedom.” As to why this is all necessary; “US universities which have entered into sponsorship arrangements with outside donors who have sought thereby to exercise an ideological influence over the institutions have suffered serious reputational damage.”

Good-o, but as UoQ readers point suggest, does the NTEU really think management would not have worked out these deal-breakers itself.

The Eight establishes authority on genomics research

The Group of Eight will present its collective research firepower today, with a UNSW-event on genomics. The audience, including investors, pharma corporates  and government will hear from researchers at all Go8 members and the University of Auckland.

There is a need “to find new ways to access existing funds including through established venture funds,” an event-observer says.

The day also reinforces the star-power of the Go8 universities with the event attracting the science power-brokers. Health Minister Greg Hunt and Chief Scientist Alan Finkel will be there, plus Innovation Australia chair Bill Ferris and Ian Frazer, who chairs the expert-board advising the federal government on the Medical Research Future Fund.

The MRFF has committed $500m over ten years to genomic medicine with Mr Hunt announcing $40m for genomic cancer medicine research last week.

The Australian Council of Learned Academies January report on precision medicine suggested Australia was well-placed in the global genomics research race and with a national approach; “we can offer a focal point of contact to leverage significant additional industry and clinical trial investment in Australia.”

The Go8 is working to ensure that “national” means its members in this first of a series on industry and investor focused briefings.

Startups need more techs

The education system is not meeting demand for high-tech skills start-ups need, “stifling” an economic growth-area, new research from StartupAus finds.

This morning’s report sets out what entrepreneurs need now and what they will want soon.

Three skill sets are in short supply now; coders, business development and account managers and user experience designers. As start-ups grow they twill need product managers and data-scientists. In contrast, entrepreneurs have less trouble finding local marketing, sales and customer service people

Nor will the traditional Australian solution of using immigrants to fill skills gaps necessarily work. Countries further down the start-up path, notably Singapore and the US, are already buying international talent in data science and full stack (from concept to [product) computing engineers.

“This is a strong indication that Australia’s ecosystem is not as mature as some of the international comparison. Here, the responses from scale-up founders are likely acting as a lead indicator that demand for data and product roles is set to increase substantially.”

As to educating locals to meet emerging tech needs, there isn’t enough occurring. “Australia has an excellent education system and a hi

ANU’s innovation answer to trades shortage

At ANU people are innovating more with fewer resources, explained by DVC Marnie Hughes Warrington in the new entry to her chronicle of the campus build. She writes of construction techniques that are safer, of the beauty and innovation efficiency of big timber buildings, of creating facades off-site for simpler installation in a ways that save the backs of brikies. Above all, she writes with respect for the people who make buildings happen in a time of skills shortage – a shortage born in part from attitudes about training as being less than education.

“Every building completion reflects a struggle to secure, retain, recognise and reward skilled workers. It’s a façade that glosses the treatment of the vocational sector as the poor cousin of university education, and the presumption that some skills are future and others are past,” she writes.

“While some people are waiting for skilled tradespeople to materialise in Australia a faraway miracle, construction teams are getting on with it. They have to. They are not, however, just making do. Shortages drive innovation and should be formally recognised as part of the innovation cycle.”

ANU student numbers

The 20 000 student cap ANU VC Brian Schmidt announced (CMM yesterday) will apply to UG and PGs.

Eureka Award short-lists

The Eureka Prize shortlists are announced.

Environmental research

Burramys Genetic Rescue Team: UniMelb, La Trobe U, UNSW Mounts Buller and Stirling Resorts Management, Difficult Bird Research Group: ANU Re100: (hydro power sites) Andrew Blakers, Matthew Stocks, Bin Lu (ANU)

Interdisciplinary research

Biopen Team: ARC Centre for Electromaterials Science, UniWollongong; UniMelbourne; Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne. eReefs Project Team, Great Barrier Reef Foundation; Australian Institute of Marine Science; CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere; Bureau of Meteorology; Department of Environment and Science. Optical Physics in Neuroscience: University of Queensland

Medical Research

UoQ Diamantina Institute. Type One Diabetes Research Team: UofQ. Anthony Weiss, UniSydney

Infectious Diseases

ACT Now for Tuberculosis Control, Greg Fox (UniSydney) and Guy Marks (UNSW). CF Air, Metro North Hospital, Prince Charles Hospital, Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Children’s Health Queensland, UoQ, Griffith University; Gold Coast Health, QUT.


Wendy Erber, Kathryn Fuller, Henri Hui, UWA. Justin Gooding, Parisa Khiabani, Alexander Soeriyadi, UNSW. Pablo Juliano (CSIRO) and collaborators

Early career researcher

Caitlin Byrt, UniAdelaide. Justin Chalker, Flinders U. Mohsen Rahmani, ANU

Defence Science and Technology

Causality: Australian National University, Defence Science and Technology Group. Centre for Forensic Science: UTS and Western Sydney U. Sapphire Clock Team: University of Adelaide; and Cryoclock Pty Ltd

Data Science

Jie Lu, UTS, CSIRO Data61

Scientific Research

Sally Dunwoodie, Victor Chang. Invisible Catalyst Team, ANU and Curtin U.

Emerging leader

Jason Brouwer, Walter and Eliza Hall. Brett Hallam, UNSW. Elizabeth New, UniSydney.


Michelle Haber, Children’s Cancer Institute and UNSW. Thomas Maschmeyer, UniSydney, Andrew Pitman, UNSW.

Outstanding Mentor

Nalini Joshi, UniSydney. Barry Pogson, ANU. Neil Saintilan, Macquarie U.


Brad Norman and Samantha Reynolds, EcoOcean Whale Research. QuestaGame. Zika Mozzie Seeker, Metro South Health, Queensland.

Promoting understanding science

Alan Duffy, Swinburne U. Kate Grarock, Woodlands and Wetlands Trust. Darren Saunders, UNSW.

Science Journalism

Jo Chandler, UniMelbourne, Adam Geiger, Sealight Pictures, Liam Mannix, The Age.

Secondary school science

Eliza Dalziel, Claire Galvin, St Monica’s College, Queensland. Abby Hambleton and Owen Kelly, Warrandyte High, Vic. Ella Woods and Emily Woods, St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School, Qld.

Primary school science

Ellie Cole and Tsambika Galanos, PLC Sydney and Amelia Lai and Caitlyn Walker,  PLC Sydney, NSW