And yet it is

“It’s hard to believe that the year is already half over,” Deakin VC Jane den Hollander tells alumni. Perhaps she is reassuring herself that it is not too long before her announced departure, by this time next year.

Lost in the e-mail

Today is the deadline for submissions to the House of Representatives standing committee on employment, education and training’s inquiry into research funding and as of last night there were two available. But surely it only looks like the research community has decided submissions to parly inquiries are not worth the effort. Last night the committee web page had a message that the “upload submission facility is experiencing technical problems.” Anybody who has made an unacknowledged submission this month should submit again.”

Eley exits Uni Newcastle

Winnie Eley is leaving the University of Newcastle after five years as DVC International and Advancement. She is moving to the University of Southampton in the UK where she will become VP International. She goes in September, giving incoming VC Alex Zelinsky, who starts in November, an opportunity to put his own pick into a key executive portfolio.

Student loan bill out in the cold as Senate shuts for the winter

The transfer of the Commonwealth’s astronomy assets, scheduled for Sunday, (CMM Wednesday) can happen. The Senate passed the enabling bill, lunchtime yesterday.

But the chamber did not get around to voting on the Student Loan Sustainability legislation. which reduces the income at which people start repaying their HELP loans to $45 0000, from $52 000, and sets a renewable study debt ceiling of $104 000, $150 000 for medicine, dentistry and vet science students. This wasn’t because the government had lost the crossbench support it needed to pass the bill, word is the numbers were solid yesterday, the Senate just ran out of time.  In part this was because Greens and crossbenchers had a great deal to say Wednesday about the Coalition-Labor agreed foreign interference bill. Yesterday afternoon senators agreed to deal with the security legislation and a dozen other uncontroversial bills before they rose last night for the winter recess. The student loan bill will be back in the next sitting week, commencing August 13 but who knows how crossbench senators will decide to vote then.

The VC’s not for budging: Civ centre courses must meet UniSydney requirements says Spence

Michael Spence has set non-negotiable terms for the University of Sydney in any talks about conducting courses from, or for, the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation. The vice chancellor set out his position in a response to the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union, which is flat-out against treating with Ramsay.

“We are talking to the Ramsay Centre about what our terms of engagement with them might be. This includes non-negotiable matters such as academic freedom and autonomy. If we are unable to reach agreement on these matters, we will not proceed with further negotiations,” the vice chancellor states.

Dr Spence addresses three core issues:

access to information: the VC rejects claims the university has a confidential MOU with the Ramsay centre. “This is simply not the case … there is no MoU with Ramsay. If and when there is, we will make it public.”

curriculum development: “any course we would teach at the University, Ramsay or other, would have to be workshopped and developed by a group of relevant academics before it could be taken to a faculty board and to the Academic Board for approval. This is not least so that people could express an interest in teaching on the course and be a part of developing it.

“Any course to be offered with the support of Ramsay funding would need to be developed and approved in the normal way for an academic course at the University.”

process: “If we reach the stage of developing a formal course proposal, it will proceed through the normal academic processes, including the Faculty Board, Undergraduate Studies Committee and Academic Board prior to consideration by the Senate. There is no other way that a course can be approved and offered at the University.”

Dr Spence adds the university wants Ramsay’s resources, but only on his terms. “The support potentially available from the Ramsay Centre represents a rare opportunity for a university such as ours, which has the intellectual resources in core relevant areas, to develop an internationally excellent programme. However, we would never consider compromising on the principles of academic freedom and integrity that constitute the very foundation of this University in order to secure it.”

And the vice chancellor puts the onus on Ramsay to accept the university’s position before any negotiations begin.

“We will need to reach agreement with Ramsay on these core principles before we even consider negotiating a formal agreement or developing a detailed course proposal.”

RUN backs call for more support for its members

The Regional Universities Network has (and brace for this) endorsed a House of Representatives committee report which recommends; “the federal government strengthen the role of, and better support, regional universities as pivotal institutions for social and economic development in regional areas.”

The report of the Select Committee on Regional Development and Decentralisation took a great deal of evidence from regional universities leaders to conclude that higher education is tops on the Sellar and Yeatman GOOD THING scale. Beyond teaching and research, the committee reports, “regional universities drive innovation and change, connect well informed people and groups, develop local leadership and human capital, and enhance the social and cultural capital of regional towns and cities.”

RUN chair Greg Hill says this supports a role for his members in the government’s proposed “regional cities deals” and adds to the case for Member for Indi Cathy McGowan’s bill to create a regional, rural and remote education commissioner.

For a single-minded focus on their goal RUN is a policy marathon champion.

Banney’s back at QUT

While some university restructures resemble a pie-fight, at Griffith U and QUT nothing is half baked. Both are running no muss or fuss reorganisations, consulting widely along the way. CMM suspects some of the success at Griffith U has been to do with the presence of Jane Banney who worked on the student-school admin review. Ms Banney was the highly regarded HR director at UoQ until she declined a contract renewal last year, (CMM May 30 2017). And now she is back at QUT, where she was a decade or so back. This time she is working for DVC Carol Dickerson, as change director for the university-wide business transformation programme.

National Health and Medical Research Council Awards announced

The National Health and Medical Research Council excellence awards are announced:

Rising star: Lisa Whop, Menzies School of Health Research. Cervical cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island women.

Gustav Nossal award: Amanda Gwee, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. Antibiotic use for newborns.

Frank Fenner early career award: Matthew Field, James Cook U. Data management for personalised medicine.

Marshall and Warren Award: James Bourne, Monash U. Vision and speech in brain injury.

Project grant: Stephen Nutt, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. Regulators of antibody protection.

Programme grant: Jamie Craig, Flinders University. Genetic determinants of glaucoma.

Development grant: Shudong Wang, University of South Australia. Medicinal chemistry and cancer therapeutics.

Elizabeth Blackburn Fellowship-biomedical: Melissa Little, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. Genetic engineering of kidneys.

Elizabeth Blackburn Fellowship-clinical: Leanne Togher, University of Sydney. Life outcomes after traumatic brain injury.

Elizabeth Blackburn Fellowship-public health: Rebecca Ivers, George Institute for Global Health. Injury prevention and trauma care.

Practitioner Fellowship: Sharon Lewin, University of Melbourne. Future of HIV care.

Practitioner Fellowship: Gemma Figtree, University of Sydney. Early detection and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

Practitioner Fellowship: Stephen Tong, University of Melbourne. Therapeutics and diagnostics for pregnancy complications.

Career Development Fellowship-clinical: Trisha Peel, Monash University. Outcomes following surgery.

Career Development Fellowship-clinical: Adam Deane, University of Melbourne. Patient care strategies in critical illness.

Career Development Fellowship-population health: Joanne McKenzie, Monash University. Statistical methods on effects of treatment.

Career Development Fellowship-population health: Germaine Wong, University of Sydney. Young people with kidney disease.

Career Development Fellowship-industry: Paulo Ferreira, University of Sydney. Effects of physical activity on back pain.

Career Development Fellowship-R D Wright biomedical: Daniel Pellicci, University of Melbourne. Studying the immune system.

Career Development Fellowship-R D Wright biomedical: Darren Creek, Monash University. Anti-parasitic drug discovery.

Dolt of the day  

Is (and, what a surprise) is CMM. NTEU Victorian secretary Colin Long is running for re-election and has a new campaign site, here, rather than his other site, linked to on Tuesday.

Achievements and appointments of the week

Just days after Griffith University named Suzanne Chambers as joint-winner of a research leadership award (CMM June 20) her departure for UTS is announced. Professor Chambers will become dean of health at UTS in December. She was awarded an AO in the Queen’s Birthday honours list.

Stephen Kent from La Trobe U is the newly elected chair of the Heads of Departments and Schools of Psychology Association. His LT U colleague Cheryl Dissanayake is a new fellow of the International Society of Autism Research.

Mojtaba BahaaddiniBruce Hebblewhite and G Sharrock from the School of Mining Engineering at UNSW, have won journal Computers and Geotechnics outstanding paperaward for 2018, which is based on Scopus citations for the last five years. Their paper is called “Numerical investigation of the effect of joint geometrical parameters on the mechanical properties of a non-persistent jointed rock mass under uniaxial compression,” and those who understand the title can find it  here.

UNSW’s engineering faculty has appointed an associate dean for equity and diversity. Lucy Marshall takes the job from a future fellowship in the university’s school of civil and environmental engineering.


Shelley Wickham from the University of Sydney has a Westpac Research Fellowship to research the nanoscale study of cells. So does Vini Gautam (ANU) who will work on neuro-prosthetics to repair brain damage. The fellowships fund researchers for two years.

UNSW has a new head of the School of Information Systems and Technology ManagementLemuria Carter joins from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Lesley Seebeck is moving to ANU as inaugural CEO of the Cyber Institute, which will address security issues at the “intersection of people, technology, organisation, society, economics and security.” Dr Seebeck is now chief investment and advisory officer at the Commonwealth’s Digital Transformation Agency, (“to make it easy for people to deal with government.”)

Also at ANUCatherine Bridges joins the National Security College as cyber adviser. She is seconded from PM&C.