Blackboard will remain laser-focused … “ The learning management system provider promises to “continue to invest in its teaching and learning portfolio of solutions.” A learned reader hopes the company does not aim its laser at him when he only has a blackboard for cover.

Parking a priority on the waterfront at Deakin

Deakin U’s Future Economy Precinct, at the Waurn Ponds campus (CMM October 30) is now fully funded, under the Geelong City Deal struck by the Victorian and federal government’s yesterday. There is also a plan for a convention centre, which is good, except that it will be on the site of a 540-space car park at the university’s Waterfront campus.  University management was quick to advise staff yesterday that there will be replacement parking for staff and students.  And it will be the Geelong, not Deakin, convention centre.

What Monash U showed the Chief Scientist

Chief Scientist Alan Finkel used his experience as Monash U chancellor for some of his  advice on future-proofing boards, in a new speech on corporate governance.

* boards should write their own charters of behaviour; “to capture the expectations for confidentiality, courtesy.” Dr Finkel said he learned this as the university board dealt with “a significant redundancy package.” With staff-elected board members representing their constituencies, it was “terribly awkward” to discuss redundancies.  A charter could, “maximise trust and transparency.”

*  present reports to the board as narratives with the details in separate papers.  At Monash, “this worked a charm,” avoid the temptation to include more than is necessary, just because it is easy to do so, he says.

* talk to managers. As Monash chancellor, Dr Finkel met annually with each dean, “it gave me an expanded perspective that I shared with the vice chancellor and deepened my understanding of the challenges and opportunities for the university.

Above all, do the whole job, “if you just focus on governance, you’re an auditor. If you just focus on guidance, you’re a life coach. If you achieve both, you’re a future-proof director.”

What she really thinks

Implementing the new academic structure at Flinders U is not going well, according to the union, which has notified an enterprise agreement dispute. The National Tertiary Education Union, “has been inundated with claims from staff that the measures for academic workload allocation in 2019 are opaque and shambolic,” Industrial Officer Annie Buchecker writes Vice Chancellor Colin Stirling.

Staff are complaining about “an absence of transparency about the relevant workload allocation instruments,” she says.

Free-trade in economists

“What do Australian economics PhDs do?” Kenneth Clements and Jiawei Si (both UWA) ask in a new Australian Economic Review paper. No, the answer is not calculus.

The authors examine the state of doctoral research across the country and conclude that prospects for the 100-or so PhD grads per annum “are reasonably good,” perhaps better than in other disciplines. Except for jobs as academics; “They feel some Australian universities have a preference for foreign-trained PhDs, so those who are Australian-trained are crowded out.”

Education gurus-it’s a matter of opinion

Global Top Gurus names John Hattie (Uni Melbourne) and Pasi Sahlberg (UNSW) in their list of top 30 educators. But how are they selected? you ask. By surveying business people, consultants, academics and MBA’s, the Guru wranglers reply. Hardly an objective measure, you add. True, but it’s like the QS rankings and every university that does well enthusiastically promotes them.

Yet more good med research news

Greg Hunt, never gives up. With the possible exception of Christopher Pyne in Defence, the Health Minister is unequalled at demonstrating the government is still doing things. Which in his case is announcing money; for new drugs on the PBS and new research. Between the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Medical Research Future Fund, there is a poultice of projects and every week Mr Hunt is out with good news. Yesterday’s was $50m over ten years for Curtin U’s Melinda Fitzgerald and colleagues for research on traumatic brain injuries.

What a training cash-splash will not fix

Last week’s woeful VET student figures, (CMM March 7) has Craig Robertson pondering what’s going on and wondering what to do about. The head of TAFE Directors Australia suggests it might be due to regulation discouraging employers from hiring, potential students finding work separate to the system, international students taking retail and cooking jobs. And then there’s one that looks to CMM like a game-changing worry, “technology and work redesign is likely reducing the need for skilled trade hands in some areas.”

Whatever is going on CMM suspects it will take more to fix than promising more money for training.