Doctors’ script

Uni SA’s Chris Alderman, with his son Jonathon have created Meddle – a medical-words only version of Wordle

According to the university, “the six-letter, seven-shot word game works much like its counterpart, but uses only medical words, no abbreviations, and no brand names.”

Their independence is admirable – without the brand ban, big pharma would have the cheque book out to include product names, at least those with six letters.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Tim Winkler (Twig Marketing) wanted to ask about masters courses in marketing. But while he sought he did not find. “I haven’t yet found an institution that doesn’t claim to be student first and yet the information categories, mode and timing of information delivery and even tone of most content is institution-centric,” he writes in CMM this morning. He sets out the issues and suggests some straight-up simple solutions.

plus The QS subject ranking is out this morning – it’s but one of many assessed by Angel Calderon (RMIT) in his analysis of the majors.

and Paulomi Burey (Uni Southern Queensland) on the case for HASSing STEM. “Perhaps there is value in a renaissance approach to learning, where development of wider interests and expertise are encouraged,” she suggest. Hers is this week’s contribution in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

Making the most of it

The WA Government announces $8.65m for its health and life sciences industry strategy

The four-year plan is to make the state “a global hub for research, development and commercialisation for digital health, medical technology, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and health and wellness products. $8.65m obviously goes a long way in the west.

Vic Govt looks good investing in unis

Monash U is awarded $17m from Spring Street’s development fund

The  money is for capex and “research capabilities” including in drug research and microscopy.

They are the fourth round of grants to Monash U from the Victorian Government’s Higher Education State Investment Fund bringing its share to $72m.

The ten* universities in the state have all shared in the $350m fund, which emphasises tech, and (way less) community services.

It was created during the uncertainty of the early pandemic to support universities.

In the overall research funding scheme of things it’s not an especially big deal – Monash U, for example, receives around $200m in federal government research block grants alone. Monash U is also part of a medicine manufacturing project that picked up $23m in federal funding, which did not generate much attention when announced on Monday. This is what the feds are supposed to fund, while state government investment is a stand-out, praised by VCs.

As La Trobe U VC John Dewar said in 2020, he was “deeply grateful to the Victorian government for acknowledging the pivotal role universities play in assisting economic recovery; in educating and re-skilling the workforce and in conducting life-changing research for which we are globally recognised,” (CMM May 20 2020).

* Can’t get to ten? The one you might have missed is the University of Divinity, which has $500 000 for “small scale capital works at its Box Hill campus.


Sky-high value, free advice  

The Australian Space Data Facility was on to CMM yesterday, asking if we were a small-medium enterprise or research organisation “looking for additional support and expertise to optimise your use of space data.”

As it happens, we aren’t. But if we were the Facility can help, with Curtin U data scientists available to assist.

And the service is free. Its funded by the Australian Space Agency and the WA Government.

QS subject rankings

The new edition is out this morning – which is generally good news, one way or another just about every university can find something to spruik

It’s another good year for Australian universities, in combination rating fourth in the world for total entries, 739, across the 51 disciplines scored.

The US is (way) ahead with 3136, followed by the UK, 1465 and what QS refers to as “China (Mainland)” with 771. However it is not as great as 2018, then there were 18 Australian universities with a subject in the global top ten, there are 13 now.

The top 20 unis for number of subjects ranked, is Uni Queensland and Uni Sydney (48 each), Uni Melbourne (47), Monash U (45), UNSW (41), Uni Adelaide (40), UWA (37), ANU (35), Uni Wollongong (31), Curtin U (30), Uni Newcastle (29), Macquarie U, QUT, RMIT (all =28), Griffith U, La Trobe U and UTS (=27), Uni SA (21), Deakin U (18) Western Sydney U (16).

The subject ranking uses the standard QS methodology, global surveys of academics and employers who volunteer assessments, citations per paper (using Scopus) and H-indexes.

Tomorrow: Angel Calderon on what the rankings mean

Humanities lobby warns: without it advice to ARC “skewed”

Humanities and galleries ,libraries, archives and museum are not represented on the Australian Research Council advisory committee – DASHH is not happy

The new committee is STEM-rich, plus business reps and two social scientists, Uni Queensland VC Deborah Terry and  sociologist Maggie Walter (Yoorrook Justice Commission) – but  there are no humanities researchers or GLAM representatives (CMM yesterday).

And without them, the consultation process “will result in skewed findings that do not represent the whole of the Australian research sector nor even Australian society.”

“The decision to exclude the humanities and GLAM sector from this distinguished list further entrenches the lack of representation for these sectors at the ARC,” the Deans of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, warned in a statement yesterday.

And it only adds to DASSH’s disquiet, following Acting Education Minister Stuart Robert rejecting the ARC’s recommendation to fund six humanities projects in the last Discovery Grants round, which DASSH believes, “signals the continued disregard for important areas of Australia’s intellectual culture and life,” (CMM January 24).

And so DASSH suggests including representatives from its communities to add to the ARC’ advisers– proposing six people, all from GLAM organisations.

Which has nil chance of happening now – the government clearly has the committee it wants. But it might be intended as advice for whoever is minister after the election

James Cook’s last word on the Peter Ridd case

The university’s annual report (CMM Monday)  refers to its High Court win against “a former staff member” who lost an unfair dismissal case

The university means scientist Peter Ridd, who JCU sacked for breaching its code of conduct over his criticism of university science on the state of the Great Barrier Reef (CMM November 1 2021).

JCU states the High Court “found that the university’s action to terminate the former employee’s employment was both lawful and justified and had nothing to do with academic freedom. The High Court also made some useful, more general observations about academic freedom and enterprise agreements.”

All correct,  but the court also found that the university was not justified in censuring Dr Ridd in 2016, for his first statement – that it was subsequent statements that justified his dismissal.

As for Clause 14 of James Cook U’s then enterprise agreement, which dealt with intellectual freedom, and which Dr Ridd relied on, the High Court stated.

“At the high level of principle at which this appeal was argued, the essential question is whether, in the interpretation of cl 14 of the enterprise agreement, the intellectual freedom should be qualified (i) by a requirement to afford respect and courtesy to others in the expression of issues and ideas in one’s field of competence and (ii) by obligations of confidentiality in relation to JCU’s disciplinary processes. The best interpretation of cl 14, having regard to its text, context, and purpose, is that the intellectual freedom is not qualified by a requirement to afford respect and courtesy in the manner of its exercise. That interpretation aligns with the long‑standing core meaning of intellectual freedom. Whilst a prohibition upon disrespectful and discourteous conduct in intellectual expression might be a ‘convenient plan for having peace in the intellectual world’, the ‘price paid for this sort of intellectual pacification, is the sacrifice of the entire moral courage of the human mind.”