Plus the University of Melbourne kicks goals

and smart picks in research measurement 

App of the day

Is not about helping us living longer, more ethical lives – no, it’s about something far more important – parking. Curtin U is using UbiPark, “which “enables car park users to locate and navigate their way to available parking spots.” This will create a whole new world of data for disputes over who should get which spot.


Metrics mavens

The people and plans are now in place to create the new engagement and impact metrics, which the government wants as part of its innovation agenda. The business-heavy advisory committee was announced earlier this month (CMM March 10). But it will be in the two working groups, (CMM yesterday) where the work will be done on a programme that will add an entirely new dimension to the 2018 Excellence for Research in Australia.

Want to know who the intellectuals, opinion leaders and policy insiders are in research policy? Read these two lists, carefully constructed for expertise rather than for representing constituencies. Tony Sheil from Griffith U is there, as is Conor King from the Innovative Research Universities. So is Margaret Sheil, wearing her Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering hat rather than the big flat black one that goes with being provost at the University of Melbourne. UTS VC Attila Brungs will work on the performances and incentives group, as will sometimes UA head, economist Glenn Withers. Graeme Turner from cultural studies at UoQ, who worries what the innovation agenda will mean for HASS disciplines, is a member of the engagement and impact assessment indicators. The membership of the working groups will not make everybody happy but it gets key thinkers inside the tent.

Towers powers-up

The Australian has appointed Katherine Towers as Melbourne higher education reporter, replacing Andrew Trounson, who has gone to UniMelbourne. Comms directors note, she is off Wednesdays and Thursdays.

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Kicking goals

The University of Melbourne and the Melbourne Football Club signed an MOU a year back (CMM January 29 2015). CMM first thought it was all about a fundraising connection, along the lines of US college football. But no, the intent was to make international students feel at home; as PVC (Engagement) Ian Anderson said back then, “football is one way to enrich the student experience, and we want to prove international students with an experience that will make their time in Melbourne truly memorable.” UoM has now announced the “Engaging Melbourne” programme which will encourage international students to learn about Melbourne, as in the university, the club and the city, “to create a sense of belonging”.” Only in Melbourne would it not occur to people that many international students already like football butt they think it is soccer.

Selecting survivors

The University of Western Australia has created a central oversight panel on academic redundancies in the wholesale restructure now starting. There are three professors Matthew Tonts (rural economics and geography), Vaille Dawson (education) and archaeologist Benjamin Smith but other members are professional staff, Louise Churchill (HR business partner), Paula Langley (associate director, strategy and planning). There is also an external appointment, Matthew Knight who the university describes as a “human resources” expert.

CMM asked what expertise the professional staff members brought to assessing academics for redundancy and a university spokesperson replied. “The role of the oversight panel includes: ensuring that the faculty methodologies meet the fundamental principles of fairness, consistency (including between faculties), transparency and equity and examining and approving the management recommendations made by the deans. The oversight panel members have experience on academic promotion committees and/or management of staff and processes during change.”

The spokesperson added, “the dean of each faculty will be responsible for developing the methodology in their area and applying that methodology to implement any staffing changes.”

Not what the doctor ordered

Being attacked is way better than being ignored, which means the Charles Sturt U team lobbying for the proposed Murray Darling Medical School will be delighted with an oped in The Australian. Nicholas Glasgow (ANU), president of the medical deans lobby argued that while the bush needs more doctors the MDMS is not required – there are more medical student places and internships per capita in rural and regional Australia than in the cities, he says. Instead Dean Glasgow argues more general practice and specialist-training opportunities are what the bush needs.

Good-o, but what progress is the MDMS team making that is so bothering the medical education establishment?

Impossible to resist

“Don’t miss the world’s best in urology on the Gold Coast this April. Register today!” the Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand urged yesterday.


Scores that students count

Universities are still spruiking their results in last week’s QS subject rankings. “Ranked in the world’s top 50 for architecture, the University of Newcastle trumpets in an advertisement. ” “Curtin achieves excellence” it proclaims, about a world 18th for mining engineering. With Australia rating third in the world there are many more of the same but you get the idea (CMM March 22).

This is vastly smarter marketing than the usual corporate campaigns that bang on about excellence and are interchangeable with the competition. Students decide where to study on the basis of what they want to study – not a university’s overall research ranking or anodyne exhortations to aspire to excellence. The problem (apart from the usual methodological caveats) is that QS rates subjects on academic reputation, standing with employers and research impact – not on the quality of teaching. For that you need the excellent Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching. There is a lot more institutional data underpinning QILT available which, observers suggest the government is contemplating releasing. Even as it stands QILT does more for prospective students than QS, which in turn is much more useful than the generality of corporate brand campaigns.

Passage from India

On Tuesday Indian finance minister F M Jaitely spoke in Sydney at the TEQSA accredited S P Jain School of Global Management. The minister talked about re-imagining the Indian economy – which surely involves globalising education. Australian business schools who think they can take the Indian market for granted should think again.

Other bright ideas

Malcolm Turnbull did not pluck his state income tax idea out of the ether – it is a foundation of the Commission of Audit  report. Which makes CMM wonder if PM Turnbull read anything else in it that he liked. Perhaps he could give complete control of vocational education and training back to the states as the COA suggested, so they could make a mess of it themselves without Canberra’s help. But perhaps not. However CMM hears the government does like the CoA’s idea of changing the mix of government-to-student study costs from 59:41 now to 55:45. Although judging from the response to Andrew Norton‘s more modest proposal, reducing the repayment threshold to $32 000 a year might be a debt too far. And given the programme’s popularity there is no hope  at all for the CoA proposal to abolish the cooperative research centres and give their funding to the Australian Research Council’s linkage programme.