MRFF: real big, real fast

CMM was sceptical when the Medical Research Future Fund  was proposed, referring to the “Popular Front for People in Lab Coats” (September 19 2014). But it happened – and how (scroll down)

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning how a universities commission could work

There are Accord submissions which call for one, so Roger Smyth explains why New Zealand has a Tertiary Education Commission and how it works.

“Much of the underlying system architecture has endured. There remains a broad political consensus on the system design. Overall, the reforms are still working. Sore points have been soothed. Problems arise; there are changes every year. There is sometimes controversy.  But the focus now is on marginal improvement within a sound foundation,” he writes.

His paper, which CMM commends to any passing Accordista, is HERE.

plus Rankings began 20 years ago. Angel Calderon (RMIT) reports on what’s changed and what’s about to.

and Ashleigh Prosser and Shannon Johnston (Murdoch U) on Murdoch U’s new teaching and learning building and the CHAT it makes possible. NEW in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

Indexation pain for students (for some it could have been way worse)

The government announces student debt repayment thresholds for ’23

The minimum income increases from $48 000 to $51 000, where the repayment is 1 per cent, it tops out at 10 per cent for incomes over $151 000.

The indexation rate is 7 per cent this year – less a hike than a long march from O.6 per cent in ’21.

For some the news could have been way worse

The Department of Education ethereally announces (detail wise) that it has identified “a small proportion” of past and present HE students whose loan records “were not properly transferred” to their Australian Taxation Office accounts.

So people who did not know what they owed are not “financially disadvantaged” DoE says annual indexation is waived for this and previous years

DoE says it will get in touch with affected people this month and next – “resolved” loan records will appear at  the ATO by August – which may make for media stories of the “students slugged with debts they did not know about” kind.

Buckets of money from the Medical Research Future Fund

Since it got going in 2016-2017 the MRFF has made $1.9bn in grants

And that’s not money nicked from another agency – it’s an extraordinary additional investment in the nation’s health, as set out in the Fund’s new report for 2022-’23.

It’s also been a boon to universities, which account for 85 per cent of grants where payments were made in 2020-22.

In-line with the bipartisan focus on research commercialisation across research funding in general, the MRFF has allocated $146m to seven grants.

A way to build Brand Australia

Austrade’s spend on marketing education offshore tops out at $8m – including staff costs

Which did not strike some at a hearing of the joint parliamentary committee inquiring into international education and tourism as a bunch to build “Brand Australia.”

So where could more national brand bucks come from? “Government is not going to go and borrow tens of millions of dollars more and put it on the national debt for a sector where the providers get tens of billions of dollars of revenue,” committee member Julian Hill (Labor-Vic) said.

But, he asked, would not providers contribute to a collective effort? “They get a seat at the governance table so they can start bossing Austrade around a bit and having some skin in the game.”

To which Felix Pirie, from Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia mentioned there was a way to do the very thing, model for such, a levy, modelled on that which funds the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students.

To which Mr Hill responded, “The proposition for a marketing levy … has floated around for ages, and everyone whispers it in hushed tones—but let’s have the honest conversation—everyone can agree that it’s probably a sensible thing, but the fight would be over the formula.”

Not to mention what sort of brand to build with it – surf and kangaroos or scientists in lab, are alternatives choice that got a mention.

Appointments, achievements

Winners of the  2023 Australian Space Awards include, * academic: Marta Yebra (ANU) * scientist: Iver Cairns (Uni Sydney) * engineer: James Gilbert (ANU)

Edward Wray-Bliss is inaugural professor of business ethics at Edith Cowan U. There’s five years of funding for the chair from the Stan Perron Foundation.

Poet Caitlin Mailing wins Uni Tasmania’s James McAuley Creative Fellowship – it’s named for the university’s famous poet.

The Government announces the National Respectful Relationships Education Expert Working Group (for schools). Members include Peter Buckskin (Uni SA), BJ Newton (UNSW) and Michael Alan Salter (UNSW).