Plus paying for peer review

Back to the future, unless its fast forward to the past

Universities Australia is promoting this year’s conference, “Future Sense: universities shaping the new era” – which can mean whatever a reader wants. It’s especially appropriate, giving nobody has a clue what funding model will apply by the time the great and the good convene in late March.


Attribution in error

The Australian Catholic University lists Provost Pauline Nugent as holding a Bachelor of Applied Science from Lincoln Institute of Health Sciences, and a Master of Education from Monash University. However she appears on a 2010 conference preview for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing as Dr Pauline Nugent, on the speakers list for the 2013 annual meeting of the US Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities as Pauline Nugent PhD and as a co-author of a 2009 article in Collegian: the Australian Journal of Nursing Practice 16, 1, January-March 2009 41-45 (Ellen E Ruckholm et al “Scaling up the global nursing health workforce”) as Pauline Nugent RN, PhD. In all cases she is identified as an academic at ACU.

Professor Nugent says she has “never intentionally misrepresented my qualifications and do not (present) myself as having a PhD, everybody who knows me knows I don’t.” She said these examples were previously unknown to her, but such misattribution of titles does happen, especially  in the US “where people give people titles.”

With DVC R Wayne McKenna Professor Nugent is leading a research restructure programme designed to life ACU’s standing by concentrating high quality scholars in specialist institutes. Late last year over half other ACU staff who applied for research time for this year had their allocation cut or abolished.

 Getting there

Department of Education data for November demonstrates international enrolments continue to improve, with all-sector numbers up 65 000, to 583 000. But segments of the crucial higher education market still have a way to go, while the number of Chinese university students was up marginally to 90 000, it was still 5000 down on the 2011 figure. In VET, at 27 000, enrolments from India are still half what they were in 2007.

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Elite award

The Universitas 21 network has announced its 2015 internationalisation awards. Oh come on, you remember Universitas 21 – created in the late ’90s as an elite international network of research institutions to do something or other. It’s still in business with the universities of Melbourne, NSW and Queensland its three Australian members. Rob Forage, head of UNSW Global, which runs pathway and foundation programmes, is one of two winners. The other is Professor Stephen Hillier from the University of Edinburgh, especially honoured for his work on ties between his university and the University of Delhi.

Discretely done

The University of Queensland has very quietly announced the merger of the schools of social work and nursing. There is the usual stuff about how good this is for students, providing them with “a greater understanding of the prevention, remedy and management of human illness with the consideration of the social factors that influence quality of life and the success of healthcare strategies,” but I wonder what it means for social work issues that are not health related. UofQ is very good at combining disciplines, whether everybody likes it or not. Last year humanities dean Tim Dunne merged the journalism and media studies schools basically by consulting everybody into agreement.

 City of undergraduate angels

As university spinners promote the number and qualification of first year applicants here, lest anybody get too carried away consider the University of California, Los Angeles, where applications are up 6 per cent, to 112 000.

Now for the hard part

Trade Minister Andrew Robb has had a rails run, negotiating FTAs with South Korea, India and Japan and he is now going for the quadrella with India. Universities who have tried to set up there will wish him luck but not be betting the campus on his delivering a deal that opens the country to Australian education. Over the years universities have tried to set up in India to be beaten by bureaucracy. And the former national government tried to create an open market for offshore institutions without success – while foreign universities can set up in India with a local partner they can’t take profits out. This protectionism is puzzling, the Indian VET and higher education system cannot cope with demand.


Price of peer review

At the excellent Scholarly Kitchen, Alice Meadows makes a solid case for more support for peer reviewing, arguing that it is fundamental to scholarly publishing, that people should be able to access training to do it and that some commentators make a case for paying people who do it. Ms Meadows makes it clear that the opinions she sets out in the piece are her own and “do not necessarily represent those of my employer.” This is a wise move, given she works for journal publisher Wiley, which benefits from the unpaid labour of peer reviewers just as it does from the work of scholars whose work it publishes for profit, but does not pay.

King hit

Ed Byrne rarely put a foot wrong running the collection of baronies that is the vast Monash University but since taking over at Kings College London he has trod on many, many toes. Professor Byrne backed a rebranding, agreeing with a marketing review which found “college” confused potential students about the institute’s standing and that “Kings London” is a much more market-friendly name. This led to predictable outrage from Kings collegians. (Forget all the guff about commitment to new ideas – university communities always like the livery they have, however archaic. You could suggest changing the name of the Institute for Scrofula Studies and people would complain.)

The Kings review was not Professor Byrne’s mistake; it was commissioned before he arrived. But changing a name with enormous recognition would squander vast brand equity and upset people for insufficient purpose.

After an entirely unnecessary fight it now seems KL is dropped – perhaps lest the Malaysian Government bring a passing-off action. Much grief for no gain makes this a big boot in the bum for Byrne.