Non sequitur of the morning

“Access to safe and effective anaesthesia is something many Australians take for granted, but as recently as the 1980s there was limited training for Mongolian anaesthetists,” the University of Melbourne newsroom, via Twitter, yesterday.

Way too much freedom of information at UTas

The University of Tasmania advises recruitment service provider PageUp may have been hacked.  Information on the PageUp system that could be at risk is from people who successfully applied for uni jobs between January and June may include; bank details, tax file number, address, mobile phone number and licence number.

PageUp started investigating the possibility of a data breach on its site after May 23 and advised the university on June 2 – which seems a bit of a gap. The university went public with its warning yesterday – which also seems a bit of a gap. UTas has contacted/is contacting people direct who may be effected.

UoQ powers ahead

The University of Queensland is spending $125m to less cut than end its electricity bill. The university will commission and when built manage a 154 000 megawatt hour solar generator, more than offsetting the university’s $22m existing and projected electricity consumption.  The plant is planned to be operating in 2019, at Warwick in the state’s Southern Downs region.

Back in 2015 the university commissioned the state’s then largest solar array, with 37 000 power panels at the Gatton campus.


The federal government has reappointed John Pollaers as chair of the Australian Industry and Skills Committee, which is charged with “demystifying the VET system.” Sometime corporate chief Professor Pollaers is an enterprise fellow at the University of Melbourne. Tara Diamond will also continue to demystify VET, being reappointed as the Commonwealth’s representative on AISC.  She is service director with resources and energy industry group AMMA.

Siemens sets up UniSA for future manufacturing

Manufacturer Siemens will extend its engagements in South Australia, with a major investment at the University of South Australia. The manufacturing giant already engages with Flinders U at its Tonsley Park Innovation Hub and now it will provide UniSA with product management software, which academics and students can use for research and training in manufacturing, including naval shipbuilding.

The grant is Siemens third supply of intellectually immense systems to an Australian university. Last August it gave Swinburne U software to create a digitalised “factory of the future” for students from apprentice to PhD, to study manufacturing processes (CMM August 15). And in November it announced the same sort of software would be installed at the University of Western Australia, for programmes including a “virtual twin of an LNG plant, (CMM November 6).

UNE union laughs at proposed pay-rise

University of New England management is giving staff a 1.5 per cent pay-rise, an advance on a new enterprise agreement, in which UNE is expected to want significant changes to conditions (CMM, Monday).

But the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union is way less than impressed. For a start, the union argues, the increase is 35 per cent behind the average for public sector payrise. And management needs to pick up the pace on talks’ “by dropping claims around workplace change, redundancy review, and misconduct and unsatisfactory performance procedures.”

Union vice president Kelvin McQueen says management must start addressing union claims for improved superannuation, job opportunities for casual and fixed term staff, workload regulation, redundancy rights for professional staff, “and a salary increase that isn’t laughable.”

The union also demands management drop proposals for workplace change.

QS lists top-performing unis while U-Multirank doesn’t

QS has a list

Five Australian universities are in the world top 50, with seven in the first 100, as measured by ranking agency QS in its 2019* World University Rankings.

The leaders are ANU-24 (20 last year), UniMelb-39 (=41), UniSydney-42 (=50), UNSW-45 (45), UoQ-48 (=47), Monash U– =59 (60), UWA-91 (93).

The University of Adelaide is lowest ranked of the Group of Eight, as usual in most rankings at 114, down five spots from last year.

But there is less a gap than a chasm between UniAdelaide and next placed UTS at =160, up 16 places on last year.

Other big improvers include, UniTasmania, up 26 places, to 287, Swinburne U, which rises from the 421-430 bracket to =387 and Flinders U which moves up a mountain from the 551-600 group to =478.

Most universities only move marginally from last year but Murdoch U dropped from the 501-550 group to 591-600 and La Trobe U slipped 37 places to =397.

QS says Australian institutions improvement is impeded by declining faculty to student ratios and their global recognition (or lack of it).

The ratings agency bases its findings on international students and faculty (5 per cent each), research citations per staff member (20 per cent), teacher/student ratio (20 per cent) survey of employer opinions 10 per cent) and a survey of academic opinions (40 per cent). The academic survey “collates the expert opinions of over 70,000 individuals in the higher education space,” QS states.

The global top ten is much the same as last year with MIT now surpassing Harvard U, being the world number one for seven consecutive years.

*QS started badging its ranking for the year ahead in 2017. It works for social media metrics.  

The many measures of U-Multirank

Where QS keeps it simple with opinion surveys the fifth issue of U-Multirank, released yesterday, is fiendishly complicated. Just like the first four.

The European system is designed for people who want to compare similar universities across the world on a range of attributes at institution and discipline level. And it is not, that’s NOT, NOT, NOT designed to be the basis of a top to bottom ranking. In fact, U-Multirank goes to a bit of effort, quite a bit, to make doing that too hard.

Instead of scores, universities are compared on coloured dots of different densities, ranging from very small, for weak to largish for very good. And users can compare university performance on teaching and learning (four criteria), research (ten), knowledge transfer (two), international orientation (two) and regional engagement (two) or by 18 subjects.

None of which cannot be summed into a single score. Well users, could create their own system by attributing values to the dots  but why would anybody bother when they could look at QS instead?

There are 29 Australian  and five NZ universities in in the new edition. So how do they compare? Well, there are more big dots than small ones.