Plus less evolution than revolution at Uni Sydney and private providers ever optimistic 

A for attraction

In the unlikely event any CMM reader is desperate and dateless they should read the results of a literature search on what makes for successful contacts on dating sites by Khalid S Khan (London School of Medicine) and a colleague in Evidence Based Medicine. Apparently an attractive picture and “a fluent headline message” help – who knew! But what did surprise CMM is that people whose surname is Aaberg are likely to do better than the Zyskowski clan – apparently, “a variety of measures of success (eg, educational achievements and income) are correlated with names higher up in the alphabet.” No problem for the X,Y and Zs they can just stick to the usual convention of online dating details and lie.

CEF August B

Death, taxes and uni applications

The University of Melbourne announced the start of enrolment season yesterday, tweeting to Year 12s that “VTAC applications are now open.” Before you notice, it will be summer spin time with institutions explaining why having apps, up, down or the same demonstrates their university’s success..

On-line encouragement

Thanks to a reader for pointing CMM to new research on student participation in online forums by Charles Carceller (University of Wollongong) and colleagues. They find that the pattern of interaction is different for blended and entirely online courses but that high-scoring students will interact with others like them, the same for less successful individuals, which means the latter need nudging to get more out of the forum. This may sound obvious but as online and blended units become ever more common it means teachers face an old demand in a new space.


Good luck with this one

There is no faulting Australian Council for Private Education and Training chief Rod Camm for endless optimism. Yesterday he suggested a way forward for the Pyne deregulation reforms – going with the element that has “widespread support.” Give up what that is? Why, it’s “removing or reducing the administration fee and to allocate commonwealth supported places to non-university higher education providers. … This addresses the inequity for students and builds a competitive environment to support the future reforms, he says.” Mr Camm has an entirely defensible point, apart from the bit about “widespread support.” The public education lobby and the Greens hate for-profit voced providers more than NUHEPs but they would still do everything they could to see the Senate block this.

Unsolicited acclamation

CMM is a big fan of University of South Australia researcher Byron Sharp’s textbook on the laws of marketing science, How Brands Grow. But take not my word for it – there is an expanded edition out on iTunes and iBooks. And if you think marketing is an art, read it.


Dentistry denied

Oh the shame, not only is no Australian institution in QS’s top ten of the world’s best dental schools, the University of Otago is! Uni Melbourne (as usual) leads the Au entries at 14, followed by Uni Adelaide at 25 – and won’t that make the South Australian Government glad they finally renewed U of A’s contract to provide the state dental service. The University of Sydney at 38th is the only other Australian school to make the top 50.

Curtin not drawn on industrial dispute

The NTEU and Curtin University are in the Fair Work Commission over the case of a casual staffer who has asked for a permanent position. The union says it is being denied access of documents on the case (CMM yesterday) to which the university’s VP Corporate Services Ian Callahan replies; “Curtin confirms that it will be responding to NTEU’s claim of the denied access at the Fair Work Commission. As this matter is in dispute, Curtin is unable to comment any further.” CMM suspects the university will not be as clipped before the commission.


Empathy bypass

Edith Cowan U researcher Alfred Allan has found that surgeons who focus on the patient when apologising for surgery gone wrong make the victim feel better than those who explain how stuffing up has made them feel. That there are surgeons who do not know this instinctively scares the sutures out of CMM – the last thing any patient wants is a surgeon who thinks it is all about them.

Apps for the asking

Macquarie U is making a very big investment in enquiry driven learning to prepare students for the working world (CMM April 7), which extends way beyond course design and industry links. “If you could design an app or website to help you with your learning at Macquarie, what would it show you and what would you like it to do?” Danny Liu and leaning analytics colleagues ask. They are inviting students to participate in work on how the university can help them “study better (and) plan more strategically.” This is exactly the sort of value adding that builds university brands.

Dismantled spelling

CMM is in no position to scoff at substandard spelling, but will make an exception for Engineers Australia, which is promoting Australian Engineering Week and urging us all to “discover demoltion engineering.”

mindhive 2

Less evolution than revolution

Vice Chancellor Michael Spence will continue work to inform the University of Sydney’s next five-year plan with a paper this month on research. Dr Spence has already floated ideas about research concentration, in a paper last month that warned, “in many parts of the university, our performance is good but also under pressure, as our national and global competitors are improving at a faster rate than us.” (CMM July 13). There will also be a second education discussion paper, following on from the May paper on the undergraduate experience (CMM, May 26). This is starting to look less like work to grow the existing culture and structures than to transform the nation’s original university.

Doing his best

No one will ever be able to accuse South Australian premier Jay Wetherill of doing nothing as the state economy less slows than stops. From a Royal Commission into nuclear power to self-drive autos for Adelaide, Mr Wetherill is up for innovative ideas great and small to kick start the state. Yesterday’s was an excellent example, a $400 000 fund for the universities of Adelaide and South Australia to spend on securing patent protection for research with commercial potential. A contract to build the new submarine, or a flotilla of frigates, preferably both, it is not. But in the absence of a ship-load of federal money Mr Wetherill is doing what he can.

ACOLA’s asking

Back in May Education Minister Pyne commissioned the Australia Council of Learned Academies to review the research training system, “to ensure it meets Australia’s research needs.” ACOLA is now calling for written submissions, “to provide a fundamental basis for the review, and inform public consultations.” But don’t muck about, deadline is the end of the month.

ANU June 3