A university that was becalmed is moving forward


University of Sydney’s big win in the QS subject ratings


plus QUT scores two new CRCs


Calmer and smarter

The University of New South Wales reports research by finance professor Peter Swan on women as investors, who found they; “are better at matching their investments to their life goals, tend to trade less and when they do, remain calmer during the storms that unnerve male investors.” Much as they do, in CMM’s experience, in the generality of life.

Marketing fails

Working marketer Daniel Parker does not think much of what is taught in universities setting out what they all do and don’t – and there are more skills in the latter than former categories. “Don’t expect your marketing degree to teach you how to work in marketing. Unless something changes, this is a process you will have to undertake yourself,” he warns, providing a bunch of essential areas he did not learn about at uni.  Scathing, and worth reading for anybody in the business of marketing marketing degrees.

Stairway for selfie stars

As well as its famous Frank Gehry designed building, UTS also has a tower block which looks like something out of the German Democratic Republic, a 27level shocker that puts the B in brutalism. Not only is it ugly it is also slow to get up and down in, despite the installation of new lifts five years back. So UTS is encouraging the community to (and you might want to catch your breath for this) use the stairs for the high traffic trip between levels three and six. There are prizes for people taking selfies of their using the stairs, including chocolates, presumably to encourage winners to use up the calories by climbing some more.

Littlefair leaves Deakin

Deakin PVC Industry and Partnerships Guy Littlefair is moving to the Auckland University of Technology, where he will be PVC and dean of design and creative technologies.

QT scores two CRCs

Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Arthur Sinodinos has announced the winners of the 18th round of cooperative research centres.

CRC for High Performance Soils: has $40m over ten years, “to help farmers bridge the gap between soil science and farm management.” Universities included among a poultice of participants are Newcastle, Charles Sturt, Southern Cross, Murdoch, Tasmania and Federation.

CRC for Honey Bee Products: has $7m for five years of work on quality control.

Food Agility CRC: has $50m for a decade to utilise “the agile culture and processes … to share data to build brand (sic), markets, jobs and exports.” Partners include UTS, QUT and Curtin U.

iMove CRC: has $55m over ten years to use “the digital revolution and evolving vehicle technologies to enable traffic to flow more smoothly, create more efficient connections between transport modes and provide choice to travellers and freight operators through real time information.” QUT is also involved in this.

Unsuccessful shortlisted bids include CRCs in cyber security, and future water use.

La Trobe: fitter at 50

La Trobe U turns 50 today but many of its earlier years were not kind. That it was long known for the red-ish politics of founding staff and students demonstrates that it was still seen as living in the 70s’s long after the SkyHooks broke up. Somehow it never received the applause it deserved for scholarship – La Trobe was home to two  great historians Inga Clendinnen and the Pulitzer Prize winning Rhys Isaac.

Starting as the third university brand in Melbourne it slipped to fourth, or even fifth as the Victorian higher education market became more crowded and competitive over the last two decades. While competing institutions carved out market share by developing teaching-focuses and research-specialities La Trobe plugged along doing a bit of everything.

John Dewar recognised things had to change when he took over five years as vice chancellor and so he changed them. His team invested in targeted research, which is now lifting La Trobe up the rankings – into the world top 400 on two big ones. They upped their efforts in recruitment, with schemes designed for LT U’s diverse regional and suburban markets. They restructured the curriculum – which upset people and they changed the staff mix – upsetting many more who saw colleagues go or lost their own jobs.

Where the university was drifting it is now moving forward. La Trobe is fitter at 50 than it was when younger but not game for change.

Swinburne smart cities appointment

Mark Burry is the foundation director of Swinburne University’s Smart Cities Research Institute. He joins from the University of Melbourne’s School of Design.


A suitable subject for study: the University of Sydney rockets up subject rankings

Oh good, another league table: Ratings agency QS reports Australian performance in its analysis of universities by discipline area.

Super Sydney: The big winner is the University of Sydney which dead-heats with the University of Melbourne, both are rated in the world top 20 for 14 disciplines. UniSydney rates equal first in the world for “sports-related” subjects with the UK’s University of Loughborough.* UniSyd’s 14 top twenty subjects is up from nine last hear, elevating it above ANU (eleven top 20s) and UNSW and the University of Queensland (six subjects each in the global top 20).

Mining the rankings: While Australian institution are listed across a swathe of subjects, a national expertise is apparent with three universities in the world top ten for minerals and mining engineering.

Top ten performers: After UniSyd’s first place, the universities in the world top ten per subjects, are:  Curtin U second in minerals and mining engineering, up from 19 in 2016. Monash U second in pharmacy and pharmacology, up from equal fourth in 2016 and 21st in 2016. The University of Queensland, 3rd in minerals and mining engineering, up from equal 4th in 2016.  UoQ is also 3rd in the world for sports, a first-time listing. UTS rockets up from equal 20th in nursing in 2016 to equal 4th in the world last year. The University of Melbourne moves up two places in education, to equal fifth. UNSW is 5th in the world for minerals and mining engineering, up 11 places. ANU improves in two related discipline areas, moving from eight in 2016 to six for politics and international studies and from 14th to eight in social policy and administration. UniSyd improves from 13th to 9th place in nursing. Griffith U is a first-time entrant on the “hospitality and leisure studies” list at equal 9th. ANU is tenth in the world for geography improving from 17 in 2016 and UniSyd stars for the first time at tenth for anatomy and physiology.

How it’s done: QS uses surveys for its various ranking products plus papers and citation data from Elsevier to create these subject lists.

Still a way to go: QS kindly compliments Australian universities on their performance, pointing out that while there were no top-three institutions in 2016 now there are five and that every university with a top ten discipline has improved that position. But there is still a gap to the global elite.  The top ten institutions around the world on the first ten-subject lists are: Cambridge (36), UCal Berkeley (34), Oxford (33), Stanford (32), MIT (21), UCLA (14), London School of Economics (13), Yale (12) ETH Zurich (ten), Princeton (ten).

* In December the Academic Ranking of World Universities listed Deakin U, first in the world, ahead of Loughborough, with UniSydney 48thCMM December 9 2016)