Written in stone

“No matter where I go sandstone is everywhere,” Innovative Research Universities chief Conor King tweets, from Malaysia. “We are everywhere,” Group of Eight head Vicki Thomson replies.

All politics is local

Education Minister Simon Birmingham was in Burnie yesterday announcing $750 000 for five welding simulators, “to train and skill-up local welding apprenticed and workers from Tasmanian businesses.” A by-election campaign in Burnie’s federal seat of Braddon you say? Good lord, who would have thought!

The University of the Sunshine Coast starts construction on its Moreton Bay campus tomorrow, at Petrie – near the electorate of Longman, where there is also an election.

There’s more in the Mail

David Myton’s wrap on what’s happening in international higher education is here.

Austrade’s on the case

AusTrade is asking organisations, including higher education industry associations, about a nation brand” for Australia. Apparently, this “is a transformational project to help build a unifying vision and powerful platform to drive Australia’s success today and in the future.”

Austrade is responsible for previous national brand-campaigns, notably “Australia unlimited” with an export education version, “Future unlimited. CMM wonders if it inspired the University of Western Australia’s invocation of infinity, “pursue impossible.”

La Trobe sends for the script doctor

La Trobe U’s Strategic Investment Fund has committed its first cash, $200 000 to fund a script doctor to develop a TV pilot. The source is university historian Clare Wright’s book, The forgotten rebels of Eureka. According to DVC R Keith Nugent this is a “strong signal about the world-class research coming from our College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce.”  CMM has no idea if returns on the investment from a TV series will meet the ARC definition of research commercialisation income.

James Cook U smartens up Townsville campus

The federal government will loan James Cook University $96m for a technology innovation complex at the Townsville campus, to house STEM teaching and research.  The project is part of a refurb plan to “create a more vibrant campus heart.” Vice Chancellor Sandra Harding says the technology centre, “will transform regional businesses and industry.” The university also plans child care and aged care centres and an hotel on the Townsville campus by 2035.

The federal funding is the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund’s first Queensland commitment and its first investment in social infrastructure.

High concept creative

Seen in Sydney, a bus advertisement for the University of Tasmania. There is a pic of young people at a mountain look-out with a copy-line, “education with a view.” Sorry, no idea.

Swinburne and the Tigers kick on

Swinburne University and Richmond Football Club are expanding their diplomas in sports development and leadership to Albury-Wodonga.  Murray-side students will go to class at sports centres in the region owned by Richmond subsidiary, Aligned Leisure.

The partners now teach the programmes at Swinburne’s facilities at Richmond’s Punt Road Oval HQ, which became the Swinburne Centre in a naming rights deal  last year (CMM May 29). The one year FT courses cost $11 000 – $12 000, but qualifies for VET student loans.

Union elections: contested at Monash, quiet at La Trobe

Union elections are off and on. At universities across the country there are a mass of elected positions with one, or no, candidates. No one wants to be branch president of the National Tertiary Education Union at La Trobe U.

But at others there are actual campaigns. Including at Monash U, where branch secretary Adam Fernandes is challenging president Tony Lad and Michelle Giovas is running for VP professional staff against incumbent Mary Cleary. Branch secretary Nic Kimberley is opposed by Barbara Smith.  Fernandes, Cleary and Kimberley are running on a ticket which is said to be backed by influential NTEU-types off campus. Talk is of leadership renewal but the underlying issue appears to be dissatisfaction at the pace of enterprise negotiations.

Business as usual: training numbers down again

The number of Australians in training slid nearly 6 per cent last year from 2016, down to 1.2m, according to new figures from the estimable National Centre for Vocational Education Research. TAFE enrolments were down 5.8 per cent and 8.1 per cent at private providers. The worse providers were in NSW with total enrolments down 30 900 (6.8 per cent) and South Australia, where numbers fell by 11 per cent.

In something approaching, at a distance, good news, apprentices and trainees combing work and training, was up 1.5 per cent.

Achievements, appointments

Amanda Kenny is the inaugural Violet Marshman professor of rural health at La Trobe U. The chair is funded from a $3m gift to the university from the VV Marshman Charitable Trust.  LT U won the money after a “competitive process.”

The University of Queensland has announced its staff excellence awards.


Jake Carroll, Queensland Brain Institute.

The UQx Team (the people who manage UoQ’s 54 MOOCs)


Amanda Carozzi, Institute for Molecular Science

Debra McKenzie, School of Political Science and International Studies

Dermatology Research Admin Team

UQ-GEMSAS Project Team (for Graduate Entry Medical Admissions)

Diversity and inclusion

Pam Schindler, Librarian, Learning and Research Services 

UQ Ally Action Committee Team, supporting the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Plus community

Wellness and Safety

Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences Safety and Wellness team


Mary Garson, School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences

Nicole Makoviney, Research Ethics 

Research Outputs and Impacts team