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The Leiden rankings: a remarkable achievement for Australia
Merlin Crossley on risk taking, leaps of faith, the pleasure of being right, and Nessie
UNSW goes the big Bunnings
UNSW wants staff to get involved with philanthropy; “philanthropic giving can add phenomenal volume to our goals and messages, whether it is in the form of financial gifts or volunteering one’s time and expertise,” says university VP Jon Paparsenos.
There is a briefing today on university achievements followed by a, “gold coin donation sausage sizzle.” A learned reader looks forward to seeing Mr Paparsensos on the charity snag stand at Bunnings’ Randwick.
The Wright stuff
ANU names new student accommodation, Wright Hall, for the First Fleet ancestors of Louise Tuckwell, who with husband Graeme have paid for the project, along with scholarships and other campus residences valued at @200m over 30 years (CMM June 13 2016). Wright Hall opens first semester next year with rooms for 428 students. Its moto is tenacitas, comitas, gratia which Ms Tuckwell says she interprets as, “get on with it, get on with each other and be grateful”
Government R&D dollars down, really down
Total state and federal government expenditure on research and development dropped $446m from $3725m in 2012-13 to $3279m in ’16-17, according to new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. As a share of GDP outlays fell from just under 0.3 per cent in 2006-07 to less than 0.2 per cent in ’16-17.
Pure basic research took a big hit, down 29 per cent, or $50m last year, with strategic basic research losing $29m, (3 per cent). Applied research dropped by $47m or 3 per cent hit.
The Group of Eight slams the results; “a nation walks away from investing in research at its peril. Research creates jobs, stimulates the economy, saves and changes lives and contributes significantly to the economic, social and environmental well-being of the Australian community.
““The drop in basic research funding is particularly concerning as it is the start of Australia’s research pipeline,” Group of Eight CEO Vicki Thomson says.
She adds that Group of Eight research generates a ten to one spill-over into the economy.
ARC’s new expert advisors
The Australian Research Council has an entirely new set of advisors. In addition to agency chair Sue Thomas the advisory council now consists of; Kevin Hall (DVC R, UniNewcastle), Duncan Ivison (DVC R, UniSydney), David Lloyd (VC, UniSA), Lynley Marshall (CEO, Museums Victoria), Mark McKenzie (chair, Council of Small Business), Cindy Shannon (Shannon Consulting) and Deborah Terry (VC, Curtin U).
Previous (term-limited) council members will not be feeling relieved of a big burden. According to the ARC’s annual report, following Aidan Byrnes resignation as CEO in September 2016, “the Advisory Council did not meet in 2016–17.”
Lots of graduate supply, not much defence demand
Defence Industry Minister Chris Pyne regularly reports on all the employment opportunities defence spending generates, yesterday he was announcing high-tech contractor Leidos is recruiting graduates. But as a former education minister of the demand driven era perhaps Mr Pyne could be more sensitive to graduate supply-industry demand issues. He reports Leidos will hire 45 graduates for 2019 – from 1384 applicants, 85 per cent more than the last round.
Up in smoke
“No need for a HASHtag?” UNSW reports research on the absence of “strong” evidence in a study of efficacy of cannabis as treatment for non-cancer pain. Including, no doubt, in the joints.
La Trobe proposes a campus lock-in for academic staff
La Trobe University management warns academics they are now “expected to be on campus at all times, unless otherwise arranged.”
“Academic staff are no longer entitled to an ‘automatic’ or ‘deemed’ day per week to work off campus,” a letter from college heads to academic staff states.
The standard text, issued by college heads follows ratification of the university’s new enterprise agreement, just approved by the Fair Work Commission.
The university is taking advantage of removal of clause 25.6, in the previous agreement, which stated “academic employees will be entitled to the equivalent of up to one day in every five working days for carrying out appropriate research work off campus (provided that the staff members make themselves available for required university activities), and if more days are required, they may seek approval from their supervisor.”
CMM understands that this was cut from the new agreement, approved by union negotiators, as superfluous in that it specified what is an agreed practise at many universities, previously including LT U..
However, the university now states each academic must “individually arrange” working off-site with their manager, “It is recommended that such arrangements and agreements to such are recorded in writing, such as a simple email exchange of request and approval,” the letter to staff states.
Cue campus outrage and a warning from the National Tertiary Education Union that this would lead to academics doing their required 35 hours on campus and then asking for over-time for all the other hours they put in. LaTrobe’s HR leadership “have no concept of the nature of academic work,” says union state secretary Colin Long.
La Trobe workplace relations management did not respond to a request for comment last night however the university did issue a statement;
“We have had discussion with the NTEU and acknowledged staff concerns. We will be communicating with academic staff in the coming days to alleviate these concerns. La Trobe supports flexible working arrangements and encourages discussion about these between academics and their supervisors.”
Bigger bucks for MIT Brisbane bootcamp
The QUT-MIT Brisbane bootcamp week for aspiring entrepreneurs is on again, in February. It’s the third year and if the first two are an indication it will pack them in. So, the organisers have jacked the price up. Last year participants paid US$6000 for the week, next year is US$6500. It’s a full-on experience, “you will sleep two-four hours a night. You will have fun. This is normal. This is MIT,” organisers advise. People willing to pay A$8 800 for one big week, (not much short of the $11 000 per annum, a Commonwealth Supported Place in a QUT business degree costs) do not need convincing that MIT entrepreneurs know what they are doing.
What is in a name
A learned reader points to a gender analysis of medical journal peer reviewers (in The Lancet) that found blokes do the bulk of reviewing. Jacob Steinberg (Albert Einstein College of Medicine) and colleagues identified the most common female and male names of reviewers per journal as used them as a proxy for the gender split. They found that 19 per cent of reviewers for nine prominent journals were women.
Women made up just 10 per cent of reviewers for The Lancet. Despite 62 per cent of paediatricians being women only 28 per cent of reviewers for the journal Paediatrics were female.
Appointments of the week
Willy Zwaenepoel, has started as dean of engineering and IT at the University of Sydney. His appointment, from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne was announced in December.
Peter Stuckey returns to Monash U, where he will be an IT professor, continuing his work on constraint programming and optimisation problems (sorry, no idea). Professor Stuckey did his undergraduate and PhD degrees from Monash U. He is now at the University of Melbourne.
Patricia Illing from Monash U and Laura McKay from the Peter Doherty Institute are two of the three winners of the first Michelson Prize for Human Immunology and Vaccine Research. Ansuman Satpathy from Stanford is the third.
The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership has five new directors; Beth Blackwood, Renez Lammon, Peter Lind, Mark Mowbray and Donna Pendergast. They join Chair John Hattie and deputy Chris Wardlaw and reappointed directors Jennifer Buckingham, Tony Cook, and Rob Nairn. Outgoing directors are Tania Aspland, Stephen Elder, Trevor Fletcher, Geoffrey Newcombe and Melanie Saba.
Perth chemical engineer Jeannette Roberts joins the board of the Australian Institute of Marine Science.
Travis Heeney starts work today as CEO of the Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE, (badged as GoTAFE).
Tanya Monro is appointed to SA Premier Steven Marshall’s economic advisory council. Professor Monro is DVC R of the University of South Australia. Bill Spurr, chair of the international student marketing agency, Destination Adelaide, is also appointed.
Christopher Rowe from Austin Health (hon chair at the University of Melbourne) is thefoundation chief investigator of the federal government’s new Australian Dementia Network.
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.”
University of Melbourne professor, Joy Damousi is elected unopposed as president of the Australian Historical Association. So were all the other nine members of the new executive committee.
Rowan Callick is joining Griffith U’s Asia Institute, where he will “facilitate conversations and build links (with) the business community as an industry fellow.” Mr Callick will continue to contribute to The Australian newspaper, where he is now a journalist. This is a big win for GU, Callick is an outstanding new reporter and an astute analyst of East Asia.