Colour coded Open Day of the day

The University of Melbourne has an outdoor OD campaign with copy-lines could come from a self-help manual. There is one with a photo of a young man that reads, “you are your biggest breakthrough” and one with a young woman, which reads “the making of you starts on (OD date) 19 August.” But a learned reader wonders what possessed the university to publish the woman in pink and the bloke in blue.

First sighting of Christmas

Murdoch U has announced its “end of year” staff celebration (December 7).  For people sweating on the academic restructure, Christmas can’t come too soon, a learned reader remarks.

Foundation ideas for rebuilding voced and why we don’t need a “long-winded review”

The learned L H Martin Institute has published a collection of policy papers, “to stimulate discussion on vocational education.”

This is an immensely astute anthology, superbly scheduled to address the commentariat’s consensus that it’s time to remake the role of training in the post-school sector.

There are nine 2018 papers and four earlier essays which combine to create a context for understanding the origins of the present VET mess and what can be done to fix it.

If Labor ever gets to establish its government inquiry into the post-school sector there are papers here that will save a bunch of time on establishing what issues to address – although establishing a case for ending the divide between training and universities would not take long.

“As the need for higher-level vocational education increases, it becomes increasingly nonsensical to retain hard sectoral and funding boundaries between institutions that primarily deliver vocational education and those that primarily deliver higher education. Parity of esteem can only come with parity of policy and resourcing,” as Anne Jones from Victoria U puts it.

But whatever happens has to happen fast. A paper on what is happening overseas as Australia prevaricates, by Ruth Schubert, Leo Goedegebuure and Lynn Meek, explains; “what we definitely do not need is yet another all-encompassing long-winded review of the tertiary sector … we cannot afford to waste time in making the changes, as the world around us is moving rapidly.”

Union calls for continuing employment for new UniCanberra researchers 

The University of Canberra is staffing up, recruiting 50 researchers who will be “assistant professors”. They will get seven year contracts to prove they have, “unbridled potential to boldly take the lead in redefining our university of the future.” During which there will be two performance reviews before they qualify for permanent positions and/or promotion.

The campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union says this is not good enough and that converting the positions to continuing employment is now an enterprise bargaining requirement.

Good-oh, but seven years will surely look good to many research academics subsisting in the precariat of casual contracts, perhaps including some already at UniCanb.

VC in innovative armour

Chief Defence Scientist Alex Zelinsky advises that body armour that stores energy is an Australian innovation on display at the land warfare conference in Adelaide next month. Could be handy when Dr Zelinsky over as University of Newcastle vice chancellor  November.

Innovative Research Unis calls for more uni control of research funding

Government should leave universities to make more of the decisions on what to research, according to the Innovative Research Universities group.

 “Funding for research has been increasing over time, but mostly in funding that is tied to specific projects, “ IRU executive director Conor King has told a hearing of the parliamentary inquiry into research administration.

The IRU claims that just 20 per cent of the $5.3bn allocated to pubic research funding in 2016 in was available to universities to allocate as the chose, down from 26 per cent in 2006. Some $3.77bn in research grants were tied to a specific research stream. The remaining $454 million was a mix of directed and non-directed funding.

The IRU categorises directed funding as generally competitive research grants allocated by the Australian Research Council, National Health and Medical Research Council (category one funds) and the Cooperative Research Centre programme.

The IRU says to increase university decision-making over their own research programmes requires an increase in block grant funding. It warns the existing tied funding mode; “ constrains universities’ ability to implement a coordinated research strategy as well as limiting experimentation and risk-taking in research projects – essential elements of creativity and innovation.”

International endorsements

Universities Australia has produced a series of 60 second videos of international students talking about how much they like studying in Australia. UA will distribute the series via its own channels and international education partners.


Uni teachers and emotional intelligence … it’s a no-brainer

A learned reader suggests Bond U has done well to include emotional intelligence in its criterion for med school selection. “If only universities would take a similar approach with the appointment of academic staff!”

“The core selection criteria of PhD for university lecturers ignores that you don’t only need academic intelligence to be a good lecturer. In fact, some of the worst teachers in universities are those with high IQ but low EQ. Ask any undergraduate student about what delivers better results – the highly-intelligent PhD who reads from Powerpoint slides and doesn’t want to be in the class? Or the lesser-qualified person who actually engages, captivates and communicates with people…?”

Brett wins biography award

La Trobe U emeritus professor Judith Brett has won the National Biography Award for her “beautifully researched and satisfyingly rounded picture’ of prime minister Alfred Deakin. Ms Brett is well-regarded for her studies of the Australian conservatism