plus elite research groups call for a FAIR go to make access to research fast

UNSW going big on ideatainment 

and the surf is always up on the Sunshine Coast – and Munich

And the Oscar for best bottle goes to …

Swinburne University, which yesterday was promoting the MOUS water bottle/protein shaker, designed by graduates Jarahad Valeri and Matthew Kempe. It was in the Oscar gift packs. Apparently the MOUS’s “round design allows the bottle to be cleaned easily, reducing the chance of bacteria or anything else being stuck in your bottle.” It’s part of a Swinburne tradition of talking up liquid achievements. In 2012 the university announced its Hawthorn campus had a new “water refill and drinking station.” It was a tap in a plastic stand.

And the other envelope please

Another Australian was also honoured at the Oscars. ANU advises that university alumnus Nicholas Apostoloff won an Oscar for digital technology that copies an actor’s expressions onto an  animated character. CMM knows vice chancellors who could use this.

UoQ announces science dean

Melissa Brown is the new executive dean of the University of Queensland’s science faculty. She moves up from associate dean research and deputy executive dean at the university’s medical faculty.

Good morning Mr Buckley, well hello Mr None

The for-profit education and training industry has urged the government to level the playing field in the funding of higher education student loans. In its budget submission, the Australian Council for Private Education and Training points out while its members’ HE courses are regulated by TEQSA, as are those of universities, only students at private providers are slugged with a 25 per cent fee if they use the loan scheme formally known as HECS. “Funding arrangements must be fair for students and sustainable for taxpayers. We support a consistent loan fee applied to all higher education studentsACPET CEO Rod Camm says. He also supports dropping the loan repayment threshold by 20 per cent or so, to $42 000. Both would make Mr Camm’s members more competitive by increasing the repayment burden on students at universities, thus upsetting vice chancellors and students and no wise minister wants to upset the most vocal of the two groups.  CMM suspects students will be slugged with extra/early loan payments this year, but as for upsetting VCs as well, not likely.

Permanent wave

Thanks to Tony Peacock from the CRC Association for the news that of the 15 Bavarian universities on a delegation now in Canberra ten have collaborations with the University of the Sunshine Coast. Not surprising at all given Bavaria’s surfing culture. The Eisbach stream flowing through a city park has a high-volume water flowing over rocks and creates a permanent wave, which people regularly ride.

What postgrads think

The Australian Council for Educational Research is reviewing the Postgraduate Research Experience Questionnaire, with a view to ACER designing a replacement if necessary. The existing survey is 18 years old and designed for a time when there were far fewer postgrads. CMM suspects one big area will need updating – postgrads’ connections to the world outside universities where they will mostly work. Some five of the six scales on the existing survey deal with the process of doing a degree with only one addressing what people will do when they finish. But as John McGagh and colleagues reported last year in a report from Australian Council of Learned Academies, outside the academy is important (CMM April 14 2016. “With a majority of higher degree graduates moving into careers outside university research, providing candidates with an opportunity to collaborate with industry partners can help improve their future employability while giving industry an insight into the benefits of employing researchers,” they wrote.

The ACOLA report also had an idea which officials seem to have decided to ignore, that there is no need for more reports and calling on the feds to just get on with a new strategy.

Hooray for Hugh

Hugh Durrant-Whyte, ex CEO of NICTA and now back at the University of Sydney is Engineers Australia’s M A Sargent medallist. The award is for achievements in electrical engineering.

Ideatainment at UNSW

The University of New South Wales is building its ideatainment brand, as in Thursday’s big night out with a panel discussion on the boom in investment housing. And if you don’t think there is an audience for this you aren’t paying attention to complaints from people in their 20 and 30s that in Sydney and Melbourne flats sell for a dollar multiple of ten on their square meter size.

The university is obviously keen to build its brand in the space, hiring Ann Mossop, head of talks and ideas at the Sydney Opera House, where she has built the Festival of Dangerous Ideas and run a speaker programme which has included, Thomas Piketty, Aung San Suu Kyi, Noam Chomsky and Nigella Lawson.

“The university has ambitious goals in relation to thought leadership at a national and international level. It will be an exciting opportunity for me to work with great people in the university to expand the university’s public engagement with ideas,” Ms Mossop tells friends.

F.A.I.R. go

Last week for-profit journal publisher Elsevier reported a thumping profit, which may not seem fair to people who want to read an article in one of its journals but who are not members of a subscribing institution and accordingly have to pay $40 to do it. None of which goes to the authors and editors involved, or the taxpayers who funded the original work. People may not think its fair either because the Elsevier scientific, technical and medical division of RELX reported a 12 per cent increase in underlying growth, to £2,320m and an adjusted operating margin of 36.8 per cent.

But what is FAIR, as in findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable, is the statement on open access drafted by a working group drawn from the research and data management communities convened by the Universities Australia’s DVCs R committee. The group proposesw a range of requirements to ensure research and data are available to all, with the core demand being, “make research publications immediately free to read at the time of publication through a range of different strategies, either via a publisher’s website or an institutional or other acceptable public repository.”

Not everybody is enthused by the vision; the Australian Research Council, which “provided advice and comments” to the group is sticking with a 12-month embargo on open access to articles published by for-profits in a draft policy update now being prepared.

Big ideas for all     

Thanks to everybody who texted yesterday for one of the five free print copies of the Melbourne Centre for Study of Higher Education’s new book on policy changes in the tertiary ed system. All who missed out can download a copy here.

From UoQ to USQ

Glen Coleman is moving from the University of Queensland, where he is head of the school of veterinary science, to the University of Southern Queensland where he will be executive dean of health, engineering and sciences.