plus Flinders MOOC to die for

and sweat all the stuff to stay sharp

Grant to CSU

Journalist Stan Grant will take up a new chair of indigenous affairs at Charles Sturt University next week. Want to know why this bloke has a lot to teach all CSU students? Read this speech.



Macquarie Management School

Macquarie University VC S Bruce Dowton has written to Graduate School of Management and Faculty of Business and Economics staff reporting consultations on the “alignment project” between the two. Discussions include the mix of digital and in-person teaching, which surely isn’t alarming for staff not ready to retire. But what will scare some is the VC’s report that “deep and thoughtful integration with business and industry partners was identified as fundamental to the future of both the faculty and the school, along with a greater convergence of people, resources, activities and facilities.”

“Convergence”? Sounds like a merger is decided with details to be determined. And that process will start shortly, “I have asked a number of colleagues to join a working party that I will chair,” Professor Dowton says.

The news follows MGSM head Alex Frino’s move to the University of Wollongong, announced in February. His colleague, marketing professor Charles Areni followed last month (CMM May 26.) Executive Dean of Business, Mark Gabbott has also left the university (CMM February 25)

Where once there were dozens of graduate management schools now there is MGSM, but not a Macquarie observer suggests, for long.

Another MOOC that matters

Flinders U joins innovating universities who have grasped the community service potential of the MOOC with a four-week course on death and how we do, or don’t deal with it. “Dying2Learn MOOC will explore social and physical issues around death and dying, and look at how concepts and representations of death have changed over time,” the university announces. Flinders joins UTas which has a MOOC on dementia (70 000 starters and up to 45 per cent completers), U of Adelaide has one on addiction, Swinburne an autism MOOC and the University of Queensland one on working with intellectual disability. Good on them all – if knowledge empowers to defeat disadvantage then a core purpose of MOOCS must be to liberate people from fears and help those with burdens they too often bear alone.


Very early outrage

Energetic Andrew Vann was out early yesterday attacking the idea that universities that don’t research should focus on teaching. Within an hour of CMM reporting Allen Pettigrew’s plan the Charles Sturt U VC was in a high harrumph. “Does our national research conversation sound like ‘the only people allowed to play sport are the Olympic team’” he tweeted at an egregiously early hour. “Come to think of it, maybe the only universities given teaching money should be those who excel on graduate teaching stats,” he added, still on the early side of 7am.

Local to lead Sydney Con

The University of Sydney has looked within for a new head of its Conservatorium of Music after a short term US import left. Anna Reid, a staffer since 2010, acted as dean during 2011-12 and again since last July, steps up from her substantive post as head of school. She replaces Michael Kramer who resigned in April 2015 to return to the US for “personal and family reasons” (CMM April 20 2015).

No brainer

Sweating stuff, be it large or small, can prevent cognitive decline. A 20 year University of Melbourne study of hundreds of women now in old age has found a correlation between exercise in their 40s and 50s and better memory now. “The message from our study is very simple. Do more physical activity, it doesn’t matter what, just move more and more often. It helps your heart, your body and prevents obesity and diabetes and now we know it can help your brain, ” says Associate Professor Cassandra Szoeke from the Women’s Healthy Ageing Project.

Academic freedom always threatened from within and without

“The privatisation of universities is threatening the freedoms that academics are entitled to by law,” ABC reporter Kim Landers warned on radio yesterday. She was referring to La Trobe’s short-lived serious misconduct charge against staffer Roz Ward last week.

Um, since when was La Trobe privatised? In fact what NTEU Victorian state secretary Colin Long warned against in the piece was people from the private sector who don’t understand academic culture taking senior university jobs. “They don’t have a real sense of what academic freedom is about and they are very much focused on running institutions as a business,” he said.

Dr Long has a point. In March a Murdoch U manager instructed an academic to delete a tweeted photo of students holding a banner stating support for refugees (CMM March 4.) The instruction was quickly withdrawn (and acting VC Andrew Taggart  supported the students) but it demonstrated a disconnect between administrators who want to avoid controversy and academics who speak up. But as for any idea that public sector managers are respectful of dissent while corporate types seek to censor, not so much. The first campus censorship case CMM knows of in Australia occurred when University of Sydney academic G Arnold Wood denounced the Boer War and was publicly attacked – by another academic, Mungo MacCallum.

SCAPA16246 CMM Vote v2a

Creative of the day

Is Deakin U’s  engineering recruitment spot, “Superheroing” “The kind of superheroes this planet needs are the kind that can engineer our future,” the advert announces, contrasting Superman washing cars for a quid, (there’s not much real-world demand for super powers) with students working in the university labs. It’s bang-on branding matching engineering with idealism and study with cool kit, “high voltage and virtual reality labs” plus 3D printing! Good fun well targeted.

UNSW moves to keep the ATAR alive

Then UNSW DVC Academic Iain Martin (January 23) “Let’s have a constructive debate about what could replace the ATAR alone as a fairer, more comprehensive and contextual measure of academic potential” here .

Present UNSW DVC Education Merlin Crossley, yesterday: “There is a perception in some circles that the expansion of university places via the ‘demand driven system’ means that ATARs are no longer relevant but this is not the case at highly competitive institutions like UNSW.”

And Professor Crossley intends to prove it. UNSW is following the Universities Australia plan(CMM Monday) to keep the ATAR alive by reporting what it actually takes to enrol in a course on the basis of the score. Professor Crossley says UNSW will publish data showing “the number of high school leavers receiving offers, the median ATAR and range (minimum, lower quartile, upper quartile and maximum) for each degree. We also detail how many offers we make to non-school leavers (including mature age students, those transferring between degrees, those who have deferred, students joining from other institutions such as TAFE, and others entering via targeted access and equity programs for specific under-privileged groups).” 2016 figures are here.

New friends of Flinders

Flinders U has announced new Matthew Flinders Research Fellows, Rosalie Grivell and Stuart Brierley. Flinders fellowships are for three to five years minimum and go to researchers with high impact achievements that fit the university’s strengths. Aspro Grivell researches maternal foetal medicine and joins Flinders from the University of Adelaide. Aspro Brierley is also moving from UoA to continue his work on visceral pain, nutrition and gastrointestinal diseases.