MOOC of the morning

Griffith U is launching a MOOC (via FutureLearn) on the how and why of assisting people with a disadvantage or disability into work. “Realising career potential: rethinking disability”  is taught by Christine Randall and Vanette McLennan and starts starts on Monday.

As enterprise bargaining drags on UofQ shows staff the money

When union members at the University of Queensland logged on after industrial action yesterday they found an all-staff email from Provost Aidan Byrne. It explained how the university wants to settle the long-running enterprise bargaining dispute and set-out management’s side of the core outstanding issue, extending the span of hours, in which members of the administrative category of professional staff can work their standard shift, to  7am -7pm. “This is an important and necessary change which will help UQ better meet the changing needs of our students. It will also give staff greater flexibility to achieve a work-life balance, recognising that many of us also have carer and parental responsibilities,” Professor Byrne stated. He added the university was also prepared to phase the new hours in over four years.

“We are very concerned that the lack of progress on this issue has significantly delayed finalising the new agreement, headded.

Professor Byrne also included a link to the new pay rates that will kick in if an agreement is reached, presumably to encourage all staff, to consider where their individual interests are.

If UoQ is contemplating putting an offer to a staff  without union agreement this would be a smart way to start the campaign.

For universities and CRCs alike it’s time to start lobbying

The CRC programme lost $20m funding in the budget, but CMM understands at least $15m stayed in the extended family. Word is the money will continue the work of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems CRC, which winds-up mid-year.  With an Antarctic centre first starting at the University of Tasmania in 1991 this wasn’t a bad run, considering lesser CRCs are time-limited to ten years. But Antarctic advocates can make more noise than a plucked penguin when aggrieved which maybe why CRC-like work will go on.

If correct, this decision demonstrates a cross-portfolio determination to avoid what Ralph Waldo Emerson nearly warnd against,  “a foolish policy consistency –  the hobgoblin of little minds.” Over in education, the government will not fund any increase for undergraduate places until 2020 and from then funding will depend on universities meeting as yet unspecified performance measures. But new places are already announced  at the University of the Sunshine Coast, at Southern Cross U and, good lord, at the University of Tasmania.

For CRCs where time is nearly up, as at universities with plans for immediate growth, let the lobbying begin.

Here we go again-another new med school blue

The med ed establishment and allies are not happy with the Murray Darling Med School-lite, announced in the budget and the campaign to stop a repeat seems to have started. CQU is proposing a med school to serve the central Queensland coast, which riverine relevance requires be called the Burnett, Calliope, Fitzroy MS ( CMM March 9). However critics are already responding. The Australian Medical Students Association was in the learned Hannah Sbeghen’s Gladstone Observer story yesterday, explaining the challenge is to attract more young doctors to work in regional centres and that it would take 15 years for grads of a new med school to move through the pipeline to practice. Funnily enough CQU DVC Fiona Coulson, also quoted in the yarn disagreed.

Labor promises to restore demand driven system and create 100 000 fee-free places at TAFE

A Labor government will abolish the government’s “unfair cap on student places” and it will “back public TAFE all the way,” Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said last night in his budget reply.

“Malcolm Turnbull says he can’t find the money to properly fund unis.  But he can find $80 billion to give away to big business and the banks,” Mr Shorten said, committing to creating 200 000 undergraduate places, over 12 years.  Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek added later last night, “We were proud to announce tonight that the demand driven system will be back under Labor.”

The Opposition Leader also committed to “waiving fees for 100 000 TAFE students “in high-priority sectors.”

This was very good news for the public training system and peak lobby TAFE Directors Australia knows it; “fairness in funding for tertiary education will start to be restored if Labor is offered the chance to deliver 100,000 free training places in TAFEs in priority areas, TDA CEO Craig Robertson said last night. “Those people facing fees which stops them from training will now have the opportunity to enrol in TAFEs and pursue their ambition.”

But the Labor leader’s commitment was bad business as usual for the for-profit training sector; “the Opposition’s philosophical support for TAFE, confirmed in the Budget-in Reply, would see a retreat from policies that support diversity and choice for industry and students. “With the growing impact of demographic and digital factors, Australian students and industry need a tertiary education sector that offers greater innovation and flexibility – not less,” Rod Camm from the Australian Council for Private Education and Training said last night.

 Research inquiry for UniAdelaide clears Maryanne Demasi of thesis misconduct

An independent inquiry for the University of Adelaide has found it “could not be satisfied that any research misconduct had occurred,” in the 2004 PhD thesis of medical scientist and controversial science journalist Maryanne Demasi. The panel, chaired by former SA supreme court justice John Suan, investigated whether 17 images in Dr Demassi’s thesis were “duplicated and/or manipulated in a manner that deviated from the applicable standards at the relevant time.”

The inquiry report, quietly published on UniAdelaide’s website, states that Dr Demasi denied the dupication alleged in 14 instances but said she had, or probably had, duplicated images in the other three.

The inquiry heard the original x-ray film of “the impuged figures” was lost, or “discarded in accordance with appropriate records management requirements,” during the 14 years since Dr Demasi submitted her thesis. The inquiry report states the panel accepted this evidence, that “they could not be satisfied that duplication had taken place.”

Dr Demasi said that in the case of the other three images she had understood at the time that duplication was acceptable. “The relevant experts agreed, albeit they considered duplication was not best practice. The panel accepted this evidence. They could not be satisfied that the duplication constituted a deviation from the applicable standards at the relevant time,” the report states.

Mr Sulan’s panel colleagues were, Moira O’Bryan, biological sciences, Monash University; Jacqueline Phillips neurosciences, Macquarie University; and Peter Schofield, Neuroscience Research Australia. They took evidence from independent experts, Dr Demasi, her dissertation supervisors and “a senior researcher” in her lab.

Dr Demasi’s thesis is here. After completing her research, she worked as a medical scientist before becoming a science journalist. Two stories for the ABC, on the safety of Wifi and connections between cholesterol and heart diseases, were extremely controversial.

The University of Adelaide says it has accepted the inquiry’s findings and “no further action will be taken.”

Appointments, achievements of the week

The Royal Society, not the RS for this or that, the rolled-gold original Royal Society has elected eight ANZ/ANZ based fellows: Jillian Banfield (UniMelbourne). Margaret Brimble (UniAuckland). Frank Caruso (UniMebourne). Graeme Jameon (UniNewcastle). Ingrid Scheffer (UniMelbourne). Michelle Simmons (UNSW). Peter Visscher (UofQ). Geordie Wiliamson (UniSydney).  The Royal Society says that Professor Williamson, at 36, is its youngest living fellow.

Murray Hurps joins UTS as director of entrepreneurship. He is a former chief of Sydney start-up facility Fishburners.

University of the Sunshine Coast is very pleased that David Schoeman, Tim Smith and Patrick Nunn are “selected as global authors of a report that will inform every government in the world on climate change,”  – along with the other 718 scientists selected to work on the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change’s sixth assessment report.

The government’s review of the public service will include University of Sydney chancellor Belinda Hutchinson and outgoing University of Melbourne VC Glyn Davis.

Margaret Gardner will continue as Monash U VC through to August 2024, bringing up a decade in the job.

Alan Boddy is appointed head of the School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences at the University of South Australia. He joins from the pharmacy faculty at the University of Sydney.

Dan Grant will become CEO of MTP Connect in July. The federal government Industry Growth Centre “aims to accelerate the rate of growth” for medical technologies, biotechnologies and pharmaceuticals. He joins from La Trobe U where he is PVC industry engagement.

Marcia Devlin is to join Victoria U as DVC and senior VP, she will take charge of the university’s transformation office. Professor Devlin joins from RMIT.

 Vijaya Sundararajan joins La Trobe U next week preparatory to becoming new head of the department of public health in July. She now leads a research team at the University of Melbourne and St Vincent’s Hospital.

The ANU awards for excellence are announced. Winners for teaching are: Bronwyn Finnigan, philosophy, Fei Huang, finance, actuarial studies and statistics. Gemma King, literature, languages and linguistics and Shari Read, management.