Plus nothing between political bat and policy pad at Unis Aus and Group of Eight

and hooray for Fed U’s honest advertising

The chemistry isn’t right

From the astounding insight desk comes Deakin University news that; “if you’re looking for advice on how to find true love or save your marriage, then it’s best you don’t turn to reality romance television shows claiming to be based on science.” So much for love all being about chemistry.


Diplomacy in demand

Michael Wesley is the new dean of the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific. The eminent scholar of geo-political strategy replaces Veronica Taylor, who moves to the university’s School of Regulation and Global Governance. Professor Taylor’s diplomatic skills will be in demand given the continuing bitterness over staff cuts in the college‘s School of Culture History and Languages.

Not that you would know it from VC Brian Schmidt’s farewell to Professor Taylor, “who led the college through a challenging time with great distinction and integrity, and performed the role with extraordinary commitment and vigour. … I will miss the insightful collegiality that she has brought to the senior management group of the university.”

Good for you Fed U

Federation University understands its market and creates recruitment comms that focuses on the wants and needs of prospective students. The budgets aren’t big and no Fed U advert bangs on about the way their graduates become secretary generals of the UN but they demonstrate the university respects people considering studying their by taking their aspirations seriously. So  good for FU in winning this year’s comms best practice award from the Association of Tertiary Education Managers.

Road not yet travelled

The Regional Universities Network thinks the research infrastructure roadmap is a way forward but suggests a better path for ag science should be beaten. According to RUN, the problem for ag research now is that most work is done by the various producer funded statutory rural research and development corporations and they aren’t allowed to fund infrastructure. RUN accordingly proposes an independent national collection of all the data the RDCs collect. “This database would represent value for money as it would decrease the potential for similar projects to be funded independently across funding bodies and increase the already strong collaboration between industry bodies, farmers and research groups.

RUN being RUN it also suggests basing the centre in a regional centre, which should endear the idea to Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, who is more enthusiastic than successful about relocating RDCs to towns where there are actual farmers.


Provost Parfitt

Andrew Parfitt will be the next provost at UTS. He is now DVC Academic at the University of Newcastle. Professor Parfitt will arrive in December and take-over from long-serving Peter Booth in February.

Pragmatism prevails

With $100k degrees long gone higher education funding has returned to its usual invisibility on the policy radar, demonstrated by submissions to the Senate committee inquiry into the government’s omnibus savings bill. A great many submissions oppose cuts to green energy research, the three South Australian universities made a joint submission opposing them. And people in biomedicine are unhappy with the reduction in the R&D tax concession. But measures specifically targeting education aren’t upsetting anybody much with the Group of Eight (CMM yesterday) and Universities Australia alone in making submissions. They both support a lower HECS threshold and oppose using CPI for funding indexation but in measured tones. Policy as the art of the possible.

Born in the USA

Christina Keneally is joining the board of the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. The former NSW premier grew up in Ohio.


Not enough of them

Demonstrating all news is good news if you know how to sell it the University of Sydney is promoting its six highly cited scholars in the new Thomson Reuters list, which is a foundation for the Academic Ranking of World Universities released last week. They are: Bruce Armstrong (public health), Adrian Bauman (public health) Robert G Cumming (epidemiology), Manfred Lenzen (physics), Alexander McBratney (agriculture) and Mark Woodward (biostats). “This new distinction highlights the exceptional contribution these eminent scholars are making to their research fields,” Provost Duncan Ivison says. Four of the super six certainly helped deliver a strong result in the ARWU medicine and pharmacy ranking (CMM yesterday). UniSydney improved 65 places to be 36 in the world and third in Australia, after the University of Melbourne (one and 26) and Monash (two and 34).

The problem is overall UniSyd did not have an outstanding ARWU this year (CMM Friday) and to an extent this was probably due to it’s relatively small number of HICI researchers. Among the Go8, Uni Sydney is equal 4th, with Uni Adelaide and less than half the top performers of UniMelb and UoQ and half that of Monash. To paraphrase Napoleon I on the Duke of Wellington’s infantry, some UoS researchers are the best in the world, there are just not many of them.

Power over planets

QUT’s Cube is a bunch of fun, 190 metres of screen across two stories that immerse visitors in interactive displays. CMM was greatly taken with the coral sea life swimming around him the day he was there. QUT likes to launch new worlds for school holidays (last summer’s dinosaurs were a hit) and this month will open Physics Observatory, which will run right through the summer. This is based on an early Cube project, Physics Playroom and features an interactive solar system that demonstrates laws of physics as visitors change change gravity across the solar system.

Dolt of the day

Is CMM, the free speech seminar at the University of Melbourne is 5.30pm for 6pm this evening, not 7pm as CMM reported yesterday.