Building blocks

There’s more competition between the Block Chain three. First RMIT established a block chain study centre, then Monash U announced it will create a cryptocurrency exchange and on Monday UniMelb said was establishing a digital qualification record using a BC. Now RMIT is hosting the BlockChain Association of Australia’s Smart Cities Hackathon, “utilising IOT, blockchain and big data to introduce smart technology to solve real world problems, in one of Australia’s largest cities.” It runs from Friday week to the following Sunday.

Brammer means business: Macquarie dean releases super-faculty master plan

Macquarie University business and economics academics are struggling to cope with the diversity of the different programme needs,” Executive Dean Stephen Brammer says in a review of staff opinion. In research, “we are not where we need to be,” he adds.

Academic staff feel siloed and are not physically or culturally enabled to collaborate in the way that many would like to.”

The report comes as Professor Brammer moves to implement a restructure of the faculty, the Macquarie Graduate School of Management and the Macquarie Applied Finance Centre, being planned since he took over at the beginning of the year. The proposed new structure does not include notable net job losses or savings, with senior managers, rather than staff effected by the integration of three existing management teams. Seven existing management positions translate to the new structure. In MGSM and MAFC three are abolished and two created. Four departments in the faculty become six, marketing and management become stand-alone units and the department of applied finance and actuarial studies-business analytics is also split. Five existing associate dean positions will become eight. Overall the change proposal suggests “no” or “minor impact” for staff across the three existing organisations

Staff comment is due on October 25 with an implementation plan due in late November.

Building cyber-surgeons

Robohub (“connecting the robotics community to the rest of the world”) has announced its 2017 list of the women in robotics the world needs to know about. QUT’s Anjali Jaiprakash is one of them. She works on “vision and control systems for robotic knee arthroscopy” and using machine learning techniques to diagnose retinal conditions.

Voices from the streets

Everybody complains about the way their neighbourhoods work, or don’t. But doing anything about it is hard, unless they use Stanford U researcher Abby King’s Our Voice framework, a methodology for ordinary people to collect and analyse data from their daily lives and use the findings to advocate for their own needs in the community.

University of Queensland researcher Anthony Tuckett and international colleagues suggest old people can use the methodology to find their voice and speak up for what they need to cope. “The great opportunity for public health programmes in the first half of the 21st century is to keep old people healthy longer, delaying or avoiding disability or dependence. The longer people remain mobile and care for themselves (i.e. age in place) the lower are the costs to long-term care to families and society,” Tuckett and team write in a new journal article.

Martin nailed it

“What was the X Factor that gave Martin Luther the edge in leading the Reformation?” the University of Sydney promotes a talk yesterday. Did he sing his 95 Theses?

Birmingham spells out mandatory English language standards for international students

International students must prove their English is up to the standard required for study under new federal government regulations Education Minister Simon Birmingham will announce today.

“What we hear from universities, vocational education providers and from the regulator TEQSA is that some students are slipping through the cracks. Some students simply do not have the English language skills they need to succeed. It means they draw away from getting involved in lectures, tutorials and group study work while their classmates and teachers struggle to bridge the language divide,” Senator Birmingham says.

The new standards will require ELICOS providers to formally assess students, rather than just mark them as having passed a course, which qualifies them to enrol in a tertiary programme. The government will also extend language requirements that now apply to higher education courses to VET. English language courses will also have a mandatory 20 contact study hours a week with a maximum student-teacher ratio of 18 to one. The requirements will provide evidence for TEQSA to assess provider performance.

“These new standards will give more students better skills that will set them up for further study and work in Australia. Our incredible success attracting international students to Australia is reliant on our reputation for quality education, which will be significantly strengthened by these changes,” the minister says.

There were 150 000 ELICOS students in the country last year, with 60 per cent of them moving onto HE and VET courses.

VU union leaders claim management is targeting them for redundancy

Union officials at Victoria University fear management is targeting them for redundancy, with National Tertiary Education Union branch president Paul Adams, secretary David Garland and vice president (professional) Stuart Martin “targeted in the redundancy process.”

“This is three of the four officers of the local branch and cannot be a coincidence,” the union states.

Management is seeking to weaken, if not attempt to cripple the union before starting enterprise bargaining, by removing its leadership,” the NTEU tells members.

The university is yet to respond to a Wednesday morning request for comment.

Bit early for a seasonal snort

The University of Adelaide announces its Waite agriculture research campus is holding its Christmas wine sale, on November 15.

New medical research grants: where the money will go

The National Health and Medical Research Council has announced $197m in new research grants. As usual the six Group of Eight universities with big med research programmes scooped up the cash, accounting for 60 per cent or so of the funding, with 34 universities and research institutions sharing the rest. The top six figure is even higher when related research bodies are added.

UniMelbourne: $26,582,081

Monash U:  $22,789,350

UniSydney: $22,518,589

UNSW: $18,532,371

UofQueensland: $13,534,872

UniAdelaide: $8,276,222

Macquarie U: $7,376,724

Murdoch Children’s Res Inst: $6,376,825

UniNewcastle: $6,024 757

Walter and Eliza Hall: $5, 394,770

Queensland Inst Med Res: $5,099,767

ANU: $4,839,454

UWA: $4,348,629

Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes: $4,178,130

La Trobe U: $3,886,148

UniSA: $3,677,315

UniWollongong: $2,930,672

Macfarlane Burnett Institute: $2,762,956

Garvan Institute: $2,626,353

:James Cook U: $2,519,222

Flinders U: $2,497,978

NSW Cancer Council: $2,486,383

Menzies School Health Res: $  2,381,699

Griffith U:$  2,194,446

Florey Institute: $1,937,325

The George Institute: $  1,631,910

Victor Chang Cardiac Res Inst: $  1,549,080

Curtin U: $1,478,076

Deakin U: $1,116,938

SAHMRI: $1,038,924

UTS: $849,540

Centre for Eye Research: $707,370

UniTas: $637,536

ACU: $431,000

Victoria U: $431,000

Institute for Breathing and Sleep: $329,822

Murdoch U: $318,768

QUT: $318,768

St Vincent’s Inst Med Res: $318,768

Swinburne U: $318,768

No rating Multirank

The new U-Multirank report on science and technology universities is out. The EU supported project is what you might expect, cumbersome, complicated and constructed to avoid any unpleasant comparisons. For a start, there is no actual ranking just a record of how universities go on 14 attributes, from “very good” to “weak”, denoted by blobs of varying size.

Swinburne U, for an unstated reason gets no blobs for teaching and learning but gets biggish ones for the various research, knowledge transfer and international orientation categories.

UTS does much the same, while QUT gets solid scores sorry blobs across all categories, including the teaching-ones.

25 tech stars appointed ATSE fellows

The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering has elected 25 new fellows:

Julie Beeby, chair, Powerlink Queensland

Lachlan Blackhall, chief technology officer, Reposit Power

Peter Corke, Australian Centre for Robotic Vision, (QUT)

Graham Currie, professor of public transport, Monash University

Rocky de Nys, professor of aquaculture, James Cook University

Bronwyn Fox, director of Manufacturing Futures Research Institute, Swinburne University

Steven Frisken, CEO, Cylite (med tech manufacturing)

Ewa Goldys, deputy director ARC Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics, Macquarie University

Kourosh Kayvani, global director Aurecon (engineering)

Mark Kendall, professor bioengineering and nanotechnology, University of Queensland

Linda Kristjanson, VC, Swinburne

Elizabeth Lewis-Gray, MD Gekko Systems (gold and silver processing technology)

Tony Lindsay, director, STELaRLab Lockheed Martin (defence technology)

Xiaoling Liu, director, Newcrest Mining

John Mattick, executive director, Garvan Institute

Ravendra Naidu, CEO, CRC for containment assessment

Tony Peacock, CEO, CRC Association

Brett Phillips, director Cardno (water engineering)

Laura Poole-Warren, PVC research training, UNSW

Andrew Potts, CEO, AMOG Group, (engineering consultancy)

Michael Quigley, adjunct professor, UTS (telecommunications engineering)

Anthony Radford, director, IMNIS (biotech entrepreneur)

Sarah Ryan, director, Woodside Petroleum

Skipp Williamson, MD, Partners in Performance (management consultancy)

Peter Yates, deputy chair, Myer Family Investments

Foreign Fellow: Ya-Qin Zhang, Baidu (internet video provider)