NeuRa obscura

Neuroscience Research Australia “has launched a new online destination to make the latest information on neuroscience research, discoveries and treatments more accessible.” And a good thing to. What would have been even better would be including a URL in yesterday’s announcement. NeuRA’s base site is  here.

UniMelbourne first off the blockchain

RMIT has a new centre to study the blockchain, Monash plans to build a blockchain based cryptocurrency exchange but the University of Melbourne has dived in at the deep-end and started using the system.

PVC Innovation Gregor Kennedy reports the university is issuing “recipient-owned credentials” on a blockchain for its Melbourne Teaching Certificate. UniMelb is using the Learning Machine, an enterprise platform that simplifies anchoring official records to the blockchain. Professor Kennedy stresses the university’s existing credentialing system stays but; “we are also interested in exploring how we can build a more diverse credentialing ecosystem.”

Learning Machine uses Blockcerts, a code it developed with the MIT Media Lab and which is open-source available.

150 not out

Herbert W Marsh from the Australian Catholic University has won the Australian Psychological Society’s Distinguished Contribution to Psychological Science Award. Rather making the point he is also, (as far as CMM can discover) the first Australian based researcher to have an H Index of 15o @ Google Scholar (number of papers by the number of times cited).

Treasury’s choice

Elizabeth Baldwin from the University of Queensland has won Treasury’s (no, not the wine company) student essay competition for a paper on how government can encourage productivity growth. Among the runners up Dilan SriDaran (UNSW) and Edward Fowler (ANU) also addressed productivity while Jessica Dunphy (UoQ, again) argued increasing multifactor productivity is important to address Australia’s ageing population. Susannah Stearman (yes, also from UoQ) argued we need more household investment in small and medium enterprises.

MIT doing business in Melbourne and teaching in Brisbane

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology will be back at QUT in February, holding its second innovation and entrepreneurship bootcamp. The six-day course costs $6000, for which the 90 participants get a bunch of pain, plus a concentrated burst of MIT-ness. “You will be pushed beyond your limits,” as this year’s blurb put it; “you will sleep two-four hours a night. You will have fun. This is normal. This is MIT.” Theme for the new sleepless fun-filled course is sustainability.

MIT is also working with Melbourne education provider Cahoot. “Programs to provide state-of-the-art blended learning featuring MIT faculty (are) on the Cahoot Platform,” the Institute explains. Cahoot is providing a six-week online programme on ‘the intersection of leadership and innovation,” featuring MIT’s David Nino, for US$2499. It’s part of MIT’s “professional certificate in leading in the transformative era” with another course starting in December.

Cahoot also provides a platform Stanford U “tools of innovation” course, “facilitated by Stanford experts for the first six weeks.”

The last word at ANU

This year’s ANU last lecturer is art historian Robert Wellington. The last lecture of the year (October 26) is a university tradition, with students nominating the speaker in a digital ballot.

Trackless trains of thought for Macquarie U

The 40 000 people who work and study at Macquarie University are going to miss their train. Late next year the Epping-Chatswood line that serves the university will close for a seven-month upgrade. The campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union fears a train-wreck coming, with the already inadequate road network set to be over-whelmed, there not being enough parking and too little information from the state government on what it will do and when to keep people moving – over 2500 people get off at Macquarie U station between 6 and 9.30 in the morning.

According to union branch president Alison Barns, both union and university are “stymied by the lack of information forthcoming from Transport NSW.” So the union has asked the state opposition to start asking questions in parliament. There’s a campus discussion with shadow transport minister Jodi McKay, Friday fortnight.

As for Macquarie U management, it has formed a steering committee and project working groups on the problem. The university is “carefully reviewing the temporary transport plan, proposed by Transport for NSW, and will provide further updates as they become available,” a representative told CMM yesterday.

Murdoch toughs it out

Murdoch U management says it wants a new enterprise agreement in place by year’s end but from a union perspective it appears the university is keener on talking about talking than sitting down and discussing terms.

The National Tertiary Education Union says it met with the university at the start of September and has tried multiple times to arrange further meetings since then. “The failure of the university to agree to any of the seven proposed dates, or to propose alternative dates, is clearly not consistent with your expressed desire for face to face negotiations, nor your avowed commitment to good faith bargaining,” NTEU General Secretary Grahame McCulloch says in a letter Provost Andrew Taggart. The union has asked the Fair Work Commission to direct the university to start talking.

So, is the University preparing to put an offer to staff without union agreement? Perhaps, this is a high-risk strategy and variations of it have recently failed at James Cook U and the University of Sydney but Murdoch management has demonstrated it is game for just about anything in IR.

The NTEU would hate a university-only offer getting up, hence the push to get management talking in the hope of a deal. “McCulloch is both superbly tough and massively flexible as a negotiator, and if anyone can get this done he can,” a Murdoch-watcher says.

Kyrios makes five at Flinders

Michael Kyrios will become executive dean of Flinders U’s new college of education, psychology and social work in February. He joins from ANU where he is director of the research school of psychology. Leadership of the new Flinders’ six college structure is now all but complete, with medicine still to fill.

Sorry, not every uni will offer big pay rises

It looks like the University of Sydney and Central Queensland U have set the standard for the current round of enterprise bargaining. Certainly, deals being done suggest universities will follow their lead and pay around 2 per cent per annum pay rises without the simplified industrial conditions managements were talking up at the beginning of the year.

But it ain’t necessarily so, according to a close IR observer who argues the University of Sydney and CQU are outliers.

The last round of negotiations on pay and conditions at UniSyd was tough and it would be understandable if management did not want a sequel to that stoush. The books are not in bad shape and with a tradition of being a top payer management appears to have done a deal with the National Tertiary Education Union, lest campus activists dug in for more, the observer suggests. CQU management gets on well with the union and is paying more as a strategy to attract staff.

None of this necessarily applies at other universities, which are offering less per annum, Edith Cowan U around 1.36%, University of Adelaide about 1.6% and Curtin 1.2%. They have all extracted more flexible industrial conditions, although nothing that the union was going to dig in to defend.

On balance, it seems there are two type of management deal makers in this round. There are the pragmatists who use pay as the price of some productivity changes and optimists who go with the flow on the assumption that federal government indexation rises will pay for the giveaways and more of the same in managing staff.