The cat has the helm

It’s the anniversary of the birth of Royal Navy explorer Matthew Finders, honoured by the South Australian university which bears his name. To mark the date the university’s Gillian Dooley  reports on the record of cat, Trim RN, who circumnavigated Australia in 1801-03, assisted by Commander Flinders.

It’s good to see Trim restored to rightful memory on deck – in 2015 the university changed the name of its student information service from “Ask Trim” to “Ask Flinders.”

Beyond HELP: degrees that already cost more than HECs covers

Commentators call the government’s proposed $104 00 life-time limit on HECS HELP ($150 000 for med, dentistry and vet) debt a bad idea because it puts a cap on re-skilling but there are already what can be first career-qualifications that break the proposed loan ceiling? The Department of Education and Training has responded to a Senate committee question on notice with a list of “examples” of degree costs that exceed the existing $102 000 cap, with some well above the proposed loan limit.

Bond U: Bachelor of Medical Studies and Doctor of Medicine (both needed to qualify for practise): $378 000

Bond U: Bachelor of Biomedical Science/ Bachelor of Laws: $208 000

Bond U: Bachelor of Laws: $143 000

Bond U: Bachelor of Architecture, $107 000

Monash U: Juris Doctor, $122 000

U of Melbourne: Doctor of Medicine, $282 000

U of Melbourne: Doctor of Dental Surgery, $279 000

U of Melbourne: Master of Architecture, $122 000

UNSW: Juris Doctor, $121 000

Uni of Sydney: Juris Doctor, $120 000

UTS: Juris Doctor: $118 000

Priced into the market

CQU announced last week that if the feds will not subsidise students in its contemplated medical degree the university could prescribe full fees (CMM March 12) instead. But would people pay big dollars to study at Rockhampton? That depends how big the dollars are. With UniMelbourne charging $282k for a full fee medicine degree and Macquarie U $256 000 (for local students) if CQU could keep its costs down it might be able to create a price advantage.

Only 21 weeks to go!

153 days left until NoFrills2018! Don’t forget to submit your abstracts by tomorrow for your chance to be involved.” The estimable National Centre for Vocational Education Research drumming up interest in its conference, via Twitter yesterday. Is somebody at the NCVER doing a certificate in copywriting?

The end for ANDS and other digital data agencies

The end is nigh for the three research data agencies, as the Department of Education and Training strategy rolls out the National Research Data Cloud. After months of consultation with digital data experts the new system will be ready to go in July, taking up “existing functions” of the Australian National Data Service, the National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources and the Research Data Service. The three present agencies will continue until July next year.

The new system comes out of a recommendation in the National Research Infrastructure Roadmap for data-intensive research management. No, CMM did not know about the plan either – the project appears based on the assumption that if you were not involved you would not be interested.

Keeping channels clear at VU

The Victoria U branch of the National Tertiary Education Union has posted its enterprise bargaining log of claims. It’s standard stuff, with the occasional local exception; for example 14 (c) which would forbid, “surveillance or interference of union communications.” CMM is no authority but suspects Victorian law already makes bugging and jamming comms illegal.

Any old ion: a vital sulphide for minerals processing turns out to be fiction

Researchers at UWA and Murdoch U say free sulfide ion S2–    does not exist, which is a problem for alumina refiners as sulphide ions are of “immense commercial value” for processing and clean-up in the oil and gas industries. Peter May, D Batka and Glenn Hefter from Murdoch U and Darren Rowland from UWA used a spectrometer to search for the ion and found, well, it is nowhere to be found, which means that chemistry research 30 years back was “wrongly interpreted.”

“Our recommendation to researchers and teachers is to not accept the existence of sulfide ion in aqueous solution, as there is no evidence for its existence,” Dr Rowland says.

“To avoid conceptual and practical problems … S2−(aq) should be expunged from the chemical literature,” the authors write in Chemical Communications.


Curtin up

Linley Lord will start work in April as provost of Curtin U Singapore. Professor Lord is now chair of academic board, co-lead of the university’s Athena SWAN project, among other university appointments.

John Evans is to be the inaugural PVC of Curtin Dubai. He has previously worked in Dubai as dean of the University of Wollongong campus there. At Curtin U he has served as PVC of the Malaysia campus and director of the university’s Asia Business Centre.

Monash students say they don’t get what they complain for

Arts students at Monash U are complaining about what they claim are cuts to teaching, with sessional staff going and tutorials expanding, “more like an Ed Sheeran show, only bad.”

The university is adamant that “there have been no cuts to staff in the Arts faculty,” but the tone of student complaints is focused on traditional teaching.

“It’s interaction with teachers that makes an education valuable. … We’re asking the university to give us that contact with an educator that is, we’re pretty sure, kind of the whole point of being at university,” the No ArtsCuts campaign complains.

Monash U is bang-on the national average of 80 per cent satisfaction with overall quality of education experience in the QILT student survey. This might mean teaching standards there are what students expect, unless, as in England (CMM yesterday), undergrads are starting to demand what they think they pay for.