Nothing lame about this duck

Congratulations for Duncan Maskell, announced as incoming VC of the University of Melbourne yesterday, were matched by compliments for outgoing Glyn Davis on what a good job he had done. Good-o but Professor Davis is going nowhere for a year and with Provost Margaret Sheil moving to QUT as VC in February Professor Davis will still have a bit to do.

There’s more in the Mail

CMM this morning features David Myton’s higher education roundup,

UniCanberra plan to make the city its own

The University of Canberra will create a “lifelong learning community” evolving “into a series of interconnected precincts, with thousands of people living on campus and calling UC home.”

The vision is set out in Vice Chancellor Deep Saini’s new plan, announced yesterday. Professor Saini, in office for a year, builds on the thinking of his predecessor Stephen Parker, who aspired to embed UoC in the life of the city as a provider of kindergarten to post doc education, plus health, sporting and cultural services.

Professor Saini now says the university “will boost on-site energy through an influx of researchers, businesses, services and new residents.”

“Facilities embedded across campus to promote innovation and entrepreneurship, and the strategic development of health, sport and education precincts will be guided by and integrated with the university’s academic priorities.”

This is smart strategy. UniCanberra cannot compete with vastly richer and higher profile ANU, which pitches itself as a university for the country and presenting Australia to the world. But Professor Saini can make his a campus for its city.

The new plan also emphasises community connections in it academic objectives promising to provide graduates with “lifetime career assistance,” “including access to professional development, discounted further studies, career services and professional affiliations.”

As to actual benchmarks, the plan confines itself to aspirations, including; “while fostering strong alignment between research and teaching, we will aspire to be ranked in the top quartile nationally for teaching quality in all disciplines in which we teach. We will concentrate our resources to promote innovation and entrepreneurship, and aspire to rank above the national average for measures of engagement and impact.”


Charles Sturt U’s miracle ingredient

For the eighth year in a row two student teams from Charles Sturt University are in the finals of the International Advertising Association’s big idea competition. CSU teams have won the competition 11 times. The finalists now must create a campaign for a real client next month. So what is CSU’s secret ingredient, you ask. CMM suspects it’s long-time lecturer Anne Llewellyn, who has worked with all the teams. Edith Cowan U has also done well this year, also having two teams in the finals

UK scientist to replace Glyn Davis at University of Melbourne

The University of Melbourne has named its next vice chancellor. Duncan Maskell, now at the University of Cambridge will take over at Parkville next October.

According to UniMelb, Professor Maskell’s present role, senior PVC (planning and resources) “is the closest equivalent” to provost at Cambridge. A Cambridge graduate his research field is bacterial infectious diseases in humans and animals. He is a co-founder of three start-ups, including Arrow Therapeutics, which sold for US$150m in 2007.

Hs appointment means Australia’s original universities will have VCs from their English equivalents, with Michael Spence (ex Oxford) at UniSydney.

Other UK imports among the Group of Eight are Dawn Freshwater at UWA and Ian Jacobs at UNSW.

“High-level university in a great city” says next Uni Melbourne VC

Duncan Maskell was in the frame for other university jobs but none appealed like the University of Melbourne, “a great university in a great city,” he told CMM last night.

“It’s a comprehensive university with a high level of excellent research and an innovative teaching model.”

And he says he looks forward to life in a city he first visited in 1994, “to see England hammered in the Test,” saying he senses “a great affection for the university” around town.  It makes, he agrees a great case for naming the Parkville station on the metro line being built “University.”

On broader public issues he would not be drawn, “higher education funding is an issue around the world.”  However, he makes it clear that he will be an advocate for his university and what it can accomplish.

Higher education is good for society, it is more than an ideal. It drives economies and it gives nations presence on the world stage. Money spent on higher education is never wasted. “

They didn’t touch that dial

Trade site RadioInfo reports QUT was the top advertiser on Brisbane radio this week with over a third of its 357 spots on Hit105. In the Perth market Edith Cowan U was 4th with 174 and in Geelong the Gordon Institute of TAFE was the biggest radio advertiser.

Lifting our game in early childhood education

Early childhood education focuses on cost and ignores quality, a new report from Victoria U’s Mitchell Institute finds. According to Kate Torrii, Stacey Fox and Dan Cloney, “supports that build the capability of the educator workforce have not yet been embedded effectively across the early education workforce.”

They call for a review of pre-service university and VET qualifications to ensure they focus on ways to develop children’s learning and access to professional learning for ECE workers.

“The evidence is clear that quality in early learning is driven by educators who can provide effective learning opportunities and emotionally supportive interactions with children. In order to lift quality across the system, supports that strengthen early childhood educator capability must be a core focus.”

Three out of four: Curtin and the union reach agreement

Curtin University has struck a deal with the National Tertiary Education Union. The heads of an enterprise agreement was reached weeks and union members at the university have approved terms in principle back but it has taken time to deal with detail. However CMM hears staff are now being told terms. Key parts of the agreement are:

* $1550 pay increase plus 4.7 per cent over four years. This translate to 5.4% for higher paid people to 7.9 % for other staff

* 17% superannuation for all fixed term staff from 2021

* 17% superannuation for all part-time staff, not just people workin 0.5 FTE

* in a big achievement for the union existing committee reviews of misconduct/unsatisfactory performance remain. These are given up at other universities.

Overall this is a good outcome for the union, which now has agreements with UWA and Edith Cowan and one to come at Curtin U. The union will be quick to point out that three university managements in the west were able to reach agreement with the same negotiators Murdoch U has fought so hard.

The challenge for TAFE: less complaining more competing

The cold war between advocates of VET and higher education is heating up. For months Labor frontbenchers have talked up TAFE (they use it as a synonym for training) and called for more funding. Last week NXT MP Rebekha Sharkie used graduate unemployment as one of the reasons for blocking the government’s HE funding changes. And yesterday the Sydney Daily Telegraph reported the head of TAFE NSW getting stuck into university education along the same lines.

Not so, according to state education minister, Rob Stokes. “It is a mistake to talk down the value of universities in a populist attempt to pit the higher education and vocational education sectors against each other the NSW education minister says.

“Both sectors are vitally important to NSW, and it is important that people have a range of choices when it comes to tertiary education. It is unhelpful to suggest that one is better than the other.”

While TAFE is not in his portfolio, Mr Stokes does not have much choice but to speak up.

There is no doubt TAFE is in image trouble – seen as second-best by young people across the country and ignored by many who actually want to learn trade skills not a degree (CMM ). But whose fault is that? The TAFE lobby fairly blames the VET FEE HELP shambles but also says there is no role for private providers in training. However state governments that have not reformed TAFE to compete with universities have much more to do with it. The reality is that employers with workers training at TAFE are generally ok with it.   New research from the estimable National Centre for Vocational Education Research reports 81 per cent of such employers are satisfied with provided training. Less TAFE complaining more competing will cool things down.

Heads Up: wins at work this week


Cathy Sherry from UNSW is the academic of the year in trade journal Lawyers Weekly 2017 Women in Law awardsMarija Yelavich from Western Sydney U is student of the year.

The University of Sydney has a new dean of veterinary science. Frazer Allan will take over in February. He is now DVC Engagement at Victoria University of Wellington.

The NSW Premier’s awards in science and engineering are announced.

Scientist of the Year: Gordon Wallace, University of Wollongong

Biological Sciences: Edward Holmes, University of Sydney

Medical Biological Sciences: Sally Dunwoodie, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute

Engineering and ICT: Sarah Johnson, University of Newcastle

Energy Innovation: Brett Hallam, UNSW

Early Career Researcher: Susan Hua, University of Newcastle

Innovation: Maria Kavallaris, UNSW Sydney

Innovation in NSW Public Sector Science and Engineering: Wayne O’Connor, NSW Department of Primary Industries

Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education: Brett Mckay


The 2017 L’Oreal Women in Science ANZ Fellowships are announced. The winners receive $25 000 for a 12-month project. They are:

Matire Harwood who studies the health of Indigenous communities at the University of Auckland.

Jaclyn Pearson from the Hudson Institute of Medical Research for research on inflammatory bowel disease.

Jacq Romero from the University of Queensland who uses light to create quantum encoding systems (sorry, CMM has no clue).

Stephanie Simonds at Monash U works on the link between cardiovascular disease and obesity.

Deborah Williamson, from the Peter Doherty Institute is funded for work on antibiotic resistance


Monash U has named its 2017 alumni distinguished fellows:

Greg Baxter, Chief Digital Officer, MetLife

Richard Bolt, Victorian public servant

Anna Burke, former MP and speaker of the House of Representatives

Graham Cunningham, Victorian government financial adviser

Dale Fisher, chief executive, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Dimitra Manis, HR chief, Revlon

Elaine Rodrigo, chief strategist, Danone

Tang Kim Chuen, president satellite systems, Singapore Technologies Electronics Limited

Greg Vines deputy DG  International Labour Organisation

Former federal minister Bruce Billson and Monash U economist John Nieuwenhuysenwere made honorary fellows