And the Dave goes to …

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment has $5.8m in the budget,  “to undertake a scoping study of potential options to accelerate the translation and commercialisation of research.”

Dave? Oh come on, you remember Dave – (played by Kevin Kline, in the eponymous 1995 movie about a US president look-a-like who ends up in the White House where he cuts spending the country could manage without).

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

David Kellermann (UNSW) on creating a serious solution for on-line lecturing. Curated content from Microsoft.

Kym Fraser (Swinburne U) and Denise Chalmers (UWA) on why quality teaching should be the basis of performance funding.  This week’s selection by Contributing Editor Sally Kift for her series on what is needed now in teaching and learning.

Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on university promotion systems- they work on talent, performance, persistence, plus luck and no two paths are the same.

Tracey Bretag dies

Professor Bretag died yesterday, of cancer

The Uni SA academic wrote the books on academic integrity and was a world-leader in researching why it happened and what to do about it.  “She was a great champion of integrity in education, a wonderful colleague, a really nice person and she will be missed,” Uni SA VC David Lloyd said last night.

CMM reported her work for years and was always impressed.

$1bn extra for research: good as long as it lasts  

The commitment was universally welcomed by HE lobbies on budget night

But while a year in politics is an epoch the crisis in research funding Australia faces will continue for an aeon, beyond the forward estimates.

Unless of course, the international students whose fees have paid for the great growth in research come back. All of them, and starting next year.

If they don’t a one-off $1bn hike won’t cut it but $1bn in growth money, annually for the next four years might. Frank Larkins and Ian Marshman from the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education  estimate, “new and targeted funding of several billion dollars over the next five years will be required.”

Uni Sydney VC Michael Spence said what research leaders are thinking yesterday; “this very welcome research support programme one-off boost comes in the context of a longer-term slide in research funding.”

So, there’s going to be a vaccine soon, huh?

But just in case there isn’t

There’s $25m in the budget for the feds to respond flexibly and quickly to emerging priorities and educational challenges presented by COVID-19.” Programme life is five years.

Regulator takes step toward renewing Murdoch U’s registration

Vice Chancellor Eeva Leinonen told staff yesterday the higher education regulator, “confirmed it is satisfied Murdoch University’s international student admissions and English proficiency requirements meet the requirements”

Registration of all public universities by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency occurs routinely every seven-years and Murdoch U’s expired this year.  However in the lead-up to the long process involved, last year Murdoch U faced allegations that its international student admissions and English proficiency requirements were not always of sufficient standard.

But the university has now satisfied a TEQSA compliance assessment. 

“During the course of the assessment, the university self-identified a number of areas that would benefit from improved document management, record keeping and other processes which we have implemented. Our analysis found there was no systemic misapplication of admissions criteria, however, there were some specific cases identified and we immediately implemented remedial changes,” Professor Leinonen said yesterday.

“I am pleased TEQSA acknowledged Murdoch’s continuing improvement agenda and the co-operation it has received during the process.”

In May 2019, the regulator commenced this “compliance assessment” of the university, following allegations on ABC TV’s Four Corners regarding academic standards among international students, allegations the university strenuously rejected.


Research money by the bath, barrel and bucket  

There’s cash in the budget papers

By the bath

* CSIRO gets $455m over four years in new money. Most of it is “to address the impacts of COVID-19 on commercial activities and ensure it is able to continue essential scientific research.” There’s also $5m to upgrade agriculture and grazing research facilities

* there’s $223m over four years for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to invest in research and development for “emerging low emission technologies”

* plus, there’s an unspecified share of the $1.3bn Modern Manufacturing Initiative, “for translating research into commercial outcomes”

* and 235m over four years for VET admin, consumer advice and skills development programmes

By the barrel

*  There’s $60m for new NCRIS investment; Great Barrier Reef research, synthetic biology, climate simulation and HASS and Indigenous e-research platforms. But they are not funded by new money, it’s all from the Research Infrastructure Investment Plan

* there is $50m for research by the new Carbon Capture Use and Storage Development Fund

* and the Strategic University Reform Fund has $41m over four years, “to bring together universities and local industries to partner on innovative reform projects”

* $27m over five years will go to “enhance” young people’s STEM skills

* there is $25 million over five years for a Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Industry Cadetship program. This will support 500 women working in STEM industries to complete a work-study based advanced diploma

* the University of Adelaide gets $20m over four years for a centre for augmented reasoning, smarties tell CMM this is all about artificial intelligence.

By the bucket

* $10m for Regional Cooperative Research Centres’ work on recycling (not new money), “to address the impacts of COVID-19 on its commercial activities and ensure it is able to continue essential scientific research”

* $5.8m for the Department of Education, Skills and Employment “to undertake a scoping study of potential options to accelerate the translation and commercialisation of research.”  (CMM did not make this up).

* $5m for the Regional Australia Institute, “to fund research and support an awareness campaign promoting regional Australia.” (CMM did not make this one up either).

And the winners are …

Conor King (Innovative Research Universities) on which unis win from the interaction of all government policies in the Budget. “The best placed universities are research strong, moderately involved in international student education, and have a strong demand for law, business and humanities degrees,” Perhaps not what Minister Tehan has entirely in mind.

Farewell the Three F’s: R&D tax incentive stays

There’s a $1.020 bn in the budget for the Research and Development Tax Incentive

What, the programme the Review of the Three Fs wanted to scale back, which the government has had a couple of goes at doing, you ask? That’s it, the reform proposal by Bill Ferris, Alan Finkel and John Fraser which CMM started reporting four years back, (CMM July 7 2016).

In 2018, the government wanted to increase the threshold to qualify and cap cash payments, thus; “ensuring the integrity and fiscal affordability” of the tax incentive.

This stalled in the Senate, so there was another go on 2019 which –  went nowhere.

And now there is a third attempt – some of the original ideas are still there (a 30 per cent increase in the threshold for the concession).  But budget papers show the incentive costing $2bn, across the forward estimatesrewarding those businesses that invest the most,” as the Treasurer put it Tuesday night.

All over red (as in deficit) rover.

Uni Melbourne wins-big in new NHMRC grants

The National Health and Medical Research Council has announced, in an understated way, $70m in new funding

There is a link to an Excel table in CEO Anne Kelso’s budget www page.

It is research funding as normal with the big five winning most of the grants so far this year. Uni Melbourne wins 68 grants, followed by Uni Sydney, 48, Monash U 36, UNSW 30 and Uni Queensland, 27. Their total share is 209 of 320.

With the new funding, institutions (excluding those submitting less than five bids) with a YTD 10 per cent plus grant success rate are.

ANU, three (10.7 per cent). Baker IDI, five (17.2 per cent). Burnet Institute, five (31.3 per cent).

Centre for Eye Research, one (14.3 per cent).  Curtin U, three (15 per cent). Deakin U, eight (17.4 per cent).

Griffith U, five (11.9 per cent). Menzies School of Health Research, five (55.6 per cent). Monash U, 36 (14.7 per cent).

Murdoch CRI, seven (13.5 per cent). QIMR Berghofer MRI, six (15.4 per cent). RMIT, two (16.7 per cent).

St Vincent IMR, one (14.3 per cent). Uni Melbourne, 68 (25.7 per cent). UNSW, 30 (12 per cent).

Uni Newcastle, seven (14.6 per cent). Uni Queensland, 27 (16 per cent). Uni Sydney, 48 (19.2 per cent).

WSU, two (25 per cent). Victoria U, one (20 per cent). Walter and Eliza Hall, ten (20 per cent).

Appointments, achievements

Eric Chow (Monash U) wins the 2020 Commonwealth Health Minister’s Award for Excellence in Health and Medical Research.

 Gerard Henderson and Anne Henderson (both from the Sydney Institute) receive hon docs from Australian Catholic University

 Marie Sierra is the incoming dean of Uni Melbourne’s Faculty of Fine Arts and Music. She will join from UNSW.