Any festival will do

There were Halloween tricksters about last night as CMM was walking the werewolf – Australians will celebrate any tradition going. Including at Deakin U comms, which issued a Halloween comment quoting biz school academic Paul Harrison, on why celebrating the American festival is fine, but keep clear of  consumerism. Much like the one it issued last year.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features today David Myton reports on the trend for university students to join issues-based groups rather than political parties

Well spotted QUT

Brisbane originating AI trademark identifier TradeMark Vision is purchased by Clarivate Analytics (Thomson Reuters as was). TradeMark Vision’s software searches the 40 per cent of trademarks that contain images.  Founder Sandra Mau is a poster-person for the portability of the tech-ed innovator. She has a masters in robotics from Carnegie Mellon and an MBA in entrepreneurship from QUT, where she also worked on commercialising research. Ms Mau won the QUT alumni innovator and entrepreneur award in August.

Uni Canberra cuts union out-asks staff to endorse management offer

Union members at the University of Canberra are out for the day – striking over stalled enterprise bargaining negotiations. The campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union says management’s offer for a new agreement isn’t on and challenged the university to put it to an all-staff vote.  Which the university did yesterday, telling staff that it would ask them to approve its proposals on wages and conditions.

The university is offering salary rises, plus a bonus and a one-off payment. In common with most universities it commits to increasing fixed term staff (but not casuals) superannuation to 17 per cent. However, the head-line offer does not address workload conditions the union has campaigned on.

Going to a vote like this is high-risk industrial relations. It can work when a university community has had it with union and university bickering over terms and trusts management not to do them in. But if not, proposals go down in screaming heaps – which is what occurred at Victoria U, ( CMM  September 25) when a majority of staff voted on a management proposal and 77 per cent of those who did rejected university offer.

The all-staff vote at the University of Canberra is scheduled for November 8-11, giving management and union plenty of time to settle terms on what staff actually vote on.

Dan Tehan lets slip the dogs of deplore

Perhaps Dan Tehan did not like Simon Birmingham getting all the credit from critics of humanities research. Whatever the reason, Education Minister Tehan yesterday promised a national interest test for Australian Research Council funding and that he would announce projects he does not approve of.

What happened then: “Given the ARC’s expert panels already consider national benefit and impact when making their assessments, how will a new test add value and not just more red tape,?” the Australian Academy of the Humanities was quick to complain.

“If all research funded is narrowly targeted at an immediate problem or outcome then we will undercut our future. Any national interest test must not be limited to a narrow reading,” the Innovative Research Universities argued.

“We do not expect the minister for education to be an expert on research, but we do expect that someone holding this portfolio defers to the panel of experts on the ARC,” the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations added.

“How much extra time and effort will researchers and their universities spend trying to massage applications to highlight national interest rather than the intrinsic value of the proposal?,” National Tertiary Education Union president Alison Barnes asked.

There was more, much more, although Universities Australia and the Group of Eight accepted they need to work with the minister they have. “The Go8 is open to any further methodologies in the ARC application process where our researchers (across all disciplines) have the opportunity to illustrate more clearly how their work has national benefit,” CEO Vicki Thomson said.  UA’s Catriona Jackson spoke similarly, “the sector would discuss with the minister what he has in mind given the existing requirement to outline the proposed advances of knowledge to the benefit to the nation.”

What happens next: A lot of work for the ARC is what, probably including a brief to the minister about the impact and engagement metrics already developed to measure university research performance. But anything much beyond that will apply to grant rounds yet to begin. Big change will depend on the government being returned at next year’s election.

What it means: Minister Tehan appears to have decided that the higher education community will not vote for the government and he may as well appeal to voters who will.

Another negotiation going slow

Just in from the irony desk, news of a 1.8 per cent administrative pay-rise to be paid by management in December, which recognises the last salary increase under the existing agreement was October ‘17 and the new enterprise deal is not done, even though it should be shortly. No, it’s not a slow-moving university, it’s an announcement yesterday to staff of the National Tertiary Education Union by new general secretary Matthew McGowan. The union pushes universities to pay agreed salary increases every 12 months

Training numbers down, maybe, perhaps

There are new training number figures – just not especially useful national ones.

The estimable National Centre for Vocational Education Research reports there were 771 000 students enrolled in publicly funded training in the first half of the year, with TAFE accommodating 56 per cent, private providers 35 per cent and the balance in the community system or in multiple sectors. The total is down on the same period last year – but don’t stress about it. There are data errors and delays in WA, SA and Tasmania, “which may affect comparability.”

In other states, numbers were up, New South Wales (9.5%) in Queensland (5.4%) but they were down in Victoria (6.3 per cent).

ANU announces innovation investment fund

ANU has launched translational research investor, Significant Capital Ventures, again. The university first announced SGV in 2016, in partnership with Canberra property developer Hindmarsh and support from the University of Canberra and the ACT Government.

In its expanded incarnation, SCV includes Deakin University, UTS and the University of Wollongong with the partners committing to a $50m capital goal. It will, “provide seed investment to companies translating academic research into applied technology,” ANU announced yesterday.

Translational funding, on the lines of the Medical Research Future Fund, is now the go. The Group of Eight and science lobbies suggest non-medical researchers also need new resources to take their work out of the lab and onto the market. Good-o, but why not, a learned reader asks, use the cooperative research centres model, including the CRC P which apply research to specific industry problems. “If something is working, popular and oversubscribed, it would be much better to back that program than invent a new, additional, sub-par one,” the LR remarks.

New guidelines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research education

New guidelines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research education will be released today. Sue Berners-Price from the Australian Council for Graduate Research says they “recognise the crucial contribution that Indigenous graduate research candidates make to Australia’s research agenda and the importance of encouraging and supporting Indigenous people to undertake higher degrees by research.

“These guidelines will provide credible, constructive and practical advice for all stakeholders in this important process.”

The guidelines’ key principle is; “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers play a crucial role in advancing an

innovative Australian research agenda. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers bring unique knowledges, experiences, identities, strengths that contribute to research that has widespread benefit nationally and internationally.

Undergrad courses and where to seek them

The feds have quietly released Course Seeker, which seems strange given it is peak season for its purpose, to provide comprehensive information and transparent comparisons on higher education courses across the country. The new site includes all universities, some higher education providers, with more to come, and provides data on undergraduate courses, and especially important, entry requirements.

There is bunch of clunky (the clunkiest) promotional copy to ignore on institution pages, but overall it is really useful, allowing users to create their own cross-institution list of courses they want to compare.

Course Seeker arises out of a recommendation of a Higher Education Standards Panel discussion paper on undergraduate entry, “a guide to admissions policies and student enrolments should be made available through a single online platform for ease of access,” (CMM April 7 2016).

It’s not a one-stop shop for people looking where to study but it provides information for prospective students who have already created a shortlist from the excellent Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching student experience survey.