Macquarie plants trees, replacing the ones they chopped down

Macquarie U is promoting its campus development plan, including an “updated treescape” for the central courtyard. The university blurbs the native evergreens and deciduous species which will play “an important role”. Much like the 100-plus lemon scented gums there, which were chopped down over the summer because of the risk of falling branches.

From the organisation that brought you VET FEE HELP

The Department of Education and Training has ceased work on the proposed Australian Apprenticeship Management System. Testing revealed “significant capability gaps” between the product and “user needs and expectations”.  The department “accepted all the findings and recommendations” from a scathing report from consultants PwC. Project cost as of end April was $24m and DET has apologised for the mess. Assistant Minister for Training and VET Karen Andrews is believed to have raised problems with DET secretary Michele Bruniges.

““Faced with either continuing to invest taxpayer dollars trying to fix a troubled project or to cease work, I support the approach not to proceed further with AAMS,” Ms Andrews said last night.

However, this may not be answer-enough for the Opposition. “Labor will continue to pursue this through (Senate) Budget Estimates,” shadow training minister Doug Cameron says. Estimates, in a couple of weeks, will be interesting indeed.

SEEK enters UK online education market

SEEK and Swinburne University subsidiary Online Education Services is opening in the UK, having hired Gilly Salmon as academic director. Professor Salmon joins from the University of Liverpool, following a string of Australian appointments, at USQ, Swinburne U and UWA. Professor Salmon’s website describes her as; “internationally renowned for her significant contributions to education futures, including research, innovation, program design, teaching methods and the use of new technologies.”

OES presents itself as full-service online provider, “we design, deliver and support your online campus,” with 450 remote teaching staff and coaches, “who oversee the teaching team, guaranteeing that the quality of teaching is consistently high. Its Australian clients are Swinburne U and Western Sydney U.

Victoria U goes for “culturally inclusive” education

Victoria University is launching a strategy to “celebrate cultural diversity and prepare students to thrive as global citizens.” The university will, “embed a broad spectrum of culturally-inclusive and educational experiences into VU curricula and assessments.”  Among other measure, the policy will also, “provide intercultural training and mentoring for staff and students,” connect with community organisations and “develop more education pathways for NESB students and refugees.”

VU Cultural Diversity Manager Teresa De Fazio says “intercultural knowledge and skills – which cultivate curiosity, empathy, open-mindedness and respect – are vital for the 21st century workforce.”

Last week’s Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching reported Victoria U students have the lowest level of satisfaction for overall education experience of all universities.

Unboiled egg expert Colin Raston cracks a Science Academy Fellowship

Flinders U chemist Colin Raston is a new fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (below). His friends say this is an excellent outcome, a reward for a serious scientist who won an Ig Noble for serious science (as the prize often is). Professor Raston and Californian colleagues worked out how to un-cook an egg demonstrating a way to rearrange the structure of proteins (CMM September 21 2015). This is science with potential to synthesise protein based medications and improve  biofuels. “It’s fabulous that his persistence, creativity and genuine genius is recognised,” a learned reader remarks.

Fee hikes for international students

Consultant Studymove has crunched the fees Australian universities are charging international students for 4677 programmes this year. Average undergraduate fees across the system grew from $26 200 in 2015 to $29 235.

The all-university average for UG and PG courses is up 4.9 per cent on 2017, a bigger increase than the 2016-17 4.2 per cent increase.  The fee-spread is; zero to 3 per cent, ten universities, 3 per cent – 6 per cent, 12 universities, 7 per cent – 9 per cent, seven universities and 10 per cent – 17 per cent, nine universities.

Disciplines with the lowest increases are in natural and physical sciences, at 2.8 per cent. There are above average increases in education (6.6 per cent), management and commerce (6.8 per cent) and health (9.3 per cent).

Studymove points to the increases outstripping CPI but, then so do university wage costs.

Just as soon as they win the business

Frigate construction contender Navantia wants to build a naval platform control simulation system at Flinders U – and all it needs to do it is, um, to win the nine-ship contract. Spanish builder Navantia is competing against an Italian and a UK warship builders.

Appointments and Achievements

The CRC Association has named its young career researcher of the year. Chuhao Liu is based at the Rail Manufacturing CRC at the University of Wollongong and is “looking to improve Australia’s rail networks.”

Rachael Falk says “it is great to be here in sunny Perth, at Edith Cowan University” (via Twitter yesterday). Ms Falk is CEO of the new CRC for Cyber Security, based at ECU.

Clare Collins (University of Newcastle) has won the president’s award from the Dietitians Association for her online “healthy eating quiz.” With Tracy Burrow, Professor Collins created the Science of Weight Loss MOOC (edX).


Australian Academy of Science Fellows

The Australian Academy of Science announces new fellows, who will be inducted in Canberra tonight. It’s been a big May for Geordie Williamson, who has just become the youngest living fellow of the Royal Society. He is the same for AAS. The current female fellow elected at the youngest age is UNSW physicist and Australian of the Year, Michelle Simmons when she was 38.

The  new fellows are:

ACT: Anne Kelso, National Health and Medical Research Council CEO

New South Wales: Richard Bryant, UNSW (medical scientist), Noel Cressie, UniWollongong (statistician), Christopher Dickman, UniSyd (ecologist), Jennie Brand-Miller, UniSydney (human nutrition), Veena Sahajwalla, UNSW (materials scientist), Martina Stenzel, UNSW (polymer chemist), Dacheng Tao, UniSyd (computer scientist) , Geordie Williamson, UniSyd (mathematician)

Northern Territory: Alan Andersen, Charles Darwin University (ecologist)

Queensland: Bostjan Kobe, UoQ (structural biologist), Kerrie Mengersen, QUT (statistician)

South Australia: Greg Goodall, Centre for Cancer Biology (medical researcher), Colin Raston, Flinders University (chemist)

Victoria: David Bowtell, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (medical researcher), Peter Cawood, Monash University (geologist), Lloyd Hollenberg, University of Melbourne (quantum physicist), Joseph Trapani, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (medical researcher), Rachel Webster, University of Melbourne (astrophysicist)

Western Australia: David Blair, UWA (experimental physicist), Kliti Grice, Curtin U (organic geochemist)