Tropical entente: CDU, CQU and JCU pal-up

It’s good for all – especially James Cook U

Charles Darwin U, CQU and James Cook U announce a partnership to, “seek joint funding opportunities, share knowledge, deliver integrated education and training courses, and work on research projects.”

The Northern University Alliance is more than the usual MOU, with a secretariat to be established. With CDU’s Scott Bowman and CQU’s Nick Klomp skilled in the arts of extracting grants from governments this will be a plus for both their institutions.

It is also a win for incoming JCU vice chancellor Simon Biggs (he replaces Sandra Harding next month).

JCU is further up the research food-chain than its allies but is not universally popular in politics. It is not popular at all among Coalition backbenchers who supported former JCU professor Peter Ridd, in his five-year dispute with the university, which commenced with management disciplining and then sacking him over criticisms of research on the Great Barrier Reef.

His friends argued long and loud this was a breach of his right to academic comment and while the High Court ultimately upheld JCU, the decision was not based on his original comments.

JCU might also want to make nice with the federal Opposition, which promises $15 million for marine ecosystem research at CQU’s Gladstone campus. The party also promises $50m for CQU to replace its campus in Cairns (CMM November 11 2021).

Neither announcement can have gone down well with James Cook U, which used to have Cairns and the GBR pretty much to itself.