Plus the PM will be pleased: Glyn Davis renews at Uni Melbourne

What a surprise

Xuemei Li (York University, Ontario) and colleagues have scoured Scopus to determine citation rates of the big open access subject repositories, RePEc, SSRN, PubMed Central and arXiv (physics, maths and computer science). Their paper is in the new edition of Aslib Journal of Information Management. But it is (cue evil laughter from publisher) pay for view.

Compulsory for the quality

Marnie Hughes-Warrington’s warning that students, at least at ANU, neither attend nor down-load lectures is hard to deny, what with her having hard numbers (CMM yesterday). However Macquarie biomedical scientist Mark Baker makes the case for quality over quantity. “What we really need to measure are the educational and learning impacts of presenting lectures not whether turning up rates are decreasing,” Professor Baker suggests.

“My experience and that of my previous department was that the best undergraduate students (HD, D) did attend and/or download recorded lectures/slides whereas those who failed or did quite poorly tended not to attend or download.”

If attendance does produce better results, “we just have to make lecture attendance compulsory to pass any unit,” Professor Baker suggests.

Glyn goes on

Just days after the prime minister suggested he needed an injection of enthusiasm Glyn Davis is sufficiently awash with vim and vigour to re-sign with the University of Melbourne, where he will continue as vice chancellor until the end of 2018. His re-appointment was announced at council last night, with Chancellor Elizabeth David saying Professor Davis “has played a major role in making this university the finest in Australia, and one increasingly seen overseas as one of the finest in the world.” The VC’s extended tenure will allow him to oversee to the end the university’s Growing Esteem ten-year strategy.

While a two-year extension may look like a long goodbye, the VC has previously preferred this. In 2012 he agreed to a 2015-16 contract to follow when his term expired.

 ANU Sep 15 4

Cash injections

The 2015 National Health and Medical Research Council project grants announced yesterday detail the usual disappointments. Of 7725 researchers applying just 1750 are successful. Only 13.7 per cent of applications for project grants succeeded, down from 14.9 per cent last year. However there are reallocations of resources. The numbers of three and five year projects are down, with four year grants growing by 9 per cent, to over a quarter of allocations. And more women are winners, picking up over half the early career and career development fellowships – although overall the lab is still a man cave, with 1169 men listed on funded project grants compared to 589 women.

What isn’t reallocated is where the money goes. Of the institutions with over 100 applications the Queensland Institute of Medical Research had a huge win, picking up $29m to fund 36 of the 129 grants it applied for.

The University of Melbourne was also especially successful winning 147 grants worth $110m, a 20 per cent strike rate. The University of Queensland did well, with 19 per cent (88 grants) and $58m. Monash was close behind with 18 per cent, translating to 114 projects with $76m funding. The University of Sydney followed with a slightly lower strike rate (17 per cent) but much more money $82m.

Grads get Qilting!

CMM is a big fan of the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching but feared the feds would drop this vital market tool when Christopher Pyne was shuffled out of education and deregulation dropped down the policy agenda, But now the graduate survey that is part of the QILT base is underway. Hooray for year two.

CRC success

A year back Cooperative Research Centre supporters worried what the Miles Review would propose but now the centres should be set for glory. For a start, Mr Miles strongly supported the programme and industry links and research impact look like being foundations of the Turnbull Government’s innovation strategy. This makes a strong case for anybody interested in bidding for a CRC in the imminent funding round to go and hear Tony Peacock from the CRC Association, talk about how best to build a bid, today week in Melbourne.

Leaving the lighthouse

Macquarie University’s Learning and Teaching blog points to 83 education design projects by faculties developed in conjunction with the L&T team calling them; “a true embodiment of Macquarie University‘s motto, ‘And Gladly Teche.’ Gosh would they be the learning and teaching staff whose central service is being broken up, with staff dispersed to faculties?

Blame enough for all

That the training system now being ruinously rorted by crook private providers was designed under Labor governments, first in Victoria and then nationally is indisputable. That the conservatives in Canberra have failed to stop the exploitation of students, enrolled in courses they have buckleys of competing (CMM yesterday) over nearly two years is beyond doubt. There is plenty of blame to go round and both sides should focus on fixing the training mess. Labor shadow training minister Sharon Bird was right to appeal for a bipartisan approach in the House of Representatives yesterday, there is nothing to be gained by trying to score points and it is hard to see why the government cannot back the idea of a training ombudsman. As it was, listening to yesterday’s agree-a-thon on government legislation tightening loan terms created the impression that no party in parliament now had anything to do with the disaster, apart that is from dopey government backbenchers trying to label Labor as the sole villain.

The problem is that seeking to save exploited students comes at the cost of a market in training. Deregulation was intended to establish an efficient, cost-effective market-focused alternative to expensive state TAFEs – which is what nobody got. As Rod Camm from the for-profit lobby put it yesterday “no government can rely on or afford a system that relies only on TAFE. It is too expensive, inflexible and reform is just too difficult, without the pressures of competition.”

The most the government can hope to do is save thousands of exploited individuals from debts they did not understand they were signing up for, recoup, or at least not expend any more money from providers who have gamed the system, whatever inept ASQA says and perhaps, over time restore the reputation of genuine for-profit trainers who are unjustly associated with the spivs. But the possibility of a competitive training market being trusted in the community is subterranean – at its highest.

Looking better from outside

Last month the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto put Australia number one in its annual global creativity index (CMM October 23) and now the Legatum Prosperity Index rates Australia 7th overall and best in world for education. Australia! Talk about change the PM, change the country.