Just in from the No Shit Sherlock desk

“Misleading claims about COVID-19 vaccines can negatively impact public
confidence in immunisation uptake,” UNSW research announcement yesterday.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Ian Marshman and Frank Larkins on how Victorian universities have managed pandemic finances – largely by cutting casual and fixed-term staff.

Plus, Chris Walsh and Michael Ratcliff (Victoria U Online) https://campusmorningmail.com.au/news/the-four-make-or-breaks-in-on-line-learning/ set-out the four fundamentals that “make or break” the on-line experience for higher education students. They are this week’s authors in Contributing Editor Sally Kift’s series Needed Now in Teaching and Learning.

Professor Walsh is also speaking at the Needed Now … conference (Wednesday May 26, 2.30 AEST). Details here.

On-call in the crisis

Dipti Talaulikar (ANU College of Health and Medicine and Canberra Hospital) is medical lead on a project to connect Australian medical and health professionals with colleagues in India who will welcome “mentorship and support” during the pandemic. Register here.

Rebuilding international education

Lobbies say migration must be part of the mix

The Australian Technology Network wants more grads to stay

In its response to the federal government’s international education strategy paper the tech unis peak body says post study migration must be in the mix;

“The possibility of staying in (or returning to) Australia for skilled work is an important factor for international students choosing to study here. Australia must consider its competitiveness and openness, especially if other countries are perceived to be more welcoming. “

“Historically, Australia has had very low rates of graduates progressing from graduate visas to skilled migration which is a lost opportunity for Australia to reap the rewards of its success in teaching these students. Overhauling the administrative process for skilled sponsorship is welcome, by both students and Australian businesses.”

And it calls for government to back new delivery models, such as on-line, blended learning and transnational, by advocating, “for the recognition of qualifications delivered partially or wholly online.”

So does bized

The Australian Business Deans Council suggests visas and post study work-rights are essential for Australia to diversify courses and markets

We welcome the proposed vision to enable a mix of educational experiences – on campus, overseas and online…. Leveraging these opportunities will require changes to the Education Services for Oversea Students Act, visas and post-study work rights so that they recognise online, offshore, and on-campus study.

And the Regional Universities Network wants incentives to study and stay in the bush

RUN calls for priority visa processing for international students seeking to study at regional campuses, and permanent residency application incentives for graduates from regional universities.

RUN also urges, “more flexibility around post-study work rights for on-line students.”  However, the network is sceptical of going big in on-line, even though “many RUN members are the most experienced in the sector.”

“While on-line and offshore education has a place and is complementary to face-to-face learning, it can never wholly replace the latter. The lived experience transforms lives – online study cannot completely substitute for this.”


Sunny Optimism, meet Grim Reality

“NSW will begin accepting international students within months,” The Australian newspaper yesterday. “Southern Cross University has postponed graduation ceremonies planned for Sydney this weekend… This is a very difficult decision to make, but the University has always put the health and safety of our students and staff ahead of any other consideration,” SCU announcement, also yesterday

No-brainer off: neuroscience stays at ANU

The university abandons its plan to exit neuroscience as part of a savings strategy

In March Dean of Health and Medicine, Russell Gruen proposed a comprehensive restructure of the college.

It was not received well. In particular, closing neuroscience teaching and research, said to lack scale to attract funding, was adamantly opposed, within and ex ANU.

And now the Eccles Institute of Neuroscience stays, a decision Professor Gruen tells staff which has the vice chancellor’s endorsement.

It will expand into the Eccles Institute of Neuroscience and Brain Sciences. Sir Edward Byrne neurologist and ex VC of Monash U and former principal of King’s College London  is charged with proposing a growth plan by year end.

The college has also accepted “wide-spread concern” about the proposed joining of the ANU Medical School and Research School of Psychology into a combined research school with population health and epidemiology. While there will now be a School of Medicine, Psychology and Health Leadership it will be separate to the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health. Research areas in John Curtin School of Medical Research are reorganised.

Education support functions will be “consolidated” and a college-wide professional services hub created.

Under the new structure five continuing academic positions (one vacant) and ten professional staff roles (five vacant) will go and 550 staff will be transferred into the new structure. One role to go is in Neuroscience.

“Unlike most change management processes, in this case it looks like they have listened to most of the feedback provided by the college and the community,” a Learned Reader observes.

As to dealing with the deficit, the new plan proposes, “creating a future-facing education powerhouse able to expand into new distinctive offerings”  and “consolidation of entities and support strictures to promote disciplinary and interdisciplinary capabilities, improve efficiencies enhance quality.”

The college’s original saving target for 2021-22 was $12m. ANU states it has already “made a significant portion of those savings” presumably from the net reduction of 33 positions announced in October.


Ne plus ultra at the ARC

In Senate estimates back in March Senator Pratt (Labor-WA) asked the Australian Research Council what it thought of calls from 1000 researchers to improve the grant process

Not a lot, it seemed, with ARC chief Sue Thomas saying the council engaged with researchers and research offices on improvements. “We will work through our normal processes,” she added (CMM March 29).

But Professor Thomas took the question on notice to provide a detailed response. Which the ARC has duly done reporting that with regard to requests for a “fairer, more efficient system for responding to peer review,” “the ARC has not received advice from Research Offices that the process is overly burdensome or any requests from Research Offices to remove the process. Feedback from Australasian Research Management Society members confirmed that the process is fit for purpose.”

Appointments, achievements

Of the day

Wieland Meyer is the new associate dean of the Curtin U med school. He moves from the University of Sydney and Westmead Institute of Medical Research.

Of the week

 Kim Beswick becomes director of the Gonski Institute for Education (UNSW). She moves from leading the School of Education.  Former director Adrian Piccoli was not mentioned in the announcement. Pasi Sahlberg stays deputy.

Monica Davis becomes CEO of the Country Universities Centre. It’s an internal appointment.

Grant Lovelock (ex Department of Education) is head of the Australian Public Service Academy, which will open in July at Old Parliament House (CMM February 22). He will move from first assistant commissioner-academy implantation at the APS Commission. According to Assistant Minister for the Public Service, Ben Morton, the academy will offer “a new, networked model for learning and development.”

At QUT, Paige Maguire take on the new role of Director of Alumni, Venue and Events. She moves from Director, Graduate Research.


Sarah Pearce (CSIRO) becomes director of the Square Kilometre Array’s Australian telescope.


The Royal Society (no, not The Royal Society of anywhere), THE Royal Society announces new fellows, including; David Craik (Uni Queensland) and Marilyn Renfree (Uni Melbourne)