Go hard on your own

Victoria U announces a “virtual running festival.” You still have to step-out the distance, just by yourself, with an app recording time and clicks. Nothing virtual about the pain of the half marathon event.  The sweat starts October 4.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Mahsood Shah (Swinburne U) sets out students’ nine  expectations to improve teaching. This week’s contribution to Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

plusCorey Bradshaw (Flinders U) and colleagues have a fairer way than the H Index  to compare researchers at different career stages and across disciplines.

with James Guthrie (Macquarie U) who wants to know how many people Victorian universities actually employ – he finds that numbers change from data set to set.

Rest and relaxation of the day

QUT is gifting staff the four shut-down days between Christmas Eve and January 2

Under last year’s savings plan they were to be taken as annual leave. The university will also pay permanent and casual staff a bonus – amount is not announced but in 2018 FT staff got $1000 and casuals $500, and $500/$250 in ’19.

Australian Catholic U designates every Wednesday morning, the “weekly wellness break”

It “will provide a half day a week for you to focus on what you know makes you well … it might be a walk outdoors, an online fitness class, a coffee catch-up, reading a novel, or time spent in prayer or meditation,” Vice Chancellor Zlatko Skrbis tell staff.  (People with immoveable commitments can take their WWB at other times).

The break is in place for the rest of the year.

Who should get what from developing big research ideas

The government wants a plan on how to share the IP wealth

In July, the feds assembled research administration and IP experts to work on a framework for higher education research commercialisation (CMM Jul y 5). The consultation paper was released yesterday.

What the government wants is a way of, “transferring publicly funded research results into breakthrough products and new businesses (which) will ensure our researchers and universities are appropriately rewarded for their discoveries and their engagement with business, and our businesses have certainty to back their investment.”

Good-o, but is this not what the IP Australia’s Toolkit is meant to help happen? Apparently not, the government wants to know, how the Toolkit and the new framework should be distinguished, “to avoid confusion about applicability for different transactions.”

As to how HERC could work, the questions the consultation paper sets suggest a context could already be in place, including:

* what federal programmes should be covered, just ARC and DESE funding or the NHMRC, rural R&D and publicly funded research agencies as well?

* monitoring the framework “without an undue administrative burden”

*  how to apply the framework consistently, across researchers and industry

* And then there is the big one. “What would make the HERC IP Framework attractive to collaborating and investment partners?”

“Nothing” is probably not the answer officials are after.

If you have opinions muck not around, responses are due by October 18. The feds want a Higher Education Research Commercialisation Framework, “including standardised agreements,” “available for adoption” by December.

On the case for Uni Queensland casuals

Victoria Bladen and colleagues have compiled a report on underpayment of casually employed academics for the National Tertiary Education Union – which management needs to read

Quite a report – it’s a 181 pages, including dozens of examples of classes and activities with times and date and academic units where people believe they were underpaid. As the document demonstrates, this is a not easily ignored issue.

Management isn’t. Vice Chancellor Deborah Terry is said to have commissioned a review of casuals pay and conditions, by staff including Deputy Provost Tim Dunne.

Smart move, if there is systemic underpayment of casuals it is way better for management to identify, own and address the problem on a university-wide basis than for cases in operating units to emerge over time.

As occurred at Uni Melbourne, where Vice Chancellor Duncan Maskell has now apologised, saying underpayment of casual academics is a “systemic failure of respect,” (CMM September 10).

Submarines won’t build themselves

Labor’s Kim Carr wants a Senate committee inquiry to ask a bunch of questions about nuclear submarines. Including who’s going to maintain (let alone build) them

“We will need to develop the skills to repair the subs should they break down. There is yet to be developed a system that doesn’t require repair and we have to understand that,” he told Fran Kelly on RN yesterday.

Senator Carr added Australia is short of the nuclear physicists we need for the ANSTO reactor and Synchrotron and we will need way more to run submarines.

Journalist Cameron Stewart (who has written about submarines for years) agrees. “Australia will need to start now to plan for a new generation of nuclear trained specialists to help build, maintain and ultimately crew the new boats. Australia has almost no ­experts in this area now. Open up more university courses. Pay them heaps. But get them trained up quickly,” he writes in The Australian.

Defence Industry minister Chris Pyne grasped years back, there will be a shipbuilding trades skill-shortage and he started work towards a naval construction college (CMM November 23 2017) – which is now a referral service rather than a training provider.

And so, it will likely be up to universities to educate the engineers and physicists the submarine programme will need.  The Group of Eight gets this – last week it was quick to list its members’ credentials.

Help for internationals – as individuals not EFTS

500 international students in Australia and off-shore can access, ‘the national flagship employability programme”

The Study Australia Industry Experience Programme ustralia organises “relevant industry experience opportunities.” The next series runs November-February. It’s a JV between AusTrade, Study NSW and Practera.

Study NSW is an excellent outfit, focused on the 140 000 or so internationals in the state as individuals not fee-paying EFTs. Last year it funded a programme on scams and how international students can avoid them and a scheme to connect internationals with harvest work (CMM November 17 2020). It also part-funded an app in seven languages covering the law on employment, housing, sexual assault and dispute with course providers in seven languages, (CMM May 19 2020).

Practera (“powering experiental learning”) organises “authentic industry projects, internships and experiences” for students.

Claire Field sees light on the horizon for international education


It looks increasingly like we will see relatively large groups of fully vaccinated international students coming in to Australia in the first quarter of 2022

Dirk Mulder is right that, finally, there is light on the horizon for the international education sector (CMM September 20).

The evidence goes beyond Minister Tudge’s speech to the English Australia conference.

On September 9th  the Prime Minister said “the federal government was working closely with the states and territories to make home quarantine the ‘primary and viable method’ in Australia.” Currently both South Australia and New South Wales are trialling home quarantine for returning residents, freeing up hotel quarantine slots for international students.

And, on October 1, Committee for Economic Development of Australia, is hosting an on-line event with Michael Outram, the Head of Border Force to discuss the reopening of the international border.

While reopening the border hinges on vaccination rates and then how well NSW and Victoria progress with their lifting of restrictions (and the resulting impact on their hospital systems), it looks increasingly like we will see relatively large groups of fully vaccinated international students coming in to Australia in the first quarter of 2022, at least in New South Wales, South Australia and possibly Victoria and the ACT, with high enough vaccination rates.

The issue then of course will be the need to recognise a broader range of vaccines than those which currently have approval in Australia, and to develop “red” and “green” lists of countries (as Minister Tehan alluded to recently).

The Commonwealth announced last week that Accenture is building the new platform for the Digital Passenger Declaration form to be used by all travellers. The new DPD will replace the hard copy passenger arrival form and will include COVID vaccination and COVID test details. Accenture is apparently in the testing phase and the digital form will then be deploying “at scale” to major Australian airports.

Returning to the English Australia conference, the senior public servants who presented should also be congratulated for their presentations, including sharing sensitive advice to assist providers in their future student recruitment, details of the work underway to prepare for the large increase in student visa applications when borders open, and to urge providers to encourage students to start submitting applications to avoid the inevitable backlog.

Now we cross our fingers, wait and hope.

 Claire Field is an adviser to the tertiary education sector

Appointments, achievements

Finalists for SA Scientist of the Year are Timothy Hughes (SA Health and MRI), Helen Marshall (Uni Adelaide) and Shizhang Qiao (Uni Adelaide).

 James Roffee starts at Federation U as Brisbane campus head. He was Global Education dean at Swinburne U.

Also at Federation U, Gabriele Suder is now Dean of the New Business Accelerator. She moved from RMIT.