Whatever floats one’s boat

“Want the sexiest job of the century? Study a master of data science.” University of South Australia, Facebook, yesterday.

Victoria U risking research standing warns union

Victoria University is in danger of “becoming known as a teaching university with a limited research arm,” the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union warns.

The prediction follows VU’s announced plan to restructure research (CMM September 21). Management proposes a central unit supervising research and managing research training instead of leaving it in the six HE colleges and 12 centres and institutes.

However, the union says up to 90 staff have already left, “many with a view to pursuing their successful and important research at other universities” and that a survey reveals 65 per cent of responding academics fear the new structure will have a negative impact on their research. The number of research active staff could halve, the NTEU warns.

“The NTEU is puzzled as to why the existing college deans have acquiesced to this loss of control over staffing and financial resources dedicated to research.”

Last night a university spokesperson said, “VU Research will support the university to maximise research and research training performance by directing available resources towards supporting high quality and high impact research in the university’s flagship areas of strength and focus, and that management has been consulting with staff as well as higher degree students and their supervisors since May.

 “The impact that VU Research will have on college based academic staff will vary and is dependent on academics’ current roles, responsibilities and/or research priorities, foci, activities and research performance.”

Attend the tale of (not) Sweeney Todd

Todd Walker is leaving Federation U, where he is DVC Engagement to become provost at the University of New England. Joyce Kirk is now interim provost there.

Pray do not confuse him with another Todd, one Sweeney, whose tale is being told by Federation U’s graduating musical theatre company, Friday night in Ballarat.

Theft in online games no fantasy

Hang on to your World of Warcraft wallet, with Deakin U’s Nick Patterson estimating criminals spirit away $50bn (in real money, not elvish gold) worth of property in on-line games. According to Dr Patterson, cyber crims, “stalk people in the virtual world and take note of what they are wearing, what they are using for weaponry, what car they are driving in, and then they find out their user ID and force their way into their account or hack their system.”

In a new journal  journal article he recommends four steps to keep in-game goodies. But $50bn? Who knows?  –  apparently, World of Warcraft currencies are worth more than the Venezuelan Bolivar.

Retrenchment blue brewing at La Trobe U

After a couple of years of quiet there is a retrenchment blue brewing at LTU. Management proposes offering voluntary redundancies to Infrastructure and Operations staff. The National Tertiary Education Union says the La Trobe University enterprise agreement still requires a change proposal for VRs and that management has not explained who will be allowed to go and how their work will be managed by staff who remain.

The union has notified management that they are in dispute over the proposal, telling staff that this prevents the university offering anybody VRs. However, the university responds that it presented a change proposal to staff yesterday and that there is no target for jobs to go.

Who would have thought!

“The aim of the annual Australian Algebra Conference is to foster communication between algebraists in Australia.” They will communicate in person at UTS, November 27-29.

MIT’s boots stuffed with Queensland cash

So, what, a learned reader asks, is the cost of a week of an MIT teams time plus accommodation and facilities to run an innovation bootcamp (CMM yesterday). QUT has just confirmed a February repeat of this year’s MIT experience. There were 128 participants then (CMM March 30) with three on scholarship. So, the same number at the 2017 rate of $US6000 (A$7710) will generate $888 000. Plus, the Queensland Government has committed $300k for next year and states QUT will add “additional cash and in-kind contributions.” If QUT only matches the value of the government’s contribution that makes it just under $1.5m for the week. MIT staff must be discounting their hourly rate.

More shove than nudge

Behavioural economist Richard Thaler is the Nobel economics laureate. His work demonstrates how our psychology sometimes stops us doing what is in our own and society’s interests and how policy makers can give us a “nudge,” using subtle incentives towards socially good outcomes. The NSW government has a behavioural economics unit which is said to be working on ways to use this approach to encourage people to take up apprenticeships. Given the decline in training enrolments over the last five years it might take more shove than nudge.

International education industry achievers of 2018

With news that education exports earn $28bn the time is right for the International Education Association of Australia to announce its 2017 Excellence Awards, including:

Distinguished Contribution to IE: Helen Zimmerman from Navitas. “Helen’s impact on the organisations she has served … has been enormous and are best practise in industry leadership. … Helen’s leadership is characterised by collaboration, partnership and advocacy.”

Leadership in IE: Rebecca Hall, Trade and Investment Queensland. “Rebecca is a true leader, inspiring others with her innovation, creativity, drive and inclusivity.”

Innovation in IE: Karyn Kent, Study Adelaide, for “creating employment opportunities for international students in South Australia.”

Outstanding postgraduate thesis: Jan Christian C Gube, for Ethnic identity negotiation of Filipino students in Hong Kong multiethnic classrooms (University of Tasmania)

Best practice in international education: International paediatric certificate and international postgraduate paediatric nurse certificate teams: Mary Iskander, Phyllis Bogopa, Rita Gudinho, Kathryn Currow, all from the University of Sydney/Sydney Children’s Hospital Network

Best practice in international education: Victoria young leaders to China: Connie Andreana, Clare Hardie, Jayne Furlong, Belinda Wong, Lindy Stirling, Gary Shaw, Rachel Maas, all from the Victorian Government.

Monash builds for college growth

Faith in the future of international education runs deep, demonstrated by Monash University taking a 15-year lease on the present Melbourne offices of AMP, at 750 Collins Street in the city (at the Docklands end). The building will be refurbed to accommodate the university’s pathway-provider, Monash College. The college expects to have 10 000 students in four years

Dreaming trees of ANU

CMM remembers an Australian novelist once writing that settler society, at least of the Anglo-European kind, did not grasp the gum tree, that oak (unless it was pine) dreaming was in its genes. It was nonsense then, that it is nonsense now, demonstrated by the lovely new addition to Marnie Hughes Warrington’s chronicle of the rebuilding of ANU.

The university DVC writes about what makes the Australian National University, so Australian – the thousands of native trees that adorn the campus, present and future.

One tree in particular anchors ANU in eternal Australia, a Yellow Box, “on the edge of my carpark”, which indigenous Australians long past scarred to record its role in their lives on what is now the campus. “We can touch a tree, craft a tree, and it will tell the story of our connection long after we are gone. Trees are not just connected to us in the past; they are important markers for the future,” she writes.

QUT home to 7000th HEA fellow

The UK Higher Education Academy (“transforming teaching, inspiring learning”) has announced its 7000th senior fellow, QUT architecture aspro Philip Crowther. The HEA is keen on expanding in Australia and QUT is one of its original affiliates here. With Murdoch and ANU it has HEA accreditation to assess its own staff. ( CMM February 9 2016).

For profit publisher moves to make peace with OA site

For-profit publisher Springer Nature and open access portal Research Gate are “cautiously optimistic” that they can  find a way for “sharing scientific journal articles online, while at the same time protecting intellectual property rights.” (Thanks to a learned reader for the pointer).

There are no details but this looks like a variation on one of the commercial publishers of journals three responses to open access providers of research that appears in subscription-publications; if you can’t beat them buy them. Another is to sue OA providers, which other publishers are said to be preparing to do to Research Gate. A third is to provide value-add research tools that make journal databases indispensable, which in combination with doing deals with OA archives surely has the best chance of success.