Griffith shines but Uni Queensland the brightest Aus star in Nature research ranking

Griffith U shines in the Nature (as in the journal group) global list of 16 institutions rapidly rising up the research ranks. Griffith U rates 88th on the Nature list of 200 world-wide achievers. The only other Australian institution on the list is the University of Wollongong, at 148. The index tracks publication in 82 “high-quality natural science journals”. It measures article count  and fractional counts for multi author work

Overall Australia rated 11th in the word, behind Spain in tenth place. The ANZ institutions on the top 500 universities and research organisations lists, (announced earlier this year) are: UniQueensland (110), Monash U (119), UNSW (130), UniMelbourne (158), ANU (178), UniSydney (228), UWA (347), CSIRO (372),UniAdelaide (389), UniWollongong (436), UniOtago (441) Curtin U (489) and UniAuckland (499).

No ANZ institutions made the world top 100 in chemistry or physical sciences.

In earth and environmental sciences UNSW leads the locals at 44th in the world, followed by ANU (55), CSIRO (71) and UoQ (86).

The University of Queensland (60th) is the only institution to make the world top 100 for life sciences.

Unis lobbies split on PM’s idea to send international students to regional campuses

A week back Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it would be good if international students studied at universities outside Sydney and Melbourne – an idea straight out of the Leonid Brezhnev policy playbook (CMM September 11).

And now the idea is back, with Mr Morrison telling the Daily Telegraph newspaper yesterday (paywalled, sorry), “you’ve got regional universities who would love to have more of those students. I think we have got some levers to pull there.” The PM added, “when we have got more to say about that, we will.”

The Regional Universities Network loved the idea;

““International students studying at regional campuses are a boost to local economies through their expenditure, that of family and friends, and the payment of student fees” RUN chair, and VC of the University of the Sunshine Coast, Greg Hill said.

“But, most importantly, international students studying in the regions record high levels of satisfaction with their learning experience, a high level of acceptance into the local community, and are exposed to the attractions of an authentic Australian regional lifestyle. These include a lower cost of living and less congestion than in major cities,” he added.

However, Universities Australia counselled caution, with CEO Catriona Jackson, “urging the government to tread carefully to avoid policy mis-steps.  … These brilliant international students can choose to study anywhere in the world, so we need to ensure Australia is their destination of choice.”

The Group of Eight agreed; “we would caution against any heavy-handed approach to what is our third largest export sector, a generator of some 73,000 jobs from Go8 international students alone and a major contributor to the very fabric of our research unis. Our international students can choose to go anywhere – that they choose Australia is evidence of the high quality of our top ranked universities.” A point the Go8 VCs might have made in their conversation last night with Education Minister Dan Tehan.

It was left to the ever-diplomatic Phil Honeywood, Chief Executive Officer of the International Education Association of Australia to recognise a positive in the PM’s plan but also to point to a problem.

“The PM is probably not aware that most regional unis have long chosen to contract out many of their degree offerings to third party private colleges in the major cities. While this guarantees them a slice of the international student revenue pie, it ironically serves to exacerbate the very infrastructure issues that we now have pushback on. However, these unis are attracting international students to their regional campuses with niche courses i.e. marine biology at JCU Townsville campus. As increasing numbers of international students are driven by both part-time and, post study, full-time course related employment opportunities the challenge for our regional unis will be able to guarantee employment offerings in their regional communities. If the PM can provide a fix to these employability-pull factors then he might be onto a winner. But it is a big call at this stage!”

UNE gets it in typing

The University of New England started using on-line exams a year back and they are now being used in 111 units. The software allows a proctor to observe students sitting exams at remote locations – which saves everybody travelling to an exam centre. It also means a generation of candidates who think modified cursive is a yoga position can type answers, thus ending legibility problems for markers (CMM November 27 2017).


Murdoch VC urges staff to do “very best” for international students

Vice Chancellor Eeva Leinonen has addressed international student recruitment and academic standards at her Murdoch U in a message to staff.

Professor Leinonen set-out how the university was maintaining academic standards and providing quality services for internationals and called for staff support “I trust that we will all do our very best to ensure that all our students who have put their trust and future into our hands are supported to do the best they can in their studies at Murdoch,” she said.

The vice chancellor also connected the cultural challenge facing international students with their English proficiency. ”Studying and living in a different cultural context can require major adjustments including learning to use a language which is not your mother tongue for higher level study.”  She added that this was also an issue for staff, “teaching and supporting students from different cultural backgrounds requires adjustments on behalf of staff and much is being done to support staff in this regard.”

Perth barrister Heather Millar is conducting an external review of international student recruitment and services, among other issues, at the university (CMM Tuesday).

More national standards for teacher registration

A new national report recommends 17 measures to improve the registration of teachers. State and federal education ministers commissioned the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership to propose reforms, (CMM June 27), which build on a 2011framework.

Recommendations include:

* “national consistency” in assessing teachers in stages of the registration process

* “proficiency” as set out in national standards “includes up-to-date discipline-specific knowledge and skills relevant to their deployment and the curriculum they are expected to teach”

* all early childhood teachers be “registered by teacher regulatory authorities, under a consistent national approach

* strengthen relationships between pre-service teachers and teacher regulatory authorities early in initial teacher education programs

* a national on-line system of teacher registration information across jurisdictions, and portable registrations

* greater alignment between teacher registration and VET qualifications for teachers

“No, the VU in Wellington, yes it’s in New Zealand”

The management of Victoria University of Wellington wants to change its name to the University of Wellington, in part to stop people confusing it with other institutions, such as Victoria University (of Melbourne). There was outrage when the change was proposed a couple of months and the university responded with a round of community consultation. Council will decide Monday. VC Grant Guilford was out and about yesterday talking up the change, telling Radio NZ, “When people talk about us as Victoria University, the connection to Wellington is lost.”

Appointments, achievements of the week

Michael Schwager started yesterday as director general of IP Australia. He joins from CSIRO where he was acting COO from June to September. Prior to that he was COO of what was then the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science for three years.

The Forrest Research Foundation (as in Andrew and Nicola) has appointed three international postdocs to WA universities.  Chong Wei, will study the effect of underwater noise on marine animals at Curtin U. Alfred Tiley will examine star-forming galaxies at UWA. Marcus Korb will also work at UWA, on inorganic chemistry.

The entire state leadership of the Victorian branch of the National Tertiary Education Union has been elected unopposed, with support from both candidate groups in the recent campaign. Nicholas Kimberley (Monash U) is state president, Christian Haesemeyer (UniMelbourne) is VP academic and Catherine Rojas (Swinburne U) is VP professional staff.  With 13 candidates for the 15 division executive positions everybody won.

 Monash University has promoted one of its own to be senior vice provost and VP researchRebekha Brown is now director of the university’s Sustainable Development Institute.

Astronomer Dick Manchester is awarded the Australian Academy of Science’s Matthew Flinders Medal for research in physical science. The former CSIRO scientist is a pioneer in pulsar research and radio astronomy instrumentation.

Minoti Apte from UNSW receives the 2018 distinguished researcher medal prize from the Gastroenterological Society of Australia.

David Norman is the inaugural CEO of the Future Fuels Cooperative Research Centre. He previously ran its predecessor, the Energy Pipelines CRC, which will exhaust its public funding in June.

Wai-Hong Tham from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute has won the David Syme Research Prize for her work toward a malaria vaccine.

Jeremy Davey from the University of the Sunshine Coast will lead the Sunshine Coast Road Safety Research Collaboration, a joint venture between the university and the Queensland Motor Accident Insurance Commission.

Fred Watson is Australia’s first Astronomer at Large. His brief is to “promote Australia’s world-leading astronomy and astrophysics capabilities to audiences here and overseas.”

The University of South Australia announces Richard Irons is the new director of Student and Academic Services. Mr Irons is now academic registrar at the University of Derby in the UK.

The Academy of Social Sciences in Australia has named three winners of the Paul Bourke Award for Early Career ResearchersRenee Zahnow (University of Queensland), Emma Hutchinson (University of Queensland) and Tamsyn van Rheenen (University of Queensland).

Kerry Wilkinson from the University of Adelaide is the new deputy editor of the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology‘s journal. Associate Professor Wilson, with colleagues, created UniAdelaide’s edX MOOCWorld of Wine (CMM November 11 2015)

The International Federation of French Teachers has announced winners of the first Asia-Pacific Francophone song competition, for university students. The winner is Veruschka Pestano, who studies at Macquarie U, for her performance of ballad, “Encore un Soir”. Runner-up is Emily McCormick from UoQ.

Justin Beilby, VC of Torrens University has joined the board of the Council of Private Higher Education.