Plus the dozen universities that do most for women workers

Crimes against optimism

The prime minister has urged University of Melbourne VC Glyn Davis to be more optimistic about engaging with industry, urging him not to blame business, (AFR last night) in an exchange which people in the audience described as “a painful five minutes”.. But Professor Davis has a point. As then Industry and Science Minister Ian Macfarlane said in March; “less than half of Australian firms identify themselves as innovators and just 1.5 per cent of Australian firms developed new to the world innovations in 2011, compared with 10 to 40 per cent in other OECD countries.” Perhaps that is why Mr Turnbull sacked Macfarlane – he was realistic rather than optimistic.

Fair go for all

There are twelve universities among the Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s citation holders for 2015. Recipients are acknowledged for a range of factors including measurement and disclosure of organisation-wide gender wage gaps and efforts to move cultures from hours put-in to outcomes achieved. The 12 are; Australian Catholic, Curtin, Deakin, Griffith, Monash, QUT, Swinburne, Newcastle, Canberra, UTS, Western Sydney and Wollongong. The vice chancellors of five are women.

ANU Sept 15

Captains’ picks

The prospect of VCs appointing staff and student members of governing councils at WA universities bothers people in the golden west, (CMM yesterday). Imagine what ambitious VCs could do if they got to pick all the people instead some being elected, suggests Roland Belford, education veep at the Murdoch University Guild of Students.

Not an elephant in sight

The Universities Australia VC meeting yesterday must have had the easiest agenda for quite a while, what with the deregulation elephant out of the room. Certainly Minister Birmingham says it is still policy but the more the prime minister and treasurer talk about tax change the less the chance of anything significant happening in HE funding before the election, and for a while after. The government will be brave if it goes to the polls with tax as an issue, it would be crazy-brave to campaign on increased student fees as well.

Another name on the lobbying list

Charles Sturt U reports that Minister for Rural Health, Fiona Nash says she supports its joint venture proposal with La Trobe for the Murray Darling Medical School. Health ministers have ignored the proposal in budget after budget but CSU has never given up. And it won’t now – as Senator Nash will discover.

Premium scholarship easily accessed

CMM is a fan of the ANU Press, for the way it makes serious HASS scholarship available on-line for a fraction of the cost of monographs, (not everything is explainable in a five page journal article). Scholarship like the new title by Geoffrey Lancaster, The First Fleet Piano (available in PDF for free, or in print for $120). This history of the way a new piano design changed entertainment in Europe and was present at the creation of settler society here is the sort of scholarship that will interest readers in and out of the academy, but would struggle to find a conventional print publisher.

The same goes for Australian design historian Michael Bogle’s new social history of the now forgotten war against rabbit and dingos, waged variously by amateurs in need of a day out and an underclass of professionals in desperate need of a hard living, Shooters, Trappers and Poisoners. Despite a string of books Dr Bogle could not interest a publisher so he used Amazon to publish it himself. (disclosure: Bogle is an old mate of CMM).

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Yet another league table

Yet another Times Higher ranking is out, this one on social sciences – although it could be any other discipline group given the way the Anglosphere dominates the top spots. In the world top 20 (accounting for dead heats) 17 are from the US, five are from the UK and the 19th is Canadian – the University of Toronto. The first five are MIT, Stanford, Princeton, Oxford and Yale. In the local derby it is business as usual with the University of Melboure at 22 followed by ANU at 27th. The University of Sydney follows at equal 52nd with Monash at equal 76th, UNSW at 86th and the University of Queensland at 90th.

Sounds like fun

While wonks worry about funding, at Uni Melbourne’s Faculty of Arts they’re interested in “the social life of academia,” with an event scheduled for today week. “This symposium addresses a range of quotidian metamorphoses in the worlds of Australian higher education, from the pitted trajectories of undergraduates arriving from outer suburbs to inner sandstones, to the geographical imaginaries of transnational education,” the promo promises. Bound to sell-out.

 Productivity Commission conniptions

The PC is set to investigate tertiary education, but relax it’s the Kiwi PC. According to the New Zealand government, it wants the commission to consider “how changes, in technology, costs, and internationalisation, might change the way we fund, organise and deliver tertiary education and training.” Serious stuff, which the Tertiary Education Union is not having a bar of, “people working in public tertiary education are already creative and innovative.  We need the government to remove all the penny-pinching managerialism and bureaucratic reporting mechanisms. Fund us properly then step back and let us do our job.” But it is working out what are the outcomes of staff doing the jobs that are rather the inquiry’s objective. A discussion paper is expected in February with a final report in February 2017.

Sticker shock

The editor and board of linguistics journal Lingua has resigned in protest at publisher RELX’s (Elsevier to its old friends) pricing policy, )CMM, November 5). Acc According to Tom Reller, the publisher’s corporate relations chief, the editor and board wanted the company to cut the “article processing charge,” what author or their institutions pay to appear in Lingua, from $US1800 to $US400. “Had we made the journal open access only and at the suggested price point, it would have rendered the journal no longer viable – something that would serve nobody, least of which the linguistics community.” Given the publisher does not pay authors or peer reviewers and production costs are not what they were in the days of printing and posting you have to wonder what their costs are. As open access commentator Richard Poynder puts it; “it would help if Elsevier were able to demonstrate (with real numbers) what ‘viable’ means.”