Game On

Just a day before the season starts and the big Monash v Swinburne local derby is on as the two sides compete to be the university that knows most about footy. Swinburne started with a big mark as statistician Stephen Clarke predicted the premiership before the first bounce. Professor Clarke is not only confident that the numbers show Hawthorne taking the flag he also predicts the position of all eighteen teams. Talk about putting your maths where your mouth is. Monash is not giving him a free kick, flooding the Swinburne 50 with no less than five footy scholars keen to comment on the game. In particular, Aspro Michael Bailey from the Department of Epidemiology will discuss “the pre-season probabilities” of teams making the eight and econometrician Professor Robert Brooks is happy to talk about the importance of “game style and team quality” to TV audience figures. Good lord, who would have thought?

Of course, other universities are serious enough about the game to actually invest. The University of Western Sydney has naming rights for the Western Sydney Giants side in the regional league. And Victoria University is major sponsor for the Western Bulldogs in the VFL. Professor Clarke predicts the Dogs will come in 15th in the major league and the Giants a less than towering last – not to worry its only money that could have been spent on research or student services.

Pal up to the powerful

“The relationship between Vice Chancellors and Chancellors was identified as a highly influential factor in recruitment, selection and appointment to Vice Chancellor roles.” (Jensen, Knox-Haly and Townsend, Australian recruitment practises, March 2014)

 Job generating degrees

Treasury’s David Gruen predicts the next generation’s expanding industries will be in the services sector; “including tourism, education, health and aged care, entertainment, financial and professional services.” All up services will expand by 30 per cent over the next 15 years, which means employment for graduates. Question for vice chancellors; how’s the age profile in your health, education and business schools?

Hacks to blame

The Australian Sociological Association explains why the social sciences workforce faces “an uncertain future.” “The globalisation of the Australian economy has forced many Australian universities to develop an external focus in a bid to attract large cohorts from the international student market and to attract international student funding in areas of high media appeal.” What to do will be discussed by TASA at a July UNSW seminar, details here.

 Grant of the day

Is a $750 000 award over five years for Dr Elin Gray from Edith Cowan University to analyse cancer cells circulating in the bloodstream. This will provide real-time analysis as opposed to biopsies, which are based on tumour samples and can be way out of date as the disease changes. The money comes from the Perth based Cancer Research Trust Fellowship, which I fear I had never heard of. It was set up in 2009 with a $20m kitty supplied by undisclosed philanthropists, but the Perth establishment board will give you some idea where the cash came from. I wonder if anybody knows whether the golden west is more charitably inclined than the rest of the country?

Academic edifices

Yesterday was a big for building VCs. In Newcastle Caroline McMillen announced “early concepts” for a $95m “vertical campus” in the CBD. Down the Pacific Highway UTS chief Ross Milbourne unveiled a model of the new Frank Gehry building which will open later this year as part of the university’s $1bn city fringe redevelopment. Here’s hoping there is nothing to all this off-campus digital education stuff and students will keep trekking into campus.

Anonymous magic

You would not believe me if I told you which super-smart policy wonk (one of the wonkiest) has a kind and generous nature, demonstrated by the way they follow the AirNZ Fairy (“grants a wish a week for a friend”) on Twitter. So I won’t.