Uni Wollongong’s purposeful presentation

And IRU’s scandalous suggestion: spend on health as well as medical research

First Warren Bebbington and then David Lloyd cop a pie in the face for charity, but who is next?

Shorter than a big bang

ANU VC Brian Schmidt will explain his PhD thesis in 180 seconds at the launch of this year’s Three Minute Thesis competition. On the basis of this summary for the Academy of Science of his doctoral work he should knock it over with time to spare.


Not what the doctors ordered

What will the lab coat corps make of the Innovative Research Universities submission to the advisory board to the Medical Research Future Fund? Not much, CMM suspects because the IRU suggests the fund spend-up on mandated alternatives to medical research.

The IRU advocates the MRFF’s five year strategy should focus on improving public health outcomes and researching the efficiency of health care systems given the resources already available for medical science through the NHMRC and medical research institutes and for commercialisation of “late stage research” from the Biomedical Translation Fund.

But if that upsets the laboratory lobby all sorts of industry groups will loathe the IRU’s call for research on “health-workforce related issues,” on the assumption that increasing efficiency will improve the overall health of Australians.

“In the education sector, universities are encouraged to adopt more nimble approaches in the delivery of the curriculum. Similarly, there are opportunities for innovative approaches to health workforce issues including the potential to expand workforce roles and improving the career structures and prospects of the research-engaged health workforce.”

It’s a good thing the MRFF advisory board set a three-page limit on submissions, (CMM May 10) which the IRU meets, just. Any more ideas like this and medical researchers’ heads will start exploding.

ECU loses one of its own

The diver killed by a shark on the weekend was Edith Cowan U nursing academic and director of postgraduate studies, Doreen Collyer. In a statement to staff yesterday acting VC Arshad Omari described her as a “much loved and respected colleague, mentor and teacher.”

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International opportunities

Australia is a world leader in selling education to international students yet innovators working on ways to defend and extend market share are few and far between. According to Edugrowth, a group of industry leaders from public and private sectors, “there are only 300 education start-ups in Australia. Given the national capability, it should be 10X that number.”

The group, which includes Navitas chief development officer Patrick Brothers and Deakin U DVC E Beverley Oliver, has set ambitious goals, including 100m students educated globally by Australian companies by 2025.

With Austrade, the group plans to launch a business accelerator, providing $50k and expert advice to up to 20 companies a year, plus test beds for startups to trial products and services. And there will be an open advice programme from industry advisers, who “are battle scarred in thinking through education business models, where the user is often not the payer,” to help “founders found.”

Australia has done extraordinarily well in the existing international education industry but success in convincing people to come and study here does not automatically extend to digital markets and combos of short in-country courses and digital study. Any move to assist new businesses from established experts has to be a good thing.

Multi-dimensional dean 

The endlessly energetic constitutional lawyer, author, commentator and science fiction critic (“in a courtroom far far away”) George Williams takes over as dean of law at UNSW tomorrow.

Three dads walk into a bar

Deakin U is looking for participants for its five year Men and Parenting Pathways Study. MAPS will survey the mental health of blokes aged 28-32, with and without kids “in the peak years for fatherhood.” Sounds like a great source of information for researchers, and as stand-up comics.

SA TAFE safe

The South Australian Government’s list of  training it will subsidise is out, supported by a paper outlining the criteria used to allocate support. “The government must ensure that public funds are used responsibly and effectively,” the Department of State Development explains. However it seems that only SA TAFE is fit for funding to provide many courses, at least until you check the government’s priorities, one of which is “supporting TAFE SA through its transition.” This dates from the days when was Gail Gago was training minister and decided that TAFE was so crook it needed help “to become more sustainable”. “TAFE SA has an important role in vocational education. So we are supporting TAFE SA while it transitions to more innovative and flexible training provision that better responds to community and industry needs and is more sustainable in a competitive market,” Ms Gago said a year back (CMM May 22 2015). Like officials say, the state has priorities.

DIGITAL MARKETING Strategies for Higher Education

App of the day

Is from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which has updated its mobile stats app, so handy for researchers who never stop. There is also a “simple way to add your favourite key indicators and an easy way to share stats with your friends on social media.” So who gets to break it to the ABS that not everybody thinks social media means metrics of society?

Wollongong presents research

The University of Wollongong has a new corporate campaign, which pitches its research achievements. It’s called Stands for Purpose and it features a range of really useful research, intelligent cloning, three-d printing of organs and so on, “meeting the needs of an ever-changing world.” It’s screening now on SBS and regional networks. This is a straight brand sell which does not make the still common mistake of combining undergraduate recruitment and brand building in the same TVC.

Face, meet pie

Uni of SA VC David Lloyd accepted a challenge from University of Adelaide VC Warren Bebbington to  cop a pie in the mush as a fundraiser for the Childhood Cancer Association. Now happily pied Professor Lloyd has challenged Simon Birmingham, SA education minister Susan Close and, some bloke called Stephen Matchett, who tells CMM that he accepts, will be pied and post the evidence here. Bloody crow eaters.

No blocking blockchain

In March ANU DVC Marnie Hughes Warrington suggested blockchains could create a universal record system for credit transfer. It was the usual MHW incisive argument and if you think it can’t be practically done, it has – by MIT’s Media Lab. Juliana Nazar and colleagues have released a guide to issuing, displaying, and verifying digital credentials using Bitcoin blockchain and Mozilla Open Badges, plus for the very keen the code to their first version. (Thanks to Kim Flintoff from Curtin U for the pointer.)