Straight to the bottom-line

Scott Holmes (DVC Western Sydney U) abseiled down the university’s flash Parramatta high-rise yesterday. No, the lifts weren’t out in the 14-storey tower – it was a fundraiser for WSU research and scholarships.

There’s more in the Mail

Marina Harvey (UNSW) on needed support for sessional staff – a new essay in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s series on what we need now in teaching and learning.

Putting uni names up in lights

Universities Australia announces its marketing comms awards

Lifetime achievement: Uni SA, Alan Brideson, mcomms chief

Bigger budget campaign: Uni South Australia, “Study on demand” on-line student recruitment

Smaller budget campaign: Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute and Uni Melbourne, “Open your world” postgrad research interns

Real-time response: Swinburne U team for sharing information with uni community and public, via media

Proactive comms:  UNSW, “Unlocking cane toad DNA” and Edith Cowan U, increasing publication rate on The Conversation website

Large team fundraising: Uni Sydney, “Inspired” campaign

Small team fundraising: RMIT, Capitol Theatre refurb appeal


Good time for an ASQA announcement

Independent Tertiary Education Council of Australia (ACPET as was) meets with ministers Michaelia Cash and Steve Irons and Labor shadows next week

There’s a reception for members and senators to follow. CMM wonders whether MP Andrew Laming will be there. Last month Mr Laming (Liberal-Queensland) was comprehensively critical of Australian Skills Quality Authority practise in the House (CMM August 2).

If the government does plan much-rumoured changes for the way ASQA works this will be a good time to announce them.

Victoria U’s people speak

And they have positive things to say about the uni

Victoria U wins the Voice Project award for “substantial positive change” from the Australian Higher Education Industrial Association. The Voice surveys staff opinion for managements at just about all Australian universities.

VU’s award reflects a substantial achievement there. Structural staff changes accompanying the introduction of the block-teaching model were opposed by the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union. The last enterprise bargaining round was bitterly contested. Last September just 23 per cent of staff voting backed an agreement proposed by management, which the union opposed. The university tried again in the new year and 33 per cent of the poll backed the offer (CMM February 20).

But VU has had a great run since then, particularly with the immensely well-regarded block teaching model, which it will roll out in all undergraduate years. Staff opinion of management must be positive, very positive.

Is that really the time

At Uni Sydney reform of the elephantine administration lumbers on

Work underway includes a new class timetable, with a proposal to increase the span of class hours to 8am-6pm. A learned reader suggests this will be great for teaching staff who like a quiet start to the day – they will be talking to empty rooms at such an early hour for students.

Tech giant Cisco making friends, again

Cisco has a poultice of partners in university teaching and research. Now it is teaming up with TAFE

With Optus, Cisco has signed an MOU with TAFE Directors Australia, to “focus on digital skills and cybersecurity to support the creation of a workforce that is suitably equipped to gain the greatest benefit from digitisation.”

Great timing – yesterday the science and tech learned academies  called for VET development of the “technical skills required to manage and maintain emerging digital technologies and applications.”

WHO backs universal free access to health research

It’s not a question – it’s another problem for publishers who produce for-profit journals

The World Health Organisation states it is the first UN agency to sign-up to the Plan S open access principals. The European originating Plan S requires publicly funded research to be published in open access journals or on platforms, or deposited with no embargo period in OA repositories. Publishers income would come from payments to publish.

WHO already requires research it funds to be published OA but signing on to S sends a signal. “By joining this coalition, we believe we can accelerate progress towards universal free access to health research – an ambition that supports our current strategy of one billion more people benefiting from universal health coverage over the next five years,” says the organisation’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminatha.

A case for research in TAFE

Not into TAFE, by TAFE

TAFEs have the deep subject matter expertise, specialist tools and industry networks required to successfully engage in applied research,” TAFE Directors Australia suggest.

A new report on “the vital role TAFE plays in equipping the Australian workforce for a digitised world” presents the case.  It suggests the Canadian model of applied research in training colleges should be considered.

“While vocational education and training providers may never have the research depth of leading research universities, and nor should that be a driver, TAFEs should be given the capacity and resources to undertake contained and industry-driven innovation projects that are best aligned to the applied nature of the education and training sector.”

Good-o, but TAFE isn’t the only option for industry-focused  VET research – the training divisions of the “full service six” universities (CQURMITVictoria U, Federation USwinburne U and Charles Darwin U) could do it.

Canberra Tall Poppies lead appointments, achievements

Bradey Moggridge (Uni Canberra) is the ACT Science Tall Poppy of the year. He works on cultural awareness in water policy.

The Young Tall Poppies are; Amelia Gulliver (access to mental health), Lara Malins (therapeutic potential of peptides and proteins), A J Mitchell (nuclear physics), Riccardo Natoli (age-related macular degeneration ) – all ANU. Madeline Mitchell (CSIRO) works on biodegradable plant-based fibres.

Chris Anderson will become the Australian Academy of Science policy director. He moves from chief of staff to former Labor research minister Kim Carr. He should feel at home. His new boss, Anna Maria Arabia was Bill Shorten’s chief of staff 2013-16. In June, the academy hired Louise Moes, also a former Labor staffer, as manager of diversity and inclusion.

Adrienne Erickson is the Swayne Senior Fellow in Australian design at the National Museum of Australia. She joins from DFAT.