Pyne’s pick

Education Minister Christopher Pyne has appointed the new TEQSA advisory council, as recommended by the Lee Dow and Braithwaite review of that once imperious agency. Mr Pyne’s is a professional pick, including people from across the post secondary community. John Howard’s head of Prime Minister and Cabinet and now chancellor of UWS Peter Shergold is in the chair with ex UWA VC Alan Robson and Greg Craven from ACU coming from very different types of universities. Perhaps private providers could kick up at Professor Craven’s appointment, given his description of the non-government sector as including “goannas” but I doubt it, give he is joined by the respected Phil Honeywood, National Executive Director of the International Education Association of Australia, which includes for profits. The other member, Karen Thomas, is a well-connected Adelaide lawyer and a previous member of the TAFE SA advisory board. Funnily enough there was no statement last night from TEQSA welcoming the arrival of its overseers, sorry advisors.

Gosh thanks

The Emerald Publishing Group has a one-time-only-offer, “read all published articles in the International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy for free this week only.”

Ahead of the OECD

According to the OECD, Australia, with Ireland and Russia led the world in increasing education spending in 2008-09. Russia went backward by the same amount the next year while Australia increased again, this time running second, behind the Czech Republic. The Oz increase over the two years was around 19 per cent. As for tertiary education, overall the OECD cut spending by a substantial 10 per cent between 2000 and 2010. Granted, much of the Australian growth is driven by more students rather than increasing quality – still an increase is an improvement on a decrease.

Wednesday’s worthy announcement

Comes from Flinders University, which wants us all to know, “Canadian expert reviews SA’s water management.”

Who pays, how much?

Anybody interested in the open access debate should read Rebecca Darley, Daniel Reynolds and Chris Wickham’s excellent report on humanities and social sciences publishing for the British Academy. This is a rigorously researched, carefully constructed and elegantly argued paper that acknowledges the limitations of the existing model but also points to problems with millenarian solutions where publish profitably or perish is replaced with open access for all. They demonstrate that one way or another good journals cost a bunch of money to publish and suggest that as society derives the benefit of research then the taxpayer should fund its publication. While they phrase the case carefully, in the end it seems to me that they accept that one way or another researchers, librarians and taxpayers are living in something approaching the best of all possible worlds. With open access, they argue “the academic ecosystem” could “be profoundly altered in often unpredictable ways, and at worst the ability of academics to publish at all will be reduced.” This is a major contribution to the access debate, but there are two obvious rejoinders. First the taxpayer funds just about all research already, it is the publishers who get something for nothing. Second it seems the absence of competition ensure the publishers can charge pretty much what they like. (Reed Elsevier made a 29% operating profit on revenues of 6bn stg last year).

Understanding all of Anzac

It’s Anzac week, generally a time for academics to complain about an undue emphasis on military history. This year, for a change, conservatives are suggesting that there are not enough stories honouring soldiering. In The Australian yesterday Nick Cater published an op ed critical of Peter Stanley, yes the author of 20 books of military, mainly campaign history) and Craig Stockings (best known for editing anthologies on battle myths, but celebrated for his study of the great Australian achievement at the Battle of Bardia in 1941. If anybody has runs on the board to write about the interface between combat and society it is these two academics. In contrast to the opining, Sharon Mascall-Dare’s journalist’s guide to Anzac Day provides hacks who know not much about military history with the basics to avoid bloopers. Her project started out when she was researching awareness of Anzac at the University of South Australia and saw the need for a way to put combat history in context. Uni SA will give the guide away to “accredited journalists” this year. For everybody else it’s for sale as $7.95 Ebook. The spirit of mateship, not.