A major new ranking presents world top patent performers


Western Sydney U makes new friends


plus What’s with Monash U and sugar hits?


and International student numbers up (again)

Open Day of the day

Ronnie and Georgia from The Block are at Edith Cowan U Open Day on Sunday. What do you reckon, a refurbed lecture block by dark?

Strength in numbers

Western Sydney University has joined the Innovative Research Universities group

The move gives the lobby a NSW presence lacking since the University of Newcastle withdrew in December 2014.

The IRU’s existing members are James Cook U, Griffith U, La Trobe U, Flinders U, Murdoch U and Charles Darwin U.

This is a good move for WSU, bereft of allies in the immensely competitive Sydney market with UNSW and UniSydney both members of the Group of Eight and UTS part of the Australian Technology Network.

The universities of Newcastle and Wollongong have recently established a triple entente with the University of New South Wales. While the partners say the new group’s secretariat will not take education policy positions it will represent its regions’ interests in key research areas – from which it is not far to lobbying for members.

This is also a win for the IRU, adding to its presence in the corridors of power and signalling the strength of its policy thinking.

Taste tests

When it comes to sugar hits, it’s the old one-two at Monash U

“Something delicious has just arrived at Peninsula campus. Indulge in a hot jam donutor three! For free!”. “We’ve got a chocolate fountain and a mountain of sweet stuff, now at Caulfield! Visit our Sweet Hub.” “Our marshmallow roasting stations await at Clayton campus, as well as a waffle and pikelet station.”  All Monash U via Facebook yesterday

Perhaps an experiment for the university’s Centre for Obesity Research and Education.

Patents provide real world research ranking

Good-on QUT for funding a ranking on which it does not appear

QUT’s Richard Jefferson and colleagues have created a new measurement of research achievement, “breaking out of the academicecho chamber’ to announce real-world outcomes.”

Professor Jefferson’s QUT spin-out, The Lens, hosts an open access search site for more than 100m patents from 100 plus countries with a new metric that searches for citations of academic work in them.

“This is a significant step towards ‘innovation cartography’ – transparently mapping how science and technology influence industry to enable scientists, investors, business and policy makers to make better, evidence-based choices in partnerships and pathways to deliver new products, services and practices for society,” Professor Jefferson says.

The Lensin4M metric has also searched citations in patents and patent applicantsperceptions of value to rank the global top 200 research organisations.

The US leads with 81 institutions, followed by five countries in double figures, the UK (19), China (12), France (12), Germany (11) and Japan (10) ahead of a bunch of others.

Israel, Canada and Australia have four institutions each.

The University of Melbourne (with 132 000 citing patents) is 152nd in the world, followed by the University of Queensland 166th (95 000 citing patents), the University of Western Australia at 167 (67 000) and ANU at 177th (63 000). The ranking are roughly in line with other conventional league tables, including the ARWU and Leiden.

Professor Jefferson’s global top ten are: Scripps Research Institute, Rockefeller University, MIT, University of Massachusetts Medical School, University of Texas South West Medical Centre, Weizemann Institute of Science (Rehevot, Israel), National Institutes of Health, University of California-San Francisco, Stanford University and the Icahn School of Medicine-Mount Sinai (NY, NY).

Restraint in order

A learned reader points out the coincidence of two universities on opposite sides of the continent coming up with “almost identically inane” slogans. The University of Southern Queensland urges prospective students to “unleash your fearless” while in Perth Murdoch U exhorts them to “free your think.” “Perhaps they should tie up their writers” the reader remarks.

Bargaining blues

The union digs in at JCU and Sydney U

It is enterprise bargaining as usual at James Cook U. The union says management’s existing offer on pay is under inflation and if there is no improvement at a meeting tomorrow NTEU members will consider extending existing work bans to Open Day at the Townsville campus – which is exactly what they said in 2013.

At the University of Sydney, the National Tertiary Education Union has had a Kim-size win with 98 per cent of staff voting to take industrial action over wage and condition negotiations. But before Kim Jon-un starts shooting electoral officials for not delivering equivalent majorities, only NTEU members, nowhere near a majority on campus, were entitled to vote .

The boom rolls on

International student numbers are up again

There were 510,348 international students in Australia year-to-date in June, up 14% on 2016. Numbers grew in all sectors, with higher education up 15 per cent and VET 16 per cent. While there was 30 per cent growth in the number of students from Nepal and Brazil, Australia still relies on China, which accounted for 29 per cent of internationals, followed by India which contributed 11 per cent.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham used the numbers to point out the importance of the government’s HE plan to ensure the sector, “is sustainable and continues to foster the excellence and innovation that underpins the outstanding global reputation of our universities and training providers.” Less optimistic observers wonder how long the China boom will last.

Cases stay the same

While unis go the full wonk the minister keeps the message simple

Union outraged: The National Tertiary Education Union is outraged that government members of the Senate committee inquiring into the proposed higher education reforms support the package. “They have all but ignored the evidence from staff, students and universities about the negative impact of further cuts to public investment in our universities on student services, staffing levels, job security and class sizes.”

Unis apoplectic: And the university lobbies are apoplectic at the way Education Minister Senator Birmingham is making his case.

Vickie Thomson from the Group of Eight says the minister has misrepresented one report, released another which it had for months in a way that shows “the government is playing fast and loose with proper policy development” and is presenting increased student fees as extra taxpayer money.

The Innovative Research Universities goes the full wonk in its cross critique of the government’s claims, providing three charts, that show how none of the spending and GDP figures the government presents, “help with a serious discussion of the resources universities need to education and research.”

And Universities Australia has a bar chart showing where real government spending is now and the considerably lower place it will be in four years if the senator succeeds. “This is a real cut to per student funding in real terms over the next four years and beyond. These cannot be absorbed by universities without affecting student services, infrastructure, university staff, and education programs,” UA’s Belinda Robinson argues.

Simon says it’s simple: However, Senator Birmingham thinks his government colleagues got it right “for highlighting the realities of the need to reform Australia’s HE system.”

Instead of what it will mean for people in the system, Senator Birmingham says his focus is the national interest. As such, he has completely reversed the positions Christopher Pyne and his opponents were in during the last HE reform fight. Then supporters of the status quo controlled the debate with their cut-through “$100 000 degrees” warning and the minister had the complex policy sell. Not this time.


Winners of the working week


Cathy Smith has won the inaugural Turnbull Foundation’s built environment scholarship. The $95 000 award is for postgraduate women to study in UNSW’s Faculty of Built Environment.  Dr Smith is an architecture academic at the University of Newcastle. Lucy Turnbull, chief commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission, initiated the award.

Phil Watson is appointed to the Shell Chair in Offshore Engineering at the University of Western Australia. Dr Watson is a director of geotechnical consultancy Fugro Ag.

ANU has announced the first six members of its Institute of Innovation in Higher Education: Paul Francis (College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences), Michael Platow (College of Medicine, Biology and Environment), Carol Hayes (College of Asia and the Pacific), Catherine Frieman (College of Arts and Social Sciences) Asmi Wood (College of Law) and John Minns (CASS).

Rebecca Bartel has joined Deakin University as executive lead of the new Institute for Healthcare Transformation. She joins from the Australian Centre for Health Research.

Flinders University has made the first external appointment to head any of the six colleges in its new academic structureAlison Kitson joins Flinders from the University of Adelaide, where she is dean of nursing to run the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. She joins internal appointments, John Beynon in Science and Engineering and Phyllis Tharenou in Business, Government and Law.

Howard Government minister Chris Ellison will become chancellor of the University of Notre Dame Australia on January 1. And Michael L’Estrange will serve as his deputy. In fact, Mr LeStrange was appointed deputy chancellor in April but this was only made public on Wednesday the university says it wanted to make a joint announcement. Mr Ellison served in John Howard’s ministries for a decade from1997 and left the Senate in 2009. Mr LeStrange long career in public service culminated in four years as secretary of DFAT. He served as head of ANU’s National Security College between 2009 and 2014.

Andreas Obermair from the University of Queensland is awarded Cancer Australia’s Jeannie Ferris Recognition Award for his work on gynaecological cancer.

Bob Goodin has received ANU’s Peter Baume award, the university’s highest honourProfessor Goodin is recognised for research and writing, demonstrated by 15 books in philosophy and political science. The award is named for former VC Peter Baume.

Kerrie Campbell will move from the University of Adelaide to become Chief Information Officer at Flinders U. She will lead “the newly reshaped” Information and Digital Services Division from next month.

Larissa McLean Davis is the new associate dean for learning and teaching at the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of EducationAssociate Professor Davis is also chief investigator of a current ARC study on the role of literary studies in the early careers of school teachers of English.