It takes 1000 pages of paperwork to get a teacher ed course accredited CQU’s Davis warns

plus: Macquarie U to merge all three biz ed operations


Unis Adelaide, Melbourne and Queensland lead in new CRC Projects

and: another broadside against the Murray Darling med school

Mixed metaphor of the morning

“On the catwalk of health funding, certain outfits get more attention than others. These ‘sexy’ projects come with attractive bells and whistles, such as emotional pull and measurable outcomes.” James Cook U on how to generate project support. Nothing attracts the NHMRC like a cute bell and a comely whistle.

Time is money

ANU says it wants to extend the hours when services are on offer but opponents say it is a pay cut in disguise.

Enterprise bargaining is underway at ANU and management wants to extend the span of hours when support services are available, from 8am to 6pm in IT now to 12 hours from 7am from 8am to 6pm in the library now to 8am-10pm and from 7.30am -4pm in maintenance under existing arrangements to 8am through 10pm. The university also want to talk about changing research/technical staff availabilities “in response to the wide-ranging requirements of the university community.”

But the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union will not have a bar of it.

“By expanding the times that staff can be required to work, ANU is effectively removing the entitlement to penalty rates and shift allowances paid to staff under the existing arrangement. Such a change could potentially leave ANU staff thousands of dollars out of pocket. Staff who receive penalty rates are often among the university’s lowest paid. The extension of the core business hours of university employees is also a major concern. This change means some staff may be rostered on as late as 10pm as part of their normal working hours. These changes will obviously make it extremely difficult for staff with families or other responsibilities outside of work.”

To which the university replied yesterday, that it hopes to ensure “improved and expanded services to both students and staff” and that negotiations with the NTEU and associated unions “are progressing well.”

What bird is that?

CQU has a new mascot (a bloke wearing a cartoon-bird head)

VC Scott Bowman is inviting ideas for a name, but rules out Birdy McBirdface.

New CRC Ps

The government has announced winners in the new $28.8m round of Cooperative Research Centre Projects. These are short term and focused on a specific industry identified problem, as distinct from the longer lifespan and broader research field CRCs. Partners will contribute another $68m

The winners are all pointy-headed projects with an emphasis on Australian strengths in agriculture, medical research and minerals and energy.

A consortium including the University of Adelaide, has $4.4m to research “intelligent vision, sensing and data fusion for mining and exploration.” The universities of New South Wales and Queensland, plus partners will spend nearly $12m on printing technology for flexible batteries. A partnership including the University of Southern Queensland will use $10m working on polymer composite transoms for the decks of rail bridges. UNSW is also involved in developing a data analytics platform for the medical technology and pharmaceutical sector.

There are universities in all 13 projects; UniAdelaide (two), Cranfield, in the UK, (one), Charles Darwin U (one), Curtin U (one), Flinders U (one), Macquarie U (one), UniCanberra (one), UniMelbourne (one), UNSW (two), U of Queensland (two), UniSouthern Queensland (one), UniTexas (one), UWA (one).


Another med school broadside

People wintering on Mars may have missed the argument over the need, or not, for a new regional med school and so the University of Sydney has come out against the idea, again

The university’s Mark Arnold says more postgrad training places west of the Great Divide, is the answer to the country doctor shortage, rather than the proposed Murray Darling Medical School which would teach in rural NSW and Victoria.

Associate Professor Arnold runs the UniSydney School of Rural Health and says there were six applications for every internship at the base hospitals in Orange and Dubbo in mid-west NSW, which would be in the MDMS catchment.

“There’s no shortage of medical graduates and junior doctors wanting to train and establish careers in regional Australia,” Dr Arnold says.

“What’s needed is a bigger, sustainable rural medical career training ‘pipeline’ for junior doctors who want to work in regional and rural areas, long term,” he adds.

He also points approvingly to the government’s rural training programme announced in April, as a way of encouraging doctors to stay in regional centres. In a related announcement Charles Sturt U, a sponsor of the MDMS was funded to increase training placements in midwifery, nursing, dentistry and allied health ( CMM April 18) – widely seen as a consolation prize in advance if the MDMS does not get up.

Charles Sturt and ally La Trobe U want the government to give the MDMS med school places now at city-headquartered faculties. All the existing medical schools think this is a terrible idea, for the best of policy reasons, of course.

The MDMS blue is now a lobbying equivalent of an 18th century sea battle. The two sides are close up up, firing broadsides of statements and stunts into each other while Assistant Minister for Rural Health David Gillespie, watches and waits for an inquiry into med school numbers to report.

CMM has no idea who will win but close watchers of the wind suggest that while Nationals MP Dr Gillespie must stay silent, party leader Barnaby Joyce does not know how to. That he is not sailing into the fight in support of the country colours may suggest which way the wind is blowing.

Three into one

Macquarie University’s three business teaching operations are to become a “unified entity” says executive dean Stephen Brammer

After six months of consultation, Professor Brammer told staff yesterday that there would be “staff workshops” in July-August involving the Faculty of Business and Economics, the Macquarie Graduate School of Management and the Macquarie Applied Finance Centre on “key questions relevant to our future direction and success.” The overall direction seems set with Professor Brammer saying the issue now is, “the shape of the unified entity that I’m keen for us to be.”

Boeing lands at UoQ

Boeing will move its Brisbane research team to a specially designed facility at the University of Queensland where the 30 staff will work with university staff and students. Research areas include unmanned aircraft, manufacturing technologies and contagion in cabins.

Creativity kicked out of class

It can take 1000 pages of documents to submit a teacher education course for accreditation, Susan Davis warns

CQU’s deputy dean, research in the School of Education and the Arts has slammed regulation of what teachers are taught, pointing to the seven professional standards and 37 focus areas the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership requires. “This type of approach encourages a compliance and tick box mentality.”

“While consistency and regulation are important it does tend to stifle the ability for educators to respond to changes in industry and the economy. Systems that are being built around certification and compliance make it impossible to be nimble and flexible and reduces the capacity of course designers and teachers to be creative and responsive,” she says.

Dr Davis acknowledges that crushing creativity in teacher education is imposed on AITSL by the federal government’s agenda, but “our current interest in certain types of ‘evidence’ is becoming an obsession at great cost to the students we teach.”

“If we believe our future requires creative and critical thinkers, we need to cultivate the conditions where creativity can be nurtured by teachers and teacher educators. We need to make sure this is not drowned in regulation, distrust of teachers and lack of belief in their capacity to be professional as well as creative.”

Jainlin joins

Jainlin Chen starts at the University of Melbourne’s law school and Asian Law Centre next month. He joins from Hong Kong Law School.

 Crunching the numbers

The Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute winter school is on this week at QUT. Designed for postgraduates and early career researchers the theme is the computational basis of data science. The big public lecture is by Peter May, head of research at the Bureau of Meteorology, on how “big computers, big data and lots of maths,” has created “a quiet revolution in forecasting.”  No, CMM is certainly not going to make a joke about the bureau now being wrong on the basis of much more maths.