Feds delay data demands

The HE and Vet regulators are easing-up on information required from victims, sorry providers, during the present crisis and now the department is taking a liberal view on what it wants, when

The Commonwealth’s department of education is suspending two projects it had universities working on; Transforming the Collection of Student Information and Transparency in Higher Education Expenditure.  What government relations people in unis will now do for fun eludes CMM.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Kevin Bell wraps his how-to series on on-line learning and teaching in crisis time with using technology to enhance intrinsic student motivation.

Chie Adachi (Deakin U) explains where learning design meets service design in on-line learning. It’s the new essay in Contributing Editor Sally Kift‘s series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

Merlin Crossley’s lab is working from home, here’s  how it is going.

Research agencies adjust to crisis: NHMRC leads on extending applications

The NHMRC announced Friday night

On Friday night, the National Health and Medical Research Council acted on chair Ann Kelso’s undertaking to do “our best” to help people struggling to meet app due dates as COVID-19 responsibilities weighed (CMM March 26).

Deadlines are extended for five programmes with open and close dates ranging from March to October.

And the multi-disciplinary team Synergy Grants 2020 round is cancelled.  This is an “all hands-on deck” move to free up peer reviewers and Council staff to deal with Ideas Grants, which have just opened. “We won’t be able to do everything and have decided to prioritise completing the Ideas Grant round due to its size and broad impact across the sector,” Professor Kelso says. There is $240m in Ideas Grant funding starting this year

And lo, the ARC followed

On Saturday, the Australian Research Council followed, with chief executive Sue Thomas announcing new application closing dates for the three schemes where demand for a delay was strongest, Linkage (now April 29), Linkage Infrastructure (now April 22) and the new Australian studies special research initiative, (now May 6).

“The disruptions researchers, reviewers, partners and administrators are experiencing now will have long term impacts, and the ARC is committed to assisting all as best we can. … I acknowledge the challenges are significant, and assure you that we will continue to look at how we can best support you into the future.” Professor Thomas says.

This is a move from the ARC’s position last week, ““at this stage, we are not moving to longer or blanket extensions because of the cumulative impact this will have on the necessary peer review processes and being able to commence funding in the future,” (CMM March 24).

UWA’s clean pairs of hands

The university is making a hand-sanitiser, to the World Health Organisation’s formula, no less

Dean of Science Tony O’Donnell is over-sighting manufacture, with local federal MP Celia Hammond (Liberal, Curtin) overseeing distribution. Yes, that Celia Hammond, the former VC of University of Notre Dame Australia.  Ms Hammond will ensure the sanitiser reaches the hands of vulnerable community members who have missed out in the supermarket scramble. Now if the university can get a team onto dunny paper …

Open or shut case on library hours

Some universities have closed libraries because the PM said libraries have to close

But they are open at others, which say Mr Morrison meant community libraries not uni ones.

So should either group should have the book thrown at it?

Universities Australia says official advice is that; “as a workplace, libraries are part of the university and can continue to operate as such if they meet the requirements for social/physical distancing.  But, you should manage that workplace in keeping with the requirement to avoid non-essential gatherings which prohibits individuals from gathering in libraries. Remote service, delivery based arrangements, etc. should be explored.”

But as universities make up their minds managements might want to consider people who need to spend time in the stacks. There is talk of a campaign at Uni Sydney, where physical libraries are closed, of time-extensions for honours/masters theses.

Dawn Gilmore’s on-line learning tip of the day

#4 Your content is online, what’s next?  Facilitate an engaging webinar

There are three simple strategies that you can use. And the best part is, this only requires two simple tools… the microphone and the chat box, more here

Dr Gilmore is Director, Teaching and Learning at RMIT Online. She has a masters in education design from Uni Pennsylvania and a PhD in on-line learning from Swinburne U. Tip three was in CMM Friday.

ANU delays census date and suggests some students go away

The university announces support package for students

With the university now teaching all but exclusively on-line, ,census date is extended from tomorrow to May 8, giving students an extra five days to decide if on-line works for them before being liable for HECS debt.

It is hard to see how any university can do anything other.

ANU is also kicking in $1m to a new emergency fund for students to cover living, health and study expenses for students who need support. The university also wants  people living in university residences who have somewhere to go, to go there. “Disappointingly, it seems that some students are not playing their part, particularly in our residences.” ANU says students can cancel contracts without penalty and it will pay back rent paid in advance.

 Primus inter pares

The Australian Association of University Professors has elected its inaugural executive

Manuel Graeber (neuropathology, Uni Sydney) is president. Jill Blackmore (education, Deakin U) is VP. James Guthrie (accounting, Macquarie U) is treasurer. Corneel Vandelanotte (physical educ, CQU) is  secretary).

The association exists, “to ensure academic principles including academic freedom are upheld across Australian universities, and to support individuals and groups in efforts to ensure that the Australian university system maintains the highest standards in research and teaching.”

Global science-policy virus response (but look who’s not there)

Chief Scientist Alan Finkel reports participating in a global science-leaders forum on COVID-19 responses

Dr Finkel advises the weekly discussion has most recently focused on the need for participants to share research OA, updates on vaccine and therapeutics research. Australia also has access to US modelling on ICU demand.

The group is chaired by the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Kevin Droegemeier. Participating countries are, Australia, Brazil, Canada, the EU, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Spain, and United Kingdom. Perhaps China was washing it’s hair when they last met.

Appointments, achievements

Venture capital veteran Bill Ferris is the new chair of the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (supported by superannuation funds and the feds). He replaces Peter Beattie, who remains on the board.

Five Australian based researchers have new funding from the Human Frontier Science Programme, (Strasbourg based and funded by mainly G20 countries); Peter Franks (Uni Sydney) will research heat stress in plants. Alex de Marco (Monash U) is supported to investigate, “time-resolving the mechanism of exocytosis in situ,” (sorry, no idea). Antoine van Ouen (Uni Wollongong) has funding for work on, “high through-put single-molecule evolution.” Anna Wang (UNSW) will work on “propagation of single synthetic cells. Martin Whiting (Macquarie U) has a grant for evolution among lizards on islands.

COVID-19 wrap

The Association of Australian University Professors warns about the prospect of Australia “losing control” of the COVID-19 epidemic and calls for an “immediate lock-down”

“If hospital beds are full with COVID-19 patients and half the health workforce is sick with COVID-19, the ability to treat other diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes, will be severely reduced. There will also be many people with COVID-19 unable to access hospital care,” the association warned in a weekend statement. Plus, not enough masks means healthcare workers are “now themselves at the highest risk of infection.”

The association called for extensive testing and isolation, tracking and quarantining contacts, travel restrictions and “most importantly” social distancing,

Uni SA census date moved back

Late Friday UNI SA joined universities giving students a “try before buy” chance to sample on-line study. The university told students that census date for study period three (April 6 to June 12) moves, a bit, from April 24 to May 1.

Jane den Hollander says UWA has “supported” 75 per cent – 80 per cent of staff to work from home

Yes, that Jane den Hollander, the recently retired Deakin U VC who was (quietly) appointed to act at UWA between Dawn Freshwater  leaving (for Auckland U) and incoming vice chancellor Amit Chakma arriving from U Western Ontario in July.

Uni SA moves on-line

On Friday VC David Lloyd asked all staff and student to move to work and study from home, “unless your attendance on campus is deemed essential.” All lectures and tutes are on-line, as of today.

Other face-to-face tuition was already suspended to April 27, courses which do not have a solution to no in-person classes by then are suspended to “later in the academic year.”

Remote working arrangements are in force until further notice but campuses are not closed, with staff essential for, “necessary services, supports, research, training or other activities required for business continuity on campus.”

Curtin U classes start this morning after a week off to move them on-line

The university is “encouraging all staff who can work remotely to do so.”  The library is also closed, “in accordance with government advice,” (but not on the Kalgoorlie campus where it shares premises with student services).

At University of Notre Dame Australia all teaching and learning is on-line as of Friday and staff are working effectively from home

But new VC Francis Campbell says the university remains open, “it is vital due to the complexity of universities that some of our services remain open and accessible to those students who need them the most. Including the library “we are maintaining an open campus at a library level,” Professor Campbell tells staff.