More from the minister

Dan Tehan has had a big week – with two major addresses that outlined the government’s post-school education agenda and asserted his political and policy authority. There’s more to come. The Education Minister is scheduled to speak today at a Victoria U symposium on, “the role of universities in the 2020s,” (below).

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning, Tania Aspland (deans of education)  responds to the Grattan Institute’s call for elite teachers and higher ATARs for degree entry (CMM Monday). And Angela Carbone (Swinburne U) on closing the graduate skill gap

Research: it’s what defines a university

The Coaldrake Review of provider category standards is expected to stick with the existing definition of a university

Peter Coaldrake has told an Australian Financial Review conference that a “possible landing point” of his review is that; “the undertaking of research is, and should remain, a defining feature of what it means to be a university in Australia.”

The former QUT vice chancellor is reviewing standards for the Commonwealth.

He set out five issues/possible outcomes.

* “a simplification of the current provider categories.”  These are, HE providers of which there are now 12 accredited and 120 not, Australian universities (forty), Australian university colleges (0) a single “Australian university of specialisation, overseas universities (two), and overseas university of specialisation (0).

* universities “are over categorised, while all other HE providers are grouped in a single undifferentiated category.” (i)

* “a new category should be created to serve aspiration, destination, or progression purposes for the highest performing higher education institutions which are not universities. A measure of self-accrediting authority status should be considered for these providers.”

* “the undertaking of research, is, and should remain, a defining feature of what it means to be a university in Australia”

* “quality and scale of research should be included in the provider category standards, with quality requirements augmented over time”

Reaction: Initial responses yesterday were quietly pleased. Universities Australia thanked Professor Coaldrake for “his careful and considered work” and “looked forward” to the review. “Universities welcome the emphasis on the combination of research and teaching — that is a foundational part of the Australian university system,” CEO Catriona Jackson said.

The Independent Higher Education Australia lobby was more expansive, welcoming the possibility of, “an additional HEP category recognising quality and based on self-accrediting authority.” However, IHEA called for continuing the university college category, arguing there is a reason why no institution occupies it.

“The current status and transitional requirements of a track-record in self-accreditation and cycles of review and plans to achieve the Australian University category within five years effectively have made the category unattainable, particularly within the relatively short life of the current standard.”

University college” “has “broad recognition as attaching to degree conferring institutions in Australia’s international markets.”

It’s dark that matters

Stawell’s old gold mine could have been, a goldmine

The learned Frank Chung reports at that the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency is in the market for unused tunnels and subterranean facilities. Bad luck for Stawell, which will miss out on competitive bids for the old gold mine that the feds and Victorian Government are funding the University of Melbourne to use for dark matter research.

Uni Melbourne in the medical research money

The National Health and Medical Research Council announces $440m for 298 new research grants

This brings total NHMRC competitive grants for the year to $482m.

As usual, YTD funding is concentrated among the top five recipients, with the universities of Melbourne, UNSW, Sydney and Queensland, with Monash U and Walter and Eliza Hall accounting for 60 per cent plus of grants.

Institutions winning $10m or more for the year are:

Uni Melbourne: $80m. Monash U: $69m. UNSW: $49m. Uni Sydney: $40m. Uni Queensland: $34m. Walter and Eliza Hall Institute: $28m. UWA: $19m. QIMR Berghofer MRI: $15m. Uni Newcastle: $14m. Uni Adelaide: $11m and Macquarie U: $11m.

Institutions with $5m-$10m in funding are: Murdoch Children’s Research Institute: $9.9m. Deakin U: $7m. Curtin U: $6m. La Trobe U: $6m. UTS: $6m. Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute: $5m. Griffith U: $5m. Menzies School of Health Research: $5m. Uni SA: $5m.

Top per centage performers: The YTD success rate is 15.5 per cent, compared to 19.5 per cent for all of 2018.  The University of Melbourne is a stand-out success, with 55 of 262 bids succeeding.

Of institutions making more than ten bids those with an above average result are;

James Cook U (40 per cent). Walter and Eliza Hall (30 per cent). Curtin U (20 per cent). Menzies School of Health Research (23 per cent). QIMR Berghofer (22 per cent). University of Melbourne (21 per cent). Deakin U (20 per cent). Uni Wollongong (20 per cent). Centre for Eye Research (18 per cent). UTS (18 per cent). University of Newcastle (16 per cent)

But not all the per centages are positive: There are a bunch more blokes than women leading winning grant teams. Year to date there have been 996 applications with female chief investigators, of which 13.8 per cent (137) are successful. In contrast, 17 per cent (202) of the 1188 apps with male CIs got up.

Crossing the gap

“We need greater connection between the university and VET sectors so students can move between the two seamlessly to gain the skills they need for the economy of tomorrow.” Victoria U VC Peter Dawkins says about a seminar on universities in the next decade, he hosts today

He’s well-placed to make the case; VU is one of the “full-service six,” universities with training divisions, – CQURMITVictoria U, Federation USwinburne U and Charles Darwin U.

As boundaries between HE and training become fluid these are going to be powerful policy players.  They combined to produce a paper in April on cross-sector pathways (CMM April 10).

Appointments, achievements

Of the day

Rose Hiscock is Uni Melbourne’s inaugural director of museums and collections. She is now director of the university’s science gallery.

Kerri Lee Krause will become DVC Student Life at the University of Melbourne in December. She moves from La Trobe, which she joined as DVC A in mid 2017. Prior to that she was DVC and provost at Victoria U, which she joined from Western Sydney U in 2014.

Uni SA VC David Lloyd is named chair of the Committee for Adelaide.

Lisa A Williams is the UNSW science faculty’s first foundation dean for equity, diversity and inclusion.

Of the week

The comrades called and Andrew Dempster responded, joining Labor leader Anthony Albanese as head of policy. He joins the Opposition from KPMG.

Karen Andrews is QUT science and engineering alumnus of the year. Ms Andrews is an engineer and is minister for industry, science and technology. Ticks all the boxes.

Bill Ashraf joins Australian Catholic U as a professor and associate dean, learning, teaching and governance in the arts and education faculty. He will be based at the North Sydney campus.  He moves from Macquarie U.

Leanne Kemp’s term as Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur is extended to August 2020.

Three academics are short-listed for the Women’s Agenda web-hub’s emerging public sector female leader award. Abeer Alsadoon is an IT research scientist at Charles Sturt U. Also from CSUFaye McMillan researches Indigenous Health. Amy Thunig is an associate lecturer at Macquarie U with a PhD on Indigenous women academics.

Newell Johnson, from Menzies Health Institute Queensland, at Griffith U, receives a one-off honour from the University of Peradinyar, in Sri Lanka, for 50 years of joint research projects, publications and supervising PhDs, all in dentistry.

 Marcia Devlin (Victoria U) and Lesley Parker (former Curtin U DVC) join the advisory board of the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education.  Erin Watson-Lynnwill chair for a second three-year term. The centre is based at Curtin U.

Karen Clark-Burg is appointed dean of nursing and midwifery at the Fremantle campus of University of Notre Dame Australia. She moves from acting dean.

John Angus (CSIRO and Charles Sturt U) wins the C M Donald medal from the Australian Society of AgronomyPeter Sale (La Trobe U) is the society’s 2019 fellow. Kenton Porker(South Australian Research and Development Institute) is young agronomist of the year

Sarah Collins (UWA) wins “Australia’s most prestigious award for the study of music,” the McCredie Musicological Award. Dr Collins is based at the UWA Conservatorium of Music.

The 2020 Forest Fellowships are announced They are for early career researchers at any WA University. Jessica Buck is the first Indigenous Australian fellow, she will research treating brain tumours in children at UWA and the Telethon Kids Cancer Centre. David Gozzard will work on data transmission in space exploration at UWA.  Peter Kraus is funded for work at Curtin U, for work including emerging power technologies to combat climate change.

Nathan Towney joins the University of Newcastle as PVC Indigenous. Mr Towney joins from being principal of Newcastle High School.

Myles Young wins BUPA’s 2019 emerging health researcher award. Dr Young has a post doc at the University of Newcastle, where he works on weight-loss and physical activity programmes for men’s health.

Eureka Prize winners

The Australian Museum’s 2019 science prizes are announced

Environment: Blue Carbon Horizons Team (Uni Wollongong, Macquarie U, ANSTO)

Data Science: Longbing Cao (UTS)

Interdisciplinary research: Endovascular Bionics Lab (Uni Melbourne, Synchron Inc.)

Infectious diseases: Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

Innovative technology:  Hala Zreiqatz, Uni Sydney

Early career researcher: Laura Mackay, Uni Melbourne

Safeguarding Australia: Team GreyScan ( U Tasmania)

Scientific research: Mariapia Degli-Esposti, Geoff Hill, Chris Andoniou, Peter Fleming, Paulo Martins, Monash University, Lions Eye Institute, and QIMR Berghofer MRI

Emerging leader: Melody Ding (Uni Sydney)

Leadership in innovation and science: Branka Vucetic (Uni Sydney)

Mentor of young researchers: Barry Pogson (AN)

Science engagement: FrogID Team (Australian Museum)

Long-form science journalism: Michael Lucy

Promoting understanding science: Darren Saunders (UNSW)

Science journalism: Liam Mannix (The Age)

STEM inclusion: National Indigenous Science Education Program, (Macquarie U, Charles Sturt U, Yaegl Country Aboriginal Elders

School science – primary: Finn Thomas (St Mary’s Catholic Primary, Concord NSW)

School science – secondary: Ellie Cole and Tsambika Galanos, (PLC, Sydney)