Discrete hon doc

Uni Newcastle awarded John Howard an hon doc yesterday – but the announcement only reached the media likes of CMM after the event

Perhaps Uni Newcastle feared protests, some Uni Sydney academics were certainly upset by an hon doc for the former prime minister five years back CMM September 28 2016).

In contrast Uni Newcastle also announced that Julia Gillard will receive an hon doc, “at a future ceremony.”

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

 Marnie Hughes-Warrington (Uni SA) and Andrew Klenke (Swanbury Penglase Associates) on what 19th century Adelaide as testlab shows us about innovation. “If we want translation and commercialisation to grow, we need to spend more time thinking about what makes mixed systems work, and to support them. It is strange to focus on translation and commercialisation funding without addressing shortfalls in research funding, for example, and to not think about social as well as economic innovations.”

Claire Macken (RMIT) on the last chapter of the tome-like textbook, and what can replace it.

Mitch Parsell (Uni Tasmania) on the good, the bad and the ugly reasons to keep the lecture. This week’s addition to Sally Kift’s long-running series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

Plus Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on what to do when there is not enough good data. “When you really don’t know, it is better to be like Socrates, and admit you don’t know. Then in shared ignorance you make a good faith agreement rather than a decision. The group agrees which way to go, rather than the leader insisting that they are Moses and can lead everyone out of the wilderness.”

Uni Adelaide in the market for visionaries

New-ish VC Peter Høj is recruiting his “visionary team”

He is looking to hire a provost, DVC acadedemic, DVC or chief executive for external engagement and executive deans for the professions faculty and science.

With interim and acting appointments Professor Høj tells staff, “it is important that we have certainty among this team for the years to come.”

John Williams, now acting provost and ED Professions, will also finish at the faculty at year end. Interim DVC A Jennie Shaw’s substantive position is ED Arts but she will continue in the DVC role until year end, or an appointment is made. As will chief external relations officer Leah Grantham. Laura Parry’s interim term as ED Science runs until end 2021.

Study to break hearts

Ben Mathews (QUT) is leading a prevalence study of maltreatment of Australian children

It will be a cohort study of 10 000 Australians to identify incidences of five types of abuse, sexual, physical, emotional, neglect and exposure to domestic violence.

The National Health and Medical Research Council is funding the project for five years, with primary data collection – random sampling by phone and computer-assisted telephone interviewing – this year.

Where cash for industry-uni partnerships could come from and should end-up

The Innovative Research Universities backs the government’s research commercialisation proposals and has an idea on how to pay for some of them

The IRU “sees considerable value” in government setting major themes to lead its investment in commercial outcomes, as occurs with the Medical Research Future Fund.

“MRFF experience points to keeping the scope of the mission broad to allow a wide variety of options for take-up across research and industry players.”

The lobby also likes the “stage-gated” method of weeding out good ideas that do not pass development milestones.

And it saddles up one of its favourite hobby-horses to demonstrate where uni-industry collaboration can occur. (Concentrations of research infrastructure on inner-city Group of Eight campuses has always irked the IRU, (CMM September 12 20116)).

“IRU members have invested heavily to create innovation precincts at the edge of campuses, bringing in the external parties and providing a location for former students and staff to remain linked to the universities as they turn research outcomes into commercial returns … They are particularly important around the IRU members for our location in the mid to outer suburbs of the major Australian cities and several of the larger provincial cities and towns. The use of research to drive commercial outcomes should not be an inner-city habit. Its reach has to be national.”

The IRU also has an idea to encourage industry to partner with universities on research, the government should act on a recommendation in the Ferris, Finkel, Fraser review of the R&D Tax Incentive (delivered to the Deakin Government in 1905). “In 2020-21, the government will invest $2.6bn into business sector R&D. However, 99 per cent of this is via the R&D tax incentive, essentially without strategic coordination. There are no direct incentives for industry to collaborate with our world-class universities.”

Research required to become (and stay) a university

TEQSA proposes minimum outputs and achievements

The Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency has quietly announced what it  proposes  the research thresholds should be.

* volume of citations for peer-reviewed papers and the quality of journals where citations appear

* peer-review process

* an institution’s research governance and funding frameworks

* research community and activity

* competitive funding won, and;

* “results from Excellence in Research for Australia or any comparable evaluation in Australia, and from comparable national and international research assessment exercises.”

Presumably that last one covers the recommendation in the Coaldrake Review of category standards, that by 2030 existing universities should undertake “world standard research” in at least 50 per cent of fields of education they teach and that any new university should start at 30 per cent and scale up to 50 per cent (CMM October 16 2019).

Which, might be a challenge, if as expected, institutions free-fall on rankings without international student fees to fund research.

Responses to the proposal are due end April.

Uni Wollongong’s academic senate not what it was

Which is exactly as management likes

Uni Wollongong management wanted to change the membership of Academic Senate, “to address concerns of disproportionate weighting being given to senior professors.” It also wanted to create three new senate positions for an associate dean (international), and an associate dean (equity diversity and inclusion). The first two are to be chosen by the relevant committee and the third elected by senate.

University Council said it could and so it has happened, with the new Senate model to operate from the May meeting, which occurs before existing VC Paul Wellings retires.

To all of which the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union responds, that Council is treating Senate “as a mere subcommittee” and not the university’s “peak body for academic matters.”

NTEU assistant secretary for NSW Damien Cahill adds, “this change is an attack on the collegial principles at the heart of a university. It is a cynical parting gift by the Vice Chancellor who has one foot out the door.”

The union wants Senate itself and in-coming VC Patricia Davidson to consider the changes.

Last night the university stated that Senate is indeed a sub-committee of council and the changes will “enable more diverse staff representation by drawing on a broader cross section of (Uni Wollongong’s) academic workforce.

Appointments, achievements

Kerri-Lee Krause has started at Avondale UC as provost. She moves there from Uni Melbourne where she was DVC Student Life.

 The NZ science award winners include; the PM’s Prize goes to the Te Pūnaha Matatini, research centre at Uni Auckland for COVID-19 modelling. The MacDiarmid Emerging Scientist Prize winner is Christopher Cornwall (Victoria U of Wellington) for research on climate change impact on marine organisms. Michael Baker (Uni Otago) wins the Science Comms category, he was “the go-to science expert” during the pandemic. Queenstown technology teacher Sarah Washbrooke wins the teaching award.

New Austrade CEO Xavier Simonet is in-place. His appointment was announced in November. Tim Beresford has acted since Stephanie Fahey left (CMM June 15 2020).