Economic with optimism

“Thanks to a recommendation from Seth Godin, Economics in Two Lessons is suddenly a bestseller in microeconomics on Amazon. Won’t last long, I expect, but nice while it does.” Uni Queensland economist John Quiggin, on success for his book, via Twitter, yesterday. (It’s number four on Amazon’s micro-economics list).

Still wonder why they call it, the “dismal science”?

ICAC investigating Peter Rathjen   

The Uni Adelaide VC faces allegations of “improper conduct”

Independent Commissioner Against Corruption, Bruce Lander said yesterday that he, “has commenced an investigation in respect of allegations of improper conduct by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Adelaide.”

“My investigation is in respect of potential issues of serious or systemic misconduct and maladministration, not corruption,” the emphasis is Mr Lander’s.

The Commissioner adds he is, “also investigating the manner in which the University dealt with those allegations.”

Mr Lander said ICAC investigations are conducted in private, but he was making a statement, “in light of the intense speculation regarding the University of Adelaide, and the likelihood that that speculation will continue and potentially lead to an unnecessary negative impact on the University’s operations.”

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

How Flinders U uses  Microsoft platforms to keep its community informed on COVID-19

Merlin Crossley  (UNSW) explains (really explains) viruses and why they kill us.

Tim Winker’s five ways to overcome the crisis and expand enrolments.

Kevin Ashford-Rowe (QUT) on the digital transformation of education. Ignore it and become Kodak. It’s this week’s essay in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s series on what is needed now in teaching and learning.

More short-courses for the pandemic

UTS signs-on

The university is offering graduate certificates notably in engineering, architecture and IT, which can quality completers for grad dips and masters.

The overall programme is picking up pace, with 117 courses now available, up from 70 or so at the start of the week.  So far, 19 universities are participating in the HECS-eligible programme. Some of the exceptions are DE specialists, which may see the low-cost courses cannibalising their existing products.

Less not much than no new help for international students

The Red Cross has $7m from the feds to help people bereft of other assistance

So, could this include international students? Doesn’t look like it.

The support is not for people “eligible for state or territory funds for temporary visa holders.”

So, with state and territory governments (ex NSW) across the country providing modest funds for internationals it appears that qualifying for five-fifths of sod-all prevents internationals from applying for a sliver of an even smaller pie.

It looks like universities are largely being left to do as much as they can for their own.

Saving research from the coming crisis

Without funding from international student fees, research will run down. It’s a problem the government could do something about it

The Innovative Research Universities lobby warns that while headline federal funds for research are guaranteed this year the $2.5bn invested by the states and industry isn’t. There is also the need to keep ticking over infrastructure that the big grant agencies don’t support.

What needs saying: When presented in the national, not institutional interest, it’s a message that may matter for ministers.

“Australia produces 4 per cent of world research, an impressive feat for a country that generates 1 per cent of world GDP and is home to just 0.3 per cent of the global population. The quality of that research is also high by global standards, with Australian researchers cited 50 per cent more often than the world average, the best rate of any large country. Australia is a global research superpower, but only as long as our research is properly funded,” IRU warns.

And who might listen: Education Minister Dan Tehan is a research true believer. “Researchers in universities around the country carry out research every day on different matters affecting the everyday lives of us all, not only in Australia but also right around the world. Cutting edge research is changing our world dramatically, but the incremental progress of long-term research programs is also vital for many industries, where commercial success comes from being just a cut above the rest,” he said last year, (CMM September 19 2019).

What the government could do: The IRU suggests the government could create a research package for 2020-21, including incentives for business to JV with universities.

Good-idea, come the budget the government will be over handing-out crisis cash.  But it could transfer savings it wants to make through changes to the research and development tax incentive (now stalled in the Senate) to a research translation fund to take projects out of the lab and onto the market.

Plus Industry Minister Karen Andrews could grow the number of cooperative research centres, which have ten-year lives and commercial objectives.

And now state intervention in everything is on the agenda the government might like a big idea from the Research Infrastructure Review. Back in 2015 Philip Marcus Clark and colleagues proposed a national research infrastructure fund, managed by an independent board of scientists and industry leaders (CMM December 16 2016). The report disappeared when it was released but one of its core messages has weathered well; “The government has recognised the importance of better linking our high-quality research with industry. The discoveries in our universities and research agencies must translate into outcomes that will contribute to economic growth.” It’s a line that could work in the Treasurer’s budget speech.

Curtin U announces early entry for 2021 UGs

A for “anticipated” in ATAR

Applications for 2021 Curtin University UG entry open Monday week, using existing early admission schemes, and a new one.

Curtin U says it has worked with the WA Tertiary Institution Services Centre to make offers “for a range of courses” based on “predicted” ATARs, “calculated from Year 11 results.

Appointments of the week

Michelle Arrow (Macquarie U) wins the Ernest Scott Prize for her history of the 1970s in Australia, (New South Books).

Naomi Flutter has a second term as ANU pro-chancellor and will serve to 2022. She joined the university council in 2014. Ms Flutter is corporate affairs manager for Wesfarmers.

Mark Nolan is now director of Charles Sturt U’s Centre for Law and Justice. Professor Nolan joined from ANU.

Beverley Webster joins Monash U Malaysia as VP education. She has moved from RMIT, in Ho Chi Minh City.

Wei Xiang joins La Trobe U as inauguralCisco chair in AI and the internet of things. He moves from James Cook U.

Monash U ICT dean Jon Whittle is leaving for CSIRO, where he will be head of the digital science team, Data61.