Loathed league tables

Adrian Barnett (QUT) will work free for a year at any university that abandons league tables. (He explains why, in CMM yesterday). And Tim Cahill from Research Strategies Australia adds (via Twitter), he will provide free consulting support for a university that takes Professor Barnett up.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on more metrics for teaching-focused academics and why they will help careers.

Angel Calderon (RMIT) explains the new HiCi researchers list – and why its impact lasts.

plus Nicholas Fisk and Daniel Owens (UNSW) on their new Aggregate Ranking of Top Universities (not all the results are what you might expect).

and James Guthrie (Macquarie U) reports on QUT’s finances.

Science back on PM’s (different) agenda

Scott Morrison moves to neutralise it as an election issue

On Wednesday, the prime minister announced the government’s tech priorities, with a list focused on applied research that can be quoted in an election campaign.

Some of the tech is super sciencey, notably quantum computing but most of it will make for good campaign talking points – vaccines, biofuels and “critical minerals,” for example, (CMM yesterday).

It’s a solid way to establish the coalition’s science credentials and deprive the Opposition of the electoral oxygen which could come if ministers had no subject-changer when journalists ask about backbench criticism of university research.

But Mr Morrison’s sell is as traditional as it is political, “The simple fact is that nations at the leading edge of technology have greater economic, political and military power,” he said.

It’s a ways from his predecessor’s enthusiasm for innovation. As prime minister Malcolm Turnbull evangelised the economy-growing, lives-improving capacities for tech innovation. But this did not go down well with voters who thought all the new fangledry would cost jobs. And so, Mr Turnbull’s “innovation nation” agenda went, with most of the coalition majority in the 2016 election (CMM July 6 2016). It’s not coming back now.


New year, new challenges

The pandemic may pass but its impact will continue and universities now need to focus on new challenges in what they teach, how they recruit students, what they stand for and how they explain it to a mass of audiences

Join experts addressing their pick of the issues at the last Twig Marketing-CMM event for the year.

Speakers include a learned of VCs, Patricia Davidson (Uni Wollongong), Carolyn Evans (Griffith U), Nick Klomp (CQU), David Lloyd (Uni SA), Paddy Nixon (Uni Canberra), Pascale Quester (Swinburne U), Zlatko Skrbis (Australian Catholic U) and Colin Stirling (Flinders U).

Sign-up here

Keynotes at Uni Tas

Announcing a new teaching model started with what won’t happen

For weeks, the university has dealt with rumours that it favours on-line classes. Both VC Rufus Black and Academic Executive Director Mitch Parsell have taken to Hobart radio to commit the university to continuing on-campus and in-person classes, just not necessarily lectures (CMM November 12).

And yesterday Professor Black told staff that no students will have less in-person learning next year than this, and some, Arts was the example he used, will have an extra hour a week.

Small group classes “are at the centre of our approach to learning,” with support from “well-prepared on-line material” he said. But as for lectures, the long-term trend is that attendance drops.

Although, he added that on-campus students “value coming together as a cohort for special experiences” And so there will be “keynotes,” which are “opportunities through the semester for students to come together for interesting experiences, to learn directly from leaders of their profession or industry, and to tackle complex challenges as a group.”



UWA restructure: management has a win

The Far Work Commission has found for university management in a dispute over its proposal to restructure the School of Social Sciences

The dispute was taken to the commission by Associate Professor Martin Forsey, a member of the anthropology-sociology group in the school, which is set to be all but abolished under management’s plan. AsPro Forsey argued management’s proposal breached the university’s enterprise agreement by not being definitive, not providing sufficient information “to facilitate informed engagement” and feedback and being based on partial and inaccurate information.

However Commissioner Williams found claims against the university are either outside the FWC’s jurisdiction or that UWA had met its Enterprise Agreement obligations.

This was always the likely outcome – that the National Tertiary Education Union did not go to the commission may indicate the comrades concluded UWA management had stuck to process.

This is a win for management and may discourage staff in the molecular science school, the next cab off the restructure rank to turn to the Commission (CMM November 4).

But it will add to the anguish in the UWA community at unpopular job losses and course changes to date, with the possibility of more contested school restructures in the new year.


Green grows the Rufus-o!

U Tas was named the sustainability institution of the year at last night’s Green Gowns Awards

The award is for “sustained and holistic efforts of institutions working hard to improve social responsibility and environmental performance.”

The news follows the university releasing its development plan for its Sandy Bay campus, part of VC Rufus Black’s enormous scheme to relocate most of the university to Hobart’s CBD.

Appointments, achievements

Of the day

 The Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia announce the 2021 Paul Bourke early career research awards, * Michele Barnes-sociology (James Cook U) * Tim Neal (UNSW) * Laura Rademaker-history (ANU) * Nathan Carauna– cognitive science (Macquarie U).

UNSW wins the 2021 best career service award from the Australian Association of Graduate Employers.

The Viertel Foundation awards $1.25m over five years to each of three researchers working in cardiovascular disease and links to gut health, dementia diagnosis and regenerative therapies. * Francine Marques (Monash U) * James Shine (Uni Sydney) and Mikaël Martino (Monash U).

Of the week

Anna-Maria Arabia (Australian Academy of Science) becomes a Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy. The award coincides with Ms Arabia’s reappointment as chief executive of the Academy for a further five years.

The Australasian Council on Open, Distance and eLearning executive yesterday is, * Michael Sankey-president (Charles Darwin U) * Steve Leichtweis-VP (Uni Auckland) * Colin Lowe-treasurer (Uni Sydney). Executive members, * Kate Ames (CQU), * Travis Cox (Uni Adelaide) * Ratna Selvaratnam (ECU) * Lynnae Venaruzzo (Western Sydney U).

Australian Collaborative Education Network reports its new board. Bonnie Dean (Uni Wollongong), Michelle Eady (Uni Wollongong), Susan Rowland (Uni Queensland), Jennifer Rowley (Uni Sydney), Leoni Russell (RMIT). Sharon Scott (Uni Adelaide) and Franziska Trede (UTS) are members.

The Australian Council of Graduate Research has new leadership. Imelda Whelehan (UWA) is in-coming president. New executive committee members are Clive Baldock (Western Sydney U), Susan Kinnear (CQU) and Justin Zobel (Uni Melbourne) for two years and Wendy Wright, (Federation U) for one. Anne-Marie Hede (Victoria U) and Simon Moss (Charles Darwin U) continue on the executive.

The NSW branch of the Australian Institute of Physics announces its 2021 awards, including, * community outreach: Andrea Morello (UNSW) * postgraduates: Joe Zhiyu Chen (UNSW) Zain Mehdi (ANU)

Ian Hickie (Uni Sydney) and writer/podcaster Honor Eastly are joint winners of UNSW’s Australian Mental Health Prize.

Uni Canberra announces Tania Broadley will become PVC E in February. She will move from RMIT, where she is Associate DVC Learning and Teaching.

Career Development Association of Australia 2021 awards include, Queensland: Michael Healy (Career Ahead) and SA: University of Adelaide Careers Service

Edith Cowan U’s 2021 staff excellence awards include, * research: Michelle Colgrave (Science) * research engagement: Clint Bracknell (Kurongkurl Katitjin Centre for Indigenous Australian Education) * learning and teaching: Christa Norris (Education) * Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Advancement: Kurongkurl Katitjin Student Success Team * Health and safety: Kitiya Dufall (Medical and Health Sciences)

Tim Gardner becomes chair of TasTAFE at month end. Mr Gardner is executive chairman of transport infrastructure company, Stornoway.

Flinders U archaeologist Ian Moffat is awarded the Royal Society of South Australia’s Andrewartha Medal for early career research.

Martin Nakata is appointed DVC Indigenous Education and Strategy at James Cook U. He steps up from PVC, leading the Indigenous Education and Research Centre.In-coming RMIT chancellor (January) Peggy O’Neal is the City of Melbourne’s Melbournian of the Year.

Siok Tey (QIMR Berghofer MRI) and Penyi Yang (Uni Sydney) win the Metcalf Prizes from the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia.

Philanthropy Australia’s Gender-wise Award goes to the Trawalla FoundationWomen’s Leadership Institute Australia and the University of Melbourne’s Pathways to Politics Programme for Women

 Veena Sahajwalla (UNSW’s Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology) is the NSW 2022 Australian of the Year.

Damon Salesa will become VC of Auckland University of Technology in March. He is now PVC Pacific, at Uni Auckland.

Universities Australia announces its journalism awards – to Conor Duffy (ABC) and a team from The Conversation website.

Sotiris Vardoulakis (ANU) leads the 30-institution Healthy Environments and Lives Network, funded via the NHMRC.

Alex Zelinsky has a second term as VC of Uni Newcastle, through to 2026. He was appointed in 2018.