UniSA’s flash new digs

“It’s the Pridham of South Australia,” no, not the Adelaide Crows but the University of South Australia’s new sports and functions centre Pridham Hall, which opens today with a graduation ceremony. The idea for the project emerged out of UniSA online community consultation in 2013, with work on the $50m project commencing in 2015. Some 500 friends of the university contributed to construction costs, including the family of alumnus Andrew Pridham who kicked in $5m.

Super day for cyber security at Edith Cowan U

Last year the feds announced Edith Cowan University would host the Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre, with $139m in cash from Canberra and partner funding over seven years (CMM September 27). This was such good news that Industry Minister Michaela Cash announced it again at an ECU event.

Partners include the Australian Federal Police, Australian Tax Office, Department of Defence and data and comms companies, notably as Singtel Optus and Cisco.

Observers of the present policy push for industry-engaged research note the CRC is making much of its plan to embed all its research students “in industry.”

It’s been a big week for Perth’s big data community. On Tuesday, the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre signed an MOU with the Singapore National Supercomputing Centre to collaborate on various super-subjects, including, perhaps, cybersecurity. ECU, along with the other three WA public universities is a partner in Pawsey.

A slug by any other name …

“Stunning new species of sea slugs discovered,” UWA reported yesterday.

What went very wrong for SA TAFE

When national skills regulator ASQA announced it would suspend ten SA TAFE qualifications the Weatherill Government did what any ministry on its last legs would do, commissioned an inquiry to report after the poll. Which is where we are now, with the Nous Group’s analysis out.  And scathing reading it makes.

Certainly, the consultants acknowledge a range of circumstances imposed on the agency and points to specific performance pluses and more minuses, including:

There is a large contingent of highly motivated and loyal staff who want to help restore confidence in the institution of which they are very proud, but who have felt alienated from and unclear about the overarching strategy and role of TAFE SA in the wider system. They have also been inculcated into a culture of fixed rules and entitlements that arguably diminishes a sense of trust, responsibility and ability to ‘lead from below’.”

“Despite efforts to reduce spending, TAFE SA still does not appear to provide a strong return on investment from its training funding. In 2016 TAFE SA received 87 per cent of government VET funding, yet only trained 64 per cent of total government-funded students Even when incorporating the additional costs of being a public provider, these figures point to inefficiencies in the organisation’s operations.”

“Considering the risks of further adverse audits, we nevertheless recommend that there be a concerted effort to ensure that TAFE SA’s lecturers, particularly those who have been on staff for a long time, have maintained industry currency. Given the relatively low turnover of staff, there is a risk that some staff may fall short of the standard.”

But the overall message is that the buck stops with the board;

“Board membership was unbalanced, the wrong structures were in place to effectively monitor risk to regulatory compliance and reputation, and performance metrics for executives were skewed. The most concerning finding, and an indicator of both the poor support provided to the Board and the limited sense of responsibility of its members, was that internal quality auditors had made discoveries similar to those later made by ASQA. They reported TAFE SA’s noncompliance ‘up the line’, but these internal audit findings revealing a high degree of exposure were not given proper consideration at either the executive or Board level.”

Hard on the trainers

“Then came the Dark Ages and nothing much happened in sport shoe innovation for the next 18 centuries,” Chief Scientist Alan Finkel applies his endless erudition to running research at a science forum in Brisbane yesterday.

Rathjen works his media magic, again

An Adelaide Advertiser editorial yesterday described new UniAdelaide VC Peter Rathjen as “dynamic.” What is it with reptiles of the press and Professor Rathjen? The Hobart Mercury signed on for the duration to his vision of an education-led economic recovery, “all sides of politics listen when Rathjen says education is the future of Tasmania,” ( CMM August 25 2017) it opined. And now, within weeks of his returning to Adelaide the Tiser is on the team, with the VC set-up to repeat his Tasmanian tactic of extracting cash from government to expand his university.

Hammond sets departure date at Notre Dame Australia

The second vice chancellor this week has set a departure date, with University of Notre Dame Australia’s Celia Hammond announcing she will step down at the end of 2019. She follows Deakin U’s Jane den Hollander who will leave at, or before, the end of her second term in June next year.

Chancellor Chris Ellison says “succession planning, to see a person of the highest calibre” to replace Professor Hammond will “commence shortly,” with the university preparing a new strategic plan.

Professor Hammond is UNDA’s third VC, in the job since 2008 and with the university since 1998.

Blockchain as art and science

Swinburne U will use the blockchain to “drive our own Medici effectDVC R Aleksandar Subic quipped classically last night. Professor Subic was announcing the university partnership with banker Kay Sprague’s ArtChainGlobal, “a revolution in registration, tracking, protection and accountability for artwork.” The university is building an applied research capacity in blockchain applications.

Navitas reports Aus growth slows and US stops for partnership programmes

Navitas reports a 3 per cent first semester lift in university partnership enrolments, making for a 6 per cent increase in its 2018 financial year. However, the giant private provider warns growth slowed in Australia due to visa changes which, “contributed towards a bias” among international students to universities with the “highest rank” for visas. “We are actively working with the sector to support a rebalancing of the Simplified Student Visa Framework to enhance the sustainability of Australia’s international education sector, CEO David Buckingham says.

There was 2 per cent growth in North America, all coming from Canada, with reduced volumes into “many US universities.” This is due to higher visa rejections in the United States and “ongoing uncertainty” caused by the Trump Administration’s “approach to immigration.”

Wins at work this week

Iain Young will become dean of science at the University of Sydney in July. Professor Young moves up from leading the university’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences.

Griffith U VC Ian O’Connor is the new chair of the Higher Education Standards Panel, replacing Peter Shergold. The HESP advises government on quality and standards.

Other new HESP members are  Kerri-Lee KrauseDon Owers, Adrienne Nieuwenhuis, Sadie Heckenberg, Kent Anderson (UWA). Phil Honeywood and Krystal Evans continue as members.

Alan Lopez from the University of Melbourne has jointly won the John Dirks Canada Gairdner Global Health Award for his work with Christopher Murray from the University of Washington. The pair co-founded the Global Burden of Disease study, which started in the ‘90s and is still running.

Kathryn Hayward from the Florey Institute is a winner of a Bayer Foundation €30 000 early excellence in science award.

Helen Lochead, dean of built environment at UNSW,  is the incoming president elect of the Australian Institute of Architects.

Christopher Lawrence is appointed inaugural director of indigenous engagement in the faculty of engineering and IT at UTS.

Hillary Winchester joins the Australian Institute of Business as chair of academic board.