Plus what a surprise-medical researchers ask for more and starting at Lilydale where Swinburne stopped

That would have hurt

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews acknowledges outgoing Monash chancellor Alan Finkel, “who severed (sic) for almost eight years.”

What the doctor endlessly orders

Having secured the Medical Research Future Fund the lab coat legions are now campaigning for money to deposit in it. The medical research establishment yesterday launched a slick new campaign, “what’s the fuss?” The answer is that there are all these diseases that variously make peoples’ lives miserable and/or kill them which researchers are keen to cure. Good-o, less human suffering is hard to argue with. The problem is that short of healthy immortality something is going to get us all and there will always be demands for money for medical research. And guess where some of the cash will come from – medicine taking a bigger share of research funding growth is where. The medicos endless appetite for public money is a problem for other research lobbies. They need to stand up for their shares but who wants to argue with people who can talk about cures for cancer?

ANU Sept 15

Not our past

Great Scott! There will be a Delorean on the University of Melbourne campus tomorrow to promote “Back to the Future” day as part of Melbourne Knowledge Week. Just another example of American cultural imperialism, it should have been a P76.

Easy on ASQA

Rod Camm from the Australian Council for Private Education and Training acknowledged last week’s Senate inquiry, which gave for-profit trainers a terrible kicking, made many good points. But while he condemned spivs in the business he said it was up to government to regulate the industry.

“Government has the money, government approves the funding, government has the data. Use it. Stop payments where there are no outcomes. Expel providers who deliver super fast courses without integrity. Slow down or stop payments for providers who are higher risk. And only allow genuine providers with educational history into the program,” he told his members yesterday.

But regulation takes time and there is no point in blaming the Australian Skills Quality Authority. “Good sport certainly but regulation and regulatory reform takes time,” Mr Camm said.

This is very kind of Mr Camm, considering his tougher view in May, “I must say it has taken far too long for the consumer protection agency to kick into gear,” (CMM May 5).

UniMelb water

Inviting OA

It’s Open Access Week, which ANU (something of hotbed of OA activism) is celebrating with a new web page, Open Research @ ANU . There’s a seminar on this afternoon, on “open data and you.” It will undoubtedly be more fun than it sounds.

For researchers interested in where journals they want to publish in sit on OA the Sherpa/Romeo database looks the goods.

Saying nothing

Bill Shorten took $100k degrees out for a run in Question Time yesterday asking the prime minister if they were still on the government’s agenda. Mr Turnbull replied the Opposition should explain out how it would pay for its higher education plan. And there you have it – the education debate until the next election.

Not as good as it looks

The Overseas Student Ombudsman report of July-September complaints about private providers is in. Of 230 complaints, up 49 per cent on the same period last year, 161 were closed without investigation. No, it does not seem like many – except that the OSO only covers fees, monitoring attendance and progress and transfers between institutions. The agency transfers teaching quality complaints to the “appropriate regulator,” such as ASQA.

ANU Sep 15 4


From astronauts to astrophysicists, there is a constant stream of stand-up scientists who talk about their work in “evening with” entertainments. The latest to announce an Australian tour is Brian Greene who is playing Perth, Melbourne and Sydney in March to talk about string theory, (sorry, not a clue what it means). “Though one of the world’s renowned string theorists, his goals lie far beyond unravelling the mysteries of our universe,” the promoters promise. Um, what else is there?

Not so speedy

Training Minister Luke Hartsuyker took a Dorothy in Reps Question Time yesterday, explaining the strengths of his bill to protect people from low quality training courses and how the problem was all Labor’s fault for setting up a badly designed loan scheme. Standard stuff, but what impressed CMM was the way the minister kept his face straight while announcing the government had moved quickly to fix the problem. Simon Birmingham got straight onto it when he became training minister in March, Mr Hartsuyker said. And so he did, but that does not account for what didn’t happen for the two years of the Abbott Government when Ian Macfarlane had training in his industry portfolio. Certainly Mr Macfarlane ticked ASQA off in 2014 for under-performance, but not in a way that improved consumer protection (CMM June 26 2014).

Lost horizon

Manufacturing Skills Australia announces the subject of this year’s Sir Charles Kingsford Smith lecture, “Technology: the sky is the limit.” Here’s hoping the text does not go missing over the ocean.

Starting where Swinburne stopped

Three years after Swinburne University enraged National Tertiary Education Union activists by closing its Lilydale campus without much in the way of warning the site is coming back to learning life. From next year Box Hill TAFE will teach there and host courses from Deakin University and William Angliss Institute, with the show being badged as the Lilydale Community Education Precinct. Swinburne management will be glad it is all over, the way it closed Lilydale catalysed conflict with the union and a loss in the Federal Court. We are about to find out if there are viable education approaches that Deakin can see but Swinburne couldn’t. Of course it might be a bit easier this time thanks to the state government kicking in $10m. CMM understands that Box Hill will take the site at market value, with the deal signed-off by the state Valuer General. A small return for Swinburne on a very tough transaction.

Newcastle paying attention

The University of Newcastle’s schmooze the south campaign continues with its Central Coast Education Summit, opened yesterday by John Fischetti (school of education chief). It follows Friday’s presentation on the university’s southern borders by DVC Andrew Parfitt (CMM yesterday). Last year Uni Newcastle was surprised by central coast talk of the need for an independent university because the region was being ignored – not now it isn’t.

Sticking to the script

Chemists keen to publish play it safe, according to an analysis of six million plus papers by UCLA sociologist Jacob Foster and colleagues. “An innovative publication is more likely to achieve high impact than a conservative one, but the additional reward does not compensate for the risk of failing to publish,” they write. So the vast majority of papers report on known unknowns.