When the new ERA begins

When will we see Excellence for Research in Australia ’18?, you ask (oh, go on)  CMM asked the Australian Research Council which replies, it “currently cannot advise a specific date,” but it expects it to be in “the first quarter of 2019.” If not today, they have g11 to choose from. And what of the engagement and impact report? “E&I is expected to follow the release of ERA, although we cannot currently provide more specific timing,” ARC advises.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features today – A Hollywood scandal figures in David Myton’s regular wrap on what’s happening in HE overseas.

Stellar cooperation

Industry Minister Karen Andrews reports the new Australian Space Agency has signed an MOU with the ACT. It covers cooperation on research including quantum comms, deep space comm, space hardware and space law. A learned reader wonders why there is no mention of putting trams, dear to the Territory government, in space.

In a signing ceremony that actually matters now, Australia and six other participating nations have signed the SKA Observatory Convention. This will govern the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope, which includes 130 000 antennas, over 65km of remote WA.

Who could refuse?

FREE digital news subscription for all Western Sydney University students and staff! Enjoy full digital access to The Australian and Daily Telegraph. Get started using your student or staff email address.” WSU via Facebook yesterday.   And there was CMM thinking WSU management was more a Guardian market.

La Trobe U research workload model attacked

A petition protests new required research output at La Trobe U, with signatories complaining the new performance benchmarks are “a dramatic increase” for staff, across disciplines and academic levels, and are based on flawed past performance measures.

The new model was hammered out at length last year with ample argument over how much research time staff should get and whether they needed to be on campus to do it.

However, the petitioners state that while research outputs were established for academic units there was not “proper consultation” with individuals.

But La Trobe U management replies that overall research allocations are gradually increasing and for individuals this means, “allocations will vary depending on expertise, role focus and the balance of research and teaching activities.”

The university’s purpose is; “to better align the research outputs by academic level with the university’s strategic direction. La Trobe recognises that research performance across the sector is steadily rising and we have adjusted our benchmarks to support us maintain and advance our research performance and position in the sector,” a spokesperson says.

As for people who think the basis of their time allocation is out of whack, adjustments can be made; “if a staff member can demonstrate that their publication productivity has dramatically changed over the previous calendar year

Audit Office thinking about TEQSA

They will be as close as they ever come to dancing in the aisles at TEQSA. The Australian National Audit Office has identified the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency as a potential target for a performance audit, and wouldn’t that be fun! “The audit would focus on TEQSA’s quality assurance of higher education institutions and ability to address student concerns about quality in service provision.”
Last month TEQSA reported a user-survey showed it had reached five of six KPIs (CMM February 1) but this may not be enough for the ANAO.

What’s not to like

As training numbers inexorably decline the estimable National Centre for Vocational Education Research is asking employers why they use the training system and why they don’t. The survey will run until June, with results published late this year. If Labor wins, its promised post-compulsory education inquiry might like an advanced copy.

Elsevier hoped for Norwegian would but it’s won’t

Norway is not renewing subscriptions to Elsevier journals for its 44 universities, colleges, hospitals and research institutions. The government wants publicly funded research to be open access by 2024, on a pay to publish basis. Norwegian researchers publish approximately 2000 articles with Elsevier.

The decision is in-line with the EU backed open access Plan S, and Swedish, Dutch and German research groups have cancelled subscriptions. The University of California has announced it is not renewing this year.

Equity group outcomes out of universities

Matt Brett (Deakin U) and colleagues reviewed the performance of students from equity groups in uni courses delivered by other providers and higher education programmes from non-university institutions. Their  new report is funded by the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education.

Among a mass of detailed (and that is cap D for detailed) findings, they point to an analysis of equity group, and all, students in third party providers working with five universities which found success and retention rates were lower than in the same courses taught in-house by unis. Retention rates for students from equity groups are also worse in non-university providers than public unis.

However, while there is a wider range of performance than among equity-group students in universities,  quality institutions reviewed have; “a commitment to student-centred learning combined with learning environments that have smaller cohorts and a strong sense of community.”

Appointments, achievements

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews has announced the  Indigenous STEM awards. HE honours go to, Professional Career Achievement: Rhett Loban, Macquarie U. Professional Early Career: Tui Nolan, UTS. Tertiary Student: Taylah Griffin, QUT. The awards are part of a BHP FoundationCSIRO programme.

 The Statistical Society of Australia has awarded its 2019 President’s Award for Leadership. It goes to the Biostatistics Collaboration of Australia, which has “raised the standard of scientific rigour in health and medical research.” There are 387 people now enrolled in the BCA’s courses.

Rosemary Kayess from UNSW’s Disability Innovation Institute is elected vice chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Stuart Palmer, very recently ex Deakin U, is joining the University of Melbourne’s Centre for the Study of Higher Education.

Ryan Loxton from Curtin U’s School of Electrical Engineering, Computing and Mathematical Sciences, is awarded the 2019 J H Michell Medal from the Australian Mathematical Society.