Activating excitement

Uni Melbourne announces “Rediscover UniMelb” with student-entertaining events this week physically, not digitally. “Campuses are coming alive with event activations happening to get you excited,” management promises. Nothing says excitement like an “event activation.”

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Claire Macken (RMIT) on the last chapter of the tome-like textbook, and what can replace it.

Mitch Parsell (Uni Tasmania) on the good the bad and the ugly reasons to keep the lecture. This week’s addition to Sally Field’s long-running series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

Plus Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on what to do when there is not enough good data. “When you really don’t know, it is better to be like Socrates, and admit you don’t know. Then in shared ignorance you make a good faith agreement rather than a decision. The group agrees which way to go, rather than the leader insisting that they are Moses and can lead everyone out of the wilderness.”

Macquarie U extends use-by dates

Management “has adjusted the timings of a number of those leaving our community under the latest round of voluntary redundancies,” VC S Bruce Dowton told staff Friday

Wonder why? Leaned readers wise in the ways of Macquarie U suggest people supposed to be going are still flat-out teaching and with UG numbers higher than expected staff set to survive are way too busy to take on extra classes.

Scroll down for why good news is still bad at MU

Cash-flow to drown drought at USQ

Uni Southern Queensland has $8m from the feds for a Drought Resilience Innovation Hub

Project partners are expected to kick in another $11m. Apparently, USQ will, “drive the uptake of new drought resilience technologies and practices and build collaboration with stakeholders across the region.”

USQ will, “also oversee the co-design with farmers and communities of innovative projects to ensure they deliver what is needed.”

Which is very wise – what with the Australian National Audit Office taking a dim view of project spending that don’t.

Tech unis pitch to commercialise research

The Australian Technology Network, with its Uni Newcastle pal, has big ideas for applied research funding, including an “adjustment to the way research performance is measured”  – but HASS deans say their disciplines need to be included

The ATN+N supports the idea of mission-driven research (CMM March 2 and April 9) in its submission to the government’s university commercialisation paper. And it wants the new model to be the main-game, to “align with or supersede other initiatives,” specifying the Science and Research Priorities and the Modern Manufacturing Initiative.

Plus, the lobby calls for all of government backing for “key strategic industries,” with “stability and consistency” in policy, funding, commercial and tax settings, and “capacity building partnerships with local universities.”

But lest anyone fear this sounds rather like a government “picking winners proposal” ATN+ has another idea, fund universities to work out what will win. The mission-driven research strategy should invest in the wider benefits of university research to Australia and its people, as well as the economic return.

“Universities should be given flexibility within the mission-driven research strategy to invest in the research, people and infrastructure that will facilitate their best contribution to the overall strategy. This will allow universities to direct investment where it is needed in a timely manner, including supporting emerging ideas and partners in a way that is not tied to grant or funding cycles.”

ATN+ also wants a change to what rates with the Australian Research Council, calling for, “an adjustment of measures of research excellence in activities such as Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) to emphasise innovation and commercialisation.

“This could include reviewing the Engagement and Impact Assessment to ensure that the measures reflect our priorities for the Australian research system.”

But perhaps to stop ATN+ HASS faculties feeling left out , there is also a role for less tech-focused work., “The mission-driven research strategy should be invested in the wider benefits of university research to Australia and its people, as well as the economic return.”

It’s a theme made more explicit by the Australasian Council of Deans of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities which wants a role for its disciplines.

“There are no prospective commercial endeavours or problems facing Australia which do not require significant input from those with expertise in the cultural and social contexts in which they have emerged,”

“We recommend that human/social contexts be factored into all ‘missions’ included in the model for research commercialisation. Universities and industry partners should be encouraged and incentivised to collaborate with HASS specialists and research and to demonstrate that they have an adequate understanding of the specific human/social contexts upon which the success of their endeavours will depend,” DASSH states in its submission to the consultation paper.

Still no rooms at the ANU inn

Back in January 2020 ANU’s much-loved University House copped a horrible hail-storm hiding, which closed the guest-house for repairs

Back then CMM hoped the recovery would not become one of those disasters, (as seen on home makeover TV) where fixing one problem reveals others (CMM January 24 2020).

It did. University House is still closed with work underway. While there is no re-opening date, ANU says there will be.

Apropos of nothing, the now late Duke of Edinburgh spoke at its opening in 1954.

Ideas on innovation with ATN

The Australian Technology Network’s “Innovation driven future” on-line conference starts next week, with three-themes covered over three days, collaboration, innovation ecosystems and globalising them

There are bunch of ATN speakers, plus high-profile policy people including Chief Scientist Cathy Foley, Chief Defence Scientist Tanya Monro and Education Minister Alan Tudge. Former education, industry and science and defence industry minister (but not all at once) Christopher Pyne leads Wednesday.

Nothing great about expectations at Macquarie U

International enrolments at MU aren’t as bad as expected but even so they are not good

VC S Bruce Dowton briefed staff late Friday on first semester numbers, which are better than budget. Where the university expected to be down 30 per cent on 2020 total international enrolments are just 6 per cent lower than last year.

But hold the huzzahs! Session One this year is 13 per cent down on last, “taking the total shortfall compared with Session 1 2019 to 21%.”

There’s good news on domestic enrolments, with Session One this year 9 per cent up on 2019.

However no fireworks  should be ignited, the university is over its cap for Commonwealth Supported Places, which means all it gets is the student contribution and not the government share.

And what with uncertainty about how many international students will come from where, if they are ever allowed, the $38m savings target for 2022 stands.

Good, or rather bad, to know how ordinary everything is – but why did it have to happen on Friday?

Cynics suggest it coincided with the final savings plans for the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Human Sciences, the Faculty of Science and Engineering and the Business School. But what can you expect from cynics?

Where is on the training menu

Amazon grew rich beyond dreams of avarice by eating old-industries lunches (and dinners). It could do the same with training

Amazon Web Services announces “Let’s Accelerate” a May on-line weekend for cloud users and developers. “Come and learn how AWS gives developers the power to unlock their potential, the tools to experiment without constraints, and the freedom to focus on their code,” is but part of the pitch.

TEQSA warns of “an emerging cyber security” risk

Watch out there are hackers about

The Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency says there is an “emerging cyber security risk” for Australian HE institutions.

“Researchers” in the US have told it that Australian HE websites in the domain, “appear to have been compromised by companies working on behalf of commercial cheating service operators.”

TEQSA says it has alerted providers to code being inserted into  websites that redirects users to a cheating service site or links to such. There are also lures to fake scholarships and essay contests, “designed to harvest original student work that the commercial cheating services then on-sell.”

Appointment, achievements

Michael Sankey is moving to Charles Darwin U, to join new VC Scott Bowman as Director of Learning Futures and Lead Education Architect. Professor Sankey leaves Griffith U, where he is Director, Learning Transformation.

The Human Frontier Science Programme (which looks like a medical version of the OECD) announces its 2021 research awards. ANZ recipients include,  Craig Cary (Waikato U) in the “rewinding and rerunning evolution to study innovation in action” category. Elizabeth New (Uni Sydney), is awarded for “factors promoting yeast mating within insect intestines.” Matthew Baker (UNSW) and Nicholas Matzke (Uni Auckland) are both in the “reconstructing and re-evolving the bacterial flagellar motor, piece-by-piece” category.

Overall 28 projects share US$33m over three year.