There’s more in the Mail

This week Geoffrey Crisp (Uni Canberra) writes on assessment in CMM’s series on what teaching needs now.

From the what-do-you-know desk!

In CMM this morning (scroll down) ANU historian, Marnie Hughes Warrington mentions, “our daily struggles to acknowledge the surprising.” No, she did not mean the election.

Tehan set to stay as education minister

He already has the nod that counts

Dan Tehan is expected to stay on as education minister, at least that’s what the prime minister said during the campaign. He nominated Mr Tehan, along with health minister Greg Hunt among ministers who would keep their jobs.  Yesterday Mr Tehan’s office referred CMM to the PM’s statement. In a door stop last Wednesday in Corangamite, the next-door electorate to Mr Tehan’s.

Which leaves speculation focusing on Karen Andrews in Industry, Innovation and Science and Michaelia Cash whose portfolio includes small business, skills and VET. Ms Andrews is generally considered to have done a good job, with an apparently losing hand before Saturday – with a policy commitment that makes a case for her keeping the portfolio. Applied-research insiders say she should stay.

What Senator Cash does next may depend on whether her portfolio stays as is.

Uni Queensland students to speak-up on Ramsay Civ courses

The student union at the University of Queensland has called a general meeting Wednesday week to “determine policy” on two big issues

One is student union control of any successor to the existing Schonell Theatre. The other is whether the university should sign-on with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation.

“If the union is to be truly representative of all UQ students, it is imperative that we listen to a variety of views from the student body. UQU strongly encourages all UQ students to partake in this democratic process so that their voice can be heard.” Sounds like a sentiment from a Ramsay-approved text

A different top ten of research unis

Another look at Leiden reveals more leaders

Learned readers were quick to point that the Leiden research output ranking in CMM Friday is only one, of quite a few, stories of university achievement in the data. They point out the research big beasts are performance leaders because they have so many researchers. But they suggest things change when the proportion of a university’s publications in a given field are cited in the top 10 per cent of publications in it. It does, a bit.

On this count UTS (14.6 per cent) is top in Australia, just ahead of ANU (13.6 per cent) followed by nearly all the Group of Eight, Uni Adelaide (13.3 per cent), Uni Queensland (13.2 per cent), Uni Melbourne (13 per cent), Uni Sydney (12.9 per cent) and UNSW (12.9 per cent). James Cook U and Deakin U (12.5 per cent), shade out Monash U, (12.4 per cent).

None of the 25 Aus unis on the list are under 10 per cent on this measure which is interesting. For a start, it shows how the research-strong sub-system is respectably productive on an international comparison, some 23 of Leiden’s overall research top 100 rate under 10 per cent on this measure.

And then there is output per staffer – on Leiden, as just about all research rankings it is the Group of Eight and daylight for overall publications in top rated journals. But not on citations.

Back in 2017 Xin Gu and Karen Blackmore (both Uni Newcastle)  crunched   the bibliometrics at three representative Australian universities and found productivity in the three converged between 2009 and 2014 while quality did not change.

Swinburne pitch to government (whichever side won)

Swinburne U has reason to be pleased with the government’s return –industry 4.0.

The university is a big player in plans for machine-to-machine communication in making things. With Uni Queensland, UTS, Uni SA, UWA and UTS, Swinburne U has an industry 4.0 pilot lab and its DVC Aleksandar Subic leads the project.

Swinburne U, with partners PWC, Siemens, and union AMWU released a plan for preparing industry 4.0. It’s straightforward stuff, an information portal “a transformation leadership programme” and industry hubs.  It was released just before the election and looks designed to work with whichever side won.  “Failure to prepare manufacturing businesses and workers for the fundamental changes driven by Industry 4.0 will severely limit the capacity for Industry 4.0 technologies and ways of working to be embedded in the Australian manufacturing industry.”

Macquarie U wants to know what people think

It’s Your Voice staff survey time at Macquarie U

The annual poll runs at just about all public universities in Australia and is rich in information on what staff really think about the way the joint is being run. This year adjunct and sessional staff get their own survey, which will make for interesting outcomes. The precariat is generally assumed to be exploited and unhappy. We will see – unless Macquarie U management does not tell us.

What should happen next in HE

The Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education is to host three open-to-all policy discussions

“The aim is to generate new ideas drawing on the latest evidence, challenge conventional thinking and offer practical steps that ministers can take in the next few years towards a longer term, comprehensive vision for post-secondary education.” The first on June 11, is on “sustainable funding,” with discussion-starters from Monash VC Margaret Gardner, new MCSHE director William Locke, Swinburne U economist Beth Webster and Australian HE policy wonk in chief Andrew Norton.  Good thing they have time to think about what the much unexpected election result means

The AI might not have it

Marnie Hughes Warrington is testing ideas on the complex ground where trust in data intersects with ambiguity about pasts, real and imagined

It’s work-in-progress for a bigger project on data, history and ideas about both. But while the past is clearly many countries where they did different things, differently, depending on the sources you use, she is yet to be convinced that the AIs do have it.

“Uncertainty, incompleteness, vagueness and the unknown are the titans to be defeated in one heroic story we tell about our computational world. Or its mischief managed via probability, Bayesian refinement, error margins or a fuzzy logic in which possibilities are located on a numerable continuum of grades of membership between >0 and <1. On this logic, if we can code likelihood formally and narrow in, we can recommend a world of nuance rather than a world of certainties that are often wrong. It works well in many contexts, but not in a world in which individuals and groups ought to be afforded dignity, fairness and safety when decisions are made about them, predictions made about them, or recommendations put to them.”

Good-oh, but what CMM wants to know is why people who have trouble with a coffee cup in Game of Thrones but are fine with dragons


The University of Queensland announces Tracey Bunda is appointed professor of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. She joins from the University of Southern Queensland.