The evidence is in

The copy award of the week does not go to the University of South Australia for its on-line bachelor of criminal justice promo; “studying doesn’t need to be a trial.”  Quite.

Curtin, Deakin and RMIT: the company they keep and the future they prepare

MIT announces a new micromasters, in statistics and data science via edX. Cost is US$1350 for four units, which can count for credit in the Institute’s PhD in social and engineering systems.

MIT says that “is a very accessible price,” (since when did the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sell on price?) and not just there. The new course is also accepted for credit by Curtin U, Deakin U and RMIT. Other MIT micromasters can count for 25 per cent credit to Curtin masters degrees.

This is a great way for Australian universities to associate themselves with one of the strongest brands in tech ed. It is also a brilliant strategy to expand their sales base and an essential defence for a world where people assemble their own customised skill suite of MOOCs and record their achievements on blockchains.

UniSyd opponents of Ramsay Centre up the argument: “a scholarly cash for comment scheme”

University of Sydney staff opposed to the possibility of the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation setting up there (CMM yesterday) are moving the dispute to ground of their choice.

“Many academics who oppose the centre and all it stands for have a tendency to believe that, faced with the prospect of another major ideological fight, abstention is the only smart attitude. Let’s oppose Ramsay on academic freedom, not on the ‘western canon’, they urge,” This is “wholly mistaken,” Nick Riemer, writes in a manifesto published yesterday in the Sydney Review of Books.

“No study of the cultural legacies of the European and English-speaking worlds can be predicated on their necessary exemplification of some ‘western’ essence, however hybrid, still less on their distinctive excellence in comparison to other global traditions or – the unspoken but obvious corollary – their manifest destiny to conquer the global landscape of ideas,” Dr Riemer writes.

This is smart politics, a move to less discredit than dismiss as irrelevant any case university management might make that the Ramsay Centre can be accommodated on campus without eroding academic standards and university autonomy.  Instead Dr Reimer argues it is just does make the academic grade.

“Of course, conservatives have a place in the university – to do academic work applying academic standards, not to front a scholarly cash for comment scheme.”

Another careful QUT restructure scheme

Student services at QUT involve “an extraordinary number of manual, repetitive and duplicated activities for staff in faculties,” dean of education Carol Nicoll says.

“At present, there are multiple touch points for students throughout the university but no single accountability for the catalogue of student administration services and underpinning business processes.”

And change sponsor Professor Nicoll has proposals to fix it.

One idea is move from the existing silo-based services, in line with a whole of university, single service provider approach. The student services HiQ system, (student business services, IT help and library) is a catalyst for the change and is set to be the first student contact at faculties.

Another is to consolidate curriculum development and student services under assistant deans for learning and teaching, to replace the existing confusion in the three faculties where the two functions are separate.

The proposal details new structures in all faculties but while just about all staff are effected, in line with other QUT restructures, job losses are not extensive, although a few staff whose jobs go may look to fill new, lower grade positions.

The proposal has a long way to go before it meets enterprise agreement change management conditions but it appears to conform to QUT’s MO of restructures that do not end up in the Fair Work Commission.



La Trobe U has appointed Simon Evans as PVC of the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce. He moves from the University of Melbourne.

Juliet Gerrard is appointed the New Zealand PM’s chief science advisor. Professor Gerrard is a biochemist at the University of Auckland.

The University of Canterbury has a new vice chancellor, Cheryl de la Rey, now VC at the University of Pretoria. She replaces Rod Carr, who retires after ten years.

Value for HECs at UniSydney

The University of Sydney is pleased with market response to its new four-year undergraduate degrees, with enrolments 50% plus above projections for their first year. Some 2300 people have enrolled in the Bachelor of Advanced Studies programme which is offered in conjunction with another UG degree. “This means that you will study for one additional year and graduate with two degrees,” UniSydney states. Advanced studies degrees are available to people in a range of disciplines including arts, science, IT, economics and visual arts.


The Aus unis performing in a state of Nature

The Nature Index of elite-journal publishing was buried in blather last week, as Australian universities talked up their performance on popular league tables. Understandably so, given many do not appear in the state of Nature, however the results are spun.

The Nature Index measures university staff contributions to 82 journals the compliers consider top quality.

The University of Queensland had the highest-profile performance, with the other members of the Group of Eight strongly represented.  But the next tier of institutions is interesting, demonstrating areas of expertise, and/or research strategies delivering dividends. Notably performers include Macquarie U and the University of Wollongong on six lists, Curtin U on five and RMIT and Griffith U on four each.

 All research organisations (unis, industry, government NGO, healthcare, not for profit) lists

All disciplines:  the University of Queensland is number in Australia and 110th in the world. It is followed by Monash U (119), UNSW (130), UniMelbourne (158), ANU (178), UniSydney (228), UWA (347), CSIRO (372), UniAdelaide (389), UniWollongong (436) and Curtin U (489).

Chemistry: no Australian institution is in the global top 100. The local top ten (in descending order) is:  Monash U, UNSW, UoQ, UniMelbourne, UniSydney, ANU, UniAdelaide, UniWollongong, RMIT and CSIRO.

Earth and environmental science: UNSW (44), ANU (53), UoQ (86) make the global top 100. The Australian first ten are: UNSW, ANU, CSIRO, UoQ, Curtin U, UniMelbourne, Monash, UTas, UWA and Macquarie.

Life sciences: The University of Queensland at 60 is the only Australian institution on the all-research organisations global 100. The rest of the local top ten are: UniMelbourne, Monash U, UniSydney, UNSW, ANU, UWA, Walter and Eliza Hall, James Cook U and the University of Adelaide.

Physical sciences: No Australian institutions in the world’s first 100. The national top ten is, ANU, UNSW, Monash U, UoQ, UniWollongong, UniSydney, UniMelbourne, UniAdelaide, Griffith U and UWA.

 University-only lists

All disciplines: UoQ is first placed Australian university at 92nd in the world, followed by Monash (99), UNSW (108) UniMelbourne (131), ANU (148) UniSydney (186) UWA (279), UniAdelaide (310), UniWollongong (341), Curtin U (375), Macquarie U (398), Griffith U(403) UTas (425) and RMIT (457)

Chemistry: no Australian university is on the global top 100. The local top ten is, Monash U, UNSW, UoQ, UniMelbourne, UniSydney, ANU, UniAdelaide, UniWollongong, RMIT, Curtin U.

Earth and environmental science:  UNSW (39), ANU (39) UoQ (62), Curtin U (99) make the global top 100. The rest of the local top ten is; UniMelb, Monash U, UTas, UWA, Macquarie U and Griffith U.

Life sciences: UoQ is ranked 49th in the world, followed by UniMelbourne at 89 and Monash at 91. The other seven in the best ten Australian institutions are, UniSydney, UNSW, ANU, UWA, James Cook U, UniAdelaide and Macquarie U.

Physical sciences: No Australian universities in the global 100. The top institutions in the country are: ANU, UNSW, Monash U, UoQ, UniWollongong, UniSydney, UniMelbourne, UniAdelaide, Griffith U and UWA.

Nature and Science journal-group

All institutions

The University of Queensland is 92 on the world top 100 for all institutions. The first Australian ten are UoQ, ANU, CSIRO, Monash U, UNSW, Macquarie U, UniofAdelaide, UWA, UniMelbourne, CSIRO Land and Water.

University only list

UoQ (61)  and ANU (92) are in the global 100. The local leaders are: UoQ, ANU, Monash U, UNSW, Macquarie U, University of Adelaide, UWA, UniMelbourne, UniSydney, RMIT