Still their shout

Industry website “Food and Drink Business” reports “MUP may reduce alcohol consumption”

CMM makes no joke about sobriety at Melbourne University Publishing – this MUP is “minimum unit price,

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning Sean Brawley on Macquarie U’s curriculum transformation – why they did it, how they did it and why it matters.

Plus, Merlin Crossley (UNSW DVC) on what makes labs work.

And Maree O’Keefe (Uni Adelaide) on health ed in the age of Dr Google.

Dan Tehan’s appeal to international education

 “All Australian international education providers agree, the best place to study in the world is Australia!”  the education minister, via Twitter yesterday

He is encouraging international students to study here, “the best way that you can help Australia recover from the bushfires is to come to Australia to study.”

Good-o, but donating a few yuan to save koalas is a one thing, investing a million of them in an Australian degree entirely another. But then again, international students may not be the minister’s immediate market, which is more likely export education lobbyists demanding he do something.

Uni Wollongong abandons coal conference

The university was set to host the Coal Operators Conference on February 12-14 but yesterday announced, the event is “deferred as part of a short-term refocusing of university priorities”

“While this conference provides a valuable forum for sharing best practice and innovation in safety and environmental performance for the mining sector, the university has considered the immediate needs of its communities at this time and adjusted its priorities accordingly,” UoW states.

The university has hosted the annual event since 1998, and also describes itself as “a major provider of research outcomes to the Australian minerals industry.” The now diversified economy of the Illawarra region was heavily dependent on local coal mines for over a century

This year’s conference is vehemently opposed by the local Illawarra Climate Justice Alliance, which had scheduled a protest on the university campus for February 13.

The UoW branch of the National Tertiary Education Union has also called on VC Paul Wellings to, “step forward, as other Australian vice chancellors have done, to declare that we are indeed facing a climate emergency, that urgent and concerted national action is required, and that UOW will lead the way in our local community by committing to zero net emissions by 2030.”

Job site for super-nerds

There’s hope for postgrads wondering what works outside the academy

An ANU-CSIRO team has created, “the Spotify of job ads … an algorithm that can rank from not-very-nerdy-at-all to super-nerdy.”

The PostAc search-engine only shows you the nerdy work that PhD grads will love. The project is sourcing data from job-analytics giant Burning Glass.

PostAc launches Feb 3.


Big four ranking successes and how they do it

The ARWU reflects university strategies, it also shapes them

Leah Dowsett from Curtin U analyses the performance of four Australian institutions in the Academic Ranking of World Universities, “to determine whether increased prominence of global university rankings has influenced strategic planning.” Her analysis and conclusions appear in the new issue of the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management.

Where she looked: Miss Dowsett examined the ARWU performance of Curtin and Deakin Us, QUT and the University of Wollongong, “the only Australian institutions to have risen almost 200 places or more since first appearing on the ranking.”

What she found: The four changed the way they reported achievements as their ARWU rankings improved.

“Accounts of national grant success and levels of research income switched to statements which emphasised research active staff, highly cited researchers, internationally co-authored publications in high-quality journals and citation counts. These modifications match indicators used in the ARWU and global university rankings more broadly.”

The fab four also changed the attributes they used in branding, the examples they provided in marketing promotions, even the corporate strategies they set out. Dowsett cites examples since 2015 of the four “re-positioning,” “with rankings playing a key role for some.”

Which led to changes in the actual institutions:  “They have worked to improve both publication counts and quality, not only seeking to recruit high quality staff, but also demonstrating commitment to nurturing in-house talent, beginning with higher degree students and early career researchers. They have also undergone large staff and administrative restructures, reworked research strategies and nurtured partnerships.”

To what result: “Ranking outcomes are not the sole determinant of most university strategies; nonetheless, they can have a significant influence on how institutional strategies are set. For example, international students are a sizeable source market for Australian institutions and published ranking results offer a simple means of self-promotion on the global stage. The need to retain and grow this cohort has meant universities have sought ways to assist them to retain and improve their placings.”

And then there is the focus, “on becoming research intensive and globally savvy, perhaps as a by-product of seeking to either mitigate or take advantage of their dependence on the international student cohort.”

Where it might take them: “The rise in prominence of international rankings has influenced planning activities at Curtin, Deakin, QUT and Wollongong, particularly in later years, and highlight how their strategic choices have contributed to them becoming Australia’s ‘fast movers’ on the ARWU to 2018. For these four institutions, while the next foreseeable challenge may be to secure or regain a place in the top 200, their performance to date suggests the notion of attaining world-class status still appears imminent as a tangible reality.”

ANU back in business

Hail fellow not well met

All but four buildings at ANU re-open this morning after being closed since Monday’s hailstorm damaged 80. “As the clean-up has progressed, it has become apparent that the damage is more extensive than first thought,” management told the campus community yesterday, directing all but non-essential staff, people in residences and workers in the new Kambri complex to stay home.

CSIRO’s Black Mountain facility was also hammered Monday, with “significant damage” to “most” of its 65 research glasshouses.

They know how to deal with a natural disaster at ANU.  Smoke from the bushfire catastrophe drifted over Canberra in the first week of this month, leading to a five-day campus-shutdown.

A couple of years back a deluge (CMM February 26 and March 13 2018) caused the campus creek to burst its banks and flood the library and the Mount Stromlo observatory was destroyed in the 2003 fires.

First ranking of the year

Like them or not, research league tables are an order of Nature

Nature magazine reports its top ten Asia-Pacific universities for life-science research, based on staff named as article-authors in 82 tracked journals.

Uni Tokyo is first, Uni Queensland is third and Kyoto U is fifth – the other seven are all from China, led by Peking U.

Appointments, achievement

Genevieve Bell (ANU) is named the first Engelbart Distinguished Fellow. The award is from research innovation institute, SRI International. It is named for computing pioneer Doug Engelbart.

Jessica Gallagher is appointed Uni Queensland’s PVC for global engagement and entrepreneurship. She moves up from director of the same portfolio at the university.

Deakin U promotes Ly Tran to professor. She is well-regarded for her research on international students (CMM September 20).