Broadcast news at RMIT

An email went out yesterday from RMIT DVC E Belinda Tynan, detailing discussions in the university executive and listing issues needing attention. (Everybody who needs to do something now knows all about it). Fortunately for whoever hit the wrong send, sensation and scandal are absent from the message which was widely, very widely, distributed, to thousands of people. Professor Tynan copped it sweet, a few hours later emailing recipients; “I’m sure we’ve all experienced that feeling of dread when something has gone to the wrong person – imagine that feeling several thousand times! They were rough notes and can easily be misread, so please disregard.” Neatly done.

Gareth goes on

ANU Chancellor Gareth Evans will continue at the university for two more years. He became chancellor in January 2010, when Ian Chub was vice chancellor and will now stay on to December 31 2019. “The council was united in its decision for him to remain in the role and greatly values his experience, judgement and vision for the University,” Pro-Chancellor Naomi Flutter says.

Inaction is innovation on R&D review

The Department of Industry celebrates the second anniversary of the National Innovation and Science Agenda with a “selection of success stories … making a difference across the economy, from boosting investment in Australian businesses to helping young people get the skills they need.” Good-o, but guess what was missing? A mention of the Ferris, Finkel, Fraser review of the research and development tax concession is what. The Brotherhood of the Three Fs delivered their report to the industry minister, before the one before last. Supporters say the existing concession helps innovative start-ups invest, critics claim that it costs hundreds of millions that could be better spent in research labs. Realists just wish the government would decide which lobby it is least worried about offending and announce a decision. Unless not responding is it.

MOOCs of the morning

Four Coursera courses on how to Excel start Monday. They are taught by Yvonne Breyer, Director of teaching and learning in Macquarie University’s Buseco faculty.

Cheer up new PhDs, the jobs are out there

An ANU/CSIRO team used natural language processing machine-learning (“The Machine”) to analyse 29 000 job advertisements. They discovered hidden demand for “highly skilled researchers” the sort of people who have PhDs. “There is a large ‘hidden job market’ for PhD graduates in the Australian workforce,” they conclude.

Their analysis, reveals demand for research skills, “particularly in industries traditionally assumed to have low demand for PhD graduates, such as manufacturing, transport, logistics, marketing and communication. In addition, other industry sectors are potentially ready to embrace more graduates with research skills, echoing the thinking of the innovation agenda.”

But there is more to the project than cheer for PhD completers contemplating a life of post docs and casual jobs. The team suggests using their findings to “inform new strategic initiatives, such (as) targeting industry PhD scholarships by showing the value of adding research skill sets to a prior professional knowledge base.

“The so called ‘digital disruption’ trend is likely to be coupled with a higher demand for skilled knowledge workers, including those with research skills. Using The Machine we can start to explore whether the effects of digital disruption are starting to be felt more in some industries than others. For example, somewhat surprisingly, “marketing and communications” showed an even higher demand for research skills than “science and technology” in the non-academic job market.”

Inger Mewburn, Will Grant and Stephanie Kizimchuk (ANU), Hanna Suominen and Travis Simon (Data61, CSIRO) Tracking trends in industry demand for Australia’s advanced research workforce, hhere.


Wesselingh to lead AAMRI

Steve Wesselingh is the president elect of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes. Professor Wesselingh is foundation ED of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute. He was also chair of the expert advisory group on the National Health and Medical Research Council review of grant allocations.

VETs combine on cyber security competency

Australia is light-on for cyber security skills so Victoria’s Box Hill Institute is offering a certificate IV and advanced diploma developed in “close partnership with industry.”  A national training approach is set to follow. with the TAFE systems in NSW, Queensland and Canberra joining the Vics.

Good to see VET on the case. Back in August a paper by Adam P Henry, at UNSW in Canberra reported “only modest alignment” between masters programmes in cyber security offered by Australian universities and the knowledge, skills and ability the US Government sets out in work standards (CMM August 25).

Peak medical research lobby proposes peer reviewing change

As part of establishing a new grant scheme, the National Health and Medical Research Council asked for assessments of its peer review process. Peak lobby, the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes does not like all that it found.

According to the AAMRI, existing peer review has a few failings; two first-stage assessors is too few, different outcomes from different grant review panels indicate “poor reproducibility of current peer review processes”, there are inexperienced members of grant review panels, and an over-reliance on the two “spokespersons” for a grant.

AAMRI proposes substantial changes including; full applications, with no expressions of interest stage, a single pool of reviewers, ending the existing split between assigners and assessment panels, assessors ranking projects on basis of scores. The top 25 per cent projects, at most, should be considered by panels of one to 12 “non-conflicted” members focusing on a project’s proposed budget. Applicants should receive qualitative feedback, with near-misses allowed to re-apply in the next round.

“The outcome of an application is too heavily influenced by the view of the primary and secondary spokespersons. An increased number of reviews would reduce an over-reliance on the primary spokesperson’s assessment of a grant application. The more times a grant application is reviewed the greater the confidence we can have in the outcome,” AAMRI asserts.

The association proposes saving resources by abolishing rebuttals from applicants and expanding the expert pool by making participation in peer reviewing compulsory for everybody holding an NHMRC grant.

HEADS UP: Achievements of the working week

Achievements of the working week

 The Australian New Zealand Student Services Association has appointed a new executive; Christie White (USQ), president, Jordi Austin (UniSydney) immediate past president, VP Aus Mark Young (La Trobe U), VP NZ Karen Davis (Victoria Uni of Wellington), treasurer, Dorinda Harvey-Bravo (Griffith U) and secretary, Andrea Strachan (UoQ).


The University of Canberra VC’s excellence awards are announced:

Educator of the year: Disa Smee (sport and exercise science)

Early career educator: Catherine Galvin (clinical biomechanics)

Early career researcher: Richard Keegan (sport and exercise psychology)

Research excellence: John Dryzek (governance and political analysis)

Diversity: Peter O’Brien (Collaborative Indigenous Research Initiative)

Innovation and creativity: Daniel Murphy (digital content publisher)

Professional individual: Shubhra Roy (research services)

Professional team:  Creativity and Social Change team in the Centre for Creative and Cultural Research



Hung Nguyen will start in February as PVC of Swinburne U’s faculty of science, engineering and technology. He joins from UTS.


Monash University has announced the vice chancellor’s education and research awards.

Early Career Researchers:

Humanities and Social Sciences: Jennifer Windt (Arts), Selby Coxon (Art Design and Architecture).

Science and Technology: Eric Chow (Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences)

Research enterprise: Monash Centre for Additive Manufacturing

Research Impact: Graham Currie, Dr Alexa Delbosc

Research impact and enterprise: Monash University Accident Research Centre

Postgraduate supervision: Tony Patti (Science)

Citations for outstanding contributions to student learning: Adam Clulow (Arts), Jasmina Lazendic-Galloway, Thu-Ha (Hannah) Nguyen (Monash Business School), Erica Sloan (Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences)

Early career citation winner: Nick Parkin (Arts)

Teaching excellence award: James Roffee (Arts), Alistair Thomson (Arts), Dana Wong (Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences)

Priority area: Simone Gibson (Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences0

Honours supervision: Peter Howard (Arts)

Programs that enhance learning: Postgraduate Industry Experience Program, Information Technology, Gail Bourne, Chris Gonsalvez, Livia Mammarella, Peter O’Donnell, Harnam Thandi and Yiwei Zhong.

Excellence in postgraduate coursework teaching: Charanjit Kaur (Monash Business School)

Monash honour roll: John McNeill (Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences)


The Flinders University Vice-Chancellor Awards for Excellence in Teaching are out: Howard Fallowfield, Kirstin Ross and Harriet Whiley from the College of Science and Engineering win for Zombie Apocalypse, a course in environmental health which teaches students food and water safety, and how to test for poisonous gas (such a problem at Bedford Park).

Other winners, which do not involve taking The Walking Dead seriously are:

Amanda Müller, College of Nursing and Health Sciences

Up The Hill Project: Fiona RillottaLorraine LindsayJenny Widdop, College of Nursing and Health Sciences

Global Workplace Teaching Team: Susanne Schech, Maryanne KeltonVerity KingsmillDavid Willis, Colleges of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences/ Business, Government and Law

Lisa Bennett and Erin Sebo, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences


Dolt of the day

Is CMM. In yesterday’s email edition Monash University was omitted from the  partners in the CRC P for smart lining for pipes and infrastructure.