Maybe today, maybe a month

“We know many people are keenly awaiting outcomes for Investigator Grants. To clarify, our intention is to release outcomes ‘by no later than September’ and we are doing our best to meet that undertaking,” National Health and Medical Research Council, via Twitter yesterday.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Frank Larkins (Uni Melbourne) on the WA public universities 2021 financials – they had a very good year.

plus Mahsood Shah (Swinburne U) on the message in international student satisfaction survey scores. Institutions must do better.

and Ginny Barbour (Open Access Australasia) on the White House’s big move on research open access move. It’s a global game-changer, she explains.

with Australian Collaborative Education Network in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s “Needed now in learning and teaching”


The QILT results are out Sarah Crossing and Jack Goodman from Studiosity discuss what they reveal for learner engagement (it goes down, cheating goes up), friction between teaching and research rankings and the alarming evidence that international students are way less happy than locals. A stand-out discussion on the most important student opinion measure of the year, (Expert Opinion ep 12 HERE.)

They’re just souls whose intentions are good

And yet VCs seem to be misunderstood

In Victoria, Greens MP Sam Hibbins,  gives notice he will move for a parliamentary inquiry into the provisions of the acts of the state’s eight public universities.

The proposed terms of reference include protecting, “accountable executive, fiscal and academic decision-making” and “academic freedom, independence and autonomy.”

There’s a Tasmanian Legislative Council inquiry into U Tas underway and it’s 18 months or so since one was undertaken by the NSW upper house (CMM January 25 2021).

Yesterday Uni Sydney VC Mark Scott spoke at the National Press Club and his prepared text referred to “hostile critics” of universities and “a broader passivity” towards them in the community. “We need to tell our story better. And we need a better story to tell.” Here’s a chance for some.

New market for micro-credentials

The feds propose a 20 per cent bonus tax deduction for small businesses to spend on staff skills and training, which can only be provided by registered VET and HE providers

“The measure supports small businesses to build a better trained and more productive workforce,” the draft explanatory memorandum for the bill states.

It applies to a “broad range of external training across all industry sectors.”

“Bring on the micro-credentials” a learned reader observes.

But why only small business? the LR asks. There are 60 000 registered charities, the staff of which could probably do with a skills lift.

The Labor way in research translation

The Australian Research Council announces $215m in new money over four years “to fuel research in industry”

The Industry Fellowships will support 83 researchers a year to explore collaboration, translation and commercialisation across universities and industry.

“The schemes will support researchers who are translating and transferring research skills and knowledge into real world applications with commercial and other benefits,” ARC CEO Judy Zielke says.

The grant split will be 50 ECRs, 30 MCRs and up to eight, “industry laureates,” using the same approach as the laureate fellowships, with salaries and research support up to five years.

The purpose is to

* “develop a strong pipeline of researchers in Australia with capabilities in research collaboration, translation and commercialisation”

* create and continue “career pathways traversing university and industry settings”

* “increase strategic engagement and alignment between universities and industry”

and then there is the prime directive 

“contribute to the solving of industry-identified challenges and opportunities; and

“create commercial, economic and other benefits for Australia through enhanced translation and commercialisation, including the development of start-up companies.”

sound familiar? The programme’s apparent intent seems similar to the previous government’s research commercialisation plan, although there is no mention of Industry Fellowships having the coaches and an advisory board the coalition was keen on (CMM February 3 2022).

At U Tasmania Rufus to roll on, and on

Vice Chancellor Rufus Black is appointed to a term without end

Chancellor Alison Watkins announces Professor Black is reappointed, “with no fixed end date.” His first five year contract expires in March.

“The opportunity to work with someone of Professor Black’s calibre and standing in the education sector was a big part of why I wanted to take on the role of chancellor,” Ms Watkins says.

Nor does the university council have much choice to back the VC, given the highest-stakes stoush in Hobart where there is no turning back from his plan to embed the university in the CBD.

The announcement also sends a signal to the Legislative Council inquiry into the university, (submissions have just closed) that the VC will backed. But lest anyone miss it, the chancellor adds, “The University Council supports and is committed to delivering the university’s strategy, which includes the consolidation in Hobart’s CBD and the expansion of access for students in regional areas.”

Melbourne’s critical medical mass

The Peter Doherty Institute at Uni Melbourne will host a $250m centre, researching ways to speed up creating drugs for viruses, (as distinct from vaccines)

The funding is from Canadian expat philanthropists Geoff and Anna Cumming. Uni Melbourne calls it, “the largest philanthropic donation to medical research, and one of the largest gifts, in Australia’s history.”

The state government is kicking in another $70m.

It’s a huge win for the state government’s series of medical research and development investments (detailed here) and for the university’s standing as a global medical research centre

“The scale and enduring nature of medical research investment by successive Victorian Governments, the breadth of the talent pool in the ecosystem of the medical research precinct in Melbourne, the collegiality of all the players, together with the success of Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic were key reasons for locating the centre in Melbourne,” Mr Cumming says.

Appointments, achievements

Igor Bray (Curtin U, School of Electrical Engineering, Computing and Mathematical Sciences) is inducted in the Western Australian Science Hall of Fame.

Andrew Foley joins the new Flinders U Academy as inaugural director and principal. He joins from La Trobe U’s pathway provider.

Delegates to the Jobs and Skills Summit representing the HE/training space and related include, * Jeff Borland (Uni Melbourne)  * Poul Bouttern (National Australian Apprenticeship Association) * Alison Barnes (NTEU) * Sara Charlesworth (RMIT) * Allan Dale (CRC for Developing Northern Australia) * Robyn Denholm (Tech Council of Australia) * Jenny Dodd (TAFE Directors Australia) * Alan Duncan (Curtin U) * Cathy Foley (Chief Scientist) * Anthony Forsyth (RMIT) * Andrew Fraser (Griffith U) * Ross Garnaut (Uni Melbourne) * Sue Gordon (Flinders U) Joanna Howe (Uni Adelaide) * Catriona Jackson (Unis Australia) * Shae McCrystal (Uni Sydney) * John Spoehr (Flinders U) * Troy Williams (Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia) * Danielle Wood (Grattan Institute)

Jim Nyland is inaugural dean of students at Uni Southern Queensland. He moved from Australian Catholic U.