One small remark for a man …

One giant overstatement for an agency. “By partnering with CSIRO news, Australia’s national space agency today takes a giant leap toward making life on Earth better through our Centre for Earth Observation, a catalyst for engagement with businesses, government and research partners,” CSIRO chief Larry Marshall, via Twitter yesterday. Houston, we have a hyperbole problem.

Coronation not complete at NTEU as NSW rebels defy national leadership

What was a triple coronation could be a campaign as the National Tertiary Education Union selects its new leadership.

Federal president Jeannie Rea and national secretary Grahame McCulloch are not contesting the imminent election and a national unity ticket was set to replace them. Macquarie University branch president Alison Barnes will be elected federal president unopposed. And no one will challenge assistant national secretary Matthew McGowan in his move up to the top job. This demonstrates how wise Mr McGowan was not to act on his decision to leave the union, (CMM February 10 2016).

It was also expected that the third member on the ticket, WA state secretary Gabe Gooding would face no challenge – she is widely considered a hero in the union for leading the enterprise bargaining fight at Murdoch U.

But that was before powerful people in the NSW branch decided she was a no-go. CMM understands that UTS branch president Vince Caughley is set to nominate for the assistant national secretary spot, with the support of NSW state secretary Michael Thomson. This is not a great start for Dr Barnes, with her judgement in standing on the same ticket as Ms Gooding explicitly rejected by her own.

While Mr Caughley did not respond to a request for comment yesterday, tensions between the federal leadership and the large, but not nstionally influential NSW branch, run deep. Close observers of the union also say some senior NSW members argue Ms Gooding was responsible for too many concessions in the dispute at Murdoch University which managements at other universities have seized on. Her supporters respond that this is dead wrong, that Ms Gooding stared Murdoch U management down in a fight over conditions which the university managements’ industrial lobby was using to set precedents across the country.

However yesterday some veteran members in NSW suggested that having one of their own as federal president might be enough to encourage Mr Caughley not to run hard, if he runs at all.

Really hard science

“Very exciting, big new sciencey machines for studying the impacts of different climatic conditions on plants.” ANU Climate Change Institute announcement, yesterday. “Sciencey machines huh? That must be the technical term.

PageUp not turned in Monash’s book

Information theft from PageUp and via it, university clients (CMM June 8) continues a closed book, with no detail on exactly what happened. On Tuesday, the UK provider reported to Australian clients and users; “on the balance of probabilities, we believe certain personal data relating to our clients, placement agencies, applicants, references and our employees has been accessed.”

But PageUp adds; “most critical data categories including resumes, financial information, Australian tax file numbers, employee performance reports and employment contracts are not affected in this incident.”

Good-oh but Monash U, which has used PageUp for recruitment is not happy. “We made the decision that we would not reinstate the system until we were satisfied that the incident has been contained and that the Monash system is secure.” As of yesterday, PageUp was not online at Monash.


Western Sydney U officially opens in Liverpool

Western Sydney University launched its new vertical campus at Liverpool, in the city’s south west yesterday. The ten-story building is already teaching nursing, with midwifery, social sciences, psychology to come. It will house the WSU start-up incubator.

Treasurer Scott Morrison did the honours in what an uncharacteristically under-stated event for WSU.


Appointments, achievements

Elizabeth de Somer is confirmed as CEO of Medicines Australia, after acting in the job since April. She steps up from five years as the lobby’s policy and research director. Medicines Australia, “represents the discovery-driven pharmaceutical industry in Australia.”

The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering announced awards last night;

Clunies Ross entrepreneur of the year: Erol Harvey, (Swinburne U)

Clunies Ross award for knowledge commercialisation David Huang, Peter Czabotar, Andrew Roberts and Guillaume Lessene, (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute)

Clunies Ross award for innovation: Jim Aylward (owner, Oncolin Pty Ltd) Batterham

Medal for engineering excellence: Madhu Bhaskaran (RMIT)

ICM Agrifood award: Angela van der Wouw and Shu Kee Lam (University of Melbourne)

UniMelb still working on the model

The Melbourne Model is ten this year and the university is adapting and developing the product for changing times. In 2019, the University of Melbourne will launch Graduate Degree Packages. “You can enrol in your desired undergraduate and graduate study pathway immediately after school – with the flexibility of withdrawing at any point if you want to,” UniMelb announces.

“You’ll start your undergraduate degree with the security of knowing a graduate place is waiting for you.”

Some 41 masters-bachelor combinations will be available.

It’s a great and painless way for the university to maximise the number of students doing the full bachelors-professional masters model.

In contrast, the arts faculty at the University of Adelaide will pay eligible undergraduates at other universities $3000, plus course credit to transfer.

USQ plan to improve teaching and learning (especially online)

Back in October 2016 the University of Southern Queensland set up an office for learning and teaching – which is now being restructured. The university explains that this is due to a bunch of external changes but adds that changes are necessary to ensure, “an organisational structure that ensures functions are undertaken in an efficient, effective, strategic and integrated manner.”

USQ certainly can do something about student attrition, rating 32 of 44 institutions on the Higher Education Standards Panel’s newly published list. And it is below the national average on four out five student ratings in the new Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching survey. Way below in some cases, rating 49.8 for learner engagement compared to the national average of 62.8.

But the university is especially interested in expanding the revamped unit’s online education expertise. There is, “renewed interest from the USQ executive to reimagine the university’s approach to online education, offering a model that is unique in the higher education context in Australia, and ensuring USQ is at the forefront of innovative quality online education that delivers a powerful and flexible student experience.”

With 75 per cent of students studying online this makes sense, particularly as USQ sees “more universities enter into the online learning market.”