App of the day

It’s turkey lurky time for University of Sydney and partner researchers with an  app to track the movements of the native brush turkey. People with BTs in their bush-backing yards around Sydney can now report movements and habits of the protected birds, which have adapted to city-surrounds. As people who live with them know, the outcome will be Hitchock-like if they ever form a triple entente with Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and possums.

Shut the door on UniAdelaide open floor plans

The flash new Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences building is upsetting staff who do not like the open floor plans. According to the Uni Adelaide branch of the National Tertiary Education Union, the working arrangement is “detrimental to productivity, collaboration potential, and morale.”

The union propose “combi offices,” “small private enclosed studies” off shared open spaces and urges the university to learn from the unhappy AHMS experience and consult with all staff about their needs, not just “colleagues in the inner circle” who are “benefitting from the scarce private offices in the space.”

Um, wasn’t there an TV series about this?

No deep dive at Bundoora

La Trobe U launches its new Asia Brief, with cover-art of a submarine on Sydney Harbour (the bridge is a give-away).  “Am I the only one bemused by this,” a learned reader asks. No, Beijing intel ops surprised that landlocked LT U seems to have its own sub are probably puzzled.

Top unis for entrepreneurs

The StartUp Muster annual survey is out, including the top 13th institutions where start uppers studied.  In descending order they are; UNSW, Uni Sydney, UTS, QUT, Macquarie U, TAFE, UoQ, Uni Melbourne, RMIT, ANU, Curtin U, Monash U and Uni Adelaide.

But there are no bragging rights for any universities in the list of critical events that got entrepreneurs going. Just 6.1 per cent of this year’s survey responders cite “a university-based entrepreneurial programme” as “a critical event”. Some 6 per cent of start-ups say they are based on a university campus.

In breaking news

Deakin researchers find mental toughness key to lawn bowls success,” DU announcement, yesterday.

Palatial promises in Vic election

You would think there was an election on what with the way the Victorian state government is making promises. First there was the great Melbourne circling metro-line, including stops servicing Monash Clayton, La Trobe Bundoora and Deakin Burwood. Then there was a new hospital to be built adjacent to Victoria U. And now the state government, promises a $5bn “university city of the future” at La Trobe U. This looks a lot like what Curtin U is already building with research facilities plus housing and offices. The La Trobe plan also includes an expansion of the hospital at LT U. Curiously, there is no mention of a start date, although government and university are funding a $2m feasibility study.

CMM suspects the big university winner out of all these promises will be VU – there is an actual start date (2020) and costings ($200m) for the hospital.

Make it quick

Last Thursday the Senate referred the government’s HECS HELP hike legislation to a committee, which is inviting submissions. You have until Friday week.  Surely senators have not already made up their minds, a learned reader wonders.

TEQSA to selectively extend accreditation

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency will extend provider registration and course accreditation for institutions with an “established track record of low-risk, high quality delivery” for up to seven years. CMM understands that four universities and one private provider will benefit in the first instance, with more to follow over the next year to 18 months. The order flows from the sequence in which the agency first assessed institutions. Cynics suggest that this might be a form of compensation for the budget introduction of cost-recovery for the TEQSA services but this is said to be not so. Word is, that TEQSA is still working on what it will charge for assessing institutions.

The case for humanities

Humanities graduates are not hired for their content knowledge or process skills but they are valued for their ability to work across boundaries and bring flexible solutions to complex problems that defeat discipline-specific specialists.

“A humanities degree equips graduates with the tools to better understand their society, its institutions, and the behaviours and motivations of others,” Deloitte Access Economics argues in a  report for Macquarie University on “the value of the humanities.”

And while humanities grads do not earn as much as people in other disciplines, their work in the public sector is important for society as a whole. “Wage premiums fail to capture the positive externalities that public sector work has for the remainder of society. The public sector has the critical role in providing public goods, which are a key determinant of higher quality of life and economic development for the community as a whole.”

There is a great deal more along these lines, making a case for humanities which appears to reflect people in leadership positions worrying their work is undervalued and undergraduate numbers at risk. It’s reminiscent of the complaint in May by the Deans of Humanities Arts and Social Sciences who lamented their disciplines’ share of new research infrastructure funding was less than 1 per cent ( CMM August 6).

Disrupting the disruptor

While RMITs new online MBA costs $4 120 each for 12 units the University of Queensland is offering a business masters on leadership in service innovation, via edX for $25 000 (CMM yesterday). Which impresses friends of CQU not at all – it offers an on-line MBA, “priced from just $7,000, with options to pay-as-you-go and no extra costs for content or textbooks.”

Outcomes not ATARs in teacher education

 It is getting harder for state ministers to blame university education faculties for failings in state school systems. For a start, initial teacher education graduates have to sit literacy and numeracy exams before being approved for classroom work. And universities are rolling out a graduate teacher performance assessment which ITE grads must meet.

Claire Wyatt-Smith from the Australian Catholic U led development of the new assessment (CMM, yesterday), which is developed in partnership with the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership and the Queensland College of Teachers. The GTPS measures a commencing teachers ability to manage a classroom and run a learning cycle, from planning to assessment. The GTPA is used by 13 universities now, with RMIT and U Notre Dame joining next year.

As a way of moving the teacher-standards debate from ATARs to outcomes this is hard to beat.

Appointments, achievements

Tom Walley starts next month as the director of the Hunter Medical Research Institute. Professor Walley joins from the University of Liverpool in the UK.

Shitij Kapur (dean of medicine, Uni Melbourne) and Helen Milroy (UWA) are chairing the advisory panel for the $125m (over ten years) Medical Research Future Fund’s Million Minds Mental Health Research Mission.

 Eva Dimitriadis joins the University of Melbourne’s department of obstetrics and gynaecology. Professor Dimitriadis moves from the Hudson Institute of Medical Research.

 David Grant (Griffith U) is the next president of the Australian Business Deans Council.  He will replace Tony Travaglione (Uni Newcastle) early next year. Professor Grant is now ABDC secretary.