Three VCs join Order of Australia

six university leaders appointed to the two top orders this year

plus: honoured academics – who got what in the new hons list

where the cash comes from: NSW universities earn more from international students than locals

and: with six months to go the new naval shipbuilding college is still crewless


Headline of the morning

“Important new player in prostate cancer,” the University of Adelaide announces. It’s a gene, not a medical person with a curious taste in games.

VCs honoured

Three vice chancellors and the University of Melbourne provost are appointed to the Order of Australia.

Ian O’Connor, the long serving VC of Griffith University, becomes an AC while Linda Kristjanson (Swinburne U) and Peter Dawkins (Victoria U) join as AO’s. The University of Melbourne’s provost, Margaret Sheil also becomes an AO.

They join Michael Spence (University of Sydney) made an AC and Greg Craven (Australian Catholic U) and Jane den Hollander (Deakin U) made AO’s in the Australia Day list.

Other notable academics appointed yesterday include Flinders DVC R Rob Saint, long time UniMelb administrator Ian Marshman and QUT equity expert Mary Kelly, (all AMs).

The ACs include Ross Gaunaut and ANU and Princeton moral philosopher Philip Pettit.

Full list of university-connected awards at the end of today’s issue.

Claim free copy

A learned reader points to the UK advertising watchdog having the University of Reading withdraw a statement that it is in the top 1 per cent of world universities after a complaint that the claim cannot be substantiated. It could not happen here, given university pitches that mean, well, whatever marketing directors want them to mean. Which can be nothing,  like “Pursue Impossible” from UWA and “Free your think” from  Murdoch U. What is in the Perth water, blatherphetamines?


International students pass locals in uni funding

The fees paid by international students now account for more of NSW university income than those paid by Australians.

The 2016 report on NSW universities by stateAuditor General Margaret Crawford audits reveals that international student fees made up 18 per cent of university income in 2012 and 24 per cent last year. In contrast, domestic student fees remained stable over the period at 21-22 per cent. The universities of Sydney, (up 7 per cent to 33.5 per cent of total enrolments between 2012 and 2016) and New South Wales (up from 26.8 per cent to 33.8 per cent) led the  state’s system for increased proportions of internationals.

But while all universities were in surplus, with an average operating margin of 6.2 per cent (up from 5.32 per cent in 2015) expenses at half of them grew faster than income.

Southern Cross U’s operating revenue increased 10 per cent over the growth in expenses, due to an increase in federal capital grants and income from students. Among the major metros and regionals UTS led with a positive 3.9 per cent margin, just ahead of UNSW’s 3.7 per centCharles Sturt U (1.8 per cent), the University of Sydney (1.1 per cent) and Western Sydney U (1.1 per cent) led the five with a negative earnings gap.

System wide operating costs (excluding research expenditure) per equivalent fulltime student student load last year was $25,322 up nearly 5 per cent, with significant variations in the rise between the metro institutions at 2.1 per cent, to an unexplained 11 per cent for the major regionals, Newcastle, Wollongong and Charles Sturt.

Elliott honoured

Julian Elliott has won the Commonwealth Health Minister’s Award for Excellence in Health and Medical Research. Associate Professor Elliott is based at Monash U and Cochrane Australia, which produces “systematic reviews that are free from commercial sponsorship.”

Aspro Elliot and his team and collaborators will develop and test novel systems for finding and making sense all research data relevant to a particular health question.”


Industry links drive innovation

Perhaps its having a missile-ed up dictator over the border that makes South Korea Asia’s leading university innovator, way, way ahead of Australia. Unless it is close industry links.

A new ranking of Asia’s innovating universities lists eight South Korean universities in the top 20 and 22 among the 75-long list, just behind China (including Hong Kong) which has 25. The series is compiled by Clarivate Analytics, which owns what was Thomson Reuters’ IP and Science brands. Japan is third with nineteen while five Australian and one New Zealand universities make the cut – Monash U (25), University of Sydney (31), University of Auckland (32), University of Queensland (41) University of Melbourne (46) and UNSW (50). The University of South Australia, listed in the first issue of the ranking, did not make the cut for the second.

The ranking is based on patents and published and cited articles listed in the Web of Science index.

Reuters analyst David Ewalt suggests the close connections between industry and universities in Korea is responsible for the country’s applied research success.

Earley to UTS

Chris Earley is leaving the University of Tasmania to become dean of business at UTS, starting in October. UTas is having a bad run, with VC Peter Rathjen announcing he is moving to the University of Adelaide.

Shipbuilding college crewless

HMAS shipbuilding college is scheduled for sea in January but nobody knows who will take command.

Defence Industry minister Chris Pyne has commissioned a college to train the people needed to build the navy’s new ships but while we know it will be headquartered in Adelaide and involve institutions around the country, with a bare six months to go there is no sign of it starting.

The departments of defence and education briefed 80 people representing 70 interested organisations in Canberra on Friday and proposals are in development, although no one is keen enough to talk. The South Australian consortium of the public universities and TAFE certainly isn’t. Mr Pyne has made a SA base mandatory, which surely makes this ministry of all the talents a sure-ish thing but the most Margot Foster from the SA Defence Industry Education and Skills Consortium will say is it; “is actively exploring joint proposals with industry partners and seeks to be part of a proposal for the future operation of the naval shipbuilding college.”


“TAFE”, it’s Labor for “education”

Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen says “education, education, education,” is an answer to inequality. “Lifting our educational achievement is a vital economic imperative for the nation. And closing the gap of educational disadvantage is a social justice imperative,” he said in a speech on Friday. But this does not mean a bucket of money for universities – when Mr Bowen thinks education he thinks voced, not higher ed.

“Increasing the quantum of education funding is important, but a proper and genuine needs based system is just as important. And good quality vocational education and life learning is more important than ever before as well. … I see our commitment to a properly funded public vocational education as vital in our efforts to reduce inequality,” he said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said much the same in his budget reply speech when he used TAFE as a synonym for training (Campus Morning Mail May 12).

As Labor skills spokesman Doug Cameron put it on Friday; “not every young person wants to go university, but every young person deserves the opportunity to gain real skills and get a good job. … If we want to be a country with well-paid secure jobs in the future, we need to be investing in TAFE, apprenticeships and skills today. We cannot afford to lose the institutional capacity to deliver skills. And we are in serious danger of that happening if we don’t sustain our TAFE network.”

It’s bad news for the private trainers, but when is news anything other? It isn’t great for universities either. Yes, Mr Shorten opposes the government’s cuts but there is no talk of investing more money. It seems the focus groups, and the TAFE unions have spoken.

CIOs moving

La Trobe’s CIO Peter Nikoletatos resigned Wednesday, effective mid-July (CMM June 7) to move to Optus. Now comes news that Edith Cowan chief information officer Elizabeth Wilson is leaving the university after five years. She is returning to her native Victoria to become CIO at the state’s department of education and training. Ms Wilson is president of the Council of Australasian University Directors of Information Technology. She is also the West Australian representative on the AARNET advisory committee. Ms Wilson is returning to Victoria to be CIO of the state department of education and training.


Honoured Australians: higher and further education people named in the

Queen’s Birthday 2017 Honours List

(with apologies to anyone CMM missed)


Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AC)

Peter Colman, medical research Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. Kenneth Freeman. astronomy ANU. Ross Garnaut, energy and climate change policy ANU and University of Melbourne. Svend Klinken, medical research UWA. (David) Ian O’Connor, VC Griffith University. Philip Pettit, philosophy ANU. John Shine, medical research Garvan Institute/UNSW.

Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AO)

Richard Alcock, board memberships UNSW and University of Sydney. Ian Anderson, indigenous health, UNSW. Graeme Bird, aeronautical engineering, UNSW. Philip Bullock, voced, Mosman NSW. Peter Dawkins VC, Victoria University. Geoffrey Fincher, plant genomics, University of Adelaide. Gordian Fulde, emergency medicine, UNSW. Andrew Gleadow, earth sciences, University of Melbourne. Helen Herrman, mental health, University of Melbourne. Caroline Homer, midwifery, UTS. Ian Hume, biology, University of Sydney. Mohamed Khadra, urology, University of Sydney. Rajiv Khanna, immunology, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.  Linda Kristjanson, VC Swinburne University. Angel Lopez, immunology, University of South Australia. Stephen MacMahon, medicine, George Institute for Global Health. Phillip McFadden, geosciences, Fisher, ACT. David Morgan, fostering university-industry links, (former chancellor) Deakin University. Robyn Ngaire, medicine, George Institute for Global Health. Paul O’Brien, surgery, Monash University. Jennie Ponsford, neuropsychology, Monash University. Brian Richards, soil science, University of Queensland. Ian Ring, indigenous health, University of Wollongong, Lynette Selwood, reproductive biology, University of Melbourne. Margaret Sheil, Provost, University of Melbourne. Roger Simnett, accountancy, UNSW. Donald St John, medicine, University of Melbourne. Brian Wilson, university governance, UTS. Jeremy Wilson, pancreatologist, UNSW. Katherine Woodthorpe, research commercialisation, chair HEARing CRC. Alexander Zelinsky, defence technology, Chief Defence Scientist.

Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AM)

Amanda Bell, young women’s education, University of Sydney. Judith Bessant, social sciences, RMIT. John Biggs, curriculum development, University of Tasmania. Judy Birmingham, historical archaeology University of Sydney. Peter Burness, military history, Australian War Memorial. Ann Bye, paediatric neurology, UNSW. Richard Christopherson, cancer research, University of Sydney. Peter Colman endocrinology, University of Melbourne. John Crofts, epidemiology, University of Melbourne. David Daintree, leadership of tertiary colleges, Colebrook Tasmania. Stephen Deane, trauma surgery, Macquarie University. Alice Giles, performing arts, Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Margaret Gott, ethnobotany, Monash University. Dorothy Graham, community health, UNSW. Leslie Hall, bat biology, Maleny, Queensland. Kenneth Harvey, ethical use of antibiotics, Monash University. Stephen Joseph, biochar engineering, UNSW. Mary Kelly, staff equity in tertiary education, QUT. Francis Leahy, surveying and mapping research, University of Melbourne. Peter Macdonald, heart transplants, Victor Chang Research Institute. Ann McGrath, indigenous history, ANU. (Ray) Ian Marshman, dentistry and higher education administration, University of Melbourne. Alaric Maude, geography, University of Adelaide. Graeme Morgan, clinical geneticist, UNSW. Neil Rees, legal reform, University of the Sunshine Coast. Merle Ricklefs, Asia Pacific research, ANU. Robert Saint, biomedical science, Flinders University. Dorothy Scott, child protection, University of South Australia. John Sheehan, property planning, UTS and Bond University. Dianne Snowden, genealogy, University of Tasmania. Robert Vincent, physics, University of Adelaide. Jennifer Webb, archaeology, University of Cyprus. Andrew Wells, academic librarianship, UNSW. Denise Wood, participation in education, University of South Australia.

Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM)

Terence Coyne, neurosurgery, University of Queensland. Alan de Costa, medicine, James Cook University. John Ding, China-Aus links through academic organisations, Newtown NSW. Bernard Daube, soil research, Bridgewater SA. Dianne Firth, landscape architecture education, University of Canberra. Jeremy Fisher, literature and education, University of New England. Colin Heazlewood, higher education, Williamstown, Vic. Dorothy Hennessy, services to VET, Wollongong, NSW. Helen Huntly, tertiary education, Central Queensland University. John Marley, medical education, University of Queensland. Mahomed Patel, epidemiology, ANU. David Starte, paediatrics, University of Sydney. Margaret Steffens, dental outreach, University of Adelaide. Robert Welch, opthamology, Bond and Griffith universities