Snakes on planes

And you thought it was only a movie. UoQ researchers havefound that brown-eyed tree snakes get to Guam on military aircraft. A paper on sharks in shopping malls will surely follow.

Gardner honoured

Monash VC Margaret Gardner is elected a fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia. Professor Gardner is an economist. Scroll down for a complete list of the new fellows.

There’s more in the Mail

There’s more in the Mail … In Features this morning, David Myton’s regular wrap on what’s happening in international higher education.

Monash on the education case

“The first Monash Commission seminar gathers today to begin transforming Australia’s post-compulsory education system,” Monash U modestly tweeted yesterday.

The commission was announced by VC Margaret Gardner in May, “instead of waiting for change to happen, Monash University is focusing on the changes Australians want to see, and harnessing the expertise of leaders from enterprise, education and the community to advance with and through innovation, rather than be led by it,” she said (CMM May 1). Monash has commissioned a bunch of papers by serious education policy people for consideration by the great and the good on the commission, chaired by Elizabeth Proust.

Speaking truth to power

University leaders cannot be slaves to the rankings and their evolving methodologies,” ANU VC Brian Schmidt at ranking agency’s Times Higher Education conference in Singapore, yesterday.

Not so big business ranking

When there is a rating of best universities for particle physics and lacrosse those on it will promote it but this week’s QS business school rankings passed relatively unremarked. Perhaps unis were saving their energy for an hooray-a-thon about today’s Times Higher ranking, or maybe not many marketers found anything to celebrate in the QS league table.

Overall, just three Australian unis made the top 100 MBAs, UniMelb (28), UNSW (39) and Monash U (87). Another ten scored a spot between 100 and 250.  UniMelb (16) and La Trobe U (51+) are on the business analytics masters list. UoQ, (69th), Bond U and Griffith U  (101+) are on the finance list. UniSydney is 34th for its management masters and Uni Wollongong is 76th. No Australian unis are on the marketing masters list.

ANU’s Schmidt sets out the future-building role of universities

Universities are “the most critical of all institutions in finding the pathways to a prosperous and sustainable global future,” ANU VC Brian Schmidt told a Singapore conference yesterday. To help chart that path was “the key motivation for me to leave my very comfortable and largely uncomplicated lifestyle as Nobel Laureate, to become vice chancellor,” he said.

Professor Schmidt set out strategies and roles for ANU including;

* a a whole ecosystem from proof of concept to late stage capital “to help our ideas blossom.” “My goal is make sure any good idea of the university is as useful for society as possible.”

* all researchers teaching and all students having research opportunities as part of their degrees

* encouraging risk-taking, “we need to find a way to support our staff when they fail – or when results are slow because the problem is hard.  We are looking at safety nets, seed funding, and income contingent loans as part of the mix to support researchers”

* protecting “unfiltered pursuit of knowledge” … “it is essential for us to fight all attempts that seek to hinder its pursuit, if we are going to be able to advance prosperity for all on a global and sustainable scale.”

Perhaps most important, Professor Schmidt said universities are where societies confront and resolve change.

“Many of the barriers for our future prosperity are not technology driven – they are societal. The political institutions in democracies around the world are finding it very difficult to have healthy debates around fundamental issues affecting our societies to enable sensible policy responses. Universities are a safe place where the conversations that societies need to have happen, can happen.”

Top Aus unis stable or sliding in Times Higher Education ranking

The Times Higher Education world university rankings were published last night, to reveal many top rated Australian universities either stable or sliding.

The University of Melbourne remains the first Australian institution, unchanged at equal 32nd in the world. It is followed by ANU at 49 (48 last year), the University of Sydney in a three-way tie for 59th position (61), University of Queensland is 69th (65th), Monash U is 84th (down four). UNSW drops nine places to equal 96th. The two Go8 members outside the global top 100 are UWA, which drops to 134 from 111 last year and the University of Adelaide down one to equal 135. UTS makes the top 200, at 196.

Universities from 200 are grouped alphabetically in bands, including.

201-250: James Cook U, Macquarie U, QUT, UniSA, UniWollongong

251-300: UniCanberra, Flinders U, Griffith U

301-350: Curtin U, La Trobe U, Newcastle U, Victoria U

351-400: Deakin U, U Tas, Western Sydney U

401-500: Australian Catholic U

601-800: UniSunshine Coast


At last, a deal at Charles Sturt

Charles Sturt U management is telling staff that after 15 months of negotiation a deal is done with campus unions on a new enterprise agreement. Terms will go to staff today week but Vice Chancellor Andrew Vann says, “agreed salary increases in the new enterprise agreement are consistent with recent increases at other universities and are realistic in the current economic environment.”

Times Higher ranking: reaction

Peak body Universities Australia was quick to comment on the new Times ranking yesterday, saying the resultssounded alarms” about the impact of funding cuts for Australia.

“These ranking results confirm our world-class standing – but also show this is at risk unless those cuts are reversed …we’ve been warning for some time about the damage of funding cuts on Australia’s rankings,” CEO Catriona Jackson said. She added THE comments about the impact of reduced public funding is, “like Moodys or Standard and Poor warning a government about a downgrade to a national economy.”

The Group of Eight was equally alarmed. Chief Executive Vicki Thomson pointed out six of her members are in the global top 100, with the other two in the next 50 but she warned of “worrying signs of a system under pressure” from “continual funding cuts” and international competition.

“Government must treat the higher education sector as the high-yield investment it is or suffer economic pain in the years to come.”

However, universities with something approaching good news came over all Johnny Mercer and accentuated the positive. University of Adelaide DVC R and Provost Mike Brooks said to be one of eight Aus unis in the world top 150 was “an excellent result” for the university and the state.

At the University of Canberra VC Deep Saini is pleased with a jump from the 351-400 band to the 251-300 group. And Victoria U is happy to be in the 301-350 group, placing it “in the top 2 per cent of universities word-wide.”  La Trobe U moved up a band, to the 301-350 group to rate 18th in the country and Australian Catholic U ranks 25th in Australia. University of South Australia VC David Lloyd talked of ‘the vital spirit of collaboration that our researchers have” with THE reporting the university making the global top 250 as does neighbour Flinders U.


The Academy of Social Sciences in Australia announces the 36 candidates elected as 2018 fellows.

David Alais, psychology, UniSydney

Ian Anderson Indigenous issues, UniMelbourne and PMandC

Martha Augoustinos, psychology UniAdelaide

Christine Beasley, politics, UniAdelaide

Martin Bell, earth and environmental sciences, UoQ

Denis Burnham, auditory research, Western Sydney U

David Burr, psychology, UniSydney and University of Florence

Annemaree Carroll, humanities and social sciences, UniQueensland

Joshua Cinner, human dimensions of coral reefs, James Cook University

George Crowder, political philosophy, Flinders U

Denise Doiron, economics, UNSW

Robyn Dowling, urbanism, UniSydney

Nick Enfield, linguistics, UniSydney

Renée Fry-McKibbin, economics, ANU

Margaret Gardner, VC Monash U

Jacob Goeree, economics, UNSW

Ferdinand Gul, accounting and finance, Deakin U

John Handmer, risk and community safety, RMIT

Matthew Hornsey, psychology, UoQ

Jennifer Hudson, psychology, Macquarie U

Simon Jackman, government and international relations, University of Sydney

Stewart Jones, accounting, UniSydney

Anne Kavanagh, women’s health, UniMelbourne

Andrew May, history, UniMelbourne

Kerrie Mengersen, statistician, QUT

Cheri Ostroff, management, UniSA

Sharon Pickering, dean of arts, Monash U

Rosemary Rayfuse, law, UNSW

Kim Rubenstein, law, ANU

Elizabeth Savage, economics, UTS

Derrick Silove psychiatry, UNSW

Julie Stout, psychology Monash U

Maggie Walter, Aboriginal research and leadership, U Tasmania

Peter Whiteford public policy, ANU

Gillian Whitehouse, politics, UoQ

Yi-chong Xu, politics, Griffith U