Not on the menu

When Macquarie U asked the Vice Chancellor for a fave children’s book, he nominated Norman Lindsay’s Magic Pudding (CMM August 22)

One of which S Bruce Dowton  could do with now as the university prepares to reduce staff head-count to compensate for a projected student revenue shortfall.

“He does not appear to quite get what the Pudding meant by ‘cut and come again’ a learned reader ruefully remarks.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning Bret Stephenson (La Trobe U) on ghost students – you better believe they are real. It’s a new essay in contributing editor Sally Kift’s series on what is needed now in teaching and learning.

Plus, Dirk Mulder and Gretchen Dobson’s first essay in a five-part series on making and keeping friends with offshore alumni, here.

Fertile fields for agriculture research

There’s a review of the Rural Research and Development Corporation system and, what a surprise, the ever-vigilant Innovative Research Universities has opinions

No, this isn’t the Productivity Commission review, that was back in 2011 (time flies when one is having fun).

This new one is for the federal Department of Agriculture and with IRU members teaching and researching in agriculture its policy people clearly could not resist.

They report the RRDCs are important in connecting researchers to industry, but can improve by;

*  working with universities on cross-sector research challenges, for example, genomics and big data

* cooperating with universities on discovery research

* by being clear on the distinction between discovery research and commercialisation, when working with universities

Standard IRU  – even in the weeds, they see broad-acre policies.

All hands to research stations

Where, the Village People asked, can you, “sail the seven seas, learn science, technology,” why, In the Navy

The US Navy has opened a research office in Melbourne, to extend work with locals. But before anybody comes over all ANZUS about the special research relationship, the USN also has research offices in Tokyo and Singapore.

CMM suspects researchers working with the USN will not have much trouble from feds enforcing the Defence Trade Controls Act.

Big ideas up in lights

There’s the famous three-minute thesis, the dance your PhD competition – and now you can digitally display your research

Australians have scooped the prize pool at the first Visualise your Thesis competition. Graduate students from 16 universities across ANZ, Hong Kong and South Africa, competed to explain their work to a general audience in a 60-second digital display, using a pre-supplied e-template.

It’s an update of the conference poster – using multimedia instead of felt pens.

Uni Melbourne research managers, where the idea was first put up on a poster, are looking for more universities to run campus competitions and send winners on to the world championship, next year.  Contact Jennifer Warburton @ jrwarb@unimelb.edu.au .

The 2019 winners are;

Annaclaire McDonald (UTS) who explained her work on soil remediation with a “certified ear worm song” (“Baby Bark”, perhaps – sorry).

 Donovan Garcia-Ceron (La Trobe U) used “a stunning claymation” to demonstrate fungal infections in textiles and crops

Carmen Glanville (Uni Melbourne) used video to explain how to “protect pets by changing people”

You can see all the entries, here.

Griffith U plans for fewer students

Queensland unis have a problem, the half cohort, * which means there could be way fewer first years

So, Griffith U is planning for cases where there will be staff who are not needed. Management will consult on redeployment and direct everybody to take all their leave. It’s a way to avoid, or try to, redundancies.

* Queensland kids who would have started school in 2007 were divided into groups finishing finish school in 2020 -2022 – to bring the state’s years of schooling into line with other states

Not yet for skill-sets  

Micro-courses that teach specific skills people need for work are said to be the next big thing – that they aren’t it now might be because they are not micro-enough

John Stanwick and Gitta Siekmann have analysed use of training package skill-sets, for the estimable National Centre for Vocational Education Research. Skill-sets serve for “upskilling, compliance and licensing, meeting a defined industry need and as an entry pathway to further training.”

There were 20 packages with skill sets in 2008 and 1500 last year and enrolments increased from 58 000 to 96 000 last year.

But while there are a bunch of them not many are actually used – only 16 per cent had any enrolments for 2015-18. The big ones cover responsible service of alcohol and work zone traffic control.

Perhaps it is because skill-sets teach more than people need – there were 86 000 enrolments last year in a single subject on driving a forklift. Unless it is because skill-sets don’t cover what people want to learn, “many people are undertaking high-risk licensing subjects, (but) training package skill-sets are generally not being developed or used as a vehicle for these licences.” Stanwick and Siekmann conclude.

Top performers in new Times Higher rankings

Australian universities in the global top 100 for education are; Uni Melbourne 25 (last year 24), Uni Queensland =46 (39), Deakin U = 57 (101-125), Uni Sydney = 57 (33), UNSW =61 (=57), Uni SA = 74 (101-125),  UTS =77 (69), Monash U 80 (=57), Curtin U 98 (101-125).

Top 100s in social sciences are; ANU 27 (27 last year), Uni Melbourne 64 (52), Uni Queensland 69 (84), Uni Sydney 97 (99), UNSW 99 (121-125)

And in law: Uni Melbourne 12 (10 ten last year), UNSW 18 (23) Uni Sydney 38 (32) ANU 42 (53) Monash U 53 (=79) Uni Queensland 58 (40) UTS 60 (=68) QUT 61 (63) Griffith U 72 (71) UWA 75 (126-150) Uni Wollongong 78 (=90) Uni SA = 100 (=81)

Appointments, Achievements

Of the Day

Claire Bowers steps up to chief media wrangler at La Trobe University. She replaces Tim Mitchell who has moved to a Victorian Government comms role.

James Kesby (Uni Queensland) wins a prize for schizophrenia research from the (US) Brain & Behaviour Research Foundation.  In September Dr Kesby was named in the Young Tall Poppy science awards, (CMM September 16).

Lesley Forster started this week as inaugural dean of rural medicine at Charles Sturt U. She joined from UNSW where she was assistant dean – rural health

Uni Adelaide clinical senior lecturer James Muecke is SA Australian of the Year. Dr Muecke is an eye surgeon.

Yuval Yarom (Uni Adelaide and CSIRO Data61) wins the Chris Wallace Award for a post-doc computer science researcher. It comes from the Computing Research and Education Association of Australasia.

Of the week

Academic integrity expert Tracey Bretag moves up to full professor at the University of South Australia.

Curtin U announced its professional staff service awards, Wednesday – winners are  here.

Felicity Davis (Mater Research, Uni Queensland) and James Hudson (Queensland Institute for Medical Research Berghofer) win the National Stem Cell Foundation’s Metcalf Prize for research.

Aliza Hunt (ANU) wins the Helen Barlett prize for innovation in ageing research, awarded by Emerging Researchers in Ageing.

Marcia Langton (distinguished professor and associate provost, Uni Melbourne) and Tom Calma (chancellor, Uni Canberra) are co-chairs of the Commonwealth’s senior advisory group on the co-design process that will, “develop models to enhance local and regional decision-making and provide a voice for Indigenous Australians to government.”

Nicolette Lee is acting PVC – Educational Transformation at La Trobe U. She had something to say about the subject in CMM (July 13)

 Martina Linnenluecke (Macquarie U) and Tom Smith (Uni Queensland) (with Robert Whaley from Vanderbilt U), win one of journal giant Emerald’s 2019 author awards for “The unpaid social cost of carbon” in Accounting Research Journal.

Munjed Al Muderis is the 2020 NSW Australian of the Year. Associate Professor Al Muderis is an orthopaedic surgeon at Macquarie University Hospital

UNSW climate scientist Andy Pitman wins the Royal Society of Victoria’s Medal for Excellence in Scientific Research.

Andrew Stewart joins ANU’s Australian War College in January as the principal of the military and defence studies programme. He moves from King’s College London.

Mark Sutherland is confirmed as ED of the Council of Australian University Librarians. He has been acting since June.

 Belinda Tiffen will become Macquarie U librarian in January. Dr Tiffen will move from UTS.

Kylie Walker is the new CEO of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering. She leaves Science and Technology Australia next month.