Everybody an impresario

The Australian Art Orchestra is selling shares in its new show “1988” (opens July) in a JV with Uni Melbourne’s School of Computing and Information Systems

That’s a literal share, a “non-fungible token” representing a unit of data on a blockchain, which can be kept and trade. It’s a new way to collect music and artworks, in this case “a one-off AV piece” from the show, by Dung Nguyen with a visual design by Phuong Ngo. Apparently, it’s “an exciting step in transforming how audience share and consume art and music.”   (Scroll down for the blockchain as accounting, not art.)

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Sally Male on getting grades right. “A grade should not depend on: who taught the student, who marked each assessment, which team the student was in, or the students’ sex or ethnicity,” she writes in this week’s contribution to Sally Kift’s series, “Needed now in teaching and learning.”

Plus, Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on how universities can serve Australia and why now is the time to build on great research foundations.

Short flight for funding pilot

Universities are working out how they can maximise their share of the National Priorities and Industry Linkage Fund – for now

A few weeks back the Department of Education, Skills and Employment advised it was “working closely with the sector to develop detailed administrative guidelines including requirements for universities,” (CMM March 3) and now all institutions need do is get their heads around the pilot scheme document now circulating in the system.

Which is no more confusing than the proposal floated last October. To get hold of the funding on offer all universities need do is submit a plan including metrics from 15 specified categories and case-studies for work integrated learning, STEM skills and industry partnerships.

Base funding under the scheme is in four EFTS-based bands, ranging from $3.25m to $8.75m from next year to 2025 when there will be a new methodology, which “the department will advise … prior to 2025.”

By when everybody will probably have worked out this one.

HM Loyal Opposition on campus

The review of Universities Australia relations with government (CMM Friday) suggests the lobby extends advocacy, “to include matters of broader national significance”

Which sounds like an excellent way to annoy ministers, whichever party is in power.

And assumptions that all would be well if UA sucked up to the coalition ignore that when Christopher Pyne proposed deregulating student fees, UA (with two or three VCs opposed) was on-side – which manifestly made the lobby no lasting friends in the coalition.

Tudge prescribes proof of shot in the arm for international arrivals

Education Minister Alan Tudge says “some” international students will arrive this year but that he hopes 2022 could be “close to normal with significant numbers returning”

Speaking to the Victorian chapter of the Australia-India Business Council, Mr Tudge said the situation next year will depend on transmission rates in students’ countries and evidence of vaccination. “When a person comes to the border can we have that surety that a person has been vaccinated and presents as the person who they are.”

“That’s something we are starting to do some work on – when someone presents at the border and say they have been vaccinated we need to have some authentification around that and some trust that is the case,” he told the AIBC.

“If that’s the case and transmission is low then my hope is that if people have been vaccinated in India and we have had a good roll-out of the vaccine here then we can bring people back in a relatively safe manner.”

The minister added, arrivals this year will depend on state and territory governments working with higher education institutions. “If they set up quarantine regimes above and beyond existing regimes then we would consider them. I know that NSW and South Australia are working on such proposals.”

Pointing to this week’s launch of the government’s consultation paper for a ten-year international education strategy, Mr Tudge said there are also, “significant opportunities to support even greater numbers of Indian students through different modes of delivery.” Plus, “I can’t see any reason why high quality institutions can’t come and set up here to provide further opportunities for Australian students.”

Mr Tudge is expected to speak on the international strategy paper Wednesday morning at RMIT.

The late show with the ARC  

The Australian Research Council did not get the call at Senate Estimates until 10.45pm, Thursday night

Perhaps unsurprisingly, questions were brief. Senator Faruqi (Greens, NSW) wanted to know if Education Minister Alan Tudge had knocked back two ARC-recommended Linkage projects, “Visualising humanitarian crises” and “Sparking imagination education: transforming inequality in school.” “There are decisions still pending on those two projects” ARC CEO Sue Thomas said.   As to why, “that would be a question for the minister,” Professor Thomas added. It was taken on-notice.

Senator Pratt (Labor, WA) asked about research funding in the absence of international student fees and Professor Thomas said reported data was not complete but took questions on notice. Senator Pratt also asked about security of research with international partners and appeared satisfied with the ARC response, (they, in cooperation with unis, have it covered).

But CMM had brief expectations of her last question, about a petition (in the form of a budget submission) from 1000 researchers asking the minister to “improve aspects of the ARC’s processes”

The three specifics the ARC is considering are calls for “a fairer, more efficient system for responding to peer reviews,” putting “on-notice” “inappropriate and unprofessional reviewers” and updated security for the Research Management System and email notification of research applicants

“We are always interested in harvesting good ideas,” Professor Thomas said.

“What we do is the test the hypothesis that they are low-cost or no-cost from the inside out but they are the types of things that we engage with the sector on, with research officers, with members of the Australian Research Management Society and indeed with individual researchers. We will work through our normal processes,” she concluded.

Good-o but “normal processes” is surely where the petitioners’ problems came from.

And that, at 10.58pm was that.

Blockchain on the rocks

Now that vaccine technology is the go there’s a bit of the former next big thing about the blockchain

But beyond Bitcoin beatups there’s real-world  work on what distributed ledgers can do.  The feds have $3m for each of two pilots to reduce “the regulatory compliance burden”. Businesses and “publicly funded research organisations” are eligible.

One is to create “supply chain integrity” for a critical minerals ethical certification scheme. The other is to, “to address the challenges of complying with excise tax regulations” for spirits producers. Now there’s a way for the Tasmanian Libs to appeal to the whisky distiller vote in the state election campaign.

Australian Catholic U to keep HR Covid-crisis model

Last year the university reorganised HR service delivery to support critical incident response and recovery management

The changes in team-size and information exchanges worked so well that ACU now wants to make the interim structure permanent.

The proposal disestablishes 17 FTE positions (not all occupied) and creates 13, mainly at the same HEW classification however, management warns, “whilst there are more roles than current continuing staff, they are different and/or in specialisations for which staff may not have capability.”

The draft change plan is now circulating for comment, with a final proposal to go to Vice Chancellor Zlatko Skrbis on April 20.


Gawaian Bodkin-Andrews becomes Western Sydney U’s Director of Indigenous Research. Susan Page also joins as Director of Indigenous Learning and Teaching. They both move from UTS.

Sally Male will join Uni Melbourne next month as learning and teaching director for Engineering and IT. She will move from UWA. Her feature on getting exam grades rights is in CMM this morning.