Mildly to the barricades

Group of Eight in ‘utter revolt’ against federal cuts to tertiary funding,”  Sky News yesterday.

The Go8 certainly submission on the student-places funding bill complains, “the abbreviated consultation,” “appears constructed to effectively disable genuine and desirable collaboration …” But the take-out is; “the legislation should be referred to the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee for more detailed consideration.”

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this Morning

Lynette Vernon (Curtin and Edith Cowan universities) on  why STEM will go nowhere without more maths in senior schools. Another ** case-made in Contributing Editor Sally Kift’s series on what we need now in teaching and learning.

Angel Calderon on the Australian ARWU achievement – look outside the global top 100 for the big local heroes.

Lucy Montgomery (Curtin U) reports more research articles written in Australia acknowledge funding from China than from the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Provost to leave Uni Sydney  

Barbara Messerle goes on September 8 and won’t be replaced (at least for now)

Vice Chancellor Michael Spence announced the provost is off, “to pursue other opportunities.”

“As an internationally recognised and leading organometallic chemist, Professor Messerle is looking forward to progressing her personal research agenda and scientific pursuits,” he adds.

Professor Messerle joined Uni Sydney a year back, moving from Macquarie U where she was dean of science and engineering.

Dr Spence says the position will not be filled, “at this point,” due to the “current hiring freeze and the university’s financial position.” Although Dr Spence may also want to leave filling the role, or not, to his successor. The vice chancellor leaves in December, prior to becoming president of UCL (the institution formerly known as University College London) in January.

Deans will now report to Dr Spence, heads of schools to FASS Dean Annamarie Jagose and the Librarian to DVC R Duncan Ivison.

Yes and no

“Do you identify as Chinese? Are you interested in viewing advertisements?” social media recruiting for a Western Sydney U research project.

The first criteria will be way easier met than the second.

Deep in the research weeds with the ARC

The Australian Research Council is reviewing its two quality assessment programmes

The ARC has issued a consultation paper for a review of the Excellence for Research in Australia and the Engagement and Impact Assessment schemes.

What is wanted: The paper less discusses than directs people making submissions towards the issues the ARC wants to learn about and the way it wants to be informed.

And that is via a survey form with five responses, plus a comments-space, for a mass of specific questions.

Not that the ARC is in indifferent to issues it has not raised, “you are not limited to the questions posed in this document and additional feedback may be provided in the survey form.” Good-o but the format might cramp the style of lobbies who write long.

Issues to address on ERA: The ARC wants to know about the efficacy of both schemes in general but specifically about how they work. And in granular detail – asking about citation and peer review methodology for ERA and its rating scale. For example, the ARC states universities investing in research has led to more top two ratings, but “some feedback has raised questions about whether the current rating scale can continue to differentiate sufficiently performance at the upper end of the scale.”

And (oh that such wickedness could be) it wants to know about ways to address the possibility of universities gaming the ranking by strategic hires.

And on Engagement and Impact: There are also expansive questions on the new and not universally embraced EI scheme, which give respondents opportunity to support or spray. There are specific ones on how assessments operate and on the impact narratives universities submitted on specific research.

“Feedback indicates that the approach to impact narrative was one of the more challenging EI elements for universities and assessors. … There are also general challenges with the interconnectedness of engagement, impact and pathways to impact and therefore there was some overlap of activities reported in submissions for engagement and approach to impact.”

Why it matters: Deep in the research assessment weeds to be sure and perhaps not top of research office minds in time of plague, with a feared fall in research funding to come. But perhaps these consultations should be. Education Minister Tehan’s coming research policy is going to need some incentive.

Back to normal-ish at UNSW

The university is preparing for “many students to return” for term three

UNSW announces that COVID-19 cases are “currently very low” in NSW so tutes and pracs are being offered “face to face”, with on-line options for students who can’t, or don’t want, to be back on campus. Lectures stay all on-line.

There is no word on masks.

Tweeking the Tehan funding plan: small change or big cost

Lobby group IRU suggests two alternative changes to the government’s student place funding model

“It is possible to rework the rates chosen to reduce the negative impact of the revamped discipline cluster model while retaining the gain in simplicity and the grouping of disciplines the government proposes,” the Innovative Research Universities reports in a new policy paper.

IRU proposes two models, both of which reduce the government’s 11 discipline revenue streams to seven and vary what government and students pay per place and universities receive for them.

One option is designed to combine the lowest student charge with a “mid-level” government payment, with funding changes “similar” to the government’s intent. Option two keeps the changed student charges in the first option, “with more significant improvements” in what government funds, “to ensure a better alignment of incentives for students and university”. This would reduce the overall annual saving to government from $1.1bn to $396m

Flaw in teaching funding

The NTEU opposes the government’s student funding bill, as “ill-conceived, unbalanced and unfair.” Not only that the costing basis is bodgy

The National Tertiary Education Union’s draft submission to the consultation on the proposed legislation is detailed in its denunciations on policy and principle. It also makes a specific and very practical point on the funding basis of the bill.

“The new total resourcing levels (student plus Commonwealth contributions) for each discipline (are) based on highly inadequate and inappropriate research which specifically cautions against using its results for establishing funding rates.”

CMM guesses the union is referring to the 2019 Deloitte report on the cost of university teaching, which Vin Massaro dissected in CMM (July 15). “So, whether the Deloitte report is an accurate reflection of reality is contestable, with the report’s own qualifications suggesting that it is not intended to be that accurate.  Whether it is a sufficient basis for policy development is therefore open to debate,” Professor Massaro warned.


Uni Melbourne announces 2020 staff awards

Engagement: *Beverley-Ann Biggs (Medicine, Dentistry, Health Sciences) * Charles El-Hage (Veterinary and Ag) * Tarunabh Khaitan (Law School) * Louisa Lim (Arts)

Professional excellence: * Petula Frantz, Alan Sweeney, Vinitha Thakur, Lloyd Alderman, Hannah Soulaiman, Pratik Dhanwani (Medicine, Dentistry, Health Sciences) * Martin McNamee (Business Services) * Sachitra Sarathchandra, Vishnupriya Singh, Andrew Middleton, Matty Kapadia, Zack Hameed (Architecture, Building and Planning and Operational Performance Group) * Jennifer Warburton, Julia Kuehns, Christina Ward, Ruth McConchie, Wilfred Villareal, Penny Chan (Student and Scholarly Services)

Research: * Sundhya Pahuja (Law School) * Jon Woodhead, Janet Hergt, Russell Drysdale, Roland Maas, John Hellstrom, Kale Sniderman (Science) * Tuan Ngo (Engineering)

Strategic priorities: * Alysia Blackham (Law School) * Helen Cahill, Sally Beadle, Katherine Romei, Keren Shlezinger, Anne Farrelly, Babak Dadvand (Graduate School of Education) * Lianne Schmaal (Medicine, Dentistry, Health Sciences) * Megan Sharp, Tom Wright, Chris Bunting, Zoe Stephenson, Lynley Eavis, Michelle McNamara, Riley Childs, Leonie Slavin (Pride in Action Network Committee) *Sarah Banks (Advancement) * Kristy DiGiacomo (Veterinary and Ag)

Teaching: Joanne Bolton (Medicine, Dentistry, Health Sciences) * Enes Makalic (Medicine, Dentistry, Health Sciences) * Jennifer Martin (Science) * James Helal |(Architecture, Building, Planning) * Michael Pianta, Laura Downie, Gordon Yau, David Vasjuta (Medicine, Dentistry, Health Sciences)

Achievements, appointments

Junichiro Kawaguchi becomes an honorary fellow at ANU, the first appointment to its Research School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Environmental Engineering.  He was a project manager on the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Hayabusa project that got a craft to an asteroid and back.

Tracey Wilkinson joins MTP Connect as stakeholder engagement director for WA. MTP C is the federal government’s industry growth centre for med-bio tech and pharma.

Tyyaba Zafar (Macquarie U) is one of the science Young Tall Poppies for NSW.