Death delayed

University of Cambridge researchers say a brisk daily 20 minutes walk can have a statistically significant impact on mortality. I guess wearing a cowl and carrying a scythe makes it hard for the Reaper to keep up.


ANU - uncover

More supply than demand

Undergraduate offers are out in Queensland and South Australia showing flat demand, with growth concentrated in applied courses, notably heath related.

In Queensland yesterday the Australian Catholic University was first off the blocks, announcing a 14 per cent increase in first preference applications for its Brisbane campus. This isn’t surprising ACU’s recruitment marketing is pitched precisely to prospective students and explains what the university can do for them. The numbers also indicate ACU is not finished with its expansion agenda. Offers in health are up 17 per cent and 32 per cent for business courses, although the university did not mention demand for its traditional revenue stream, teaching.

The University of Queensland followed within an hour, making much, as usual, of its high entry scores, particularly in nursing and midwifery and law. UofQ made 8700 offers, on top of 1100 late last year via alternative entry schemes.

 James Cook University expanded offers in business, law, and nursing (all up 30 per cent plus) but reported a decline in early childhood education. Overall demand is stable for the Townsville campus but the number of offers for Cairns declined by 8 per cent.

CQU made 3000 offers, up 10 per cent, two-thirds for distance places, but as with other universities, announced it had places in all but four health science courses.

In South Australia, Flinders was out early announcing its 4800 undergraduate offers “maintain the level of demand” after “strong growth over the previous four years.” However postgrad offers are up 20 per cent, with teaching, nursing and health strong.

The University of Adelaide suggested a 17 per lift in arts applications is due to the new small-group discovery teaching programme, as are “good take ups” in new advanced bachelor courses in economics, health sciences and maths. Medicine, commerce, law, dentistry, and nursing, had the most applications. Overall U of Adelaide made 6300 offers, 5000 to new students. Last night places were still available in many courses.

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Bring up the disembodied 

Hilary Mantel is “one of the star attractions at this year’s Perth Writers Festival,” sponsor the University of Western Australia announced yesterday. A distant star. The author of two (so far) novels about Thomas Cromwell most recently Bring up the bodies and a magnificent tale of The Terror, A Place of Greater Safety “joins the Festival via video link.”

Still silence on CRCs

Industry and science (but no longer training) minister Ian Macfarlane broke summer cover yesterday to tell the world that the Japan and South Korea FTAs are very good things indeed. But there was no word on the Miles Review of the Cooperative Research Centre programme or the fate of the Innovative Manufacturing CRC bid and the Optimising Resource Extraction proposal, the only one from the aborted (as a budget savings measure) Round 17, which is said to have got to a formal interview. Well-placed people say the assessment committee recommended both be funded. Perhaps announcements are on-hold until the review is made public, when the government might want some good news to compensate an overall bad result for the programme.

Simon steps up

New training minister Simon Birmingham (three weeks in office) “led face-to-face consultations” with key VET stakeholders in Melbourne yesterday. No faulting him for being game to have a go, people take decades to finally grasp that the administration of voced is beyond all understanding.


Go8’s policy platform

Just days in the job executive director of the Group of Eight, Vicki Thomson begins as she means to go on, setting out a comms strategy designed to put the Eight at the centre of policy debate.

“Universities should introduce and then lead public debate across a wide range of economic and societal issues that define our nation’s future. Universities should not be corralled into areas that directly affect only the sector,” she says.

She’s right – for years universities have campaigned for more money for teaching and research, arguing that the nation’s future depends on a better-educated workforce and research based industry. And they haven’t worked, the messages are not wrong but they have never resonated with the electorate. Despite educating one million people, employing 100 000 plus and driving the economy into the future universities are not at the heart of politics. The government lost control of the debate over increased HECS debt once it switched from university need to student costs.

To have their needs taken seriously, as are the health systems, university leaders need to be in the policy market place demonstrating by participation the big intellectual contribution across the policy spectrum their institutions make now and the bigger one they can make in the future.