ARC unscathed

Acting Australian Research Council head Judi Zielke played a straight (the straightest) bat at Senate Estimates yesterday

Despite current controversies over the government vetoing six ARC grant recommendations and delays in funding announcements  Ms Zielke was unruffled by expert questioning from senators Kim Carr and Mehreen Faruqi (Greens). Perhaps in part, because of the time taken by a vigorous exchange between Senator Carr and minister attending, Amanda Stoker.

Ms Zielke may have calmed some fears in the research community by advising that the Discovery Grants programme for 2023 will open in weeks and confirming no changes to funding for Discovery, Linkages and Linkage infrastructure programmes in 2023.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on the power of universities to encourage greatness and counter group-think .

plus Garry Carnegie (RMIT) on global university rankings – why they are a menace.

and Jack Breen (UNSW) on four ways universities can make the most of social media, including the next big thing in comms that connect. Plus the seven unis that get Tik Tok.

with Angel Calderon on the national HE staff statistics, out of date, and way too late. “We need to have a national system to help us to optimally plan, deliver, fund, and assure quality higher education, both now and well into the future.”

not forgetting Tessa McCredie (Uni Southern Queensland) and Alan McAlpine (Curtin U) on the importance of career development. This week’s selection by Commissioning Editor Sally Kift for her celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.

Vax decision day at Flinders U

VC Colin Stirling raised the possibility of mandatory vaccination to be on campus in December (CMM December 3)

Since then the university has asked students and used the consultation provisions of the Enterprise Agreement (CMM January 24) to hear from staff. (But as it’s a policy change rather than an agreement variation there is no requirement for a vote which CMM got wrong yesterday).

This will be the second big South Australian call on vaccination in the week.

On Wednesday Uni Adelaide announced that while it now has the power to require people on campus to be vaccinated it would not apply it now.

But present policy remains at Uni SA. VC David Lloyd told staff on February 4, “remember, if you feel unwell, you should not present for work on-campus. Please do look after yourselves and one another, and please do ensure you are fully vaccinated,” which reads to CMM like a polite instruction but the university advises is a request.

Fast track to a stop for research bill

The government introduced the Australia’s Economic Accelerator Bill (that’s the research commercialisation plan) into the Reps yesterday

It’s a fast start for a policy announced a fortnight back (CMM February 3) however the Leader of the House will have to go fast.

Parliament is back for the budget at the end of March and the Reps then return for the week of April 11. After that it’s all election, while parliament is scheduled to sit w/cs May 9 and 16, we must go to the polls by May 21.

And even if the bill passes the Reps,  it will come to a screeching halt, the Senate is only scheduled to sit for the budget before June.

So it will be up to the next government to start again, or not.


R&D reform: it’s never simple

The Commonwealth is consulting on research and development tax incentive for clinical trials

Complex stuff demonstrated by consultation documents. Just how complex, the Group of Eight (in favour of “stronger incentives for researchers and partners”),  makes clear. “The support environment for commercialisation in Australia can be difficult to navigate and understand, and that the research and development tax incentive itself is perceived as a complex initiative, making any simplification for both user and decision-maker highly welcome.”

Much like IP proposals for the research commercialisation plan (CMM February 3, 14)

Uni Adelaide chancellor backs big voice for academics   

Uni Adelaide’s council wants Academic Board to “become a forum for collegiate discussion of key academic issues for the University and the sector”

Chancellor Catherine Branson tells staff, “it is the hope of Council that Academic Board will increasingly engage with the academic aspects of the University’s strategic plan.”

The announcement follows council endorsing a review of the board by Ian O’Connor, former VC of Griffith U and sometime chair  of the Higher Education Standards Panel.

There will be revised terms of reference for the board and its “membership “will be enhanced by strengthened staff representation.” And by a powerful chair who will be an elected professor. It will be “a substantive appointment and provided with appropriate support.” And the chair will “participate” in the VC’s executive as an observer.

“My hope is that Academic Board will come to be seen as the principal means by which the voices of the university’s academic staff reach the council. The only object of this university is the advancement of learning and knowledge; that is, teaching and research. For this reason, our academic staff are at the heart of the University’s purpose. It is important that Council be aware of their views,” Ms Branson says.

Council has just reappointed her for a second term as chancellor (CMM February 16).

Future Tense perfect for ELICOS

Peak body English Australia surveyed members on the industry’s future and now wants responses to its resulting report quick smart. There’s a reason for that

EA needs to know what members think, including about the standards providers must meet under the Education Services for Overseas Students Act – now being reviewed.  This is important for ELICOS, because the government proposes broad international education  changes, including more on-line courses offered off-shore, which would require ESOS amendments (CMM February 14).

Responses to the ESOS consultation paper are due April 29.

Big issues for ELICOS include the existing requirement for 20 face-to-face contact hours a week,  this was relaxed during the pandemic and one question is how to define f-to-f. Perhaps, EA suggests, “synchronous delivery in class or on-line could be considered as acceptable for meeting the ‘face-to-face’ requirements when the quality of education and student outcomes is not compromised.”

And there are questions of quality control when a provider teaches people off-shore who do not have a visa to study in Australia. Half of survey responders want Australian standards to apply.

There is also the issue of regulating for reality, with nearly 80 per cent of EA members responding wanting provision in the standards for courses “to have a component” delivered on-line whether to on-shore or off-shore students.

Appointments, achievements

Of the day

The executive of the Early and Mid-Career Researcher Forum has new members including; Emily Finch (ANSTO), Angela Laird (Macquarie U) and Rowan Trebilco (CSIRO).

Marnie Hughes Warrington (Uni SA) joins the advisory board of the Australasian Higher Education Cyber Security Services.

Of the week

 The Australian Universities International Directors’ Forum elects its 2022-’24 executive; * Mike Ferguson (Uni Canberra) – chair * Brett Lovegrove (Uni Wollongong) – deputy chair and treasurer * executive: Ingrid Elliston (Uni New England), Woendi Hampton (James Cook U) , Jogvan Klein (Swinburne U).

Lucinda Black from Curtin U has a three-year early career fellowship from MS Australia to research the role of diet in the disease.

Catherine Branson has a second, two-year, term as chancellor of Uni Adelaide. She joined the university’s council in 2013, became deputy chancellor in 2017 and stepped up in mid 2020 when then chancellor Kevin Scarce resigned.

Phil Broadbridge (La Trobe U emeritus) is awarded the Australian and New Zealand Industrial and Applied Mathematics medal

The European Association of Geochemistry confers the Houtermans early-mid-career research award on Raffaella Demichelis (Curtin U).

Theresa Hay becomes associate director of the WA Government’s Defence Science Centre. She joins from the Commonwealth’s Defence Science and Technology Group.

Anthony Lawrence (Griffith U) wins the Peter Porter Poetry Prize, (named for the late Brisbane born, UK resident, poet).

Caroline McMillen has a second three-year term as SA Chief Scientist. Prior to the job she was Uni Newcastle VC.

Tracey Moroney will become head of Curtin U’s  nursing school in April, replacing Phil Della, who will retire.  Professor Moroney joins from Uni Wollongong.

The National Health and Medical Research Council announces the Women in Health Science Committee, through to December 2024. Frances Kay-Lambkin (Uni Newcastle) is chair, with members * Sharon Bell (ANU) * Catherine Chamberlain (Uni Melbourne) * Anne Chang (Menzies School) *  Geoffrey Faulkner (Mater RI and Queensland Brain Institute) * Maria Kavallaris  (Children’s Cancer Institute) * Erin  McGillick Hudson Institute and Monash U) * David Rae (Uni Sydney) * Gina Ravenscroft (UWA) * Geraint Rogers ( South Australian HMRI) * Sarah Russell (Swinburne U, Peter MacCallum Centre) * Maithili Sashindranath (Monash U) * Amanda Sinclair (Melbourne Business School)

Paul Nicholls becomes ED Research Partnerships at Uni Queensland today. He has moved from a similar role at Curtin U.

Flora Salim becomes UNSW’s inaugural Cisco Chair in Digital Transport. She moves from RMIT

 Southern Cross U announces senior appointments in education including, * Liz Mackinlay (Gold Coast campus) moves from Uni Queensland * Michelle Neumann (Gold Coast) joins from Griffith U * Pasi Sahlberg (Lismore campus) comes from UNSW * Susan Walker (Gold Coast campus) moves from QUT.

The Stroke Foundation announces its 2022 research grants * Jessica Campbell – Uni Queensland (aphasia) * Natalie Fini – Uni Melbourne (physical activity for survivors) * Brooke Ryan – UTS (family support for victims) * Emma Wallace – Uni Sydney (tele-rehab for swallowing difficulties) *