Plus fitting for purpose at UNSW Business School

Less fantasy than fantastic

Terry Pratchett’s estate is funding an extraordinary scholarship programme at the University of South Australia – a $100 000 biannual award for a research masters at the university’s Hawke Research Centre with visiting rights at Trinity College Dublin (where USA VC David Lloyd was previously innovation head). This isn’t a one-off from the late fantasy author either; the award is in perpetuity.

The scholarship is for research inspired by Sir Terry’s 40 books (selling 80m copies!) which links to the Hawke Institute’s “identity transformation” theme.

Uni SA awarded Sir Terry an hon doc last year, which was only fair considering his entirely imaginary Unseen University bestowed the same award of Professor Lloyd.

ANU Sept 15

Melbourne’s big new brand

The University of Melbourne has launched its first corporate strategy since the 2007 “dream large” campaign. The new platform, “Collision” presents the range of research at the university and the breakthroughs that occur when researchers “collide, converge and collaborate.” It’s objective is to increase community awareness of the university’s overall research achievements and resources. The strategy will also be used in faculty and research unit marketing communications.

Creative includes social media and limited cinema and television spots supported by continuing news and research stories on a dedicated site, based on what is possible when researchers escape from their silos. “It spells out what is so special about this institution and why bright people want to come and work here. It is definitely not a student recruitment campaign,” Uni Melbourne provost Margaret Sheil says.

Overall creative, production and media budget is $4m.

Not such interesting echidnas

“Watching this footage of echidna sperm is strangely hypnotic,” UoQ tweeted Friday, with accompanying video to prove it. Strange yes, hypnotic no, but then again CMM is no connoisseur of echidna ejaculate.

Marvellous Melbourne’s research message

The University of Melbourne’s new strategy is a classic of the genre, a campaign that only an immensely strong brand would dare create, a campaign that takes the research mission of all universities and claims it as Uni Melbourne’s own, a campaign that cashes the dividend of a decade of research leadership and invests it in a message that will work across the whole university. It is not a campaign with a quantifiable goal that CMM can see (measures of awareness can be whatever a marketing director wants them to be) rather it is an overall comms strategy that simply states the university’s research achievement and potential. And it avoids the great mistake of budget conscious marketers – assuming that prospective undergraduates chose a university on the basis of research records so that one campaign fits all.

And there is not a meaningless slogan (good morning UWA) in sight. Instead there is a sophisticated statement of the mantra of DVCs research everywhere –get researchers out of their silos and using cross disciplinary expertise on real-world problems. “Collision, convergence, collaboration.”

This is an exercise in triumphalism, asserting less leadership than Uni Melbourne’s ownership of the ideal of the university as engine of national innovation, based on a brilliantly conceived brief. It will drive other Group of Eight universities absolutely nuts.

ANU Sep 15 5

Relax, it only sounded like an explosion

WSU Campbelltown provost Rhonda Griffith to all staff, Friday. “If you were on Campbelltown campus in the vicinity of Building 9 late yesterday morning, you may have heard some loud noises coming from inside one of the buildings. Some reports were received that the sounds were very loud and the unexpected nature of the situation caused some concern. The noise was associated with some minor experiments set up to engage some school students who were visiting the university.” CMM wonders what loud major experiments sound like.

Mysterious Murdoch

Back in 2012 Peter McKiernan joined Murdoch University as dean of business from Strathclyde University, “because he was impressed by Vice Chancellor Professor Richard Higgott’s vision of putting quality at the forefront of what the university does.” But now, a year after Professor Higgot resigned when the WA Corruption and Crime Commission announced a still unreleased inquiry involving him, Professor McKiernan has also departed. There is nothing to suggest the two events are connected but why the dean departed is unknown. Professor McKiernan has said nothing and all a university spokesperson would say is “Professor McKiernan has resigned.” Another Murdoch mystery.

Eat up

According to Nancy Turner from Texas A&M new research suggests that a diet containing dried plums may lower risk of colon cancer, “new research suggests that a diet containing dried plums may lower risk of colon cancer,” the choice is yours.

Riled Rhiannon

Despite losing the higher education portfolio Greens senator Lee Rhiannon could not restrain herself from commenting on University of Sydney VC Michael Spence’s Friday statement on student fees. Fair enough, she is a senator from NSW and Dr Spence’s Friday suggestion that increased undergraduate fees should stay on the agenda really riled her. “Just as it appeared that the university sector could shake off the destructive and time-wasting deregulation debate Dr Spence is back pushing a plan to load the cost burden onto students.” But the senator could not resist raising another education issue that upsets her, even though it did not have anything to do with the VC’s argument; “Mr (sic) Spence is silent on the most critical issue harming university and technical education – the entry of private for-profit companies into the education sector. Private for-profit companies are a ‘cancer’ within the education sector.” At least she did not denounce the VC for not condemning global poverty as well.

Chapman flags a footy win

On Friday Edith Cowan U announced a three year teaching, research and industry partnership with the West Coast Eagles. Of course there was the mandatory statement about not caring how the club went against North Melbourne on Saturday, which CMM suspects will not be repeated as the Eagles prepare for the weekend Grand Final. This is a win for ECU, Curtin U is aligned with Freemantle, leaving Murdoch U and UWA club-less. Another goal for recent transfer VC Steve Chapman.

criterion update

How did it get to this?

Weekend news of a proposed class action against VET private provider Evocca, accused of exploiting people by enrolling them in courses they have little hope of completing, must have had new training minister Luke Hartsuyker asking what has the Australian Skills Quality Authority, charged with regulating the sector, been doing? Good question. The new Greens higher and further education spokesman, South Australian senator Robert Simms also used Evocca to get into the training argument; “it’s time for an overhaul of vocational education training in Australia. We really need a system that puts quality in education above the profit margins of private businesses,” Senator Simm said.  When it comes to rhetoric, Rhiannon Senator Simms aint.

Fit for business

UNSW VC Ian Jacobs has set out his ten-year strategy and now operating units are starting to work out how they will be fit for purpose. Business school dean Chris Styles has had the consultants in to “look at the skills and resources we have across the business school and to put forward some ideas.” They will need to be good ones because it looks like there is already a plan in place with the job of the school only to implement it. “The next stage is to work through some options with the staff best placed to understand the school’s culture and to determine which recommendations will work best and how they will work. We will be calling this Project Fit,” Professor Styles says.

“Some changes will be small and others will require more scoping, discussion and planning.  Staff likely to be affected by any decisions will be kept informed and be part of the discussions,” the dean adds.

This sounds to CMM like boilerplate to conform to the university’s Enterprise Agreement, preparatory to people being retrenched. A case of less fit than fitted-up, as an unkind commentator puts it. But one aspect of the exercise puzzles CMM, why does a business school need consultants to advise on its own business?

Launceston lamasery for U Tas

The University of Tasmania is starting the serious sell for its proposed expansion in the state’s struggling north. U Tas is something of a Shangri Lah, a lamasery of learning not much interested in talking to anybody but the locals, so it isn’t always easy to follow its plans. What for example, has happened to the rumours of a dual state system split into research and post secondary teaching operations?

But what is clear is that the university and state government are very keen on expanding education opportunities in the state’s struggling north, with plans for a central Launceston campus as well as expanding the existing campus, adjacent to TAFE in suburban Inveresk. Up to 20 000 Tasmanians “who meet university entry requirements are not going to university when they could,” the university explains. CMM wonders where the money will come from.