To the birdicades!

“Great to have a magpie pop in to class today—on 1848. We named it Metternich.” ANU historian Marnie Hughes Warrington, via Twitter, yesterday.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features Melissa Zaccagnini and colleagues warn safeguarding higher education from academic misconduct, “may restrict the very practices that are a cornerstone of 21st century learning.” It’s another essay in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s series in what we need now in teaching and learning.

And Susannah Marsden and Paul Abela  offer ideas for next week’s ATEM conference.

“Social Scientists like us”

The deep state asked social scientists how they can help with intel

The Office of National Intelligence, “on behalf of the National Intelligence Community” asked the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, to have a look at US experience and what will work here.

The Academy recommends the intelligence community establish;

* a “strategic workforce training and recruitment plan”. “Social science research can provide an improved understanding of learning and development requirements, emerging trends in social networks and systems, cyber security threats, impact and engagement of messaging, and other emerging needs”

* a dedicated academic outreach branch to coordinate and oversee interactions with the social science research community,” “one step towards creating effective and secure pathways of sharing problems, approaches, and analyses between the NIC and social science researchers.”

* “an audit of existing research schemes to identify the social science disciplines already contributing to intelligence priorities and the potential for future contributions.”

* “the NIC should develop a research-intelligence ‘air-lock’ which will act as a secure space for social science researchers and the NIC to engage in an unclassified environment.”

Whatever the response, even being asked should cheer-up the Academy. In May, it complained the social sciences were being too-much ignored in funding of the nine National Research Priorities (CMM May 29).

Pointers to pathways for equity groups

The feds are funding new university access information

Four projects ($149 000 – $250 000) will be supported through the National Centre for the Study of Equity in Higher Education, to reach influencers of the generality of low SES students and also members of low SES regional and Indigenous communities.

* student choice tool-kits for influencers (La Trobe U and Uni Melbourne)

* information on pathways for student influencers (Uni Tas and Uni Wollongong)

* careers advice for students (Uni Wollongong, Uni Tasmania, Macquarie U, UNSW, Australian Catholic U and Uni Canberra)

* “accessible, efficacious and equitable careers and study information” for low SES students (Curtin U)

Getting with the on-line programme: unis partner with private service providers

Online services can bring diverse and profound improvements to university education and China shows the way

Hamish Coates (ex Uni Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education), Lu Liu, Zhou Zhong, Liu Liu, Xi Hong, Xi Gao, all from Tsinghua Universityreport on the role of on-line programme management companies, commercial service providers that “re-engineer education resources and services and scale programme delivery” for client institutions.  Their new report points to estimates of 30-50 OPMS working with universities in the US, China, Australia, Europe, the UK and India.

Coates and colleagues present case studies of three Chinese universities use of OPMS, which they suggest show trends that will apply in China, and other markets.

* elite innovators: while continuing campus based, “will provide resources and capabilities for developing education ideas and technologies. They will use online platforms to augment, enrich and distribute traditional practice.”

* productivity innovators: will use online learning to scale provision, reduce costs and sustain quality

* scale innovators: will use online firms for services and content adapting standardised resources

Masters of the business ranking universe

Another week, another ranking, this morning’s being from QS – its 2020 global MBA

As usual with just about every ranking of anything, the University of Melbourne leads the locals, at 26th in the world, followed by UNSW – 42nd and Monash U at 89th.

Ten more biz schools make the QS list – Uni Queensland 111-120, Macquarie U 121-130, UWA 131-140, ANU, Deakin U, La Trobe U, RMIT and Uni Wollongong, all 151-200, Bond U and Victoria @ are in the 200+ band.

QS also ranks specialised masters;

Business analytics: Uni Melbourne, 16 and La Trobe U 51+

Finance: Uni Queensland, 57, Griffith U 101+

Management: Uni Sydney 34, Uni Wollongong 74.

The worldwide overall top ten are all US, except for INSEAD (3rd), the London Business School (sixth) and HEC Paris (7th).

Uni pleas to senators: save the Education Investment Fund

Submissions for the Senate inquiry into transferring the last $4bn out of the Education Investment Fund closed last night. The lobbies don’t want the dosh to disappear

The feds started trying to close the fund in 2014 (but were foiled by the Senate) with HE and research organisation consistently opposing them. Now the government wants to move the money into a disaster relief kitty, which strikes lobbies as a very bad idea indeed.

Australian Technology Network: “While an Emergency Response Fund is a sound public policy idea, it should not come at the expense of the highly successful Education Investment Fund and could be funded through other mechanisms, particularly as the Government’s fiscal position has improved and the Budget is set to return to surplus in 2019-2020.”

Group of Eight: Acknowledges government research infrastructure investments, which are, “tailored, appropriate and commensurate within identified areas of priority. However, the Go8 reminds the Senate that there is no funding for research supported by the Medical Research Future Fund. More broadly a perpetual fund, “would offer certainty for infrastructure facilities, especially research ones, including the jobs of people employed, and ensuring that investments are not compromised or wasted through discontinuation of essential capability.”

Innovative Research Universities:  Argues moving the money is a distraction, from a more important issue, “the comprehensiveness of the government’s suite of programs to ensure an effective tertiary education system for the coming decade. One important element of such a system is the array of infrastructure to underpin education and research outcomes, remaining relevant to rapid development of technology.”

“The key to Australia positioning itself as an innovation driven knowledge economy, hinges on our capacity to deliver world-class education, research and innovation.  The government has made clear it will not use the EIF. It needs a clear infrastructure policy that addresses where it will directly invest in institutions and to work with universities and States to ensure effective access to private investment options. Until this happens the EIF should remain in place.”

Appointments, achievements

The Australian Research Management Society announces its annual awards;

Distinguished service: posthumous award to Paul Taylor (RMIT)

Fellows: Janice Besch, National Health and Medical Research Council. Michelle Duryea, Edith Cowan U. Rochelle Finlay, James Cook U. Gayle Morris, Uni SA adjunct

Awards for excellence: Tobias Schoep, Tara McLaren and Paul Watt, Telethon Kids Institute. Janne Barnes, Jeremy Gibson, Melissa Page, Janani Eswaran, Miranda Sawyer, Sheeja Kambil, Rebecca Stepanas, QUT.

Travel award/scholarship: Chris Spargo, Menzies School of Health Research. Sandrine Kingston-Ducrot, Uni Queensland.


Stefan Bode (Uni Melbourne) is the Australasian Cognitive Neuroscience Society’s young investigator of the year.

Curtin U’s Zheng-Xiang Li is a 2019 fellow of the American Geophysical Union.

Rodney Smith (Uni Sydney) is the new president of the Australian Political Studies Association.