On somebody else’s bike

A learned reader reports bicycle thieves at James Cook U in Townsville. No Italian film makers are in the frame.

There’s more in the Mail

Today read Helen MacGillivray (QUT) on three problems in STEM, in CMM’s feauture series on what teaching needs now. She’s joined on Monday by Sarah O’Shea (Uni Wollongong) on student equity.

Uni Queensland VC Peter Hoj announces departure

Professor Hoj told the university’s senate last night that he would leave on June 30 next year

Chancellor Peter Varghese responded by praising the VC’s leadership in research and fund-raising, budgeting and operations during, “one of the most significant periods of change for the sector.”

The vice chancellor will leave before the conclusion of his second five-year term, having been reappointed in March 16. There is no word on what he may do next, but university observers suggest that after 13 years as a vice chancellor, first at the University of South Australia and now Uni Queensland he may not be keen on firm plans just yet.

Short of events now unforeseen Professor Hoj will go in glory.

In 2016 CMM suggested Professor Hoj had kept the university in the news, “for all the right reasons.” Student demand was strong, the university was rising in the research rankings and building strong corporate connections. Since then things have changed – for the better. For reputation and record of achievement CMM rates Uni Queensland as one of the country’s top five universities.

The university, states that for the remaining 13 months, Professor Høj will continue to deliver on the ambitious program of work that he has set for the university.”  Which means he has plenty of time to sort out the establishment, or not, of a Ramsay western civ degree.

Women in STEM self-esteem

Employment opportunities don’t matter much if researchers under-estimate their ability at work

Marie Trussart (Walter and Eliza Hall) is investigating women in science’s professional self-worth.

She is asking women to  complete a survey on personal self-worth and how it impacts on their work, including job hunting, grant applying and research recognition.

Science comms that really rate

The Australian Academy of Science reports 1.2m Facebook followers, in its annual report released yesterday

This is up from 1m in October (CMM October 5).

Academy accomplishments: Big, but not the biggest achievement – yesterday the Academy’s Facebook page reported 1.5m followers and the Academy’s “Curious” website, “where we publish our science articles and videos for a broad audience,” had 961 000 visitors last year.

What they watched says a great deal about the popular audience for serious science. They liked Sir David Attenborough talking about “civilisation at risk,” and University of Sydney mathematician Nalini Joshi.  A video series on immunisation had 4.2m views.

Why this matters: Science is a hard sell in the social media marketplace, where real research competes for attention with hawkers peddling persiflage. Peter Yates explained how hard in CMM yesterday. But there is a huge audience for serious science that can be reached in ways that were not possible when broadcast and print media set the agenda.

The Academy shows how it is done.

Students reject Ramsay

Another nay for Ramsay courses at Uni Queensland

An open student meeting voted against the proposed Ramsay Western Civilisation Centre funded course Wednesday night. Staff and student activists combined to get the vote out, with a capacity crowd of 400-500, depending on who you ask, knocking Ramsay back. They follow HASS academics and their faculty board who are opposed.

More excellence at UNSW!

The university tells staff all about stage two of the 2025 strategy

With heads lopped, the teaching year expanded and reviews reviewed staff who thought they could relax were wrong, with a proposal for stage two of the university transformation circulating. Vice Chancellor Ian Jacobs invites staff to consider achievements and advise on next steps.

As in stage one there is much excellence in the new consultation document – “it used to work, but it got excellenced” is a catch cry in Kensington,” learned readers tell CMM.

But at least there will be fewer consultants working on the 40 references to excellence in the document. “Reducing our reliance on external consultants” is named as a way of increasing operational effectiveness – this might be because the university spent $25m on 2025 consultancies in 2015-17, during the institutional re-engineering phase, (CMM March 30 2017).

There also appears implicit recognition that people at the pointy end did not always feel the change drivers in stage one got what they did. “Delivering quality and efficient professional services that accommodate valid and important faculty and divisional requirements,” is an “enabler” in the new consultation document.

But what will excite, intrigue, alarm people are potential policies set out in the new paper in the form of questions. For example, priority research could be coming; “is it still appropriate to pursue a comprehensive approach to research strategy across the disciplines?” And the hard to establish shared services Operational Excellence model, which cut admin jobs out of faculties, is open to examination; “what is the future of shared services and how do we achieve effectiveness and efficiency?” Questions are also encouraged about the four futures institutes, long in the planning and announced last September; “have our new institutes delivered substantive returns?”

And there is one that will have marketing comms and recruitment teams bracing for impact; “what is our point of differentiation?”  Apart, of course, from excellence in planning documents.


Long overdue VET intel

It’s nearly a decade since the last apprentice and trainee experience and destinations survey 

The apprentice and trainee experience and destinations survey is underway, conducted by the estimable National Centre for Vocational Education Research. It covers employment outcomes, reasons for non-completion, satisfaction with training, further study destinations, and on-the-job experiences of apprentices and trainees who completed or left their training in 2018.

Good-oh, with VET said to be seen by many young people as inferior to higher education in job-generating, the more consumer intel the better. And it’s not as if information will be incremental – the last survey was in 2010, which means many, many victims of the VET FEE HELP catastrophe will not have their opinions recorded.

The NCVER’s 2018  student outcomes survey, which covers graduates and subject completers is also underway.


Appointments, achievements of the week

Curtin U announces professors elevated to John Curtin distinguished professorships, “the highest honour (it) awards its academic staff”. Judith Finn, Keith Hill, Ottmar Lipp, Peter O’Sullivan from health sciences move up, with Brian Evans and Vishnu Pareek, from science and engineering.

Chris Hatherly is appointed executive director of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia. Dr Hatherly moves from policy director at the Australian Academy of Science.

John Bell will move from head of the school of chemistry, physics and mechanical engineering at QUT to DVCresearch and innovation at the University of Southern Queensland.

At QUT Susi Derbyshire (DVC learning and teaching) will retire at the end November. Alison Shirra is acting for six months as director of student services, while a replacement is recruited for Bruce McCallum, who will retire in June.

The Australian Academy of Science announced 22 new fellows Monday night. Full list in CMM’s Tuesday https://campusmorningmail.com.au/academy-of-science-announces-new-fellows/ issue.


Nicholas Murray is the Australian nominee for the APEC Science Prize for Innovation, Research and Education (ASPIRE). Dr Murray (UNSW) uses satellite data archives to research Asia-Pacific coastal eco-systems.


John Weckert from Charles Sturt U has received the International Association for Computing and Philosophy’s Covey Award for, “innovative research in the field of computing and philosophy broadly conceived.”

Alexia Moncrieff (now University of Leeds) receives the Australian War Memorial’s Brian Gandevia award for military-medical historyDr Moncrieff wins for her University of Adelaide PhD thesis on the Australian Army Medical Corps in WWI.

Vice Admiral Paul Maddison is appointed inaugural director of the UNSW Defence Research Institute. Mr Maddison is a former commander of the Royal Canadian Navy and was Canada’s high commissioner to Australia, 2015-19.

Laura Parry will move to the University of Adelaide to be head of the school of biological sciencesProfessor Parry is now an associate dean in the University of Melbourne’s science faculty.