There’s more in the Mail

Today in Features –David’s Myton’s regular wrap on what’s happening across the world in highered.

Roadmap for robotics

Australian robotics is at a crossroads, “where choices must be made about the scale and direction of public and private investment,” QUT’s Sue Keay and colleagues warn in an industry roadmap from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Robotic Vision.

While Australia has a good research and development base, commercialisation is a “key weakness in transitioning robotics from the R&D stage to market-ready product in Australia,” they argue.

The roadmap also sets a direction for R&D, recommending “clusters of robotics activity.” And it calls for micro-credentials in higher and further education, which “would allow Australia to leap frog ahead of other countries, they write. “

Go8 backs revised foreign influence bill

The Group of Eight supports the proposed amendments to the foreign influence bill, which will save universities who speak-up for their international students and have international research partners being considered agents of other nations.

“The proposed amendments are a strong indication that the government has listened to our concerns and has recognised the need to support Australian universities and research,” the Go8 said yesterday, joining Universities Australia in calling for parliament to pass the amended legislation.

Grand gold for Sydney plus the other ANZ winners in CASE comms awards

Nine ANZ universities are winners in new awards from peak higher education comms group, Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

The University of Sydney wins a Grand Gold medal for “Unlearn”, its campaign for the new undergraduate curriculum successfully rolled out this year (CMM June 13)

The University of Melbourne is a gold winner for its multimedia campaign presenting the Melbourne model to employers.

Deakin U won a gold prize for its alumni annual magazine. Macquarie U took silver for targeted fundraising campaigns. The University of Adelaide was awarded the bronze prize for alumni marketing and branding for its campaign to encourage graduates to update contact details.  The University of Auckland received the silver prize for public service announcements and commercial spots. The University of Newcastle is noted with a silver award for its corporate campaign, “the world needs NEW”. The University of Queensland has two awards; silver for multimedia campaigns and bronze for general news writing. The University of Western Australia took silver in the emerging fundraising programmes class for “the new century campaign”.

Anybody looking to poach talent should explain the joys of Australian life to people at Boston University, which won 15 awards.

No blues with SAPHIRE

The National Health and Medical Research Council is preparing to replace its research grant management system because it is “reaching the end of its effective life.” CMM has no idea how software wears out but the NHMRC says it will launch replacement SAPHIRE third quarter (no, CMM has no clue what it is an acronym of).

In the understatement of the day NHMRC says, “We understand this will be a big change for the health and medical research community.” But not to worry, the council “will be supporting you through the transition.”

University leaders must be accountable for Indigenous student attrition

Just 47 per cent of Indigenous students complete their degrees in a decade, making the case for universities and government to establish an Indigenous-led evaluation and performance strategy, according to a new report by James Smith and colleagues (all Charles Darwin U) for the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education. With Indigenous student completions close to 30 per cent below the national figure, “universities can do much more”.

And they want university managers held to account; “performance measures relating to the adoption whole-of-university approaches to Indigenous higher education should be embedded into all senior university executive contracts and reviewed regularly … with clear consequences for poor performance.”

Among 16 other recommendations they call on government to;

“recognise the sovereign rights of Indigenous peoples … by ensuring there are dedicated and appropriately resourced Indigenous education policy and program units in government departments, separate to those associated with equity funding.”

The report also proposes, “stories and narratives are explicitly incorporated into reporting and evaluation processes examining the impact and outcome of Indigenous higher education. They provide a legitimate, culturally relevant and contextual source of evidence.”


Johanna Lowe is confirmed as University of Sydney director of marketing and communications.  She has worked in comms functions at the university for five years.

Nicole Bunning joins consultants Nous Group from QUT where she was HR director until January.

Bright idea to light-up VET student loans

The voced policy makers and opinion shapers commissioned by Labor to prepare terms of reference for its proposed secondary education inquiry meet in Canberra today. One of them, student loan scheme expert, Mark Warburton, suggests one issue that really needs addressing is how best to monitor student debts and their repayment.
This is not, he says, what we will get, with the government’s VET student loan debt separation bill, which separates training from higher education loans.
The bill is intended to “provide greater transparency on repayment rates and help inform both policymakers and the broader public,” but Mr Warburton points out that intending is not achieving and a Senate committee inquiry into the legislation did not do the obvious thing and recommend expert advice on how loans and repayments under the new system will work.
In fact, the committee chaired by Lucy Gichuhi (Lib-SA) declined to address issues raised in the seven submissions to the inquiry, reporting; “the committee has not received enough evidence to support the changes these submitters advocate.”
To which Mr Warburton replies; “you won’t get a quality post-secondary education system unless you get decent and stable funding arrangements in place and that will require an appropriate and judicious use of student loans. … It will be critical to ensure that sufficient opportunities are available across both higher education and VET to meet economic needs while reducing social disadvantage – also something that both sides of politics appear to support.
So, they had better start paying attention to how income contingent loans work and can be used.”

Group of Eight chief slams government for presenting “fake data”

Group of Eight CEO Vicki Thomson has slammed the federal government for “data retrofit”. And she assured an audience in the US that “China’s irritation with the Australian Government” does not apply to her members.

In a speech on “fake data” at a Boston conference overnight Ms Thomson attacked the government, “unlike governments elsewhere” for seeing universities as a cost, “rather than the investment they are.”

“This is odd, given the available data showing that, to the contrary, universities in general – and Go8 universities in particular – should be seen as powerhouses underpinning many aspects of the Australian economy and prosperity. “

Ms Thomson also accused the government of presenting “fake data” by quoting statistics from a Deloitte Access report on university funding to show universities “swimming in cash from teaching, but not including the costs of research.”

“This was quite deliberate.  And it is the data sleight of hand we are sadly becoming used to from politicians.

“Ostensibly created to help ‘inform the government on decisions regarding the appropriate level of funding for higher education institutions’, the report was instead used to score political points against the sector in a manner contrary to the explicit recommendations of Deloitte itself.”

Ms Thomson also assured the conference, organised by ranking agency QS, that the Group of Eight has data that makes for strong relationships in China.

“The Go8 encounters no trouble gaining visas to visit China, is much welcomed, and we in turn very much value our well-established relationships with China’s C9 Universities, its Ministry of Education and the China Scholarship Council.

With five of our VCs, I have recently returned from a very productive ten days there, during which the data we had and could speak to, was at the core of every meeting.

It is vital data which gives the Go8 an evidence-based foundation. And that is critical to who we are, and how we are perceived in China, and of course also at home, and in all other markets where we have a presence.”