It’s all relative innit

Science and Technology Australia wants grants budget increases, to $1bn each for the Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council (CMM yesterday). The Los Angeles Times reports the ten top US research universities each spend more pa than that.


Uncertain times for VET numbers

The estimable National Centre for Vocational Education Research reports apprentice and trainee starts in the 12 months to June 30 last

Commencements were up by 59 per cent, completions increased 8 per cent, although and cancellations/withdrawals grew  by nearly 9 per cent.

All up it struck  Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business Stuart Robert as good news indeed. “It once again confirmed the Australian skills sector and TAFEs were thriving under the Morrison Government.”

Good-o, although the NCVER does mention “the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia has created uncertain times for individuals, business and governments, which have affected apprentice and trainee numbers.  Care should be taken when comparing 2020 and 2021 data with data from previous years.”

Chemistry is right for CDU med-school prescription

Charles Darwin U dropped pharmacy in 2019 for lack of demand – its back

The university announces a two-year masters starting next year and open to people with a health science UG degree.

The course, with an initial “modest” intake of 30, “will  address the critical shortage” of pharmacists in the Northern Territory.

Apart from meeting a community need, this looks like another part of Vice Chancellor Scott Bowman’s plan to teach medicine from 2023.

CDU and the Menzies School of Health Research start teaching PG courses in health emergency preparedness and response this year. (CMM October 5 and November 17 2021).

Union calls for planning halt on Monash U campus return

Management’s plan was made without “proper consultation,” says NTEU

Monash U has announced campus will be open for the start of first semester on February 28. The university is “strongly encouraging” staff and students to be triple vaxed when they arrive (CMM January 27).
However the union has lodged a work and safety notice for management to stop planning for on-site work and face to face teaching, “until genuine consultation has been carried out.”

“A lot can happen in four weeks, especially in this pandemic. We do not understand how the university can possibly predict the course of the current outbreak. This far out, we are deeply concerned about the return of thousands of staff and students to classroom teaching, ” MU branch president Ben Eltham tells the university community.
The NTEU calls for the university to provide staff working in-doors with free N95 or KN94 high-quality face masks and free rapid antigen tests for staff on-site.

Monash U is “currently considering” uses for RATs.

WA Govt changes mind on “returning” international student arrivals

Perth Universities were alarmed last week when their plans for international students to arrive were overturned by Premier McGowan announcing the state would not open its border on February 5, as previously planned

Murdoch U Interim VC Jane den Hollander summed up the mood when she remarked “safe and structured orientations plans have been developed” on the basis of a February 5 opening. Plus she warned, “any delay will provide universities in the eastern states a competitive advantage, and put Western Australia’s universities on the back foot, not just this year, but for many years to come,” (CMM January 24)

Whether this was enough to change the policy the government had changed, the state government has changed it again. The Australian broke the story to report fully vaxed “returning” international students will be able to enter WA from other states, as long as they quarantine for 14 days.

Permission is set out in a state government directive which includes,

“if a person entered Western Australia before the commencement of these directions, the person must continue to comply with any requirement which still applied to them under the revoked directions immediately before they were revoked to the same extent that the person would if the revoked directions had not been revoked, and, for the avoidance of doubt, if the person fails to comply with a 1 requirement that applied to them under the revoked directions, the person may commit an offence under the Act.”

Perhaps this is also a test of international students’ English language skills. If they  understand that they can handle anything a university sets.

And to test students problem solving skills it is not clear if the change includes 2022 commencers and/or people who have been studying from home since the pandemic started and have never been to Perth.

Country practise for SA health and med students

The Adelaide Three have $60m for regional training

SA’s three public universities will use the money for students set to become doctors and dentists, midwives and nurses to take part of their courses in country centres. Between them Unis Adelaide and SA and Flinders U have 22 regional facilities in the state, plus Uni Adelaide has one across the border in Broken Hill.

And no this is not what it looks like in an election year – the funds were announced in the 2018 budget.

 Appointments, achievements

Of the day

The American Association for the Advancement of Science elects two UNSW researchers as 2021 Fellows,  Kourosh Kalantar-Zadeh (in engineering) and Paul Curmi (physics).

Macquarie U HR director Nick Crowley moves to UTS to be deputy director HR.

Aron O’Cass is appointed dean of La Trobe U’s business school. He moves from Macquarie U.

Marcus Ward starts as VP for Advancement at Griffith U. He was previously Chief Philanthropy Officer at Monash U.

Of the week

Kirsten Andrews becomes VP External Relations at Uni Sydney. She steps up after serving as chief of staff to former VC Michael Spence and successor Mark Scott. She replaces Tanya Rhodes Taylor, who announced her departure last July.

Samar Aoun is appointed to a research chair in palliative care at UWA. Professor Aoun moves from head of palliative care research at the Perron Institute.

Mark Bazzaco is chief of the Research Services Division at Defence Science and Technology. He moved from CSIRO.

Paul Brunton is incoming DVC A at Curtin U, moving from PVC Health Sciences at Uni Otago.

Leon de Bruin (Melbourne Conservatorium of Music) becomes coordinator of its masters of performance teaching.

Stephen King (now an adjunct professor  at  Monash U) has a new five-year term as commissioner of the Productivity Commission.

Bill Le Blanc  joins Uni SA as chief information officer. He is now head of tech for power company ElectraNet

Meg Stuart will become interim provost at Australian Catholic U next week following the resignation of Belinda Tynan

Paul Watt becomes inaugural chair in musicology at the Australian Guild of Music.