Nothing says romance like a Petri-dish

“Show your love for medical research this Valentine’s Day by helping us share your research with the world!”  The Australian Society for Medical Research asks members for social media content.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning, Merlin Crossley, (UNSW) on the art, science (and cricket) of a research publishing plan.

A medical grant bridge too far, (unless you are quick) 

Researchers have three weeks to apply for federal funding

Ever-announcing Health Minister Greg Hunt says the government is, “providing unprecedented funding to help our best and brightest health and medical researchers.”

Especially ones quick on the draw when it comes to grants.

Yesterday Mr Hunt told researchers that the $22.3 million Biomedical Translation Bridge opens for applicants on Monday.

The programme is designed to “accelerate development of their biological, pharmaceutical, medical and health technology projects along the translation and commercialisation pathway.”

But they will need to be way-down the pitch highway to qualify, applications close March 6.

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, identity!  Identity! Identity!

The Senate committee considering how we feel about, “nationhood, national identity and democracy” is hearing from experts today in Canberra. Quite a few experts

It’s the second “roundtable,” the first was last Friday, at which former chief scientist Ian Chubb presented the views of the Academy of Science. Professor Chubb was not his usual sunny-self in  describing the state of the national mind and mood.  “It has to change and the change starts with you,” he told the committee.

Today’s invited speakers following his hard act to follow, include; Kate Reynolds and James O’Donnell (ANU) and Meghan Bergamin from the Deans of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities. “Our deans feel strongly that HASS teaching and research has an important role to play in promoting civic engagement, and in understanding and informing good governance,” she says.

They are among 29 experts scheduled to speak. Jove, how will Parliament House staff fit that many opinions in one room?

An inoculation of elegance

Singapore prepares for the virus

In Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong tells the community preparations are in place for a 2019-nCoV outbreak. There is no need to stock-up on “instant noodles or tinned food”” he says.

What these are might need explaining to potential students of the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, which is clearly not bothered by the possibility of pandemic. It has just announced it’s (very flash) campus in Singapore will start teaching short-courses this year with a bachelor of international hospitality management to follow next.

Powers for new ASQA chief

Perhaps there is a Certificate Four in poisoned chalices

Uneasy (mixed metaphor alert) has sat the crown at the Australian Skills Quality Authority, what with managements’ struggling since the start to get the regulatory balance right.

Providers want an agency that is not intrusive and aggressive, governments one that oversights to ensure course quality – plus prevent crooks defrauding students and the taxpayer.

Balance in oversight is not easily accomplished. It took two-goes for the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency to start working in a way widely seen as protecting consumers and being fair in regulating providers.

So, perhaps it is inevitable that not all VET stakeholders and observers are happy with how the ASQA bill before parliament establishes agency oversight.

The legislation replaces the existing governance structure of a chief commissioner who is CEO, plus two other commissioners, with a single statutory officer.  There will also be a ten-member, part-time council to advise on ASQA’s functions.

This appears reasonable to private training lobby, Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia. Chief Executive Troy Williams says, ““for some time ITECA members have argued that ASQA’s governance arrangements created an environment in which the regulator was neither accountable to, nor fully engaged with, the vocational education and training sector.

“The legislative amendments presented to the parliament today starts the process of addressing these governance concerns.”

But observers of the last 20 training dynasties are not impressed, suggesting providers would have benefited from a TEQSA model – where commissioners have authority but delegate some, not all, to the CEO.

However Assistant Training Minister Steve Irons, told the Reps yesterday, the advisory council will, “not be a decision-making body but rather a valuable source of strategic advice, a vehicle for confidential information-sharing and a strong foundation for stakeholder confidence in the regulator.”

In contrast, the new ASQA training czar will make the decisions; “perform(ing) a role more consistent with that of the head of an agency, including leading ASQA’s long- and short-term strategy and making top-level managerial decisions that determine the organisation’s objectives, resources and policies. This will be supported by a revised organisational structure which will better allocate and clarify operational responsibilities and improve regulatory decision-making,” Mr Irons said yesterday.

Unis powerless as China ban extended, again

The government announces no students from China for another week

The extension of the ban on all arrivals from China was announced last night. It will be reviewed in seven days.

The announcement was expected by higher education leaders, and HE observers suggest there is sod-all the industry can do to significantly reduce the impact of what is now a disaster.

As peak body statements demonstrated last night.

Universities Australia’s Catriona Jackson said, “it had been ready for all possible decisions and planned accordingly.  … Universities are working hard to offer students who remain in China a range of options.  These include being able to access course content online, postponing course start dates, delaying assessments or offering fee-free deferrals.”

And Vicki Thomson, from the Group of Eight said it will “continue to work with our government and the Chinese Embassy, our affected students and their families, on strategies to ensure that there are a range of temporary study options available so the disruption is as minimal as we can possibly make it. “

Which is pretty much all they can say for who knows, how long. The government has now locked itself into a position where it dares not lift the ban on people arriving from China while there is a risk of Australians being infected with 2019-nCoV in Australia. If the virus rolls out around the world this might not make much medical sense but the politics are plain.

International education observers are writing-off first semester fees from anything up to all the 100 000 Chinese students now outside Australia. They are starting to wonder how many of them – and people due to start in second semester, will ever arrive.

Appointments, achievements

Of the day

 Shane Hearn becomes Uni Adelaide’s inaugural PVC, Indigenous Engagement. Professor Hearn is now the university’s dean of indigenous research and education.

Pregnancy researcher Claire Roberts is leaving the University of Adelaide’s medical school. Professor Roberts will move to Flinders U.

Of the week

 Medical informatics researcher Adam Dunn will move to Uni Sydney next month, from Macquarie U.

David Haig (Harvard U) will spend three weeks as Charles Darwin Scholar at CD U. Funded by a Fulbright grant, he will deliver Charles Darwin orations in Alice Springs and Darwin.

Gary Rogers is appointed dean of medicine in Deakin U’s health faculty. He starts in June.

Charles Darwin U announces Steve Rogers is its new director of Research and Innovation. Dr Rogers joins from the Alice Springs based Centre for Appropriate Technology.

Flinders U’s Simone Ulalka Tur becomes PVC Indigenous there.