You beauty!

CMM is off for the holidays, back on January 15. Thanks for reading this year.

Better than a blunt one

The Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency announces, a new “legislative instrument” to protect higher education. The agency will look at “a person’s compliance with the law, financial records, management history and previous conduct and involvements,” in order to ensure they are fit and proper to be involved in providing HE. That should see the shonks off, nothing signals firm government like a legislative instrument.

Tehan on the front foot ahead of funding cuts to come

Research funding reductions are expected in the Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook next week and Universities Australia has pre-empted the announcement with a case against the cuts (below). But yesterday Education Minister Dan Tehan pre-empted the pre-emption, announcing expert inquiries into required investment for the government’s “$2.2bn research infrastructure investment plan.”

The experts will investigate infrastructure requirements for synthetic biology, climate and earth systems (the ACCESS weather model) and a national environmental prediction system. There are another five reviews to come.

“Australian researchers have been at the forefront of innovation, from WiFi to black-box flight recorders, and we need to ensure we continue to invest in research that improves lives and grows our economy,” Mr Tehan says.

As to the $2.2bn, which might come up in MYEFO – it’s a bunch of dosh, but it is scheduled to last until 2028-29.

Panel members are –

Synthetic biology: Sakkie Pretorius (Chair) – Macquarie U, Joseph Trapani – Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Claudia Vickers – CSIRO, Mark Jacobs – Queensland Government, Phil Wright – NSW Government

ACCESS: Greg Ayers – (Chair) – ex Bureau of Meteorology, Peter May – BoM, Helen Cleugh CSIRO, Ben Evans – National Computational Infrastructure, Tas van Ommen – Australian Antarctic Division, Andy Pitman – ARC centre for climate system science

Environmental prediction system: Rob Vertessy – ex BoM, Andrea Hinwood – Victorian Government, Steve Morton – Charles Darwin U, Warwick McDonald, CSIRO, Bronwyn Harch – DVC R Uni Queensland, Phil McFadden ex Geoscience Australia, Adam Lewis – Geoscience Australia

The ancients’ attitudes to the ATAR

At Australia’s oldest university Vice Chancellor Michael Spence suggests Y12 completers should chill over the ATAR. “The results of the HSC and the ATAR are not tattooed to your forehead: they are a measure of your academic performance over a particular 18-month period and no more. This might facilitate your options for a university degree if you would like one, but it does not determine the course of the rest of your life,” the University of Sydney VC says.

In contrast, the marginally younger University of Melbourne will go hard tomorrow to celebrate the ATAR, hosting an elite-event “for many of Victoria’s highest-achieving VCE students” who will receive a chancellor’s scholarship to study there, (CMM December 11).

Unis Aus takes control of the “nation interest test”

Universities Australia has got in ahead of expected research funding cuts with a new comms campaign, one which takes control of Dan Tehan’s national interest test.

whats coming: In November Education Minister Dan Tehan announced $135m over four years (or $151m if previously committed funding was included) for regional universities, to be funded by “capping the growth funding for the Research Support Program.” Details are expected in Tuesday’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.

why it’s a worry: Yesterday UA warned that any cuts will come on top of news in October that public research spending as a per centage of GDP is expected to be 0.51 per cent by June next year, way down on 0.67 per cent in 2012.

and not just for universities: UA adds today that the share of such a fall born by its members is a very bad for all Australians.

Cuts to university research funding are cuts to Australia’s ability to deliver desperately-needed research breakthroughs, cures, treatments and life-changing programs,” CE Catriona Jackson says.  “Every patient group, every family with a child falling behind at school, every farming community, indeed every single Australian – has a stake in keeping the uni research breakthroughs coming.”

UA explains why: to make its point the lobby is launching a new comms campaign, “university research changes lives”. The three two-minute spots for social media, feature cervical cancer vaccine’s Ian Frazer (UoQ), RMIT brain scientist Richard Williams and Monash U family law, family violence academic Becky Batagol, talking about their work, with equal billing for people they have helped.

and it’s hard to argue with: it’s a much tightly targeted message than UA’s 2014 “keep it clever”  campaign which urged, “let’s keep it clever Australia. Support our universities so we don’t get left behind.”

The people who have survived cervical cancer, brain damage and domestic violence in the new campaign are more powerful advocates than cartoon penguins which featured in the former. And they make a case for research that is hard for government to ignore. Let’s see Minister Tehan argue that keeping people safe from disease and violence isn’t in the national interest. And watch as UA applies  the campaign to research in multiple discipline area.

Yes, the campaign, so far, ignores pure research, (although it explains research takes time) but doing so denies  opponents of research the opportunity to take cheap shots.


Uni Canberra team eats up the oats

University of Canberra students has won the International Advertising Association’s Big Idea competition, which has marketing-advertising undergrads pitching to a real client. UniCanberra’s Team Ignite created a campaign for an Uncle Toby’s breakfast food. It was a first win for Canberra creatives and a rare loss for Charles Sturt U. CSU’s Anne Llewellynn has coached teams which have won the award 12 out of now 16 years (CMM November 20 2017). CSU had two teams in the final, making the Canberra win impressive.

Playing to win in interactive games

Public investment in the e-games industry will be, “easily recouped  through economic growth and increased tax receipts” the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association argues in a new  discussion paper.

But for the 5000 students enrolled in “games-related” courses now the “unsupported industry” means “there are currently not enough jobs to keep these graduates in Australia,” which IGEA argument may not go down well with the universities and colleges teaching game-making.

The IGEA makes a case for reinstating the long-gone government $40m Australian Interactive Games Fund and adding other incentives, including a 30 per cent refundable tax offset, modelled on the concession for the film post-production and visual-effects industry. IGEA suggests the money can come from “streamlining and modernising” financial incentives “for the broader screen industry.”

Appointments, achievements

Of the day

Karen Nelson, now PVC Students at the University of the Sunshine Coast announces she will move to the University of Southern Queensland in February, to become DVC Academic.

Andre Luiten from the University of Adelaide has received the Australian Institute of Physics medal for service to industry. Professor Luiten is director of the university’s 220 research staff institute for photonics and advanced sensing.

Sir Eric Thomas (University of Bristol VC, 2001-2015 has joined the UK advisory board of student study services provider (and CMM advertiser) Studiosity.

Eddie Woo becomes a University of Sydney education ambassador. The celebrated maths teacher (NSW Local Hero for 2018) “will, “continue to play an important role in the learning of (the university’s) graduates and Australia’s future teaching professionals.” Mr Woo will receive a paid retainer.

The ab Germinate PLUS start-up accelerator at the University of Queensland has a new entrepreneur in residence, Ran Heimann, the founder of digital business card company, Haystack.

And the week

Edith Cowan U has appointed a new head of the Western Australian Academy of Performing ArtsDavid Shirley will join from the Manchester School of Theatre at Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK.

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations has announced its 2019 officers. president – Natasha Abrahams, general secretary – Rachel Brisbane, policy and research advisor – Owen Myles, media officer – Zoë Tulip, women’s officer,  Romana-Rea Begicevic, international officer – Devendra Singh, disabilities officer Marguerite Biasatti,queer officer – Lauren Taylor.

University of Sydney staff has won five of the Royal Society of NSW’s awards; Elizabeth New (Edgeworth David medal for chemistry), Paul Griffiths (history and philosophy of science medal), Elizabeth Elliott(James Cook medal for science and human welfare in southern hemisphere), Robert Park(Poggendorff Lecture in plant biology-agriculture).  UniSydney’s Evelyn Todd won the RSNSW scholarship. UNSW Science Dean Emma Johnston won the sixth, the Clark Medallist, for zoology, botany, geology.

Environmental scientist, Ceridwen Fraser is leaving ANU for the University of Otago, and she is taking her research group with her. “UoO is a university with particular strengths in Antarctic, marine and evolutionary science, so is a perfect fit for our research programme,” Dr Fraser said last night.

Liz Dallimore is appointed director of the new WA Data Science Innovation Hub, based at Curtin UDr Dallimore joins from KPMG.

University of Sydney business dean Greg Whitwell is the new chair of the CEMS alliance. CEMS is an international partnership of academic and corporate institutions, which is “committed to preparing the next generation of business leaders.” UniSyd is the only Australian member.

Bronwyn Fox (Swinburne U) has won the Global Congress on Manufacturing and Management’s 2018 research leadership award.

Peter Hoj is elected a fellow of the US National Academy of Inventors. The University of Queensland vice chancellor is a biochemist and geneticist who has held US patents. He is the sixth Australian to join the academy

Andrew Leigh, who holds the ACT federal electorate of Fenner in the Labor interest, is named a research associate of the Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis at ANU. He should fit right in, he used to be an ANU professor of economics there.

Sarah O’Shea (Uni Wollongong) has a 12-month fellowship at the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education to research post-graduation employment outcomes for first in family university completers.

International education analyst, Darragh Murray is leaving QUT for Navitas, to become manager of strategy and engagement.

Simon Bronitt will become dean of law at the University of Sydney in July. He will join from the University of Queensland, where he is deputy dean of law.

John Dornbusch has a new five-year term as chancellor of the University of Southern Queensland, through to 2024. He became chancellor in 2014.

Nathan Doyle is UniSports coach of the year. He coaches the University of the Sunshine Coast Spartan’s para swim squad.