There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning Tony Peacock (CRC Association)  on a research and development tax concession we don’t need.

And Kelly Matthews (Uni Queensland) on engaging with students as partners. Another essay in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s series on what we need now in teaching and learning.

CMM’s what-are-the-odds! correspondent files

Alistair McCulloch (Uni SA) is investigating research serendipity (“finding a sought-after object (or idea) in a place or manner where it was not at all expected”)

Just after circulating a survey in search of examples he received news of the conference of a scholarly society he had never heard of – the Serendipity Society. There is no happy accident in his using this to get a plug for his survey, here.

The Ridd case: what could happen next

James Cook U confirms it will appeal its loss in the Peter Ridd unfair dismissal case, this could raise issues for all universities  

Dr Ridd won his unfair dismissal case in the Federal Court because Judge Vasta concluded his criticism of JCU research on the state of Great Barrier Reef was covered by intellectual freedom protections in the university’s enterprise agreement (CMM April 18).

The university has not announced the grounds for its appeal but JCU watchers suggest if they involve arguing the enterprise agreement protections did not apply the National Tertiary Education Union may feel the need to get involved.

As union federal president Alison Barnes put it in April; “the most important implication of this judgement is that the only real protections for academic freedom in Australia are in the enterprise agreements negotiated by the NTEU. Most universities have policies on academic freedom, but they are completely unenforceable and therefore of very limited value.

“Professor Ridd’s views on climate change would be at odds with the strongly held opinions of many NTEU members. However, that is not the point. The right to speak freely about academic matters needs to be especially protected when views are unpopular or controversial.”

MOOC of the morning

Curtin U announces, “Communicating with robots and bots” (via edX). It’s one of a three-MOOC series, “Digital technologies to social media.” The others are already out, “How media got social,” and “Disability and digital media.

 Unis step-up on cyber security engagement (despite what the feds suggest)

The feds suggest education providers are not connecting with industry on cyber-security – they should have another look

According to a new Home Affairs  discussion paper, “government continues to receive feedback about a cyber security skills gap in Australia.”

“Some stakeholders also have raised concerns about whether the education and training system is meeting the needs of the cyber security sector, and whether sufficient data is available on this issue. Part of the problem could be confusion about what qualifications are needed for what cyber security jobs.”

It’s a subject that might come up at Friday week’s Australian Cyber Security Education Summit

In a great bit of timing UNSW is hosting the event, which has three themes, growing national capability, university as best practice, and industry as educational partners.

“As educators, it is vital that we foster ongoing engagement and dialogue with the wider industry and community, to understand what students need to be equipped with prior to entering the workforce,” UNWW cyber security professor Richard Buckland says

And La Trobe U is on to it

This afternoon LT U will launch a “strategic alliance” with National Australia Bank “to deliver research, teaching and workforce development,” in cybersecurity. “It’s critical that universities and industry work together,” says VC John Dewar.  The arrangement includes short courses for NAB staff based on problems faced by bank and clients.

So is Edith Cowan U

ECU announces its Institute for Securing Digital Futures, focusing on AI and autonomous systems, infrastructure security, cyber-enabled crime, digital citizenship and human behaviour, and secure systems.

ECU is already home to the Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre, announced in September 2017

Digital short-courses: look globally and then act locally

The short-course market is picking-up as universities offer not-for accreditation, (but badged with their brand), work-related subjects

Uni Southern Queensland has announced 18 on-line “mini-courses” in its UpSkill programme. They take 40 hours over four weeks and cover marketing comms, management, business and education at costs ranging from $625 (childcare subjects) to comms and business ($735).  Completers can qualify for a digital completion badge, (CMM September 6).

Another provider also announced products in the space last week –  MOOC giant Coursera, which has a hard-to match offering – professional certificates, which “help you gain marketable skills and become job-ready for an in-demand career in less than 12 months. … “Learn from top companies and universities … with affordable programs starting at US$39 per month.” Participants include Google, IBM and alpha entrepreneur US university Arizona State. The courses have a completion significant and some serve as prep for accreditation exams, for example SAS Base Programmer certification.

The corporates involved don’t have education partners – why would they? They are teaching their own products and don’t need any institution’s imprimatur.   They are also on-offer in a global marketplace.

So how do Australian institutions compete with that? They can’t. Most providers will be fine while they offer courses that meet specific Australian professional registration requirements and are designed for local conditions – unless they really want to invest to compete in borderless disciplines and can find the money to pay for it.

Uni Sydney Payne-Scott professors lead appointments, achievements

The University of Sydney announces the third group of Payne-Scott professors, nominated by colleagues for academic achievement and contribution to the university community. This year’s awards go to; Louise Baur (child health), Phyllis Butow (psychology), Stefan Williams (engineering) and Hala Zreiqat (engineering). The programme is named for UniSydney graduate, physicist and radio astronomer , Ruby Payne-Scott.

Parisa Glass from the George Institute for Global Health is appointed guest of the chair at the MedTech and Pharma Growth Centre. She will attend board meetings and “interact” with directors and senior managers.

Elisa Martinez-Marroquin is appointed academic board chair at the University of Canberra for three years, commencing January 1.

Science and Technology Australia awards six scholarships for people to attend November’s Science Meets Parliament. Regional: Razia Shaik, Charles Sturt U. Andrew Harford, Department of the Environment and Energy. Indigenous: Chris Matthews, UTS. Djarra Delaney, Bureau of Meteorology. Pride Scholarship: Sarah Stephenson, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. Daniel Heath, Uni Melbourne.

Michal Sprlak (School of Engineering, Uni Newcastle) wins the quadrennial Guy Bomford prize from the International Association of Geodesy.