As long as that?

“In just 3-5 hours learn about copyright & human rights for free,” UTS spruiks an online taster for its IP masters.

Business as usual at James Cook U

JCU staff will participate in off-campus protests this morning against management’s proposed job cuts (CMM April 20). They are used to protests at JCU, there was a restructure that upset staff in 2016 and workers also made their view known during a long and hard-fought argued negotiation last year. This time the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union suggests that in trying to save money in the face of falling revenue management misses the point. “JCU’s management is focused on cutting jobs, but staff costs are not the issue. The university’s revenue has fallen. Management’s proposal will cut courses that made up 3.5 per cent of our student enrolment in 2017. That is likely to bring JCU’s revenue down again, union president Jonathan Strauss says.

Global market

The QS executive MBA ranking is out, with results that are not especially flash for ANZ schools. The Melbourne Business School ranks 27th in the world, with UNSW at 37th, and RMIT at 97. But guess which unis lead the Asia-Pacific group?  Try the University of Chicago (in Hong Kong) and France’s Insead (in Singapore) and the Chinese Government and EU CEIBS partnership (in Shanghai) in the top three spots. The local competition isn’t all that local.

How the great maths pre-req mess started  

The idea that school students take easy or no maths in senior school to maximise their uni-entry ATAR score is a furphy according to the NSW Universities Admission Centre (CMM, Tuesday). How so, learned readers asked – here’s how, according to UAC.

Back in 2015 the agency crunched the numbers on maths results on the last year of the NSW school certificate, 2011 and the 2013 HSC. UAC found, students moving into senior high school stuck with a maths course consistent with “their demonstrated mathematical ability and interest.” The agency added that capable maths students who studied at advanced level for the HSC had higher ATARs than students who demonstrated similar math abilities in the School Certificate but dropped down, or out, of maths study for the HSC. “Similar effects can be observed with many other extension courses, and are the results of students concentrating (on) the units which count towards their ATAR in their strongest areas,” the admissions centre concluded.

UAC had no doubt why maths was in decline then and why that was, (it still is) a problem. Universities who wanted to expand enrolments stopped making it compulsory; “Unfortunately, an unintended consequence of this decision has been the rise of the general perception that the former pre-requisites are now merely desirable, with the result that building an appropriate academic foundation for an intended future course of study now plays little or no part in student subject selection,” it warned.

Which raises another question; would the problem exist at all if maths was better taught in schools so that students who like it and want to study STEM at university would stick with it.

Back in 2015 UAC also suggested bonus scores, which as bodgy university bonus marks schemes show,  was not such a good idea.

How soon is “the near future”?

Mark Burdack has ended his five year lobbying role for the Charles Sturt and La Trobe U, Murray Darling Medical School bid. “I have every expectation that the promised rural medical school will be announced in the near future,” he says. Does “near” mean in the federal budget due in less than a fortnight? Be a shame if he isn’t around to share any glory on budget night.

IR jaw-jaw beats war-war at Flinders and Macquarie

While the Flinders branch of the National Tertiary Education Union complains that staff are not game to speak their minds to management (CMM yesterday) it seems NTEU officials and university executives are getting along ok in enterprise bargaining. Union branch president Andrew Miller tells members bargaining discussions “have been constructive and spirited” with progress on more issues than are still in discussion or where there is a split. Pay and superannuation are still to come and the parties are split on fixed-term employment and job targets for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers.

Bargaining also progresses at Macquarie U, where the CPSU, the union representing many general staff, is said to be willing to use the Fair Work Commission’s consensus-model ( CMM January29).  The NTEU and management are using the approach for academic staff  and Macquarie veterans say it is working well.

Jackson steps up at Universities Australia

Catriona Jackson is the next chief executive of Universities Australia. She will replace Belinda Robinson who is stepping down after seven years.  Ms Jackson is now deputy at UA. She is a former head of Science and Technology Australia, comms director of ANU and a staffer for Labor-left research and education minister Kim Carr. UA president Margaret Gardener says Ms Jackson was the selection panel’s unanimous choice from “a very strong field.” She takes over in mid-May.

UniMelb leads for new NHMRC funding

The National Health and Medical Research Council has announced a small (at least by NHMRC’s dripping with dosh standards) grant round under its Targeted Calls for Research and Partnership programmes. And the winner for numbers and dollars, is, as usual, the University of Melbourne, with seven grants worth $8.74m. The followers are: UNSW three and $4.9m, UWA, three and $3.9m, Menzies School Health Research, two and $2.9m, UniSyd, two and $2.17m, Monash U, two and $1.2m, UniNewcastle, one and $3m, Baker IDI, one and $2.8m, Deakin U, one and $1.49m, UniCanberra, one and $1.1m, UoQ, one and $1.19m, UniCanberra, one and $1.11m, LaTrobe U, one and $0556m, QUT, one and $0.504m, Griffith U one and $0.37m and UTas one and $0.27m

Appointments and achievements of the week

Finalists for the Australian heat of the British Council’s FameLab are announced. The winner of the explain-your-research-in-three-minutes presentation will compete in the world final at the Cheltenham Science Festival in June. Last year UTS’s Nural Cokcetin was runner-up. The local finalists will pitch at UWA on May 10. They are: Taryn Laubenstein–JCU, coral reef studies. Zane Stromberga–Bond U, histamines and overactive bladder. Toby Hendy-ANU: “poking plants.” Richard Charlesworth-UNE, coeliac disease diagnosis. Pegah Maasoumi – ARC Centre for Exciton Science, solar windows. Mortaza Rezae–Curtin University and Autism CRC, community mobility for individuals with autism spectrum. Muthu Vignesh Vellayappan–Monash U, “heart saving sandwiches. Vanessa Pirotta–Macquarie U, drones to study whales. James Wong–UWA, how kangaroos breathe. Khandis Blake –UNSW: sexy selfies? Ben McAllister–ARC Centre for Engineered Quantum Systems: “organ experiment: shining a light on a dark matter.” Anisa Rowhani-Farid–QUT, open science and data sharing in health and medical research

Gary Willgoose (University of Newcastle) is appointed a commissioner of the Independent Planning Commission, the state’s peak development authority. Professor Willgoose is an authority on mine rehabilitation.

 Robert Mun will be the Australian Research Council’s new ED, Engineering and Information Sciences. He will join the council next month from the Defence Science and Technology Group in the Department of Defence. His research background is in technical engineering.

Ashley Goldsworthy is the inaugural patron of the Business Higher Education Round Table.  The appointment recognises his career-long encouragement of business-university collaboration.

Fadi Charchar is the new dean of graduate studies at Federation University. He researches cardiovascular genomics there.

The Human Frontier Science Programme has announced 2018 awards including funding for Australians, largely from the University of Queensland.  Alexandrov Kirill (UoQ), Claudia Vickers, Adam Claridge Chang (originally ANU now National University of Singapore), Taras Plakhotnik (UoQ),  Ryan O’Handley (UniAdelaide), Ian Parish (Peter MacCallum Centre Cancer Centre).

Swinburne U aspro Emma Sherry is the new president of Tennis Victoria. She researches the role of sport in community development.

Matthew Rockloff from CQU has $1m from the Victorian Government to research emerging gambling products and consumer behaviour.