A good year for Australia (and for New Zealand)

in the high-status research performance ranking


Plus the power of active wear


Why Pepper the robot will never make it in politics


and A big week for Deakin’s den Hollander


Hot air

Seen on the University of Sydney lawn, a balloon emblazoned with the question, “where will postgraduate study take you?” Um, floating wherever the wind blows until something pops and you crash to earth. Honestly where was the university’s magister of metaphor?

The east is red

Unless it’s a fruity reisling. The University of Adelaide MOOC, World of Wine is going out in two versions on Tsinghua University’s  XuetangX platform, with 20 000 students all up. It is not an especially enormous number but it is certainly a start – and if they all start buying a case … It is also a great way of marketing the university’s formal courses in grape growing and wine making and marketing.

This is a market neighbouring University of South Australia is also on to, with its Ehrenberg-Bass Marketing Institute creating a lexicon of wine terminology, (CMM June 26).

Don’t sweat any of the stuff

“Amidst the many demands placed on women in and outside the home, active wear can be understood as a way women invest in care for themselves. Even if they might not always have time for exercise, the outfit suggest that they are making an attempt to look and feel good,” Deakin U’s Kim Toffoletti  suggests. Clare Hanlon from Victoria U has a similar view, “wearing active wear “helps people feel they can become healthier,” (CMM March 10) Or as Skit Box puts it, “active wear, active wear – doing literally nothing in my active wear.”

Smarter than the average pre-selector

When Labor’s Kim Carr met Pepper the humanoid robot last year CMM suggested the senator “cast a cautious gaze upon the cyber comrade as if he suspected it of being part of a Centre Unity branch stack,” (CMM May 20 2016).

Now QUT’s Belinda Ward has $1.5m from the Queensland state government to research how the emotionally aware Pepper could support human workers, as “companions and helpers in in every hospital, aged care facility and classroom.” But certainly not in meetings of political party preselectors, Pepper’s EQ would give it away every time.


Up in Leiden lights

The Leiden research rankings are  out, with good results across the board for top Australian and New Zealand universities. The Centre for Science and Technology Studies (“meaningful metrics”) at Leiden University uses Web of Science data (now owned by Clarivate Analytics) to crunch research impact.  The measures are adjusted for the number of university’s publications that are highly cited and the proportion of their pubs that are. Uniformly fair it isn’t, there are always anomalies, but then again, it isn’t based on people filling in surveys.

Last year the top Australian ten on impact were the Group of Eight, in descending order; the University Sydney, (32nd in the world) University of Melbourne, (34th) University of Queensland (41st), UNSW (58th), Monash University (60th), UWA (148th), ANU (190th) and University of Adelaide, (201st) then Griffith University and QUT. The following five were Curtin, Newcastle, Wollongong, Deakin and Macquarie.

The ratings this year are broadly the same. However, the numbers bounce around a bit on impact in top 10 per cent of publications. For example, ANU is last of the Go8 on overall impact and first impact in top publications.

World Impact rating – all publications

UniSyd 29, UniMelb 31, UoQ 35, Monash 64, UNSW 68, UWA 153, UniAdelaide 182, ANU 191, UniAuckland 201, UniOtago 275, Griffith 351, Curtin U 355, QUT 364, Uni Newcastle 371, Deakin U 383, Uni Wollongong 405, Macquarie U 423, UniSA 478, UTas 507, UTS 510, RMIT 520, Flinders 524, James Cook U 536, Massey U 574, La Trobe U 588,

Western Sydney U 612, Canterbury U 691, Victoria U of Wellington 711, Swinburne U 772 and Murdoch U 900.

World Impact rating – top 10 per cent of pubs

ANU 85, UTS 121, UniMelb 125, UniAdelaide 142, UofQ 144, James Cook U 150, Swinburne U 169, Monash U 172, UniSydney 182, UNSW 188, Deakin U 225, Curtin U 238,

UniNewcastle 240, UWA 251, UniSA 254, UniWollongong 266, Western Sydney U 271, UniAuckland 290, UniOtago 301, Griffith U 302, Flinders U 316, UniTas 345, Macquarie U 347, RMIT 365, QUT 378, Murdoch 421, La Trobe 452 Victoria U of Wellington 462, Massey U 499 Canterbury U 601

The discipline breakdown reveals areas of specialist strengths, both in New Zealand and outside the Group of Eight.

ANZ top ten – biomedical science  (world ranking )

UniMelb (21), UniSyd (24), UoQ (50), Monash U (61), UNSW (87), UniAdelaide (170), UWA (178), UniAuckland (200), Uni Otago (202), Uni Newcastle (281).

ANZ top ten – life and earth sciences (world ranking)

UoQ (8), UniMelb (43), UniSyd (47), UWA (59), ANU (80), ANU (80), UniAdelaide (83) James Cook U (85), UNSW (88), Monash U (111), UTas

ANZ top ten – maths and computer science (world ranking)

UNSW (65), UnMelb (127), UniSyd (40), Monash U (183), ANU (200), UniAuckland (202), UoQ (211), UTS (244), Curtin (304), QUT (312).

ANZ top ten – physical sciences and engineering (world ranking)

UNSW (94), UoQ (108), Monash U (112), UniSyd (148), ANU (185), UniMelb (208), UniWollongong (309), UWA (316), Curtin U (343), UniAdelaide (352)

ANZ top ten – social sciences and humanities (world ranking)

UoQ (16), UniSyd (23), UniMelb (31), Monash U (38), UNSW (44), ANU (60), Griffith U (65), UniAuckland (97), Macquarie U (123), Deakin U (125)


Delivered for Deakin

A learned reader suggests there is Jane den Hollander and then daylight in considering who ended the week way out in front. The Deakin U VC has a no muss, no fuss enterprise agreement which did not cost a bomb of money but ticks enough IR boxes to keep the National Tertiary Education Union (relatively) happy – which is no easy thing. Professor den Hollander’s present contract runs to the middle of 2019, so it wasn’t a matter of signing a deal that somebody else would have to work out how to pay for (it’s been done).

Launcher leaves

Just days after the launch of the University of Newcastle’s new research and recruitment campaigns comes news that marketing maven Elizabeth Horbach is to start work as chief marketing officer at Macquarie U on July 3. Ms Horbach joined UniNewcastle in October 2015, after a decade at Westpac.

Her substantive predecessor at Macquarie was the fearless Mark Chatterton who centralised marketing functions, ( profiled here).

Graham Bethune, ex MCOM director at the University of Queensland will act at Uni Newcastle while it recruits a successor.

Serious study

Online study support service Your Tutor expects this Sunday to be a very big day indeed as students at subscribing universities, schools and colleges log on for help. On the basis of previous years, YT expects contacts with online tutors will be up 25 per cent. According to YT’s Dr Lesley Halliday, Sunday is the day reality kicks-in for committed students, with assignments returned and the big push towards finale exams beginning. Students in NSW, Queensland and WA will likely lead the way in asking for help. The subjects students ask about most are English and maths, followed by chemistry, physics and biology.

Ideas already out there

The STEM Partnerships Forum met this week to “map out opportunities to facilitate efficient and effective partnerships between industry and Australian schools to improve STEM education.” The platoon of panjandrums from government, business and education chaired by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, concluded that demand for STEM skills is important in a fast-changing world and so forth and so on.

One specific suggestion the partners proposed is that “industry can support both general STEM and discipline-specific, in-service professional development of teachers” another was explain what STEM equips students to do.

Good-o, but why not act on ideas already on the agenda? Last July Professor Finkel suggested a “trip advisor portal” for teachers taking on kids on learning journeys. “A powerful online repository that is easy to access, easy to search – in fine-grain detail – and easy to post reviews.” ( CMM July 4). There must be a way to include PD and career information in this, unless, of course, it has fallen off the agenda.

Heads Up

Achievements and appointments of the week

David Crompton has won the Margaret Tobin Award from the Royal Australian New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. Professor Crompton is director of Griffith University’s Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention.

Small business entrepreneur Scott Wiliams is the new deputy chancellor of the University of the Sunshine Coast. He has served on its council since 2012. Mr Williams previously served for 15 years on the University of New England council, including a term as deputy chancellor.

Andrew Lowe will lead the University of Adelaide’s food innovation research initiativeProfessor Lowe is already at UniAdelaide, where he is a deputy dean charged with partnerships and collaboration in the Faculty of Science.

Four major medical philanthropies have combined to fund 41 elite early career researchers, including six who work in Australian institutions. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Wellcome Trust, the Gates Foundation and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation are giving each scientist US$650 000 over five years to support their work. The locals are Mark Dawson from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute (malignant stem cells), Kathryn Holt from the University of Melbourne, (using genomic tools to study infectious diseases), Ryan Lister from UWA (epigenetic modification), Laura Mackay also at UniMelbourne (development of tissue-resident memory T cells), Seth Masters from Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (how the innate immune system works), and Wai Hong Tham also at Walter and Eliza Hall (how malaria parasites interact with human hosts).

Associate Professor Julie Clarke is moving from Deakin University Law School to the University of Melbourne.

Chair of the Cooperative Research Centres Association, Tony Staley is standing down after 20 years.

University of Melbourne law school head Carolyn Evans is appointed DVC and deputy provost for graduate education.

Fabian Marrone is Monash University’s new chief marketing officer.