To the barricades

Or at least the tea table.It’s time to wear your best purple, have a walk around, and make sure you have a cuppa with a colleague to show support for your bargaining team,” the purple-bedecked National Tertiary Education Union at Charles Sturt U on enterprise negotiations.  Smart move, unionists do not need Fair Work Commission permission to take tea.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features today – David Myton talks to internationally recognised researcher into child abuse and neglect, Professor Leah Bromfield.

Monash Clayton on track for public transport

Monash Clayton is to finally have a tram to the door. The Victorian government announced yesterday a new tramline which will run past the campus, also servicing the Australian SynchrotronMonash Medical Centre and the planned Victorian Heart Hospital.

There are no dates in the government’s announcement and a mere $3m in the next state budget for route planning. Five years back there was also talk of a tram extension to the university from the suburban rail system, which went nowhere.  But this will not be a set and forget announcement – Monash U will make sure of that.

Cisco extends uni links

Cisco is extending its Australian university network, announcing a partnership with data analytics outfit SAS and UTS. In a world first for two of the companies’ technologies, the partners will work on ways to gather, store and analyse data generated by the Internet of Things. Research will initially focus on manufacturing, agribusiness, healthcare – and UTS. An early project will analyse data generated by 3000 IoT sensors around the university’s faculty of engineering and IT. The goal is to conserve energy and reduce costs.

Cisco is investing widely in university links, establishing a partnership last year with the Australian Technology Group allowing students to study “digital literacy streams in its training academy (CMM August 16 2017). It is also partnering with Flinders U on a cyber security degree (CMM January 23) and it is a member of the new Edith Cowan U based CRC for Cyber Security (CMM April 6).

In November CMM’s David Myton talked to Cisco VP ANZ Ken Boal,  here.

Perhaps not cost-effective collaboration

“You can do real work or go to meetings and respond to every email, but not both. There’s a benefit, surely, but what’s the cost of collaboration. What’s the rate of return on collaborative activity? Do the extra costs sometimes exceed the extra benefits? Worth thinking about,” ANU/UniMelbourne economist Tom Kompas, via Twitter yesterday.

UNE crunched, kapowed and kaboomed in Fair Work Commission

The University of New England lost a case in the Fair Work Commission last week, which means it cannot yet establish a new workload model in its faculty of humanities, arts and social sciences and education (CMM April 3).  But this wasn’t management’s only problem, it was crunched, kapowed and kaboomed in the hearing.

UNE was crunched over the substance of the case, with Commissioner Johns not allowing it to introduce its new workload model, which the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union argued is not in accord with the existing enterprise agreement. “The problem with the university’s argument is that it necessarily follows that, in order to defeat an academic workload model that the university does not like, all the university has to do is to restructure the schools. Then the university can argue that no academic workload policy applies until one is voted up by the staff in each of the new schools. It seems unlikely that was the objective intention of the parties when the agreement was negotiated,” the commissioner’s judgement states.

Management was kapowed over its application for Commissioner Johns to recuse himself “on the basis of an apprehension of bias” in draft orders he provided to the parties.

“What was clear from the comments made by me was that I was affording all parties procedural fairness by furnishing them with draft orders for them to consider. On the resumption of the hearing I invited preliminary comments. I made it clear was not going to hold the parties to them. It would have been very clear to a fair-minded lay observer that I had not even formed a provisional view about the application before me. I expressed no view about the matters before, let alone strong views,” he wrote.

And UNE was kaboomed when it unsuccessfully applied to have independent counsel argue its case, although Catherine Pugsley from the Australian Higher Education Industrial Association was there for the university, as were UNE’s chief legal and governance officer, Brendan Peet and a senior legal officer, Katrina Warden. UNE’s lawyer argued, “the university was unable to effectively represent itself through its internal lawyers.” However, Commissioner Johns was not having it and Ms Pugsley presented the university’s case.

Wicking Centre expands the reach of its dementia MOOCs

The University of Tasmania does great work in educating the world about dementia via its Wicking Centre.  And now it has another $3.7m from the Wicking Trust to get the word out even further.

It’s first dementia MOOC hit 70 000 participants around the world in 2016, with a 45 per cent completion rate and a second MOOC on preventing the disease followed, which was launched in China in 2017.

The university also launched a degree on dealing with dementia in 2016, which it gave away to local students (there were 1200 starters). That’s gave away as in did not charge course fees direct or via HECs.

UniTas says with the new money Wicking “is taking on the challenge of reaching 400,000 Australians and a further one million people through its online education over the next five years.” It will run both MOOCs twice a year, invest in extending research and analyse the MOOCs’ impact. With further funding in the longer-term they hope to extend their reach into more non-English speaking countries.

Wicking supporters suggest it is already the biggest dementia educator in the world but is yet to reach big new audiences in low to middle wealth nations.

Why it’s too darn hot

As Sydney basks in the hottest April weather ever the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes opened at UNSW yesterday. The centre was one of three won by the university in the 2016 round and has $30 in federal funding (plus partner support) for seven years (CMM September 8 2016). The centre will model climate data, “to improve understanding of processes that trigger extreme weather and climate events.”



Jane Hamilton is the new dean of business at La Trobe U. She moves up from professor of accounting at LTU.

Ben Eggleton becomes director of the University of Sydney Nano Institute. He is now director of the university’s Centre for Ultrahigh Bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems. Professor Eggleton won an ARC Linkage Grant in February to develop photonic technology for radar, electronic warfare and mobile comms.  He replaces Susan Pound who moves to a board career, including chair of the NSW Smart Sensing Network.

Laki Kondylas is the new head of strategic projects at Flinders University’s New Ventures Institute. He moves from the SA Department of State Development.

Friends of science to step out

The second annual March for Science is on Saturday, with marches in all state capitals, except Brisbane, plus Canberra, Townsville and Launceston.

Find research faster, especially if you’ve paid to read it

Clarivate Analytics (what was the Thomson Reuters IP operation, including Web of Science) has bought AI start-up, Kopernio, “to create the definitive publisher-neutral platform for research workflow and analysis for scientific researchers, publishers and institutions.”

It’s another example of the research publishing establishment providing value-adding that props up the existing pay-to-access model. Kopernio will use AI “to enable users to seamlessly access journal articles with just one-click.” But only,  in the first instance to journals they have paid access to. However, if they don’t it will, “suggest free, alternative legal versions of the content that might already exist on openly available platforms.” “Might” may well be the word that matters most.

Dolt of the day

Is CMM.  The royal who visited Federation U on Monday was the Earl of Wessex not Essex.