So that’s how to do it

“Minister says Australia must keep pace with emerging technologies to address skill shortages,” – UNSW media reports a speech by NSW skills and tertiary education minister Geoff Lee. Good, that’s covered.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning David Myton on the academic conference as an environmental threat (jokes about methane emissions? Certainly not).

Plus, Deanne Gannaway (Uni Queensland) on revaluing HASS education.

The QUT case for research and service

Less claiming more showing in university marketing

QUT celebrates 30 years as a university, with pics and prose on 30 “innovators and inventors, hit makers and risk takers we helped create,” here.

The site assembles stories over the years on the work of researchers and graduates, including;

* James Dale who works on saving the banana – an African staple food

* waste recycler Alice Payne

* E-sport pioneers Dylan Poulus and Michael Trotter

* medical robotics researcher Clare Villalba

* astrobiologist Abigail Allwood (a principal investigator on the Mars 2020 Mission)

This is bang-on backing of QUT’s branding, “a university for the real-world.”

This week Universities Australia used the same approach, launching a second-burst in its “university research saves and changes lives” series, with social media videos about researchers, working on a blood test to measure pain, helping children who struggle to read and using song to help dementia patients.

Great campaigns both – giving ordinary Australians reasons why university research matters.

First, catch your unicorn

“An Indonesian unicorn would like to collaborate with an Australian education institution to deliver training and up-skill their digital talent in the fields of data science and/or analytics and UI/UX design,” Austrade, via Twitter yesterday. But before you get out your English- Unicorn phrase book, details are pay-walled.

Uni Queenslander leaders defend free speech

The VC says what needed to be said

On Wednesday, University of Queensland media issued a statement on the violent dispute on campus between supporters and opponents of the Hong Kong protests, which put the w in weasel, (CMM yesterday).

But yesterday Vice Chancellor Peter Hoj spoke up, telling the university community what it surely wanted to hear.

“Our values guide us to respect the diverse views of others. We need to be able to disagree well, and allow our staff and students to feel safe in expressing their own views. When this takes on a character that puts our people at risk, the university will step in and take the necessary action. This is what we had to do yesterday, when, unfortunately, a student protest resulted in safety concerns for those present.

“The university has zero tolerance for violence and intimidation.”

So does the NTEU

The campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union also spoke-out, yesterday.

Threats, intimidation or force against students or staff rallying in defence of democracy and human rights, and acts of racism against any international students, are unacceptable at this university.”

U Tas translating law into English for international students

The university is cutting-back, but not ending, extra tutorials for international students in core law subjects

International students enrolled in law initially thought the extra support for them was all cancelled and some were not happy, petitioning the university to keep the classes.

“Most international law students do not have English as their first language and attending these international students support programme tutorials help with understanding difficult legal jargons and to grasp concepts better,” the petitioners claimed.

But not to worry, the university says, “there has been a reduction in ISSP tutorials but it will still extend to any interested students.

This is wise, given Hilary Winchester’s recent review of recruiting and supporting international students at U Tas recommended discipline-specific language courses, “in order to introduce more appropriate vocabulary, or alternatively the development of language units within degree courses, as a means of improving pass rates from ELC students.” The university accepted the recommendation.

More attention for Confucius Institutes

There’s a growing cost in critical scrutiny

Whatever universities accept as the price of Chinese Government funding for Confucius Centres (Nine newspapers yesterday), control of degrees isn’t in it.

But this does not necessarily make the CI’s some harmless equivalent of the British Council. Unless it does.

Yes, CI budgets are approved in Beijing, yes, the PRC wants to see benefits from research CIs fund. Such things alarm the American Association of University Professors which has warned, (CMM June 25 2014), “allowing any third-party control of academic matters is inconsistent with principles of academic freedom, shared governance, and the institutional autonomy of colleges and universities.”

Then again, Jeffrey Gill from Flinders U  argued in a 2017 book that CIs, “cultural and linguistic benefits … outweigh concerns they pose a risk to political and academic freedom in western countries.” (CMM May 18 2017).

But high profile PRC interest in Australia certainly means there will be more attention for CIs – which means universities with CIs will be asked how they work.

This might be unsettling for some. In 2014 CMM wrote to universities with CIs asking whether there was any intervention from the Chinese Government, none contacted replied.

Appointments, achievements of the week

Of the day

Science and Technology Australia announces four new members of its STEM policy committee; Adrian Barnett (Stats Society of Australia), Andrew Black (Stem Cells Australia), Bek Christensen (Ecological Society of Australia), Kathleen Beyer (ARC Centre for Climate Extremes). Les Field (Royal Australian Chemical Institute) is appointed “to support the work of the committee”.

Jianfei Cai will join Monash U’s IT faculty to lead data science and artificial intelligence. He moves from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and starts in September.

Of the week

Peter Meikle from the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute is appointed co-director for precision medicine by the Australian Cardiovascular Alliance. The Baker’s Garry Jennings will lead implementation research and policy for the ACvA.

The British Royal Academy has announced its 2019 Fellows, including Sarah Coakley(ACU – among other appointments). Cynthia Hardy (Uni Melbourne) becomes a corresponding fellow.

Edward Chew, (Walter and Eliza Hall) has won a 2019 Picchi Award for cancer research. He wins for clinical research.  Amanda Oliver (Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre) wins for basic science. And Sibel Saya (Uni Melbourne) is honoured for population health.

 The Australian Historical Association announces the winner of the inaugural Ann Curthoys Prize for an unpublished article-length work by an early career historian. It goes to Skye Krichauff (Uni Adelaide).

University of Wollongong VC, Paul Wellings has an hon doc from the University of Surrey. Only seems fair, in December UoW awarded an hon doc to Uni Surrey’s VC Max Lu. Their two institutions are two of the four members of the University Global Partnership Network, which works, “on matters of global importance.”

Jean Brodie is the incoming head of Swinburne U’s Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing. She joins from University of California Santa Cruz.

Belinda Mulcahy and Dean Biron (Griffith U) receive Open Universities Australia Teaching Excellence awards for outstanding satisfaction ratings for students in Griffith’s criminology and criminal justice bachelor degree, via OUA.

Curtin U has a new head of the School of Physiotherapy and Exercise ScienceLinda Woodhouse has moved from the University of Alberta.

The first energy expert in residence at ANU is microeconomics and energy expert Andreas Loeschel. He is visiting from Muenster U, in Germany.

Frank Caruso (University of Melbourne) is the Royal Society’s 2019 Leverhume Medalist for nanoscale materials engineering in medicine and biology. Yes, that Royal Society, the one dating from 1660.

Gary Smith is the next, and seventh, chancellor of Murdoch University. He is a former state chair of consultants KPMG. Mr Smith replaces David Flanagan who served two terms.

The Innovative Research Universities appoints an inaugural VC’s fellow for medical research, Brendon Douglas. He is now director of research at Charles Darwin U and the Menzies School of Health Research. He will split time between these roles and the IRU, for which he will provide high level coordination and strategic advice, plus Medical Research Future Fund insights, and other support across shared IRU interests.

Elizabeth Halcomb (Uni Wollongong) is awarded the Bridges-Webb Medal for contributions to academic primary care.

Marc Oxenham from ANU has a four-year fellowship from the British Academy’s Global Professorship programme. He will be based at the University of Aberdeen and work on human stress and resilience in ancient Scotland and Northern Ireland.

ANU has created the Research School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Environmental Engineering and the first (albeit honorary) appointment is Junichiro Kawaguchi. Professor Kawaguchi is a space exploration scientist famous as project manager for the sample – return mission to the Itokawa asteroid.