Not much to worry about? Here you go

 Micro-organisms previously thought to be benign are becoming more dangerous worldwide,” James Cook U reports

Professor John Miles warns “non-tuberculous mycobacteria” aren’t as harmless as we thought. The bacteria which live in the soil, water systems and “common household items,” “are now infecting the lungs of seemingly healthy people.”

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this week

Marina Harvey (UNSW) and colleagues on reflections in teaching and learning. It’s this week’s pick by Commissioning Editor Sally Kift.

 UNSW DVC Merlin Crossley’s  full-throated praise for Australian universities and why we dare not put them at risk.

Nigel Penny  warns universities won’t be resuming normal-service. The time to be working on new business models is now.

Michael Tomlinson asks, what are the jobs the government wants graduates to be ready for?

Bigger band trumpeting ARWU achievement

The new Academic Ranking of World Universities subject lists (CMM yesterday) have something for more unis than the Go8 to Sousa about

The research output by subject list uses the same metrics, for good or ill, as the ARWU’s all of institutions list.

As such it favours the research rich and powerful, with the reach and money to invest in breadth and depth. Thus, the Group of Eight leads Australia for most global top 100s (of 500 unis for most subjects).

UNSW is on 37 of the top 100s on 54 subject lists, followed by Uni Melbourne 34, Uni Queensland 32, Monash U 30 Uni Sydney 27, ANU 18, UWA 15 and Uni Adelaide, 14.

But with 54 disciplines, there is room for unis with deep-expertise to fire up the band. Griffith U (eight), Uni Wollongong, (seven), QUT (six), Curtin U (five) and Deakin U (five) all appear on top 100 lists.

VCs invited into the Tehan policy tent

The education minister announces VC membership of two working groups on new research policies

National Priorities and Linkage Fund: The $900m resource is for block grants to universities to increase student internships, increase STEM graduates and employment outcomes and “reward,” “formal research relationships with industries. It will also support “advanced apprenticeships with industry.” CMM wonders if this will build on “higher apprenticeships” pilots in 2016 and the Industry 4.0 apprenticeships offered by the Australian Industry Group and Siemens with Swinburne U (CMM April 11 2019).

Members are:  Attila Brungs (UTS) – chair, with Alex Zelinsky (Uni Newcastle), Brian Schmidt (ANU), Helen Bartlett (now Federation U, about to be Uni Sunshine Coast), David Lloyd (Uni SA), Barney Glover (Western Sydney U), Eeva Leinonen (Murdoch U) and, Deborah Terry (now Curtin U, about to be Uni Queensland).

Research Sustainability:  This is the one that will matter most to uni leaders who would sell the souls of research office staff for a bump up the Leiden Ranking.

The group’s brief is to, “to frame the issue and take initial soundings of possible directions,” for “a sustainable pipeline of funding for research.”

Members are: Deborah Terry (chair), Margaret Sheil (QUT), Duncan Maskell (Uni Melbourne), Ian Jacobs (UNSW), Rufus Black (U Tas), Simon Maddocks (Charles Darwin U), Margaret Gardner (Monash U), Attila Brungs (UTS)

Why them:  Professor Terry gets guernseys on both as chair of Universities Australia. Professor Brungs is chair of the Australian Technology Network.

All five established and continuing Group of Eight VCs are involved, Michael Spence (Uni Sydney) leaves for the UK at year end, Mike Brooks (Uni Adelaide) is acting and Amit Chakma (UWA) starts this month.

In addition to Professor Brungs, the ATN is represented by David Lloyd.

Members of the Innovative Research Universities group are Barney Glover, Eeva Leinonen and Simon Maddocks. Professor Bartlett is from the Regional Universities Network.

CMM suspects independents Margaret Sheil and Rufus Black are there as policy astute representatives of HE as a whole.

What Dan’s doing:  Mr Tehan’s MO is to get university leaders into the policy tent. ““Every review, every piece of work which is being done currently is being led by the sector. And I want to make sure that continues because if we can build that partnership I believe we will be able to make the necessary reforms that we need to set higher education for the 2020s,” he said last year.

And he also said then what he is asking VCs to work on now, “greater linkages between universities and industry research and employment.”

And if these are achieved, well; “if I can put a compelling case to my colleagues that we are absolutely instrumental in driving productivity in this nation for the next decade then I think that we can get the support that we need to grow the sector,” (CMM September 2 2019).

Where to file research

The new ANZ research classification system is out

The new model replaces the 2008 version. The biggest change is the creation of a new division, Indigenous Studies, (CMM December 3 2019), established after long consultations.

There are 20 fields of research groups––six each for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Māori and Pacific Peoples, broader Indigenous data, methodologies and global studies, and an “other.”

“The intent of the division is to make visible in research the knowledges and methodologies unique to Indigenous peoples and capture research activity that is significantly about or involves them.”

There are extensive changes to other FoR divisions with one from 2008, Technology abolished.

Claire Field’s second-look at HE changes (they’re still huge)


What the minister wants looked big last week, it still does

My comments last week (CMM June 22) that Minister Tehan’s reforms would be the most significant since Dawkins’ triggered quite some discussion on Twitter. To be clear, my reference to Dawkins was not because I had forgotten Gillard’s (or Howard’s) reforms.

Gillard’s reforms notably included establishing TEQSA, increasing research infrastructure funding, participation/equity targets, new indexation arrangements, and crucially the demand driven system. Tehan’s changes go beyond his June 19 announcements and include:

 Changes impacting students:

* ~40 per cent of students will pay 93 per cent of the cost of their course (assuming no change in enrolment patterns, per Chapman and Norton) – a major shift towards full-fee places

* price signals which counterintuitively encourage enrolments in courses with poorer employment outcomes

* additional support for regional students, and

* international student numbers likely to be impacted by new prudential requirements.

 Changes to teaching:

* all universities now offering micro-credentials/short courses (albeit with no future funding certainty)

* changed course funding rates following Deloitte’s latest analysis (eg environmental studies’ funding reduced by $10,000 per year), and

* “growth through efficiencies” delivering 39,000 extra places – likely leading to more online delivery and casual teaching.

 Changes which shape institutions:

* the introduction of a “funding envelope”: to enable flexibility and/or specialisation

* university colleges likely in future to receive government funding as teaching-only institutions

* increased information being published on institutional performance

* a research grants programme for regional universities to boost their capacity

* a merit based research funding “pipeline”, and

* an increase in university research requirements – the Coaldrake Review recommended universities must achieve world standard research in 50 per cent of their broad fields of education by 2030. Two public universities are currently below this threshold. Eight more have only recently reached it and may struggle (in a restricted funding environment) depending on the new benchmark.

And to this list we now add TEQSA’s new role safeguarding the ‘integrity’ of the changes.

Claire is joined on the latest episode of the ‘What now? What next?’ podcast by Andrew Norton, Conor King and Luke Sheehy to discuss the reforms. Listen in your favourite podcast app or online.


Appointment, achievements

The Australian Institute of Landscape Architects state awards are rolling out, with universities picking up wins;

ACT: Health and education landscape, ANU. Urban design, ANU.

NSW: Research Policy and Comms to the CRC for Low Carbon Living for its Guide to low carbon landscapes (UNSW Press).   Community Contribution: Uni Newcastle. Small projects: Uni Newcastle. Regional award, the Hunter: Uni Newcastle

Tim Bonyhady (ANU) and Greg Lehman (U Tas) win the Dick and Joan Green Family Award for Tasmanian History for The National Picture: The Art of Tasmania’s Black War, (National Gallery of Australia).

Hai Tran will lead the South Australian government’s Australian Cyber Collaboration Centre. Mr Tran joins from WA Police, where he was chief information security officer.