Plus Macquarie to explain integrity to students and the Clunies Ross winners

Carried on the voices

Delusions and hallucinations are more common in the community than generally assumed, according to new research by John McGrath from the Queensland Brain Institute and colleagues (JAMA Psychiatry, May 27). Tbis is not news for anybody who has ever attended a political party meeting.

ATSE accolades

It’s been a big month for the Academy of Technological Science and Engineering. First the feds suggested establishing a research engagement metric a month after ATSE published a report on creating one from existing data. And last night the ATSE held its annual Clunies Ross Awards, in Brisbane.

Cathy Foley and Keith Leslie (CSIRO) received a joint award for a technology that detects ore bodies with weak magnetic fields. ATSE says the invention has identified ore bodies valued at $10bn.

It was also a big night for the University of Queensland, with two of its scientists honoured. Associate Professor Leigh Ward received a Clunies Ross for a device that detects the early presence of limb swelling complaint lymphoedema, which is a particular concern for cancer patients. Professor Zhiguo Yuan was honoured for technologies to manage sewer corrosion and “odour management.”

The Lifetime Achievement award went to cochlear implant pioneer Dr Jim Patrick.

Macquarie punishes plagiarism

An independent investigation of  plagiarism at Macquarie University is complete and the university has dealt with those found guilty. Of 58 people alleged to have used an essay writing service two former students have had their degrees withdrawn, ten students will not graduate and 36 failed in subjects for submitting ghosted assignments.

Perhaps not entirely coincidentally Tuesday’s Senate meeting will consider “how can the university encourage a strong and systemic appreciation of academic integrity principles and practice within its student body.” Senate will also debate a resolution calling for compulsory academic integrity training in all programmes.

Teeth on trial

Research Australia promotes a Griffith University programme, yesterday; “dental trial goes back to roots,” presumably travelling via canal.

ANU new 1

A room of their own

Plans to expand international student numbers will not work unless they have somewhere decent to live. And the risk in big Australian cities is they won’t. Seen the cost of renting a decent inner city Sydney flat? According to the International Education Association of Australia, “although we rate highly for education delivery standards and quality of life, we continue to be let down by overall living expenses and a lack of accommodation.” Too true. A few years back there was even a NSW state parliamentary inquiry into this issue. So good for the IEAA for convening a symposium on what is to be done, details  here.

Simon speaks up while Gail goes to ground

A week back South Australia‘s training minister Gail Gago declared TAFE a protected species, giving it a monopoly on the vast majority of training places for a year, so it can “become more sustainable.” (CMM May 22) This upset private sector trainers, as well as federal minister and SA senator Simon Birmingham, who argues the decision breaches terms of $65m in federal funding. Since then Senator Birmingham has made the running. He had a very sympathetic hearing from David Penberthy on Radio 5AA, who actually made the minister’s argument for him and suggested the state’s strategy could be a matter for the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission. And he got a good run with Matthew Abraham and David Bevan on ABC radio Adelaide yesterday.

In contrast Ms Gago is keeping her head down – as the TAFE case erodes. Unless of course she knew there was a distraction on the way, like the news last night that the Labor governments of South Australia and Victoria are going to get stuck into federal education minister Christopher Pyne over school funding. If this is a big enough brawl it might divert attention from Ms Gago’s TAFE rescue plan.

Marvellous Melbourne

Thomson Reuters has vast amounts of information on academics and universities in its various research databases, which makes it possible for it to come up with unmatchable patterns of performance. Top ten universities for particle physics and lacrosse? I bet TR could find them.

So what do they do with all that drillable data? Well, for one survey, they ask academics which universities they rate, which is great for big brand universities but not so much for obscure innovators. So TR’s new “most improved” ranking, based on 2010-2014 surveys is a predictable list of the great getting greater rather than institutions that are improving against the odds by doing new things in teaching and research. Thus the institutions with the most improved reps since 2o10 are hardly battlers moving from the back of the pack; ETH Zurich, National University of Singapore, New York U, Duke, Northwestern, Georgia Tech, Uni Melbourne, Uni Munich, Kings College London, Uni Manchester.

TR subject reputations also confirm every other ranking, that it is the US then the Brits, followed by daylight. Harvard ranks first in the world for three of six discipline areas in the top ten lists, MIT two and Oxford one. Of the 60 institutions, 42 are from the US and 12 the UK. And the same names keep coming up. Harvard is in all six categories, Oxford in five and Stanford four.

Australian status is also unsurprising. Uni Melbourne (35) and ANU (50) are in the global top 50 with Uni Sydney (51), Monash (88) and UoQ (92) in the top 100. The rest of the regional top ten are UNSW (109), UWA (183), Uni Auckland (201), RMIT (217), Uni Newcastle (225). Won’t RMIT and Newcastle be pleased to be in the top ten, while Group of Eight Uni Adelaide won’t welcome being out.

The 2015 survey is underway.

Talk isn’t cheap

Tasmania’s budget, brought down yesterday confirms government support for Uni Tas’s plans to expand in Launceston. Budget papers note $60m for the Northern Cities Major Development initiative including the Launceston campus relocation project and “the commencement of discussions regarding the enhanced presence of the University of Tasmania on the North West Coast.” CMM wonders what the ‘commencement of discussions’ will cost.