Got the message

The Innovative Research Universities oppose the lifetime cap on student course loans and urges Education Minister Birmingham to listen to his Liberal colleagues who also oppose it (CMM yesterday). CMM suspects Senator Birmingham has received Lucy Gichuhi and colleagues’ message loud and clear (below).

Monash OHS warms to their subject

A learned reader reports the aircon is fritzed in Monash U Business School Building H, which is way too cold. The techs are on to it and a project officer is “specifically appointed to resolve this issue as a priority.” But until all is well the OHS Advisor has some, well advice. Including; drink warm beverages, wear a scarf and beanie and eat lunch outside. This rivals the OHS office at UNSW who warned staff not to nap in the office, because; “deep sleepers can sleep through fire alarms” and “people sleeping are more vulnerable to assault, theft and other crimes,” (CMM September 7 2015).

UNSW on the long march to 2025

UNSW will spend $3.5bn on “buildings, equipment and high-tech platforms,” by 2025, with council approving a $3bn commitment Vice Chancellor Ian Jacobs has told staff.

Professor Jacobs briefed the university community yesterday on the research and teaching, community and construction programmes set out in a 70-page update of the university’s 2025 plan.

Work in 2017 “has involved an extraordinary effort by our professional and academic staff in every faculty, centre, and division. The scale and speed of change in 2017 was unprecedented and I realise how challenging this was for everyone,” Professor Jacobs said.

“We are now beginning to see the rewards of our effort, planning, and investment, and we will achieve much more over the next few years. … We will of course face challenges, both financial and practical, and there is no doubt that the role, efficiency, and effectiveness of universities in Australia is under serious scrutiny. At UNSW, we will stay true to the vision of the university as a servant of society and do our best to explain the critical importance of universities to Australia in the 21st century,” he told a mass meeting.

Quick with the wish-lists

So what took the University of South Australia until mid-afternoon yesterday to claim premier Steven Marshall as one of its own? Staff were probably busy in the morning preparing funding bids for every new minister, a learned reader suggests.

Birmingham says conversations continue on the study loan cap

The Turnbull Government has welcomed the Senate committee recommendation that the student loan sustainability bill pass the Senate, Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham says. Good-o, except the Labor and Green committee members oppose the bill. And the three government members want a major amendment, the replacement of the presently proposed $104 000 cap on lifetime student borrowings ($150 000 for medicine, dentistry and vet) with a loan ceiling so students who pay debt down can borrow again for further study. “This would enable the government to recover debt as HELP loans are repaid, but will not impede on the ability of students to pursue life-long learning,” committee chair Lucy Gichuhi (Lib-SA) and her party colleagues Jim Molan (Lib-NSW) and James Paterson (Lib-Vic) say. Senator Birmingham also says; “he would continue the positive and constructive conversations he was having with his parliamentary colleagues about the bill.”

Senator Gichuhi had a question for the minister in Senate QT yesterday, sadly it was a dorothy dixer about South Australia and energy, not the one she would probably have liked to ask him, “so are you going to change the cap?” Nor did the minister get to ask her one he probably wants to, along the lines of, “Lucy, what the f?”

SCU big business appointment

Southern Cross U has had a big win, poaching Robin Stonecash to be dean of business and head of the Gold Coast campus. Professor Stonecash moves to SCU from the University of Sydney, where she is director of executive education.

Education and training opportunities in next gen jobs

A CSIRO team has set out future growth fields for university and VET leaders who wonder where next generation international EFTS (plus local students) will come from. Their Sunrise Industries report identifies seven industries which will generate growth. And while the report does not address labour markets, all the sunrise industries will require workers with education and /or training in new skills. The seven are:

AI and autonomous systems: design, construct, implement and operate autonomous systems

Financial and regulatory services tech: digitally enabled products and services

High value nutrition: “healthy, traceable and trustworthy food products”

Next gen energy storage and distribution: batteries, clean energy

Cyber-physical systems security: systems with “intertwined” physical and software components to address hacking

Personal health and ageing: for example, wearable devices, mobile telehealth

Digital infrastructure and connectivity: to respond to connectivity need

CSIRO also suggests two ways ASEAN nations can grow new industries,build architecture and remove barriers,” is one. The other is a strategy which education exporting Australia should deplore; “picking a winner’ – choosing an emerging industry that is strategically suited to a given context and investing heavily in its development.”

University of local loyalties

A learned reader suggests there is a case for merging universities beyond Adelaide (CMM yesterday), notably some with regional campuses, but as attempts to amalgamate country councils show, it is hard to make happen.

Respecting research students’ rights

Representatives from 30 plus universities have convened to share resources on preventing sexual harassment of research students. The Australian Council of Graduate Research will “strengthen the culture of respect and equality which must underpin all research training programmes.

Universities will win by attracting global talent

The feds are piloting a new two-stream visa “to attract highly skilled global talent.” One is for established businesses to hire people whose visa will ensure “skills transfer” to Australian workers. The other is for technology based and STEM start-ups to “sponsor people with specialised technology skills.” A new migration path for international higher degree graduates? There is no mention of the Global Talent Scheme only applying offshore. And both streams require three-year’s work experience for the job they are hired to do. With the existing temporary graduate visa applying for up to four years it could be.

Universities Australia is excited about the chance for its members to pick up people in the high-paid pool, “we’re going to need new types of professionals and expertise to support the changing roles of universities as the nation transitions to a knowledge economy,” UA CEO Belinda Robinson said last night.

“As the economy changes, the role of Australia’s universities will need to change with it. Just a decade ago, expertise in areas such as research commercialisation, entrepreneurship or philanthropy weren’t a large part of university structures — now they’re increasingly vital.”