Thanks a bunch

Smartphones the stick needed to eat more carrots,” CSIRO announces, promoting an app to encourage vegetable consumption. Splendid idea – nothing changes behaviour faster than being thumped with a phone.

There’s more in the Mail

Today in Features –David Myton’s regular wrap on what’s happening across the world in highered.

Swinburne U’s super stuff-up

Swinburne U owes some staff $3.66m in underpaid superannuation and interest on the amounts involved, the university announced yesterday. Some 3749 staff, from a total of 12 249, “were impacted by an underpayment to their super fund.”

The average error is $570 with more half effected staffers owed under $100. The problem was caused by an error in the payroll system. The university has written to all staff, nor just those owed money, outlining the problem and assuring them it is fixed.

As super payment mistakes go the record is still held by the University of Wollongong, which discovered last year it had got superannuation payments wrong for 30 per cent of staff over eight years. The problem involved both under and over payments with a make-good cost of $10m (CMM April 6 2017).

In case you were wondering

“Promiscuity is a bad idea for female stick insects, in fact their smartest option is to have no sex at all,” NZ media reports University of Auckland research.

Griffith U’s low profile planning

Restructure plans at Griffith U roll on, not that anybody outside will notice. University managers are working quietly on changes to teaching and administration, clearly following the lead of VC Ian O’Connor, whose media profile is less low than subterranean.

Senior DVC Ned Pankhurst has just released a change proposal for student and academic administration.  It follows last year’s plan to restructure Griffith’s science schools (CMM September 19) and exam and timetable services (CMM October 26).

They keep things calm, as well as quiet at Griffith. The last time the university and union were in the Fair Work Commission was over an individual work-performance matter last December.

NHMRC listens and listens and listens to medical researchers

After much consideration, the National Health and Medical Research Council rolled out a new grant system a year or so back (CMM May 26 2017). And 12-months on, the consultations continue, with a new report released on research-community discussions of peer review. This new document is typical of the whole process, respectfully reporting cavils and constructive ideas alike. In medical research, it appears hard to please anybody any of the time but the way the new policy was created and then communicated is high art in policy making and explaining.

Universities drive economic growth and improve society says UNSW’s Jacobs

Ian Jacobs has put universities at the centre of economy and society in a speech at Beijing University, arguing they were “the driving force for the commercial and industrial revolutions,” in Britain, France and the US in the 19th century and now in China;

China’s incredible rise to second largest economy in the world over the last 30 years aligns with the rapid expansion of its university sector – the teaching and research quality of which can independently secure a nation’s future economic strength,” the UNSW VC said.

They also serve society by, “eradicating problems in health, addressing inequality and prejudice,” and helping “develop community identity through history, languages and the arts.”

And, Professor Jacobs added, we need more of what universities can do; “higher education is not a zero-sum activity. All the evidence indicates that the more people who can access education, the more the benefits will accrue for the wellbeing and prosperity of all.”

Jacobs isn’t alone in seeing universities as driving economic growth and social values, separate to business and government. His Group of Eight colleague at the University of Melbourne, Glyn Davis, argues that research universities in large cities can “create value with and for the communities they serve.”

The potential of universities to lead growth and change must have gone down well with the Chinese academics in Professor Jacobs’ audience. Perhaps not so much with any party officials who were there.


Dan Grant will become CEO of MTP Connect in July. The federal government Industry Growth Centre “aims to accelerate the rate of growth” for medical technologies, biotechnologies and pharmaceuticals. He joins from La Trobe U where he is PVC industry engagementDr Grant replaces Sue MacLeman, who will transition to chair following Bronwyn Evans departure later this year.

At Swinburne U, Chief Operating Officer Andrew Field is also acting as VP, people and culture.