Named and shamed

Heard at the Economic Society of Australia’s Canberra conference, Warwick Smith (Per Capita) ranked suggestions for the collective noun of economists; an assumption/a surplus/ a general equilibrium/ a quarrel.

Good-o, but the UN Convention on Professional Nomenclature* specifies it is “a dismal

* which CMM just made up


Deans of education makes the case for alternatives to the ATAR

The Australian Council of Deans of Education has broken cover to defend the way they select initial teacher education students. A new report by ACDE deputy chair John Williamson (University of Tasmania) and colleagues addresses academic and non-academic selection in the context of reports on lifting ITE entry  by the government’s Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group, which commissioned work by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership.

Professor Williamson and colleagues find;

* institutions “are consistent and not ad hoc in their use of bonus points and targeted approaches, which provide additional student support”

* “have rigorous entry requirements, but see the ITE course as important in refining the qualities and dispositions of the pre-service students”

* “regularly review their entry approaches and mechanisms”

* “see the need” to raise the status of teaching as a career

The essence of the ATAR argument is outlined by an anonymous dean quoted in the report.

“I actually don’t think we need to attract the best of the best. We actually have to attract people who are intellectually capable, who do understand the intellectual side of the work of teaching. But I think we also have to attract people who have the potential to develop the capabilities that we understand make a successful teacher…your capability as a learner and a problem solver, a capability to be innovative, to be responsive, to have good interpersonal skills…but you also need to have intellectual acuity, you’ve got to be able to think well, you’ve got to be able to draw on a whole lot of information and make informed judgments…an ATAR can be one way of doing that, but it’s not the only way.”

This is a strong response to the only-the-ATAR argument. “Teachers need emotional intelligence as well as subject-knowledge” a learned reader remarks.

Acting like managers at Charles Sturt U

Charles Sturt U reports the resignations of DVC R Mary Kelly and government relations director Peter Fraser. They join another DVC, Toni Downes, plus a dean and two heads of school who have announced in the last few months that they are going. With temporary appointments to a bunch of executive jobs, “staff are wondering whether if we need to take acting lessons,” a learned reader remarks.

ANU says cyber spooks did not steal “personal or financial data” 

ANU Vice chancellor Brian Schmidt says an analysis by the university “and government partners” has found there “was no theft of personal or financial data” in the “IT systems infiltration,” of the university, announced ten days ago.

This carefully worded statement will not end speculation that the university was penetrated by spooks looking for Australian government secrets, which ANU national security scholars might leave on computer desktops, in folders labelled Australian Eyes Only. But then again people watching for movement on grassy-knolls are hard to convince.

Whatever, if anything, was nicked, Professor Schmidt does not seem too anxious about a repeat, simply suggesting ANU staff and students change their passwords and that they do what he does and use a password manager, “to help me use impossible to memorise (and very difficult to crack) passwords across all the accounts I have across my life.” CMM’s suspects he does not use cosmicpinot.

Wollongong the strong (but no mention of what the university teaches)

The University of Wollongong has a new student recruitment campaign, running on social media and Illawarra region TV. It’s called “ Wollongong strong” and it features a young woman explaining what “strength” is as she walks, and runs and climbs in various global locales, none of which look like Wollongong, city or campus. But the university does get a mention right at the end, as the place where one can find their strength.

This is university advertising from the school of character-building, international-adventuring, world-changing campaigns, as used by UWA (“pursue impossible”) and UoQ’s “ own the unknown,” which do not focus on what the advertised university actually teaches.

They are the sort of campaigns that lifestyle brands, which sell on image not attributes run.

Unless, of course, UniWollongong is actually teaching a Bachelor of Strong.

Appointments, achievements

Martin Thomas from ANU is appointed Keith Cameron professor of Australian history for 2019 at University College, Dublin. The chair is funded by the Australian Government. ANU advises Aspro Thomas specialises in, “specialises in Australian, Aboriginal and trans-national history.”

The Economic Society of Australia has announced its 2018 awards. Deborah Cobb Clark (UniSydney) is the distinguished fellow. Rachel Ong (Curtin U) is the ESA young economist award. Chris Ryan and Cain Polidano from the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research win the Trevor Swan Memorial Prize

Medical Research Institute lobby says more research funding requires increased infrastructure funding

In news that isn’t new, the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes wants more public money from more government sources.

AAMRI’s submission to the House of Representatives committee inquiry into the “efficiency, effectiveness and coherency of Commonwealth research funding” argues for “increasing the quantum of funding available for systemic costs of research.” This should include money to support research funded by the $20bn-target Medical Research Future Fund. “Increased success in receiving research funding presents new challenges in terms of meeting the additional funding needed for the associated systemic costs of research,” AMRI argues.

AAMRI researchers should also be allowed to apply for Australian Research Council grants, which now can only go to university based scientists. And the CRC rules should be changed to allow AAMRI to compete for cooperative research centres, especially CRC Projects which, “are ideally suited to medical research institutes.”