PR disaster of the day

And probably the month. A learned reader advises Washington State U talked up a linebacker who won a community service award for putting in 240 hours of community service. Sadly, it turned out to be a court ordered penalty for an assault conviction. It’s a great example of Hildy Johnson’s law of journalism: no good news story ever is.

Monash provost explains how the university supports staff (without mentioning money)

Monash University is ready to resume enterprise bargaining, with Provost Marc Parlange telling staff about a meeting with the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union, which “highlighted the generosity of many of our conditions and benefits designed to support our staff at work and in their lives.” In particular, Professor Parlange focused on parental leave and family violence support as examples of what management is doing “to provide greater opportunities, greater stability and greater certainty for staff for many years to come.”

Important issues beyond doubt but a learned reader wonders when bargaining will begin on pay. “With another 11 EBA meetings already scheduled through till mid-July, pay will not have an immediate effect on the university’s cash flow,” the LR remarks.

More on the to-do list

The ever-energetic Emma Johnston will present on a fourth series of pay TV marine science series Coast. She will do it in between her day job as dean of science at UNSW and her other day job as president of Science and Technology Australia.

Leadership changes at med tech growth centre

The Medical Technology, Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Industry Growth Centre has announced a leadership change. Bronwyn Evans is stepping down as chair, to be replaced in three months by present CEO Sue MacLeman. Ms MacLeman joined the centre in April 2016.

Where Australia rates in the wide world of wonks

The Australian Institute of International Affairs leads the nation in the world of wonkery, as calculated by James G McGann and colleagues for the University of Pennsylvania’s new edition of its  ranking of global policy centres. Of 173 world leading centres, the Australian Institute for International Affairs is 54th, eight down on last year. It is followed by the Lowy Institute at 57th (unchanged) and the Centre for Independent Studies at 104th (up two).

Of the top 100 in the Asia-Pacific just 11 are Australian.

However, Australia puts in a prestigious performance on the review’s first list of research institutes working on food security which cites; the Australian Rivers Network (Griffith U), Australian Centre for World Functional Genomics (UniAdelaide), Australian Plant Phenomics Facility (UniAdelaide, ANU, CSIRO, NCRIS), Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (UofQ and Qld state government) and UWA’s Institute for Agriculture.

On water security, local research institutions listed are Centre for Water Economics, Environment and Policy (ANU), Australia Centre for Water Policy and Management, (LaTrobe U), CSIRO, CRC for Water Sensitive Cities, Australia Global Water Institute (UNSW), International Water Centre (UoQ, Griffith, UWA, Monash) Australia Water Research Centre, (UNSW).

Among university affiliated think tanks, five Australian institutions make the cut; ANU’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (= 27th  – up one), the Centre for International Security Studies at UniSydney, (=33rd) the Globalisation and Development Centre at Bond U (47th). The Australia China Relations Institute at UTS is 79th and ANU’s National Security College is

Melbourne appointments

The University of Melbourne announces Ryan Johnston as inaugural director of the new Buxton Contemporary, home for the art collection, and money for a facility to house it, donated to the university by Michael Buxton in 2014. Mr Johnston joins from the Australian War Memorial.

Denise Varney will serve as dean of arts at the University of Melbourne, during the search for a successor to previous dean Mark Considine. Professor Considine has moved up to be UniMelb provost.

Grattan Institute calls for new schools research body

The endless argument over federal funding for schools ignores what the Commonwealth really needs to do, which, according to the Grattan Institute is stick to its knitting. A new report suggests teacher education, data collection and professional standards, “all require constant attention, some require urgent reform.”  But one new initiative is needed, a new national research agency, to collaborate and complement, “the existing network of state government research bodies.”

“It must be independent of government, for several reasons. Foremost, an independent body would be more likely to gain the trust of the education sector and the wider community. … An independent body would help minimise political interference in the research agenda,” Grattan I authors Julie Sonnemann and Peter Goss argue.

They suggest their ideal agency would take charge of functions including; planning long-term research agendas, establishing national evidence standards for experiments and trials, synthesising data and research findings for schools and connecting researchers with schools and policy makers.

Good-oh, but aren’t teacher education researchers doing this already? Perhaps not in ways that the ever-vigilant Grattan Institute researchers noticed.

Depends who you ask

That the Senate committee inquiring into South Australia TAFE held its one public hearing in Sydney was probably due to a shortage of space in Adelaide, what with there being an election on. But that wasn’t the only thing about the hearing that struck some observers as curious. Yesterday Rod Camm, from the Australian Council for Private Education and Training noted the Labor-Green dominated committee heard from supporters of public sector training.  “My point is that this approach is hardly objective or likely to produce any recommendations that might actually help TAFE,” Mr Camm says.