half of them are at a Group of Eight university

plus Murdoch U hangs tough but cries poor in pay talks

and UNSW closes the sale with prospective students

Frankness at Flinders

A learned reader points out that one of the new Flinders U colleges (CMM Friday) acronymises as BLAG (for business law and government). A kind definition of this is “to obtain by using persuasion and guile.” Sounds about right.

Achieving Emma

Another day, another accolade for the endlessly energetic Emma Johnston. Last week she was announced as new dean of science at UNSW. And now she is named as the president elect of Science and Technology Australia. Professor Johnston will take over next November. Joining her will be Griffith U biologist Jeremy Brownlie as deputy president and Darren Saunders (UNSW cancer researcher) as secretary.


RUN good for regions

The Regional Universities Network is pleased indeed with a Senate committee Report report into rural cities that are the de facto capitals of their regions. Not surprising, given the committee concluded; “universities perform a critical function in regional capitals and their surrounding communities” and made a ‘persuasive case’ that “they provide multiple returns on investment.” In particular the committee acknowledged universities address regional skills shortages by training people already in a region.

“Building human capital is as important to regional development as building infrastructure. Through university study and research, students become more highly skilled, and are better prepared to be creative, entrepreneurial and flexible to meet future job challenges,” RUN chair and University of the Sunshine Coast VC Greg Hill says.

SATAC head out

Wendy Teasdale-Smith is no longer CEO of the  South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre, leaving “by mutual agreement” with SATAC. Adelaide board director Michael Lucich steps in as interim CEO as of this morning.

Corker of a brand

The University of Adelaide is putting its palate where its pedagogy is, announcing a new wine label from the viti-culture and wine-making courses and research at its Waite campus. The university plans to bottle a thousand cases a year ranging from sparkling to sticky to serve at functions and give to thirsty visitors. And just in case anybody forgets where the wine came from vintages will be labelled “University of Adelaide”. Must have taken a very long lunch to have come up with that one.

Barnaby prevails

Barnaby Joyce wants to move agriculture research organisations from cities to places where staff might meet a farmer. The agriculture minister has long liked the idea of relocating the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Authority to the University of New England at Armidale (CMM July 6). Tbe problem was that legislative niceties meant he could not just stamp his R M Williams to make it happen, but now the government has found a way. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has issued a regulation, which requires rural research bodies to be based in a country town or regional university. No Canberra does not count.

This follows Mr Joyce’s push to move the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation to Charles Sturt U’s Wagga campus (CMM May 10), which was greeted with no enthusiasm at all by most staff of the ag research umbrella body.

But at UNE they expect great things from the APVA move; “this decision presents our institution with the potential for new industry, research and educational partnerships. The long-term economic benefits of the move for the region are also substantial,” Vice Chancellor Annabelle Duncan said on Friday.

UNSW makes it easy

UNSW is pleased with the success of the “mass personalisation” strategy for its Guaranteed Entry campaign, (apparently they had turned the irony meter off). So pleased that the Future Students team is rolling out personalised offer pages for prospective students who the university will accept. A person’s page will cover, “many of the things we know students find difficult to navigate when they first engage with us.” This is smart indeed, all the marketing in the world will not deliver unless prospective students feel they are actually wanted.

Where the experts are

The Australian Research Council last week announced new members of its college of experts, replacing those whose terms were up but curiously named none of them. In the absence of information on who comes from where CMM had a look at the institutional affiliations of the 176 college members. The Group of Eight dominates with 46 per cent. The Australian Technology Network follows with 16 per cent and the Regional Universities Network 8 per cent. While every public university, plus CSIRO is represented, the only unaligned institution to make double figures is the University of Tasmania with ten, equal third in the country.


Jan takes in a show

Jan Thomas, is taking the long way round to get from the University of Southern Queensland where she was VC to Massey U where she will be the new one as of January 12. Professor Thomas is in Chicago for a performance of Lyn Manuel Miranda’s Trump-offending Hamilton. Fans of the musical theatre life of the first US Secretary of the Treasury will be sure no one will ever punch the bursar on her watch at Massey.

Murdoch hangs tough but cries poor

Times are tough at Murdoch University where management says there is an “unprecedented financial challenge” born of two years of deficits. It’s why the university is offering a 3 per cent pay rise across the four-year life of the enterprise agreement now being negotiated, (CMM Friday). This, university negotiators acknowledge, is less than in the 2014 agreement (3.15 per cent per annum), but they cite increased competition and costs as justifying the lower increase. Management is also making the offer contingent on staff accepting a new agreement on working conditions, which gives the university far more flexibility on terms of staff employment.

National Tertiary Education Union members are not having any of it. A stop work is scheduled for Friday and the union wants Vice Chancellor Eeva Leinonen to take over negotiations in place of Chief Operating Officer Darren McKee. Enterprise bargaining season never really starts until somebody stops work.

Bad timing

The application schedule for National Health and Medical Research Council grants is out, ensuring a busy few months for people applying for Development Grants (data due January 18, applications close February 1), Research Fellowships (due February 1), and Project Grants (data due, February 15). Researchers have long grumbled NHMRC schedules make a mess of the summer for researchers with children, not least because institutions often want draft apps in a month before closing date. Back in 2014 Danielle Herbert (QUT) and colleagues from Flinders and the University of Melbourne reported scientists surveyed thought “the process of preparing grant proposals for a single annual deadline is stressful, time consuming and conflicts with family responsibilities. The timing of the funding cycle could be shifted to minimise applicant burden, give Australian researchers more time to work on actual research and to be with their families.”  CMM April 2 2014).

On the ball

If you still haven’t finished that paradigm shifting paper on the Cindarella story put your glass slippers on and get going, The University of Bedfordshire is holding a conference on “retellings” of the story “in the cultural imagination. Apparently the university has a celebrated Cindarella collection. Proposals for papers received after December 9 will be pumpkins.