There’s more in the Mail

This week’s feature in the teaching and learning for the future series is Sally Varnham (UTS) on working with students as partners.

Next week Trevor Cullen (Edith Cowan U) on preparing graduates for life-long learning and work.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away

Australian scientists have made an extraordinary discovery from an incredible distance

CSIRO’s Keith Bannister, with Swinburne U’s Adam Deller and Ryan Shannon have detected the origin of a single intense, fast radio burst from 4bn light-years away – nobody knows what caused it but these blokes worked out where it comes from.

This is a very big deal indeed among astronomers, demonstrating the sort of science delivered by the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder telescope (in remote WA). It identified a radiation pulse emitted billions of years ago, which lasted a thousandth of a second.

CMM has no clue about the science but remembers British cosmologist Fred Hoyle’s 18th century (in pop culture years) TV drama A for Andromeda, in which signals from another galaxy portend no good.

News from Charles Sturt U could be the new news

CSU  could do the job commercial broadcasters won’t

Free to air TV Network WIN is set to shut four regional newsrooms, three on Charles Sturt U’s patch.

For which the university’s Fiona Nash has a solution to the resulting reduction of local news.

Universities are well placed to step into this breach – with production infrastructure, and talent onsite, there is a genuine opportunity to provide jobs to skilled journalists to package regional news, and learning development for students cutting their teeth on content-making in this digital age, she writes in the Central Western Daily.

Gosh universities, like, say Charles Sturt U? The idea has occurred to Ms Nash, who was a federal National Party cabinet minister before she became the university’s regional development advisor.

Charles Sturt University has long been educating the nation’s journalists, with many moving up the ranks of television across morning, news and current affairs programs,” she said.

Good-oh, but would not more journalists on the public payroll also make it harder for existing independent regional media, – say, for newspapers such as the Central West Daily.?

UNSW trimester troubles

Students schedule a big protest for a symbolic day

There is no sign of a UNSW management making-nice in response to Wednesday’s Library lawn-packing rally against the new trimester system. So, student groups are going to have another go, Thursday 1.30pm – UNSW’s 70th birthday. This may reduce the volume of PR birthday blather from the university but it is hard to see how management could back down on trimesters.

A bucket of new billions for medical research

The government is kicking $7.8bn in to the MRFF

Back in 2014 the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes had an oped in the Fin comparing the then proposed Medical Research Future Fund to the Snowy Mountains Scheme as a nation builder. CMM wondered whether the MRFF would ever be built but (unlike Snowy 2.0) it’s nearly complete, with the government this week announcing it will transfer $7.8bn into the MRFF on July 23. This brings the fund to $17.5bn, not far short than the promised $20bn.

“This is the largest single investment made to Australian medical research. It’s fantastic to see the Government prioritising medical research & honouring their election promise,” an AAMRI person from Snowy River said yesterday.

The capital comes from health portfolio savings set out in the 2014-15 budget.

Ranking where youth and enthusiasm really rates

There’s a hooray-a-thon from institutions, on the Times Higher “young university rankings”

UTS, which rates 13th in the world among institutions under 50 is pleased that it leads the locals for the fifth year in a row. Uni Canberra is delighted to be 34th, up from 58th, “a stunning success for a university not yet turned 30!” VP Belinda Robinson said.  ACU (95th), acting VC Stephen Weller said joining the first 100 was “a tribute to the skill of ACU teachers and researchers.” And Victoria U attributes its rise from 53 to 45 in the world, “is proof that its student-focused transformation is paying big dividends.”  There’s more, but you get the idea.

Overall 22 Aus unis make the cut with 15 in the top 100, UTS, QUT (=24), Uni SA (=26), Uni Wollongong (29). James Cook U (33), Uni Canberra (34), Griffith U (35), Victoria U (45), Curtin U (=55), Western Sydney U (58), Deakin U (=63), Swinburne U (81), Murdoch U (89), ACU (95) and RMIT (=98).

The ranking uses the same methodology as Times Higher all-uni rankings, but with “weightings recalibrated to reflect the profile of missions of young universities”. In particular TH says they are adjusted “to give less weight to reputation.”

Presumably because TH did not want other unis to feel left out, there is also a ranking of “Golden Age” institutions, founded between 1945 and 1967. ANU is global number two (behind Uni Cal San Diego), Monash U is six, UNSW is equal eighth, Macquarie U is 33rd, Flinders U is 45th, Uni Newcastle is =49 and La Trobe is 52.

Industrial action on Uni Queensland admin restructure

The campus union says the plan does not meet code

Uni Queensland management wants to refurb its facilities team, reorganising operations and abolishing 27 jobs, while creating 30 new ones. The plan is to have its proposed structure in place by February (CMM June 25).

Maybe, maybe not. The campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union is certainly less than impressed. President Andrew Bonnell says the proposal breaches the university’s enterprise agreement requirement that a restructure identify work now done which will either not be required or be transferred to other staff. “Many staff who face losing their job were unable to identify who would be doing their work should the restructure go ahead,” he says.

The NTEU has notified management of a dispute.

He’s still standing: Kim Carr commits to the case for science

The senator says he wants to stop the “knuckle draggers”  

Labor research policy veteran Kim Carr stood down from the frontbench after the election and the Australian Academy of Science is sorry to see him go. The Academy’s council honoured the senator Wednesday night. Not that he is going far – as ministers will discover at the next Senate estimates.

And there is still science policy work he wants to do.

“Our research tells us that the public construct their opinions in the context of personal motivations, identity, cognitive biases, existing beliefs and social exchanges. That more information does not lead to more rational opinions and decisions. So, the answer is not better information, but emotional connection. These are, you might have noticed, challenges that are of concern to the scientist as much as the politician.

“I do not regard my task as complete. There is much to be done to ensure that the knuckle draggers don’t win, the senator said.

Senator Carr was in comradely company at the event – Academy CEO Anna-Maria Arabia was a principal advisor and director of policy for Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, 2013-16.

Appointments, achievements of the week

At the University of Queensland, Bronwyn Lea is confirmed head of the school of communication and arts.

Trade title Lawyers Weekly, announces its short-list for academic of the year, Phillip Drew, ANU. Paula Gerber, Monash U. Vicki Huang, Deakin U. Mark Humphery-Jenner, UNSW. Jane Kotzmann, Deakin U. Aaron Lane, RMIT U. Nicki Mollard, Monash U. Justine Nolan, UNSW. Sara Rayment, Uni Newcastle. Cassandra Seery, Deakin U.

Leon Kempler is the new president of Museums Victoria’ board. Mr Kempler is also chair of the Questacon advisory council.

The Australian Institute of Architects leadership awards are announced, including; Deo Prasad (CRC for Low Carbon Living) is awarded for sustainability, Helen Lochhead(UNSW), gender equity, Sobi Slingsby (Griffith U) student prize. Vivian Mitsogianni (RMIT) education prize.

Brent Davis (Uni Melbourne) has won the Michael Ventris Award for Mycenaean Studies, awarded by the University of London. Uni Melbourne advises it “cements his reputation as a major international scholar of un-deciphered scripts.” No, the announcement is not in Linear B.

UWA has appointed Tayyeb Shah as DVC Global Partnerships. Mr Shah joins from Kings College London, where he was deputy vice president for global business development.

Workforce ageing researcher Philip Taylor (Federation U) is named a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America.

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation 2019 research award goes to the Alcohol, Other Drugs and Gambling Team at the Menzies School of Health Research, in Darwin.

La Trobe University is nominated for the HR team of the year in the Human Resources Director magazine’s awards.