It has been a turbulent few weeks for the higher education sector. Firstly, the government announced changes to the 457 visa category with a plan to replace it with a new temporary work visa, available for two or four years. This initiative removed many job categories from eligibility, including those related to recruitment of university academic and professional staff. Fortunately, in response to our enquiries, the government quickly emphasised that the changes were not intended to impact negatively on universities. Importantly we now have assurance that the Government is working on options to address these concerns and I am confident we will have confirmation by July of significant amendments to the eligible occupation lists that will help support our recruitment efforts.
Secondly, the 2017 budget announcement included cuts to the higher education sector in excess of $2 billion on top of previous cuts of $3.9 billion in 2011. I responded to these cuts in an opinion piece in Campus Review and in a message to staff last week, which is copied at the end of this newsletter. I am extremely concerned about the implications of these cuts for our students, and by the message it sends about the Government’s perception of universities. It will be a matter of the gravest concern if these changes deter talented young people from a university education. UNSW will do everything possible to ensure that this does not happen and that a UNSW education is accessible to students from all backgrounds.
Our mantra at UNSW is that the university is a ‘Servant of Society’. We strive to fulfil this in many ways: supporting equity, diversity and inclusivity; knowledge exchange contributing an estimated $15 billion pa to Australian GDP; facilitating thought leadership on key issues such as climate change, refugees, migrants and inequality; working with disadvantaged communities in Australia and overseas; providing innovative, high quality education resulting in talented, socially conscious graduates; and bringing about social progress and economic opportunity through cutting edge research which drives discoveries. We are working hard within UNSW to ensure that all our resources are used efficiently and effectively to achieve the goals of the 2025 Strategy. At the same time, it is increasingly clear that we need to convince those who are sceptical about the role of universities, both in government and more broadly in society, of the benefits universities can deliver for economic prosperity and social cohesion. A quick read of the submitted comments following an article in the Conversation, about the impact of the budget on universities, reveals disturbing views. There is a troubling perception that universities are run by financially driven leaders, intent on maximising profit, which is wasted on pointless academic research, expanding unnecessary bureaucracy, constructing wasteful buildings, and delivering useless degrees. We are far from perfect, but that perception could not be further from the truth and needs changing. I will continue my efforts to correct this perception in collaboration with colleagues at Go8, UA and industry organisations like the Business and Higher Education Round Table. UNSW, like most other Australian universities, is committed to using all of our resources to improve and transform lives, through excellence in research, education, and a commitment to advancing economic prosperity, in a just and tolerant society.
Aside from visas and the budget there is much positive news to report, so it is not all doom and gloom. You will see below the announcement about our consultation on UNSW Futures, our initiative to facilitate outstanding cross-university research linking all faculties and disciplines at UNSW. I am excited about the potential of this important development in our research agenda for the 2025 Strategy, and hope that many of you will contribute to the consultation in May and June. Our academic recruitment efforts continue at all levels and you can read below about the expansion of our Scientia Fellowship and PhD Studentship schemes. I was delighted with the response to the call for Expressions of Interest in Education Focused roles. This is a key step in our efforts to recognise, value, reward and promote those staff who wish to specialise in teaching and learning. UNSW is committed to ensuring an exciting and fulfilling career pathway for those who pursue this new opportunity.
Events in the last month included a memorable visit and talk by Nobel laureate Jose Ramos-Horta, the Dean’s Awards for outstanding engineering students, the annual Legal Interpreting Symposium hosted at UNSW, and a visit from Chinese academics and leaders to our UNSW Social Policy Research Centre. The affiliation agreement between UNSW and The George Institute was completed and we had an exciting workshop to explore collaborative opportunities attended by representatives from all UNSW faculties.
You can read below about the launch of myCareer, developments with the Disability Action Plan, the launch of our Gender Affirmation guidelines, our excellent rating in gender equity by the NHMRC, 15 new Mining Engineering Scholarships, UNSW's largest student-lead philanthropy initiative - Phil’ - run by Arc, and the new Master of City Analytics course.
Our new appointments include Laurie Pearcey to the role of PVC International and Justine Jarvinen as COO of the UNSW Energy institute. Unfortunately, Rodney Phillips our Dean of Medicine is on leave at present for medical treatment – we wish him well and I am grateful to Peter Gunning for stepping in at short notice as Acting Dean. Farewell and our very best wishes for the future to Jemma Carlisle after her many years of stellar contribution to UNSW Early Years and to Brad Furber who played a key role in getting the Michael Crouch Innovation Centre underway.
In an exciting development UNSW’s first two satellites, developed at our Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research, were launched in to orbit on April 19th to study the thermosphere. Two important new facilities were also launched. I attended the opening by the Premier of the Bright Building on the Randwick Hospital Precinct, which includes our Scientia Clinical Research Facility, the Nelune Comprehensive Cancer Centre, and aspects of children’s healthcare. The Innovation Central Sydney Hub in partnership with CISCO was launched as a platform for developments in the ‘Internet of Things’.
I have just returned from a trip to the UK during which, along with a UNSW delegation, I attended and spoke at the Future of Higher Education Conference at King’s College London (KCL) which was featured in the THES, took part in an Executive Team meeting of the PLuS Alliance and attended a valuable meeting of Universitas 21 at Nottingham University. The PLuS Alliance is now gathering pace in both research and educational initiatives, and we have appointed a Director – to be announced in the near future.
It was fortuitous to be in the UK whilst dealing with the budget implications, as it enabled me to reflect that, however concerned we may be about the cuts here, the challenges for universities in the UK post-Brexit referendum are much greater than any we face in Australia. Brexit and Trump really do provide opportunities for higher education in Australia to emerge as a global leader – if that is, we can secure the support of government, of industry and of the broader population.
My visit to the UK also gave me a chance to catch up at the weekend with family and friends. The timing happily coincided with my brother and his wife becoming grandparents to baby Libi, so I was able to share in their excitement and see my parents’ joy at becoming great grandparents.
It is a thrill to announce the launch of a consultation on UNSW Futures. An important objective of the 2025 Strategy is to facilitate cross-faculty collaboration, so as to generate the innovative interdisciplinary research essential for tackling the challenges of the 21st century. To deliver this objective the UNSW Futures development is proposed as a major UNSW initiative within our 2025 Strategy framework.
UNSW Futures will enable us to deliver the full benefits of our broad based academic excellence, providing a framework for a series of strategic interdisciplinary institutes, linked in a matrix to our existing faculties. This development will drive innovative approaches to research addressing the major challenges facing humanity, whilst enhancing UNSW’s position as a big picture, visionary university. UNSW Futures will be driven by our research expertise and our quest for excellence, thus also providing a powerful and exciting vehicle for our thought leadership, educational, global development, recruitment, and philanthropic agendas.
Our DVC Research, Professor Nick Fisk will direct significant investment of strategic research funds into UNSW Futures and the series of cross-cutting Institutes within them. We now wish to consult on the UNSW Futures development and the focus of the three to five flagship areas. Initial suggestions to facilitate this consultation are:
- UNSW Future Planet
- UNSW Future Intelligence
- UNSW Future Health
- UNSW Future Society
The consultation document can be accessed via the 2025 Strategy website, here. Staff are invited to attend a series of open forums in May and June (click here to register) and to make online submissions by Friday 16 June here. I welcome your participation in this consultation.
Australian Human Rights Institute
The UNSW Futures initiative aims to further the interdisciplinary aims of our 2025 Strategy. One area of enormous potential in this context is human rights. Every faculty has strengths in this field, but there are limited examples of researchers working together, especially across STEM and non-STEM disciplines. To enable this, I am pleased to announce that UNSW is investing $13M over 2017 to 2025 to create an Australian Human Rights Institute.
This Institute will be led by Professor Louise Chappell from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. She will move to the Faculty of Law for this purpose, where the administrative functions of the Institute will be based. Louise has a distinguished record of leadership and scholarship in Human Rights, and has been an Australian Research Council Future Fellow.
Interest in this Institute has been enormous, with academics from every part of UNSW seeking to be involved, and all faculties committing time and resources to this cross-UNSW initiative. The opportunities and possibilities in this area are very exciting, and I look forward to seeing the research and global impact this Institute will have in its three areas of focus: business, health and gender justice.
Education Focused roles offer a new career path for academics who are talented and passionate teachers. Expressions of interest for the first round of Education Focused (EF) roles closed on 30 April and the response was gratifying. We received over 160 expressions of interest, which amounts to approximately 10% of eligible staff. The creation of these roles reflects a wish at UNSW to enhance the profile, recognition, reward and career pathway for those who wish to specialise in delivering outstanding teaching. The first group of Education Focused academics will be announced soon, and they will be able to pursue a well-defined career pathway and new opportunities for promotion up to Level E professor. I have always believed that there is a need for a career option for academics who are passionate about, and excel at teaching. The interest shown by the large number of applications for Education Focused careers, indicates that large numbers of our staff share this view. There are many passionate and high-quality teaching academics at UNSW interested in pursuing a career dedicated to bringing out the best in our students. I am delighted that academics at UNSW now have the choice to focus on teaching and be recognised, promoted, and rewarded in the same way as their Research Focused and Teaching & Research colleagues.
Following the successful launch of the UNSW global academic recruitment initiative last year, we have now commenced a major global marketing and communications campaign to find ‘world’s best’ candidates for two of our recruitment schemes for early and mid career academics. The Scientia Fellowship Program is aimed at attracting the best and brightest researchers with outstanding track records. The Scientia PhD Scholarship Scheme is directed at new PhD scholars of exceptional quality. This year we have increased our target for appointments to 40 Fellowships and 125 PhD scholarships. Our overall target by 2025 is to bring 1,000 of the world’s most talented researchers to UNSW. The global campaign is also focused on enhancing UNSW's international research reputation. Registrations of interest are currently being collected ahead of applications opening later this month. You can learn more at www.2025.unsw.edu.au/apply.
Exciting news from UNSW’s Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research (ACSER). Three Australian research satellites – two built at UNSW – blasted off just after 1am AEST on Wednesday 19 April to the International Space Station, to be deployed in orbit to explore the little-understood region above Earth known as the thermosphere. The trio is part of an international QB50 mission, a swarm of 36 small satellites – known as ‘cubesats’ and weighing about 1.3 kg each – which will carry out the most extensive measurements ever undertaken of the thermosphere, a region between 200km and 380km above Earth. This poorly-studied, and usually inaccessible zone of the atmosphere helps shield Earth from cosmic rays and solar radiation, and is vital for communications and weather formation. 28 of the QB50 satellites were aboard the Atlas 5 rocket when it launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The three Australian cubesats are: UNSW-EC0, built by ACSER, which will study the atomic composition of the thermosphere along with new robust computer chips and GPS; INSPIRE-2, a project also partly built at ACSER, led by the University of Sydney which involves UNSW and ANU; and SuSAT, a joint project between the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia. It’s worth noting that these three are the first Australian satellites to go into space in 15 years. Congratulations to Professor Andrew Dempster, Director of ACSER and all of those involved.
It is always pleasing to find our alumni in senior positions at UNSW. For that and many other reasons I am delighted that Laurie Pearcey has been promoted to the UNSW Executive Team as our new Pro-Vice-Chancellor, International, with responsibility for the University’s global impact strategy and key international partnerships. At 33, Laurie is one of the youngest Pro-Vice-Chancellors ever appointed at UNSW. Many of you will have worked with him in his previous role as Executive Director, International, and some may even have taught him! After graduating with distinction in the Bachelor of International Studies stream, he joined the Australia China Business Council, becoming its Chief Executive Officer in 2009 and helping to strengthen ties with Australia’s fastest growing trading partner, before returning to UNSW in 2012 to take up the role of Director of the Confucius Institute, and working on developing our relations with China and India. This extensive experience will be invaluable as Laurie works across the UNSW community and beyond to develop the transformational global partnerships underpinning our 2025 Strategy. He will report to Fiona Docherty, who was promoted to the role of Vice-President (International, Marketing and Communications) in October last year.
Another terrific appointment is Justine Jarvinen (JJ) to the position of Chief Operating Officer of the UNSW Energy Institute. JJ comes with a wealth of experience across the energy sector, having worked in operational, investment analyst, strategy, and advisory roles in Australia and the UK for organisations such as Esso, Shell, Caltex, JBWere, and AGL Energy. She is a Board Member of Pollinate Energy and a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She holds a BE(Chemical) from Adelaide University and is a Fellow of the Financial Services Institute of Australia. The UNSW Energy Institute brings together UNSW’s considerable capabilities in many areas to contribute both technology and policy advice to the challenges facing Australia, and the world, as it undergoes major energy transitions. JJ’s goal as COO of the Institute is to develop and coordinate relationships between UNSW energy-relevant research, government, and industry sectors who can benefit from these capabilities, and to raise UNSW’s profile in achieving this.
Professor Emma Johnston’s appointment as Dean of the faculty of Science was announced a while ago and commenced this month. Many thanks to Emma for her outstanding contribution in the role of PVC Research and best wishes for the new role. Heartfelt thanks to Professor Peter Lovibond, who did such a sterling job as Acting Dean of Science and is now able to return to his position of Deputy Dean of Science.
Several departures have occurred over the past month or are soon to happen. Conrad Mackenzie has resigned as Chief Digital Officer (CDO) for health reasons. In his time at UNSW, Conrad began the process of positioning IT for the future, introducing collaborative co-design to speed up decision making, reinforcing our Cyber Security and Project capability, and initiating the IT workplace change program. Recruitment for a new CDO has commenced. I am grateful to Matt Scolari Director, Solution Delivery who has been at UNSW for five years, for taking on the role of Acting CDO. Jemma Carlisle, General Manager, Early Years, gave 18 years of wonderful service to UNSW and helped build UNSW Early years into its industry-leading position. Jemma is leaving UNSW for new challenges with our enormous gratitude for her contribution over so many years. Brad Furber, Chief Operating Officer, Michael Crouch Innovation Centre (MCIC), is moving to Switzerland with his family. Brad was MCIC's first employee and, as its inaugural COO, played the leading role in developing the MCIC over its exciting first two years of operations. Very best wishes to Brad for the future.
Exciting news from engineering where Adjunct Professor at UNSW Civil & Environmental Engineering’s Research Centre for Integrated Transport Innovation (rCITI), Jayme Harrison, has been shortlisted as one of five finalists for the 2017 Wolfson Economics Prize. At £250,000 it is the second richest economics prize in the world after the Nobel. The question posed this year was “How can we pay for better, safer, more reliable roads in a way that is fair to road users and good for the economy and the environment?” Jamye, a UNSW Bachelor of Laws and Master of Commerce graduate (1998-2000), is passionate about addressing traffic congestion and integrating roads with broader transport networks, ultimately enabling people and goods to move more easily through cities and regions. His start-up company Clearways (co-founded with Russell King) is the only Australian company ever shortlisted for the Wolfson. Fingers crossed that Jayme wins the big prize, expected to be announced in July.
Dr. Hazel Easthope has been announced as one our 21 inaugural Scientia Fellows. Hazel, who joined the UNSW City Futures Research Centre in 2007, holds a prestigious Australian Research Council Future Fellowship supporting her research on the unique challenges of apartment living and strata title ownership, which aims to provide proposals to support better outcomes for residents and the broader community. She regularly consults with government, community and peak body stakeholders, and undertook a six-month secondment with the City of Sydney Council in 2011.
Finally, congratulations to UNSW Council member and alumni Nick Carney (BComm/LLB, Finance 1999-2004) who has been made a Partner at the Herbert Smith Freehills practice in Sydney. Nick specialises in advising governments and the private sector on major infrastructure projects; his CV also includes establishing a scholarship and mentoring program between Herbert Smith Freehills and the Come-In Youth Resource Centre in Paddington, which supports young people who have overcome significant disadvantage to undertake educational programs. Alongside all of this Nick makes highly valued contributions to UNSW as Council member and as Chair of our Council Risk Committee.
A key component of our 2025 Strategy is myCareer, our new two-way career and performance conversations process. To deliver on our 2025 Strategy ambition of becoming a top 50 university, UNSW needs employees who are performing at the highest level - for that to happen, we need a streamlined and positive, collaborative, future focused framework for employees and managers to map out their development and career options, to develop clarity around goals and expectations, to recognise strengths and achievements, and to share two-way feedback. Phase one of myCareer is an introduction to the new myCareer Process. 2017 will be a transition year, with implementation customised for each faculty and division in a phased way. The People and Culture team will be partnering with all faculties and divisions to provide training and take on feedback throughout 2017. This is an important initiative that will ultimately involve all staff. I have prepared a short video about myCareer which you can watch here, and you can find out more on the new myCareer website.
Last week a packed Clancy auditorium heard the former President of Timor-Leste, Dr José Ramos-Horta AC, relating his story of exile and reflecting on the humanitarian, moral and political challenges raised by the current plight of refugees and other vulnerable migrants around the world. The Nobel Laureate, who spent more than two decades outside his own country after it was invaded by Indonesia in 1975, called on Australia's politicians to consider welcoming more refugees. ‘Rethink all fears and prejudice,’ he said. ‘Look at the record of generations of migrants and refugees in Australia, and you can see how they have contributed to the country’s prosperity and safety.’ Dr. Ramos-Horta laced his more serious reflections with plenty of humorous anecdotes about his life ‘away from home’, which left me, and I’m sure many others, reflecting that a sense of humour is a very handy weapon in a much-troubled world, and indeed essential to our shared humanity. (He also left us in no doubt that Timorese coffee was the best in the world!) In my thank you speech, I also paid tribute to the international peacemaker’s major role in establishing the UNSW Diplomacy Training Program in 1989, which has produced 2800 graduates trained to help bring good governance, and a spirit of justice and reconciliation, to zones of conflict and suffering. You can watch a three-minute excerpt of Dr. Ramos-Horta’s speech here.
Thank you all to staff who provided feedback on the draft Disability Inclusion Action Plan. There were some very useful suggestions on how to make the plan more effective. It was pleasing to note the endorsement given by the UNSW community to our commitment to achieve equality of access for student and staff of all backgrounds, and to promote diversity and opportunity across the University. Your input is being collated and will be incorporated into the next draft of the plan to be reviewed by the DIAP Working Group at its May meeting. The final plan is expected to be published in early July, with implementation of the DIAP strategies to commence in the second half of 2017.
UNSW Health & Medical Research Gender Equity 'Excellent'
The NHMRC has assessed gender equity in health and medical research at UNSW as ‘excellent’, following a review of all policies and procedures of all universities as part of the Council’s administrative requirements. To comply with the NHMRC funding agreement, we had to demonstrate, with detailed evidence, how we met seven key criteria: a strategy that addresses the underrepresentation of women in senior positions; mentoring and skills training strategies that promote and seek to increase women’s participation; provision of parental/maternity leave and carers leave, and transitional support to encourage return to work; working arrangements that cater for individuals with caring responsibilities; remuneration equity between men and women with the same responsibilities; employment strategies that encourage the recruitment, retention, and progression of women; and strategies to address the need for the provision of support for childcare. The NHMRC notes that overall, the survey results were encouraging, with 80% of institutions meeting six or seven requirements. However, a minority of institutions still needed to do significant work, with 16% meeting four or five requirements and 4% meeting only two or three requirements. Our ‘excellent’ evaluation in all seven categories recognises UNSW’s commitment to support the progression and retention of women in health and medical research, and all other disciplines at UNSW.
UNSW is committed to fostering a work and learning environment where everyone feels safe and valued. Being inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people is an important part of this approach, and supports the UNSW 2025 Strategy: A Just Society goals. With input from UNSW staff and members of UNSW’s Ally community, our new Gender Affirmation Guidelines have been developed to support transgender staff across the University. The Guidelines were launched at an event hosted by UNSW’s LGBTIQ Champion, Professor Mark Willcox, and followed a review of procedures the University had in place to support transgender staff. That review highlighted a lack of information to help staff wanting to affirm their gender identity at work, and of guidance for managers and colleagues. Mark noted that ‘Change often creates anxiety and within the LGBTIQ community transgender people often face unique and complex challenges, so we felt it was important to develop the guidelines’. A significant initiative.
Knowledge Exchange On Young With Complex Needs
The UNSW Intellectual Disability Behaviour Support (IDBS) program in the School of Social Sciences hosted a highly successful roundtable in early April on knowledge exchange to address issues for young people with complex support needs, the beginning of a project to establish an innovative Knowledge Exchange Partnership led by UNSW Social Science researchers. This will ensure that the voices of young people with complex support needs inform research, practice, and policy agendas. Bringing together researchers, practitioners, policy makers, and young people, the April roundtable was led by the UNSW Chair of IDBS, Associate Professor Leanne Dowse, and included presentations from leading proponents of knowledge exchange – Damian Matthews and Lauren Oliver from Berry Street Melbourne, Matt Noffs from the Noffs Foundation in Sydney, and Professor Katherine Boydell from UNSW’s Black Dog Institute.
Last month saw the official opening of the striking new Bright Building in the Randwick Hospitals campus precinct, a world-class medical and research centre that includes UNSW's Scientia Clinical Research facility. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Health Minister Brad Hazzard cut the ribbon on the $114 million building which gives purpose-built space to Prince of Wales Hospital’s Nelune Comprehensive Cancer Centre, UNSW Scientia Clinical Research, and an expansion of the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, including an Australian-first outpatient service for adolescents and young adults. These facilities will allow for seamless cancer care for patients, as well as close collaboration with UNSW and the Lowy Cancer Centre. Patients will have opportunities to take part in clinical trials in cancer, ophthalmology, neurology, and addiction medicine, as well as rheumatology and paediatrics.
The Universitas 21 meeting this year was held at Nottingham University. The plenary session focused on the role of universities in their communities and was initiated by a powerful keynote talk from the University of Nottingham Chancellor, Sir Andrew Witty, recently retired CEO of GSK. The organisation has 27 member universities from 17 countries and provides a forum for exchange of ideas and challenges amongst the university leadership teams. The meeting in Nottingham coincided with publication of the Universitas 21 analysis, which ranks national systems of higher education rather than individual universities. Australia’s higher education system was ranked, for the third year in a row, as 10th best in the world. Australia had the third best system in terms of outputs such as research performance, student participation rates, quality of universities, and graduate employment rates. However the report indicated Australia has low levels of government funding compared to other nations, a situation of concern in the context of HE funding cuts. The analysis noted that “In terms of resources, Australia is pulled down (by) the low ranking of 44 out of 50 for government expenditure on higher education”. It also noted that student contributions to higher education in Australia are already the sixth highest in the world. The analysis reflects the overall sector view that whilst we have a very strong and healthy university system at present, greater funding by government is needed to maintain this quality, particularly the funding of basic research, which is at the core of an innovative and competitive economy and jobs growth in new industries.
Knowledge Exchange On Young With Complex Needs
By now I am sure most of you will be aware of our Torch partnership with China, to translate UNSW discoveries in to commercial applications. Late last month, senior delegates from several Chinese social policy institutes, including members of the Development Research Centre of the State Council (DRC) and Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), were on campus in a visit arranged by Associate Professor Bingqin Li. Their visit to the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) provided an opportunity to explore ways of developing innovative social policy around the Torch Initiative and to identify potential partnerships with these two high profile Chinese think-tanks. Collaborations like these allow us to find ways in which UNSW and colleagues from China can work together on research and knowledge exchange. I understand that China is the process of establishing a new China Institute of Knowledge for Development (CIKD) to co-ordinate these efforts, so our positioning around this is well-timed.
Symposium On Dialogue Between Interpreters And Police
Caution! Police and interpreters talking: A dialogue between interpreters and the police – the 7th Annual Legal Interpreting Symposium at UNSW on 21 April attracted more than 200 interpreters, lawyers, police officers, and HDR students from UNSW and other Sydney-based universities. The first of its kind, the symposium looked at the status of interpreting in police settings, and the interaction between police and interpreters, with the CEO of the NAATI Translation Service and the NSW Police Chief Superintendent, AFP and NSW Police officers and interpreters sharing their local and overseas experience. Professor of Interpreting and Translation, Professor Sandra Hale, illustrated the challenges of police-interpreter-NESB suspect interactions using original video recordings. Panel discussion revolved around the importance of education on how to operate in an increasingly multicultural and multilingual Australian society, where reliance on interpreters becomes imperative.
To house rapidly growing populations and design for the future, urban planners will need to harness big data and new technologies. UNSW’s new Master of City Analytics will focus on giving urban planners, engineers, and built environment experts the means to interpret big data, in order to understand and predict the issues affecting our overcrowded cities, from transport congestion to air pollution, and population migration. UNSW’s inaugural Professor of Urban Science Chris Pettit is leading the degree, with the first intake due in semester one next year. Smart cities, big data, open data, geo-design, geo-computation, modelling and simulation, visualization, virtual reality - a course tailor-made for our times! Chris notes that by 2020 there will be 50 billion devices connected to the internet using around 44 zetabytes of data, and much of that could be harnessed to plan our cities better. UNSW’s partnership with King’s College London and Arizona State University in the PLuS Alliance will allow students doing the Masters degree to work with international data to understand how people commute in London, Phoenix and Sydney, in order to build more accessible and sustainable cities.
IoT Incubator Opens @ UNSW
As an emerging multi-billion-dollar industry, the Internet of Things (IoT) presents exciting opportunities across all areas of education, research, innovation, and entrepreneurship. So news that the Innovation Central Sydney Hub has been launched at UNSW is welcome. Open to staff, students, and industry partners, Innovation Central Sydney Hub is the UNSW IoT incubator program providing a platform for rapid prototyping of innovative products and services to meet growing demand in this space. Led by CISCO, the Hub is a collaborative partnership that includes CSIRO Data61, the NSW Farmers Federation, and the NSW Department of Primary Industry. A second site exists at Cicada Innovations in the Australian Technology Park and the hub is part of a network of 9 other CISCO Innovation Centres around the globe. The themes of our UNSW hub will be: smart campus, smart cities, transport, energy, water, agriculture. Incubator services are provided on a per project basis and can include rapid prototyping, co-working space, equipment, technical resources and mentoring, access to global markets, co-innovation workshops and hackathons, and networking events.
The Way Of The Shack: New South Release
Our publishing arm New South continues to release high-quality titles on topics often overlooked by the larger publishers. One that I received this month was Shack Life, by Ingeborg Van Teeseling, a fascinating look at three communities in the Royal National Park south of Sydney - Era, Burning Palms and Little Garie - and how local residents fought to save their beloved shacks, built in the 1930s Depression, when miners and their families erected dwellings by the sea where they could live on fish, rabbits, and home-grown vegetables. The long struggle by their descendants to save these home-made structures is an insight into the determination of people not only to preserve their family legacy but also their local history.
UNSW Business School In 'The News'
UNSW Business School has been prominent in the news space, being mentioned 751 times in the media in the past month. Our UNSW academics were in particularly high media demand for expert comment after 9 May when the Federal Government handed down its 2017 Budget. In other, non-Budget news from the Business School: AGSM was selected as one of two ‘human capital’ partners to provide professional services to the leading Australian 20 businesses; the School, in association with the Institute of Global Finance, launched the flagship publication Asian Development Outlook 2017, analysing macroeconomic issues in developing Asia and the Pacific; CEPAR was awarded $50,000 to conduct an online survey looking at Chinese long-term aged care; and by the BYU rankings, the Business School’s auditing research has been ranked number one in the world for the last 12 years. Australia’s leading business school, without a doubt!
Celebrating UNSW Engineering Students
Awards honouring the top 100 undergraduate students in UNSW Engineering, based on academic results from 2016, were celebrated at the Dean’s Awards at Leighton Hall in April. Six students received Student Service Awards. The award night’s theme was Hidden Heroes, recognising that our top students often go largely unnoticed until they ‘suddenly’ become groundbreaking researchers, or social entrepreneurs. Faculty Dean, Professor Mark Hoffman, told the audience that UNSW graduates lead more of Australia’s largest listed companies than those from any other university. ‘It’s a place where the future is being made,’ he said, ‘Don’t be surprised to discover one day that tonight’s award-winners are our heroes of the future.’ Testament to his remarks, guest speaker and alumna Monique Alfris explained how she co-founded Pollinate Energy, a UN award-winning social business that brings affordable clean-energy technologies to India’s urban poor. She gave an inspiring speech about her experiences in helping improve livelihoods in India’s city slums, and how her UNSW Engineering degree allowed her to make a genuine impact, and improve the world.
Our UNSW School of Mining Engineering is ranked fifth in the world, and with good reason, producing some of the most outstanding graduates in the industry. To maintain that record the school is offering 15 new scholarships worth more than $700,000 for study in 2018. The scholarships, worth $48,000 each, are a joint initiative of UNSW and the mining industry, aimed at countering the perception that jobs in the industry are in long-term decline. With the turnaround in commodity prices over the past year, the industry is again seen as a major generator of economic activity for Australia. To continue to be highly productive and competitive, it needs high-quality mining engineering graduates who will develop the new technologies and systems that will ensure Australia remains a leader in this industry. During May, the school is holding free information dinners across NSW for Year 10, 11 and 12 students, and their parents or teachers, where they can learn more about both the industry and the scholarships on offer.
UNSW Venues And Events Success
Last month I mentioned that UNSW Venues & Events won three Meetings and Events Australia (MEA) state-level awards: Winner of NSW Meeting Venue Over 500 (Scientia Building), Winner of NSW Specialty Meeting Venue (CBD Campus), and Winner of NSW In-house Meeting Management Department. That put them in line for national honours. The good news is they have picked up the national award for Specialty Meeting Venue. Again congratulations to V&E General Manager Hannah Sparke and her hard-working team.
Phil' is UNSW's largest student-lead philanthropy initiative, run by Arc, and is back in 2017 with a big goal – to raise $50,000 for Child Life & Music Therapy at the Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick. Last year, more than $34,000 was raised and donated to the Child Life team to help fund the salaries of an Emergency Department therapist, a Music Therapist, and the purchasing of supplies. The aim is to use play and song to normalise the hospital experience for children and reduce anxiety in both kids and their parents. Phil’ started its busy 2017 agenda with a Sydney to Kiama fundraiser bike ride last week (May 7), while the inaugural Phil’ Charity Concert on Thursday 18 May at The Greenhouse will feature talent from across the UNSW student populace for a night of singing, dancing and comedy. For tickets for this great cause, click here and enter promotional code VIP.
The announcements made in the 2017 Budget this week are of major concern to Australia’s universities and their students. They reveal a lack of recognition by the government of the nexus between a vibrant university sector and the long-term health of Australia’s society and economy. This is a serious matter for students, for the university sector and for the nation. The key Budget measures announced for the higher education sector amount to a cut in government funding of $2.7 billion out to 2020/21 (on top of $3.9 billion cuts since 2011) and include:
- Student fees - to increase by 1.82% each year for four years from January 2018 for current and new students, reaching a 7.5 % increase by 2021 (a $2000 to $3600 increase in total student fees for a four year course).
- Introduction of a 2.5% “efficiency dividend” applied to CGS funding from government in 2018 and 2019.
- Changes to the HELP loan scheme, requiring students and any graduate with a current or future debt to repay their debt from a lower income of $42,000 instead of the current $51,957.
- Funded post graduate places to be reduced by 3000 nationally.
- Some positive measures regarding funding for sub-bachelor (diploma) places and continuation of the HEPPP scheme to improve low SES participation rates.
With the exception of the last bullet point these are negative steps that will hamper Australia’s competitive status in a rapidly-changing world. This is particularly short sighted at a time when political developments elsewhere provide an opportunity for Australia to emerge as a global leader in the higher education sector and the 21st century knowledge economy.
The Group of Eight and Universities Australia are strongly opposed to these steps which place further unnecessary financial burdens on students, and act as a deterrent to higher education. UNSW has long supported and promoted equality of access to higher education, regardless of ethnicity or socio-economic groupings. It will be a matter of the gravest concern if tuition fee rises, combined with earlier loan repayment schedules, deter talented young people from a university education. I reiterate here our concern and support for all of our students, wherever they come from or whatever their background, and assure them that UNSW will do everything possible to ensure that this budget does not deter them from starting or continuing their studies.
These cuts will also have a significant financial impact on UNSW, estimated to be at least $100m cumulatively by 2025. They are based on a costing exercise which Go8 regards as flawed, given that it considered the teaching costs but not the research costs at research intensive institutions. Fortunately, in our planning for the 2025 Strategy we had considered this sort of financial risk and, although the sum involved is large, I remain confident that we will be able to mobilise the resources to deliver our plans. The implementation of the Strategy will ensure that we are amongst the most innovative and productive universities in Australia. The resources we mobilise will be used to deliver our vision to be Australia’s global university, improving and transforming lives through excellence in research, education, and a commitment to advancing a just society.
In an opinion piece in the latest Campus Review I argued that even putting our higher education sector interests aside, these policies are short-sighted and not in the nation’s best interest. I will continue my efforts to convince our government that a better course is investment in our universities as drivers of Australia’s future prosperity.