The Week that Was

Adjusting to the possibilities of GPT4? Here’s something to scare the cyber strides off.

The Office of National Intelligence announces a Monash U team has just shy of $600 000 to work on, “using biological brain cells embedded onto silicon chips” According to Adeel Razi, Christopher French and Brett Kagan, they aim to merge artificial intelligence and synthetic biology “to create programmable cyborg computing chips.”

Health and medicine lobby Research Australia backs the Commonwealth’s proposal to combine admin and governance of the National Health and Medical Research Council and Medical Research Future Fund, while leaving their respective discovery and translation funding programmes separate.

“Establishing one administrative funding body provides the opportunity for successful research projects to graduate more seamlessly from one funding programme to the next,” RA argues.

Not given to missing opportunities it also raises the second stage of health and medical research reform to come – a national strategy. RA states this must include a workforce plan, “to address the challenges faced by early and mid-career health and medical researchers and identify careers/jobs critical to a future economy.”

Research Australia also adds that the strategy cannot be left to the NHMRC, calling for all of government and industry engagement.

The Irish Universities Association points to its micro-credential course platform, “game changing career growth just got real”.  It pretty-much matches the local micro-cred seeker. That is not a compliment.

ANU VC Brian Schmidt tells staff that as his last six months as VC starts he is ambivalent about the end – looking forward to a “professorial role” but knowing he will “miss the satisfaction I get to do my best to serve the needs of the thousands of members of our community.” He goes on to announce the university’s pay offer and proposal “to end most casualised contracts for non-students” but laments the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union still intends to strike (today) – which does not sound like a source of much satisfaction for him at all.

South Australia’s parliament has a joint committee of both houses inquiring into the proposed amalgamation of the universities of Adelaide and South Australia to create Adelaide University. Speaker of the House Dan Cregan (a former Liberal, now independent) chairs, with five members each from House and Council. In addition to the speaker there are four from the government, two Liberals, and three minor party members.

Submissions are due by August 14 and will be public, at the committee’s determination. None are published yet although the state branch of the National Tertiary Education Union states that if the merger is found to be in the public interest, there must be a “commitment that staff, students, unions, and stakeholders are at the centre of the formation of the new legislation and on an equal footing as VCs and Councils – who have a vested interest in reproducing the status quo.” 

Deakin U is recruiting for its international branch campus in India (the first ever). It is in the market for two marketing managers, although both jobs sound strong on sales with 60 per cent of time going to “regular travel.” 

Charles Darwin U wants 40 of the 80 rural medical training places the Commonwealth is newly funding. It’s another step in CDU’s march towards a med school of its own that started in October 21, when then new VC Scott Bowman announced the ambition. Since then, CDU and partners have systematically lined up the policy and pedagogical ducks for a local Northern Territory school, (Flinders U has long handled medical training for the NT). As for the politics, Professor Bowman, set out the case last year, “it’s quite strange and remarkable that the NT, which is six times the size of the UK and has unique and pressing medical challenges, is the only state or territory with no Commonwealth-funded medical places in the country.” (Campus Morning Mail for May 22) summarises the story so far.

There’s a helping hand onto the hustings in South Australia, with Uni Adelaide launching a pathways to politics programme for women, unaligned advice on how to run for office, in partnership with the Trawalla Foundation. Uni Adelaide follows Uni Melbourne, (2017) and QUT (2019).



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