CHASS Newsletter #23


In this issue:

  1. Registering for HOTH
  2. National research priorities under the spotlight
  3. Bishop, Brandis, Carr and Keele: All speaking
  4. When will the Commonwealth take over the universities?
  5. Federation Fellows
  6. Collaboration study
  7. The CHASS Board and the Search Committee
  8. Review of RFCD and SEO codes
  9. ARC College of Experts
  10. Directors’ Meeting now Septemer 3-4
  11. CHASS: 119 Financial members
  12. Three opportunities

1. Registering for HOTH

Registrations close for “Humanities, Arts Social Sciences on the Hill” at 5 pm on Friday 8 June.
We will advise all participants the names of the MP they will be meeting early the following week. We will also send the MP the names and brief cvs of the people going in to meet them.

2. National research priorities under the spotlight

The Chief Scientist has made progress on his report to the Minister on the NRPs, and we understand the report is now with Minister Julie Bishop. She is expected to make a public response.

The Government established a National Research Priorities Standing Committee early in 2005, and according to the Government’s Innovation Report 2005-06, it “meets at least once a year to assess agencies’ progress in implementing the NRPs and to report to government. It will also develop medium to longer-term policy concerning the NRPs, including a process for an independent review of their impact, in 2006-07.”

We look forward to participating in this review.

But there is a problem with the Standing Committee. The NRPs are supposed to cover all disciplines, but of the eight Committee members, seven come from the sciences and only one from the humanities, arts and social sciences.

With this bias in the system, it is not surprising the NRPs are a source of frustration to the HASS sector, and often regarded with deep-rooted suspicion.

3. Bishop, Brandis, Carr and Keele: All speaking

Ministers Julie Bishop and George Brandis will be speaking (and answering questions) at HOTH, at separate sessions at the National Library and Parliament House.

Shadow Minister Kim Carr will speak at the Briefing Day at the National Museum, along with Kathy Keele (newly appointed CEO of the Australia Council) and Ralph Lattimore of the Productivity Commission.

4. When will the Commonwealth take over the universities?

Professor Greg Craven is the featured HOTH speaker at the National Press Club on Wednesday 20 June.

It’s his view that the next decade will be a critical period for the Australian Constitution, with both “excessive conservatism and unwise experimentation posing serious difficulties”.

“Australians today are faced by a diversity of confronting constitutional realities: federalism abandoned by the conservatives who created it; Parliament increasingly in disrepute as an institution;a Governor General rendered virtually invisible by the sheer size of the Prime Ministerial office; and an embarrassing constitutional monarchy that nobody knows how to dispatch.”

What implications does this have for a mooted takeover of the university system by the Commonwealth?

His talk will be broadcast live by ABC TV. All HOTH registrants have a ticket, and other bookings can be made from the NPC website.

5. Federation Fellows

CHASS attended the Minister’s announcement of the Federation Fellows for 2007. Five of them come from the HASS (slightly above the historical average). There were 129 applications, and the Selection Committee recommended 20 Fellows instead of the normal 25, apparently on the grounds of quality.

Two are women; eight are renewals of existing Fellowships; and 17 are already located in Australia. Names of successful candidates and the full selection report is available at ARC.

CHASS made a submission to the ARC earlier this year on the Federation Fellows program. It expressed concern at the low rate of appointment of researchers from the humanities, arts and social sciences, and an even lower rate of female appointments; and contained nine recommendations.

The Independent Review Committee considering this matter is scheduled to report before the end of June. Committee members are Mr John Grace (former ARC Board and ex CEO of AMRAD); Professor Deryck Schreuder (ex-UWS, UWA); and Dr Megan Clarke (VP, BHP Billiton).


6. Collaboration study

President Stuart Cunningham has discussed the recommendations of CHASS’ Collaboration Report with a series of organizations and individuals, including:

  • Pat Farmer MP, Parliamentary Secretary, Education, Science and Training
  • Professor Peter Hoj, (then) CEO of the ARC
  • Senator Kim Carr, Shadow Minister for Innovation and Research
  • Professor Warwick Anderson, CEO of NHMRC
  • Ms Leanne Harvey, Chair of the RQF Reference Committee, DEST

At the suggestion of Senator Judith Troeth, we have written to Minister Julie Bishop asking her to refer the report to the Senate Committee Employment, Workplace Relations and Education Committee for consideration. Senator Troeth chairs this Committee.

7. The CHASS Board and the Search Committee

The new Board will be elected at the AGM in September.

This meeting will consider a “recommended slate” of candidates for election to the Board, as prepared by our Search Committee.

All Members and newsletter subscribers have been invited to suggest names of possible candidates to the Search Committee, and some outstanding people have been proposed.

The first meeting of the Committee is due to take place in June, but there is still time for last-minute suggestions of suitable candidates. We are interested in suggestions from outside the tertiary sector, as well as from the universities.

8. Review of RFCD and SEO codes

Regular readers will recall the ABS is reviewing the RFCD codes at the request of DEST, and that CHASS was invited to provide a person for the small Reference Committee steering the project.

Since our last report, the ABS has sought expert volunteers in all disciplines to “examine the existing codes for adequacy and suggest new codes to capture existing and future research areas which are not covered.”

These reports will be considered at the next meeting of the Reference Committee on 20 June. A draft of the proposed revisions will be released in July for public comment, with the revised RFCD and SEO codes being finalized by March 2008.

9. ARC College of Experts

The College provides strategic advice to the ARC, and consists of “experts of international standing”.

The ARC is calling for nominations. Because membership requires a considerable time commitment, nominations must be made by the primary employer. A kit with information and the nomination form is available at:

10. Directors’ meeting now September 3-4

The next CHASS workshop for the directors of university-based centres of research and education will be held at RMIT, but the date has been changed to Monday-Tuesday September 3-4.

11. CHASS: 119 Financial members

CHASS now has 119 Financial Members: a mix of peak organizations, universities, professional and learned societies and centres within the tertiary sector.

All Members have been listed on our website, arranged by subscription level in alphabetical order.

12. Three opportunities

  1. Artery and expand: The Australia Council
    Subscribe to Artery (“hardcopy topical news and updates”) and ExpAnd (“specialised education and the arts update, by email), by contacting: comms@ozco.gov.au
  2. National Scholarly Communication Forum

    “Improving Access to Australian Publicly Funded Research – Advancing Knowledge and the Knowledge Economy” is at the Shine Dome in Canberra on July 16 2007.

    Registration places are limited.

  3. Long-lived collections: The future of Australia’s research data

    How will Australia’s research infrastructure cope with the challenge of managing the data that our researchers are producing?
    National Library of Australia, Tuesday, September 11, 2007. For information and registration:

Regards
Stuart Cunningham
6 June 2007

For more information, please contact:
Toss Gascoigne
Executive Director
Council of the Humanties, Arts and Social Sciences
Phone: +61 2 6249 1995
director@chass.org.au