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The Dobson Report

Dobson Report

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Re-thinking the Science PhD

Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, is a big fan of the PhD. His speech on July 29th, at the Park Royal Melbourne Airport, available here, makes a powerful case for an expanded vision of it. The PhD should return to its roots as an experience that creates deep, adaptable and capable thinkers, fit for a challenging world beyond discovery research. PhD students are not just ‘academics in utero’. 

The speech was made to open a national forum convened by the ACDS and ACGR (Australian Council of Graduate Research). The forum was held to raise awareness of the  recommendations of the Review of Australia’s Research Training System, commissioned last year by the Federal Government from the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA).  

Their report, released on April 14th this year, makes recommendations about the conduct of postgraduate research that will have considerable impact on science faculties. The Chief Scientist’s speech provides an eloquent and entertaining insight into the imperatives driving such recommendations. 

He goes on to argue for changes to business incentives to collaborate with universities. He notes the opportunities for research students provided by the initiatives in NISA, and commends models such as the Canadian Mitacs and French CIFRE programs that connect research students with industry.

ACDS Receives $150,000 grant for Work Integrated Learning

The Office of the Chief Scientist has provided a $150,000 grant to the ACDS to establish a national network supporting work integrated learning in science faculties and schools.

A call for co-funded lighthouse projects will go out in late August and a national forum will be held on December 11th at the Park Royal Hotel at Melbourne Airport.

The grant was announced on July 16th at the ACDS Teaching and Learning Conference in Brisbane . More information about the proposed program can be found here.


Government announces Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda

The announcement amounts to six measures including industry growth centres and a package promoting STEM skills in schools. How it will impact the CRC program is canvassed in this CRC Association response.

Government Announces Commonwealth Science Committee

This committee replaces PMSEIC. The announcement details membership and includes a $12m STEM education package. Read press commentary from The Australian and Sydney Morning Herald

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ACDS paper: Evidence-based practice in T&L

The ACDS has launched its first occasional paper Evidence-based practice in learning and teaching for STEM disciplines from Tina Overton and Liz Johnson. The paper uses the published evidence on how learners learn to make the case for active learning, scaffolding and flipped classroom, authentic assessment. The authors translate the research to direct advice for teachers and teaching teams for STEM. Use this as a springboard for discussion in your Faculty.