Friday, March 16, 2012

Sydney university perceived as being in the world's top 100

Since I have a large document issued to me by USyd, I am rather pleased by this. Rankings are all very arbitrary but perception is arguably the most important criterion -- JR

The University of Sydney is among four Australian universities ranked in the top 100 by reputation, in the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2012.

Sydney was ranked 50, up from last year's position in the 51-60 slot, but behind the University of Melbourne and Australian National University, which were placed 43 and 44 respectively. The University of Queensland also moved up, to be listed in the 71-80 block.

Each of the four improved their positions from last year, the first time Times Higher Education published the peer-voted list.

The elite, "super group" of universities in the top 10 is dominated by American and British institutions with one Japanese university breaking into the top tier. Harvard tops the list and the University of Cambridge is third, with the University of Tokyo coming in to eighth position.

Melbourne and ANU are ranked more highly on the performance rankings at 39 and 40 respectively, while Sydney and UQ have a better reputation than performance, listed 60 and 76 on the list of top performers.

California Institute of Technology is the top performer on the traditional rankings, which has Oxford ahead of its long-time rival Cambridge.

Phil Baty, editor of the Times Higher Education Reputation Rankings, said Australia's position on the reputation list was good news for the country, showing that its global reputation was improving, while some of the most distinguished universities were falling in stature.

"This reputation-only index is very good news for Australia – all four of its representatives in the world top 100 have risen up the table, with three of the four now making the global top 50. This is clear evidence that Australia's universities are rising in stature internationally, while competitors in the US and UK are seeing their global brands suffer."

More than 17,000 academics from 137 countries were surveyed about "the best" institutions in their own field of expertise. The list is intended to complement the Times's traditional performance ranking, which it publishes in October.

"This is a subsidiary of the world rankings, it's based only on reputation alone," Mr Baty said. "It's a very quirky exercise - and it's purely based on academics' perception so it's a subjective opinion only."

Mr Baty said Simon Marginson, an academic at the University of Melbourne's Graduate School of Education, had been a helpful adviser on improving the way universities are represented.

"Funnily enough, the origins of this is Simon Marginson from the University of Melbourne - he often has been a great critic of rankings but he's been a very helpful adviser to us on how we make our rankings more rigorous and more transparent.

"With the main rankings which we publish in October we use 13 performance indicators: research impact, we look at income, we look at research productivity, we look across a real range of indicators, and he always used to argue that we separate the subjective part of the main rankings."


Navy crew stands by as yachtie's $600,000 boat sinks

This is not the standard of behaviour that Australians expect of their armed forces

MEMBERS of the Australian navy stood by while a yachtie pleaded for help to save a $600,000 boat that took on water and began to sink at Mourilyan Harbour yesterday.

Kurrimine Beach man Marcus Kitchen told The Cairns Post a navy crew member said: "We would love to help mate, but we have to wait until we get permission from Canberra."

Mr Kitchen had pulled his dinghy up to a navy vessel and begged crew to tow his catamaran off the rocks as it struck trouble and began to take on water.

Compounding Mr Kitchen’s frustration was the fact Innisfail coastguard could not be raised to come to the rescue – a lack of volunteers and funding means it is only manned on weekends.

Monday night’s 50-knot winds dragged the 18m Rainbow’s End more than 300m on to a rock wall near the Mourilyan Harbour boat ramp. It sat there until a salvage crew arrived at 2pm yesterday.

A navy ship was docked just 100m away but crew made no move to help. Instead, they watched as Mr Kitchen’s friends salvaged what they could and attempted to pump water from the stricken boat.

Mr Kitchen, owner of the Kurrimine Beach Holiday Park, said his yacht had been anchored in the same spot for three months as repairs from cyclone Yasi damage were completed. "I just had her fixed up and hadn’t even had a chance to take her out again," he said.

Mr Kitchen said red tape had prevented the navy from helping him. "We got here at 7.30am and there were six warships doing nothing as my ‘cat’ hit the rocks," he said. "They all went out the harbour mouth apart from one that sat there, just 100m away.

"They told me they would love to help but they need permission. My ‘cat’ will be wrecked all because of some bureaucratic red tape."

A Department of Defence spokeswoman said the navy could not respond to questions about the incident until 10am today.

Meanwhile, Innisfail Coastguard spokesman Rob Bryant said radios were only monitored on weekends and public holidays because of a drop in volunteer numbers.


Dam engineers referred to watchdog as flood report handed down

THREE dam engineers will be referred to the Crimes and Misconduct Commission regarding their handling of the Wivenhoe Dam following the release of the flood inquiry's final report. The engineers have also been found to have breached the dam manual.

The year-long inquiry's final report was handed down at 11 am at State Parliament.

Justice Holmes has found the engineers did breach the dam manual which she also found was "ambiguous unclear and difficult to use."

The finding adds weight to a class action being considered by Maurice Blackburn lawyers.

The inquiry heard allegations earlier this year the dam engineers did not follow the dam manual on water releases which may have compounded the flooding that hit Ipswich and Brisbane in January last year. The engineers were also accused in the inquiry of colluding to cover up their mistakes by creating a fraudulent official report. The CMC will examine the allegations.

The three engineers are Terry Malone, John Tibaidi and Rob Ayre who all denied the allegations while under cross examination.


26 police officers assaulted in Queensland schools in past five years

The dreadful result of Leftist ideas about discipline. Police never went near a school once. Teachers handled any behaviour problems -- with the cane if necessary

SCHOOLS are becoming so violent that even police are afraid to respond to some incidents because of fears they are not receiving enough support in dangerous situations.

Young criminal activity is on the rise with documents obtained by The Courier-Mail under Right to Information laws showing 26 police officers were assaulted at schools in the past five years.

Under the Queensland Government's School Based Policing Program, 29 officers are assigned to 36 schools across the state. This is despite plans for 35 officers to be appointed to 47 schools.

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said it was difficult to recruit officers for the program, saying there needed to be more incentives and support.

"Violence has been out of control (and) criminals are getting younger and younger," he said. "It's about putting these police into multiple schools on a rotational basis and they need to be better supported by the district office."

Other obstacles identified included relatively low salary and a perception by others that school-based officers "do nothing all day" and their careers were "going nowhere".

The review said despite initially being proactive, the practice has since become reactive. "This role changed with increased social awareness of bullying, cyber bullying and mass media," the review stated. "Gradually this impact has seen an increase in reported violence and more serious offences . . . (such as) students taking . . . weapons to schools."

The review said "officer safety" was also a problem on the north coast, which includes Kepnock, Hervey Bay, Bundaberg and Urangan state high schools.

Almost half of the 26 assaults on police at secondary schools involved school-based officers.

School-based policing was introduced in 1996 by then Police Minister Russell Cooper, and the LNP announced this week it would commit to 15 more officers and send troubled youth to boot camp.

Education Minister Cameron Dick said a new report prepared by Griffith University Professor Paul Mazerolle showed Queensland schools remained safe places for students and staff. "It is our responsibility to ensure all students have the right to learn in safe environments," he said. "That's why as part of the two-pronged strategy, I also commissioned research from Griffith University on weapons in schools."


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