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Another world ranking rise for La Trobe

La Trobe University has continued to improve its world ranking, today recording its best ever result in the respected Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU).

La Trobe University is now rated at 301 in the world, a leap of more than 200 places in just two years – to be Australia’s most improved university.

The record ARWU result in its 50th year places La Trobe in the top 1.4 per cent of universities globally.

The University has now cemented its position in the top 400 of all three major world university rankings. The latest QS ranking has the University at 360 in the world. The Times currently ranks La Trobe at 377.

Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar said the string of pleasing results was testament to La Trobe University’s incredible research capabilities and staff expertise, combined with close connections to industry and employers.

“The numbers speak for themselves – La Trobe is well regarded as a quality institution with a focus on excellence, industry engagement, student employability and research on issues that matter,” he said.

“We have a great team spread throughout all of our campuses. We continue to attract strong interest from around the world and across the country from high-profile academics wanting to join the team and students coming here in search of the best possible preparation for a successful career.”

La Trobe has risen from 21 in Australia to 15 over the past two years.

The ARWU ranks universities with several indicators of academic or research performance, including alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals, highly cited researchers, papers published in Nature and Science, papers indexed in major citation indices, and the per capita academic performance of an institution.

This post was originally posted on the La Trobe University web pages.

Innovate or Perish! – Australia’s Innovation System


For more information on the forthcoming LBS Northlink National Innovation Forum, see the conference website. Early Bird tickets available until 31 August 2017.

Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice, Economics

Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice, Economics

LBS Professor of Practice in Economics, Dr Mark Cloney, questions popular reports that Australia performs badly in industry-university collaboration and innovation when compared to other OECD countries.

Australia, like the rest of the global economy, is facing significant structural change in the coming decades which offers both challenges and opportunities. Some suggest 40 per cent of today jobs will no longer exist in 10 years and that changing technology (robotics and artificial intelligence etc.) and new business models will continue to disrupt ‘old’ business processes and structures. Others say that this same disruption will also create new growth markets. So is Australia’s innovation glass half full or half empty?

One strategy in meeting challenges and opportunities is adopting continuous innovation and the uptake of innovative skills and technologies. Continual innovation results in new markets, mindsets, skills and organisational re-design which are critical drivers of productivity and growth. According to Universities Australia (2017), universities are central to skilling and upskilling the next generation of Australian entrepreneurs and startups and thereby improving Australia’s innovation system and sustainable growth. Its research finds that more than four in five Australian startup founders are university graduates (Universities Australia, 2017, p.3) and that startups were the largest contributor to job creation in Australia in the last decade (Universities Australia, 2017 p.8).

However,  the health of Australia’s innovation system remains subject to conjecture and contrasting opinions with, for example, Australia sitting at the bottom of OECD (2015) rankings in terms of university-industry collaboration. Moreover, according to Global Innovation Index (2017), Australia slid further down the world rankings in terms of innovation inputs and outputs from 19 to 23 in the latest world rankings among 127 countries (Cornell University, INSEAD, and WIPO, 2017). Is this really the case?

A report by IP Australia challenges the notion that Australia is at the bottom of the OECD university-industry collaboration index arguing that this finding is based on poor data selection. For example, when you focus on patent applications filed by an Australian university with a collaborator (business partner) Australia moves to the middle of comparable international tables (IP Australia, 2017). Moreover, the city of Melbourne, home to nine universities, was recently named as the ‘most intelligent community’ in the world at the Intelligent Community Forum in New York in June 2017. Based on six intelligent community indicators the New York think tank pointed to Melbourne’s broadband speed, research institutions, new innovation precincts and its focus on sustainability as its major strengths.

Concerns over the performance of Australia’s innovation system caused the Federal Government to undertake a Senate Inquiry (2014) and then flag innovation as a major policy focus when it announced its $1.1 billion National Science and Innovation Agenda (Commonwealth of Australia, 2015). A central element of that policy statement was to substantially increase university-industry collaboration on the basis that such alliances internationally have become a prominent feature of the knowledge-based economy, dealing with the speed of transformation and economic disruption.

The challenge seems to be that Australian universities specialise in innovative research to answer fundamental questions, while businesses have specialist skills in commercialising and implementing products, services and ideas. However, university research can be often disconnected from the innovative needs of business (e.g. startups and SMEs) and not-for-profits.

So is there a disconnect? If so, why the disconnect? Or, are we doing better than we think?

LBS in partnership with NORTH Link is exploring these questions at its National Innovation Forum to be held over September 28 – 29, 2017 at its Bundoora Campus. The Forum offers a unique opportunity not only to hear from recognised national and international thinkers and business leaders on the topic of innovation and university-business collaboration but to also engage with them in Q&A. Two of the speakers, Dr Benjamin Mitra-Kahn, chief economist at IP Australia, and Dr Charles Day, CEO of Office of Innovation and Science Australia, will explore the current health of Australia’s innovation system in some detail. The Forum also presents industry and academic perspectives on how we can continue to improve innovation through university-industry interactions and engagement, particularly for startups and small to medium size enterprises (SMEs) through the use of business accelerators and incubators.

The Forum will no doubt provide new insights on whether Australia’s innovation glass is indeed half full or half empty.

References:

Commonwealth of Australia (2015), National Innovation & Science Agenda: Welcome to the Ideas Boom, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Cornell University, INSEAD, and WIPO (2017), The Global Innovation Index 2017: Innovation Feeding the World, Ithaca, Fontainebleau, and Geneva.

IP Australia (2017), Australian Intellectual Property Report 2017, Commonwealth of Australia (https://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/ip-report-2017).

OECD (2015), OECD Innovation Strategy 2015: An Agenda for Policy Action, October 2015.

Universities Australia (2017), Startup Smarts: Universities and the Startups Economy, University Australia, March, universitiesaustralia.edu.au

National innovation forum: Innovate or Perish?

In a world that is more connected than ever, how can we create sustainable bonds between universities, business and not for profits? All with a view towards creating a more mature innovation culture and ecosystem.

The missing ingredient to growth is the ability to think outside the box – to innovate. For many businesses’ it’s safer inside the box. But when you’re constricted by the four walls of a box you can’t truly grow.

The demands of day to day operations of many SMEs and not-for-profits exclude them from maximising the benefits of innovative. Most are doing everything they can to maximise profits or fundraising, and minimise costs.

Universities, on the other hand, exist outside the normal parameters that can inhibit business growth. As such Universities have the potential to break the walls of the box, let in the light and build the links to create innovative businesses.

This is why, as a nation, Australia must get better at creating meaningful collaboration between universities and business. Such is the need for stronger connections the Federal Government flagged innovation in Australia as a major policy focus with its $1.1 billion National Science and Innovation Agenda in November 2015.

The core principle of the government’s agenda is to make a substantial difference in the numbers of university-industry collaborations. The reason is simple; such alliances have become a prominent feature of the knowledge-based economy, dealing with the speed of transformation, and economic and technological disruption.

These partnerships allow a business to break free of the confines of everyday operation, and to work with universities to translate ideas into commercial realities.

While Australia lags behind the world in translating research into commercial outcomes university-industry partnerships internationally are being exploited to great effect.

While Australian universities are among the world’s best, when it comes to innovation it’s important to make sure that research, innovation and business are connected. If research is irrelevant to startups, SMEs and not-for-profits it becomes a purely academic exercise.

At the forum international and national business and academic speakers will present case studies of successful university-industry collaboration including examples of business innovation, incubators and accelerators.

Attendees will not only learn what has worked but they will also discover what can be done to improve university-industry interactions and engagement, particularly for startups and SMEs in the Australian context.

A multitude of speakers with wide ranging backgrounds and experience will speak at the conference.

Major themes

  • The role of incubators, accelerators and TTOs (Technology Transfer Offices) in engaging startups and SMEs while at the same time connecting those start up and SMEs with university-industry innovation.
  • Global forces shaping opportunities for business (including startups and SMEs) over the coming decade
  • Business perspectives on the opportunities and barriers to university-industry collaboration.
  • Developing environments where innovation can thrive.
  • Regulation and legal framework (patent law, licensing, federal and state jurisdictions and university policies).
  • The economic, political and societal framework in which business and/or universities operate (incentives, competitiveness, regulation, competition policy, innovation and technology policy).

Sessions include

  • Conference evening event with a key note speaker and networking opportunities.
  • International and national academic speakers and case studies on successful approaches to university –industry collaboration with a focus on startups and SMEs. Questions answered will include; what has worked and why? What can be learned from mistakes? What needs to change?
  • Australian business leaders’ perspectives on global challenges and opportunities for innovation and improving industry-university collaboration.
  • The state of Australia’s national innovation system – Australian government perspective, frameworks, opportunities, incentives and challenges.
  • Master Classes on frugal innovation; design thinking and lean start-up principles; and, data analytics and business transformation.

Event Details

Date: Wednesday 27 (afternoon) and all-day Thursday 28 September 2017

Where: La Trobe Business School, located at the Donald Whitehead Building, La Trobe Melbourne Campus, Bundoora Victoria

Register: Please register via this link.

The perks of being a PhD student rep


By Anne Brouwer

Why would you become a student representative?

Let me rephrase that.Why would you want to read 30-page policies? Why would you want to spend hours in meetings? Why would you choose to put yourself out there and speak up to higher management? Why would you want to deal with other people’s problems? Why would you want to be the one to open up a can of worms?

You won’t believe this, but it’s actually quite fun!

Of course, there is the feeling of satisfaction for serving the greater good. I can’t deny that it feels awesome to help fellow graduate students when they have issues concerning their PhD journey.

There is the unique experience of learning how educational institutions operate, of realising how complex universities are and getting a sense of the politics behind it.

There are the networks you make, not only with fellow graduate students but getting to personally know the people in charge! You know, the ones that help run this joint, like the Dean, Associate Vice-Chancellors, Pro-Vice Chancellors, School Graduate Coordinators and so on. They are the kind of people that might come in handy when you need an extension, reference or a job.

Talking about jobs, extracurricular activities definitely boost your resume. I have built up a wide array of examples for future job interviews that show leadership skills, project management, resolving conflict situations, organising events, time management, teamwork, etc. I hate to say it, but it’s important to show your future employer that you’re more than just a person who holds a doctorate. Let’s face it, our future prospects in academia don’t look all that great, especially not when all you have been doing is your PhD, just like all the others holding doctorates out there.

But, as I said earlier, it is also just really fun. Going to exclusive events, getting free food and drinks, making new friends among your fellow PhD students, learning that the students in the other College aren’t as scary after all, and just getting the opportunity to hang out with people you would otherwise never come across.

Another great thing about being a student rep is that it allows you to get away from your PhD research without feeling too guilty about it. I quickly realised that working full-time on my PhD research was not going to work for me. It is mentally draining, I have a short attention span, and I’m easily bored. These three years should not only be about working hard on my research, but also for some socialising, fun, and freebies as well!

And if you think “it doesn’t matter because nobody will listen to us”, you’ve got it all wrong. When I started out as a graduate student representative about a year ago, I quickly came to realise that La Trobe takes its graduate student reps seriously. When we raise issues, action is usually taken straight away and feedback that we give on candidature policies actually gets incorporated.

If you are like me and allergic to people who only complain and don’t do anything to make their problems go away, and if you read this blog thinking being a student rep could indeed be fun, then shoot me an email (a.brouwer@latrobe.edu.au) and let’s talk about how you can get involved!

Anne Brouwer is a PhD Candidate and a Research Scholar in the La Trobe Business School at La Trobe University. 

She has completed a Master of Science degree from both the Technical University Munich and University of Wageningen, and holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Zuyd University of Applied Sciences. Her research interests are in green marketing, greenwashing and sustainable consumption. 

She is the student representative for the ASSC College on the Board of Graduate Research and the student representative for the La Trobe Business School. 

Outside LTU activities she travels around the world (whenever her schedule allows it), volunteers as a marketer for a non-profit organisation, hikes around Victoria and cycles a lot. She tweets from @AnneRBrouwer.

This post was originally published on the RED Alert Research Blog.

LBS Tourism and Hospitality International Study Program (THS3ISP) to Vietnam.

Imperial City
On 27th June 2016, LBS’s Paul Strickland and Tanya Thornton accompanied twenty one students studying either a Bachelor of Business (Tourism and Hospitality), Bachelor of Business (Event Management) or Bachelor of Business (Event Management/Marketing) from Bundoora and Bendigo campuses for a 14 days study program in Vietnam.

The Tourism and Hospitality International Study Program subject was designed to highlight tourism, hospitality and event related activities, including a range of different dining and gastronomic experiences, various levels of accommodation standards, tourism activities for westerners and the legacy of war. The entire program included breakfast, lunch and dinner daily in a variety of dining environments including set menu, buffet and cooking classes. Sampling all the delicious local cuisine was one of the highlights of the tour.

Commencing our program in Hanoi, lectures took place at Hanoi (Hanu) University where local students studying LTU programs joined in one-on-one discussions. After city tours, rickshaw rides and a water puppet show, we travelled by bus to the World Heritage listed Ha Long Bay for an unforgettable two day stay on a large 28 cabin boat which we had all to ourselves. Students were able to swim, play volleyball, explore limestone caves and kayak in amazing scenery. The itinerary took us to three other cities including Hue, Hoi-An and Hoi Chi Minh City where we soaked up the sunshine with glorious tours of temples, beautiful heritage architecture, solemn war museums and Australian battlefields.

There are simply too many student activities to list, but the program also encompassed many charity restaurants which aim to help street kids train in hospitality and better their lives. We celebrated two birthdays while we were away, singing Karaoke and dancing at a Sky bar, and we relaxed in a resort pool, but to know the rest you’d have to come along and experience it for yourself. Student feedback after the trip; ‘10/10’, ‘wouldn’t change a thing’ and ‘a much better way to learn’…. however, these comments were made before three more assessment tasks were due!

Buly Cardak’s research reveals connections between student dropout rate and financial hardship

Buly Cardak La Trobe Business School

La Trobe Business School academic Buly Cardak recently came under the spotlight with his research on dropout rates among university students, with his research receiving significant media coverage. Specialising in the economics of education, he has been researching factors influencing students’ studies since early 2006. In his recent study, Associate Professor Cardak and his collaborator Joe Vecci studied the connection between the financial hardship of university students and the likelihood that these students would graduate or dropout at some later stage in their studies.

The data show that one in three students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds drop out from university studies. Further to this, students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds are up to 15% more likely to dropout than students from financially secure backgrounds. It is believed these effects operate through costs of living, e.g. paying for food, books, or transport, rather the tuition fees which can be deferred through HECS.

Associate Professor Cardak notes that these results are important because not only do they show that students experiencing financial hardship are more likely to drop out, but it was found that after three years of study, the likelihood of dropping out among financially disadvantaged students increases rather than falls as it does for other students. Disadvantaged students that don’t finish their degree in the standard allotted time are likely to be cut off from government income support. Facing this financial challenge, many students have no choice but to drop out. Not only is this detrimental to disadvantaged students, but it is also costly to society. After financially supporting students for several years, to have them drop out of university altogether, presents the economy with a costly loss of potentially skilled graduates.

Another important finding was how the Youth Allowance benefited students. It was found that students who are independent Youth Allowance recipients were less likely to drop out. However, results pointed to these students taking a longer time to graduate. It is suspected that this is related to students who have taken time off from study in order to work full time and earn sufficient income to demonstrate their financial independence and qualify for independent Youth Allowance. It seems that taking this time off from study has a longer term detrimental effect with students in this situation actually taking longer to graduate.

Associate Professor Buly Cardak and Joe Vecci, who have been conducting this study together, are hoping to conduct further analysis over the coming years on this issue, and to consider ways to improve the circumstances for financially disadvantaged students.

To read the full article in which this research has been published, see: Cardak, B.A. and J. Vecci, “Graduates, Dropouts and Slow Finishers: The Effects of Socioeconomic Status on University Educational Outcomes”, Oxford Bulletin Of Economics and Statistics.

 

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