UniServe Science News Volume 9 March 1998


From the Director

Ian Johnston
Director, UniServe Science

The good news is, we live on.

As those of you who have been following this column will know, our funding which originally came from CAUT has run out after three years. We had thought that the UniServe network had been set up as a proof of concept, to answer the question: is there a need in this country for a centralized national service that would collect and disseminate information about the place of the new technologies in university teaching? Our brief was to show that the concept could work. In our last two newsletters we appealed to you to tell us how you thought we had gone. The responses we got, while not overwhelming, were strongly supportive. According to most of you who sent us your opinions, a clearinghouse of the kind we have been running is indeed needed, and we seem to have been running it as it should be run.

However it seems we were wrong in our assumptions. In the view of the new Committee for University Teaching and Staff Development (CUTSD), we were just another "project". When the money runs out, it runs out. What are you complaining about?

We believe that is a short-sighted view. The service we have been giving is a national service. If it is worthwhile, it should be funded nationally. But what's done is done, and there's no point in crying over spilt clichés.

We looked for funding elsewhere and the University of Sydney, which had in fact been supplying 60% of our funding up till now, has decided to fund us completely for a further three years. We are extremely grateful to the three branches of the University who have decided to do this: the College of Sciences and Technology, the Faculty of Science and the Information Technology Committee. It shows far-sightedness to make this offer, especially as they are prepared for us to retain our national perspective.

Since we believe passionately that this national outlook is important we will continue to provide our current service. We will maintain our network of contacts in departments all over the country, though we might try to get them to work more effectively. We will keep putting out QuicKards, and upgrade them every few years. We will continue to run workshops, at least one per year, to give science teachers a chance to meet one another. We will continue to review and evaluate new software. We will maintain our web-site and the searchable database. And of course we will keep publishing these newsletters.

Furthermore we are planning to broaden our client base from the seven experimental sciences, to include mathematics and computer science. We figure that this expansion will take us three years to achieve. You could help us by telling your colleagues in these disciplines and asking them to volunteer as departmental contacts. Please ask them to email us.

We do, of course, have a greater responsibility to look after the interests of the University of Sydney, and to that end we plan to develop some new programmes. But we believe we can take on board these new responsibilities while maintaining the service we provide. After all, much of the work in the last three years was in setting up things. That much at least is finished now.

So keep reading. We'll be back.

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UniServe Science News Volume 9 March 1998

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