14/11/14

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Murdoch allegations revealed

"Between 29th January and 17th September, there were some pretty shocking things that happened."

“Between 29th January and 17th September, there were some pretty shocking things that happened.”

14 November 2014    |    The chancellor of Murdoch University has revealed the nature of allegations senior academic staff under investigation by theWestern Australia’s Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC).Vice-chancellor Richard Higgott resigned last month after he was reported to the CCC by the university. Last week, Murdoch announced its second most senior executive, Professor Ann Capling, was also under investigation for alleged misconduct. The allegations include someone providing misleading information to the CCC; conflict of interest in relation to appointments; destruction of records; credit card misuse: and bullying…..[ MORE ]…..

Class action pending over Vocation

13 November     |    More than 30 institutional investors from both Australia and overseas are backing a class action being planned by law firm Maurice VocationBlackburn over disclosure practices at embattled education firm Vocation. Maurice Blackburn has launched online registration page to allow retail shareholders to sign up to be part of a class action, joining the large institutions angry at the heavy losses of $350 million-plus as the share price plunged. Maurice Blackburn class actions principal Jacob Varghese said there had been substantial interest from institutional investors in pursuing a class action, and the firm would be undertaking further investigations with a view to formally commencing proceedings by late calendar 2014 or early next year……[ MORE ]…..

Probe widens at Murdoch

Ann Capling11 November 2014     |   Murdoch University has confirmed that provost Ann Capling is the subject of an investigation following unspecified allegations against her that emerged from the investigation that led to the recent resignation of former vice-chancellor Richard Higgott. Murdoch also confirmed that none of the university’s deans had been presented with allegations, although a limited number of other senior staff are apparently being investigated. The issues (regarding Capling) emerged as part of the initial investigation undertaken by Murdoch University at the request of the Western Australian Corruption and Crime Commission. As a result of this investigation, the University has now provided written allegations to Professor Capling for her response. …. She is absent from the university at her request…..[ MORE ]…..

Review of SA skills funding program

Skills for all11 November 2014    |     The South Australian government has commissioned an external review of the state’s skills initiative, Skills for All, to be completed by the end of the year. Employment, higher education and skills minister Gail Gago said that, two years on from its implementation, “with a changing State economy, it is time to evaluate the program so far and consider the next phase of policy development for training, skills and employment.” The review will examine existing initiative and assess progress on Skills for All objectives, the overall cost and efficiency, and the vocational education and training impacts…..[ MORE ]…..

The leadership imbroglio at Murdoch

7 November 2014     |       In scenes redolent of the political sphere, Murdoch University seems riven by leadership tension,Murdoch logo following the forced resignation of Richard Higgott as vice-chancellor. Higgott had been suspended in September upon certain matters being reported to the WA Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) by the university. University faculty appear heavily divided, with senior academics seemingly sympathetic to Higgott and his close “ally” provost Ann Capling, while an anonymous ginger group styling itself Murdoch Meta Management Group are highly antipathetic. Tensions are unlikely to ease until the CCC delivers its findings…..[ MORE ]…..

Acquire in ASQA spotlight

Acquire Learning7 November 2014     |       The marketing practices of Acquire Learning, chaired by former AFL chief Andrew Demetriou, are being investigated by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) following complaints about cold calling and inappropriately ¬enrolling jobseekers who had ¬applied for positions advertised on the Seek employment website. Acquire itself is not a registered training organisation, but works as a broker allocating students to individual providers. Acquire has been the subject of complaints whereby jobseekers applying for positions are pressured into undertaking private tertiary study, in some cases becoming burdened by debts of up to $8000….[ MORE ]…..

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31 October 2014

Snapshot of VET in Australia

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Infographic-Students-and-Courses

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NCVER has released four infographics that provide an overview of publicly-funded training based on NCVER’s main data collections:


• Students and courses – including key findings from Young people in education and training
• Apprentices & trainees
• VET finance
• VET outcomes – drawing key findings from Student outcomes and Employers’ use and views of the VET system.  

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Milestones

ATN’s new director

 

Renee Hindmarsh7 November  2014      |       The Australian Technology Network of Universities (ATN) has appointed Renee Hindmarsh as its new executive director, succeeding Vicki Thomson who has taken up the executive director position at the Group of 8. She commenced on 3 November. Hindmarsh was previously a director of Barton Deakin Public Relations in Melbourne. She has worked as a chief of staff, senior adviser and media adviser to successive Liberal ministers.  A graduate of Monash University, she has a very strong knowledge of the Australian higher education sector. The ATN says that Hindamarsh has “a superb blend of the attributes the ATN requires in this critical leadership position – advocacy, media and communication experience, public policy skills and a close knowledge of the workings of our political institutions.“…..[ MORE ]….

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31 October 2014

The Scan in October 2014

Top Ten

In October The Scan published 47 posts, considerably lees than usual, and only published 2 editions, rather than the 4-5 in a usual month.  Early in October, we suffered what seemed to be a catastrophic ICT event , which turned out merely to be a bit of a disaster but limited activity (nothing to do with viruses and worms!).  As note last month  Scan readers seem to be drawn to a whiff of controversyand the runaway controversy in October were the regulatory travails of the ASX-listed training provider Vocation (and which seem to have some way to run yet). University fee deregulation featured highly, with advocates and opponents lobbying hard through the month,  ahead of a Senate committee report on the legislation and anticipated debate in the Senate (yet to happen).  The arithmetic of the Senate seemingly dooms the package, with Labor, Greens and PUP opposed – but who knows.  The Palmer team has shown a certain flexibilty, quite conducive to backflipping.  A surpise top post concerned James Baraz’s mother, which was originally posted in November 2012 and in October enjoyed more views than in the preceding 2 years.

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Comment & analysis

Senate committee report on uni fees

Sector responses

30 October 2014Fee increase2

It’s hardly news that all the university groups are as one that there is no alternative to fee deregulation to provide the funding to maintain the quality of Australian higher education (given declining public funding). They are not as one on how the proposed Commonwealth Scholarship scheme funding (provided by students) should be divvied up: the Group of 8 and ATN argue the money should be held and disbursed by the collecting institution, the RUN and IRU argue that it should be pooled and disbursed on a needs basis.

quote marksLet’s not kick the can down the road for another generation to grapple with and risk the quality and competitiveness of our higher education system.

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6 November  2014

Senate impasse creating all round uncertainty

Too many “known unknowns” (2)

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Go8 logoThe Group of 8 consideration of the negative impact of the legislative impasse in the Senate on the government’s higher education package comes on the back of Melbourne University stating that it is unable to frame a budget for next year or beyond because there are to many “known unknowns.   Neither can you say that its prognostications about the likely impact on other areas of university funding, such as research, are unreasonable: the government  seems set to effect at least its savings, one way or another.  Elsewhere, the Grattan Institute’s Andrew Norton suggests a freeze on student numbers would be on the cards if the deregulation package is ultimately  blocked in the Senate.

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Following the release of the report of the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee on 28 October, debate commenced in the Senate on the second reading of the Higher Education and Research Reform Bill 2014 on 29 October but was suspended that evening. The Senate is scheduled to resume sittings on 24 November for two weeks before rising for the year. If the Bill is not passed in an amended form by 4 December, the Government may wait for a period in the first half of 2015 before reviving debate. Such drift would exacerbate anxieties among school students and parents who are already confused by misleading claims of exorbitant fee rises. It would also raise serious questions about timeframes for implementation.
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31 October 2014

Uni fee deregulation will result in choice and value?

Don’t hold your breath, says Schwartz

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Steven SchwartzSteven Schwartz was vice-chancellor of Macquarie University from 2006 to 2012 and is currently director of the Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. Interestingly he is an academic advisor to Centre for Independent Studies, libertarian thinktank “actively engaged in supporting a free enterprise economy and a free society under limited government where individuals can prosper and fully develop their talents”. With this background, you’d think Schwartz would be a natural proponent of university fee deregulation. You’d think wrong . In this opinion piece published in The Australian on 29 October Schwartz demonstrates himself to be somewhat of a sceptic that fee deregulation will result in a market in which price will reflect course value.

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In 1989, the federal government set undergraduate university fees at $1800 a year. If prices had increased in line with inflation, the fee today would be $3481.

Instead, university fees range from $6044 to $10,085, vastly outstripping inflation.

This stratospheric increase would be an argument for government-mandated price controls except for one problem: the government did control univer­sity fees during the entire 25-year period. And it still does.

Without government price ceilings, university fees would have soared even higher. Vice-chancellors certainly wanted them to. If university prices are deregulated, as the government proposes, they will get their chance.

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Swinburne Media Centre    |     6 November 2014

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As the cross bench senators weigh up the government’s higher education reform package, including university fee deregulation and student loan interest rates, they might well consider a comparison table released by Swinburne University of Technology  to assist in the evaluation of four policy options that have been canvassed to moderate against excessive student fee increases from 2016.

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Experts have predicted that the price of degrees will increase significantly from 2016.  The proposed flat fee of $16,000 per year announced by the University of Western Australia for 2016 represents an increase over 2014 prices, ranging from +56% (Bachelor of Commerce) to +166% (Bachelor of Arts).

Any price rises from 2016 are likely to be compounded by the operation of the HELP scheme, which ensures that price signals are weak for consumers at the time of purchase. There will be no upper limit on the amounts that students can borrow either for undergraduate or postgraduate degrees from 2016.

A number of mechanisms have been proposed to moderate likely fee increases from 2016. Swinburne University of Technology has proposed an annual student loan limit (a ‘soft cap’) as one means of exerting downward pressure on price from 2016.  Other options that have been canvassed include  an advisory committee, a pricing regulator and the establishment  of new maximum student contributions for higher education  (a ‘hard cap’).

This resource presents how each of these four policy options would work and how strongly each would operate to produce downward pressure on prices set by higher education providers from 2016.

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LH Martin Institute – Associate Director

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The Institute is currently advertising for the position of Associate Director. The successful applicant will be responsible for furthering stakeholder engagement as well as ensuring the suite of activities developed are meeting the needs of senior leaders and managers in the tertiary education sector. Excellent leadership and negotiating skills are essential.

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Life & stuff

9  November 2014

The pale blue dot

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quote marksOur planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

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It’s the anniversary of the birth of Carl Sagan  (1934- 1996), the American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer, and science Carl Sagan 2communicator in astronomy and other natural sciences.  He is perhaps best known for presenting the TV series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which has been described as “a watershed moment for science-themed television programming”.


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