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VET declining in Victoria

decline (1)23 March 2015     |    The Andrews government says the latest Victorian Training Market Report the vocational education and training (VET) in Victoria was in crisis under the former Napthine government.TAFE enrolments, in particular have continued to plummet, with government-subsidised places falling by 33% over the past year. More vulnerable Victorians are missing out with government-funded training enrolments by regional students, trainees, disabled and disadvantaged learners all in decline. There was an 18% drop in 15 to 19-year-olds receiving government-funded training last year. Training and skills minister Steve Herbert said the figures showed the damaging impact of the former government’s cuts to the TAFE sector….[ MORE ]…..

Scientists warn on research funding

Invest in research5 March 2015    |    A group of leading scientists, comprising the National Research Alliance (NRA), has written to the Prime Minister warning that Australia’s research effort is on the verge of shutting down due to uncertainty over operational funding for the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).Money for the NCRIS to operate for another year is tied to the government’s higher education reforms, which have stalled in the Senate. The letter says that, since 2004, NCRIS and its predecessor program has sensibly and successfully guided Australia’s national research infrastructure investment; committing over $2 billion of taxpayer money to 27 major research facilities…..[ MORE ]…..

ACPET calls out Evocca

Print5 March 2015    |    Following allegations about Evocca College on the ABC 7.30 program, the Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET), the peak body for the private training sector has formally asked Evocca College to provide evidence against the allegations that have been made and issued a show cause letter…..[ MORE ]…..

Clamp down on dodgy operators

5 March 2015    |     The federal government has introduced new laws designed to clamp down on the tafe-qualsdodgy private colleges that have proliferated throughout the country. The legislation will allow the government to create quality standards at short notice, force unethical marketers to identify which registered training organisation (RTO) is providing the course and extend the registration period for compliant colleges from five to seven years to better target audits to “high-risk” providers. The move comes after assistant minister for education and training Simon Birmingham announced that the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) would investigate 23 vocational educational institutions after widespread allegations of students being tricked into signing up for courses…..[ MORE ]…..

Evocca College under scrutiny

Evocca4 March 2015    |    As a Senate committee, in an interim report, expresses concern about the rapid increase in government funding to non-TAFE providers, the ABC continues its serial exposé on the industry. According to the ABC, Evocca College, one of the largest players in the training industry, has a graduation rate of just 10%, despite claiming more than $290 million in four years from the government via the VET FEE-HELP student loan scheme. It’s now being investigated by the federal regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Authority.The ABC reports that out of 38,213 students who signed up to Evocca’s diploma courses in the past four years, only 2,058 had been awarded diplomas by October 2014. There were 16,567 students who officially cancelled and 3,897 who timed out of the course. These students appear stuck with debts of thousands of dollars and no qualification to show for it. The Commonwealth will be stuck with bad debts, totalling at least tens of millions of dollars, for no good purpose…..[ MORE ]…..

Careers Australia caught up in enrolment scam

3 March 2015    |    One of Australia’s biggest private training providers is being accused of using Careers Austsalesmen who target disadvantaged areas and enrol poor students with fake entrance exams. Careers Australia is a market leader in vocational education, with 16 campuses across five states and 14,000 students, and is expanding rapidly by engaging door-to-door salespeople to sign up new students to courses funded by the Federal Government. Last financial year Careers Australia billed taxpayers for almost $110 million in VET FEE-HELP loans. But a current Careers Australia student and former sales broker have told ABC’s 7.30 that rapid growth is being achieved using dubious sales tactics……[ MORE ]…..

Australia’s first Buddhist college

3 March 2015    |     Australia’s first government accredited Buddhist tertiary education provider, the Nan Tien Institute (NTI), officially opened its doors on Sunday 1 March 2015, at its newly constructed Wollongong Campus.

Nan Tien 2NTI describes itself as a secular tertiary Institute and says its purpose is to educate students in a context informed by Buddhist wisdom and values. It aims to facilitate cultural understanding and appreciation through the academic study of the arts, education, human welfare, religions and other disciplines. NTI currently offers six post graduate courses through its Faculty of Humanities and new Faculty of Health. These are Master of Arts (Applied Buddhist Studies and Health and Social Wellbeing); Graduate Diploma (Applied Buddhist Studies and Health and Social Wellbeing); and Graduate Certificate (Applied Buddhist Studies and Health and Social Wellbeing)…..[ MORE ]…..

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Comment & analysis

The Conversation | 23 March 2015

More or less regulation?

Seeking coherence in tertiary education

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The federal government’s proposed higher education reforms failed spectacularly in the Senate again last week. Before the government tries a third time to secure support for a policy that has been difficult to sell, Swinburne University vice-chancellor Linda Kristjanson write that the government needs to learn from past mistakes in the tertiary education sector and think carefully about how to move forward.

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Academy

Australians rejected deregulation because it wasn’t fair for all

The debate has advanced since the government’s proposed changes to university funding were first unveiled in the 2014 budget. The public is much better informed about the systemic underfunding of Australian universities.

It is also much more widely accepted now that fee deregulation of the kind proposed is likely to result in significant fee increases for students. The architect of the HECS system, Bruce Chapman, has consistently argued this throughout this long debate.

The potential for the proposed policy changes to be highly inflationary was evident immediately upon the unveiling of the package last May, when I wrote:

We do not support full fee deregulation for Australian undergraduate degrees. Full fee deregulation will inevitably lead to much higher fees for our students […] Our system of higher education should continue to encourage fees which are not out of reach for those capable Australians who aspire to university study.

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Life & stuff

12 March 2015

Street scenes

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Our streets are alive with sound and music, colour and movement, art and protest, hope and the offer of redemption, happiness and a little sadness. Click an image to go to the gallery. You might want to check out London – then and now.

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