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Govt likely to modify HECS repayment proposalBruce Chapman

1 August 2014    |     The federal government is expected to ditch one of its most controversial budget measures – the plan to apply real interest rates to student debts -following advice from Bruce Chapman, the architect of the HECS repayment scheme that it is unfair to low income graduates. His modelling has found such graduates could pay 30% more for a degree than their high-income counterparts if the government indexes student debts at the government bond rate rather than inflation. Women who take time off work to have children would be among the hardest hit. With an assumed  starting debt of $60,000, Chapman’s modelling found low-income graduates (those in the bottom 30% of earners) would amass total repayments of $105,000 from under the while the top 25% of earners would pay only $75,000 in total repayments on the same debt – $30,000 less than low earners.  Graduates on a median salary would pay about $82,000 in repayments on the same starting debt….[ MORE ]….

Skills reform a “shemozzle of a dog’s breakfast“…

Jeff Cunningham24 July 2014    |    Skills reform in Australia is an “absolute shemozzle” and is jeopardising a world-class vocational education and training system, says Jeff Gunningham, recently retired chief executive of TAFE South Australia.  But the apparent troubles besetting TAFE are the invention of a “misinformed media”, according to the Victorian minister.  Gunningham told the Victorian TAFE Association conference that bureaucratic bungling and an obsession with the bottom line is degrading training and threatening the existence of public TAFE institutes.  He said TAFE is at risk in Australia, driven by a Council of Australian Governments policy on entitlement which is simply not working and which he described as “ a dog’s breakfast”…..[ MORE ]….

…and uni reforms a “looming disaster”mortar board

24 July 2014   |  University of Canberra vice-chancellor says the whole university “reform” package emanating from the budget spells disaster for students and the country.  While some some aspects are more palatable than others, the reforms are not being presented as a menu from which to choose. The fact is  that 20%  is being removed from government funding for university places. To make up the shortfall, universities will be able to charge students more, and then go further than what is required to restore the funding. Students will be able to add the increased contributions to their HECS debt, but HECS repayments will also be going up, and real and compounding interest will be applied, and most graduates will take longer to pay off their debt, thus affecting their ability to start a family, open a small business, buy a house and so on. So, having to choose, Parker opposes the lot….[ MORE ]….

Navitas takes a hit and steadies….

24 July 2014 |Navitas    Rod Jones, The chief executive of education group Navitas says it’s highly unlikely there will be any nasty surprises among the 25 other university partners for which the company runs pathways colleges as a bridge to university education, after its dumping by Macquarie University.He says he doesn’t harbour any grudges toward Macquarie University after it made the surprise in early July to end an 18-year arrangement, making it the first university to not renew an existing agreement in Navitas’ history.  Writedowns mainly related to the loss of a crucial contract with Macquarie University triggered a sharp slide in the bottomline profit of Navitas, which still expects solid growth in a sector undergoing major changes in funding models and policy shifts.  Navitas  has foreshadowed  a 31% drop in net profit after tax to $51.6 million for the 12 months ended 30  June  after booking impairment charges of $30.5 million….[ MORE ]….

…and announces four charitable partnerships

Navitas partnerships

Private global education provider Navitas has announced four education focused charitable partnerships to support education and learning across Australia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Cambodia and Afghanistan.These projects are funded via the Navitas Education Trust (NET), a vehicle for Navitas as a company to support charitable organisations and activities,to which Navitas contributes a set amount each year.   A proportion is used to fund education based initiatives developed in partnership with charities while the remainder is invested to generate interest for future use…..[ MORE ]….

Torrens officially launched 

24 July 2014     |      Former US President Bill Clinton has officially launched the private Torrens University, which accepted its first students this year.Clinton is Torrens logothe Honorary Chancellor of the global Laureate Universities International, to which Torrens belongs. Clinton told a gathering in Adelaide that networks of co-operation work better than geniuses acting alone or groups bent on destroying each other. Torrens University is the first private university to have been opened in Australia in more than 20 years….[ MORE ]….

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Milestones

Vicki Thomson joins Go8

29 July 2014

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The Group of Eight (Go8) has appointed Ms Vicki Thomson as its Executive Director to succeed Mike Gallagher, who is stepping down after seven years in the job.
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Vicki-Thomson-photoThe Group of Eight (Go8) has appointed Ms Vicki Thomson as its Executive Director to succeed Mike Gallagher, who is stepping down after seven years in the job.Ms Thomson comes to the role after more than a decade leading the Australian Technology Network of Universities. Ms Thomson is also a member of the Australia China Council Board and the New Colombo Plan Reference Group.

The Go8 Chair Ian Young AO, says that the appointment of Ms Thomson will further strengthen collaboration on all fronts between Australia’s leading universities and build on current international partnerships, including those in Latin America and in China with the C9 group of universities.

The chair of the ATN Peter Coaldrake thanked Ms Thomson for her “wonderful contribution” over the past decade during which, he said, the ATN has taken enormous steps forward, and her commitment to advancing Australia’s university-industry nexus.

Professor Young noted that in his time as Executive Director, Mike Gallagher had been a leading spokesman for the sector and had contributed to many policy debates, ensuring that they have been informed by policy principle and that reforms have been subject to evaluation and analysis.

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A milestone

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exclamation224 July 2014     |     This is The Scan’s 2000th post since we went to this particular format in February 2012 (although The Scan itself dates from June 2010 – check out the first Scan).  These are the top ten posts and they’re actually quite representative of what The Scan “does”. Obviously, we’re a news aggregator: we take news from other outlets and try to put it into digestible form for busy people (which was the original purpose of The Scan). But we also provide independently sourced news and commentary. And we cover the whole of the tertiary sector: higher education and VET, public and private. We don’t cover everything – and never could – but we try to cover what matters. This selection is split evenly between higher education and VET, between “news” and “views” and split more or less evenly over three years.

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Talking heads

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Free creative careers seminar series.
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Talking Heads

 

From radio to TV and music to photography: hear from experts who have made it in the industries they love. 23 July to 15 October : Melbourne Polytechnic, 144 High St Prahran.

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Comment & analysis

Fee changes have the potential to “tear through the social fabric

29 July 2014

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The prospect of university fee deregulation, as proposed in the Budget, has divided the university sector.  The Group of Eight is strongly in favour, with ANU vice-chancellor and Go8 chair Ian Young saying that, in an environment of declining public funding, without fee deregulation, the university sector is unsustainable.  The Australian Technology Network universities “reluctantly”  agrees and the peak body, Universities Australia is not opposed. But number of individual vice -chancellors have been strongly critical of the proposal, most recently University of Canberra vice-chancellor Stephen Parker, describing proposed reforms, with fee deregulation as the centrepiece, as ” a potentially calamitous package” .
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 Yet the university groups, individual universities and many commentators agree on one thing: never mind fee deregulation, in its current form, the package would be deleterious, if not actually calamitous,   for many graduates in later life, through the combination of higher fees and real interest rates.   Writing in the Business Spectator (Tinkering with education will tear through Australia’s social fabric), Callum Pickering reproduces modelling by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM).

Their modelling shows that the effect of deregulation is likely to be felt most strongly for those pursuing science degrees and those in lower-paying occupations such as teaching and nursing. Those pursuing business degrees take a hit but to a far lesser extent given their higher earning capacity.

The graph below shows the estimated increase in repayments based on a number of scenarios. The first is the base case, which assumes that the university is happy to simply recover the cost of the government’s planned funding reduction. The other three scenarios show how the repayments change as universities increase their fees by 10, 20 or 50 per cent above the level necessary to recover costs.

Graph for Tinkering with education will tear through Australia’s social fabric
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More students in higher ed, but it’s no more representative

 28 July 2014

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Tim Pitman of the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education analyses the latest data on equity participation in higher education.  While participation by students in all equity groups has certainly improved in raw numbers, all groups remain heavily under-represented. For example, participation by Indigenous people is about half their proportion in the population and  for low SES people about two-thirds.
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Go8 Equity scalesThe 2013 student data has been released, which includes information on access for groups of students under-represented in higher education. Lately, most of the attention has been on students from low socio-economic backgrounds, and whether or not the implementation of the demand driven system – or uncapping the number of domestic undergraduate places – has improved access for them by increasing supply and reducing competition.

It has. This is vindication of the demand driven system – and the efforts within the sector – to improve accessibility for this group in both actual and proportional terms.

However, there are five more groups of students officially classified as disadvantaged, for the purposes of “equity”. Not all of these groups have found the demand driven system has been as positive for them. In fact, some have found their slice of the pie getting smaller.

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TDA Conf

The 2014 TDA National Conference will be held in Sydney at the Sheraton on the Park from 31 August – 2 September. register______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Zeitgeist

MH17, Gaza and the value of human life

27 July 2014

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“In Gaza there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide… As usual in Gaza, it’s the children and civilians who suffer most.”  (John Lyons, The Australian).  Over a thousand civilians have died and  thousands injured – a great many of them children.   In this article, Waleed Ali reflects on the universal value that should attach to human life.
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Gaza2

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