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Pyne introduces reform bill

 

28 August 2014   |    The government introduced its higher education reform legislation into Parliament – the Higher Education and Research Reform Amendment Bill 2014.  As anticipated, the legislation closely mirrors the announcement on budget night. There is to be fee deregulation with a requirement that 20% of net additional revenue from fee increases be set aside for equity scholarships. Students’ loans through the HELP scheme will be indexed at the 10-year bond rate from 2016 but with no loan fee and no cap on the amount students can borrow. The Commonwealth Grant Scheme rates have the 20% cut applied through the new funding tiers. The Research Training Scheme will receive a 10% cut but with the potential for universities to charge a fee to compensate.   Grandfathering will work as announced on budget night, with a published fee maximum for current students until the end of 2020 or when they finish study, whichever comes first. Sub-bachelor places, such as associate degrees, will be funded at the same rate as bachelor degrees. Student fee subsidies will be extended to non-university providers  such as TAFEs and private colleges , at 70% of the rate offered to universities for similar degrees. Eligibility for non universities to the Commonwealth Grant Scheme will be based on registration with the regulator, the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA), and a signed funding agreement with the Commonwealth…..[ MORE ]……

 

UA calls for passage of an amended deregulation package

Belinda Robinson

Belinda Robinson

28 August 2014    |    Universities Australia (UA) has called on the Parliament to support the deregulation of Australian universities with changes to the government’s proposals that it says will assure affordability for students and taxpayers. UA chief executive, Belinda Robinson, said that the Parliament has a once in a generation opportunity to shape an Australian higher education system that is sustainable, affordable and equitable in serving the best interests of students and the nation. She said that with budgets under pressure, governments facing a myriad of competing priorities for public funding, and successive governments being disinclined to invest at the level that repeated independent reports have shown to be needed, full deregulation of higher education is needed. “Either the status quo of ongoing inadequate investment, or further cuts without deregulation will condemn Australia’s great university system to inevitable decline, threaten our international reputation and make it increasingly difficult for universities to meet the quality expectations of our students,” said Ms Robinson….[ MORE ]……

Pyne’s well oiled machine 

27 August 2014    |    Education minister Christopher Pyne has warned there is only “one shot in the locker’’ for university reform and Australia’s $15 billion higher welloiled2education sector will follow manufacturing into decline if his deregulation plan fails. He describes his proposed reforms as an integrated “well-oiled machine”.
Pyne insists that the sector broadly supports reform, though there are concerns among vice-chancellors about aspects of the controversial package of measures, particularly his plan to charge interest paid on commonwealth loans at the government bond rate, capped at 6% a year, rather than inflation. Although he is negotiating with senators and has indicated he is prepared to “compromise”, Pyne would not canvass his negotiating position. The legislation to be introduced to Parliament on 28 August will take in all measures unveiled in the budget, despite the criticism of the package. In addition to fee deregulation and interest rate changes, the package includes a 20% cut to university funding, funding of a new commonwealth scholarship scheme (funded from student fees), expansion of the current demand-driven admission system to sub-degrees and expansion of the Commonwealth Grants Scheme to non-university higher education providers….[ MORE ]……

V-C’s argue for a modified reform package

Reform26 August 2014    |    Vice-chancellors have converged on Canberra to lobby education minister Christopher Pyne to push ahead with plans to deregulate tuition fees but with amendments to the whole reform package, including a rethink of proposals to impose sharply higher interest rates on student loans. The vice-chancellors have also reacted strongly to the suggestion that the government might grab savings from university research budgets if it does not get its reforms through the Senate. Glyn Davis, head of Melbourne University, described as “chilling” Pyne’s refusal to rule out cuts to research budgets and said such cuts: would be more devastating than any other one action: devastating to Australia’s reputation internationally, to our scientific workforce, to medical research…..[ MORE ]…..

Govt to target research for savings…???

24 August 2014    |     The federal government will reportedly consider slashing billions of dollars worth of research funding from universities if Parliament blocks its Targetsweeping higher education changes. Education minister Christopher Pyne intends to introduce legislation into the House of Representatives on 28 August to deregulate university fees, cut course funding by an average 20% and increase the interest charged on student loans. While these changes require legislative approval, cuts to research block grants, training schemes and other measures can be passed in appropriations bills which typically sail through Parliament unopposed. The government has identified cuts to research funding as a potential bargaining chip as Senate negotiations deepen over coming months…..[ MORE ]…..

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ATN Executive Director

ATN logoWith Vicki Thompson moving on to the Group of Eight, the Australian Technology Network is seeking a new Executive Director.  Applications close 8 September.

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Paralysis by analysis

29 August 2014

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I was recently introduced to the term “paralysis by analysis”, which put me in mind of the vocational education and training sector. VET must surely be the most officially inquired into, reported and advised on — and “reformed” — activity in Australia.

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 analysis paralysis

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane recently announced the appointment of a five-member advisory board charged in particular with ensuring industry has a stronger voice in the VET system so that it “is efficient and effective in delivering the job-ready workers that industry needs”.

The subtext of that statement would be that industry doesn’t currently have a strong influence and the sector is not very good at delivering job-ready workers.

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Comment & analysis

Getting higher ed reforms fit to fly

25 August 2014

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Linda K2 Professor Linda Kristjanson, vice-chancellor, Swinburne University of Technology proposes five key changes to the federal government’s higher education package – including a maximum cap on student fees and moderating proposed changes to student loans interest rates.

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One of Swinburne University’s subject strengths is aviation, and so when our researchers see an interesting new aircraft design one of the first things they ask is: will it fly?

That’s the question that confronts anyone considering the higher education reform package that formed part of the recent federal budget.

Will it give Australia a better educated and higher-skilled population? Will it give us higher quality research to prevent disease, create better products and solve pressing social problems? And will it do these things whilst encouraging innovation and providing better value for money? Will the deregulated system work? In other words: will it fly?

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Ivory Tower

  28 August 2014

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There are many aspects of the US system of higher education which are admirable and which we in Australia should seek to adapt to our own circumstances – such as a liberal arts education (which includes sciences) as a precursor to a professional qualification and community colleges.    And we are.  However, the US system of financing what they call “tuition” is somewhat more problematic: it’s a big mainstream political issue in the US, as shown in a recent documentary which featured at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.  The pre-release publicity for this documentary describes its a its “a must see for every parent and student facing the daunting task of selecting (and eventually paying for) their future education”. It’s a must see, really,  for our legislators in coming to an informed decision about the architecture of the deregulated system currently before the Parliament, so we’ll be sending it on to legislators and the minister. We encourage you to forward it on as well, to colleagues, friends and acquaintances.  This isn’t a film that will be played in cinemas but click the “read more” button for release and access details.

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Balancing act by universities can neutralise the effects of funding cuts

 29 August 2014

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Fairfax Media  reported on 26 August on “leaked modelling” presented to a “confidential briefing” conducted by the LH Martin Institute that would see elite universities (the Group of Eight)  reap massive benefits from higher education deregulation, while less elite universities, particularly regional universities, would struggle.  Not quite so: the briefing was conducted at a public forum and a description of the modelling is posted on the LH Martin website.  The point that the authors of the modelling sought to make is that the götterdämmerung scenario of sky rocketing fees and crippling student debt doesn’t necessarily follow from the deregulation package (a point also made by soon to be Go8 director Vicki Thornton in an interesting exposition on the vomit theory of political communication).  Of course, the package creates that possibility and, over time, that may happen.  In this article Andrew Faulkner, Lea Patterson and Leo Goedegebuure, who did the LH Martin work, and offer concrete workable options to steep increases in student fees to offset budget cuts and financially sustain universities.

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fees21

We have recently critiqued the government’s higher education reform package and questioned the logic suggesting steep increases in student fees. While we stand by our view, we agree that we need to offer concrete workable options.

Our alternatives are based on the work we did for a recent workshop on fee deregulation. The objective was to help universities determine the impact of the proposed reforms and what strategies could be explored to not only survive the changes but thrive in a deregulated environment.

Building on our experience of modelling numerous Australian universities, we created three realistic models covering these distinct university types: Group of Eight, metropolitan and regional.

These models are quite detailed, containing a full curriculum and workload profiles at the unit and course level. As with any modelling, these are simplified institutions where changes are smoothly implemented and results are shown without the associated costs of transition. This is the whole purpose of modelling, highlighting the “what if” possibilities and taking them to their logical conclusions. It’s an approach we believe is helpful in today’s complex policy environment.

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Sometimes you need to shout to be heard

24 August 2014

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With the federal government reportedly prepared to consider slashing billions of dollars worth of research funding from universities if Parliament blocks its sweeping higher education changes, this article, first published in June 2011, remains relevant today.

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research-rallyRepugnant threats of violence against academics’ research on climate change reminds us that much of what occurs in universities is of a political nature.

What is taught and how it is taught influences social thinking and attitudes; remember the culture war and the depiction of universities being inhabited by Marxist ideologues?

The outcomes of research in both the natural and social worlds profoundly shape the zeitgeist. Think Einstein’s general theory, Keynes’s general theory, Fleming and penicillin, medical research and pharmacology generally . . . and research on climate change.

All these things have political implications of one kind or another because they affect the way we see and inhabit the world.

Generally, you would think the activities of research and teaching makes the world an overall better place; kinder, safer, healthier, wealthier. And, of course they do, setting aside the objection that some of the scientific, social and industrial advances of the past beg the solutions we now seek to present problems.

Why then is the academy and its contributions to human welfare, actual and potential so seemingly undervalued in the polity?

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 29 August 2014

Australian Policy Online wins award

Aust Policy

Australian Policy Online has won the ‘’Information’’ category in the 2014 Australian and New Zealand Internet Awards (ANZIA).Australian Policy Online, based at Swinburne University of Technology, is a database and alert service that provides free access to full text research reports, papers, statistics and other resources essential for public policy development and implementation in Australia and New Zealand.

 

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LH Martin logo

Dr Charles Goldman and Fintan Donohue OBE are both keynote speakers at the TDA conference 31 August – 3 September.   The LH Martin Institute, in conjunction with TDA, has engaged both speakers to present symposiums in the week prior to the conference.

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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______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Life & stuff

Fairness and equity must remain guiding principles

  29 August 2014

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Quentin BryceWe need to carefully think through the ramifications before we deregulate university fees, to ensure that the right balance is struck.The risk we must be wary of with a de-regulatory agenda is that education does not become unaffordable for many Australians, especially those in regional and rural communities, and the rapidly expanding corridors of our metropolitan cities and for indigenous people.

-      Former governor general Quentin Bryce – 2014 Richard Larkins Oration 27 August 2014

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