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VC remuneration 2013

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Analysis of vice-chancellor remuneration packages released by the NTEU shows that there were five universities where the total remuneration package was in excess of $1m. The analysis was compiled using data from universities’ 2013 annual reports.

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The largest package was almost $1.1m for the Australian Catholic University (ACU) vice-chancellor, and the smallest was $445,000 for Edith Cowan University. The average cost across all public universities was $770,000.

VC salaries

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Vic training system failing – – needs “urgent rethink” 

Budget 201330 September 2014    |     Enrolments in the service industry training in Victoria have fallen significantly over the last 18 months, according to new research conducted by Victoria and Federation Universities on behalf of Service Skills Victoria. The drop in enrolments is due to changes made to the funding of training in the service industries by the Victorian State Government. New subsidy rates were introduced in the 2012 State Budget for all new enrolments from January 2012 and for all existing students from January 2013. Further adjustments to the rates were made later in 2013 and in 2014. A significant proportion – about 70% – are in the two lowest funding bands at just $4.50 per hour or less of service industry qualifications, including hospitality and retail training. John Sweetman, chair of Service Skills Victoria, says that as a result, some colleges have stopped offering courses in service sector qualifications altogether, while others have substantially reduced their course offerings…… [ MORE ]….

Vic’s ACFE joins TAFE “in crisis”decline (1)

24 September 2014     |     The travails besetting Victoria’s TAFE sector have spread to its Adult, Community and Further Education (ACFE) sector with the ACFE board 2013-14 annual report showing a $1.1 million loss for the ACFE Board after a $11 million cut in state government funding. ACFE returned a $9.4 million surplus in 2012-13. The sector has had a precipitous drop in government income from its peak in 2011-12 – down 80% – and since 2009-10 – down 40%….. [ MORE ]….

UWA sets undergraduate fee at $48,000

23 September 2014    Fees arrow|    The University of Western Australia is the first university to reveal its student fee structure under the government’s fee deregulation plans, advising a Senate committee it would charge an annual fee of $16,000 – $48,000 for a three year degree – for the five basic undergraduate courses it offers. That’s an increase of 160% for a degree in humanities disciplines (based on the 2015 student contribution of $6152 pa – $18,456 over three years).   And it does mean  a price tag of around $100,000 for “professional degrees”, such as law, medicine, architecture and engineering. Medicine will likely break the $100,000 mark under the new price structure and law will be around $95,000.   UWA says this is “commensurate’’ with its status as one of the leading universities in Australia and as one of the world’s top 100 universities. The new fees would take effect from 2016 provided Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s reform package passes the Senate, where it is facing heavy opposition from Labor, the Greens and Clive Palmer’s crossbenchers….. [ MORE ]….

Swinburne to restructure its VET provision 

23 September 2014    ||Dual sector Swinburne University is flagging a major restructure of its vocational training after falling short of revenue Swinburne logotargets on the back of state government funding cuts and increasing competition from private providers.In a consultation paper issued to staff, Swinburne said revenue from vocational education and training had slumped from $123.5 million in 2012 to a now projected $70m this year. But it said its current organisational structure was predicated on the university generating at least $90m a year from VET, and alternative options now need to be considered….. [ MORE ]….

La Trobe offers fee guarantee for early entry offers

23 September 2014    |     La Trobe University has offered some students a ‘fee cap guarantee’ if they study as part of the university’s new undergraduate early-La-Trobe_Logo_x2entry Aspire program. The university has offered about 1000 students the fee cap guarantee under the Aspire program – four months earlier than when offers are normally made and even before their exams had begun. The Aspire program recognises students with a proven commitment to involvement in their local community….[ MORE ]…..

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Milestones

NCVER appoints new CEO

Craig FowlerThe National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) has announced the appointment of Dr Craig Fowler as its new managing director, to succeed Rod Camm who is heading off to the Australian Council for Private Education.  He will assume the post in late October. In announcing the appointment, the chair of NCVER, Professor Peter Shergold, said that Dr Fowler  has worked in both the private and public  sectors, including at very senior levels of the South Australian public service for the last 11 years.  He said Dr Fowler possesses an “exceptional depth of understanding of vocational education and training and the national training system, and a deep sense of the importance of skills acquisition to Australia’s future prosperity”.

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Comment & analysis

$100,000 degrees?

Sure thing!

24  September 2014

Initial reporting on the University of Western Australia’s proposed fee structure, announced to a Senate committee inquiry, was tentative, ambiguous and/or wrong: for example, ABC News reported it as a fee increase of “30%”. In the absence of any documentation, The Scan noted “we don’t know whether that’s the total price (student contribution plus commonwealth subsidy) or the proposed student contribution. If the former, that’s an increase of around 30% for a degree in humanities disciplines , if the latter…. that’s an increase of 160% (based on the 2015 student contribution of $6152 pa – $18,456 over three years)”.

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$ sign

We were soon able to confirm it was the 160% scenario. We agree with The Australian that UWA’s presentation of this has a “tinge of insincerity” to it, proclaiming that “UWA is offering future students the opportunity to obtain a three-year undergraduate degree from one of the world’s top 100 universities for less than $50,000” – leaving out the material fact, that, under current arrangements, you can get an undergraduate degree from UWA in the humanities for under $20,000 or in science for about $26,000. UWA’s media statement points to the fact that “all UWA undergraduate degrees lead to a range of professional degrees at postgraduate level with a high level of flexibility” ,which leads directly to the “$100,000” degree outcome which education minister and advocates of full fee deregulation have consistently decried as “scaremongering”. This is neatly explained in The Australian’s High Wired blog, which as always cuts to the chase, with a bit of edge. One point High Wired calculates the current cost of a law at UWA as $82,198: we think it’s somewhat less, with an Arts degree followed by law currently coming in at $65,646. This is not cheap: students who are currently studying for in an arts-law or economics-law combination at most other Group of Eight universities, such as Monash, Sydney, Queensland or Adelaide, would pay around $53,000).

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Sector submissions to the Senate Inquiry

25  September 2014

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Generally supportive of reform, with significant amendments

mortar board

The government’s higher education reform package – the Higher Education and Research Reform Amendment Bill 2014 – was referred on 3 Septemberto the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee for consideration and report by 28 October. Submissions to the inquiry closed on 22 September. The committee has published 79 submissions on its website. Following are extracts from 27 submissions lodged by higher education organisations (peak bodies) and individual institutions. There is almost unanimous support for passage of the package, particularly fee deregulation, on the basis that the long run decline in public funding is damaging the sector. Several submissions express opposition or concern about the extension of public subsidies to private providers (ACU stridently so). There is a united view that the package needs to be amended, particularly to at least ameliorate the burden of debt on future generations of students, that would follow from the combination of substantial fee increases and the imposition of a real interest rate on student loans (although no unanimity on how that might be achieved). Deakin University says the proposed changes to the HECS repayment scheme are unfair and rejects any compromise on this issue. The Regional Universities Network and the Group of Eight have formed a unity ticket on additional support for regional universities and their students. Stephen Parker (vice-chancellor, University of Canberra) and the National Tertiary Education Union make strange bedfellows in urging rejection of the package in its entirety. The submissions can be viewed in full at the Senate website.   For background on the debate around fee deregulation, check The Scan archive – it’s extensive.

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19 September 2014

Meanwhile, in the US…

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With a furious debate going on about university fee deregulation in Australia, the US system of fee deregulation, lauded by the proponents of fee deregulation, has seen student debt in the US surpass debt from credit cards and auto-loans, and become second only to mortgages.
US talk show host John Oliver advises US college students to enjoy themselves – to party and to get out and about:

Please, make sure your colleges years are the best ones of your life, because thanks to the debt we are saddling you with, they almost certainly will be.

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For a summary :
Drink Beer, Shoot Fireworks Out Your Bum: John Oliver’s Uni Debt Warning

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 The best compromise for HELP loan interest rates

    25 September 2014

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 The government’s plan to charge up to 6% interest on HELP loans has been widely attacked as unfair. Many critics, including Shadow Education MinisterKim Carr, the Group of Eight universities, Universities Australia and HECS architect Bruce Chapman, have come out against pegging HELP loans to the bond rate, rather than CPI as it is now. Geoff Sharrock of the LH Martin Institute sets out a compromise.

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Interest rates

In the government’s Senate negotiations, a good compromise would apply CPI plus 1 percentage point to all HELP debts. The savings would tap a larger pool of graduates, not just those likely to face higher fees and larger loans in the future.

At lower real interest than the cases described here, CPI plus 1% may still bridge much of the gap between the two rates. In the last 10 years CPI ranged from 1.2% to 5%, and the bond rate from 3% to 6.5%. In the last two and a half years CPI ranged from 1.2% to 3%, and the bond rate from 2.9% to 4.3%.

CPI plus 1% would also give graduates an incentive to repay HELP debts as soon as they can, not just the minimum required. The risk is notably higher repayment costs for those who don’t clear their debts in say 20 years. But at 1% the real interest risk is less than with the Group of Eight 1.4% scenarios.

If the Senate agreed to this “1% solution” the budget savings would still be substantial. This would allow more scope to minimise subsidy cuts, another savings proposal that shifts costs to students. In turn this would reduce the risk of higher tuition fees, and higher HELP debts in the first place.

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Life & stuff

1 October 2014

Charity

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Despite an evident mean spiritedness in the public sphere (the poor are unworthy, the unemployed are leaners, the “age of entitlement” is over), Australians are a remarkably generous people. In its third annual study of 160 countries, the Charity Aid Foundation measured giving behaviours across three criteria: volunteering, helping strangers, and donating money. Australians rated most highly.

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Charity

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