Research snip

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News

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Victorian  unis “financially strong”

audit29 May 2015    |   The Victorian Auditor General has reported that Victoria’s eight universities are in a strong financial position but he was critical of lax procedures governing travel expenditure. The eight universities, and their subsidiaries, generated a combined surplus of $537.1 million for the year ending 31 December 2014. This includes, however, audit adjustments upwards of $259 million arising from qualifications concerning the treatment of certain income by Deakin University, the University of Melbourne and the Australian National Academy of Music. The auditor says that the surplus, when combined with the universities’ generally good liquidity position, means that the sector is in a healthy financial position and is a low financial sustainability risk in the short term. He reports that, over the long term, there are emerging risks the university sector should monitor. He reports that, while universities have policies and procedures in place for travel and accommodation expenditure, they are not comprehensive, and compliance with these policies and procedures is poor. Consequently, universities cannot demonstrate public money is spent prudently and to the benefit of the university….[ MORE ]…..

SA government “de-marketises” VET funding

28 May 2015     |    The South Australian government has stepped back from “open market” VET funding to reintroduce a virtual monopoly for TAFETAFE SA SA. Under its new WorkReady program, which will replace Skills for All in July, TAFE SA will provide 90% of new training places in 2015 -16.  Under the reforms approximately 81,000 training places will be subsidised in 2015-16. Of these places, 51,000 will be new and 30,000 will comprise students already undertaking courses. TAFE SA will provide 46,000 of the 51,000 new places. Of the 30,000 continuing places, about 16,000 will be delivered by private providers. The number of subsidised courses has also been cut from more than 900 to about 700.   ACPET has called on the federal government to withdraw $65 million in federal training funds to the state over the decision to “effectively ignore private training providers”. Federal training minister Simon Birmingham says he’s concerned about the new policy  and he’ll be having discussions with the state minister about whether or not that federal funding can continue to be available….[ MORE ]….

Qld govt turns back TAFE asset sell off

Qld TAFE28 May 2015 | The Queensland government has introduced a Bill to repeal the former government’s plan to sell TAFE assets and lease them out to third parties, as the first step in its $34 million Rescuing TAFE package. The minister for training and skills Yvette D’Ath introduced the Bill on 21 May to repeal the Queensland Training Assets Management Authority Act 2014. “QTAMA was created by those opposite to enable the sell-off of Queensland’s training assets to the highest bidder and removing access of TAFE to its own premises, its own equipment and leasing it out directly to the competitors of TAFE,” the Minister said. “Once these assets are sold, once there are longterm leases in place, there is no getting them back. This means that any future growth by TAFE Queensland would be restricted by a lack of facilities.”…[ MORE ]…..

VET numbers continue to dropVET

27 May 2015     |     The number of publicly funded vocational education students has dropped for the second year running, just as open markets have been rolled out across the country to encourage more training. Preliminary 2014 data shows the number of students fell 3.5%  last year, on the back of a 3.6%  fall in 2013. Australia trained 65,000 fewer publicly funded vocational students last year, with the open market pioneer states of South Australia and Victoria each losing more than 30,000 students. Victoria, which opened its training system to full private competition from 2009, surrendered 5% of its students last year. South Australia, which launched a fully contestable training scheme in 2012, lost a huge 22% of its students last year….[ MORE ]….

National science and research priorities announced

research226 May 2015    |      The Commonwealth Government has announced new national Science and Research Priorities and corresponding Practical Research Challenges, designed “to increase investment in areas of immediate and critical importance to Australia and its place in the world.” The nine cross-disciplinary priorities are food, soil and water, transport, cybersecurity, energy, resources, advanced manufacturing, environmental change and health. Universities Australia (UA) has commended the Federal Government’s setting of these priorities, noting the critical role of science and research in solving national challenges and improving the productivity and prosperity of Australia. UA expressed the hopes that the priorities will lead to increased public investment in science and research, with targeted funding to address these critical areas….[ MORE ]….

Australia’s university system efficient but underfunded – UA

universitas 21

21 May 2015     |     The latest Universitas 21 Report ranks Australia as one of the top countries for the efficiency of its higher education system despite disturbingly low levels of public investment compared with other countries, says Universites Australia.  Overall Australia’s ranking declined from 8th position in 2013 to 9th position in 2014 and now to 10th position (out of 50 countries) in 2015.On the measure of resources invested in higher education, Australia is ranked at 18th position and 44th for government expenditure. Yet Australia’s higher education system is ranked 7th for output which measures student participation rates and research performance.  UA’s  comments were echoed by the National Tertiary Education Union which  congratulated university staff for doing “remarkably well despite very low levels of public investment”….[ MORE ]…..

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Milestones

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New CEO at Melbourne Polytechnic

 20 May 2015

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Rob Wood has been appointed the Chief Executive Officer of Melbourne Polytechnic (formerly NMIT).

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Rob WoodMr Wood  comes to this role from his previous position of Acting Deputy Secretary, Higher Education and Skills Group, in the Victorian government.

Mr Wood joined the Victorian Department of Education and Training in August 2014 as the Executive Director, TAFE and Tertiary Education Support and Oversight Division, leading support to and oversight of Victoria’s TAFEs and university relationships.

He had to come to Australia with substantial experience in public administration in Canada.

Mr Wood was the Acting Deputy Secretary, Higher Education and Skills Group during a critical time of transition to the new Government. He has led the Group’s rapid response to the Government’s ambitious suite of election commitments, including establishment of the TAFE Rescue Fund, Back to Work Fund and the Review of Quality Assurance in Victoria’s VET System.

He will commence at Melbourne Polytechnic on Monday 8 June.

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Comment  & analysis

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   29 May 2015

Keeping public priorities in public universities

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  The main purposes of Australian public universities — teaching, research and community engagement — are well established in law and practice. But differences of opinion exist on priorities, interpretation and accountability. A key tension is between academics as the strongest advocates of knowledge for its own sake, and government, students and the general public seeking practical uses for knowledge, writes Andrew Norton.

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Academics want to conduct blue sky research, but that’s not why people pay to go to university

Academics want to conduct blue sky research, but that’s not why people pay to go to university. AAP/Julian Smith

For academics, passion for a field of study, opportunity to develop new knowledge, and autonomy in working life are among the most frequent reasons given for pursuing an academic career. These aspirations create resistance to universities pursuing practical objectives set by others.

Academics are much more likely to apply for research grants where new knowledge is the primary outcome than grants aimed at promoting collaboration with industry. Academics criticise universities for becoming more “instrumental”.

The importance to academics of pursuing new knowledge has made teaching a second priority after research. Only 30% of academics say they prefer teaching or lean towards teaching in a teaching and research job. Another survey found that 67% of academics wanted more research time, but only 15% wanted more teaching work.

Although few people seriously dispute that knowledge for its own sake is important, there are broader expectations of public universities. What makes them “public” institutions is their establishment by government to meet a range of needs associated with advanced knowledge.

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Australia dumbs down?

29 May 2015

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  Australia is betting on plumbers and coffee-shop owners over scientists and researchers to drive the nation’s next wave of economic growth, writes Michael Heath in BloombergBusiness.

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Coffee

The country that brought you refrigerators, black-box flight recorders, bionic ears and Wi-Fi will cut its research budget by 7 percent over the next 12 months, and another 10% in the following three years. At the same time it’s offering tax cuts and write-offs in this year’s budget for small firms to buy equipment like espresso machines and lawnmowers as the centerpiece of a plan to build a “stronger and more prosperous Australia.”

The government is reducing spending in the face of budget shortfalls after a 30% drop in commodity prices in 12 months and an end to the country’s mining investment boom. Helping small businesses to pick up some of the slack has lifted consumer confidence to its highest in 16 months and boosted shares of retailers like Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd. and JB Hi-Fi Ltd.

“Having this reliance on the bottom end of the economy, like small businesses, is a short-term fix,” said Andrew Hughes, a lecturer at the College of Business and Economics at Australian National University. “Cutting back on research is insanity.”

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21 May 2015

The VET Store

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The VET Store is a new service by the VET Development Centre which provides access to a range of information to support VET practitioners in the work they do.

VET Development Centre

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ACPET Forum2

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Life & stuff

21 May 2015

A glimpse into the first 21 days of a bee’s life

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We’ve heard that bees are disappearing. But what is making bee colonies so vulnerable?

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Photographer Anand Varma raised bees in his backyard and teamed up with the bee lab at UC Davis to film and get a up close view of the first three weeks of a bee’s life in unprecedented detail. This project, for National Geographic, gives a lyrical glimpse into a bee hive — and reveals one of the biggest threats to its health, a mite that preys on baby bees in the first 21 days of life.  With his incredible footage, set to music from Magik*Magik Orchestra, Varma shows the problem  in this Ted talk … and what’s being done to solve it. There’s also a condensed 60 second clip.

See
Honey bees

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One Hundred Stories

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Monash University’s commemoration of the Great War.

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Wall of Commemoration
The One Hundred Stories are a silent presentation. They remember not just the men and women who lost their lives, but also those who returned to Australia, the gassed, the crippled, the insane, all those irreparably damaged by war. The Great War shaped the world as well as the nation. Its memory belongs to us all.

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Curriculum and course development

Business/ Hospitality ————————- Child care

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Curriculum1A dynamic and reputable education and training provider is looking to expand its offerings into higher education, initially at AQF Level 5 (Diploma) and AQF level 6 (Associate Degree) in the fields of Business/Hospitality and Childcare.
The provider is seeking to develop curriculum and course materials for these courses and requires the services of an experienced curriculum writer to assist it in this project.

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Click to listen

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Radio Double Karma on Pandora

Adult contemporary music

The Fray…London Grammar…Leonard Cohen…Dixie Chicks…Peter Gabriel…Of Monsters and Men…Krishna Das…Cold Play…Snow Patrol….Clck hereAretha Franklin

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