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Vic TAFE “close to collapse” 

decline (1)2 September 2014    |    Victoria’s TAFE system is near collapse, according to Victoria’s Labor opposition, after $1.2 billion in government cuts. The Victorian Training Market Half Year Report shows that TAFEs’ share of the training market dropped from 48% in the first half of 2010 to just 27% in the first half of 2014. Government subsidised enrolments continued to decrease for the first half of 2014, with a 5% drop from the same time in 2013. The report also showed enrolments in regional Victoria dropped by 12%, and traineeship enrolments dropped by 25% in the same period…….[ MORE ]……

Rise in youth unemployment ‘a result of traineeship cuts’

...not so available now

…not so available now

2 September 2014     |     Recent rises in youth unemployment in Victoria and elsewhere in Australia are a result of cuts to traineeships, according to Federation UniversityAustralia researcher Professor Erica Smith. Research has confirmed the high standard of many traineeships and particularly the role that they play in assisting young people and disadvantaged people into employment. However, over the last three years the Commonwealth government, beginning under Labor, has progressively withdrawn the small amounts of funding provided to employers to help them set up and run traineeship programs. From 2012 in Victoria, the State Government has reduced funding for the training in those occupations in which the majority of young people used to find their first jobs, often through a traineeship: retail and hospitality. Nationally, figures have declined by 20% in the past year (with Victoria at nearly 25%) with ‘non-trades’ commencements (ie traineeship commencements) falling by 31%……[ MORE ]……

Camm heads for ACPET

Rod Camm21 September 2014    |     After just a year as managing director of NCVER,  Rod Camm is moving on to become CEO of the Australian Council of Private Education and Training (ACPET), which became vacant following the sudden resignation of Claire Field in early July 2014.  Camm has had a long career in the vocational education and training (VET) field.  Prior to his appointment at NCVER he held the position of CEO of Skills Queensland. Before that he was Associate Director-General of the Queensland Department of Education and Training, and CEO of Construction Skills Queensland. He has performed numerous other executive roles across government and has sustained an excellent relationship with industry……[ MORE ]……

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 ]……

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University research and innovation: seminar

Wednesday   10 September 

5:30-7:30pm (drinks and canapes from 5pm).

50 Marcus Clarke St, Canberra City

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With the decline of manufacturing, research and innovation edge closer to core business for Australia. But global competition is on the rise and Australia lacks scale and expertise. What is required to build Australia’s future research system and capability? How can commercialisation and impact be improved?

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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 Autstralia.  At any time, in recent years at least, there some sort of government initiated inquiry going on in one of the nine jurisdictions (the Commonwealth and eight states and territories).

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 analysis paralysis
Commonwealth industry minister Ian Macfarlane recently announced the appointment of a five-member Vocational Education and Training Advisory Board, charged with providing  feedback to the government as it continues reforms to the sector.

He  said, in particular, that  the government is focussed on” 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”.

You have to read the sub-text of that as being industry doesn’t have a strong influence in VET and that it is not efficient and effective in delivering job- ready workers.

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Comment & analysis

Higher ed bill: what’s likely to pass and what’s likely to be be blocked

AUSTRALIA - EDUCATION - PROTEST

The higher education bill has been debated by students, university leaders and the opposition. What is likely to pass and what will be blocked? AAP

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The higher education reform bill , if passed, it will result in the most significant changes to the Australian higher education system since the Dawkins reforms a quarter of a century ago. However, it is unlikely to make it through the Senate in its current form.   Education Minister Christopher Pyne has as much as accepted this. He is prepared for a marathon, not a sprint, suggesting it might take until November before the Senate decides the fate of the bill.  Each of the following elements of the bill will be debated at length. Tim Pitman (Curtin University) assesses the likelihood of passage of the various elements and in what form.

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Student fee deregulation

This is the most significant of all the changes. In Schedule 1 of the bill, the government seeks to deregulate fees for domestic Commonwealth supported students by removing the current maximum student contribution amounts. Put simply, this will allow universities to charge student fees at whatever level they deem appropriate.

Many have speculated on how high fees might go. Really, we don’t know. However, analysts generally believe fees will rise for most students.

The sector is divided in its support with some for and some against fee deregulation. Given a primary goal of this reform is to increase competition between universities, it’s a safe bet those universities that support fee deregulation think they will be winners. And vice versa. However, the consensus position of the sector is to support fee deregulation with moderation of the subsidy cuts and loan indexation (see below).

Labor and the Greens strongly oppose fee deregulation. The Palmer United Party is also opposed, though the government believes it can negotiate with PUP members. The Senate could allow fee deregulation to occur, but with compromises in other areas.

This part of the reforms is crucial for the government’s vision of a more competitive sector. It is hard to see the government giving this up. Equally, however, its centrality to the Coalition’s policy agenda means the government is likely to be willing to allow substantial compromises elsewhere to see this part through.

Verdict: Likely to pass in some form.
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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. The point was similarly made by former Australian Governor-General the Honourable Quentin Bryce AD CVO (who thankfully seems to have eschewed the title of Dame) in her recent Richard Larkins Oration:

It is time for us to remind ourselves that the most important tool we have are our voices. We must lift them to support our brilliant researchers.

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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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Talking Heads

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What does it take to make it in a creative industry?.

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This is the question being answered by a series of special guest speakers at Melbourne Polytechnic’s ‘Talking Heads’ industry discussion program. Each weekly talk provides insight from seasoned and successful professionals who have made their mark in the creative arts industry.

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1 September 2014

Top Ten

In August, The Scan published 73 posts.  Despite the increasing clamour around the government’s proposed higher education reforms, which appear doomed to fail in the Senate in their current form, it was the travails of the Victorian TAFE sector which attracted most reader interest – and by a considerable margin. For the first time ever a post in the Life & stuff category made the top ten (Team Australia – says something!).  And we seem to have made a post in July which has attracted not a single view: we’ll repost it next week – it’s timeless advice.

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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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