The Scan Main Edition 11 October 2012

Melbourne top dog

Melbourne University’s position as Australia’s leading university, as measured by various league tables, was confirmed with the release of the research-focused National Taiwan University Ranking.   Melbourne ranked 35 in the world, ahead of Sydney at 61 and University of Queensland on 72.  ANU, usually Melbourne’s closest Australian challenger, languishes in this particular ranking coming in at 172 internationally and 6th nationally.

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Grants freeze threatens research

Industry could pull the plug on millions of dollars of promised research funding because of uncertainty over the Commonwealth government’s freeze on discretionary spending in its bid to some how, any how  amass a budget surplus.  ARC acting chief executive Leanne Harvey confirmed all funding announcements and the opening of new rounds were on hold.but said  the “pause” would be “brief”.

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Need to ‘wind back creep of uni regulation’

Higher education needs “a back-to-the future” evolution, according to Australian Catholic University vice-chancellor Greg Craven, who says a universities commission* could redress problems in universities’ “mega-governance”. Craven says the overarching governance of the sector has evolved in a largely random way, with “natural regulation creep” as universities increased their reliance on Commonwealth federal funding.

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Flinders teams with TAFE

Flinders University  has become the latest university to guarantee entry to TAFE graduates, unveiling 41 dual offer programs available from next year.  The programs range from accounting, public sector management and international business to digital media, environmental management and geoscience.  Students can emerge with vocational qualifications from certificate IV to advanced diploma plus related bachelor degrees, after between three and five-and-a-half years of full-time equivalent study.

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TAFE SA to become statutory authority

TAFE South Australia (TAFE SA) is set to become a statutory authority on 1 November, as part of the state’s Skills for All reforms.  South Australia’s Higher Education and Skills Minister, Tom Kenyon, says the change will separate the roles of TAFE SA as the provider of training, and the Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology (DFEEST).

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UWA embraces MOOC

The University of Western Australia is the latest Australian university to embrace the “massive open online course” (MOOC) movement, from next year proposing to offer three courses using the Class2Go software created by Stanford University.

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Online efforts boosted as ANU mulls changes in teaching arrangements

The Australian National University’s embrace of online teaching will be given a boost under new arrangements that will see all academic teaching staff designated to one of three groups: online learning; promoting excellence; or adult education and staff development.

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Online offers productivity gains

Group of Eight executive director Mike Gallagher has told a seminar universities need harness the online revolution to take control of the productivity agenda to cut costs in teaching, research and administration, as well as boost retention.

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Job cuts continue across higher education

As universities adapt to their changing environment, through restructuring and reorganisation, job losses mount across the sector reports the National Tertiary Education Union.

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ASQA axes 2 Vic training providers

8 October 2012    |    The Australian Skills Quality Authority has refused to reregister two Victorian training providers catering mainly to international students, saying they are “critically non-compliant” with standards.  ASQA said it rejected applications from operators of The Ashmark Institute and the Victorian Institute of Culinary Hospitality to renew as training providers…..[Continue reading]…


That was then …this is now

ACU vice-chancellor Greg Craven says the states are abandoning higher education. Let’s compare and contrast Professor Craven’s current views with those he expressed at a Senate Committee hearing last year concerning the legislation to establish the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency. And given Professor Craven is a Constitutional law expert, let’s get that right as well. It’s not actually the states ignoring their Constitutional responsibility for the sector. Under the Constitution, responsibility for education does reside with the states and the states were the primary funders of higher education until 1975, the Whitlam government negotiated the transfer of funding responsibility for higher education to the Commonwealth and it became a Commonwealth responsibility.

States ‘take more than they give’

9 October 2012

States are squandering a potential competitive advantage by failing to support universities financially, according to Australian Catholic University vice-chancellor Greg Craven.

Craven said there had been “occasional outbreaks of munificence”, such as Queensland’s Smart State scheme which funnelled significant sums into university coffers, which was wound down by the Bligh government and closed down by .the Newman government. Victoria, also traditionally a relatively generous state to its universities, has similarly wound down funding this year.

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New standards agency loosens grip of states

27 April 2011

At Senate committee hearings on the TEQSA legislation, the universities, through Universities Australia, repudiated the claims of the states. Greg Craven declared federalism had failed in tertiary education and that promoting the role of the states was akin to “flogging a dead parrot”.

Circumstances have obviously changed. In 2005, Craven was the co-author of a report that recognised state and territory governments had a legitimate interest in the institutions within their jurisdictions because they provided financial and in-kind assistance to them and because the institutions directly affected regional and state economies and intersected with schools and vocational education and training systems.

But one effect of excluding the states from the table may be a scaling back of their active interest in universities, which includes substantial capital contributions to university infrastructure by states such as Victoria and Queensland.

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Completing a VET qual works

10 October 2012

Students generally benefit from completing a vocational qualification, although the pay-off varies considerably, according to a new report by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).  It’s particularly beneficial for people looking for work or to go onto further education and/or training.   The pay-off from completion in terms of a better job or pay is less, but at 60% the majority can still expect a positive outcome. Those who benefit the most in terms of pay are those who complete a diploma qualification, or are not employed before training and finish a certificate III/IV.

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More Australian students study O/S

12 October   |  More Australian university students than ever are studying overseas, benefiting from increased funding by the institutions and the Commonwealth government’s OS-HELP load program. The number of students who studied overseas totalled 8.1% of the number of those who completed courses last year, the highest figure yet for travel by Australian university students. A study by researcher Alan Olsen for Universities Australia found that 32.7% of the Australian university students who studied overseas last year did so in Asia.

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International regulation requires “nuance”

4 October   |   The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) needs to ensure it has the expertise to understand “nuances” in international education as it applies its new standards framework, Flinders University’s deputy Dean Forbes has warned, pointing out that it is a big and highly complex part of the university sector. The people managing the standards framework must have a capacity to understand the nuances that come from a deeper understanding of what happens in international education.

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The fractured social settlement in VET in Australia

11 October 2012

Leesa Wheelahan argues that the “social settlement” around VET has broken down and needs to restored if Australia is to fully realise its growth potential and individual Australians fulfil their own potential. She says that the drive towards “marketisation” of VET has lost sight of the broader purposes of VET (the “E” in VET), which were conceived as not only preparing people for work but developing the individual and providing second-chance education. The result is a low trust system based on a market where the costs of entry are low and the rewards high. Australia needs a

…new social settlement based on trust in a system where quality is high and the cost of entry is high. Governments have a key role to play here – they need to articulate the role of TAFE as a public educational institution that must be supported to ensure we meet the future skill needs of Australia, but also that we build a tolerant and inclusive society with opportunities for all.

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 The 2012 Ig Noble Prizes for Improbable Research

Nobel Prize laureates Eric Maskin, Rich Roberts and Dudley Herschbach lean over behind a mini Eiffel Tower during a performance at the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

It’s the Nobel Prize season, with daily announcements coming from Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden of this year’s recipients of the prestigious awards.  Late in September the Ig Noble Prizes for “improbable research that makes people laugh and then think” were announced in a ceremony at Harvard University.   This year’s recipients include Dutch researchers who won the psychology prize for studying why leaning to the left makes the Eiffel Tower look smaller; four Americans who took the neuroscience prize for demonstrating that sophisticated equipment can detect brain activity in dead fish;  and a British-American team that won the physics prize for explaining how and why ponytails bounce.   This year’s literature prize was awarded the US Government General Accountability Office, for issuing a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports.  Sadly, no Australians figured in this year’s awards.

Tertiary insights

Insights is a regular feature of the LH Martin Institute, presenting opinion pieces on key sector issues from some of tertiary education’s leaders and experts.

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With TAFE struggling across the country with budget cuts and the impact of “marketisation”, the Invest in Quality, Invest in TAFE campaign has established a blog site  to encourage those interested in what is happening to TAFE around the country to contribute to the debate and discussion.  The first post surveys the state of the sector.

Go to

Invest in quality, invest in TAFE


The Scan website is regularly updated between the  weekly Main Edition, published each Thursday.  Go HERE for recent  updates.



No, you’re not necessarily entitled to an opinion…

The Conversation    |     8 October 2012

An article by Deakin University philosopher Patrick Stokes, published by The Conversation on 5 October, has been read by more than 124,000 people globally, making it The Conversation’s most read item.  Simply, he suggested not all opinions are created equal:  that evidence matters and some of the shrill views we encounter in public debate aren’t worth a jot – and should not be given credence – as long as they remain unsupported by facts or convincing argument.   He tells his students:

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression ‘everyone is entitled to their opinion.’  Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself, maybe to head off an argument or bring one to a close. Well, as soon as you walk into this [lecture theatre], it’s no longer true.  You are not entitled to your opinion.  You are only entitled to what you can argue for.

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Life & stuff

Love me do

11 October 2012

Friday 5 October marked the 50th anniversary of Love me do, The Beatles’ first single release.  It was a minor hit in the UK, ahead of the release in January 1963 of the album Please please me, which sparked the social phenomenon of Beatlemania.
Tuesday 9 October marked the 72nd anniversary of  the birth of John Lennon, who was murdered outside his home in the Dakota building in 1980.


Got somewhere interesting near where you live and/or work?  Got an interesting story?  Got an event coming up?  Tell us about it!


Sector news sources

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Campus Review 8 October 2012.

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TAFE Directors Australia Newsletter 2 October 2012.

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Australian Financial Review supplement 8 October 2012.

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ATN In Profile October 2012.

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Group of 8 Update October 2012.

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Innovative Research Universities Newsroom .

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Regional Universities Newsroom .

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ACPET Weekly Update 8 October.


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