The Scan Main Edition | 2 November 2012 | Issue no. 97


Fears over research implications of trade law

A controversial Defence Trade Controls Bill has now passed the Senate, following the rejection by the House of Representatives of an earlier Senate amendment (“amendment nine”), that would have exempted fundamental research from the restrictive provisions of the legislation. University of Sydney deputy vice-chancellor Jill Trewhella has characterised the legislation as an “attack on our research enterprise”, saying it is “extraordinary” for these kinds of constraints to be put on “our communication for fundamental science that is ordinarily shared in the open scientific literature”.

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Luke warm reception for Asia white paper

The Australia in the Asian Century White Paper has received a relatively lukewarm reception from the university sector ,being described by one commentator as having “vaulting ambitions equally matched by a limited set of policy ideas for institutional reform”. The ATN welcomed the paper and its heavy focus on the role of universities in delivering greater strength to our ties in the region, but said without prioritisation and funding commitments the objectives simply could not be implemented – no matter how worthy they might be.

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Astronomer awarded PM’s science prize

Professor Ken Freeman has been awarded the 2012 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science for almost 50 years work shaping and changing the human view of galaxies and the universe. Best known for his discovery of dark matter in the universe, Freeman also founded one of the most exciting fields of study in astronomy today, galactic archaeology.

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Mid level quals undervalued

Robust, standalone qualifications are key for addressing technical skill gaps in the workforce, RMIT vice-chancellor Margaret Gardner, told a recent conference on the future of med-level (AQF 5-6) qualifications.

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ACCI queries VET reforms

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is losing faith that national skills reform will deliver a simpler, higher quality system for employers and students after NSW became the latest state to announce its plans. ACCI employment, education and training director Jenny Lambert says the jigsaw-like changes occurring across the states are confusing for employers and students, and there is no sign as yet of a nationally consistent training system, which was the intention of the $1.75 billion National Partnership Agreement on Skills Reform, signed in April and to be delivered by 2014.

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University lashes Vic govt over council ‘reforms”

Melbourne University chancellor Elizabeth Alexander has lashed out at the government about the changes in a letter to students and staff, which said she had told the government about her concerns to no avail. ”We are disappointed by the action of the government and its apparent unwillingness to respond to our objections,” she said.

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We’re getting smarter…

31 October 2012 | Education levels in Australia are rising, with the latest census figures showing a dramatic rise in the number of people with a tertiary qualification, with an extra 27% of Australians now holding a bachelor degree (of the population) up from 11.6% in 2006 to 13.5% in 2011….[Continue reading]…

NSW introduces public transport concessions for international students

30 October 2012 | NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has announced the extension of public transport concessions to international students during a visit to India, leaving Victoria as the only state that doesn’t provide such concessions…..[Continue reading]…

Curtin pay deal

29 October 2012 | Staff at Curtin University in Perth have won an in-principle agreement to provide 17% wage increase over 4 years. The enterprise agreement also provides for firm caps on teaching loads and provides for the creation of teaching only positions….[Continue reading]…

Australian unis in the Asian century

29 October 2012 | Universities Australia has welcomed the Australia in the Asian Century white paper, saying it reinforces the central role that Australian universities will play in driving Australia’s future productivity and economic resilience as we pursue the opportunities and grapple with the challenges presented by this exciting century….[Continue reading]…

Vic government takes more control over TAFE boards

29 October 2012 | Victoria’s Baillieu government is set to take more control over TAFE boards proposing legislation to appoint all TAFE board members, not just a majority as currently. TAFE chief executives will also be excluded from being on the board….[Continue reading]…

Regulators monitoring VET funding cuts

26 October 2012 | TEQSA chief commissioner Carol Nicoll has told told a Senate estimates committee the the higher education regulator has written to its 173 providers asking to be notified of any financial impacts from cuts to state vocational training budgets. The national VET regulator is also keeping a close watch….[Continue reading]…


27 February-1 March 2013
National Convention Centre Canberra

Conference program and more information at


Crisis? What crisis? The case for VET reform

29 October 2012

The Scan has published a great many posts on the negative aspects of VET reform in Victoria – but there’s been a lot to publish because commentary and analysis has been overwhelmingly negative. In this edited opinion piece from Campus Review, Claire Field, CEO of the Australian Council of Private Education and Training (ACPET), makes the case both for the need for reform and an enhanced role for private providers and points to the positive outcomes: increased participation in training, not least among equity groups, and strong employment outcomes.

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Victorian skills reform premised on creative figuring

2 November 2012

…but finish school first

In this illuminating slide show, sourced through the TAFE in Victoria news site, the Australian Education Union suggests that the skills crisis/deficit in the Victorian workforce was massively overstated to justify skills reform – a classic case of “policy-based evidence”. Of the 1.4 million “adult Victorians” said to lack post school qualifications, nearly half were still at school, TAFE or uni.

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MCD University appoints its professors

31 October 2012

Australia’s first “university of specialisation”, MCD University of Divinity, has announced the appointment of its first professors. Ten of MCD’s most senior scholars have been recognised by the university for their outstanding scholarship, teaching excellence, and leadership within and beyond the academy.

MCD’s vice-chancellor, Professor Peter Sherlock, said:

The ten professors have brought great distinction to themselves and to our institution over a long period. Each one has made a mark internationally. They have an impressive record of service to the academy, the churches, and most importantly their students.

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


Life & stuff

31 October 2012

This year we’ve celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Rolling Stones’ first gig (12 July) and 50 years since The Beatles first hit single (5 October). But how about this?

Michelangelo’s masterpiece turns 500

On 31 October 1512, the “Warrior Pope” Julius II held a simple vespers prayer service for 17 cardinals to mark the completion of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling. Michelangelo’s masterpiece, one of the great marvels of human achievement, is officially 500 years old today. This article was published by The Smithsonian in 2009 commemorating the beginning of Michelangelo’s work on the ceiling.

In the spring of 1509 a Florentine named Buonarotti was beginning to work on one of the defining masterpieces of Western Civilization. His first name—Michelangelo—would also reverberate through the ages.

But his ceiling frescoes in Rome’s Sistine Chapel had gotten off to a terrible start.

He was working on the largest multi-figure compositions of the entire ceiling when the fresco plaster became infected by a kind of lime mould, which is like a great bloom of fungus. So he had to chip the whole thing back to zero and start again.

But by the time Julius held his vespers service 1512, Michelangelo had succeeded in creating a transcendent work of genius, one which continues to inspire millions of pilgrims and tourists in Vatican City each year.


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