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The university cuts announced on 13 April are significant, and not just for the amount of money involved writes Andrew Norton in The Conversation.
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Except for the “efficiency dividend” [which will have to come straight off university budget bottom lines and impact quality] there is at least an arguable case for each policy change. But these latest announcements add to a long list of messy, ad hoc higher education cuts without any obvious strategy to save money at least expense to public policy goals.
Frequent fiddling undermines policies that are retained as well as those that are cut, as nobody knows what will go next. Long-term decision making by universities, their staff and their students needs more policy stability than we have.
17 April 2013 | Opposition education spokesperson Christopher Pyne, among others, is fond of saying that improving school performance is not about injecting more money into underperforming schools but “values” and creating “a culture of performance” (Wrong fix for failing schools?). “Values” and “school culture” undoubtedly count but, on top of that, the evidence from the classroom demonstrates that so does adequate resourcing (which comes down to funding).
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More than half (57%) of Australian Year 4 students were reported to be “somewhat affected” by resource shortages related to reading, 54 per cent by resource shortages related to mathematics and 68% by resource shortages related to science. Forty-six per cent of the principals of Australian Year 8 students reported similar levels of shortages in mathematics and 52% in science.
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And he expects Dandenong North will be a major winner if the Gonski education reforms are introduced in Victoria.
We’re the test case to show that it can work, that putting money into disadvantaged schools can make a difference. We were at a stage in 2012 where the cost of our staff had reached a point where we were no longer able to pay.
TAFE remote from industry?
That’s not what the evidence shows, says John Mitchell.
11 April 2013 | The rationale for what seems a never-ending process of “skills reform” is the proposition that TAFE is remote from industry and unresponsive to industry needs.
His five case studies of TAFE institutes show how effectively TAFEs are in working with industry clients in meeting one or more of key business and government goals‒increased productivity including global competitiveness, flexible workforces, highly qualified staff building careers, skills for the new economy and regional growth. TDA says that:
Based on the evidence in the five case studies – which are part of the set of more than 80 case studies Mitchell has prepared since 2007 – and on the data collected from 25 TAFE Institutes using capability analysis tools from 2010-2012,the paper argues that a high value can be placed on the existing human capital residing in TAFE Institutes. Staff have developed that capability overtime and through extensive experience, and this demonstrable capability is a cause for optimism about the future impact of TAFE on Australian industry.
11 April 2013 | Next week, the Council of Australian Governments, comprising the Prime Minister and Premiers and Chief Ministers, meet to consider reform of schools funding, following on from the Gonski review. The price tag of the reforms is estimated to be $6.5 billion a year, when fully implemented. In the shadow boxing ahead of the meeting, Coalition states (New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland) are raising doubts about the funding plan. These states have actually been cutting education funding. One of the refrains is that improving the performance of our schools, which is said to be falling against international benchmarks, is not about injecting more money but about something called “values”. In a recent opinion piece, the Grattan Institute’s Ben Jensen seems to agree,with the tag line reading “raising teachers’ classroom skills is far more important than raising money”. But what’s the key to raising teachers’ classroom skills? Jensen concludes that it requires
….teachers having mentors, getting proper feedback about their work, being required to do research on education in collaboration with other teachers, under an umbrella of sustained professional learning.
All of which, of course, costs money. Jensen sets out a four measures, which add up to $6.1 billion a year:
- School principal training – $181 million
- Teacher mentoring – $2.1 billion
- Teacher research groups – $1 billion
- Specialist literacy and numeracy teachers in every primary school – $1.7 billion.
Jensen makes a fairly obvious point that it’s just not the quantity of the spend, important as that is , it will be the quality of the spend that will be critical to improving school performance.
To read Jensen’s piece, go HERE.
For another take on the politics of schools funding see Bernard Keane – Why Cristopher Pyne should go back to school .
Reflections of a once petty official
24 March 2013
Former Rudd/Gillard government speechwriter Dennis Glover, in an opinion piece (Blood will have blood) published in the Australian Financial Review the day after the ALP Leadership abortive spill, put it that:
…only people who had never read Macbeth or Julius Caesar could have thought that any good could possibly come of the slaughter of Kevin Rudd, not yet through his first term.
But Rudd wasn’t slaughtered: he was sacked and he was sacked because he was no good and the government of which he was leader was completely dysfunctional. This was apparent very early in the piece. John Lyons wrote in June 2008 (Captain Chaos and the workings of inner circle), barely 6 months into Rudd’s Prime Ministership, that Rudd himself was (and presumably remains) a driven micromanager, who effectively couldn’t see the forest for the trees. And his office?
The two words most commonly used about Rudd’s office are chaotic and dysfunctional.
The problem for the ALP is that Julia Gillard has been no more capable of providing the sort of disciplined leadership which a prime minister – indeed, the leader of any political party – has to be able to deliver than Rudd was.
22 March 2013
Australia’s leading online higher education provider, Open Universities Australia (OUA), has unveiled its own free online education venture, Open2Study.
OUA describes Open2Study as “a new dimension in online learning, … designed with the online student in mind.“
Paul Wappett, OUA chief executive says Open2Study Open2Study isn’t a me-too MOOC:
… it’s objective is not merely attracting massive enrolments. It’s the next evolution in online learning, centred on student success. Open2Study provides an engaging and compelling education based on a comprehensive pedagogical model that recognises that online learners behave differently, and have different needs from on-campus learners.
Course materials comprise a mixture of six to 10 minute videos, animations, simulations and quizzes, designed using high production values
Launched with 10 subjects, including Financial Planning and Introduction to Nursing there’s a pipeline of a couple of hundred and OUA expects to offer 40 to 50subjects by the end of 2013. Open2Study courses commence on 22 April.
22 March 2013 | With universities paying about $100,000 a year to employ full-time managers dedicated to liaising with ranking agencies and “clever reporting”, rather than a surge in knowledge, said to explain the surprisingly good results of the Excellence in Research for Australia quality audit, dean of science at UNSW Merlin Crossley writes that the numbers used to measure performance in educational institutions create a lot of discussion – and angst – because of their obvious imperfections.
National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy scores in schools don’t measure creativity, Australian Tertiary Admission Rank cut-offs for university courses don’t reflect future potential and using student feedback to rate teaching is regarded as little better than running a popularity contest.
Excellence in Research for Australia quality assessments and journal ranking scores do not respect locally important research, journal citations and impact factors vary wildly between disciplines and world university rankings are backward-looking and disadvantage newer institutions.
Then there are the collected metrics of the controversial MySchool and MyUniversity websites, which gather imperfect measures into tables, apparently compounding error and threatening the whole system.
There seems to be a general anxiety that people will blindly use these flawed but interesting numbers. In contrast, no one seems to worry about numbers in sport or other endeavours. Every game involves scoring and many sports have a ladder of some sort – it’s all good fun.
15 March 2013 | There might be a new premier in Victoria, but it seems there’s still no good news for TAFEs. The $200 million in structural adjustment funding announced this week is certainly welcome, but it is simply too little, too late.
The Victorian government should have made such provision almost a year ago when it abruptly took a meat cleaver to TAFE funding, hacking out $300 million.
The damage from these cuts has been monumental. But what is more worrying is the way these cuts have signalled a changing role for TAFEs in Victoria with repercussions for the quality of vocational education and the wider economy.
15 March 2013 | When we discover the formula for something that does actually work why would we let it fritter away, asks Les field (Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at UNSW). We need to decouple research funding from the kind of short-term thinking that electoral cycles and politicised budget priorities drive.
In the case of the Future Fellowship Scheme there’s a lot at risk. The five-year scheme’s final round closed this month with nothing in the wings to take its place and nothing to ensure its benefits don’t simply evaporate when the current funding runs out.
The Future Fellowships have brought 200 mid-career researchers a year into the Australian research sector, building a critical mass in research areas which address national challenges and help Australia secure its position in a globalised knowledgeeconomy. At UNSW, Future Fellowships have supported the development of world-class research groups and capabilities in a range of disciplines and applications, from quantum computing and photovoltaics to climate change and sustainable materials. It’s no exaggeration to say that much of this talent would have otherwise gone offshore.
22 February 2013 | Only the states have any hope of driving improvements in Australia’s schools, writes Ben Jensen, School Education Program Director, Grattan Institute.
It sounds like a good idea to reward teachers who perform well but are often paid poorly. It isn’t. The policy is one of a host of federal government interventions in school education that are not only ineffective, they are doing damage to much-needed reform.
In Australia, the states and the non-government systems run schools. The commonwealth’s scheme therefore pays a bonus to state government employees. This breaks a fundamental rule of good governance and management: it gives employees two bosses. Should teachers follow the instructions of their state employer, or should they try to work in a way that nets them a federal payout?
The program is confusing for schools and teachers. It was no surprise that when teachers protested against the federal bonus scheme most blamed their state employers, not the federal government.
Gordon TAFE teacher Susie Mandley put together a virtual compendium of of analysis, comment and reporting on Victoria’s TAFE/VET funding cuts on her Scoop.It! site, TAFE in Victoria. It currently comprises about 1600 items and runs to 63 pages. But Susie herself is a victim of the cuts. Here’s her valedictory.
So as I pack my career into boxes, I cry a little inside for what was a wonderful public TAFE system that gave so much to the communities. I worry a bit for the future of this wonderful public TAFE system, and I wonder a lot at the thinking of a publicly elected government that so readily wielded an axe at this wonderful public TAFE system.
The Queensland government has released a moderate and measured response to The Skills and Training Taskforce’s final report
1 December 2012 | As always with a complex reform process, the devil will be in the detail and the implementation – one suspects there will be significant moments of drama ahead over industrial relations and the level of public subsidy for specific courses. But in its approach to skills reform and moving to greater contestability, the Queensland government has adopted a moderate and measured plan. The least that might be said of it is that it eschews the the Victorian Götterdämmerung model. And overall, if you’re going to have skills reform, this is a pretty good plan.
30 November 2012
Recent reports are much exaggerated that there will be a lowering of standards and eventually some type of armageddon because universities are admitting “sub-par” students, as measured by their ATAR, writes the University of Ballarat’s urbane vice-chancellor David Battersby.
Data published in the Base Funding Review final report indicated that almost half of students who entered university in 2005 on an ATAR between 30 and 59 had completed by 2010.
At best, the ATAR score is an imperfect predictor of performance at university. Others argue that it should be completely abandoned because it provides no qualified prediction of a student’s capacity to study or complete a degree.
Government says unis asked the state to butt in
17 November 2012
The Victorian government has introduced the Education Legislation Amendment (Governance) Bill 2012, which will dump requirements for councils to have elected student and staff members on university councils and TAFE boards, give the government a stronger say in council appointments and the whole say in TAFE board appointements. The changes are being strongly disputed by staff and students. But according to the government, in respect of university councils, the government is acting at the behest of the universities themselves (with the apparent exception of the University of Melbourne, which has been openly critical of the changes).
25 October 2012
Compared to many other countries, Australia is in danger of falling behind when it comes to producing well-rounded PhD graduates. Monash is one of the first Australian universities to respond to this challenge with the new ‘Monash PhD’ to be rolled out in 2013, according to Max King, pro vice-chancellor research at Monash University.
25 October 2012
After a distinguished and sometimes controversial career, Robert Manne reflects on the changes in the university experience, as he approaches retirement. It was different then – but every thing was different then…
I hope not to be misunderstood. Once it was decided to transform the universities into something called the higher education sector where traditional disciplines and old professions were joined by courses designed for the purpose of training the workforce, and once it was decided to obliterate the distinction between universities and colleges of purely vocational training, and once it was decided that up to 40% of the population ought to go to institutions of higher education frequently called universities, very many of the changes to the idea of the university that I have witnessed over the past forty years were both inevitable and sensible.
24 October 2012 | A report by consultancy firm Ernst & Youngpredicts that only elite, research-intensive universities with global brands will exist in their current form in 15 years, while the rest will be forced to rethink their business models as decreasing government funding, increased competition and online technologies reshape the higher education landscape.
24 October 2012 | The National Tertiary Education Union urges caution in accepting the inevitability of the direction of change to universities predicted in the University of the future report. It says if we are not careful, the Ernst and Young report will be read like a Back to the Futurescript for the pre-Dawkins era. This is not the way forward to the exciting opportunities enabled by digital technology and global mobility. National President Jeannie Rea puts it this way:
Responsibility sits with the government to ensure that our highly respected public university system is funded to deliver on the expectations of the community and industry.
18 October 2012 | To inform future policy decisions about VET, education and training consultant John Mitchell has collated 22 of the articles he has written for Campus Review over the last year, on the concerns raised by ‘VET reform’ and the cutbacks to TAFE. The articles show that, over the twelve months from October 2011, VET reform based on the three pillars of “market design”, “student entitlement” and “contestability”remained elusive, as VET reform requires some foundational elements not yet in place, including well-informed consumers,well-resourced regulators and effective barriers to profiteering providers.
The 2012 Ig Noble Prizes for Improbable Research
11 October 2012 | 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.
That was then …this is now
11 October | 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.
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.
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.
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.
4 October 2012
This has been a significant year for Australian federalism and intergovernmental relations, particularly in schooling. In this conference paper, Bronwyn Hinze and Brian Galligan of The University of Melbourne analyse the landmark Gonski Review of School Funding and the Williams High Court case on the Commonwealth’s school chaplains programs and the extent to which two landmark events – one judicial, one political – could represent a turning point or relatively minor setbacks in the Commonwealth government’s five-decade march into the education portfolio, with broader implications for other tied grant programs.
4 October 2012
The challenge of rankings, writes Gwilym Croucher (University of Melbourne) is recognising their value without using them in perverse ways.
Despite the limitations in what any ranking can tell us, they still have an important story to tell. It is not what individual institutions have done in the past or how their peers view them, but rather that the Australian system is doing well, and in this way we “punch above our weight”. Like any imperfect proxy, the rankings of individual institutions hint at the health of the system overall, even if there are inevitable instances where we can do better. As the Times press release reflects, Australia does well on the average movement of our top 200 institutions, with our universities from this top group raising an average of 15 places.
28 September 2012
The Thesis Whisperer has written a book. Or, more precisely, in Inger Mewburn’s own words, she’s compiled one out of blog posts on the Thesis Whisperer site It’s up on Amazon for $3.99 AUD – a price point carefully calibrated to match the cost of a cup of coffee in Inger’s home town, Melbourne. Inger says that a book provides a structured reading experience that a blog just can’t because it’s not sequential.
28 September 2012
In this article, The Conversation presents a discussion between two of the world’s leading education experts on how Australia can learn from others and improve its educational outcomes. Pasi Sahlberg is Director General of the Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation (CIMO) in the Ministry of Education in Finland. Professor John Hattie is director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute at the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education.
27 September 2012 | With the recent in principle approval of the Queensland government for the merger of Central Queensland University (CQU) and Central Queensland Institute of TAFE to create Australia’s sixth dual sector university, there have apparently been concerns within the university community about the possible negative impact on its reputation as a university. Here, CQU addresses these concerns:
…let me reassure all students – past, present and future – that the CQUniversity degree you currently have mounted on the wall, or that you hope to attain in the coming months and years, will be worth just as much “post-dual sector” as it is today. In fact, it may be worth a whole lot more.
20 September | Higher education is becoming a commodity which is means more and more, universities are seen as sellers and students as consumers, writes David Pick in The Conversation.
It’s a competitive market and competition is fierce. Over the past twenty years, universities have also become more businesses-like in many areas of their operations. As government has reduced funding, they have become more reliant on income from fee-paying students.
At the same time, fees are also increasing for international and domestic students who are more choosy about where they want to study and conscious of wanting “value for money” (often measured through job prospects after graduation).
Caught between squeezed budgets and intense competition for students, the temptation for universities to overstate things a little might be irresistible.
20 September | Maybe it’s time to rethink the conception of “university”….and focus a bit more on the teaching mission.
Under present standards, mandated by the Commonwealth governments, a university college is classified as a university on training wheels, with an institution allowed five years to satisfy the requirements of becoming a comprehensive university However, with little trouble, a university college could be classified as a stand-alone institution with a requirement for research in at least one broad field of study. This would make it not much different from a university of specialisation….Continue reading]…
20 September | The phrase “Moscow on the Molonglo” was coined in reference to an era of Coalition industrial and governance intervention in universities and controls on fees and enrolments, writes Glenn Withers, former CEO of Universities Australia.
The issue has returned with a vengeance, this time under Labor, as university authorities come to terms with the new regulator – the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) – which universities claim is tying them up in red tape. But TEQSA has been far more nuanced than its twin in vocational education and training, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), which takes a very blunt interventionist approach….[Continue reading]…
20 September | Cuts to the humanities and social sciences faculty at La Trobe University have been the source of much debate among the academic community, and anger among affected staff and students. This culminated in a stand-off between protestors and Vice-Chancellor John Dewar at the university’s open day last month. But according to Virginia Mansel Lees , in his recent contribution to The Conversation, Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar’s made some questionable claims about the state of humanities at La Trobe….[Continue reading]…
20 September | Recent funding cuts suggest state governments have failed to appreciate how important TAFE is to our economy and the community more generally. To them the vital work TAFE does is invisible. But while TAFE’s effect might not be visible to politicians, it is an essential economic, social and cultural support for Australian communities and regions….[Continue reading]…
23 September | Anyone with a passing interest in public policy would have been fascinated by the speech by Jennifer Westacott (CEO Business Council of Australia) to the Institute of Public Administration Australia on 20 September. She took the stick to the political class generally and to Ministerial staffers in particular, who she obviously thinks wield to much influence if not power.
16 September 2012
Universities Australia Chair Glyn Davis observes that education transforms lives, and the Behrendt Review proposes an Australia in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are well represented in each new class and on staff, a familiar part of the university community. It is an inspiring vision of the nation we can become.
7 September 2012
The ABC’s 7.30 current affairs report early this month looked at alleged dodgy training in vocational education and training and suggested that the demise of TAFEs and rise of private training companies “could be the biggest crisis in education that this country has ever seen.” 7.30 returned to the issue on 5 September.
In 2010 Carty was employed by Pow Wow as a curriculum writer. When she started she says she noticed that Pow Wow was signing off and qualifying students in aged care without any practical placements or training. She asked the company why.
SUSAN CARTY, FORMER POW WOW TRAINER: He said, “Oh, we don’t do placements,” and I said to him, “Well you realise they’re not gonna get a job if they don’t get placement.” And he said, “Yes. I don’t – you know, but that doesn’t really matter,” sort of thing.
7 September 2012
Published bi-annually, the ACER Higher Education Update provides an overview of ACER’s contributions to higher education research and development. Edition ten reviews :
- Planning student and graduate flows
- Engaging students in education
- Assessing learning outcomes
- Continuous technical improvement.
7 September 2012
Hundreds of TAFE staff, students and supporters attended rallies protesting the State government’s deep TAFE funding cuts when the Legislative Assembly sat in Ballarat and the Legislative Council in Bendigo on 6 September.
NTEU Victorian Division Secretary Dr Colin Long told the Ballarat rally that concerns about the TAFE cuts had been raised all over the state by unions, students, staff, TAFE CEOs, business leaders, churches, school councils and school principals. Never has there been such a concerted outpouring of anger about the treatment of education in Victoria, he said.
The TAFE cuts are hitting regional areas hardest. Jobs, courses, campuses are already gone and going. Add the cuts to fire fighting budgets announced this week, the cuts to the public service, including the Department of Primary Industries, and, once again, the pattern is clear.
In 1854 the Ballarat Reform League met at Bakery Hill to pass a resolution that formed the basis of the movement that we commemorate today as the Eureka Rebellion: “…that it is the inalienable right of every citizen to have a voice in making the laws he is called on to obey, that taxation without representation is tyranny’.
We will borrow this resolution today and assert with one strong voice: ‘taxation without education is tyranny’.
1 September s012
….TAFE is an institution that gives everyone a pathway to learn. By reducing TAFE funding you are cutting our society’s opportunity to contribute to the world in which we live; you are ripping the choices not just from our youth, but from our communities.… The message from this Government that budget cuts are necessary has been loud and clear. What I question is where the cuts have been made, and the basis for the decision. The funding cuts to VCAL and TAFE, combined with the 950 staff cuts in the Education Department itself, show a strong disregard for the Victorian constituency and for improving or even maintaining educational standards in Victoria.
30 August 2012
University rankings should come with “health warnings” and clear methodological information, but will continue to grow in influence and reach, despite criticism, says Phil Baty the editor of the Times Higher Education (THE) Rankings. Baty has moved to defend rankings after James Cook vice-chancellor Sandra Harding publicly declared a boycott of the THE rankings, and Adelaide University vice-chancellor Warren Bebbington argued university rankings are failing student consumers. University of Southern Queensland vice-chancellor Jan Thomas has argued global rankings “ask only for conformity” when diversity is what’s needed in higher education, and Monash University’s Robert Nelson has bemoaned the influence that research income has upon many ranking indicators.
30 August 2012
The Thesis Whisperer, a newspaper style blog dedicated to helping research students everywhere, has turned two. The Whisperer’s editor Dr Inger Mewburn of RMIT University reflects on the vicissitudes of blogging and goes behind the curtain to reveal facts and stats. The most popular post on Whisperer over the past year was that now classic, The Valley of Shit.
The Thesis Whisperer started as a blog called ‘Research News blog’ on [RMIT’s] University Learning Management System (LMS) ‘Blackboard’. I think the closed format of Blackboard, which required an RMIT login, might account for the disappointing 26 hits it had in the time it was there. I was wondering whether I should bother carrying on with it when a student rang and asked me if I was “The Thesis Whisperer”. I laughed because it seemed such a good job description for my strange occupation as research educator. The next day I realised that it would be a great new name for the blog and embarked in a ‘re-branding’ exercise, starting with a move to WordPress.
29 August 2012
For her passionate commitment to research and science communication, Professor Cory, former director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) and current president of the Australian Academy of Science, has won the 2012 Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science.
28 August 2012
Swinburne Vice-Chancellor Professor Linda Kristjanson has been awarded the Bethlehem Griffiths Research Foundation (BGRF) Medal for her contributions to palliative care research and education over the past three decades. Professor Kristjanson’s pioneering work has resulted in better symptom management and a reduction in psychological distress for palliative care patients as well as more effective support for their families.
28 August 2012
- Dr Suetonia Palmer, University of Otago, Christchurch
- Dr Baohua Jia, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia
- Dr Kylie Mason, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research/Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne.
23 August 2012
The Victorian state government’s cuts to TAFE in the May budget put vocational training front and centre of public attention and generated enormous public interest (uniformly negative) and media coverage. Susie Mandley has “scooped” just about every one of them on her news aggregation site TAFE in Victoria. On the occasion of her 1000th scoop, Susie put down her own reflections on the impact of these cuts.
The building of social capital is such an essential part of a civilised society…TAFE has a contract with society- to enrich it. They more than fulfill this obligation. Their most important stakeholder is the community.
Jack Keating22 July 2012Jack Keating died on the afternoon of 21 July 2012 . As colleague Leesa Wheelahan noted of Jack:
He was a great friend and mentor for many of us. His work in our field has been very important, and he has done more than anyone I know to change policy, raise the status of VET and insist on its importance, particularly for the most disadvantaged. We will all miss him very much.
For those of you who don’t know of him, Jack was a significant thinker and shaper of ideas and policy on equity in education – and, as you might expect, a rather gentle and much loved person among those who did know him.
12 July 2012
Commencements for students from low socioeconomic status backgrounds increased by 3.3% per cent to 56,710, while total enrolments of low SES increased by 26,456 since 2007, or 23.9%.
The growth rate in indigenous university enrolments is almost double that of the overall population. However, this falls a long way short of closing the gap, with indigenous people comprising 1.3% of university students but making up 2.5% of the population. In 2011, a total of 5,381 Indigenous students commenced a university course, an increase of 6.1% from 2010. Since 2007 the number of Indigenous students studying at university has increased by 2,437, or 26%. [Continue Reading]…
12 July 2012
A new NCVER report – Australian vocational education and training statistics: Students and courses 2011- suggests extraordinary growth in Victoria has reshaped the national training sector, skewing enrolments into a handful of qualifications and more than doubling the proportion of publicly funded students who attend private training. The number of publicly funded vocational students in Australia rose by 82,000 last year. Of these, 77,000 were in Victoria. [Continue Reading]…
12 July 2012
The grand old man of Australian politics turned 96 on 11 July. Writing in The Age, Geoff Cooper said that Gough Whitlam’s visionary tertiary education scheme opened up doors for many.
Many thousands, no millions, of baby boomers should join in a very loud chorus to sing the praises of this much maligned but incredible Australian.
Current Commonwealth minister Chris Evans joined the chorus, saying that “one of Whitlam’s most enduring achievements was the opening up of our nation’s universities, allowing a new generation to access the benefits of higher education.”
But commenting from his perch in Carlton, Andrew Norton counters that, while access to higher education did expand under Gough, his reforms was not as significant as many people imagine they were.
The late 1980s and early 1990s were the turning point for improving working class higher education participation. School completion rates had increased dramatically during the 1980s, and the big HECS-financed John Dawkins led expansion in university places gave them somewhere to go. Dawkins and the most Labor state education ministers of the 1980s were more important than Whitlam in opening up education for people of all classes. Gillard is responsible for another wave of expansion since 2009, which also seems to be bringing in low SES students in large numbers.
12 July 2012
Phil Clarke, the Victorian government’s second in charge of skills, has moved on barely a month after assuming leadership of a taskforce to help the state’s TAFEs survive the massive May budget cuts. The taskforce had been set up to run for between 12 and 18 months. Clarke is regarded as easily the most knowledgeable Victorian skills bureaucrat, with two decades of experience at the state and national level, as set out in a glowing tribute emailed to staff, which bore all the hallmarks of a bureaucratic obituary. [Continue Reading]…
12 July 2012
Following the announcement that Swinburne proposes to close its Lilydale campus in Melbourne’s inner east, the National Tertiary Education Union is organising a protest rally for Monday 16 July. [Continue Reading]…
9 July 2012
In this insightful blog, The Australian’s John Ross examines how an “inventive” private training provider managed to deliver a nominal 700 hour course in just 15 hours and receive, after kickbacks and giveaways, net public funding of $3500 – $233 per student per hour – all apparently within the rules. The provider was ultimately deregistered, not on quality grounds or for alleged “rorting” – remember, it was all within the rules – but for failing a financial viability test. The matter is now before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Everyone knew there were holes in Australian college regulation. And everyone knew those holes were one of the reasons Australia’s $18 billion international education industry had become a $15bn industry, and falling.
But it takes local knowledge to really test the outer edges of a regulatory loophole roughly the size of the Southern Star ferris wheel.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________5 July 2012Higher education students are taught never to cut intellectual corners. But higher education policy makers do it all the time, according to the Grattan Institute’s Andrew Norton. It’s time to do better , he suggests. [Continue Reading]…__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
4 July 2012
The confirmation of the existence of Higgs boson – the so-called “God particle’, an elusive sub-atomic particle that is believed to confer mass – has created fevered excitement in theoretical physics circles and confused interest among the rest of us. American physicist Michio Kakau explains that the existence of Higgs boson will open the floodgates for a whole new branch of theoretical physics:
There are some eternal questions that cannot be answered in the framework of conventional physics. Is time travel possible? Are there gateways to other universes? Are the other dimensions?
28 June 2012
A vast and ever-increasing number of the world’s students are studying for degrees without ever setting foot on a campus writes Geoff Maslin on this feature on Open Universities Australiain World University News.
Open Universities Australia (OUA), the 20-year-old antipodean pioneer of online learning, is a prime example – it has experienced an unprecedented doubling in enrolments over the past four years.More than 55,000 students now select from the OUA’s 1,400 units and 170 qualifications offered by 20 Australian universities and other tertiary education providers, including polytechnic institutes. Paul Wappett, OUA chief executive says the expansion in student numbers is a reflection of the attractiveness of online education to fit with our students’ lifestyles and work commitments:
But we wouldn’t have had that growth without quality education outcomes, and that’s because we have the best courses from the best universities and are able to choose those providers – that is very attractive.
16 June 2012
Adele Horin observes in the Sydney Morning Herald that when consumers buy a faulty television, they can take it back on warranty.
But there is no comeback for job seekers with a worthless certificate from a dodgy provider that testifies to skills they do not possess, a fact that will be exposed soon enough. The NSW government is in the throes of deciding how far it will go down the Victorian path…Scorched earth is not the way to go. The point of reform is not to give money to private providers but to provide quality training.
People who went to university and whose children go, or are destined to go, to university usually have little interest in the plebeian matters of skills training or the fate of TAFE, an institution erroneously associated with blue singlets and tools.
No matter that 600,000 more people go to TAFE than to university and that the nation’s productivity will be dependent on the quality of this sector as much as on the quality of our universities, ignorance and indifference about it abound.
But let me warn you: remember the fracas and national shame caused by dodgy English language colleges that mushroomed around the country and ripped off overseas students? Well, we have learnt too little. Under the mantra of choice and competition in vocational education, a mass expansion of private vocational training colleges for domestic students, this time backed by government funds, is apace.
The results are clearest in Victoria, where the free market philosophy has gone the furthest in treating vocational education like clothes or television sets: it is a good to be offered by a variety of private outlets competing on price.
14 June 2012
The Australian vocational education and training system is too complex, too expensive and yet too easy to for VET providers to enter, writes Leesa Wheelahan (L H Martin Institute) . It has too many qualifications that take a lot of money to develop for too few students. Training packages should be scrapped because the typical vocational qualification has only enough national enrolments to fill a single school classroom. The study identified over 1400 training package qualifications offered by some 5000 training providers in 2010, with the mid-range number of equivalent full-time students in each qualification being just 34.
There are currently 170 registered higher education providers in Australia, and 4900 ‘active’ VET registered training organisations. In 2010, the biggest 100 VET providers (that is, 2% of all providers) delivered 86% of teaching, while only 61 VET providers had 1000 or more equivalent full-time students.
In 2012-13 the Australian government allocated almost $19.5 million to the higher education regulator – the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Authority, while it allocated almost $32.8 million to the VET regulator – the Australian Skills Quality Authority.
Inside Higher Ed 8 June 2012
With university funding and the contribution of student fees to that funding ramping up as an issue in Australia, here’s an interesting development in the US. This is not a lot different to the Melbourne Business School, a private company in which the university is a minority shareholder, to which there is little in the way of public funding. And, once upon a time, there was Melbourne University Private, which was designed as a profit making venture, independent of as much government control as possible, in an attempt to manoeuvre around some of the limitations of legislation governing public universities. It might also be observed that the Melbourne Model has its “entrepreneurial” possibilities, with its Masters level qualifications in the “professional degrees” (medicine, law, architecture etc), which aren’t subject to the same fee regulation as undergraduate degrees. With the Go8 universities, in particular, keen to better exploit their high reputational status for financial advantage , this will be an interesting space over the next few years, especially if/when there is a change of government.
The Academic Senate at the University of California at Los Angeles has narrowly approved a proposal to stop accepting any state funds for the university’s M.B.A. program, and to replace those funds with tuition revenue and private support. The proposal – the subject of intense debate for nearly two years — now goes to the president of the university system, for final approval, which is expected. This reversed a decision of the university’s Graduate Council, the faculty body for graduate programs, which in March rejected the proposal, potentially dooming it. But faculty supporters of the plan asked for a review by the full Academic Senate The votes by the Graduate Council and then by the Academic Senate reflect competing visions for how the university should respond to a series of cuts in state funds (with more reductions looming).
Under the plan, the M.B.A. program would see a net gain in its budget by giving up the small fraction of its budget from the state and replacing those funds with philanthropy and higher tuition rates. Current tuition rates in the M.B.A. program at UCLA are hardly cut-rate: California residents paid $45,385 in tuition this academic year. But there may be plenty of room for UCLA to raise tuition under the new system. The M.B.A. programs at Stanford University and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania will next year be charging $57,300 and $62,034, respectively.
12 June 2012
We suspected that the award of a CA to philosopher and bioethicist Peter Singer might be poorly received in some quarters, given that some of his philosophising is, to say the least, rather challenging, dealing with taboo subjects, such as the euthanasia of unwanted children and being permissive of “mutually satisfying” activities of a sexual nature between humans and animals. These don’t exactly accord with mainstream values. An organisation called Family Voice Australia says the award “dishonoured” the honours system. We are not at all familiar with Singer’s corpus but you can’t really suggest that the award constitutes any kind of endorsement for particular propositions. That’s not the style of the Honours Committee. Rather it’s general recognition of his general contribution to the realm of contemporary philosophy. It’s altogether likely that over the course of a long – and internationally distinguished – career, Singer has had more generally agreeable ideas. We await with interest Andrew’s thunderBolt, which ought to be a beauty.
Simon Marginson explains that the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) format has radical implications for higher education teaching. It uses videos and interactive exercises designed by a few star professors from high-ranked universities. MOOC allows the average punter to access Ivy League contents, learning and brand, but without devaluing the main onsite credential. MOOC is not a direct competitor. It is a new kind of product. It could become a second line of credential, depending on professional certification and employer take-up. Students will collect different MOOC “badges” to bulk out a varied resume. If there is enough employer take-up, MOOC, with its overwhelming cost advantage, will cannibalise mass education institutions.
But Monash v-c Ed Byrne (Digital campus changes the game) expects that campus-based learning will remain durable into the future except that more and more it will represent a breadth of experience where the latest [information and communication technology] environments and technology offer new interactive experiences.
I see online learning not as a threat but as an opportunity because we are on an incredibly exciting journey that will make higher education even more effective than it is at present for many people.
The reality, however, is that a vast and increasing number of the world’s students are studying for degrees without ever setting foot on campus. Open University Australia, the 20-year-old pioneer of online learning, is a prime example, having experienced a doubling in enrolments over the past four years. More than 55,000 students now select from the OUA’s 1400 units and 170 qualifications offered by 20 Australian universities and other tertiary education providers, including TAFE institutes.
Australia’s million-plus university students already have online access to lectures and whole subjects but increasing numbers are switching to learning solely via the web, often with the aid of the universities.
At Swinburne University of Technology, for example, online enrolments have jumped by more than 200% over the past two years. In November, the university went a step further, negotiating a partnership with web recruiter Seek to establish a separate company to offer all the university’s courses over the internet.
7 June 2012
The revelation that Victorian VET funding cuts involve somewhat more than the $100 million
publiclyclaimed by the state government is also revealing of the government’s prosecution of the case for these swingeing cuts. After publicly recanting the misgivings that brought him to the brink of resignation, skills minister Peter Hall has at times resembled Comical Ali, as he argued for weeks that it was “too premature” to talk of job cuts and course closures, while all around him TAFE CEOs were lining up to announce job cuts and course closures. In Hall’s own electorate, the local GippsTAFE CEO Peter Whitney described himself as “enraged”, as he announced job cuts of of up to 25, with more to follow.
31 May 2012
The Group of Eight has stepped up its pitch for fee deregulation with the release of research examining Commonwealth funding for universities over the period 1996-2010 showing government funding increases aren’t sustained over time but Swinburne v-c Linda Kristjanson has sounded the warning that increased fees often only substitute public funding.
The Conversation 30 May 2012
For years, those concerned with vocational education and training have worried about how to lift the public profile of TAFEs. But what has taken many years for some – without much success – the Baillieu government in Victoria has done in a matter of weeks.
The state government’s cuts to TAFE in the May budget has put vocational training front and centre of public attention. All the while demonstrating a surprisingly deep well of public regard for these educational institutions.
There have been literally hundreds of media reports on the funding cuts worth $300 million, in all forms of media – metropolitan, regional and national.
At first, even the Victorian higher education minister Peter Hall was opposed to the cuts and considered resigning in protest, although he is now vigorously defending them as reforms that make TAFE “better”.
So how has TAFE come to this point in Victoria? And are we likely to see similar “reforms” adopted elsewhere?
The Australian Government’s policy and financing settings lack coherence and are putting downward pressure on quality, and all the new regulatory and performance accountability mechanisms cannot compensate for over‐scaling and under‐funding. Indeed they may contribute to loss of diversity and responsiveness and much inefficiency and frustration.
On his way to that conclusion, Gallagher observes that :
- The Bradley Report was a roadmap to mediocrity.
- The government’s misrepresentation of the real state of university finances is mischievous – but “not so sinful as knowingly publishing false and misleading information about universities on the MyUni website to the reputational disadvantage of some providers, but that is for another day – perhaps when we are discussing the mykindy or mycrematorium websites.”
- The structure of incentives is producing a vacuum cleaner effect, where the ‘selecting’universities absorb students who would otherwise have gained admission to mid‐range universities, and they in turn take the better‐prepared students who would otherwise have gone to the ‘recruiting’ universities.
- The standards movement, with which Australia is belatedly obsessed, is a 20th century movement oriented to the lowest common denominator of public acceptability, while customisation is the stuff of the 21st century where diversity flourishes.
- The stronger standards and quality regimen is a consequence of the Government’s half‐pregnant market decision to fund universities for any number of domestic undergraduate students they decide to enrol at their own entry standards while denying them the means to secure the resources they need to educate them well.
Click the button to see the whole presentation, complete with slides – it’s nothing if not thought provoking.
_____________________________________________________Campus Review Weekly 14 May 2012
Despite the recent Victorian government cutbacks, public TAFEs still enjoy a number of advantages over private training providers, including decades of public investment in good and often world class facilities and their dominance of “high end” technical training. The cutbacks do mean TAFEs are going to have to adjust to the new market but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, least of all for TAFEs: it’s a great big green light by the government to the TAFEs to get out of those areas of provision for which it makes no sense for TAFE to be in now.
To judge by some media reaction to the 2012 Federal Budget, socialism is alive and well and running amok in Canberra – and Julia Gillard has broken step with all previous Labor prime ministers by indulging in crass “class warfare”. Really?_________________________________________________________________________________________________
10 May 2012
The short answer is, in terms of higher education: not bad at all.
10 May 2012
Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have announced the formation of edX, a transformational new partnership in online education. Through edX, the two institutions will collaborate to enhance campus-based teaching and learning and build a global community of online learners. The rapid emergence of online education and resources represents a significant challenge to traditional concepts of higher education and the nature and character of higher education institutions. New York Times columnist David Brooks observes that many people view the coming change with trepidation. But he suggests that there are reasons to feel optimistic.
New Matilda 26 April 2012
- In much the same way as Australian universities tend to adopt the latest academic fashions from Britain, Europe and the United States, our best centres of learning are now importing the hottest managerial trends: corporate consultants, endless rebranding and unwieldy bureaucracies. The corporate university has been a long time coming and its effects are now starting to be felt, writes Adam Brereton in New Matilda.
In institutions dedicated to the pursuit of higher learning, scepticism and truth, the most damaging managerial trend is the requirement that academics, along with their administrative staff, uncritically support the university’s corporate goals. Prescriptive behavioural plans like RMIT’s BCF are being imposed on academics who are expected to, for example, perform more of their own administration, eschew teaching to produce more research, teach on a casual basis or “team teach” huge undergrad classes.
If you’ve seen that bumper sticker Shift happens, you’ve seen what our culture has made of one of the central ideas in Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, published 50 years and 1.4 million copies ago.
For the marketers and boosters of personal transformation who casually talk about paradigm shifts, the phrase designates not just a gestalt switch that casts things in a new light, but a world so insubstantial that it can be thoroughly transformed by a single idea. Tomorrow there may be another paradigm shift, and another after that. There is thus no real progress, just a new bubble as good as the old bubble.
16 April 2012
The Commonwealth’s proposed skills reforms package, with an additional $1.75 billion in funding to the states over the next four years, sailed through the Council of Australian Governments meeting on 13 April 2012 without much difficulty, despite state complaints that the Commonwealth government’s new funding deal leaves them “hundreds of millions of dollars” out of pocket.
16 April 2012
Casualisation represents a use and throw away mentality that does not help build a productive or a sustainable society in the longer term.
Skill shortages and skilled migration visas are the result of a long-term strategic failure of government and business to invest properly in ongoing training for the burgeoning casualised workforce, says Brian Howe, the chair of an ACTU inquiry into insecure work. “Any skills shortage should be viewed as a training failure,” according to the former deputy prime minister. The growing divide between the employed and underemployed is driving deep divisions with the community, the only solution to which is to invest in a “culture of training and development” that does not focus on narrow competencies but broader skills that give a worker autonomy. Howe says we need a system that is not so much unemployment insurance, but employment insurance, focused on life-long education and training, include support from government for learning accounts and for employers that provide genuine broad-based training. Jeannie Rea, president of the National Tertiary Education Union, endorsed Howe’s message:
Education and skills development must be at the core of how we shape our economy and workforce. This requires a lot more than the shallow debate we are currently having around productivity and whether or not we can complete with China or India on flexibility and wages.
16 April 2012
Throwing open the gates to thousands more university students is an historic moment in higher education, but as always, the devil is in the detail, writes Louise Williams, in a survey of the challenges facing higher education in Australia.
The key concerns arising from “uncapping” are the risks of inadequate funding undermining quality, lower entry requirements threatening academic standards and the potential difficulty in matching aspirational new graduates to jobs in a rapidly changing, globalised employment market. It would seem that in this new “demand driven” system the shape of universities will be determined, effectively, by what students want but there are other factors in play; universities can only expand places if they have the infrastructure to do so, and this may put at risk national interest areas like science and engineering that need expensive lab space and equipment.
Issues of university governance
4 April 2012
Australian Catholic University vice-chancellor Professor Greg Craven has told a conference that the anxiety in the sector over the new sector regulatory body is understandable, but somewhat exaggerated. An example, said Craven, were the concerned whispers he had heard about several universities receiving letters from TEQSA. “Let me break the awful news to you: you are all going to sooner or later receive a letter from TEQSA, and we will probably get to the point where every single one of us has at least one missive from TEQSA on one subject at any given point in time,” he said.
It really depends on what the letters are about. Stephen Matchett recently blogged Sic semper tyrannis TEQSA:
The announcement that the agency will keep an eye on the hon docs universities award is not a good start for an organisation suspected of ambitions to less regulate than rule higher education.
He’s got a point. Honorary conferrals aren’t actually qualifications – they’re honorary titles - so what is TEQSA’s role in regulating them? Zip, we would have thought. While Curtin University’s decision to award Rosmah Mansor, the Malaysian prime minister’s wife an hon doctorate has proved a wildly unpopular decision with many of the university’s students, isn’t it really for the university community to sort it out?
TEQSA also took it upon itself to write to the University of Queensland about the “enrolment irregularity” that cost the then vice-chancellor and his deputy their jobs. While this has a little more relevance, being related to governance issues, it was arguably gratuitous to the extent that not only had the university investigated and acted on the matter (the apparently attempted hush up was unfortunate), the matter has been referred to the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission.
Until 2009, university governance was subject to mandated national protocols, the prescriptive nature of which was resented by universities. There is now a Voluntary Code of Best Practice for the Governance of Australian Universities, developed by the universities themselves and endorsed by the Ministerial Council for Tertiary Education and Employment in July 2011.
The bottom line in all of this seems to me that in governance/management relations nothing is more important than the exercise of plain common sense on both sides.
Keynote address by Professor the Hon Gareth Evans AO QC, Chancellor, The Australian National University, to 6th Annual University Governance and Regulations Forum, Melbourne, 10 August 2011
It was said of Professor Evans that when he departed The University of Melbourne Law School to take up his Senate seat, his students presented him with a farewell gift of two suitcases – one for his clothes and one for his ego. Might be apochryphal.
29 March 2012
As we featured in a recent article – The social & learning revolution - all universities are now increasingly “online” institutions, introducing “flexible” provision, utilising a mix of traditional delivery and online resources, such as podcasts, study portals, interactive discussion boards, blogs and YouTube. But the digital revolution in higher education also threatens the traditional place of universities, which have proved remarkably durable institutions because of their virtual monopoly on credentials and formal qualifications. In recent months, that monopoly has begun to crumble, writes Kevin Carey in The New Republic. New organisations are being created to offer new kinds of degrees, in a manner and at a price that could completely disrupt the enduring university business model
Universities, research institutes and think tanks generate a vast amount of information. While a lot of this is technical and discipline specific, of real interest (and rally only comprehensible to practitioners), there’s still a lot that is of general public interest. And of course there’s the contribution of the “public intellectual”: the understanding “…that intellectual power is capable of serving public purposes and can rightly assume partisan forms.” For all the challenges that the internet and the digital revolution present to the university, it also provides a new platform to disseminate ideas and engage public attention. This week, The Conversation turned one; we have reported before from and on New Matilda. Most of the universities now have “newsrooms” through which they publish research results and “expert opinion” on the issues of the day – see for example Coldplay: no paradise in Australia for Huawei. But Flinders University has taken it a step further and publish daily a fullblown media website, covering general news, as well as university specific content. If nothing else (and we think it is something else), it’s a great user friendly format, better than all the commercial sites.
Flinders Indaily is a recent significant expansion of an existing relationship Flinders University had with Solstice Media, an independent Adelaide media group. Solstice established Indaily nearly three years ago, with Flinders being a foundation sponsor. At that time Flinders contributed one page of Flinders news to Indaily each fortnight. Last year, Solstice proposed a Flinders Indaily which would take all of the Indaily content, add one page of Flinders news, views and video content each day and distribute to a new database of subscribers to be developed under a Flinders masthead.
29 March 2012
On 1 January 2012, the century old Melbourne College of Divinity (MCD) became Australia’s first “university of specialisation”, following a rigorous 15 month assessment process and subsequent approval by the Victorian Regulation and Qualifications Authority, with the title ‘MCD University of Divinity’. .
Founded on 17 December, 1910, MCD University of Divinity is the nation’s sixth oldest self-accrediting Higher Education Institution, and is listed in the Higher Education Support Act 2003 as a Table B institution with Bond University and the University of Notre Dame, and therefore eligible to compete for public research funding, although not Commonwealth supported places (Table A institutions being Australia’s public universities).
MCD was established by an act of the Victorian Parliament to provide for the higher learning and research needs of religious communities, with the University Act of 1853 specifically prohibiting The University of Melbourne from offering awards in divinity, a prohibition that is maintained for the eight Victorian established universities.
15 March 2012
All universities are introducing “flexible” provision, utilising a mix of traditional delivery and online resources, such as podcasts, study portals, interactive discussion boards, blogs and YouTube. This suits the lifestyle of “Gen Y” students in particular, who are entirely comfortable with technology. Flexible delivery allows many students, who are notionally enrolled in the conventional fulltime on-campus mode of higher education, freedom of employment that was not available to students even half a decade ago. The so-called ”digitisation” of higher education will only become more prevalent and pervasive, in a relatively short period and in ways that are not yet clearly portended.In this presentation to the recent Universities Australia conference, Shirley Leitch surveyed the extent of the learning revolution and her own university’s experience and learning path, beginning with a You Tube clip.
15 March 2012
In a comment on an article in The Australian about the Finkelstein report on the media(Finkelstein report: media’s great divide) Geoffrey Luck says “we can thank the (report) for one thing — it has flushed out the serious damage academia is doing to journalism and society”. Luck is a journalist of some sixty years standing and he hearkens back to the days when journalists learned their craft on the job, in smoke filled newsrooms, the incessant clatter of typewriters, as blokes in hats raced to meet deadlines (perhaps not in Luck’s case – he was a radio/TV journalist – but you get the drift).
8 March 2012
In a policy note, the Group of 8 (Go8) universities has reiterated its longstanding call for a research funding model focussing on selectivity and concentration of the higher education research effort with the aim of creating research universities of international research excellence.
6 March 2012
Outside of its particular academic field, most of us probably hadn’t, until a few days ago.
The Journal of Medical Ethics (JME) describes itself as “a leading international journal that reflects the whole field of medical ethics. The journal seeks to promote ethical reflection and conduct in scientific research and medical practice”.
Well, it did somewhat more than promote “ethical reflection” when it recently published an article by 2 Melbourne academics on the subject of After-Birth Abortion: why should the baby live ?
6 March 2012
Bob Carr’s drafting to the Senate and imminent appointment as Minister for Foreign Affairs has had people trawling through his blog Thoughtlines looking for comments and analysis that stand at odds with official though and policy. There’s plenty of that, of course – see Carr winds back personal views. Carr himself reflects that the views he held as a ”freewheeling private citizen” should be ”set aside ”for the ”more precise” views he will now express on behalf of the nation. ”We all have private views. If you are a foreign minister, you have to have one view and that’s the official view of the government.” Quite so. And whatever salacious delight people derive from Carr’s delinquent musings, Thoughtlines has some cracking good writing and analysis, on politics, foreign affairs, literature and history. Check out this review of recently published memoirs on Alan Reid and the Aarons family.
1 March 2012
US Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum has stood by comments calling President Barak Obama a “snob” for wanting “everybody in America to go to college”. The former senator said good, decent people worked hard every day putting their skills to the test and were not taught by “some liberal college professor who tries to indoctrinate”. What Obama has actually stated is that everybody should have the opportunity to have a college/post secondary education and that a strong education system is central to securing a prosperous future.
1 March 2012
The release of the Gonski review of schools funding (21 February) was altogether overshadowed by the ALP leadership contretemps, if that’s not too mild a description of the spectacle that played out in Washington – Canberra – Brisbane and parts in between. Maybe that was a blessing in disguise, cutting off the hysteria that the usual suspects were beginning to whip up ahead of its release.
29 February 2012
In November 2009 Monash University Council endorsed a “strategic directions” paper proposing that Monash move to a differentiated model along the lines of the University of Toronto “federation”. Monash V-C Ed Byrnes has confirmed this direction will be pursued.
22 February 2012
The higher education conference season has kicked off with the NTEU Future of Higher Education Conference (22-23 February). The conference is broken into 7 panel sessions covering (i) students; (ii) staff; (iii) the public intellectual; (iv) international context; (v) the idea of a university; (vi) regulation & governance; (vii) policy & funding. It has has an impressive line-up of speakers and panellists, including Canadian academic David Robinson. The following article appeared in New Matilda, a great little website which needs a few more subscribers to stay afloat – check it out, if you don’t already subscribe.
9 February 2012
Julia Gillard’s announcement of sweeping reform of national VET funding arrangements, with income contingent loans at its heart, has evoked a full range of emotional responses from various stakeholders. The Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET) is rather enthusiastic; most commentators and peak groups such as TAFE Directors Australia TDA) are guardedly welcome; and the Australian Teachers Union is utterly appalled at the prospect.
9 February 2012
What do Pablo Picasso and David Hazlehurst have in common? Nothing at all really. Pablo Picasso is a late painter of Spanish origin who is on The Australian’s list of the 50 most influential people in Australian higher education. David Hazlehurst is very much alive and well and until late last year the bureaucrat with day to day responsibility for higher education in Australia and he’s not on the list.
2 February 2012
The Tertiary Education and Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA) will be keeping a close watch on universities recruiting students with low entry scores, according to CEO Carol Nicoll. Asked about risks in the new demand-driven system, Dr Nicoll told The Australian that universities have to make sure they offer enough support. “If they take students with lower entry requirements, we would have an expectation they would provide them with a suitable level of learning support,” she said. Dr Nicoll said the new agency, which took up its regulatory role on 29 January 2012, will release “in coming weeks” a risk framework listing the performance measures it would monitor.
2 February 2012
Satellite campuses have surged in this year’s university admissions rounds, countering fears that non-metro campuses could stagnate in the new demand-driven system as regional students opt for expanding city campuses…But we are talking about offers. The degree to which offers translate into acceptances is something else altogether, as La Trobe discovered to its embarrassment by over-offering for its dentistry course at its Bendigo campus and subsequently having to renege on offers to 34 students. In the uncapped system and with increased accessibility to Youth Allowance, relocation and startup scholarships, offers may well not be accepted at smaller campuses and sites.
2 February 2012
The Grattan Institute has published its first foray into the field of higher education. Penned by Andrew Norton, the Institute’s recently appointed Higher Education Program Director, the report sets out to put “in one place facts, figures and analysis relevant to understanding higher education institutions, students, and outcomes”. While it does this reasonably well – and is a valuable addition to the reference library – things move so quickly, it will be a challenge to keep it reasonably current.
16 January 2012
Over 81, 000 applicants for a place in a Victorian university or TAFE institute received notification on 16 January 2012 about the success or otherwise of their applications.Overall , the Victorian Tertiary Applications Centre (VTAC) issued 59,992 offers on behalf of universities and participating TAFES and private colleges [GO HERE FOR VTAC DATA]. The majority of these – 47, 927 – were offers of a place at a university. With early offers to 9,559 applicants, the total number of domestic applicants with the offer of a place at a university was 54,155 (discounting multiple offers), an increase of 8.5% over last year and an overall record. Since caps were relaxed in 2009, university offers have increased a whopping 22%, with particularly strong growth at RMIT (+44%), Australian Catholic University (+40%), La Trobe (+35%) and Deakin (+34%).