News Desk – Superseded

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VET declining in Victoria

decline (1)23 March 2015 | The Andrews government says the latest Victorian Training Market Report the vocational education and training (VET) in Victoria was in crisis under the former Napthine government.TAFE enrolments, in particular have continued to plummet, with government-subsidised places falling by 33% over the past year. More vulnerable Victorians are missing out with government-funded training enrolments by regional students, trainees, disabled and disadvantaged learners all in decline. There was an 18% drop in 15 to 19-year-olds receiving government-funded training last year. Training and skills minister Steve Herbert said the figures showed the damaging impact of the former government’s cuts to the TAFE sector….[ MORE ]…..

Scientists warn on research funding

Invest in research5 March 2015 | A group of leading scientists, comprising the National Research Alliance (NRA), has written to the Prime Minister warning that Australia’s research effort is on the verge of shutting down due to uncertainty over operational funding for the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).Money for the NCRIS to operate for another year is tied to the government’s higher education reforms, which have stalled in the Senate. The letter says that, since 2004, NCRIS and its predecessor program has sensibly and successfully guided Australia’s national research infrastructure investment; committing over $2 billion of taxpayer money to 27 major research facilities…..[ MORE ]…..

ACPET calls out Evocca

Print5 March 2015 | Following allegations about Evocca College on the ABC 7.30 program, the Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET), the peak body for the private training sector has formally asked Evocca College to provide evidence against the allegations that have been made and issued a show cause letter…..[ MORE ]…..

Clamp down on dodgy operators

5 March 2015 | The federal government has introduced new laws designed to clamp down on the tafe-qualsdodgy private colleges that have proliferated throughout the country. The legislation will allow the government to create quality standards at short notice, force unethical marketers to identify which registered training organisation (RTO) is providing the course and extend the registration period for compliant colleges from five to seven years to better target audits to “high-risk” providers. The move comes after assistant minister for education and training Simon Birmingham announced that the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) would investigate 23 vocational educational institutions after widespread allegations of students being tricked into signing up for courses…..[ MORE ]…..

Evocca College under scrutiny

Evocca4 March 2015 | As a Senate committee, in an interim report, expresses concern about the rapid increase in government funding to non-TAFE providers, the ABC continues its serial exposé on the industry. According to the ABC, Evocca College, one of the largest players in the training industry, has a graduation rate of just 10%, despite claiming more than $290 million in four years from the government via the VET FEE-HELP student loan scheme. It’s now being investigated by the federal regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Authority.The ABC reports that out of 38,213 students who signed up to Evocca’s diploma courses in the past four years, only 2,058 had been awarded diplomas by October 2014. There were 16,567 students who officially cancelled and 3,897 who timed out of the course. These students appear stuck with debts of thousands of dollars and no qualification to show for it. The Commonwealth will be stuck with bad debts, totalling at least tens of millions of dollars, for no good purpose…..[ MORE ]…..

Careers Australia caught up in enrolment scam

3 March 2015 | One of Australia’s biggest private training providers is being accused of using Careers Austsalesmen who target disadvantaged areas and enrol poor students with fake entrance exams. Careers Australia is a market leader in vocational education, with 16 campuses across five states and 14,000 students, and is expanding rapidly by engaging door-to-door salespeople to sign up new students to courses funded by the Federal Government. Last financial year Careers Australia billed taxpayers for almost $110 million in VET FEE-HELP loans. But a current Careers Australia student and former sales broker have told ABC’s 7.30 that rapid growth is being achieved using dubious sales tactics……[ MORE ]…..

Australia’s first Buddhist college

3 March 2015 | Australia’s first government accredited Buddhist tertiary education provider, the Nan Tien Institute (NTI), officially opened its doors on Sunday 1 March 2015, at its newly constructed Wollongong Campus.

Nan Tien 2NTI describes itself as a secular tertiary Institute and says its purpose is to educate students in a context informed by Buddhist wisdom and values. It aims to facilitate cultural understanding and appreciation through the academic study of the arts, education, human welfare, religions and other disciplines. NTI currently offers six post graduate courses through its Faculty of Humanities and new Faculty of Health. These are Master of Arts (Applied Buddhist Studies and Health and Social Wellbeing); Graduate Diploma (Applied Buddhist Studies and Health and Social Wellbeing); and Graduate Certificate (Applied Buddhist Studies and Health and Social Wellbeing)…..[ MORE ]…..


ACPET slams AEU report

Print16 February 2015 | ACPET CEO Rod Camm writes that the recent report by Workplace Research Centre – commissioned by the Australian Education Union – which claims that large private training college chains have been generating extraordinary profit margins on the back of their recent access to public subsidies is seriously flawed. Camm says that, based on ASQA data (narrowly interpreted), the private sector has poor quality and TAFE represents quality.He acknowledges that here are quality problems in the VET sector but that the industry itself is committed to fixing them. He also says that the same quality issues afflicting the private sector are evident in the public TAFE sector….[ MORE ]…..

Higher ed reforms referred back to Committee

12 February 2015 | Labor, the Greens and four independent senators (Senators Xenophon, Interest ratesLambie, Muir, Rhiannon and Lazarus) have joined forces to establish another inquiry into higher education reform, to report by 17 March. The committee will consider alternatives to deregulation, likely future demand for places and implications on student loans, research infrastructure and regional provision. The inquiry will also look to investigate “the appropriateness and accuracy of government -advertising in support of higher education measures” and “other related matters”. The University of Canberra is to hold a forum on 13 February to discuss alternatives to fee deregulation, to which key senators have been invited….[ MORE ]…..

Labor’s TAFE agenda in Queensland

12 February 2015 | With the Labor Party poised to form a minority government in Queensland, Annastacia3its promise to rescue the TAFE sector will now come into sharper focus. Queensland VET student numbers fell 38,000 in 2013. During the election campaign, Labor leader and soon to be premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (who pronounces her surname as “Pallashay”) made a number of commitments to address the vocational educational and training system, including:
• $34 million over three years to create up to 100 TAFE teaching and support positions, fund new training schemes in emerging industries, invest in student support services and subsidise foundation skills course for disadvantaged learners.
• $240 million over four years to fund industry and community-based organisations to deliver training schemes to 32,000 people.
• Ensure 10% of workers on major projects are apprentices and trainees and extend the requirement to government-owned corporations.

Victorian VET Funding Review announced

Bruce McKenzie110 February 2015 | The new Victorian Labor government has announced a comprehensive, independent review of the funding of Victoria’s vocational education and training (VET) system, as presaged during the election campaign. Minister for training and skills Steve Herbert says the VET Funding Review will provide a more sustainable model for public TAFE Institutes and private training providers. According to Herbert, the former Liberal government left Victoria’s training sector in crisis. Government contributions to public TAFEs fell from $733 million in 2011 to $468 million in 2014, leaving many TAFEs at risk of financial collapse. An interim report will be delivered by May with the final report completed later this year….[ MORE ]…..

Deakin and Bendigo Bank hook up

10 February 2015 | Deakin University, with its large presence in regional Victoria, has Deakin & Bendigoannounced a partnership with Australia’s only regionally based bank, Bendigo Bank. The heads of the two institutions signed a Memorandum of Understanding in late January, committing both to explore ways to build brighter futures for students and Victorian and NSW regional communities. Deakin Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander and Bendigo’s Managing Director Mike Hirst launched the initiative by announcing 40 students would be granted scholarships for three years of study. Other initiatives being explored include the creation of a university Community Bank ; a scholarship fund of up to $1.3 million dollars and joint research prospects, and digital engagement/innovation opportunities, including mobile payment, crowd funding and communication initiatives with Bendigo Bank Telco….MORE ]…..

Evocca accused of rorting

27 January 2015One of the country’s largest training colleges had just 19 students graduate from any Evocca1of its courses in a single year, reigniting concerns about the training sector. Data on the MySkills website showed Evocca College enrolled almost 14,000 students in 2012 but just 19 graduated. The company disputes the figures but others suggest they supported ongoing concerns about some players in the training industry. A former student has also accused Evocca of plagiarising course content from Wikipedia…..[ MORE ]…..

Academic Gongs

Order of Australia227 January 2015 | 635 Australians have been recognised with Orders of Australia on Australia Day 2015, while a further 59 military and 130 meritorious awards were announced. Members of the tertiary education sector featured strongly in the honours list, with 81 awards, particularly in the upper categories. People associated with the tertiary sector received 4 out of the 5 Companion awards (80%), 16 out of 38 Officer awards were to people associated with the tertiary sector (42%), 46 of 156 Member awards (29.5%), for a 33% of the higher awards. In the most common category of Medal, only 15 of 434 awards were tertiary sector related people (3.4%). Women continue to be under represented with 33% of all awards, mainly in the Medal category. Only four of the tertiary sector awards were to people in the VET sector. It goes back to the old ICBY motto: “you gotta to be in it to win it”. Unless you’re the Duke of Edinburgh, you’ve got to be nominated….[ MORE ]…..

NSW uni offers

As in Victoria, the traditional January main round of university offers in NSW, through the UACUniversity Admissions Centre (UAC), is decreasing in prominence in the calendar. Offers through the year and direct offers are becoming increasingly the norm. This year, universities have made 46,507 offers through UAC ‘s main round, down 4,307 (- 9%) on last year. But the total number of offers to date is actually up a little, at 76,339, up 1,542 ( + 2%) from last year’s 74,792. So, main round offers through UAC are now about 62% compared to 68% last year and almost 100% four or five years ago…..[ MORE ]…..

Victorian tertiary offers 2015

vtac220 January 2015 | Over 69,000 applicants have received an offer, through the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC), for a place at a Victorian university, some private higher education colleges and for some courses at TAFE institutes. .University offers totalled about 57,000 out of about 68,000 applications, meaning a “success rate” of 84%, compared to 85% in 2014 but way ahead of the 75% rate in 2009, the year that places began to be uncapped. The average Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) for entry declined slightly, from 69.3 in 2014 to 68.1 in 2015.The data need to be interpreted with a little circumspection: it’s very hard to compare this year with past years and seek to extrapolate any future trend. We’re seeing quite significant changes in patterns and practices of application and selection. For example, an ATAR is now not relevant to 50% of university applications; it’s really now only relevant in respect of current Year 12 applicants. In addition an increasing proportion of both applications and offers now occur outside the VTAC framework and the traditional January “main round” of offers. This year VTAC conducted a pilot of direct applications, allowing someone to apply directly to an institution for a single approved course, rather than through VTAC. In fact, VTAC actually accounts for somewhat less than 50% of offers these days. So, on the face of it, there has been a marked decline, for example in “non year” (that is, mature age) applicants of 9% (and one assumes offers). Regional applications are down 10%. It might be surmised that this reflects concerns about prospective fee increases and “$100,000 degrees”. It may well be in part, but more likely changes in application and offer processes are a bigger part of the explanation….[ Read More ]…..


Newcastle quits IRU

22 December 2014 | Newcastle University has quit the Innovative Research Universities (IRU)Newcastle logo group, saying it would rather advocate for its own particular interests in light of proposed government funding cuts and fee deregulation. Along with other university groupings and Universities Australia, the IRU has been a vocal advocate for proposed fee deregulation. Caroline McMillen, Newcastle’s vice-chancellor, said the university’s research intensiveness in a low socioeconmic region put pressures on her institution that were not necessarily mirrored by the IRU’s other member universities. The combination of a 20% funding cut and restrictions on possible fee increases due to the socioeconomic make-up of the Newcastle region put particular pressures on Newcastle. The city has a $200 a week lower median wage than Sydney, she said….[ MORE ]….

Abbott reunifies education and training…

…and unifies industry and science

Abbott reshuffle21 December 2014 | In a wideranging reshuffle of the Abbott ministry, education and vocational education and training have been seemingly reunified and industry and science unified. Education minister Christopher Pyne will become minister for education and training, with VET coming from the industry portfolio to be reunified with education. Parliamentary secretary Simon Birmingham will become his new assistant minister, with prime minister Abbott saying he will have a key role in policy and programs relating to skills formation. Current assistant education minister Sussan Ley has been appointed to the cabinet post of minister for health, making her the second woman in the Abbott cabinet after foreign minister Julie Bishop. Amid criticism for not having a clear science ministry, industry minister Ian Macfarlane will be rebranded as minister for industry and science, and Karen Andrews will become his assistant minister….[ MORE ]….

ACN float flounders

18 December 2014 | Education and training provider Australian Careers Network has seen its Ivan Brownshares sink 20% on its Australian Securities Exchange debut, with investors remaining wary of companies exposed to the vocational education sector. The shares opened at $1.30 on 15 December, 23% below the listing price of $1.70, and closed the day at $1.36. The Melbourne-based company was forced to delay and scale back a planned $100 million float, raising $54.4m in a listing handled by Petra Capital, after investor sentiment soured following troubles at fellow education provider Vocation Limited. Ivan Brown, ACN’s chief executive, said timing is everything: “We picked the worst possible time in human history to try and list an education float. That’s life, what do you about it.”….[ MORE ]….

VCE 2014

vce15 December 2014 | Almost 83,000 Victorian students have received their Year 12 results. This year, 49,204 students – 26,259 female students and 22,945 male students – have graduated with their Victorian Certificate of Education and 47,032 secondary school students have received an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank. 14,728 students received a study score of 40 or more in at least one subject. In addition, 12,926 students completed a VCAL certificate in 2014, the most since the introduction of the program 12 years ago….[ MORE ]….


VCE 2014

vce15 December 2014     |     Almost 83,000 Victorian students have received their Year 12 results. This year, 49,204 students – 26,259 female students and 22,945 male students – have graduated with their Victorian Certificate of Education and 47,032 secondary school students have received an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank. 14,728 students received a study score of 40 or more in at least one subject. In addition, 12,926 students completed a VCAL certificate in 2014, the most since the introduction of the program 12 years ago….[ MORE ]….

School leavers opt for university

11 December 2014     |     The introduction of the uncapped demand-driven system for universities is seemingly driving changes in participation in ncver-logotertiary education, with far fewer young people undertaking vocational education and training (VET) in favour of higher education, according to a report published by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), Young people in education and training 2013. The report showed 55.4% of 15 to 19 year olds are at school; 15.6% are in higher education; 5.1% are undertaking an apprenticeship or traineeship; and 5.3% are enrolled in publicly funded VET programs. The steady participation rate in education and training of 81.3% reflects a 1.0% increase in school enrolments, a 5.2% increase in higher education and a 7.1% decrease in publicly funded VET programs compared with 2012. Obviously, that leaves an alarmingly high 18.7% of young people not engaged in education and training although a good proportion of those will be undertaking some form of gap year and some will be in paid employment. Other reporting, such as the Victorian On track survey, indicates that the non-participation rate is much higher in regional and rural areas than metropolitan areas (35% vs 24% in Victoria in 2013)…..[ MORE ]….

ACPET revises Code of Ethics

Print10 December 2014   |    The significant media scrutiny of the quality of vocational education and training by certain private providers has led the Australian Council of Private Education and Training (ACPET) to revise its Code of Ethics, particularly around using the services of agents and brokers. ACPET says the revision of the Code is a strategy to help ensure “the industry take(s) responsibility for (its) own quality journey, to demonstrate that we aspire to the highest in quality and provide quality assurance for students, industry and government in dealing with ACPET members.” ACPET proposes to establish a list of “preferred” agents and brokers, who have committed to adhering to the Code….[ MORE ]….

HE advertising campaign slammed

HE campaign

9 December 2014    |    The Abbott government has launched a taxpayer-funded advertising campaign to address concerns about its proposed higher education changes, key aspects of which enjoy little support in the wider community. The youth-focussed campaign, based on the theme “Your future is Australia’s future”, is aimed at countering claims about skyrocketing degree costs under a deregulated fee system.Prime time television advertisements launched on 7 December, commercial radio advertisements have begun and full-page newspaper advertisements will follow over coming days. The campaign is expected to have a strong presence on social media sites such as Facebook. Bus shelter advertisements have begun. Education minister Christopher Pyne says independent senator John Madigan had requested a government-run education campaign to quell community concerns about the changes but Madigan has angrily rejected the claim. Other crossbench senators have slammed the campaign, with independent South Australian senator Nick Xenophon said he would write to the auditor-general to complain about the use of taxpayer funds to spruik a policy that was not yet enacted…..[ MORE ]….

Vocation on the rack

9 December 1014     |     Following the resignation of John Dawkins as chair, Vocation chief executive Mark Hutchinson says he’ll stay on as CEO at the Mark Hutchinsonstruggling education provider despite the company halving its financial-year earnings forecast and seeing a further plunge in its share price ( from a high of over $3 to around $0.50 following regulatory findings to just $0.19 currently) on the back of apparent failures in governance and poor operational policy and procedures. Meanwhile, estranged former director Brett Whitford, who has called for root and branch change,  has substantially lifted his stake in the company from 9.11% to 15.4%, in what would seem likely be a pre-cursor to some sort of move on the board and management of the company.  The company now expects earnings of between $25 million and $30m, against a previous guidance of $53m-$57m announced in late October. It originally forecast earnings for the financial year of $64m.   The discontinuation of the company’s relationship with third-party brokers and “significantly lower student enrolments from (the) referrer network” have affected revenues from the company’s training businesses, according to Hutchinson.  He maintains that the level of impact on Vocation’s business following the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development settlement was “unexpected”….[ MORE ]….

An unloved orphan

Unloved orphan4 December 2014    |   Despite intensive lobbying, which one senator depicted as virtual harassment, the government was unable to negotiate the passage of its higher education reform package through the Senate. The bill was defeated 33-31 on the second reading late 2 December, with four of the eight crossbenchers (senators Glenn Lazarus and Dio Wang from the Palmer United Party, former PUP Jacqui Lambie and independent Nick Xenophon) joining Labor and the Greens to vote it down.The government at the last minute offered a A$400 million concession for higher education in Tasmania to try to win Lambie’s support, but she rejected the overture out of hand. In other late concessions, the government said it would create a structural adjustment fund for universities, focused on those with large numbers of low-SES students. It would provide $100 million over three years for the fund. It would also ensure that domestic student fees must be lower than international students.It had already agreed to keep the indexation of HECS at the consumer price index and to a HECS pause for new parents. Christopher Pyne immediately reintroduced a revised bill into the House of Representatives – incorporating the above amendments proposed by crossbench senators – which would be passed and sent to the Senate early next year. Pyne said that “great reform takes time. The Senate will have the Christmas holiday period to consider this new reform bill…..[ MORE ]…..

Lilydale to re-open

3 December 2014     |    The closed TAFE/HE campus at Lilydale on the outskirts of Melbourne will be reopened, new Victorian Premier Daniel Lilydale campusAndrews says. TAFE providers have already shown interest in reopening a closed campus on the edge of Melbourne, Andrews says. He visited Swinburne University’s former campus on 2 December to announce it would reopen with a $10 million refurbishment. The Lilydale commitment is part of a $320 million injection into the TAFE sector, which saw staff cuts, courses dropped and campus closed after funding cuts by the Coalition in 2012. Swinburne closed the campus in 2013……[ MORE ]…..

Getting down to business on TAFE

3 December 2014     |    The election of the new Labor government in Victoria paves the way for a major commitment to build and refurbish parts of the state’s TAFE system. Premier Daniel Andrews campaigned strongly on Labor’s $320 million TAFE Rescue Fund, which includes commitments to provide $10 million (i.e. $20 million) to re-open each of the former Swinburne Lilydale TAFE/HE campus Melbourne Polytechnic’s TAFE campus in Greensborough and $25 million to rebuild Chisholm TAFE, Frankston. The government has also promised a VET funding review, headed by former Holmesglen CEO and former TDA Chair, Bruce MacKenzie. Steve Herbert has been appointed minister for training and skills in the incoming government……[ MORE ]…..

Steve Herbert

New skills minister Steve Herbert plots the future


“TAFE:  an Australian asset”

TAFE_Enquiry-Survey25 November 2014      |      As a Senate committee prepares to inquire into broad VET funding and regulatory issues, a cross-party House of Representatives committee has come out strongly in support of the TAFE sector and its unique economic and social contributions to communities. Committee chair Ewen Jones, a Liberal National Party MP, said the “intrinsic value of TAFE as an Australian asset” had been evident throughout the inquiry. The committee made seven recommendations, the first being that the Australian Government should, through the Council of Australian Governments, make a value statement comprehensively defining the role of TAFE within the VET sector, together with its future direction in the competitive training market, from a national perspective. In an explicit recognition of TAFE’s community service role, it notes that TAFE not only plays an essential role in the vocational and further education of Australians, it has an important role as a provider of opportunities for those in positions of disadvantage and vulnerability the significant cost of which is sometimes missed. It recommends that the government should seek to ensure that VET funding takes into account this particular community service role of TAFE ……[ MORE ]…..

Murdoch allegations revealed

"Between 29th January and 17th September, there were some pretty shocking things that happened."

“Between 29th January and 17th September, there were some pretty shocking things that happened.”

14 November 2014    |    The chancellor of Murdoch University has revealed the nature of allegations senior academic staff under investigation by theWestern Australia’s Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC).Vice-chancellor Richard Higgott resigned last month after he was reported to the CCC by the university. Last week, Murdoch announced its second most senior executive, Professor Ann Capling, was also under investigation for alleged misconduct. The allegations include someone providing misleading information to the CCC; conflict of interest in relation to appointments; destruction of records; credit card misuse: and bullying…..[ MORE ]…..

Class action pending over Vocation

13 November     |    More than 30 institutional investors from both Australia and overseas are backing a class action being planned by law firm Maurice VocationBlackburn over disclosure practices at embattled education firm Vocation. Maurice Blackburn has launched online registration page to allow retail shareholders to sign up to be part of a class action, joining the large institutions angry at the heavy losses of $350 million-plus as the share price plunged. Maurice Blackburn class actions principal Jacob Varghese said there had been substantial interest from institutional investors in pursuing a class action, and the firm would be undertaking further investigations with a view to formally commencing proceedings by late calendar 2014 or early next year……[ MORE ]…..

Probe widens at Murdoch

Ann Capling11 November 2014     |   Murdoch University has confirmed that provost Ann Capling is the subject of an investigation following unspecified allegations against her that emerged from the investigation that led to the recent resignation of former vice-chancellor Richard Higgott. Murdoch also confirmed that none of the university’s deans had been presented with allegations, although a limited number of other senior staff are apparently being investigated. The issues (regarding Capling) emerged as part of the initial investigation undertaken by Murdoch University at the request of the Western Australian Corruption and Crime Commission. As a result of this investigation, the University has now provided written allegations to Professor Capling for her response. …. She is absent from the university at her request…..[ MORE ]…..

Review of SA skills funding program

Skills for all11 November 2014    |     The South Australian government has commissioned an external review of the state’s skills initiative, Skills for All, to be completed by the end of the year. Employment, higher education and skills minister Gail Gago said that, two years on from its implementation, “with a changing State economy, it is time to evaluate the program so far and consider the next phase of policy development for training, skills and employment.” The review will examine existing initiative and assess progress on Skills for All objectives, the overall cost and efficiency, and the vocational education and training impacts…..[ MORE ]…..

The leadership imbroglio at Murdoch

7 November 2014     |       In scenes redolent of the political sphere, Murdoch University seems riven by leadership tension,Murdoch logo following the forced resignation of Richard Higgott as vice-chancellor. Higgott had been suspended in September upon certain matters being reported to the WA Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) by the university. University faculty appear heavily divided, with senior academics seemingly sympathetic to Higgott and his close “ally” provost Ann Capling, while an anonymous ginger group styling itself Murdoch Meta Management Group are highly antipathetic. Tensions are unlikely to ease until the CCC delivers its findings…..[ MORE ]…..


Acquire in ASQA spotlight

Acquire Learning7 November 2014     |       The marketing practices of Acquire Learning, chaired by former AFL chief Andrew Demetriou, are being investigated by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) following complaints about cold calling and inappropriately ¬enrolling jobseekers who had ¬applied for positions advertised on the Seek employment website. Acquire itself is not a registered training organisation, but works as a broker allocating students to individual providers. Acquire has been the subject of complaints whereby jobseekers applying for positions are pressured into undertaking private tertiary study, in some cases becoming burdened by debts of up to $8000….[ MORE ]…..

ACPET heads for self-regulation 

4 November 2014     |      With controversy over dodgy marketing and poor quality courses among some private Registered Training Organisations and with third-party Printbrokers exploiting government subsidies in vocational education, the Australian Council of Private Education and Training, the private sector’s peak body, is to fast-track a new code of conduct and a standards framework to be externally monitored and validated. The monitoring and validation will cost members money but ACET says any reluctance about paying higher costs should be offset by the need to protect the reputation of quality providers. According to new ACPET chief executive Rod Camm “some may complain that we are just making it harder, but it isn’t about making it harder, it is about protecting member’s integrity. If we lose our reputation we lose everything. Our industry is not going to bury its head in the sand and pretend there isn’t a problem with a small minority of providers. We will not sit idly by while the behaviours of a few tarnish the reputation of many”  ….[ MORE ]…..

Row erupts at Vocation 

3 November 2014     |      The board of embattled education and training provider Vocation has expressed full confidence in managing director and CEO Mark Hutchinson after the company’s largest shareholder and one of its founders dramatically demanded he be sacked in the wake of a 60% crash in its share price, following compliance failures leading to it paying back $19.6 million in Victorian government funding. In an interview with ¬Channel Nine’s Financial Review ¬Sunday, Vocation founder and former executive Brett Whitford called for Hutchinson’s removal as part of an aggressive management shake-up and threatened to call an extraordinary ¬general meeting (EGM) if the board did not act swiftly. But in a statement released to the sharemarket on 3 November, -Vocation’s board of directors declared Hutchinson is the best person to lead the company and the ongoing restructuring of its troubled Victorian business. The company’s board of directors also rejected suggestions by Whitford that he should be appointed a director. It said that, while Whitford remains a shareholder, he was dismissed from the company for breach of contract ¬earlier this year and plays no part in the company’s board or management…..[ MORE ]….

Too many “known unknowns” creates uncertainty 

2 November 2014   |    With the government’s university reform package, which includes funding cuts and fee deregulation, apparently stalled in the Senate, The University Interest ratesof Melbourne has been unable to draw up a budget for next year due to uncertainty. In an email to staff on 31 October, vice-chancellor Glyn Davis said that because of the “known unknowns” concerning higher education funding in coming years, the university was unable to plan with confidence for next year, or beyond that.  He said there  are too many “known unknowns”   with key financial measures for the sector remaining  untested before the Senate. He posed the question that “should the government’s plans for deregulation not prevail, as many predict, who knows what policy settings will follow?”….[ MORE ]….

Labor’s calculator of doom

Fee increase31 October 2014    |       As part of its growing campaign against the Abbott government’s deregulation of university fees, Labor has launched its own “calculator of doom” which shows that in a “best case” scenario in which universities simply raise fees to cover proposed funding cuts, female nurses and teachers could face cost increases of about 60% once interest repayments are included. Under the best case scenario, a female nurse would end up repaying $32,245 for her three-year degree over nine years, up 66% from $19,410 under current arrangements. If prices rose to international student levels she would eventually repay $56,643 over almost 15 years. A male business student under the best case scenario would see their total repayments rise just 27% for a three-year degree to $43,656 that would take 8 years to repay. But if fees rose to international market levels, his repayments would rise to $94,473 and take almost 13 years to repay. But unless and until a deal is done on the package – and universities have set their fee regimes – we just don’t know what loan debt future generations of students will be carrying….[ MORE ]….

Senate committee reports on uni fees  

29 October 2014    |    The Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee has tabled its report on the government’s Higher Education and Research Amendment Bill after two months $100 notesof hearings and 164 submissions from interested parties. It’s utterly predictable: the committee has split 3 ways, with a majority report by the 3 Coalition members, recommending passage of the bill, perhaps with amendments and dissenting reports by the single Labor member and the single Greens member, both recommending rejection of the bill. Predictable as it is, the report is also disappointing: the recommendations contribute nothing at all the resolution of a fundamental issue: placing the financing of Australian higher education – and, from The Scan’s perspective, Australian universities – on a sustainable footing….[ MORE ]….

Vocation share price takes a hammering

News alert228 October 2014     |    On the back of a settlement with Victorian education authorities over VET non-compliance issues, which saw ASX-listed training provider Vocation Ltd surrender $19.6 million in government funding, Vocation’s share price has taken a hammering. From $2.29 when trade in the shares was suspended on 24 October, the opened at $1.40 today on resump[tion of trading, reached a high of $1.52 to close at 99.5 cents on a volume of about 28.4 million shares traded – far cry from its peak at $3.40. Vocation will also undertake a series of measures to ensure continuous improvement in its operations and compliance with regulatory standards. It has appointed a Quality Advisory Committee, headed by former ACPET chief Claire Field, to have full oversight of future continuous improvement activities within its Victorian businesses. Vocation has also announced that it intends to restructure its Victorian business, which will see the closure of two of its RTOs….[ MORE ]….

Vocation takes $ hit on VET non-compliance issues

Vocation27 October 2014     |    The ASX-listed training provider Vocation has announced a settlement with the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) in relation to its review into two of Vocation’s Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), BAWM and Aspin. Vocation will surrender a $19.6 million in government funding, effectively close the 2 RTOs, and restructure its Victorian operations under the direction of a new CEO…..[ MORE ]….

D-Day looms in the Senate 

27 October 2014    |     The Senate committee report on the government’s higher education reform package is due by 28 October, with debate set for later in the week. SenateEducation minister r Christopher Pyne has made clear that fee deregulation is the key reform he and Tony Abbott want to achieve, even if it means $5 billion in planned savings fall short. It’s being reported that, in addition to dropping the proposal to charge a “real interest rate”, the government is seeking to cut a deal around delaying the extension of public funding to “for profit” higher education providers by three years and perhaps also delaying the extension to universities of uncapped funding of sub-degree places. This would save around $800 million over four years and give room to moderate the proposed 20% cut in university funding and fund a modest “transitional fund” for universities in” thin markets”. However, Pyne has denied he is dumping key parts of his higher education reforms, suggesting there must be a “lone wolf” in the sector. He told Channel Nine’s Today Show the article was “completely false” and “news” to him…..[ MORE ]….


Major announcement on Vocation government funding expected

27 October 2014     |      Trading in shares of the ASX-listed training provider Vocation has been suspended pending the announcement of the outcomes of a review by the VocationDepartment of Education and Early Childhood Development of compliance by Vocation subsidiaries with contractual obligations for funding under the Victorian Training Guarantee. The announcement is scheduled for Monday 27 October 2014. If the review discloses major non-compliance issues, which might reasonably be expected given the amount of time this matter has been running (since the middle of the year), we might also reasonably expect some major changes at Vocation, including a shakeup of its management. The company has already set up a Quality Advisory Committee (QAC), headed by former ACPET chief Claire Field, to oversight the company’s compliance with regulatory standards. Vocation disclosed in late August that the Victorian Department of Education was reviewing two of its training organisations, Bawm and Aspin….[ MORE ]….

Labor promises $1.2 billion to make Victoria the “education state” 

26 October 2014      |       Victorian Labor has kicked off its campaign for the state election on29 November with the promise of a $1.2 billion dollar package to upgrade Andrewsschools and the TAFE Government school upgrades and refurbishments would cost $510 million, $120 million would be provided for Catholic and independent schools and $50 million would be spent on upgrading kindergartens across the state. Labor would also provide millions of dollars to help struggling families with uniforms and shoes. Labor also proposes a network of technical schools around the state , with 10 centres to be set up with a $125 million fund. The “first act” of an incoming Labor government would be to set up a $320 million “TAFE rescue fund” to reopen closed campuses, bailout struggling centres at risk of financial failure. There will also be a review of VET…..[ MORE ]….

New VET regulatory Standards 

23 October 2014      |     Ministers at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Industry and Skills Council on 26 September 2014 agreed to new regulatory Standards regulatory-frameworkfor training providers and regulators. Industry minister Ian Macfarlane signed off on the new standards on 20 October. The government says the new Standards represent an important step towards an effective risk-based regulatory system and introduce important changes that strengthen industry engagement, improve the quality of training and reduce the regulatory burden on training providers. The new Standards also increase protections for students who want to undertake nationally recognised training and strengthen the requirements for the delivery of training and assessment qualifications – qualifications which underpin the overall quality of training delivered in the VET system…..[ MORE ]….

Dropping interest will make very little difference to student debts – NTEU

21 October 2014     |   The National Tertiary Education Union says that dropping the highly controversial proposed “real Fee increaseinterest rate” on university student debts will have little impact on student debt levels. NTEU analysis shows that while removing interest from HELP debts will marginally reduce the cost and the time it takes to pay off HELP debts, it is the amount students will be required to borrow or the cost of their degree which will be the most important factor determining the size of their debt and how long it will take students to repay their student debt. The NTEU posited a debt scenario based on an accounting student paying $75,000 for the degree (more than twice the current price). Assuming six years out of the workforce almost a decade after graduation, the NTEU scenario has the debt repaid “only” seven years earlier if a real interest rate does not apply……[ MORE ]….

Pyne will concede on interest in return for fee deregulationfees3

21 October 2014    |    The Commonwealth education minister Christopher Pyne has confirmed that, if the Senate will agree to his fee deregulation plan for universities, the government is willing to back down on the budget decision to set the interest rate for HECS debt at the 10-year government bond rate which is currently set at the Consumer Price Index. Pyne has been in regular talks with Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer about the university changes, expected to be voted on in the Senate next week. A Senate committee report on the legislation is due by 28 October. Pyne has made clear that fee deregulation is the key reform he and Tony Abbott want to achieve, even if it meant $5 billion in planned savings fell short…….[ MORE ]….

Field to lead on Vocation compliance

Vocation20 October 2014    |     Coming on the back of regulatory issues in Victoria, the ASX-listed education provider Vocation has appointed former ACPET chief Claire Field to head an independent committee to provide oversight over the company’s compliance with regulatory standards. Vocation disclosed in late August that the Victorian Department of Education was reviewing two of its training organisations, Bawm and Aspin, which together account for a significant portion of the group’s revenues. Mark Hutchinson, Vocation’s managing director, told the company’s recent annual general meeting the review had negatively impacted enrolments in Victoria. The new oversight committee will “provide guidance and advice on quality and compliance to Vocation’s registered training organisations and higher education providers…….[ MORE ]….


Prestige matters but not as much as course 

13 October 2014    |     Bachelor-degree graduates of Australia’s sandstone and technology universities earn about 6% more over a 40-year career than do graduates of grattan_logoAustralia’s other universities, a new Grattan Institute report reveals. The report – Mapping Australian higher education, 2014-15 – also shows that course taken has a bigger effect on income than university attended. Technology universities – including RMIT, Curtin University and Queensland University of Technology – are much lower in international university rankings than sandstone universities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. But this does not seem to matter in the Australian labour market. For graduates with bachelor degrees like commerce or science earning attending a sandstone or technology university is likely to be worth about $200,000 more over their working lives. However, studying engineering at any university is likely to lead to a higher salary than studying arts at a sandstone university……. [ MORE ]….

NMIT rebranded as “Melbourne Polytechnic”

6 October 2014     |      The financially troubled Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE, which lost almost$32 million in 2013, has received a $19 million grant from the state government Melb Poly logoand rebranded itself Melbourne Polytechnic. It is the last of the big Victorian TAFEs to ditch the TAFE brand, with most of the TAFEs now styled as “institutes” and the four Victorian dual sector universities having exited the the state TAFE system in January. Interim CEO Ron Gauci says the name change is a strategy to reach out to Europe and Asia, rather than a backhander against the TAFE title. While the federal government’s planned deregulation of higher education would largely level the playing field in degree-level education, the institute’s name change would be beneficial…… [ MORE ]….

Rankings confirm “world class system” 

THE World Rankings3 October 2014      |    Australian universities have made made big gains in the latest Time Higher Education (THE) world university rankings, with one new entrant joining the world’s top 200, and most of Australia’s top universities moving up the rankings. Melbourne University remains Australia’s top-ranked university in 33rd position globally, ahead of the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra at 45th (up from 48th last year), the University of Sydney at 60th (up from 72nd) and the University of Queensland at 65th position (down from 63rd). Adelaide made the top 200, coming in at 164, and Curtin University and the University of Western Sydney made it into the top 400. The rankings report says the data shows that Australia does not have just a few world-class universities, but a world-class system – in addition to the eight universities which make the world top 200, there are a further 12 universities which make the 200-400 group. But it also raised questions about the Commonwealth government’s proposed tertiary education reforms….. [ MORE ]….

Public benefit of uni outweighs private benefit

3 October 2014     |     The Australian public, not individuals, benefits most from higher education but students shoulder most of the cost, according to figures from the Organisation forOECD Education at a glance Economic Co-operation and Development that undermine the government’s claim that students should pay more because they benefit most. The public rate of return from tertiary education in Australia is twice the rate of return to the individual analysis shows. For every public dollar put towards the cost of higher education, a man repays $6 through higher taxes and reduced unemployment benefits. By contrast, the man himself – who benefits personally from higher earnings and higher chances of employment – gets back only $3.20 for every dollar he pays for the cost of his education. A woman in Australia repays $4.40 for every public dollar spent on her education while her private return is $2.50 per dollar. Australia bucks the international trend as one of only five OECD countries where the public profits at a higher rate than the individual. It ranks second out of 29 countries – behind only Britain – for the biggest benefit to the public, while in 24 countries the private rate of return outweighs or equals the public rate…… [ MORE ]….

VC remuneration 2013

30 September 2014     |  Analysis of vice-chancellor remuneration packages released by the NTEU shows that there were five universities where the total remuneration package was in excess of $1m. The analysis was compiled using data from universities’ 2013 annual reports.   The largest package was almost $1.1m for the Australian Catholic University (ACU) vice-chancellor, and the smallest was $445,000 for Edith Cowan University. The average cost across all public universities was $770,000….. [ MORE ]….

VC salaries


 Vic training system failing – – needs “urgent rethink” 

Budget 201330 September 2014    |     Enrolments in the service industry training in Victoria have fallen significantly over the last 18 months, according to new research conducted by Victoria and Federation Universities on behalf of Service Skills Victoria. The drop in enrolments is due to changes made to the funding of training in the service industries by the Victorian State Government. New subsidy rates were introduced in the 2012 State Budget for all new enrolments from January 2012 and for all existing students from January 2013. Further adjustments to the rates were made later in 2013 and in 2014. A significant proportion – about 70% – are in the two lowest funding bands at just $4.50 per hour or less of service industry qualifications, including hospitality and retail training. John Sweetman, chair of Service Skills Victoria, says that as a result, some colleges have stopped offering courses in service sector qualifications altogether, while others have substantially reduced their course offerings…… [ MORE ]….

Vic’s ACFE joins TAFE “in crisis”decline (1)

24 September 2014     |     The travails besetting Victoria’s TAFE sector have spread to its Adult, Community and Further Education (ACFE) sector with the ACFE board 2013-14 annual report showing a $1.1 million loss for the ACFE Board after a $11 million cut in state government funding. ACFE returned a $9.4 million surplus in 2012-13. The sector has had a precipitous drop in government income from its peak in 2011-12 – down 80% – and since 2009-10 – down 40%….. [ MORE ]….


UWA sets undergraduate fee at $48,000

Fees arrow23 September 2014    |    The University of Western Australia is the first university to reveal its fee structure under the government’s fee deregulation plans, advising a Senate committee it would charge an annual fee of $16,000 – $48,000 for a three year degree – for the five basic undergraduate courses it offers. That’s an increase of 160% for a degree in humanities disciplines (based on the 2015 student contribution of $6152 pa – $18,456 over three years).   And it does mean  a price tag of around $100,000 for “professional degrees”, such as law, medicine, architecture and engineering. Medicine will likely break the $100,000 mark under the new price structure and law will be around $95,000.   UWA says this is “commensurate’’ with its status as one of the leading universities in Australia and as one of the world’s top 100 universities. The new fees would take effect from 2016 provided Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s reform package passes the Senate, where it is facing heavy opposition from Labor, the Greens and Clive Palmer’s crossbenchers….. [ MORE ]….

La Trobe offers fee guarantee for early entry offers

23 September 2014    |     La Trobe University has offered some students a ‘fee cap guarantee’ if they study as part of the university’s new undergraduate early-La-Trobe_Logo_x2entry Aspire program. The university has offered about 1000 students the fee cap guarantee under the Aspire program – four months earlier than when offers are normally made and even before their exams had begun. The Aspire program recognises students with a proven commitment to involvement in their local community….[ MORE ]…..

Murdoch suspends vice-chancellor

Murdoch-logo-squared-200x17322 September 2014    |   Murdoch University suspended vice-chancellor Richard Higgott on full pay on 19 September as a result of the outcomes of a recent investigation by the university, which have been referred to the Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) for further assessment pursuant to section 28 of the Corruption and Crime Commission Act (2003). Murdoch University chancellor David Flanagan said the decision to suspend Higgott was regrettable but necessary as a result of the findings of the investigation and the policies of the university….[ MORE ]…..

Vocation shares suspended Vocation

19  September 2014     |    Trading of shares in ASX-listed VET provider Vocation was temporarily suspended on 19 September, at the request of the company, given ongoing speculation regarding its Victorian government funding contracts. Since listing in December 2013, Vocation has derived 80% of its revenues from subsidiary BAWM, most of which (90%) comes from Victorian government VET funding. However, that funding is being withheld, pending the outcome of an audit of courses provided by Vocation.  Trading resumed on 22 September.

….[ MORE ]…..

AQF Council disbanded

AQF19  September 2014    |    The Australian Qualifications Framework Council, which was responsible for governance of the Australian Qualifications Framework, has been disbanded. The council was originally established to deliver a review of the AQF, which culminated in the strengthened AQF. With this work completed, the government says it was timely to reconsider the role of the council. Stakeholders have been advised that the decision does not diminish the government’s commitment to the AQF, the residual functions of the council will be transferred to the Commonwealth department of education. Expert consultative bodies are to convened as required to advise ministers on any AQF policy matters which arise….[ MORE ]…..

Sweeping VET deregulation 

12 September 2014     |     Industry minister Ian Macfarlane has announced sweeping deregulation of the vocational education and training (VET) sector with “high performing” VET MacFarlaneproviders delegated the authority to manage their own scope of registration and no longer needing the regulator’s permission to change courses or introduce new ones. Under the proposed changes, registered training organisations (RTOs) can apply to the Australian Skills Standards Agency (ASQA) for a delegation to manage their scope allowing RTOs to “get on with what they do best — delivering the high calibre training that meets industry and economy needs”. Macfarlane told a national VET conference that “quality training speaks for itself” and “ the best way to ensure an RTO delivers high quality training is to let it stand on its reputation – not fill out reams and reams of paperwork and jump through endless hoops.”….[ MORE ]…….

Apprenticeship funding revamp

One stop

9 September 2014    |     Small businesses in regional areas with high youth unemployment will gain access to federal government funding for training, as part of an overhaul of skills programs including the including replacing Australian Apprenticeships Centres with an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network. The apprenticeship centres were described as government-contracted “one-stop shops” for businesses seeking to hire apprentices or people wishing to take up an apprenticeships. In announcing the new arrangements, prime minister Tony Abbott said the new streamlined system would provide a “one-stop shop for employers, particularly small business, looking to hire a new apprentice suited to their business” but would replace “the unwieldy and overly bureaucratic system that has become bogged down in red tape”….[ MORE ]…….

SA TAFE jobs to go – in bulk 

5  September  2014      |       SA TAFE jobs are set to be slashed by almost a third over the next four years as part of a cost-cutting drive, raising fears a training shortfall will hit just as theTAFE SA 2 automotive sector shuts down. A leaked parliamentary briefing note prepared for Employment, Higher Education and Skills Minister Gail Gago shows TAFE’s full-time job cap will fall by 814 by 2017-18. The Government announced cuts to TAFE in the June Budget where it revealed almost 300 jobs would go over 12 months. However, Gago was unable to detail the full four-year impact of the State Government’s savings drive when questioned in Budget Estimates. The briefing note shows TAFE’s current full-time equivalent cap of 2609 jobs will fall to 1795 in 2017-18 as the Government’s annual spend on the sector drops by $94 million to $251 million…..[ MORE ]……


Reform bill referred to committee

mortar board4 September 2014 | The government’s higher education reform package has been referred to the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee for consideration and report by 28 October. The Higher Education and Research Reform Amendment Bill 2014 would deregulate tuition fees, break the public university monopoly on teaching subsidies, shift more university costs from government to students, and make students pay more and earlier on their tuition loans. The bill is facing a difficult passage through the Senate, with Labor and the Greens implacably opposed to the bill in its entirety and Palmer United Party senators confirming their opposition today …..[ MORE ]……

Women and average income earners hit hardest by loan changesFees arrow

4 September 2014 | Under proposed changes to Australia’s higher education sector University graduates, especially women, can expect a substantial increase in the time taken to pay off their student loans, an analysis by the Melbourne Institute at the University of Melbourne has found. The report, Impact of the Australian Higher Education Funding Reforms, found that repayment periods will often double for people earning a median income 10 years after graduation – this is around $83,000 for males and about $60,000 for females. For women on median female graduate incomes, the time taken to repay student debt will increase from 12 to 26 years ….[ MORE ]……

Chubb releases science strategy

Ian Chubb3 September 2014 | Chief Scientist Ian Chubb has released his recommendations for a strategic approach to science and its related fields. Speaking at its release at Parliament House, Chubb said that his strategy report Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics: Australia’s Future outlines what needs to be done to build a stronger, more competitive Australia, observing that “science is infrastructure and it is critical to our future”. Chubb reiterated that Australia is the only OECD country without a science or technology strategy. He siad 65% of Australia’s economic growth in recent decades can be ascribed to technological innovations and better use of capital and labour, mostly made possible by investing in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The 37-page final report offers 24 recommendations around four “principle fields” ….[ MORE ]……

Call for caps to limit fee hikes

3 September 2014 | There are growing calls support for some mechanism, such as a price or loan cap, to limit excessive fee rises under fee deregulation. The possibility Price capof steep fee rises in a deregulated system are real, driven by long-term underfunding of the sector and the lack of price sensitivity among students due to -income-contingent loans, according to a number of commentators and some vice-chancellors. Bruce Chapman, the so-called “architect” of HECS, says that there needs to be a trade-off between equity and price sensitivity and that without price caps the debts students incurred to attend the most sought-after courses would become “very, very big”. Chapman says a cap on loans is his preferred option…..[ MORE ]……

Vic TAFE “close to collapse”

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

Rise in youth unemployment ‘a result of traineeship cuts’

...not so available now

…not so available now

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

Camm heads for ACPET

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


1 September 2014

Top Ten

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



Pyne introduces reform bill

28 August 2014   |    The government introduced its higher education reform legislation into Parliament – the Higher Education and Research Reform Amendment Bill 2014.  As anticipated, the legislation closely mirrors the announcement on budget night. There is to be fee deregulation with a requirement that 20% of net additional revenue from fee increases be set aside for equity scholarships. Students’ loans through the HELP scheme will be indexed at the 10-year bond rate from 2016 but with no loan fee and no cap on the amount students can borrow. The Commonwealth Grant Scheme rates have the 20% cut applied through the new funding tiers. The Research Training Scheme will receive a 10% cut but with the potential for universities to charge a fee to compensate.   Grandfathering will work as announced on budget night, with a published fee maximum for current students until the end of 2020 or when they finish study, whichever comes first. Sub-bachelor places, such as associate degrees, will be funded at the same rate as bachelor degrees. Student fee subsidies will be extended to non-university providers  such as TAFEs and private colleges , at 70% of the rate offered to universities for similar degrees. Eligibility for non universities to the Commonwealth Grant Scheme will be based on registration with the regulator, the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA), and a signed funding agreement with the Commonwealth…..[ MORE ]……


UA calls for passage of an amended deregulation package

Belinda Robinson

Belinda Robinson

28 August 2014    |    Universities Australia (UA) has called on the Parliament to support the deregulation of Australian universities with changes to the government’s proposals that it says will assure affordability for students and taxpayers. UA chief executive, Belinda Robinson, said that the Parliament has a once in a generation opportunity to shape an Australian higher education system that is sustainable, affordable and equitable in serving the best interests of students and the nation. She said that with budgets under pressure, governments facing a myriad of competing priorities for public funding, and successive governments being disinclined to invest at the level that repeated independent reports have shown to be needed, full deregulation of higher education is needed. “Either the status quo of ongoing inadequate investment, or further cuts without deregulation will condemn Australia’s great university system to inevitable decline, threaten our international reputation and make it increasingly difficult for universities to meet the quality expectations of our students,” said Ms Robinson….[ MORE ]……

Pyne’s well oiled machine 

27 August 2014    |    Education minister Christopher Pyne has warned there is only “one shot in the locker’’ for university reform and Australia’s $15 billion higher welloiled2education sector will follow manufacturing into decline if his deregulation plan fails. He describes his proposed reforms as an integrated “well-oiled machine”.
Pyne insists that the sector broadly supports reform, though there are concerns among vice-chancellors about aspects of the controversial package of measures, particularly his plan to charge interest paid on commonwealth loans at the government bond rate, capped at 6% a year, rather than inflation. Although he is negotiating with senators and has indicated he is prepared to “compromise”, Pyne would not canvass his negotiating position. The legislation to be introduced to Parliament on 28 August will take in all measures unveiled in the budget, despite the criticism of the package. In addition to fee deregulation and interest rate changes, the package includes a 20% cut to university funding, funding of a new commonwealth scholarship scheme (funded from student fees), expansion of the current demand-driven admission system to sub-degrees and expansion of the Commonwealth Grants Scheme to non-university higher education providers….[ MORE ]……

V-C’s argue for a modified reform package

Reform26 August 2014    |    Vice-chancellors have converged on Canberra to lobby education minister Christopher Pyne to push ahead with plans to deregulate tuition fees but with amendments to the whole reform package, including a rethink of proposals to impose sharply higher interest rates on student loans. The vice-chancellors have also reacted strongly to the suggestion that the government might grab savings from university research budgets if it does not get its reforms through the Senate. Glyn Davis, head of Melbourne University, described as “chilling” Pyne’s refusal to rule out cuts to research budgets and said such cuts: would be more devastating than any other one action: devastating to Australia’s reputation internationally, to our scientific workforce, to medical research…..[ MORE ]…..


 Govt to target research for savings…???

24 August 2014    |     The federal government will reportedly consider slashing billions of dollars worth of research funding from universities if Parliament blocks its Targetsweeping higher education changes. Education minister Christopher Pyne intends to introduce legislation into the House of Representatives on 28 August to deregulate university fees, cut course funding by an average 20% and increase the interest charged on student loans. While these changes require legislative approval, cuts to research block grants, training schemes and other measures can be passed in appropriations bills which typically sail through Parliament unopposed. The government has identified cuts to research funding as a potential bargaining chip as Senate negotiations deepen over coming months…..[ MORE ]…..

Deregulate fees to help innovation?

Vicki-Thomson-photo22 August 2014     |     The debate over deregulating university fees is now infecting innovation policy with the Australian Technology Network suggesting reform could forge closer collaborations between universities and industry. While key research drivers like the science and engineering sectors have expressed horror at the extent of funding cuts to their disciplines, the ATN argues in its submission to the Senate inquiry on improving innovation that “equitable” fee deregulation could help. ATN executive director Vicki Thomson told The Australian that fee deregulation could encourage more niche courses that have close connections to industry. It could also provide stronger market signals from students demanding such courses that offer close industry connections….[ MORE ]…..

Wetherill call for SA uni mergers rebuffed

22 August 2014     |   A call by SA Premier Jay Wetherill for Adelaide’s three universities to consider a full or partial amalgamation has been rebuffed. Nevertheless, a proposal from the three universities proposing the creation of a joint research commercialisation company is expected to be sent to the premier shortly…..[ MORE ]…..

Jay Wetherill

Jay Wetherill addresses CEDA on structural reform

New VET Panel chair attracts attention for wrong reasonsRestaurant & Catering

20 August 2014    |    Commonwealth industry minister Ian Macfarlane has announced the appointment of a five-member Vocational Education and Training Advisory Board, charged in particular with ensuring that will provide feedback to the Government as it continues reforms to the sector. John Hart, the chair of the panel heads Restaurant and Catering Australia, whose RTO was initially refused re-registration last year. That decision was reversed nine months later after the training company Restaurant and Catering NSW came to an agreement following an appeals process with the national regulator in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Macfarlane said the Australian Government is focussed on” ensuring industry has a stronger voice in the VET system”, so that it “is efficient and effective in delivering the job-ready workers that industry needs”…..[ MORE ]…..

Meanwhile in the Senate

Jacqui20 August 2014    |    Christopher Pyne is barnstorming the nation making the case for his higher education reform package, and continues to question that fee deregulation will likely lead to overall big fee hikes.  Never mind fee deregulation: University of Melbourne vice-chancellor Glyn Davis (not a person given to hyperbole) has pointed out that the 20% cut in public funding to universities will alone require at least a 30% fee increase.  Pyne also makes much of the generosity of the the proposed new Commonwealth scholarship scheme – but no one seems to pick him up on the fact that it will be funded by students themselves (20% of increased revenue from fees would go to scholarships) which is actually a tax on students and scholarship.   Meanwhile Palmer United Party senator Jacqui Lambi made clear in an interview on ABC’s AM program her continuing opposition to the  proposed reforms……[ MORE ]…..

TDA urges passage of funding reforms

Go8 Equity scales17 August 2014    |    Labor and the Greens will be shown as” hypocrites” if they throw low-income students undertaking higher education at vocational colleges ”into the dustbin” by denying them government support, according to TAFE Directors Australia (TDA). TDA chief Martin Riordan says it would be a ”tragedy” if the Senate blocks the expansion of Commonwealth subsidies to students in sub-bachelor degrees – a budget measure experts say will bring fees down and reduce university drop-out rates.  But the proposal is seemingly at risk  following a rancorous debate about increased university fees and the declared opposition to fee deregulation of Labor, the Greens and most of the cross bench , including the Palmer United Party.  This would probably doom the reform package in the Senate, including the extension of Commonwealth subsidies to non-university higher education programs……[ MORE ]…..


Apprenticeship slump continues


15 August 2014    |    The collapse in apprentice and trainee commencements has continued, according to early estimates from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).  Seasonally adjusted trade commencements fell 1,200 to 21,700 in the June quarter, representing three consecutive quarters of decline since the September quarter 2013.   Seasonally adjusted non-trade commencements fell 2,300 to 28,800 in the June quarter, representing four quarters of decline and the lowest in at least ten years…..[ MORE ]…..

Melbourne cracks the top 50

Jiao Tong15 August 2014    |     Four Australian Universities have been placed in the top 100 of the 2014 Academic Ranking of World Universities (the Shanghai Jiao Tong rankings).  Melbourne University has cracked the top 50 coming in at 44, up 10 places from last year. ANU was placed at 74 (66 in 2013) , University of Queensland 85 (85), University of Western Australia 88 (91). Sydney, ranked 97 last year, dropped out of the top 100.  Nineteen Australian universities were placed in the top 500.  Melbourne vice-chancellor Glyn Davis says that for any Australian universities to be achieving top 100 status is a significant achievement and to have four in the top 100 “is a very important achievement and a testament to the overall quality of the Australian higher education system”.  Nevertheless, the overall rankings indicate that other nations, like China, are producing institutions that are surging ahead as Australia stands still…..[ MORE ]…..

Opposition to uni reforms hardens 

bill shorten2

12 August 2014    |    The Labor Party has confirmed its opposition to the ¬Abbott government’s proposed university funding cuts and fee deregulation, launching a campaign with the National Union of Students (NUS) to ramp up protests against the plan. Opposition leader Bill Shorten visited the University of Melbourne on 11 August to step up Labor’s campaign against the higher education changes. Shorten said universities must be “accessible to all” and called for rallies on campuses across the country “to send a very clear message to the Abbott government and to the Senate: hands off our education system”. He said the decision to cut funding, deregulate fees and increase interest rates on student loans represented “a trifecta of shame which will destroy the dreams of ordinary Australians to send their kids to university”…..[ MORE ]…..

Qld slashes subsidised courses

12 August 2014    |    The Queensland government has drastically slashed the range of vocational qualifications it supports, removing more than 200 mostly high-level Budget cutscourses from its subsidised list. Some 170 of the state’s certificate IV, diploma and advanced ¬diploma courses no longer attract teaching subsidies, in areas from the arts, retail and business to health, community services and public safety. The government has also removed funding for more than 30 lower-level qualifications, from pest management and conservation earthworks to shearing, firefighting and concreting. The deleted list includes about 20 courses that train people for Queensland’s four economic “pillars” of tourism, agriculture, construction and resources, which the government is entrusting to lead the state to a new period of economic prosperity. The changes mean that about two-thirds of TAFE Queensland’s 800-odd programs no longer ¬attract government subsidies, although some of these courses have been superseded…..[ MORE ]…..

Thought bubble on patents not such a bright idea

8 Aresearch infrastructure - ABCugust 2014    |    A suggestion by industry minister Ian Macfarlane – which he admitted to be a kind of “thought bubble” – that research funding should be linked to how many patents universities register would only encourage the filing of “junk” patents as the system is gamed, according to research consultant and Howard-government science adviser Thomas Barlow. Macfarlane said that using patent activity could better align university research with industry needs. Currently block funding of $1.7 billion a year is largely driven by the number of research papers published in academic journals. But Barlow said it was such journal publications that are the markers of the world class research that drives valuable discoveries.   Doing world class research that gets published in top journals is more likely to generate valuable intellectual property than taking out junk payments……[ MORE ]…..

Pyne open to deal on HECS interestCHRIS PYNE PRESS CONFERENCE

6 August 2014    |    Education minister Christopher Pyne has confirmed the federal government is considering modifying its plan to apply real interest to student debts following widespread criticism, including by university vice-chancellors. Pyne told the National Press Club the government will introduce its higher education package to the House of Representatives in its entirety with the expectation of passing it into law in September, but he expects some aspects will not make it through the Senate. It would be immature and churlish of the government if it walked away from its entire higher education package, which also includes removing the cap on university fees, if it couldn’t secure 100% support for all measures, he said…..[ MORE ]…..

An inconvenient truth

6 August 2014    |     The Victorian skills minister recently told a conference the apparent troubles besetting the state’s TAFE EDUCATION RALLY MELBOURNEsystem are the invention of a “misinformed media”. But according to the State’s auditor-general, the troubles are very real: TAFEs are facing a “significant decline” in financial stability due, in part, to State Government funding cuts. A report tabled in Parliament found the state’s 14 TAFE colleges are $16.2 million in debt. The Victorian Government cut $113 million from the TAFE sector in 2012, resulting in campus closures and job losses across the sector. The auditor-general found five TAFEs, – Advance, Central Gippsland, NMIT, South West and William Angliss – are considered to be at high risk financially….[ MORE ]…..

Budget cuts of over $1.5b per year give universities “no choice” – NTEU

6 August 2014    |    The impact of the Federal Budget’s 20% per student funding cut leaves universities with a massive funding black hole amounting to more than $1.5 billion a year from 2019 onwards, argues the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) in its latest budget analysis briefing paper.   The impact  is heavier upon regional and outer metropolitan universities that are traditionally more reliant on Commonwealth Grant Scheme funding as a source of income. NTEU Funding graph The NTEU calculates that universities will have to increase their fees by about 30% on average just to compensate for CSP funding cuts.  To reduce costs, the NTEU expects pressure will be on universities to further increase their reliance upon casual staff to teach undergraduate students and reduce spending on research and community service obligations…..[ MORE ]…..

TAFE should position as “discount HE providers” 

Budget HE1 August  2014   |  NSW TAFEs have been told that they should take advantage of Coalition reforms by reinventing themselves as the “discount airline of higher education” vis-a-vis universities. We see the point but you need to be careful: TAFE ought not be – nor be seen to be – as a cheap, low quality and potentially unsafe alternative.  TigerAir gets a bad press and, from our once and  only experience, thoroughly deserves it.   In a report on fees and pricing strategies, consultants SMS Management and Technology told TAFE NSW that federal government proposals — specifically, the deregulation of higher education fees, and the extension of teaching grants to non-universities — would create a unique branding opportunity. “TAFE NSW may choose to take advantage of deregulation (and) establish a branding and business model as the alternative low-cost provider of higher education services, competing directly with universities,” the report says….[ MORE ]….

Universities should slim down – BCA

24 July 2014 |    The President of the Business Council of Australia, Catherine Livingstone says that Australian universities are enrolling too many domestic students who Catherine-Livingstone-President-of-the-Business-Council-of-Australiashould opt for vocational education and training. She told the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce that a large number of school leavers would be better off undertaking education and training that gave them job-related and technical skills first.   Her comments were made before a speech by Group of Eight universities chairman Ian Young to the National Press Club when he suggested that many elite universities, such as his own Australian National University, would probably enrol fewer students under a deregulated fee system.   The enrolment figures of Australia’s top research universities, such as ANU, Sydney and Melbourne, exceed world standards; they typically reach up to 50,000 students, compared to Stanford in the US with 15,000.   This is because, under the capped fee system, universities must enrol huge numbers of students to subsidise their research programs.  If elite universities are allowed to increase their fees then they will be able to reduce the size of their institutions and offer a more personalised learning experience, Young said.   He said this downsizing would have a “trickle-down” effect throughout the university sector and lead to more high-achieving students attending regional and suburban universities.  Regional Universities Network chairman Peter Lee said he was “very sceptical” about Young’s predictions….[ MORE ]….

A curious look at mindfulness


8 August 2014     |      Victoria University offers, as do most universities these days, free student workshops to equip them with the skills, tools and resources to be able to handle the demands of university life.   A curious look at mindfulness  introduces students to mindfulness and mindfulness practice for everyday life as a student. Specific techniques will be shown as well as an introduction to mindful meditation. You even get a certificate of attendance.  Here are other useful workshops put on by VU….[ MORE ]…. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Govt likely to modify HECS repayment proposalBruce Chapman

1 August 2014    |     The federal government is expected to ditch one of its most controversial budget measures – the plan to apply real interest rates to student debts -following advice from Bruce Chapman, the architect of the HECS repayment scheme that it is unfair to low income graduates. His modelling has found such graduates could pay 30% more for a degree than their high-income counterparts if the government indexes student debts at the government bond rate rather than inflation. Women who take time off work to have children would be among the hardest hit. With an assumed  starting debt of $60,000, Chapman’s modelling found low-income graduates (those in the bottom 30% of earners) would amass total repayments of $105,000 from under the while the top 25% of earners would pay only $75,000 in total repayments on the same debt – $30,000 less than low earners.  Graduates on a median salary would pay about $82,000 in repayments on the same starting debt….[ MORE ]….

Skills reform a “shemozzle of a dog’s breakfast“…

Jeff Cunningham24 July 2014    |    Skills reform in Australia is an “absolute shemozzle” and is jeopardising a world-class vocational education and training system, says Jeff Gunningham, recently retired chief executive of TAFE South Australia.  But the apparent troubles besetting TAFE are the invention of a “misinformed media”, according to the Victorian minister.  Gunningham told the Victorian TAFE Association conference that bureaucratic bungling and an obsession with the bottom line is degrading training and threatening the existence of public TAFE institutes.  He said TAFE is at risk in Australia, driven by a Council of Australian Governments policy on entitlement which is simply not working and which he described as “ a dog’s breakfast”…..[ MORE ]….

…and uni reforms a “looming disaster”mortar board

24 July 2014   |  University of Canberra vice-chancellor says the whole university “reform” package emanating from the budget spells disaster for students and the country.  While some some aspects are more palatable than others, the reforms are not being presented as a menu from which to choose. The fact is  that 20%  is being removed from government funding for university places. To make up the shortfall, universities will be able to charge students more, and then go further than what is required to restore the funding. Students will be able to add the increased contributions to their HECS debt, but HECS repayments will also be going up, and real and compounding interest will be applied, and most graduates will take longer to pay off their debt, thus affecting their ability to start a family, open a small business, buy a house and so on. So, having to choose, Parker opposes the lot….[ MORE ]….

Navitas takes a hit and steadies….

24 July 2014 |Navitas    Rod Jones, The chief executive of education group Navitas says it’s highly unlikely there will be any nasty surprises among the 25 other university partners for which the company runs pathways colleges as a bridge to university education, after its dumping by Macquarie University.He says he doesn’t harbour any grudges toward Macquarie University after it made the surprise in early July to end an 18-year arrangement, making it the first university to not renew an existing agreement in Navitas’ history.  Writedowns mainly related to the loss of a crucial contract with Macquarie University triggered a sharp slide in the bottomline profit of Navitas, which still expects solid growth in a sector undergoing major changes in funding models and policy shifts.  Navitas  has foreshadowed  a 31% drop in net profit after tax to $51.6 million for the 12 months ended 30  June  after booking impairment charges of $30.5 million….[ MORE ]….

…and announces four charitable partnerships

Navitas partnerships

Private global education provider Navitas has announced four education focused charitable partnerships to support education and learning across Australia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Cambodia and Afghanistan.These projects are funded via the Navitas Education Trust (NET), a vehicle for Navitas as a company to support charitable organisations and activities,to which Navitas contributes a set amount each year.   A proportion is used to fund education based initiatives developed in partnership with charities while the remainder is invested to generate interest for future use…..[ MORE ]….

Torrens officially launched 

24 July 2014     |      Former US President Bill Clinton has officially launched the private Torrens University, which accepted its first students this year.Clinton is Torrens logothe Honorary Chancellor of the global Laureate Universities International, to which Torrens belongs. Clinton told a gathering in Adelaide that networks of co-operation work better than geniuses acting alone or groups bent on destroying each other. Torrens University is the first private university to have been opened in Australia in more than 20 years….[ MORE ]….


iCollege sails close to the wind

19 July 2014    |     iCollege, an online education start-up, has defended its claims to be accredited by an international tafe-qualsaccreditation agency – the International Vocational Standards and Accreditation Agency (IVSAA) – that is registered to its own address, saying an equivalent couldn’t be found so they had to set up their own. Victor Hawkins, managing director of the newly ASX-listed company, said its claim that it “has adopted the IVSAA’s “Code of Professional Conduct” is not duplicitous, even though its website does not make clear the IVSAA is registered to the same Subiaco Perth address as iCollege. Hawkins said the iCollege directors established IVSAA after it could find no equivalent agency. VET sector commentators have suggested iCollege is sailing close to the wind, in giving the impression that it and the range of courses it’s marketing have some sort of official standing: the iCollege website proclaims that iCollege is “Recognised: We are accredited by International Vocational Standards and Accreditation Agency.” National VET regulation legislation makes it is an offence to imply that non-accredited training is accredited training. And ASDQA advises that training providers’ promotional material should clearly define which courses are accredited and which are not accredited.
iCollege clearly fails that test. …..[ MORE ]….

Setting non-university student subsidy gets tricky

mortar board17 July 2014   |    With the Higher Education Legislation and Financing Working Group having delivered its advice to the government on extending public subsidies to student places at non-university higher education providers, the speculation is that it will be proposing a considerably lower rate for these providers and for sub-degree programs. The Australian Council of Private Education and Training (ACPET) isn’t particularly happy. A review of budget documents by The Australian indicates that if the higher education reforms announced in the Budget are implemented, undergraduates can expect to attract an average of about $4950 a year in commonwealth support. But this drops to $2990 for diploma, advanced diploma and associate degree students. Separately, analyst Gavin Moodie says that students in the field of “society and culture” will have a subsidy of $6,021 in universities, but estimates that, on the information available, a subsidy of $4,275 in the same field at a non-university provider would be a reasonable estimate…..[ MORE ]….

Uni cuts blocked

16 July 2014    |    The Abbott government’s first Budget has taken another hit after the Senate blocked $435 million in Education Budget2university cuts originally proposed by Labor. The vote is the first indication of how the new Senate may vote on the government’s sweeping higher education reform agenda, which includes a full deregulation of fees, a 20% across-the-board course funding cut and increased interest on student debts. A UMR Research poll, commissioned by the National Tertiary Education Union, has identified strong opposition to key Budget measures. An average of 69% of people opposed increasing student fees and 65% opposed cutting public funding to universities……[ MORE ]….

Macquarie takes a new path

Navitas17 July 2014 | Macquarie University is to end an 18 year association with private provider Navitas to establish its own college for domestic and international students seeking a pathway from high school into university. The university’s pathway programs are currently managed by the private higher education company Navitas through the Sydney Institute of Business and Technology (SIBT), which operates the university’s city campus. SIBT has been providing pre-university Certificate and Diploma Programs. Upon successful completion of a SIBT Diploma, students can enter the appropriate Macquarie University Bachelor degree program as a second-year student. Over 20,000 SIBT graduates have gone on to graduate from Macquarie University since 1997…..[ MORE ]….

Policy Online in line for internet award

17 July 2014   |    Policy Online has been shortlisted as a finalist in the 2014 Australian and New Zealand Internet Awards (ANZIA). Policy Online is a database and alert service that provides free access to full text research reports, papers, APOstatistics and other resources essential for public policy development and implementation in Australia and New Zealand. There are 29 finalists for the ANZIAs, that recognise Australia and New Zealand’s leading contributors to the use and development of the Internet. Policy Online features an open access database with over 19,000 research listings. Publications are listed from over 2,500 organisations and journals in Australia, New Zealand and beyond….[ MORE ]….

International student numbers up 10%


14 July 2014     |       The latest monthly international enrolment and commencement report shows a 10% increase in full-fee paying international students on May last year. China and India accounted for 38.4% and 9.0% respectively of enrolments by students in higher education. India had the largest share of total enrolments (18.6%) and of total commencements (16.2%) in vocational education and training, with China providing 9.9% of enrolments….[ MORE ]….


Govt sets VET deregulation agendaMacFarlane

4 July 2014 | The government has set out its deregulatory intentions for vocational training, signalling a shift away from “gateway control” to “responsive regulation”. Speaking at a skills summit organised by the Australian Council of Private Education and Training and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, industry minister Ian Macfarlane said the government had “revisited” the work of the now abolished National Skills Standards Council (NSCC) and released new draft standards for training providers and regulators. The proposed standards dump what the minister described as” several of the more contentious reforms” proposed by the former NSSC, notably measures that would have strengthened Registered Training Organisation (RTO) entry (“gateway”) standards, including a change from registered training organisation to licensed training organisation. The proposed requirement for all RTOs to have an “Accountable Education Officer” has also been removed.. …..[ MORE ]….

ACPET chief quits

Claire Field4 July 2014 | Claire Field, the respected chief executive of the Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET), has resigned. ACPET said Ms Field is leaving to pursue “new challenges” after four years in the job. Company secretary Larry Davies is now acting CEO pending the appointment of a permanent successor. The suddenness of the departure caught the sector by surprise, but ACPET chairman Martin Cass said it was entirely her decision to leave to pursue other opportunities and there was nothing to read into her departure. He said Ms Field has made a significant contribution to the private education and training sector during her four years as CEO of ACPET. Ms Field has been a strong advocate for ACPET members during a period of substantial change in both the higher education and vocational education and training sectors. She has also been instrumental in strengthening ACPET’s focus on quality and lifting membership standards…..[ MORE ]….

TAFE share of VET crashingdecline (1)

4 Jly 2014 | Analysis by Leesa Wheelahan of recent VET statistics shows that TAFE’s share of publicly funded in Australia students is now 55.6%. In Victoria TAFE’s share of publicly funded students has fallen to 37.4%, while in South Australia it has fallen to 52.3%. Private providers now teach the majority of students in Victoria (50.5%), and they teach 44% of publicly funded students in South Australia. Wheelahan concludes that TAFE is “fast becoming a residual provider, left with teaching what the private providers don’t want to or can’t teach….It is forcing TAFE to be just like a private provider, with the narrow concerns of a private provider.”…..[ MORE ]….

La Trobe cuts economics

La-Trobe_Logo_x24 July 2014 | La Trobe University is planning to cut about 69 academic positions in its business, economic and law faculty with economics, accounting, management and marketing the worst hit. Academic staff in economics will be cut by almost two-thirds to just 10 under a proposed restructure circulated to staff ……[ MORE ]….

NMIT to cut 170 jobsNMIT2 (2)

4 July 2014 | Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT), one of Victoria’s biggest TAFEs will cut up to 170 teaching and administrative jobs, after reporting a loss of nearly $30 million and a fall in student enrolments by more than 5000 in 2013. NMIT’s interim chief executive Ron Gauci said he had been briefing staff on the changes He said the range of redundancies, between 150 and 170, included positions that had already been cut this year…..[ MORE ]….



Vet funding changes confound sector

Print24 June 2014 | The Victorian government has announced further changes to the funding of VET courses – which it has done several times previously over the past year. The Australian Council for Private Education and Training ACPET has called on the Victorian government to rethink the latest cuts, with ACPET chief Claire Field pointing to the disruptive impact on both RTOs and intending students of the constant changes to funding arrangements. She said that the latest changes come, as previous changes have, with no notice to the sector and serve to penalise those providers who were doing the “right thing” – those who had set fees which the government thought were reasonable. These changes “lock providers into an extremely difficult six months as they try and provide a quality education to their students with less funding from government.” The latest round of changes to fees and funding policy, for the first time, includes apprentices in the eligibility rules. There will now be apprentices who will have to pay full fee for their courses or not proceed. …..[ MORE ]….

Senate splits on TEQSA billregulatory-framework

24 June 2014 | A Senate inquiry into a bill to restructure the higher education regulator has split along party lines. The majority report of the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee has recommended the Senate to pass the bill to streamline the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA). Both Labor and the Greens made dissenting reports pointing to the need for a robust regulator in an expanding system…..[ MORE ]….

WA VET review recommends clarity needed for TAFE

Training WA24 June 2014 | The West Australian Government has released the Final Report of the Independent Review of the Vocational Education and Training Sector in Western Australia, headed by Emeritus Professor Margaret Seares. The report makes 40 detailed recommendations, including the need for widespread reform focused on improved governance for State Training Providers (STPs), as well as measures to address unnecessary or duplicated reporting and governance requirements…..[ MORE ]….

Diploma enrolments crash in Victoria

24 June 2014 | Government subsidised diploma enrolments have crashed in Victoria’s open training market, decline (1)according to the government’s latest quarterly report. The report shows enrolments in government-supported diploma and advanced diploma courses fell by 26,400 or 28% last year. This means two-thirds of the growth in upper level qualifications since the government opened up access to its training funds — from 55,700 enrolments in 2008 to 94,800 in 2012 — has been erased in a single year…….[ MORE ]….



HILDA reveals the changing face of Australia

16 June 2014 | Australia’s largest household survey – The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, produced by the University of Melbourne – has revealed that retirees are dependent on government benefits (but the proportion is declining), men are doing dramatically less housework than women and that ‘female breadwinners’ are on the rise.



TEQSA “gardening leave” confirmed

carol nicoll13 June 2014 | It has been confirmed at Senate Estimates that chief higher education regulator Carol Nicoll has taken indefinite leave and her future is tied to legislation that would restructure the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency. A Bill introduced in late February by education minister Christopher Pyne would spill the positions of TEQSA’s five commissioners, splitting the roles of chief commissioner and chief executive both of which are currently vested in the person of Dr Nicoll. It would also strip away the agency’s broader role in quality assessment…..[ MORE ]….

VET susidy cuts in QueenslandSkills Qld

13 June 2014 | The Queensland Government will reduce subsidies to certain vocational training qualifications under a new plan to come into effect next month. A number of subsidies to diplomas in arts, health, community services and business will be cut and redirected to “priority” training areas in trades, aged care and oil and gas. Queensland Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek says the priority is training that will lead to a job…..[ MORE ]….

CSIROCSIRO cuts gather pace

13 June 2014 | CSIRO IS to cut 31 jobs from its Marine and Atmospheric Research division as it works through already announced plans to cut up to 500 jobs, after having its budget slashed by $115 million over four years. The CSIRO Staff Association said scientists will account for 28 of the job cuts and cover areas such as ocean climate processes and climate modelling, as well as biodiversity. Most of the jobs will be lost in Tasmania and Victoria…..[ MORE ]….

Review of Higher Education Standards FrameworkRegulatory framework

13 June 2014 | The Higher Education Standards Panel has invited comment on proposed revisions to the Higher Education Standards Framework, which govern the approval processes for becoming and remaining a higher education provider. The Panel’s third Call for Comment includes background information on the Panel’s approach and consultation process, as well as instructions for the submission of comments. The closing date for comments is Friday 27 June 2014……[ MORE ]….

Approvals process streamlined

Regulatory jigsaw 213 June 2014 | Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane has announced what he says is the first in a series of changes to reduce red tape in the vocational education and training (VET) sector, making it easier for registered training organisations to manage changes to training packages from 1 July. Macfarlane said that when a training package qualification is changed, but the vocational outcome remains the same, training providers will no longer need to apply to their regulator or pay a fee to update their registration…….[ MORE ]….

Academic Gongs

9 June 2014 | The university sector featured strongly in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2014, particularly in the Order of Australia2higher orders. Of the 571 civil awards this year, 107 (about 19% of the total) were to people associated with universities, which were concentrated in the first three levels (40%) as against the fourth level (4%). Women made up only 32% of recipients but that’s up from 26% in the Australia list…..[ MORE ]….


Fee increase6 June 2014 | Universities Australia has called for a “pause” to enable a rethink on the design of the proposed changes to the student loan program and the 20% cut in the Government contribution to student fees. Applying what UA describes as “reasonably conservative assumptions”, its modelling of the impact of the proposed shows that student debt levels are likely to at least double. Under a “medium fee increase” scenario, with a 4% interest rate, an engineering graduate working full-time faces a HELP debt of between $98,952 and $113,169 and would repay it over a period of 20 – 25 years. This is compared with $46,701 to $49,284 debt and 14 to 18 years repayment time under the existing arrangements. A nursing graduate under a medium fee increase scenario who works part time for six years after working full time for six years will pay off their student loan of $51,620 over 20 years, compared with 17 years to repay a HELP debt of $24,646 under the existing arrangements....[ MORE ]….

Go8 takes a contrary view on fees

6 June 2014 | Mike Gallagher, executive director of the Group of Eight universities, says the Abbott government had Go8 logono “realistic policy alternatives” to its proposed budget reforms, which will see funding rates cut, student fees deregulated, a real interest applied to student loans and universities exposed to private sector competition. Gallagher told a Brisbane conference that the reforms are “logical, coherent, sustainable, equitable and inevitable.” Meanwhile Fred Hilmer, head of the University of NSW and a long time and strident proponent of fee deregulation has slammed Universities Australia modelling of the impacts, saying it was based on a “fundamental misunderstanding of the way the system works”.....[ MORE ]….

Vice-chancellors united against student debt proposals

Fee increase26 June 2014 | Although vice-chancellors are divided on the issue of fee deregulation, a Fairfax Media poll reveals the Commonwealth government faces blanket opposition from university vice-chancellors to its plan to increase the interest rate on all student debts to up to 6% and slash university funding by 20%. These measures have sparked criticism from many university leaders who would otherwise have rallied behind the government’s plan to deregulate university fees. Peak body Universities Australia is calling on the government to rethink both policies. Giving ground on these measures could help the government win broader support for its reform package, which faces a hostile Senate…..[ MORE ]….

Melbourne confirms 540 jobs to goUni Melb sign

6 June 2014 | The University of Melbourne plans to cut 540 administrative jobs (15% of its non-academic workforce) by January 1, 2016 as part of a $70 million savings program. The job cuts do not include academic staff. Vice chancellor Glyn Davis is hopeful the impact on staff can be minimised through natural attrition and by focussing on reducing the total number of casual and fixed term staff….[ MORE ]….

Scholarships an “Orwellian tax”

Orwellian6 June 2014 | The government’s plan to fund its proposed Commonwealth scholarships from hiked fee revenue has been described by QUT’s equity director Mary Kelly as “a tax on students” and “Orwellian” by the NTEU. The scholarship program is to be funded directly by $1 in every $5 of increased student fees and is being promoted as a means of preventing disadvantaged students from being priced out of expensive courses following the deregulation of fees. Kelly says she keeps “waiting for someone to call it a levy or a tax, because that’s what it is. Students will have no option about paying it, and the tax-collectors (universities) will have no option about charging it.”….[ MORE ]….

NCVER launches 2014 student survey

3 June 2014 | Over the coming weeks around 150 000 Australian students will be asked about their recent experience at aSurvey1 TAFE institute, private training provider, or adult and community education provider. Managed by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), the annual Student Outcomes Survey provides information on vocational education and training (VET) students’ employment outcomes and satisfaction with their training.



Quelle surprise: fees set to soar

1 June 2014 | Student fees at Melbourne University will need to rise by up to 61% in some courses to manage federalGlyn Davis 3 budget cuts, federal government’s increasingly controversial overhaul of higher education. Price hikes of a similar scale are predicted for Sydney University. In an email sent to staff members on Friday 30 May, Melbourne University Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis said initial analysis shows the gap caused by reduced public funding “… momentous indeed – fees would need to rise by 45% to make up lost funding in social science disciplines, by 54% in Science, and by 61% in Engineering. The budget has significantly changed the allocation of public money across disciplines. There are some winners – mathematics and humanities – and many losers.”....[ MORE ]….

Vann’s stand

Andrew-Vann29 May 2014 | In a forensic analysis, Charles Sturt University vice-chancellor Andrew Vann demolishes what he describes as the “pretexts” of the recent budget with respect to higher education. Vann rejects the idea that deregulation is required to create diversity. Neither does he think that fee deregulation will enable Australian universities to climb up the global university rankings. Vann predicts that fees are going to increase substantially, for CSU by an average of 23.5% across the board. And he describes the proposed scholarship fund as “a fundamentally regressive proposal” which could well result in the universities who currently support the most low SES students being least able to do so in the future....[ MORE ]….

CSIRO retrenches as science funding slashed

29 May 2014 | Science and research have been big losers in the budget, veiled somewhat by the proposed creation of CSIROthe medical research fund of $20 billion, the purpose of which has been queried by a number of commentators. As a result of Commonwealth government’s budget cuts, CSIRO is closing several research sites and scaling back research in a number of areas, particularly related to climate change and the environment. Meanwhile, a Coalition backbencher – a scientist, no less – has queried the “coherence” of Coalition science policy….[ MORE ]….

International students numbers increase in HE, down in VET


29 May 2014 | International student data as at 31 March 2014 show significant increases in student numbers from Nepal and India, with many coming through streamlined visa arrangements for higher education study. On 31 March 2014, there were 366 914 student visa holders in Australia. There were 223,102 higher education students (an increase of 13.7% from 196,188 in March 2013) and 69,405 VET students (down 0.8% from 69,405 in March 2013).....[ MORE ]….

Publicly funded training down

29 May 2014 | The total number of students enrolled in publicly funded training for 2013 decreased 3.4% to 1.88apprentices million students from 1.94 million in 2012. NCVER, says that its preliminary analysis suggests the decrease in overall student numbers may be partly the result of the decline in apprenticeships. Only South Australia reported a rise in student numbers (up 16.3%), whereas the number of students remained the same in Tasmania and declined in all the other states and territories……[ MORE ]….

NMIT hits a wall

NMIT2 (2)27 May 2014 | Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT) suffered financial losses of $31.7 million in 2013, prompting the auditor-general to doubt that it can survive. In a letter accompanying NMIT’s annual report, tabled in Parliament on 26 May, Auditor-General John Doyle said there is an ”uncertainty that may cast significant doubt” over NMIT’s ability to continue operating following its loss. The Education Department has provided a $16 million loan to support the TAFE’s ”short-term solvency”. NMIT has blamed state government funding cuts and declining student enrolments for the loss….[ MORE ]….

Deakin freezes fees

Jane den Hollander27 May 2014 | Deakin University will freeze fees at pre-Budget levels for all students who start in 2014 to “provide fairness and certainty” for new Australian domestic students. Vice-chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander said it doesn’t fair that those students who enroll at Deakin the day after the Budget will have different conditions than those who enrolled the day before the Budget. She went on that all students deserve to have a clear understanding of the costs of their degree and studies. In order to study well, they should not be anxious or constantly checking what their fees might be in 2016….[ MORE ]….


Fees to double: NTEU

NTEU campaign graphic

NTEU campaign graphic

27 May 2014 | Analysis by the National Tertiary Education Union of the impact increased university fees predicts that degrees such as engineering, law and dentistry could cost over $100,000, and medicine could rise to as much as $180,000. On average, the cost of degrees will more than double. Higher fees when combined with the new market-determined interest rate, will take more than twice as long to pay back for some degrees. For graduates that take time out from the workforce to care for family members, HELP debts might not be paid off until they reach their late 50s.....[ MORE ]….

Pyne challenges unis on fees

$ sign26 May 2014 | Education minister Christopher Pyne has challenged universities not to increase fees for current school leavers, saying it is their call whether to include them in a deregulated fee system from 2016. Pyne says he is willing to negotiate on his higher education reforms, including the HECS-HELP student interest rates and the salary threshold when debt repayments kick in. However, he put the onus on universities to end the confusion over students enrolling over the next 18 months....[ MORE ]….

TEQSA cut “nuts”

26 May 2014 | A budget line item to halve Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) funding has Regulatory jigsaw 2been described as “counter¬intuitive” by Hilary Winchester, deputy vice-chancellor at CQ University and a former higher education auditor. While the cuts are meant to reflect a reduction in red tape, the review of regulation by Lee Kwong Dow and Valerie Braithwaite did not take into account the opening up of the sector to private operators as proposed by the government....[ MORE ]….

Kangan/Bendigo merger funded

Bendigo26 May 2014 | Bendigo TAFE will receive $64 million from the state government to support its merger with Melbourne-based Kangan Institute. The government expects a further $35 million to be invested by the private sector and the merged institute. A National Centre of Excellence for Health and Human Services will be created at the McCrae St campus. The centre will be created in partnership with La Trobe University to make the most of employment opportunities at the new hospital....[ MORE ]….

TAFE Queensland

TAFE Queensland has announced the appointment of six general managers for its key TAFE institutes....[ MORE ]….

Govt blinks on budget measuresPyne3

24 May 2014 | The Commonwealth government has conceded it will need to compromise on some of its more controversial budget measures to get them through a hostile Senate. Education minister Christopher Pyne has told told Fairfax Media that he accepts his plan to deregulate universities is unlikely to pass in full. He said he is “realistic enough” to see that the proposal will require amendments.…..[ MORE ]….

Making a stab at fees poses great risks

Budget 222 May 2013 | With Prime Minister Tony Abbott acknowledging that he can’t guarantee that university fees might not double, University Australia chair Sandra Harding says that there are “grave risks” in a precipitate move to fee deregulation, set to take place in 2016. As the new fee regime will apply to all enrolments after 14 May 2014, students enrolling after that date will not know the fees that will apply from 1 January 2016 until such time as universities announce their fees. …..[ MORE ]….


Medical fund will distort research priorities

22 May 2014 | ATN executive director Vicki Thomson says it would be “exceedingly churlish” to denigrate the federal research4government’s $20 billion medical research fund announced in the 2014-15 federal budget. But she goes on to point out, in a non-churlish way, that the scheme has serious flaws and can seriously distort the operation of the national research system, which is overwhelming based in Australia’s universities. …..[ MORE ]….

Positive impacts of VTG on VET enrolments

NCVER Insight22 May 2014 | Training reforms can lead to substantial increases in vocational education and training (VET) enrolments, according to an analysis published by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) on Victorian training reforms. In terms of outcomes for learners of different ages, the results are mixed, with young people getting the most immediate benefit.…..[ MORE ]….

NSW TAFE fees to rise

22 May 2014 | TAFE students in NSW face fee hikes of $500 or more next year, as the state government opens public NSW TAFEfunding to students ta private providers. However, NSW will continue to control fees and training place numbers. From January 2015, all NSW VET providers, public and private, will charge set fees and be eligible to receive the same government subsidies for about 740 different courses.…..[ MORE ]….

Senate inquiry urges changes to VET funding

22 May 2014 | The Senate Education and Employment References Committee inquiry into TAFE has recommended a new funding formula for TAFE to reflect the actual cost of service delivery, and a reversal of funding cuts by the states.The report says that while the committee is not opposed to the introduction of private training providers, it is “very concerned to hear accounts of where private providers are flooding the system at the expense of quality and consistency.”…..[ MORE ]….


Comment & analysis

UA guarded on proposed reforms

6 May 2014 | The Commission of Audit’s recommendations in relation to higher education have received a guarded response from Universities Australia (UA), given a lack of detail and/or reasoning behind them. UA says that, without a full picture of the proposed reforms, it is not possible to understand all the implications of the reform trajectory……[ MORE ]….

Uni preferred over trades

6 May 2014 | A study by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), to be released next month, NCVER Insightshows the expanding university system is affecting the recruitment of apprentices. The report, based on Longitudinal Study of Australian Youth data, compares the experiences of young men born in about 1980 and 1991. It finds that young people who left school late last decade were more likely to go to university than those who finished their secondary education 10 years earlier…..[ MORE ]….

VU to cut 300 more jobs

VU 25 May 2014 | Victoria University seeks to reposition itself as the “university of opportunity” as it cuts 300 jobs – 13% of its workforce- in an effort to cut costs by $50 million by 2016. The university’s vice-chancellor Peter Dawkins said about 200 professional staff and 100 academic staff would be cut. Dawkins says the university needs to brace itself for further competition, with the federal government looking likely to deregulate the higher education sector and allow private colleges to access government subsidies for undergraduate students…..[ MORE ]….


Key recommendations of the Commission of Audit concerning higher education

CoA Report cover1 May 2014 | Retain demand driven funding.…reduce the average Commonwealth contribution per student from 59% to 45% per cent, increasing average student contribution from 41% to 55%….examine options for partial or full deregulation of fees for bachelor degrees….HELP debt securitisation rejected.…increase HELP interest rate…. reduce the repayment threshold to the minimum wage ($32,000 pa) with a 2.5% of income payment rising to 4% at $51,000….recover student debt from deceased estates… abolish Industry Innovation Precincts, Collaborative Research Networks and support for international scientific collaboration…..[ MORE ]….

Commission of Audit on Vocational Education and Training

1 May 2014 | The Commission of Audit has recommended that policy and funding responsibility for vocational education and training (VET) revert entirely to the states, that the separate higher education and VET regulatory agencies (ASQA and TEQSA) merge TEQSA but that the states be “required” to continue reforms to achieve demand-driven vocational education and training outcomes and improve occupational licensing arrangements.[ MORE ]….


UA responds to Audit Commission reportua_logo_content23

2 May 2014 | Universities Australia (UA) has “welcomed” aspects of the report of the Commission of Audit, such as the recommendation that issues concerning partial or full fee deregulation be “further investigated”. It suggests matters relating to streamlining research funding arangements. However, the recommendation to do away with Cooperative Research Centres is a cause of some consternation….[ MORE ]….

Key recommendations of the Commission of Audit concerning higher education

CoA Report cover1 May 2014 | Retain demand driven funding.…reduce the average Commonwealth contribution per student from 59% to 45% per cent, increasing average student contribution from 41% to 55%….examine options for partial or full deregulation of fees for bachelor degrees….HELP debt securitisation rejected.…increase HELP interest rate…. reduce the repayment threshold to the minimum wage ($32,000 pa) with a 2.5% of income payment rising to 4% at $51,000….recover student debt from deceased estates… abolish Industry Innovation Precincts, Collaborative Research Networks and support for international scientific collaboration…..[ MORE ]….

Audit recommends deep and wideranging cuts

1 May 2014 | Deep cuts to welfare and basic government services are being urged in a five-volume plan to slash $70 billion a year from federal outlays. The 15 keys areas recommended for cuts are the aged pension, Medicare benefits, hospitals, Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, National Disability Insurance Scheme, carers’ payments, aged care, the Disability Support Pension, childcare and paid parental leave, family tax benefits, job seeker payments, school funding, higher education, defence and foreign aid……[ MORE ]….


Engaging University Studentsstudent engagement

A new book by Hamish Coates and Alexander McCormick provides university teachers, leaders and policymakers with evidence on how experts in several countries are monitoring and improving student engagement.



UA responds to Audit Commission report

2 May 2014 | Universities Australia (UA) has “welcomed” aspects of the report of the Commission of Audit, such as the recommendation that issues concerning partial or full fee deregulation be “further investigated”. It suggests matters relating to streamlining research funding arangements. However, the recommendation to do away with Cooperative Research Centres is a cause of some consternation….[ MORE ]….

Key recommendations of the Commission of Audit concerning higher education

1 May 2014 | Retain demand driven funding.…reduce the average Commonwealth contribution per student from 59% to 45% per cent, increasing average student contribution from 41% to 55%….examine options for partial or full deregulation of fees for bachelor degrees….HELP debt securitisation rejected.…increase HELP interest rate…. reduce the repayment threshold to the minimum wage ($32,000 pa) with a 2.5% of income payment rising to 4% at $51,000….recover student debt from deceased estates… abolish Industry Innovation Precincts, Collaborative Research Networks and support for international scientific collaboration…..[ MORE ]….

Audit recommends deep and wideranging cuts

1 May 2014 | Deep cuts to welfare and basic government services are being urged in a five-volume plan to slash $70 billion a year from federal outlays. The 15 keys areas recommended for cuts are the aged pension, Medicare benefits, hospitals, Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, National Disability Insurance Scheme, carers’ payments, aged care, the Disability Support Pension, childcare and paid parental leave, family tax benefits, job seeker payments, school funding, higher education, defence and foreign aid……[ MORE ]….


Engaging University Students

A new book by Hamish Coates and Alexander McCormick provides university teachers, leaders and policymakers with evidence on how experts in several countries are monitoring and improving student engagement.


Fed Uni to take over Gippsland TAFEs

16 April 2014 |   The Victorian minister for higher education and skills, Nick Wakeling,  has announced  the formation of Advance_tafeFederation Training Institute, which will be a new TAFE Institute in Gippsland, out of the merger of Advance TAFE and GippsTAFE, the two existing TAFEs in the region. It is envisaged that Federation Training would be integrated into Federation University Australia from 1 January 2016…..[ MORE ]….

Review recommends extension of demand system

14 April 2014 |    The review of the demand driven funding system report has concluded that the demand-driven funding system, introduced as the keystone of the Rudd government’s “higher education revolution, has been a success and should be extended to non-university providers and sub-degree programs….[ MORE ]….



La Trobe two day strike

nteu-logo24 March 2014 |    NTEU members at La Trobe University have voted to strike on 26 and 27 March across the university’s campuses as the university’s plan to cut 350 jobs inflamed stalled pay negotiations. The union says the job cuts are unnecessary and has demanded management agree to a pay increases of around 3% a year.  Management have offered an 11%  pay rise over four years — an average 2.75% annual increase.  The university says staff cuts are necessary and integral to efforts to cut costs by up to $65 million so money can be redirected to boosting the university’s research performance….[ MORE ]….

Lilydale up for grabs

For sale313 March 2014 | Swinburne University may consider selling its mothballed Lilydale campus for non-educational purposes. Swinburne has officially stated its preference is to sell the site under the current educational zoning. But the information memorandum from real estate agents Knight Frank makes much of the potential for the site to be rezoned, which could increase the value of the site and is stoking local community fears that the prospect of restoring higher education provision at the campus could be lost…..[ MORE ]….


Shake up for rental scheme

unilodge13 March 2014 | The government has flagged a shake-up of the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) in the wake of revelations the program has been manipulated to build student housing that is being let to wealthy foreign students. Two developers behind an 823-bed NRAS development in Sydney tapped more than $80 million in subsidies to construct a building to be filled largely by international students. Universities have also snapped up thousands of NRAS incentives to build large blocks of studio accommodation that is often taken up by fee-paying international students, who are the lifeblood of many universities’ finances. It appears there are more than 1000 foreign students in NRAS properties……[ MORE ]….

Hall quitsPeter hall3

13 March 2014 | Victorian skills and higher education minister Peter Hall is resigning from State Parliament almost nine months early, ahead of a cabinet reshuffle. He had previously announced he would not be standing at the state election to be held in November. But he says “now is the right time step aside.” Nick Wakeling, the member for Ferntree Gully, has been appointed as his replacement…..[ MORE ]….

Lilydale up for grabs

For sale313 March 2014 | Swinburne University may consider selling its mothballed Lilydale campus for non-educational purposes. Swinburne has officially stated its preference is to sell the site under the current educational zoning. But the information memorandum from real estate agents Knight Frank makes much of the potential for the site to be rezoned, which could increase the value of the site and is stoking local community fears that the prospect of restoring higher education provision at the campus could be lost…..[ MORE ]….

New domains for Monash and RMIT

13 March 2014 | Monash University has become the first globally recognised organisation to be delegated a moocs1brand Top-Level Domain (TLD) – The New TLD Program includes applications for other globally-influential .brand TLDs such as .google, .apple and .anz, as well as other generic Top-Level Domains such as .book, .melbourne and .cpa. Meanwhile, RMIT has lauched its “Global” website…..[ MORE ]….

Monash EBA settled

Industrial unrest ongoing at Swinburne, UQ and Macquarie

nteu-logo10 March 2014 | The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and Monash University have reached in-principle agreement on a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) , following strike action on 3 March, while NTEU and Swinburne appear headed to court. Meanwhile, NTEU members at both Macquarie University and University of Queensland are striking on Tuesday 11 March over pay and workload issues…..[ MORE ]….

Focus to shift to school trade training

Trades7 March 2014 | The Abbott government will encourage more students to undertake school-based apprenticeships and move away from the focus on higher education, in a dramatic change in approach from Labor……[MORE ]….

TEQSA bill deferredRegulatory jigsaw 2

7 March 2014 | The TEQSA reform bill has been referred to the Senate education committee. Speaking in favour of the referral, Opposition higher education spokesman Kim Carr evoked a “back to the bad old days” scenario, saying excellence must not be sacrificed in the blind haste to cut red tape. …..[ MORE ]….


Click image


Monash EBA settled

Industrial unrest ongoing at Swinburne, UQ and Macquarie

nteu-logo10 March 2014 | The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and Monash University have reached in-principle agreement on a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) , following strike action on 3 March, while NTEU and Swinburne appear headed to court. Meanwhile, NTEU members at both Macquarie University and University of Queensland are striking on Tuesday 11 March over pay and workload issues…..[ MORE ]….

Former footy boss takes reins at NMITRon Gauci

7 March 2014 | NMIT has appointed Ron Gauci, former CEO of National Rugby League Club, the Melbourne Storm, as its “interim” CEO. Announcing the appointment NMIT chair John Gibbins described Gauci as a highly respected executive who demonstrates extensive experience in leading change in a number of different business environments…..[ MORE ]….

Focus to shift to school trade training

Trades7 March 2014 | The Abbott government will encourage more students to undertake school-based apprenticeships and move away from the focus on higher education, in a dramatic change in approach from Labor.Assistant Education Minister Sussan Ley said the number of people achieving formal trade qualifications was far too low and there is an overwhelming belief across schools, industry, trainers and governments that the national framework for vocational education and training in schools should be modernised…..[MORE ]….

TEQSA bill deferred

7 March 2014 | The TEQSA reform bill has been referred to the Senate education committee. Speaking in Regulatory jigsaw 2favour of the referral, Opposition higher education spokesman Kim Carr evoked a “back to the bad old days” scenario, saying excellence must not be sacrificed in the blind haste to cut red tape. Education minister Christopher Pyne said the opposition had executed “a spectacular backflip” because the bill would put into effect recommendations of the TEQSA review ordered last year by then Labor government…..[ MORE ]….

Unis tumble in rankings

THE Logo6 March 2014 | Australia’s leading universities have tumbled in the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings. The University of Melbourne did best in at 43, down from 39 last year. The Australian National University and University of Sydney both dropped out of the top 50. While the University of Queensland and University of NSW clung on to positions in the top 100, both were in a diminished position from last year….[ MORE ]….

Swisse hits back

6 March 2014 | The vitamin and supplement company Swisse Wellness has issued a strongly worded Swissedefence of its deal with La Trobe University to fund research into its products. Critics argue the deal presents the university with a conflict of interest that will damage the institution’s reputation…..[ MORE ]….

Anger over “secret” student visa review

6 March 2014 | The federal government has angered the $15 billion-a-year international education industry by secretly carrying out a review that endorsed current student visa rules while ignoring education providers who wanted to see some measures relaxed. The review found that the “genuine temporary entrant requirement” is effective and there are no are “no systemic problems in how GTE requirement decisions are being made. But TAFE Directors Australia has pointed to a number of examples of decisions which aren’t good enough” and which has resulted in students who would otherwise study in Australia being turned away…..[ MORE ]….


Vic dual sector unis ditch TAFE label

5 March 2014     |    It appears all four Victorian four dual-sector universities have quietly dumped their TAFEFED UNI LOGO INSET (2) status and the burden of state government reporting that went with it. New legislation will see state government-owned TAFE assets and infrastructure transferred to the dual-sector universities. It also frees them to negotiate wage deals with TAFE teachers without the state government having to approve the agreements…..[MORE ]….

NMIT “sound”

NMIT2 (2)4 March 2014     |    Victorian TAFE North Melbourne Institute of Technology has confirmed it suffered a “significant” loss last year but says it remains in a “sound” financial position, with $280 million in assets and no debt…..[ MORE ]….

ASQA in the spotlight

3 March 2014    |    Chris Robinson, the chief commissioner of the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), Regulatory jigsaw 2has told Senate Estimates that ASQA had received 17,500 applications to register new training organisations, re-register existing ones or permit them to offer new courses. It had rejected 17% of applications for new organisations — almost one in five — and 7.4% of applications from existing organisations….[ MORE ]….

Lee Dow on the TEQSA restructuring

Kwong2 March 2014   |    Professor Kwong Lee Dow, who led the review of higher education regulation, says that he agree with the key elements of government legislation to restructure and refocus the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency. He says removing quality assessments, and thereby the broader quality assurance function, and enable TEQSA to focus on core regulation. The separation between Chief Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer is a valuable advance, which reaffirms the well recognised lines of separation and linkage between a governance board and its staff….[ MORE ]….

Sackings at national research centre slammedGraham Clark

2 March 2014   |    Professor Graeme Clark, the inventor of the cochlear implant (the “bionic ear”), says that cutting half the jobs at the National Information Communications Technology Centre (NICTA) could compromise Australia’s standing as a biomedical research powerhouse and hinder the development of the next generation of researchers. A researcher at NICTA, Clark is among 76 staff at the Parkville laboratory who were made redundant or did not have their contracts renewed after the Victorian government cut $8 million from $10 million in promised funding amid concerns that the centre was becoming too “Sydney-centric”….[MORE ]….

UWS College for Bankstown

UWSCollege2 March 2014   |    The University of Western Sydney is expanding its highly successful pathways program – UWSCollege – with the opening of a new multi-million dollar facility at the University’s Bankstown campus. The university says UWSCollege is having a transformative effect on students’ lives and the higher education participation rates in Greater Western Sydney….[ MORE ]….

Swinburne’s Unilink surgesSwineburne2

2 March 2014   |    Swinburne College’s UniLink tertiary pathways program has seen an 85% increase in domestic enrolments, with over 200 local students enrolling in the program for 2014…..[ MORE ]….

Job cuts at La Trobe

La-Trobe_Logo_x228 February 2014 | La Trobe University has confirmed it is cutting 350 jobs as part of a restructure. The redundancies are compulsory, and will affect the university’s Bundoora campus in Melbourne’s north west as well as its regional Victorian campuses….[ MORE ]….

TEQSA shake upcut red tape

28 February 2014 | The government has introduced a bill to radically restructure the national higher education regulatory agency. The bill provides for a spill of the positions of the five commissioners who run the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency TEQSA. ….[ MORE ]….

VCA takes over police stables

27 February 2014    |   After many years of negotiation, the Victorian College of the Arts is to take over the Police stables2Victoria Police Force horse stables, located at the rear of the college on Melbourne’s Southbank. The stables will be transformed into artists’ studios and exhibition space. The police has long resisted giving up the space, ostensibly on the basis of a police regulation that its mounted branch has to be located within “fast galloping distance” of Government House, the residence of the Governor….[ MORE ]….

UWS’ Academy

26 February 2014    |    The University of Western Sydney has created The Academy, an interdisciplinary, community-engaged program which it describes as the first of its kind across the higher education sector. While undertaking their advanced academic studies, students in The Academy also participate in programs focused on civic engagement and citizenship – professional and personal development opportunities, volunteering projects, and mentoring and leadership programs….[ MORE ]….

VCA takes over police stables

27 February 2014    |   After many years of negotiation, the Victorian College of the Arts is to take over the Police stables2Victoria Police Force horse stables, located at the rear of the college on Melbourne’s Southbank. The stables will be transformed into artists’ studios and exhibition space. The police has long resisted giving up the space, ostensibly on the basis of a police regulation that its mounted branch has to be located within “fast galloping distance” of Government House, the residence of the Governor….[ MORE ]….

UWS’ Academy

26 February 2014    |    The University of Western Sydney has created The Academy, an interdisciplinary, community-engaged program which it describes as the first of its kind across the higher education sector. While undertaking their advanced academic studies, students in The Academy also participate in programs focused on civic engagement and citizenship – professional and personal development opportunities, volunteering projects, and mentoring and leadership programs….[ MORE ]….

Big six dominate

QS226 February 2014 | Melbourne was Australia’s best performing university in the QS World University Ranking by Subject being placed first nationally in 12 of the 30 disciplines. The dominance of Melbourne and ANU, along with Sydney, Monash, the University of Queensland and the University of NSW, left little room for other institutions that excel in their fields….[ MORE ]….

Giddy quitsAndy Giddy

26 February 2014 | Just weeks after the launch of NMIT’s joint venture Melbourne Polytechnic at the former Prahran campus of Swinburne, NMIT CEO Andrew (Andy) Giddy has suddenly resigned, amid speculation of a precipitous decline in NMIT’s financial situation….[ MORE ]….


Extremism risks uni reputation : PyneNews Wedge

Academic extremism risks damaging the standing of Australia’s universities, says education minister Christopher Pyne.

boycott_divestment_sanctions-300x198.jpg.pagespeed.ic.8ncFbpvFMR6 January 2014 | Pyne’s comments come in the wake of the controversy over the support for the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement by Sydney University’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies and that a Sydney University senior lecturer was part of a WikiLeaks Party delegation granted an audience with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, where they affirmed “the solidarity” of the Australian people….[ READ MORE ]….

A ship of fools…?

6 January 2014 | Professor Chris Gurney, leader of the ill fated Australasian Antarctic Expedition, has expressed his inconvenient frustration over what he says “appears to be a misrepresentation of the expedition in some news outlets and on the internet.” The expedition has been accused of being a tourist trip with little scientific value (sort of the Love Boat in colder climes); of being ill-prepared for the conditions; putting rescuers at risk; and making light of a dangerous situation. Others have remarked on what they describe as the irony of climate researchers stuck in unexpected ice.…[READ MORE]….

Job vacancy

Executive Director, Victorian TAFE Transition Taskforce

Empty chair
4 January 2013 | The Executive Director, TAFE Transition Taskforce, is responsible for providing oversight, support and advice to Government on the transition of TAFE institutes into a new operating environment to maintain a vibrant and competitive TAFE sector. The role is responsible for governance, performance monitoring, and reporting for TAFE institutes, universities and other adult and vocational education entities. The Executive Director is also responsible for strategic engagement across government with central agencies and Ministers as well as the TAFE sector as a whole.



Federation University

A new name in Australian education

Twenty years after becoming the University of Ballarat and more than 140 years after the establishment of the School of Mines, Federation University Australia came into being on 1 January 2014.

As Australia’s third-oldest tertiary institution, Federation University dates back to 1870 and the establishment of the School of Mines in Ballarat.  It split into two organisations in the 1960s, the School of Mines and the Ballarat Institute of Advanced Education, before changing to Ballarat College of Advanced Education in the 1970s. That institution became affiliated with Melbourne University in 1989, changing its name again to Ballarat University College.  In 1994, the University of Ballarat became its own independent institution and was formed by an act of the Victorian parliament.


Melbourne awarded $20M for new ARC Centre of Excellence

The University of Melbourne will lead the establishment of a new $20M ARC Centre of Excellence, which will create innovative mathematical and statistical models for analysing big data sets.

maths428 December 2013    |    Many data sets and collections have the potential to make vital contributions to society, business and government, as well as impact on international developments, but they are so large or complex that they are difficult to process and analyse using traditional tools, according to the university.   The new Centre will produce a lasting body of “excellent and influential research”, which has the potential to add real value to a range of areas from health care services and road traffic networks, to marine ecosystems, astrophysics and more. …[ READ MORE]….

Advance & Gipps TAFEs to partner with Fed U

Advance TAFE, GippsTAFE and Federation University have announced they intend to pursue a new formal partnership to sustain Gippsland’s education and training options. 

23 December 2013    |   Their decision follows a comprehensive review of several potential partnership options, which seeks to Mergercreate a sustainable future for Gippsland-based education.  Support for a Gippsland regional partnership with Advance TAFE, GippsTAFE and Federation University came from several sectors across the region, as community leaders from government agencies, regional economic development groups and key figures from local businesses, industries and regional education, have expressed support for a regional partnership in recent weeks…..[ READ MORE]….


Another way…

21 December 2013     |     Some clever marketing by the University of Technology Sydney UTS, promoting foundation and sub-degree pathways, aimed at Year 12 students whose ATARs wouldn’t normally get them into UTS.



…and the TAFE way, too

TAFE provides, of course, another higher education pathway.


SA TAFE facing cuts and fee increases

TAFE in South Australia faces massive funding cuts and course caps at a time when Holden’s closure is expected to trigger huge demand for retraining.

TAFE SA22 December 2013     |     The SA state government is reportedly proposing to slash $83 million or about 45% from TAFE South Australia’s budget, initiating a round of redundancies and course closures. South Australia is also  introducing  “purchase limits” to be applied to courses from mid next year.  The state will also move from full subsidisation of training, instead organising courses into five funding bands, with only one to remain fee-free.  Students in hundreds of courses will now pay between 50% and 80% of the full cost…..[ READ MORE ]….

Ramp up fees: IRU

University student fees could be hiked by as much as 66% in some cases under a proposal from fees3the Innovative Research Universities predicated on expectations that government funding will be flat at best or cut in the long term.

21 December 2013    |    In its submission to the review of the demand driven system of university places, the IRU recommends that the review “explore the value” of lifting the maximum student contribution in the various disciplinary bands to match the top band, which charges $10,085 a year for medicine, dentistry law, accounting and business courses…..[ READ MORE ]…


Review of demand driven system

19 December 2013    |    Submissions to the review of the demand driven system initiated by education minister Christopher Pyne closed on 16 December 2013.   University sector submissions support its retention and an extension to sub-bachelor places to create pathways for less academically prepared students.  Submissions also propose readjusting fees, including a mechanism to allow full fees (IRU).



TAFE grants rescinded

TAFEs have slammed the government’s decision to shut them out of a competitive capital grants fund, reneging on $76 million awarded by the previous government.

TDA-logo219 December 2013 | The grants, to TAFEs in the Sunshine Coast, Central Queensland and NSW North Coast, would have supported three of the 12 projects approved by the Education Investment Fund’s advisory board…..[ READ MORE ]…

Mid year cuts

The changes to policy and funding announced in relation to higher education included in the Mid-Year Fiscal and Economic Outlook result in net reduction of just over $200m in funding over Budget 2013the next four years.

19 December 2013 | The largest cut relates to the cessation of the regional priorities round of the Education Investment Fund (EIF). While this will save the government $187.5m over the next three years and relates to monies that have yet to be allocated, it will reduce the capacity of regional universities and TAFE institutes to invest in much needed capital infrastructure….[ READ MORE ]…

Poor trainers prompt national standards call

Almost half of Australia’s training providers could be misleading customers with ”disturbing” online marketing practices.

regulatory-jigsaw17 December 2013 | The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) says some registered organisations are promising iPads on enrolment, advanced diplomas in two weeks and guarantees not to fail. Victoria is home to 46 of the 191 suspect websites.One of the most widespread problems identified is the advertising of fast-tracked certificates and qualifications, such as a forklift licence in just two hours..…[ READ MORE ]….

National TAFE inquiry gets go ahead


The Senate’s Education and Employment References Committee will hold a wide-ranging inquiry into TAFE.

16 December 2013 | It will probe issues including funding, affordability, accessibility, and linkages to secondary and higher education. The inquiry is to specifically consider any public information provided to the 2013 House of Representatives inquiry by the Standing Committee on Education and Employment on the role of the technical and further education system and its operation….[ READ MORE ]….

Commonwealth plots uni takeover

The Commonwealth government is planning to end the historical role of state governments in the establishment and governance of universities.uni-syd-pic16 December 2013 | Education minister ­Christopher Pyne is in talks with the NSW government about the Commonwealth assuming control over the governance of the state’s 10 universities, which would be the first stage of a national takeover. ….[ READ MORE ]….

VET employment outcomes steady

Employment outcomes for graduates have remained steady over the past year with 78.2% employed after training.

NCVER Insight16 December 2013 | NCVER’s Student Outcomes 2013, which provides an annual national scorecard on Australia’s training system, shows that 83.4% of graduates undertook their training for employment-related reasons, of which 81.1% were employed after training. Satisfaction with training remains high, with 87% of all graduates satisfied with the overall quality of their training….[ READ MORE ]….


Gardner appointed V-C at Monash

Monash University Council has appointed Professor Margaret Gardner AO as the ninth Vice-Chancellor of Monash University, and the first woman to serve in the role.

Professor Margaret Gardner17 December 2013    |   Professor Gardner will commence on 1 September 2014, succeeding Professor Edward Byrne, who will become President and Principal at King’s College London.  Professor Gardner is currently Vice-Chancellor and President of RMIT University. She previously held a range of senior academic roles, including serving as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at The University of Queensland. .…[READ MORE ]….

Increased financial support leads to fewer deferrals

Analysis by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) reveals that, while there has been a competitionsubstantial decline in the proportion of university deferrals in Victoria since student financial support has been increased, location and socioeconomic status continue to play a role in restricting access to higher education.

17 December 2013    |   In the latest ACER Joining the Dots research briefing, Principal Research Fellows Drs Sheldon Rothman and Daniel Edwards use data from Victoria’s annual post-school transitions survey to explore the extent to which deferral rates have changed since 2008, and the influence policy changes to financial support may have had on deferral decisions.…[ READ MORE ]….

Poor trainers prompt national standards call

Almost half of Australia’s training providers could be misleading customers with ”disturbing” online marketing practices.

regulatory-jigsaw17 December 2013    |   The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) says some registered organisations are promising iPads on enrolment, advanced diplomas in two weeks and guarantees not to fail. Victoria is home to 46 of the 191 suspect websites.One of the most widespread problems identified is the advertising of fast-tracked certificates and qualifications, such as a forklift licence in just two hours..…[ READ MORE ]….

Higher ATAR makes university science places harder to get into

An analysis of Victorian ATAR results from the past five years shows gaining entry into top undergraduate science degrees is getting harder.

ATAR 116 December 2013     |    ATARs have risen despite an increasing number of places in many courses.  The analysis revealed science-related courses have accounted for 15 of the top 20 degrees in which the final cutoff scores have increased most from 2009 to 2013.  The biggest increase was for computer science at Monash University, which required 70 in 2009 but demanded almost 85 this year..…[ READ MORE ]….

National TAFE inquiry gets go ahead

The Senate’s Education and Employment References Committee will hold a wide-ranging inquiry into TAFE.tafe-image

16 December 2013    |     It will probe issues including funding, affordability, accessibility, and linkages to secondary and higher education.  The inquiry is to specifically consider any public information provided to the 2013 House of Representatives inquiry by the Standing Committee on Education and Employment on the role of the technical and further education system and its operation….[ READ MORE ]….

Commonwealth plots uni takeover

The Commonwealth government is planning to end the historical role of state governments in the establishment and governance of universities.uni-syd-pic

16 December 2013    |     Education minister ­Christopher Pyne is in talks with the NSW government about the Commonwealth assuming control over the governance of the state’s 10 universities, which would be the first stage of a national takeover. ….[ READ MORE ]….

VET employment outcomes steady

Employment outcomes for graduates have remained steady over the past year with 78.2% employed after training.

NCVER Insight16 December 2013    |     NCVER’s  Student Outcomes 2013, which provides an annual national scorecard on Australia’s training system, shows that 83.4% of graduates undertook their training for employment-related reasons, of which 81.1% were employed after training.  Satisfaction with training remains high, with 87% of all graduates satisfied with the overall quality of their training….[ READ MORE ]….


Vic TAFE merger talks broaden

Four institutions now talking

Merger5 December 2013    |    Victoria’s Advance TAFE and GippsTAFE  are  involved in talks with eastern Melbourne’s Chisholm Institute and the dual-sector University of Ballarat “to explore the best fit in terms of organisational objectives and stakeholder needs”.  Apparently, negotiations between Advance and GippsTAFE are well advanced, with   “a number of points of agreement” reached in areas such as curriculum-based collaboration and “back office sharing”.  Advance CEO Shaun McDonagh said the institutions wanted to choose their partners before considering what the partnerships might look like, with mergers being a possibility…[READ MORE ]….

PISA results sliding

ACER sees ’cause for concern’

4 December 2013      |    A report released  by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) reveals the mathematics and reading PISA 2012skills of Australian 15-year-olds have slipped backwards over the past decade.  Releasing the report, PISA 2012: How Australia measures up, ACER’s Director of Educational Monitoring and Research, Dr Sue Thomson said that, despite still performing above the OECD average, Australia’s backwards slide in achievement shows that there is some cause for concern.…[ READ MORE ]….

Backflip with twistLabor’s backflip

With twist

3 December 2013    |     The NTEU has congratulated the now Labor opposition on its decision today to oppose “Christopher Pyne’s damaging funding cuts to Australian universities and their students.”  The cuts were first proposed by the then Gillard government in April, as an offset to increased schools spending under the Better Schools Plan (aka Gonski).....[ READ MORE ]….

Indefinite strike at CAE into its 3rd week

Strike is in its third week but speculation  a  settlement is imminent

nteu-logo26 November 2013    |   Staff at Melbourne’s Centre for Adult Education (CAE) have been on an indefinite strike since Monday 18 November 2013.  The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) says it has been bargaining with management representatives for a new enterprise agreement since February 2011 and staff have not had a pay increase since May 2010.….[ READ MORE ]….


UA urges reduction in regulatory burden

ua logo29 November 2013 | In its submission to the Commission of Audit, Universities Australia (UA) has urged commissioners to place their higher education focus on achieving efficiency through reducing the reporting and regulatory burden on universities. UA says that, with $3.3 billion worth of cuts to higher education made or announced over the past 12 months, universities have already done much of the heavy lifting in assisting the Government to realise its objective of bringing the budget back to surplus.….[ READ MORE ]….

Vic TAFE merger …????

Chisholm Logo29 November 2013 | A potential merger between GippsTAFE and Chisholm Institute of TAFE will be Gipps2workshopped over the coming months, through a Memorandum of Understanding signed between parties exploring joint course delivery models.GippsTAFE chair John Mitchell has confirmed a “very robust and extensive review of options” is underway, designed to form a business model of operations and course delivery to improve the financial viability of the institutions. …[ READ MORE ]…

Indefinite strike at CAE

nteu-logo26 November 2013 | Staff at Melbourne’s Centre for Adult Education (CAE) have been on an indefinite strike since Monday 18 November 2013. The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) says it has been bargaining with management representatives for a new enterprise agreement since February 2011 and staff have not had a pay increase since May 2010.….[ READ MORE ]….

TAFEs claim funding cuts will cost jobs and millionstafe-image

23 November 2013 | Victorian TAFEs expect to lose millions of dollars and the education union is forecasting hundreds of redundancies in response to further Victorian state government changes to course subsidies. But the government insists it has not cut overall funding and is moving to stop rorting in the training sector….[ READ MORE ]….

NSW bill tags TAFE as ‘major’ provider

22 November 2013 | The NSW opposition says its amendment to a vocational education bill will force the state government to back away from plans to open training funds to full competition. But the government says the amendment to the bill, which passed parliament on 19 November, won’t change to its “Smart and Skilled” reform plans.… [ READ MORE ]….

‘Light touch’ could have weighty consequences, says TEQSA chief

carol nicoll21 November 2013 | Carol Nicoll, chief commissioner of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency has criticised commentary on the Commonwealth government’s deregulation agenda. Nicoll told a Senate estimates committee hearing the issue of “a light touch regulator is a significant one, and one that Australia should not take lightly”. She said she would hesitate at the use of the term ‘light touch’ as it might signal overseas, particularly in Asia, that Australia is not regulating higher education.…[ READ MORE ]….

Pyne proposes exam for aspiring teachersCHRIS PYNE PRESS CONFERENCE

20 November 2013 | Aspiring teachers would need to sit a national exam under Commonwealth government plans to assess their proficiency before entering the classroom, under a plan to be taken to a meeting of the nation’s education ministers on 29 November ..…[ READ MORE ]….

LeesaVocational course subsidies ‘gamed’

20 November 2013 | Ongoing cuts and tweaking to vocational course subsidies under Victoria’s open market system is undermining business certainty. And too many providers of dubious standard are threatening quality, according to University of Melbourne vocational expert Leesa Wheelahan....[ READ MORE ]….

Piccoli calls for cap on teaching degrees

20 November 2013 | NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli has called for a cap on the number of students allowed to enrol in teaching degrees to curb the state’s oversupply of primary school teachers....[ READ MORE ]….

John Croucher University Teacher of the Year

John Croucher


Inspiring university teachers awarded

19 November 2013 | Australia’s best university teachers have been recognised at the 2013 Australian Awards for UniversityTeaching.Senator Scott Ryan, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education, congratulated the 13 teachers for their outstanding work, along with recognising nine individual university programs that enhance student learning. Professor John Croucher, from Macquarie University, was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Australian University Teacher of the Year.....[ READ MORE ]….

CQU ‘comprehensive’ not ‘dual’

The Australian | 18 November 2013 | Australia’s newest dual-sector university, CQUniversity, will instead be calling itself “comprehensive”, with vice-chancellor Scott Bowman warning that thinking of the institution in two parts will simply create hierarchies....[ READ MORE ]….

Canberra University to bypass union on pay deal

12 November 2013 | The University of Canberra has announced it will bypass the union representing university academics and take a proposed pay offer direct to staff....[ READ MORE ]….


Clamp on foundation training & education

The Victorian government will restrict access to remedial training for adults, claiming that VET colleges are lining Peter-Hall-6288497their pockets by enrolling students unnecessarily.

14 November 2013 | But the Australian Education Union says new funding arrangements could strip almost $30 million from TAFEs, which are already reeling from a $290m cut last year. Skills minister Peter Hall has refused to rule out cuts to funding rates. He is expected to announce that funding for foundation training, which includes courses in adult literacy and numeracy, youth re-engagement and English as a second language, will be restricted to colleges on an approved provider list. The government will also strengthen contract requirements to ensure colleges only provide foundation training that is “relevant and necessary”….[ READ MORE ]……

Concern for courses as ANU redundancies fall short

ANU14 November 2013 | The National Tertiary Education Union staff fears the Australian National University (ANU) may start forcing staff redundancies and cut courses to meet its budget shortfall. The university says 147 professional staff have accepted voluntary redundancies, short of the 230 jobs it plans to cut in a bid to save more than $50 million in lost government funding. A further 50 academic staff have accepted an early retirement as part of the ANU’s academic renewal program..[ READ MORE]……

Review of demand driven systemchristopher-pyne

12 November 2013 | The minister for education, Christopher Pyne, has announced the scope of his foreshadowed review of the demand driven funding system for higher education. He has appointed former education minister David Kemp and director of higher education at the Grattan Institute (and former chief of staff to Kemp) Andrew Norton to undertake the review and report to the government in mid-February 2014. Submissions will be open until midday on 16 December 2013.[ READ MORE ]……

ARC funding announced

research28 November 2013 | Education minister Christopher Pyne has announced $522 million in funding for 1177 new research projects under the Australia Research Council’s (ARC) Future Fellowships scheme (commencing 2013) and Major Grants scheme (commencing 2014). He says that if Australia is continue to produce groundbreaking research outcomes, ‘eureka’ moments and Nobel Laureates, then a strong investment in research is needed…[ READ MORE]……

CSIRO gets the razorCSIRO

8 November 2013 | Almost a quarter of scientists, researchers and workers at Australia’s premier science institution will lose their jobs under the federal government’s present public service jobs freeze. The blanket staff freeze across the public service threatens the jobs of 1400 “non-ongoing” workers at the CSIRO and could paralyse some of the organisation’s premier research projects, with a ban on hiring, extending or renewing short-term contracts effective immediately. The freeze is part of the Abbott government’s plan to cut 12,000 jobs from the public service…..[ READ MORE]……

Would-be teachers face personality testing

Teacher8 November 2013 | At Melbourne University, aspiring teachers must now navigate an online test that looks for personality traits that will help them get the most from their training. This year about 1500 students with undergraduate qualifications used the survey tool, which also tests verbal communication and numerical ability. Only about a quarter of the applicants who took the test will be accepted into the postgraduate course....[READ MORE ]……

Lilydale grant suspended

8 November 2013 | A $100,000 grant to the Yarra Ranges Shire Council to look into options for how the former Swinburne Lilydale campusUniversity site in Lilydale could be used for education purposes has been suspended. However, a complaint was made to the Victorian Ombudsman about a potential conflict of interest over the site’s use in that the council said it wanted to use part of the site to house its new municipal offices, which the Ombudsman has decided to investigate ....[ READ MORE ]……

Open2Study reaches 100,000 students

Open2Study8 November 2013 | In just six months, Open Universities Australia has reached 100,000 enrolments in its free online learning platform with 53,000 students from more than 180 countries undertaking one or more of its massive open online courses, or MOOCs. Open2Study



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