The Scan Early Edition 16 July 2013



Go8 argues for tighter entry standards

group-of-8-logo2Go8 chairman and University of NSW vice-chancellor Fred Hilmer is pressing higher education minister Kim Carr to clamp down on entry standards, dampening enrolment growth to help save $1.4 billion. Carr is due to meet with peak body Universities Australia this week. Hilmer is responding to Carr’s invitation to bring forward budget-neutral alternatives to $2.8 billion in cuts announced by Labor before this year’s federal budget to be redirected to schools.  Under the plan, entry to undergraduate degrees would require a minimum ATAR of 60 and 70 for entry to teaching…..[READ MORE]…..

TAFEs accused of rorting system

The Victorian state government will crack down on training providers found putting staff and students through “unnecessary” basic courses soGordon they can maximise government subsidies.  Enrolments in ”foundation” courses for students who lack literacy and numeracy skills soared in the first quarter of this year. These courses racked up more than $61 million in government funding in the first three months of the year, according to opposition estimates.  The government clampdown comes amid reports that some TAFEs have enrolled teachers with postgraduate degrees in foundation subjects…..[READ MORE]…..

Student debt and financial distress soar

fees23Around two-thirds of students have reported incomes below the poverty line as student debt soars by almost 30 per cent in just six years according to the findings of the University Student Finances in 2012 report.  According to the survey, soaring personal debt levels – that have risen from $28,861 in 2006 to $37,217 in 2012 – have also resulted in far greater levels of financial distress among students, with more than two-thirds of respondents now reporting worries about their financial situation.  The level of financial distress is even greater amongst students from low socio-economic backgrounds and indigenous students, where it jumps to over three quarters and four out of five students respectively.  The survey also finds that the financial demands for almost half of all university students outstrip their earnings…..[READ MORE]…..

More needed in VET: Rudd

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has cited the need for extra effort to boost vocational education and training (VET), at a time when some states areTAFE image ignoring the sector.The PM nominated skills as a priority for a new national competitiveness agenda, in a speech at the National Press Club.  He said 0ur national objective must be to build the best educated, best trained, best skilled workforce anywhere in the world.

 We have uncapped university places for Australian students so that we now have 190,000 more kids at university than five years ago.  We do, however, need to do more with vocational education and training, particularly given the recent withdrawal of effort by many of the states.

…..[READ MORE]…..

Call for Fair Work Act to be amended over UWS bargaining

nteu-logoThe National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) is appealing to Bill Shorten, the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, to amend the Fair Work Act, following the failure of the Fair Work Commission on10 July to make a decision regarding a union ballot to take protected industrial action at the University of Western Sydney (UWS). Vice-President Catanzariti reserved his decision on a protected action ballot application.   NTEU NSW Division Secretary Genevieve Kelly said that, under the Fair Work Act, applications for a protected action ballot are to be determined as far as practicable within two working days.  She said that in this case, NTEU members at the University of Western Sydney have already had to wait two weeks and now face further delays with no indication of when a decision is likely to be delivered……[READ MORE]…..

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quote marksOne’s view of the impact of the uncapped system on quality might actually depend on one’s experience as an institution with students from a diverse array of backgrounds.

                                                  – University of Newcastle vice-chancellor Caroline McMillen


Quality is an issue: Carr

Kim Carr12 July 2013     |    Minister for higher education Kim Carr has reiterated his view that the quality of some degrees is under threat because of the vast increase in enrolments of academically under-prepared students. He said he had been advised that as many as half of all school-leavers entering university with an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank below 50 are dropping out. And that is justification enough for him to put minimum entry requirements on the radar…..[READ MORE]…..

ATAR linked to drop out rate

12 July 2013     |    There is a direct correlation between ATAR and risk of dropping out, with analysis by Andrew Norton at the Grattan Institute showing that Tapeschool leavers who enter university with an ATAR of 90 or above have a 90 per cent chance of completing their degree, with completion rates fall in a corresponding line with lower ATARs.It shows that on average, students with ATARs below 60 drop out at a rate of one in three. But, controversially, the data reveals significant numbers with ATARs below 50 dropping out at the rate of 50 per cent…..[READ MORE]…..

TAFEs may miss out on big share of India’s market

Fearless-Nadia-Prasenjit-Kundu-Slider12 July 2013     |    Australia has been warned that it could miss out on the big share of Asia’s largest skills training market, especially India, which has been estimated to grow up to USD 50 billion by 2022. According to a report commissioned by the Australia India Institute (AII), India is already one of the largest and fastest growing education markets in the world. The report says that education spending ranks second only to outlays on food for the average Indian middle class family….[READ MORE]…..

Queensland VET reform comes kicks offqld-tafe

12 July 2013     |    The Queensland government’s “Great skills: Real Opportunities” five-year plan for the vocational training sector has come into effect. The minister for education, training and employment John-Paul Langbroek says the plan is an “adrenalin shot” for the training industry, making training more accessible and ensuring it is cost effective and in-line with industry needs….[READ MORE]…..

TasTAFE launched

TAS TAFE12 July 2013     |    There is a new complexion to vocational training in Tasmania with the official start of TasTAFE, as a statutory authority. The minister for education and skills, Nick McKim, launched TasTAFE at Burnie campus, saying the organisation would build on the strengths of the Tasmanian Polytechnic and the Tasmanian Skills Institute to provide a great range of options and pathways for Tasmanians to gain vocational skills…..[READ MORE]…..

Regional survey confirms costs kill university plansuni-ballarat-logo

12 July 2013     |    Money and distance are the main reasons regional school-leavers are not applying for university, not lack of aspiration, research by the University of Ballarat shows, with regional students who have to leave home facing an extra $20,000 a year in costs compared with a city student living at home……[READ MORE]…..



New chief at NCVER

Tom Karmel

Tom Karmel

Rod Camm

Rod Camm

Tom Karmel will step down in mid-August after more than 10 years as managing director of the National Centre for Vocational Education Research.  NCVER chair Peter Shergold has  announced his replacement as former education bureaucrat and Skills Queensland CEO Rod Camm.



Comment & analysis

Bowing to the high demand for university places threatens our high education standards, writes Fred Hilmer, UNSW vice-chancellor and chair of the Group of Eight.   But he’s not actually arguing the door of  opportunity be slammed  shut for aspiring university graduates with lower ATARs.  Instead, he proposes that  students, especially from high school, with inadequate academic preparation, TAFE courses and bridging courses could offer pathways that provide an improved chance of success.

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Higher uni participation shouldn’t mean lesser quality

Setting up for success rather than failure


The new Higher Education Minister Kim Carr has flagged a review of the so-called “demand driven” system that has seen such a rapid expansion in the number of students entering Australia’s universities.

Predictably his comments have caused a furore.  Increasing the participation rate in higher education was a core element of the Gillard Government’s education revolution.  Those vociferous in their defence of the current approach point to the fact that it is opening up university education to young Australians previously denied the opportunity.

No-one questions that this is a laudable aim, particularly if it increases access to tertiary education for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. But I am among a number of vice-chancellors, and others involved in the sector, who have been calling for just such a review as a matter of priority.

We are concerned about a potential decline in standards as well as escalating costs.  We believe it is time to at least pause and take a hard look at what is being achieved and the best use of scarce resources, particularly in the context of the recent massive cuts to university funding.

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quote marksParticipation and quality can, and in a sound system must, co-exist. Participation without quality serves neither the needs of students or employers. And quality without widespread participation deprives the nation of talent and skills that underpin prosperity and civility.


Tertiary Ed Book

When the political parties will not talk about the substance of higher education and research, we depend on civil society, the media, the public in all its forms, and the institutions of higher education and research themselves, to define and advance the issues.

This book is designed to stimulate and contribute to such a process of discussion.



Life & stuff

Policy & politicsElection

As we move forward to Election 2013, the higher education sector is seeking to raise politics above mere sloganeering and contribute to public engagement in the electoral process. A few recent initiatives include:

  • University of Melbourne’s Election Watch 2013 – a dedicated website that brings together the University of Melbourne’s “most respected and experienced academics, to provide rigorous analysis and independent commentary on the Australian federal election campaign.”
  • The Conversation’s Election FactCheck – Academics with subject expertise will check claims by politicians, interest groups and the media for accuracy. A second academic will independently review the check
  • NTEU’s Democracy Advocates – university staff (both academic and general/professional) helping to promote participation in the democratic electoral process by encouraging young people to enrol to vote. .


Policy in the Pub

What’s really happened under reforms to VET in Victoria

PrintTue 6 Aug 2013, 4:00pm to 6:00pm (Melbourne)
  • Nick Chiam, Director of Tertiary Education Policy, Department of Higher Education and Skills
  • Bruce McKenzie, CEO, Holmesglen TAFE
  • Claire Field, CEO, ACPET



Tertiary ed seminars 2013





Fulbright ComFulbright Professional Scholarship In Vocational Education and Training

This Fulbright Scholarship is for employees within the vocational education and training sector or training leaders in business and industry. It is not for university academics that study VET as an academic discipline. Applications close 14 August 2013.



ACPET National Conference

VET and Higher Education: the future is in the private sector

29-30 August | Adelaide

???????????????????????????????ACPET’s national conference is the largest gathering of private and not-for-profit educators and trainers in Australia and provides an opportunity for networking and professional development.

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22 – 23 July 2013 | Melbourne Marriott HotelInforma

The creation of MOOCs opens up many questions both in the short term future with regard to the viability of the current MOOCs model, as well as in the long term with reference to the democratisation of education and what it means for the future of universities. Such complex and far reaching consequences raise significant questions for Australian universities across a spectrum of issues.



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