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The Scan #150 23 May 2014

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Making a stab at fees poses grave risks: UA

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. In order to provide some degree of certainty and inform student choice, some universities, outside the Group of Eight, at least, may be forced to make an early “stab” at price settings. But as Harding points out, a stab is not the marketplace working efficiently. A set of stabs, with some getting their settings right and others failing, will help shake out the marketplace, but at what cost to students, their families and to the integrity of the higher education system when it is possible to move ahead in a more considered, timely and respectful manner?…..[ MORE ]….

Medical fund will distort research priorities: ATN

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. She says “it would have been nice” if government had thought to ask the sector how best the fund could be achieved and, importantly, positioned – and also considered the ramifications of its introduction – rather than springing it on everyone as a eureka moment.…..[ MORE ]….

Positive early impacts of the Victorian Training Guarantee 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 TAFE NSW2funding to students ta private providers. However, NSW will continue to control fees and training place numbers. The government rejected an Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal recommendation that it take steps towards fully deregulating fees, unlike the commonwealth which is removing controls on university fees. 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. Disadvantaged students will attract a 15% loading and TAFEs will receive extra funding to meet community service obligations.…..[ 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 ]….

Kangan and Bendigo to merge

Bendigo21 May 2014    |     TAFE back office jobs are expected to be culled as part of a planned merger announced between Victoria’s regional Bendigo TAFE and the major Melbourne-based Kangan Institute. Bendigo is operating at barely break-even in the wake of state government funding cuts and a lack of scale in regional markets, which has seen Bendigo TAFE shed jobs and courses and close campuses.The TAFEs say the amalgamation will strengthen and expand the delivery of education and training in central Victoria. …..[ MORE ]….

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Comment & analysis

21 May 2013

Pyne as Shiva?

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The 2014-15 Budget presages the most far reaching changes to the higher education sector since the Dawkins reforms of the late ’80s. The proposed deregulation of fees, from 2016, has created the most angst. According to many informed commentators, the deregulation of fees signals the end of an equitable system of higher education in this country. This piece by Simon Marginson has the feel of hyperbole – Christopher Pyne as Shiva – “the destroyer and transformer”. But Marginson’s view is widely shared across the sector – except, of course, by the Group of Eight.

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ShivaIn Hinduism Lord Brahma is the creator, Lord Vishnu is the preserver, and Lord Shiva is the destroyer and transformer. Here are rich models for contemporary leaders, whether they were raised in the Hindu tradition or not.
Federal education minister Christopher Pyne plans to leave his mark on higher education and research in Australia. We can be sure it will not be as Vishnu the preserver, Pyne enjoys a good stoush and is not seeking a quiet life. It will not be as Brahma the creator, that requires too much imagination, and it is difficult to be kind to everybody. Mr Pyne has chosen for himself the role of Shiva the destroyer and transformer.
If the Senate passes the package in the budget, the Abbott government will destroy the predominantly public settings of the present unified Australia higher education system, created by Labor Minister John Dawkins in 1987-1992 on the basis of 39 universities with similar missions. Mr Pyne will transform the Dawkins system into one with a different shape and different patterns of social participation.

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Higher Education Policy Seminars 2014

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Has Australia the imagination and will to create and maintain international pre-eminence in higher education? Key issues must be tackled across the next few years if an excellent higher education system is to be designed and built. The series commences Wednesday 28 May.

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Commission of Audit a missed opportunity on VET

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Peter NoonanThe National Commission of Audit’s recommendations for vocational education and training – proposing that responsibility for VET revert to the states – represent a missed opportunity for overdue reform says Peter Noonan, professor of tertiary education policy at Victoria University. He says the commonwealth’s interests in VET are stronger than ever before, not weaker, and the commission’s recommendations for VET should be set aside .

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For all it has achieved, the VET system now needs genuine ¬renewal. The current federal-state shared funding model has run its course.

Governance arrangements are complex and opaque. There is duplication in programs and ¬administration. Longstanding debates about quality remain unresolved. VET qualification completion rates are too low.

The commission identifies some of these weaknesses but misses the opportunity to propose sensible reform options to VET reformaddress them. Instead, in poorly evidenced logic, it recommends that the commonwealth wind back its -involvement in the sector by transferring VET policy and funding responsibility to the states, and abolishing all commonwealth VET programs.

And, strangely enough, despite the recommendation for the commonwealth to vacate the field, the commission also reckons the states should still be required to continue specific reforms set by the commonwealth.

It all points to a limited and partial analysis and understanding of VET and the commonwealth’s role in it. Its assertion that under the Constitution the commonwealth has no responsibility for VET is inaccurate, and taken to its logical conclusion would require that higher education also be handed back to the states.

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Life & stuff

Inner space

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The practice of meditation is traditionally associated with shaved heads, kaftans, sandals and lentils.But the positive effects of regular meditation is gaining increasing recognition in the workplace, including major corporates such as Caltex, Nestle, IBM and Blake Dawson.

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woman-meditating-on-beach-at-sunse_450The Harvard Business Review noted there are all sorts of good reasons to meditate. Jon Kabat-Zinn, in his book Full Catastrophe Living, offers good instructions on how to meditate and examines persuasive research into how it reduces stress, speeds up healing, decreases pain, and increases presence. Kabat-Zinn is a bit of an expert: Professor of Medicine Emeritus and founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

But it’s not just about “personal development”. Losing awareness of how we’re feeling or what we’re thinking affects our relationships, our decisions, and our actions. Those are business issues.

While many meditation traditions have religious associations, there are plenty of secular varieties these days as well.

Just Google to find a practice near you that suits your proclivities.

It can’t hurt, can it?

Check out The Guardian (UK) Headspace meditation podcasts.

 

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No Frills‘No Frills’ is a well-known annual national conference, hosted by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research, where researchers and practitioners in the vocational education and training (VET) sector come together to present, discuss and share information about key issues confronting the sector. The conference also provides professional development opportunities for new and existing researchers.

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