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The Scan | #152 | 30 May 2013

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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 slash

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

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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 ]….

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Comment & analysis

27 May 2013

Care what you wish for….2?

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V-C SwinnieSwinburne vice-chancellor Linda Kristjanson has expressed concern about five aspects of the recent Budget. In particular, she has joined a number of other vice-chancellors in voicing her opposition to fee deregulation and higher interest charges on HECS loans, which she says will lead to a “higher education system characterised by the haves and the have nots.”

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Many staff attended briefings on the Federal Budget and there is a high level of interest in what the changes might mean for Swinburne. Although the package is complex and has many elements, these are the five key issues of concern.

We do not support full fee deregulation for Australian undergraduate degrees. Full fee deregulation will inevitably lead to much higher fees for our students. It benefits Group of Eight universities whose ‘brand position’ will allow them to charge much higher fees, irrespective of the quality of teaching students receive. Over time, full fee deregulation will lead to a higher education system characterised by the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. Our system of higher education should continue to encourage fees which are not out of reach for those capable Australians who aspire to university study.

Two years ago, I wrote about the risks associated with full fee deregulation in an article for The Australian – those interested can read it here.
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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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How much will student debt rise?

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Geoff Sharrock looks at possible impacts on student debt of fee deregulation. He concludes that in at least some universities, it is fair to assume that deregulated fees may double or even triple in some fields, not suddenly but over time, with a significant impact on HELP debts. In others, fee rises and the higher HELP debts they create may well be quite modest after all. In an expanded analysis on the LH Martin website, Sharrock advises that universities and students should continue to oppose the severity of the subsidy cuts and the other risks the reforms pose for students.

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Pay hereEducation minister Christopher Pyne has released new public subsidy rates for domestic students in degrees offered by universities, to take effect from 2016. As a budget saving the government aims to lower the rate of public subsidy by 20% overall.

Most universities will raise fees to at least offset their loss of income from government subsidies. Many will go further to boost the total level of income they’d receive, above 2014 levels. Either way, Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) debts will balloon.

Fee deregulation offers the flexibility sought by Group of Eight (Go8) vice-chancellors such as ANU’s Ian Young and UNSW’s Fred Hilmer, but opposed by others, such as the University of Canberra’s Stephen Parker and UTS’ Ross Milbourne.

For Go8s especially, fee deregulation is almost a licence to print HELP debt.

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Life & stuff

27 May 2014

National Reconciliation Week

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quote marksWe carry in our hearts the true country
And that cannot be stolen
We follow in the steps of our ancestry
And that cannot be broken

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National Reconciliation Week is an annual celebration and a time for all Australians to reflect on our shared histories, and on the contributions and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. The week is framed by two key events in Australia’s history that provide strong symbols of the aspirations for reconciliation.

  • 27 May marks the anniversary of Australia’s most successful referendum and a defining event in our nation’s history. The 1967 Referendum saw over 90% of Australians vote to give the Commonwealth the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and recognise them in the national census.
  • 3 June is Mabo Day – On this day in 1992, the High Court of Australia delivered its landmark Mabo decision which overturned the notion of ‘terra nullius’ and legally recognised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ connection to their country, a connection that existed prior to colonisation and continues today. This recognition paved the way for the Native Title system.
Click image to find out about events and activities throughout Australia

Click image to find out about events and activities throughout Australia

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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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