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The Scan | #153 | 6 June 2014

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 ]….

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 “…..is 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 ]….
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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.

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 Comment & analysis

6 June 2013

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The higher education reforms announced in last month’s budget have sparked a fierce debate within the sector about fees, student debt and the so-called “Americanisation” of Australian higher education.  Here are two views – pro and con.

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Nothing wrong with Americanised universities

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In the pitched battle over Christopher Pyne’s proposed reforms to higher education, the term “Americanisation” is freely bandied about – and the connotations are invariably negative. But the facts about American higher education belie common Australian worries about affordability and quality, according to Geoffrey Garrett.

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In the pitched battle over Christopher Pyne’s proposed reforms to higher education, the term “Americanisation” is freely bandied about – and the connotations are invariably negative. But the facts about American higher education belie common Australian worries about affordability and quality, according to Geoffrey Garrett.

Headline tuition rates at the top American universities are much higher than is conceivable in Australia.

But US universities give big scholarships to lots of students, significantly reducing the effective cost of degrees. And these scholarships are targeted on disadvantaged students. America’s leading universities practise “need-blind” admission. Get in on merit and the university will make sure you can afford it.

This is what Australia’s best should strive for if the government’s reforms make it through the Senate.

At the same time research intensive does not equal quality in the US. Elite “liberal arts colleges” specialise in undergraduate teaching. They attract many of the very best students, students who could go to the Ivy League but actually prefer teaching-focused institutions. Under Pyne’s reforms, some Australian universities could and should try to emulate this approach.

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Prestige costs rather than pays in higher education

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The belief of Australia’s Group of Eight elite universities that fee deregulation will allow them to fund their chase for global prestige is based on a fundamental misreading of the economics of elite US universities, writes Raymond Da Silva Rosa.students.

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The belief of Australia’s Group of Eight elite universities that fee deregulation will allow them to fund their chase for global prestige is based on a fundamental misreading of the economics of elite US universities, writes Raymond Da Silva Rosa.

As is well documented, the elite US universities heavily subsidise their students to attract the “highest quality”. This concern for “quality” doesn’t mean everyone has an equal shot. At the more selective US private universities, The New York Times reports that:
More fathers of freshmen are doctors than are hourly workers, teachers, clergy members, farmers or members of the military – combined.
There’s no vast conspiracy behind the intensely skewed socioeconomic distribution in elite US universities. The system is meritocratic. The problem, pinpointed by sociologist Mitchell L. Stevens, is that:

Only the relatively wealthy are able to afford the infrastructure to produce that accomplishment in their children. Upper-middle-class Americans have responded to the triumph of educational meritocracy by creating a whole new way of life organised around the production of measurably talented children and the delivery of news about kids to the right places at the right time.

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The National University Finance and Procurement 2014 Conference Program will include workshops and case studies that demonstrate practical as well as strategic solutions to the challenges facing Higher Education Providers in the current economic and technological environment.

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Life & stuff

The use of the English language in Australia

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A study by the Annenberg Public Policy Centre at the University of Pennsylvania indicates that people can learn more about aspects of politics by viewing political satire rather than actual news programming. Heaven knows what Americans must think of the state of the Australian polity after this recent episode of Last Week Tonight : Tony Abbott, President of the USA of Australia.  About the same as many Australians to judge from Clarke and Dawe of the pinko leftie ABC – sort of leaning not so much to the left or right as towards the dystopic.

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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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