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The Scan | #154 | 13 June 2014

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 ]….

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Milestones

UTas reappoints Peter Rathjen

13 June 2014   |   The University of Tasmania is bracing for extremely challenging times, as it reappoints vice–chancellorRathjan Peter Rathjen for a further 3 year term. Professor Rathjen said the Federal Government’s move to deregulate universities would make life extra difficult for UTAS, but he said the university would tackle deregulation from a position of strength.
We’ve got a strong base, the research is going well. There are a couple more really big announcements coming. But, more important than that, we’ve got a strong relationship with our student body …and a good relationship with the community, including politicians.  Prof Rathjen said the university’s position was unique in that to serve Tasmanians it needed to keep course fees low which, under deregulation, could force severe cutbacks.

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Comment & analysis

13 June 2013

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The Greens say there have been more than a million hits on an online calculator it has launched to show how much a degree now under the fee regime announced in the recent budget. Government sources have questioned the accuracy of the calculations on the What Will My Degree Cost website, but there can’t be any doubts about the interest in the outcomes. Meanwhile, the proponents of “Americanisation” of Australian higher education might take note of recent actions by the US government to stem ballooning student debt, which now stands at more than $1 trillion and, according to economists, is acting as a drag on the economy.

The cost of an Arts degree, according to the Greens calculator of Doom.

The cost of an Arts degree, according to the Greens calculator of Doom.

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There’s a few things wrong with Americanised universities

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The high level of student debt, to begin with.

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President Barak Obama has taken executive actions to ease the burden of college loan debt for potentially millions of Americans, in a White House event coinciding with Senate Democrats’ plans for legislation to address a concern of many voters in this midterm election year. On 8 June, Obama announced “new steps to further lift the burden of crushing student loan debt”. Despite past actions by the administration, borrowers’ debt load is growing and retarding their ability to buy homes, start businesses or otherwise spend to spur the economy, economists say.
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The School of Life is looking for a Program Producer. The successful candidate for this role School of Lifewill be responsible for assisting the development, delivery and evaluation of the program of events as part of TSOL Program Team in Australia.

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Arts degrees shouldn’t be funded

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11 June 2014     |   In this recent article in the Australian Financial Review, the IPA’s John Roskam decries the sense of entiltement of young people, particularly those who would undertake an Arts degree (“It’s not obvious why Australia needs more arts graduates anyway”). He seems to be missing something generally – the transformative nature of education generally – and something specifically, in that even arts graduates do go on to make vital contributions to society and the economy in a variety of ways, just as do graduates in other fields of education. If you’re not an Arts graduate maybe you agree – like what’s the contribution to the wellbeing of contemporary Australian society of learned articles on the “emergence of poetry in various Caribbean Creoles”. But he seems to us as obviously a chap who gives meaning to the adage about a person who knows the cost of everything and the value of very little.
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Given the sense of entitlement young people have these days, it’s no surprise they’re outraged by the Abbott government’s higher education reforms. One of the things the Coalition wants to do is to increase the interest rate on the loans the government provides to students to pay for their tuition. Instead of the interest rate being based on inflation as now, it would be set according to the how much it costs the government to lend the students the money. This change would cost a typical university graduate paying off their loan over eight years an extra $3 a week. It’s no wonder so many university graduates have trouble adjusting to the real world. Rather than being grateful that half of their tuition is being paid for by taxpayers, students complain they’re being asked to pay $3 a week more for their degree.

Australian university students don’t realise just how fortunate they are. Arts students are especially fortunate. No one has yet asked why taxpayers should pay for even half of someone’s arts degree. If an individual wants to go to university to watch French cinema classics of the 1950s and write essays about it, they should be free to do so. That doesn’t mean taxpayers should pay for it. It’s not obvious why Australia needs more arts graduates anyway. Nearly a quarter of all students in higher education are enrolled in degrees in the field of “Society and Culture”.

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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 Beatles in Australia

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13 June 2014     |     It’s been said that you can’t really trust someone who doesn’t like the Blues or The Beatles. It’s 50 years ago – a half century – since The Fab Four took Australia by storm: 300,000 people – a third of its then population -turned out in Adelaide to welcome them to the City of Churches.
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The Beatles

The eruption of Beatlemania in Australia was more intense than anywhere in the world. For thirteen days in 1964 the nation was held in a kind of euphoria, captivated by the talent, the songs and the charm of the Fab Four on their concert tour.
This exhibition, at the Melbourne Arts Centre until 1 July, presents the sights and sounds of Beatlemania — the arrivals, the press conferences, the concerts and the screaming fans – through newsreel footage, television reports, radio coverage, magazines and press clippings. It looks at how Australians responded to The Beatles and the tour’s lasting impact on Australian music and culture.

If you’re not in Melbourne and can’t get to it , the exhibition website is well worth checking.

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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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