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The Scan | #155 | 24 June 2013

Vet funding changes confound sector

Print24  June 2014   |    The Victorian government has announced further changes to the funding of VET courses – which it has done several times previously over the past year. The Australian Council for Private Education and Training ACPET has called on the Victorian government to rethink the latest cuts, with ACPET chief Claire Field pointing to the disruptive impact on both RTOs and intending students of the constant changes to funding arrangements. She said that the latest changes come, as previous changes have, with no notice to the sector and serve to penalise those providers who were doing the “right thing” – those who had set fees which the government thought were reasonable. These changes “lock providers into an extremely difficult six months as they try and provide a quality education to their students with less funding from government.”  The latest round of changes to fees and funding policy, for the first time, includes apprentices in the eligibility rules. There will now be apprentices who will have to pay full fee for their courses or not proceed…..[ MORE ]….

Senate splits on TEQSA billregulatory-framework

24 June 2014   |   A Senate inquiry into a bill to restructure the higher education regulator has split along party lines. The majority report of the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee has recommended the Senate to pass the bill to streamline the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA). Both Labor and the Greens made dissenting reports pointing to the need for a robust regulator in an expanding system…..[ MORE ]….

WA VET review recommends clarity needed for TAFE

Training WA24 June 2014   |    The West Australian Government has released the Final Report of the Independent Review of the Vocational Education and Training Sector in Western Australia, headed by Emeritus Professor Margaret Seares. The report makes 40 detailed recommendations, including the need for widespread reform focused on improved governance for State Training Providers (STPs), as well as measures to address unnecessary or duplicated reporting and governance requirements…..[ MORE ]….

Diploma enrolments crash in Victoria

24 June 2014     |    Government subsidised diploma enrolments have crashed in Victoria’s open training market, decline (1)according to the government’s latest quarterly report. The report shows enrolments in government-supported diploma and advanced diploma courses fell by 26,400 or 28% last year. This means two-thirds of the growth in upper level qualifications since the government opened up access to its training funds — from 55,700 enrolments in 2008 to 94,800 in 2012 — has been erased in a single year…….[ MORE ]….

 

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Milestones

Edith Cowan appoints new V-C

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Edith Cowan University has appointed Professor Steve Chapman as its next Vice-Chancellor, succeeding Kerry Cox.
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24 June 2014   |    Professor Chapman is the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University in Scotland, a position he has held since Steve Chapman2009.

During that time he led significant improvements to the student experience, with the University rising from 108th in the 2009 UK National Student Survey to fifth (in 2012). Heriot-Watt was also named by The Sunday Times newspaper as the Best Scottish University for an unprecedented two consecutive years 2011-12 and 2012-13.

Professor Chapman said he is looking forward to taking up the role:

I am immensely impressed by what I see at Edith Cowan University. It is an institution with excellent values, a clear identity and a strong vision for the future.

Professor Chapman completed his undergraduate and PhD studies at the University of Newcastle in northern England. he then undertook postdoctoral studies at MIT on a NATO research fellowship from 1983-85.

Professor Chapman will commence his five year contract with ECU in early 2015.

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Snapshot of TAFE student surveyTAFE_Enquiry-Survey

24 June 2014    |      The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment’s TAFE student survey was established to encourage participation into the committee’s TAFE inquiry by those who have experienced TAFE first-hand, or are considering TAFE as an option. The survey has been online since early May and has received in excess of 3600 responses so far,

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Comment & analysis

Redefining Vocational Learning in the Global Economy

Jennifer WestacottDelivering the Swinburne University 2014 Chancellor’s Lecture, Business Council of Australia (BCA) chief executive, Jennifer Westacott, said reform of the vocational education and training (VET) system needs to be far-reaching, with greater Commonwealth involvement and closer links to industry.

She said that while higher education is not short of people with opinions, “VET on the other hand, needs more powerful friends”.

No matter what successive governments have said, future-proofing VET has not been a national priority and this has to change.

Westacott said TAFEs need to be freer to operate as distinct businesses on a commercial basis, as other government enterprises do.

She  singled out Training Packages for criticism, saying the narrow focus caused industry to perceive skill miss-match, worsened by continued rigidity in the apprenticeship system. She said the worsening of state finances were clearly eroding VET funding, and this needed to be corrected.

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quote marksVET is a crucial piece of the national armour we need to protect Australia’s economic competitiveness and social cohesion.

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24 June 2013

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IRU calculates a lesser doom

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Conor King of the Innovative Research Universities group says that suggested massive fee increases to make up for a 20% cut in overall Commonwealth funding are not necessary. Calculations of such increases are based on “clinging” to the existing “imperfect” clusters and would produce 16 different student charges, compared with just the three different charges student currently face.
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Cha chingKing has produced a table (you really need to see Fees Table 2 to follow this) which shows how universities could offset the lost Government revenue, with options for:

  • a single common charge;
  • increases to the current three bands; and
  • a four band system to match the proposed five clusters, with the same charge for clusters 1 and 5 similar to the current arrangements.

King calculates that, for universities to recover the reduction through increases to student charges requires, an overall increase of 25% to 30% across all students at an average fee per student of around $10,500.

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Arts degrees should be funded

24 June 2014

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In this op-ed piece originally published in The Australian, Ben Etherington (Univeristy of Western Sydney) takes issue with John Roskam’s proposition that “taxpayer-subsidised higher education is one of the more pernicious forms of welfare“. Among other things, Roskam queried the relevance of studying the “emergence of poetry in various Caribbean Creoles”, Etherington’s current project.
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Budget 2

“In an era of busy government and constant change, it’s insufficiently recognised how often masterly inactivity can be the best contribution that government can make to a particular sector. A period of relative policy stability in which changes already made can be digested and adjusted to … is probably what our universities most need now.” That sounds reasonable.

As does this: “If we have to change it, we will consult beforehand rather than impose it unilaterally and argue about it afterwards. We understand the value of stability and certainty, even to universities.”

Here’s another great line: “Reasonable public investment in higher education is not dudding poorer people to help richer people: it’s strengthening our human capital in ways that ultimately benefit everyone.”

Like the reassurances given to Ford factory workers about car manufacturing and a “sophisticated economy”, Tony Abbott’s speech to Universities Australia now looks like pure expediency.

There is an unfortunate symmetry here. Like car manufacturing, public universities were a great success of Menzies-era nation-building.

Public universities flourished at that time because liberals, socialists and conservatives all agreed on their value, albeit in line with different world views. Debates between these outlooks did not concern the right of public universities to exist; they were internal to universities, taking the form of intellectual struggles over the value of different modes of inquiry and relative importance of different disciplines.

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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

A mindful parliament

24 June 2014

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Australia’s nine parliaments might usefully follow the lead of the Mother of Parliaments in seeking mindfulness.
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British-Parliament-Stops-To-Meditate

When you think of the places where you’re likely to encounter mindfulness meditation—like a yoga studio or a temple or a serene health retreat—British Parliament is probably the last place you would think of. With a highly charged atmosphere that sometimes even erupts in shouting matches on the debate floor, it’s hard to imagine any kind of mindful practice taking place in Westminster.

But in late May, the British Parliament launched an all-party group given the task of exploring the uses of mindfulness meditation in healthcare, education, and the criminal justice system. To mark the beginning of the group’s efforts, prominent politicians and public figures like former ministers Lord Haworth and Jim Fitzpatrick came together with advocates of mindfulness meditation, such as comedian Ruby Wax, to experience the benefits of meditation for themselves.

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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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