9 June 2014 | The university sector featured strongly in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2014, particularly in the higher 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…..[ READ MORE ]….
13 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 ]…..
6 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. 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 arrangement....[ READ MORE ]….
24 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 ]….
22 May 2014 | The “tools for your trade payments” for apprentices will cease from 1 July 2014. It will be replaced immediately with a Trade Support Loans Program providing $439m over five years to provide apprentices with financial assistance up to $20K over a four year apprenticeship through a student loan repayment scheme. The Government will also establish an Industry Skills Fund to provide $470m over four years to support the training needs of small to medium enterprises that cannot be met by the national training system. Expenditure is budgeted to decline about 13% in 2014-15 over 2013-14 (from $1.67 billion to $1.45 billion) and 8% over the four years to 2017-18 (to $1.55 billion)…..[ READ MORE ]….
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….[ READ MORE ]….
24 June 2014 | Delivering 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”. TAFEs need to be freer to operate as distinct businesses on a commercial basis, as other government enterprises do. Westacott 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 noted the worsening of state finances were clearly eroding VET funding, and this needed to be corrected…..[ READ MORE ]….
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 ]….
27 May 2014 | Swinburne 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.”….[ READ MORE ]….
24 June 2014 | Government subsidised diploma enrolments have crashed in Victoria’s open training market, 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….[ READ MORE ]….