The Scan’s top ten reads – October 2014

31 October 2014

………………………………………………………………………………………………………Top Ten

In October The Scan published 47 posts, considerably less than usual, and only published 2 editions, rather than the 4-5 in a usual month.  Early in October, we suffered what seemed to be a catastrophic ICT event , which turned out merely to be a bit of a disaster but limited activity (nothing to do with viruses and worms!).  As noted last month  Scan readers seem to be drawn to a whiff of controversy and the runaway controversy in October was the regulatory travails of the ASX-listed training provider Vocation (and which seem to have some way to run yet). University fee deregulation featured highly, with advocates and opponents lobbying hard through the month,  ahead of a Senate committee report on the legislation and anticipated debate in the Senate (yet to happen).  The arithmetic of the Senate seemingly dooms the package, with Labor, Greens and PUP opposed – but who knows.  The Palmer team has shown a certain flexibilty, quite conducive to backflipping.  A surpise top post concerned James Baraz’s mother, which was originally posted in November 2012 and in October enjoyed more views than in the preceding 2 years


Vocation takes $ hit on VET non-compliance issues

Vocation27 October 2014      |     The ASX-listed training provider Vocation has announced a settlement with the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) in relation to its review into two of Vocation’s Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), BAWM and Aspin. Vocation has agreed to surrender $19.6 million in Government funding to BAWM and Aspin but will receive $9 million in withheld Government funding to its two other Victorian RTOs. Vocation will also undertake a series of measures to ensure continuous improvement in line with the VRQA Guidelines for VET and AQTF Continuing Standards for Registration. Vocation’s previously announced Quality Advisory Committee, headed by former ACPET chief Claire Field, will have full oversight of future continuous improvement activities within its Victorian businesses….[ MORE ]…..

NMIT rebranded as Melbourne PolytechnicMelb Poly logo

3 October 2014    |      The financially troubled Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE, which lost almost $32 million in 2013, has received a $19 million grant from the state government and rebranded itself Melbourne Polytechnic. It is the last of the big Victorian TAFEs to ditch the TAFE brand, with most of the TAFEs now styled as “institutes” and the four Victorian dual sector universities having exited the the state TAFE system in January. Interim CEO Ron Gauci says the name change is a strategy to reach out to Europe and Asia, rather than a rejection of the TAFE title. While the federal government’s planned deregulation of higher education would largely level the playing field in degree-level education, the institute’s name change would be beneficial…..[ MORE ]…..

New VET regulatory standards signed off

VET Reform23 October 2014    |     Ministers at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Industry and Skills Council on 26 September 2014 agreed to new regulatory Standards for training providers and regulators.  Industry minister Ian Macfarlane signed off on the new standards on 20 October.  The government says the new Standards represent another important step towards an effective risk-based regulatory system and introduce important changes that strengthen industry engagement, improve the quality of training and reduce the regulatory burden on training providers……[ MORE ]…..

V-C salaries 2013

30 September 2014     |    Analysis of vice-chancellor remuneration packages released by the NTEU shows that there were five universities where the total remuneration package was in excess of $1m. The analysis was compiled using data from universities’ 2013 annual reports.   The largest package was almost $1.1m for the Australian Catholic University (ACU) vice-chancellor, and the smallest was $445,000 for Edith Cowan University. The average cost across all public universities was $770,000…..[ MORE ]……

vc pay


Sector submissions to Senate inquiry

Submissions125 September 2014    |     The government’s higher education reform package – the Higher Education and Research Reform Amendment Bill 2014 – was referred on 3 September to the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee for consideration and report by 28 October. Submissions to the inquiry closed on 22 September. The committee has published 79 submissions on its website. Following are extracts from 27 submissions lodged by higher education organisations (peak bodies) and individual institutions. There is almost unanimous support for passage of the package, particularly fee deregulation, on the basis that the long run decline in public funding is damaging the sector. Several submissions express opposition or concern about the extension of public subsidies to private providers (ACU stridently so). There is a united view that the package needs to be amended, particularly to at least ameliorate the burden of debt on future generations of students, that would follow from the combination of substantial fee increases and the imposition of a real interest rate on student loans (although no unanimity on how that might be achieved). Deakin University says the proposed changes to the HECS repayment scheme are unfair and rejects any compromise on this issue. The Regional Universities Network and the Group of Eight have formed a unity ticket on additional support for regional universities and their students. Stephen Parker (vice-chancellor, University of Canberra) and the National Tertiary Education Union make strange bedfellows in urging rejection of the package in its entirety. The submissions can be viewed in full at the Senate website.   For background on the debate around fee deregulation, check The Scan archive – it’s extensive…..[ MORE ]……

Field to lead on Vocation complianceClaire Field

17 October 2014   |    Coming on the back of regulatory issues in Victoria, the ASX-listed education provider Vocation has appointed former ACPET chief Claire Field to head an independent committee to provide oversight over the company’s compliance with regulatory standards.  The new oversight committee will “provide guidance and advice on quality and compliance to Vocation’s registered training organisations and higher education providers.   Field said the body would be “a model for governance”, and will be joined on the committee by Neil Edwards and Ann Doolette, both with substantial experience in the sector……[ MORE ]……

Victorian training system failing – needs urgent rethink 

Budget 201329 September 2014    |     Enrolments in the service industry training in Victoria have fallen significantly over the last 18 months, according to new research conducted by Victoria and Federation Universities on behalf of Service Skills Victoria. The drop in enrolments is due to changes made to the funding of training in the service industries by the Victorian State Government.   New subsidy rates were introduced in the 2012 State Budget for all new enrolments from January 2012 and for all existing students from January 2013. Further adjustments to the rates were made later in 2013 and in 2014.   A significant proportion – about 70% –   are in the two lowest funding bands at just $4.50 per hour or less of service industry qualifications, including hospitality and retail training…….[ MORE ]……

Murdoch v-c quitsRichard Higgott

27 October 2014    |     Murdoch University vice-chancellor Richard Higgott, under investigation by WA’s anti-corruption watchdog, has resigned from the position.  Higgott was last month suspended on full pay after he was reported to the Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) by the university.  It did not detail the nature of  Higgott’s alleged misdemeanours.  The CCC said at the time it had been monitoring a university investigation into the academic’s conduct and had received a provisional report from Murdoch detailing new allegations.  Murdoch Chancellor David Flanagan said the Senate had accepted Higgott’s resignation.  The Australian reports that in June an anonymous group of staff, calling itself the “Murdoch Meta Management Group”, sent a scathing letter to Flanagan which included allegations about Higgott’s credit card use, the way he dealt with his colleagues and the financial and academic performance of the university.  The group said its members believed the university was in “crisis”, describing Higgott and provost Ann Capling as “arrogant, poor listeners who had systematically destroyed the collegiate culture of the university”…….[ MORE ]……

How Jame Baraz ruined his mother’s life

17 November 2012

James Baraz’s 91 and 1/2 years old Jewish mother spills the beans and demonstrates how to tell a story. You need to stick with it but the punchline is worth it.

Swinburne reconsidering VET provision

swinburne-logo22 September 2014    |      Dual sector Swinburne University is flagging a major restructure of its vocational training after falling short of revenue targets on the back of state government funding cuts and increasing competition from private providers.  In a consultation paper issued to staff, Swinburne said revenue from vocational education and training had slumped from $123.5 million in 2012 to a now projected $70m this year. But it said its current organisational structure was predicated on the university generating at least $90m a year from VET, and alternative options now need to be considered……..[ MORE ]……



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