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The Scan’s top ten reads – November 2014

2 December 2014

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In November, The Scan published 33 posts and 2 editions, rather than the 4-5 in a usual month. There has been a sameness to coverage over the past few months, led by the regulatory problems of the ASX-listed private training provider Vocation and now Acquire.  Acquire was due to list in December but presumably this is off the table for the time being, given it is being audited by ASQA and the state of the market.  The governance issues at Murdoch University continues to attract attention, with the probe into probity matters widening and the general  nature of the allegations concerning senior staff revealed.

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Acquire in ASQA spotlight

Acquire Learning6 November 2014      |    The marketing practices of Acquire Learning, chaired by former AFL chief Andrew Demetriou, are being investigated by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) following complaints about cold calling and inappropriately ­enrolling jobseekers who had ­applied for positions advertised on the Seek employment website.   Acquire itself is not a registered training organisation, but works as a broker allocating students to individual providers. Its website lists a number of registered training organisations that it has partnered with, including Avana, a subsidiary of Vocation…..[ MORE ]…..

Probe at Murdoch widens

11 November  2014    |      Murdoch University has confirmed that provost Ann Capling is the subject of an investigation following unspecified Ann Caplingallegations against her that emerged from the investigation that led to the recent resignation of former vice-chancellor Richard Higgott.  In a statement Murdoch also confirmed that neither of the partners of  Higgott and Capling were subject to any allegations.  Higgott’s partner Diane Stone is a professor of governance at both Murdoch and Warwick University in the UK, while  Capling’s partner Michael Crozier is an associate professor and vice-chancellor’s fellow at Murdoch.  Murdoch also confirmed that none of the university’s deans had been presented with allegations, although a limited number of other senior staff are apparently being investigated…..[ MORE ]…..

Leadership crisis at Murdoch

Murdoch logo7 November 2014    |    In scenes redolent of the political sphere, Murdoch University seems riven by leadership tension, following the forced resignation of Richard Higgott as vice-chancellor.Higgott had been suspended in September upon certain matters being reported to the WA Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) by the university.It’s been reported that in June an anonymous group of 35 staff, calling itself the “Murdoch Meta Management Group”, sent a scathing letter to chancellor 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”. Nevertheless, the precise allegations being investigated by the commission remain a mystery.  Senior members of faculty have now come to Higgott’s (and, Capling’s) defence, with Benjamin Reilly, a professor at the university, labelling the disgruntled group as “nameless cowards” resistant to reform…..[ MORE ]…..

Row erupts at Vocation

30 September 2014     |    The board of embattled education and training provider Vocation has expressed full confidence in managing director and Brett WhitfordCEO Mark Hutchinson after the company’s largest shareholder and one of its founders dramatically demanded he be sacked in the wake of a 60% crash in its share price, following compliance failures leading to it paying back $19.6 million in Victorian government funding.  In an interview with ­Channel Nine’s Financial Review ­Sunday, Vocation founder and former executive Brett Whitford called for Hutchinson’s removal as part of an aggressive management shake-up and threatened to call an extraordinary ­general meeting (EGM) if the board did not act swiftly.  Whitford built up the Customer Service Institute of Australia, one of the three training and education ­businesses which were folded in together to form Vocation, which listed on the stock exchange in late 2013. He said he raised alarm bells with the Vocation board about practices at one of the other two businesses, the BAWM business in Victoria, in the months leading up to his forced ­departure. But he said the board did not act on his concerns. “I’m disappointed the board didn’t listen to the issues I raised, but I’m a realist,” he said. “I raised a number of issues. One of them was the competency of BAWM management.”….[ MORE ]……

Snapshot of VET

ncver-logo

25 September 2014    |    NCVER has released four infographics that provide an overview of publicly-funded training based on NCVER’s main data collections:

  • Students and courses – including key findings from Young people in education and training
  • Apprentices & trainees
  • VET finance
  • VET outcomes – drawing key findings from Student outcomes and Employers’ use and views of the VET system.

….[ MORE ]……

Vocation takes a big $ hit over settlement on Victorian VET compliance issues

27 October 2014   |    The ASX-listed training provider Vocation has announced a settlement  with the Victorian Department of Education and Early VocationChildhood Development (DEECD) in relation to its review into two of Vocation’s Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), BAWM and Aspin.  Vocation will surrender  $19.6 million in government funding, and restructure its Victorian  operations under the direction of a new CEO- that is, the former CEO has walked.  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 ]……

New Senate inquiry into VET 

Piggy bank24 November 2014    |    A wideranging inquiry into the regulation and funding of private vocational education and training providers is set to kick off in the Senate  amid concerns about private VET providers misusing public funding and warnings that proposed  higher education changes could see shoddy practices emerge in the higher education sector.   The inquiry’s terms of reference, negotiated between Labor and the Greens, and apparently supported by sufficient of the cross bench to get the proposal up,  call for examining: private sector access to public funds; regulatory regimes governing the sector; the VET FEE-HELP scheme; the overall quality of education provided; associated learning requirements; and graduate outcomes for those completing training with private providers…..[ 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 ]……

Murdoch allegations revealed

Murdoch-logo-squared-200x17313 November 2012      |    The chancellor of Murdoch University has revealed the nature of allegations senior academic staff under investigation by the Western Australia’s Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC).  Vice-chancellor Richard Higgott resigned last month after he was reported to the CCC by the university. Last week, Murdoch announced its second most senior executive, Professor Ann Capling, was also under investigation for alleged misconduct. Chancellor David Flanagan told  ABC Perth that there are five senior staff under investigation.  Flanagan said the university had sought consent from the CCC on the grounds of public interest to reveal some of the details of the investigation….[ MORE ]…..

 

Labor pledges $1.2 billion to make Victoria the “education state”

26 October 2014    |    Victorian Labor has kicked off its campaign for the state election on29 November with the promise of a $1.2 billion dollar Dan Andrewspackage to upgrade schools and the TAFE  Government school upgrades and refurbishments would cost $510 million, $120 million would be provided for Catholic and independent schools and  $50 million would be spent on upgrading kindergartens across the state. Labor would also provide millions of dollars to help struggling families with uniforms and shoes.   Labor also proposes a network of technical schools around the state , with 10 centres to be set up with a $125 million fund.  The “first act” of an incoming  Labor government would be to set up a $320 million “TAFE rescue fund” to reopen closed campuses, bailout struggling centres at risk of financial failure. There will also be a review of VET…..[ MORE ]……

 

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