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The Scan # 168 7 May 2015

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Pyne’s research budget fix

8 May 2015     |     Science research infrastructure that was threatened by the government’s Budget cutscontroversial higher education reforms will receive a $300 million lifeline in next week’s budget – but at the expense of other research funding. Cutting the $1.8 billion a year research block grants is an easier option that doesn’t needing parliamentary approval or targets specific projects, but it will still hurt research it’s reported that funding for the National Collaborative and Research Infrastructure Strategy will be given a two-year reprieve, with funding until 2017, totalling $300 million. Grattan Institute higher education expert Andrew Norton said the cut can be expected to reduce research. In contrast, he said a better option would be to cut the Commonwealth Grants Scheme that funds teaching and make up for it with a minor increase in student fees that won’t have any impact on participation. However such a move would need parliamentary approval….[ MORE  ]….

Dodgy training provider fined $160,000

Keat partners exhibition-6007 May 2015    |    A dodgy Melbourne employment agency and unregistered training provider that advertised jobs that did not exist in order to lure potential employees into paying for training or internships with the company has been fined $166,000 in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court. Consumer Affairs Victoria took action against the now collapsed entity Keat Enterprises in the court last week, after it investigated several complaints last year over Keat Enterprises’ “bait and switch” tactics. Keat Enterprises, which went into voluntary administration in June 2014 after the accusations reached the media, was found to have posted fake ads for graduate accountants and interns on Seek.com.au in order to lure applicants into its unaccredited in-house training. At the end of the fake job interviews, applicants were instead marketed training courses for work in the accounting industry, at a cost of between $2000 and $3000….[ MORE ]….

…while ACCC targets unethical providers

Rod Sims7 May 2015    |    The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says it expects to lay charges against unethical private training colleges after one of its biggest investigations. ACCC chairman Rod Sims told the ABC the watchdog’s ongoing investigation into 10 unnamed private training providers around the country was at an advanced stage. The ACCC will end up taking some people to court to really send a signal about what’s acceptable and what’s not, he said. Sims said the ACCC is investigating misleading and unconscionable conduct including vulnerable people being signed up without their knowledge, offered cash and free tablets as inducements, the deliberate targeting of low income people, and companies spruiking outside Centrelink and community centres….[ MORE ]….

Cover up alleged as Box Hill cleared over exam rorting

7 May 2015    |    Whistleblowers have accused the Victorian Education Department of a cover up Box Hill Institute Logoafter its investigation into claims Box Hill Institute passed failing students found no wrongdoing. Four former teachers and two students wrote to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission in March and claimed that in mid-2013 a number of Box Hill student’s exams were altered, increasing their marks to the pass rate of 50. They also contacted, who said the Education Department would investigate the claims. The whistleblowers also alleged that the TAFE failed to investigate concerns raised by three experienced teachers about suspected cheating by students. None of the complainants – who alleged exam papers had been altered to ensure struggling TAFE students passed – were contacted as part of the investigation. Box Hill Institute chief executive Norman Gray said the allegations “were always going to be unsubstantiated”. A spokeswoman for training and skills minister Steve Herbert said the whistleblowers were not contacted because there was “sufficient information available from detailed written information provided by the complainants”….[ MORE ]……

HECS debt to be recovered from Aussies abroad

Baggage7 May 2015     |    Australians who have moved overseas for more than six months will be required to pay back the same amount of their HECS debt as they would if they were residing in Australia from July 2017. In a pre-budget announcement, minister for education and training Christopher Pyne says the Australian Government will legislate to require all Australian graduates living offshore to start making HECS payments based on their income in the 2016-17 tax year if they earn above the threshold of $AUD 53,000. The government’s move will correct a long overdue anomaly in the repayment obligations of Australian graduates says Universities Australia….[ MORE ]….

Victorian BudgetEducation Budget2

5 May 2015 | Victoria’s major projects agenda has been scaled back in favour of upfront cash for schools, TAFEs, hospitals and services in a first budget aiming to deliver election promises and consolidating Labor’s election win. Spending increases over the next four years will be cranked up to 3% annually from 2.5% previously to the meet the demands of booming population growth and cost-of-living pressures. The budget includes $3.9 billion for students, schools, TAFES and early childhood development, with $325 million to refurbish and rebuild 67 schools and $111 million to build 10 new schools. Some $350 million, which has been previously announced, is being invested to support Victoria’s struggling TAFE system….[ MORE ]…..

Victoria’s “lunch club” scandal

Rosewarne3 May 2015     |      Readers outside Victoria will not know much about about this scandal unfolding before the Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption (IBAC). But for anyone who is, or has been, involved in the Victorian education sector the revelations are gob-smacking. It’s a story of greed, graft and betrayal by certain senior officials who have, for more than a decade, been looting the schools education budget, to the tune of millions of dollars. As the hearings are only in their early stages, who knows where it will end up: there are over 40 more witnesses to be examined. At the very heart of this corruption scandal was a small group of senior men who regularly met for lunch…..[ MORE ]…..

Rising stars

THE World Rankings1 May 2015    |    Sixteen Australian universities are listed in the Times Higher Education 100 Under 50 Rankings 2015, the largest national contingent, with University of Technology Sydney being the highest ranked. Swinburne University of Technology entered the ranking for the first time, which Swinburne’s vice-chancellor Linda Kristjanson reflects its “dedication to producing outstanding research that is relevant, world changing and internationally recognised.” Kristjanson also made the point that “this should provide policy makers with confidence that Australia’s system of higher education is of world class. It should also cause us to continue to critically evaluate proposed changes, which would radically alter the policy and funding settings on which this success has been built.”….[ MORE ]…..

Australian unis rate highly

30 April 2015      |     qs2 Australia’s higher education system has come third on a ranking based on performance across 36 disciplines, behind only the US and Britain and equal to Germany. Australian universities also came in third place based on institutions in top 50 positions in the 2015 QS World University Rankings by Subject.   Australian National University topped the list of 29 local universities qualifying for the ranking, with four disciplines being scored among the top 10 in the world.   Overall, Group of Eight universities dominated Australia’s presence in the rankings. Melbourne claimed top 10 spots in education (fifth) and law (eighth); Sydney’s top place was ninth in education….[ MORE ]….

ACPET clears Evocca – with conditions

Evocca29 April 2015 | Following allegations about Evocca College on the ABC 7.30 program in early March, the Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET), the peak body for the private training sector, formally asked Evocca College to provide evidence against the allegations that have been made and issued a show cause letter as to why Evocca’s membership of ACPET should not be terminated. The threat of termination has now been withdrawn in the light of Evocca’s “detailed responses to ACPET’s concerns” which ACPET says showed that there is no evidence that Evocca acted contrary to legislation or policy. However, Evocca has been required to provide undertakings to improve its practices and quality oversight processes….[ MORE ]…..

Hundreds of Vocation qualifications recalled

Vocation22 April 2015 | Private training provider Vocation has been forced to recall more than 1,000 of its qualifications, including hundreds in child care and aged care, after Victorian regulators found the courses were sub-standard. Almost 200 students who completed a Certificate III in Child Care, 250 students who completed a Certificate III in Aged Care, and 383 students with a double qualification of business studies will have to hand back their qualifications and inform their employers. A total of 832 students, who all studied with Vocation in Melbourne between January until June last year, are affected. This latest audit by the Victorian Registration and Qualification Authority (VRQA) follows an investigation last year which found about 6,000 students had studied sub-standard courses….[ MORE ]….

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The Victorian VET Funding Review

8 May 2015

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The Victorian Review of VET Funding, headed by former Holmesglen chief Bruce Mackenzie, is due to make an initial report to the government in early June (with its final report at the end of August). Over 750 submissions were made to the review by VET providers, industry and employers, students, teachers, parents and other interested parties, including by TAFE Directors Australia (TDA), representing the public providers, the Australian Council of Private Education and Training (ACPET), representing private RTOs. Funding issues aside, on which there are significant issues, funding issues aside, TDA and ACPET aren’t worlds apart in what they propose.
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TDA submission

TDA Logo snipped

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quote marksVictoria’s TAFE Institutes constitute the backbone of a strong, viable and sustainable VET system. Current VET funding is adequate but its distribution must be fundamentally revised.

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ACPET submission

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ACPET supports a diverse and competitive sector to drive quality and innovation….The private VET sector plays a significant role in contributing to the Victorian economy; through the development of the workforce and as well as supporting VET as a major export industry.

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A field guide to the budget

8 May  2015

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Richard HoldenWhen the 2015-2016 federal budget is released on May 12 there will be much analysis of specific measures and all sorts of claims and counterclaims about deficits and debt will be made. The following “field guide” to the federal budget by Richard Holden, UNSW Australia Business School attempts to provide a taxonomy of the issues and help make some sense out of the sea of numbers to come.

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Struggling to separate your Future Funds from your forward estimates? AAP/Joel Carrett

Struggling to separate your Future Funds from your forward estimates? AAP/Joel Carrett

Legislation

The most obvious thing about the budget is that most components of it — especially the big-ticket items – require legislation. And as we saw last year, it’s far from obvious that in this polarised political climate that even issues that have support from the Labor Party will be passed. That’s a shame, and it leaves in the wind the Greens, who can’t even get behind indexing petrol excise to inflation — a policy which is perhaps the most economically sensible that this government has proposed. It’s good economics and good for the environment. But the Greens are against it. So basically the budget is what lawyers call “an invitation to treat”. It’s the starting point of a negotiation.

Forward Estimates

The budget papers will contain estimates of the budget surplus or deficit over four years. This is the so-called forward estimate period. This requires making assumptions about a bunch of macroeconomic variables that are far from certain. What will GDP growth be? What will the exchange rate be? What will inflation be?

You might ask why that last item, inflation, matters. That’s because it affects “bracket creep” where higher nominal incomes lead to higher taxes, despite no inflation-adjusted (or “real”) benefit. I have said elsewhere that this is a fiscal pillow for lazy treasurers because it delivers an inbuilt tax increase every year. So if there looks like there’s some good news in years three and four that’s probably because the government is: (a) assuming growth will be higher than it’s likely to be; and (b) because they are raising your taxes.

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Life & stuff

7 May 2015

On writer’s block

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This paper has been cited 38 times and has its own Wikipedia entry.

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Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

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25 April 2015

One Hundred Stories

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Monash University’s commemoration of the Great War.

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Wall of Commemoration
The One Hundred Stories are a silent presentation. They remember not just the men and women who lost their lives, but also those who returned to Australia, the gassed, the crippled, the insane, all those irreparably damaged by war. The Great War shaped the world as well as the nation. Its memory belongs to us all.

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Curriculum and course development

Business/ Hospitality ————————- Child care

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Curriculum1A dynamic and reputable education and training provider is looking to expand its offerings into higher education, initially at AQF Level 5 (Diploma) and AQF level 6 (Associate Degree) in the fields of Business/Hospitality and Childcare.
The provider is seeking to develop curriculum and course materials for these courses and requires the services of an experienced curriculum writer to assist it in this project.

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