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The Scan #167 16 April 2015

Student debt growing rapidly as compliance declines 16 April 2015   |    With student debt ballooning, reform of the FEE-HELP system (HECS) is now a pressing budget issue with the nation’s second biggest financial asset, after the Future Fund, being eroded as one in five debtors renege on their loans. That figure is expected to rise to 25% by 2017. The government will have more than $70 billion in unpaid university student loans on its books in another two years, double the figure owed in 2013-14. According to researchers Richard Highfield and Neil Warren, the loans system is being compromised by successive governments’ commitment to increasing participation in tertiary education while not … [Read more...]

Science contributes $145 bn directly to GDP

Chief Scientist    |   25 March  2015 ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… A report released by Ian Chubb, Australia’s Chief Scientist - The importance of advanced physical and mathematical sciences to the Australian economy - has found that advanced physical and mathematical sciences make a direct contribution to the Australian economy of around $145 billion a year, or about 11% of GDP.   When the flow-on impacts of these sciences are included, the report finds the economic benefit expands to about $292 billion a year, or 22% of the nation’s economic activity. ……………………………………………………………………………………………….......…… Chubb says that for the first time we now have the numbers on the table … [Read more...]

Scientists warn on research funding

 5 March 2015 ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… A group of leading scientists, comprising the National Research Alliance (NRA), has written to the Prime Minister warning that Australia's research effort is on the verge of shutting down due to uncertainty over operational funding for the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS). ……………………………………………………………………………………………….......…… Money for the NCRIS to operate for another year is tied to the government's higher education reforms, which have stalled in the Senate. The letter says that, since 2004, NCRIS and its predecessor program has sensibly and successfully guided Australia's national research … [Read more...]

The Scan | Edition # 159

8  August 2014 ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Thought bubble on patents not such a bright idea 8 August 2014    |    A suggestion by industry minister Ian Macfarlane – which he admitted to be a kind of “thought bubble” - that research funding should be linked to how many patents universities register would only encourage the filing of “junk” patents as the system is gamed, according to research consultant and Howard-government science adviser Thomas Barlow. Macfarlane said that using patent activity could better align university research with industry needs. … [Read more...]

The Scan # 149 15 May 2014

___________________________________________________________________________________________ ……………………………………………………………………………………………….......…… Higher education Higher education spending will rise appreciably in 2014-15, from $8.7 billion to $10.9 billion (25%), with the extension of the demand driven system to sub-bachelor places and non-university higher education providers. Modest further growth is forecast out to 2017-18, to $11.8 billion (9%). The key elements of higher education spending in the 2014-15 Budget, according to Universities Australia. ……………………………………………………………………………………………….......…… Extending the demand driven system to sub-bachelor places and non-university … [Read more...]

Funding, it’s not rocket science

14 May 2013 ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… In this op-ed piece published in Fairfax Media in April, Suzanne Cory, president of the Academy of Science, challenged Tony Abbott to be visionary, in the manner of Robert Menzies, and to build his own science legacy for our future, and recognise that an investment in science and research is an investment in the future of Australia. Abbott failed the challenge, at least in this year's budget.  As reported elsewhere, science and research was a net loser, notwithstanding the announcement of the  Medical Research Future Fund. ……………………………………………………………………………………………….......…… If I had to name one of the big political heroes of Prime Minister … [Read more...]

Science and research funding

13 May 2014 ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… The Australian Academy of Science says the 2014-15 Budget is mixed for science, investing in some areas while pulling funding from others. ……………………………………………………………………………………………….......…… The Budget announcement of a new Medical Research Future Fund provides a positive vision, but the rest of Australian science is left substantially weakened. The Budget cuts at least $420 million over the forward estimates to five vital science agencies — the Australian Research Council (ARC) ($74.9 million), the CSIRO ($111.4 million), the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) ($120 million), Australian Nuclear Science and Technology … [Read more...]

Science literacy falling – survey

UNSW News Room    |     17 July 2013 A national survey has found that the science literacy of young Australian adults has fallen in the last three years with less than two-thirds correctly identifying the time it takes for the Earth to travel around the sun, compared with three-quarters in 2010. The popular survey, Science literacy in Australia, conducted by Auspoll on behalf of the Australian Academy of Science, asked respondents questions of basic scientific fact. The proportion of 18-24 year-olds who correctly answered that it takes one year for the Earth to orbit the sun fell to 62%, from 74%. People aged 65 and older were the lowest scoring age group, with only 46% of … [Read more...]

Australian researchers call for non-partisan backing

Universities Australia     |    17 June 2013 Australian research bodies have come together to urge non-partisan support for science and all forms of research, demanding that all parties make a commitment to the fundamental value of research in the physical, biological and social sciences, through to engineering and humanities. The research alliance has a broad base, including researchers across business and industry, universities and medical research institutes. The call comes from peak bodies from across the research spectrum, in science, education, social sciences and humanities and from our eminent scientists and engineers, including Australia's most recent Nobel Laureate, Brian … [Read more...]

The Scan Main Edition Thursday 20 September 2012

Back to the future with workplace agreements? Australian Higher Education Industrial Association president and Curtin University vice-chancellor Jeanette Hacket says she would welcome a return to John Howard-era workplace agreements if it meant more flexibility to respond to student expectations.  She said she also doubted that universities could afford the 7 % annual pay rises being demanded by the National Tertiary Education Union. [Continue … [Read more...]