Posted in The Scan
  • The Scan 28 June 2016 #181

    Posted at 4:23 pm
    Jun 28th

    News Box3

    Apprentice numbers slump

    Apprentices28 June 2016    |     The number of apprentices across Australia has plunged since the Coalition took office, government figures show, with some of the steepest falls occurring in high-unemployment marginal seats still up for grabs at Saturday’s election.  Western Sydney has lost 10,642 apprentices and western Melbourne 4782, while the national total fell 28 per cent from 383,562 to 278,583, between December 2013 and December last year, documents obtained under Freedom of Information and NCVER data reveal.  Labor claims the falling take up of apprenticeships is a direct result of the $1 billion stripped from trades support programs since the change of government, including the abolition of the ‘Tools for Your Trade’ (TFYT) program – which paid $5500 to apprentices over two years – and other training and mentoring programs.  The Coalition replaced the program with a loans scheme which has been taken up by just 40,000 apprentices in the past two years.  Labor proposes to reintroduce TFYT as a grants scheme of $3,000….[ READ MORE ]….

     

    Labor proposes polytechnic network

    Polytechnic def

    28 June 2016      |     A Labor government would establish 10 Commonwealth Institutes of Higher Education, on a trial basis. They would involve universities and TAFE Institutes working together to deliver associate degrees and advanced diplomas.   At a total cost of A$430 million, 10,000 Commonwealth Supported Places would be available.  These “HECS” places would be funded at 70% of the normal rate.  This essentially creates a new layer of tertiary education, not unlike colleges of further education in the UK, delivering “foundation degrees” or community colleges in North America.  Students could study a two year sub-bachelor, higher education course at one of these institutions, then if they wish to complete a full degree they would receive credit for study to date. At that stage they would go on to a normal HECS place at a university, which would be 100% funded during the final year. The idea, it seems, is to have a network of such tertiary education institutions, bringing together the best of applied higher education and vocational skills training into institutions that are not funded to do research….[ READ MORE ]…..

    Vic TAFE boards finalised

    Board

    28 June 2016    |     Board appointments for Victoria’s TAFEs have been finalised, with 65 people recommended for ministerial appointments which take effect on 1 July.  An independent panel was set up to provide advice to the government on the best people to serve across the 12 TAFE institutes.  An expression of Interest process saw 513 people apply to become board members with 239 candidates interviewed.  Women make up 54%  of the directors.  Along with the ministerial appointments, the boards will consist of the institute CEO and a staff-elected member.   An interim chair has been appointed to each board, until the board elects a permanent chair….[ READ MORE ]….

    Go8 propose uni enrolment caps

    caps28 June 2016    |  The elite Group of Eight universities have proposed that the Commonwealth government reintroduce limits on how many students each university can enrol, a suggestion slammed by other vice-chancellors.  Group of Eight chair Michael Spence said the uncapping of university places in from 2009-21012 had blown out the budget by billions of dollars while leaving important university research underfunded.  He went on that, with the target of 40% of young people with an undergraduate degree in sight, “it’s time to declare victory on university participation and focus on the core problems for university funding.”  The proposal was rejected by current education minister Simon Birmingham who said he had no desire to dictate how many students each university should enrol.   Australian Catholic University vice-chancellor was typically acerbic, describing the Group of “as a group of profiteers who would do anything for their own self interest.  The politics of this are cancerous.”.…[ READ MORE ]….

    The equity of schools funding

    28 June 2016    |    Private schools are outspending Victorian public schools by four to one, splurging on rowing tanks, pilates studios and sky decks.  Some top private schools have spent up to $70 million on capital projects over the past few years as part of a facilities “arms race” to lure students.T he state’s biggest spender, Carey Baptist Grammar School, shelled out about $11.4 million in 2014 on a new learning and innovation centre at its Kew campus. It follows a recent analysis showing the average government funding of some of Victoria’s most elite private schools increased eight times times the rate of the neediest public schools….[ READ MORE ]…..

    Education spending beats corporate  tax cuts

    28 June 2016     |      Spending on education will produce a bigger economic growth dividend in the long term than cutting corporate tax, according to a new survey of economists.  As Labor and the Coalition go head-to-head on their centrepiece economic policies, a survey of 31 economists by the Economic Society of Australia and Monash Business School has found almost two-thirds agreed with the statement that:

    Australia will receive a bigger economic growth dividend in the long-run by spending on education than offering an equivalent amount of money on a tax cut to business.

    However, many economists added the caveat that the quality of education spending was critical.  Of the economists surveyed, 29 per cent strongly agreed with the statement, 35.5 per cent agreed, 12.9 per cent were uncertain, 16.1 per cent disagreed and 6.5 per cent strongly disagreed….[ READ MORE ]…..

    Coaltion: no frills

    Liberal

    This is as announced in the Budget on 3 May – the Coalition has made no further policy statements 

    28 June 2016   |   The government has pushed consideration of proposed university reforms, including a 20% cut in funding, out beyond the election, until 1 January 2018.  While it has ruled out full fee deregulation, it has released an options paper, to guide a consultation process, canvassing a range of alternative fee measures which would still see substantial fee rises…..[ MORE ]….

    Rescuing VET FEE-HELP

    This is as announced in the Budget on 3 May – the Coalition has made no further policy statements

    28 June 2016   |  The federal government has proposed a set of tougher measures to fix the VET FEE-HELP blow-out in a discussion paper released onVET FEE-HELP pic 29 April.   The current minister for vocational education and skills senator Scott Ryan said the paper will pave the way for a full redesign of the scheme. The discussion paper catalogues the scale of malpractice by some providers, such as the targeting of low socio-economic status and vulnerable people with inducements to enroll and misleading potential students about their repayment commitments.  It proposes a series of measures to improve the integrity of the system including minimum eligibility requirements for VET FEE-HELP, reductions in the lifetime student loan limit, a narrower range of eligible courses, a VET FEE-HELP ombudsman, and payments tied to compliance and student progression.   ….[ READ MORE ]….

     

    Red Box

    Election 2016

    Click image to go to the Election Page

    The Policies

    Labor

    Of its “100 positive policies”,  about 20% (19 to be precise) are in tertiary education.  In higher education, Labor has committed to maintaining the demand driven system, backed up by a Student Funding Guarantee to provide “certainty to universities and remove the need for higher fees”.  Labor also proposes to create 10 “polytecnics”, a hybrid institution, which would  involve universities and TAFE Institutes working together to deliver associate degrees and advanced diplomas.  Labor proposes a comprehensive review of the VET system and to take measures to preserve the viability of the public provider network (TAFE).  It proposes an $8,000 cap on VET FEE-HELP loans, with room for exemptions where a higher loan can be justified.  It will restore the “Tools for Your Trade Program” with up to $3,ooo paid to eligible apprentices to purchase their tools…..[ READ MORE ]….

     

     

     

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    Coalition

    Having made higher  education “reform” a red button issue in its first term – remember  how Christopher Pyne was going to “fix it” after it was voted down in the Senate for the second time?? –  the Coalition has been totally  quiet  on it during this election period.   It released a discussion paper with the Budget on options for reform, including partial fee deregulation via a limited number of “flagship” courses.  Meanwhile, cuts to university funding of 20%, while not enacted, remain on the books.   In VET, the Coalition has released a discussion paper canvassing measures that might be implemented to close down the wholesale rorting of the VET FEE-HELP scheme.  Interestingly, this includes a possible capon loans, as proposed by Labor but criticised by the Coalition….[ READ MORE ]….

     

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    Greens

    The Greens propose to boost funding  to the university sector by $8.3 billion over four years, comprising

    • $7 billion to reverse the Coalition’s funding cuts and fund a 10% increase in base funding per student at public universities; and
    • $1.306 billion into research to reverse Government cuts to  university research.

    They propose to reduce  students’ HELP costs by 20% and to reinstate the Student Start-Up Scholarships as a grant rather than a loan.  the annual cost of $1.403 billion  will be more than offset by continuing the ‘deficit levy’ on a permanent basis for those earning over $180,000 per year.  In VET, the Greens have a simple three point plan:

    • Cease providing federal government funds to forprofit VET providers.
    • Implement a TAFE federal rescue package which boosts funding by $400 million a year.
    • Establish a VET Ombudsman with $10 million in seed funding

    …[ READ MORE ]….

     

    Election watch

    Election Watch is a guide to the 2016 Australian federal election run out of the University of Melbourne’s School of Government.

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    Commentary box

    Student loan caps must be part of total redesign of vocational funding system

    28 June 2016

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    Labor proposes to  introduce a cap of $8,000 on student loans for vocational education and training (VET) courses.  A course loan cap is a sensible option, but it must form part of a total redesign of the VET FEE-HELP student loan scheme in the first instance, and of the whole VET funding system in the longer term, writes Peter Noonan in The Conversation.

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    skills (1)

    Currently, there are no loan caps for courses where providers set their own fees and don’t receive a course subsidy through the states.

    The Labor proposal is to set a maximum loan cap of $8,000 per course funded under VET FEE-HELP (except for some high-cost courses approved by the education minister). The cap doesn’t extend to higher education diploma and advanced diploma courses.

    For those courses that are subsidised by the states where fees are regulated, the Commonwealth and the states already have in place fee benchmarks of $5,000 in 2011. This regulated fee is effectively a loan cap.

    Unsurprisingly, most of the expansion in VET FEE-HELP and all of the problems with unscrupulous provider behaviour have been in the unregulated fee area, where some providers have charged fees of over 400% more than the price paid by the states for the same course.

    The government itself has raised the option of capping loan fees in its recently released VET FEE-HELP discussion paper.

    It’s an option the government should have considered last year in its initial reforms to VET FEE-HELP.

    The government capped overall provider loan limits at the provider’s 2015 loan levels, but while restraining overall VET FEE-HELP payments, this measure did nothing to reduce excessive fee and loan levels for many courses.

    However, if loan limits are to be introduced for VET FEE-HELP, the rationale for setting the loan limits must be carefully thought through.
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    Higher education gets short shrift in the election campaign

    A small target strategy

    28 June 2016

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    Stephen Parker, the soon to retire vice-chancellor of the University of Canberra, was an implacable opponent of the  Coalition’s university deregulation package.  But from being a red hot issue during most of the last term of Parliament, higher education has hardly figured in the election campaign.  The Coalition has slipped the electorate a mogadon and seemingly got away with it.  The mogadon will wear of after the election, should the Coalition returned.

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    AUSTRALIA - UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY SYDNEY PROTEST

    Higher education policy during the Abbott government was highly controversial and probably a component of Tony Abbott’s undoing.

    Not since the Dawkins reforms of 1989-90, if at all, had higher education been so prominent in public debate.

    In his 2014 Budget, then Treasurer Joe Hockey proposed to reduce the Commonwealth Grants Scheme (CGS) to universities by 20%. But he would allow tuition fee deregulation, so that domestic undergraduate students could be charged up to the fee levels of international students, subject to a requirement to create a scholarship pool for students from low socio-economic (SES) backgrounds. Commonwealth-supported places (“HECS” places) were to be extended to sub-degree courses and to private providers.

    A real rate of interest would be applied to graduate debtors, existing and future, but this was dropped in an attempt to get the measures through the Senate.

    Most commentators agreed that fee levels under deregulation would have risen substantially, perhaps by up to 300%: far more than was required to replace the 20% cut to the CGS.

    Relative absence of competition would give most universities the headroom to do this, and the international evidence was that universities do use up all the headroom they are given.

    Students would be prepared to pay, it was said, because the income-contingent loan scheme blunted the price signal.

    By the time students knew what they had done and whether their degree had been a good investment, it would be too late and they would be saddled with significant debt until middle age.

    The opposition Labor party built a campaign around “$100,000 degrees”, and critics raised the spectre of the Americanisation of Australian higher education.

    The measures were defeated twice in the Senate, higher education was nightly news, and the eyes of the university world were on Australia.

    Pushed aside

    Given this background one might have expected higher education policy to be front and centre of the 2016 campaign.

    But while there has been some distant yapping, this dog has not really barked at all. Why?

    One reason may be that Liberal higher education policy is now obscure; perhaps deliberately so – a small target strategy.

    Their policy document on education contains almost nothing on universities. It is claimed that “under the Turnbull government, funding for universities is at record levels” at over A$16 billion, but this is the result of an expanded sector introduced in the Rudd-Gillard era.

    Similarly, it is said that support for students through the loan scheme is at a “record level”, but this is also the consequence of previous Labor government policies.

    The National Innovation and Science Agenda to drive stronger university collaboration with industry is actually a new policy, but at $127 million it barely registers.

    So, if we are to divine what the real Liberal higher education policy is we must dig into the 2016 Budget and interpret comments made by the education minister and prime minister during the campaign.

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    Can we really afford to not invest more in education?

    28 June 2016

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    The Australian newspaper has been running a none too sophisticated campaign against the boost in education spending of $37 billion over the next decade promised by Labor. It’s a mish mash of half-truths and contortions of logic, as is often the case when The Australian goes politically feral.

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    OECD

    Labor has drawn on an OECD report, Universal Basic Skills, to supports its argument that increased spending on education not only contributes to equity and social inclusion but is an investment in future improvements in productivity (and, indeed, Malcolm Turnbull’s Ideas Boom).  It’s a proposition with which most economists agree.

    It’s actually a complicated report, which can be hard to follow, so I don’t fully follow the reasoning entirely myself but I bet I’m doing better than The Australian. But the basic proposition is quite clear:

    Setting aside any social and cultural benefits, the attainment of universal basic skills in a country by 2030 would have a substantial positive effect on medium and long run economic growth driven by productivity gains.

    The definition of “basic skills” used in this report is “the acquisition of at least level 1 skills (420 points on the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This level of skills to “modern functional literacy” (the report has a booming definition of functional literacy (see below).

    The report says that the projected economic gains of attaining universal basic skills “would be stunning for all countries – even high income OECD countries”.

    In general, by 2095, GDP would be 30% higher than that expected with today’s skills level, representing the result of an annual growth rate that, in the end is 0.5 percentage points higher.

    Is that really a lot?

    Well, the current GDP of the US is around $US16 trillion: it would see a present value of gains of over $62 trillion.

     

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    28 June 2016

    Cartoons of the Campaign

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    For a complete compendium of Cartoons of the Campaign check out Political Cartoons Australia.  The cartoon below is by David Rowe of the Australian Financial Review.

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    Rowe Campaign 2016

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     The VET Store

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    The VET Store is a  service by the VET Development Centre which provides access to a range of information to support VET practitioners in the work they do.

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    Posted in ACPET, AiG, ALP policies, Budget, Coalition policies, Education policy, Greens, Group of 8, Higher education policy, Regional, Schools, TAFE, The Scan, universities, Universities Australia, University budgets, University reform, VET, Vocational education & training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
  • ACPET – Election 2016 – Statements

    Posted at 4:57 pm
    Jun 26th

    ACPET Election logo

    Private education and training is the preferred choice of more than 50 per cent of students across Australia. It is highly innovative and responsive to the needs of industry. More than 2.2 million students choose to complete study or training with private providers in Australia.

    The Student Choice Counts campaign is mobilising the community of students, employees and supporters of the private education and training sector against any policy change to limit student choice and undermine the viability of an important and competitive industry.

    The risks:

    We support effective requirements to ensure only high quality providers can deliver public funded training.

    Students deserve equal access to higher education support

    24 June 2016   |    Tertiary students studying at private higher education institutions are being unfairly and harshly penalised for their choice, according to the Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET).    ACPET CEO Rod Camm said students choosing private higher education providers were charged a 25 per cent fee payable on their student loans and denied access to Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs).  ACPET is calling for both the Australian Labor Party and the Coalition to remove the 25 per cent fee payable on loans obtained through FEE-HELP which does not apply to university students accessing HECS-HELP.  This reform would not only support greater student choice but address a fundamental inequity that has financially penalised some students simply because of their choice of higher education provider. This fee is simply indefensible….[ READ MORE ]….

    Access to training under threat for disadvantaged students

    23 June 2016    |    Students from disadvantaged backgrounds risk being shut out of training under policy announced by the Australian Labor Party, according to the Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET).  ACPET CEO Rod Camm said that students whose only access to diploma level training was through student loans faced being shut out once more if proposed arbitrary caps on loan amounts were introduced. ACPET says that under Labor’s proposed $8,000 cap on training loans, many students from disadvantaged backgrounds will be turned away from training because they cannot afford to pay up-front fees.    Camm says that ACPET  members are concerned that, for many disadvantaged students, the threat this election is not just to choice, but their ability to access any sort of diploma level training at all….[ READ MORE ]….

    Private training essential to Australia’s skill development future

    17 June 2016    |    The training choice of 2.2 million Australian students is at risk from outdated and ill-informed rhetoric from the Greens. The Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET) CEO Rod Camm said private training providers were an absolutely essential component of Australia’s training sector and the Green’s policy to stop all government funding to private providers posed enormous risk. The Australian training sector would collapse if private training providers were removed from the sector, he said….[ READ MORE ]….

    Quality private education and training delivers for national economy

    16 June 2016    |    Australia needs a diverse higher education and training sector with quality private providers delivering choice and quality outcomes for students and employers. Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET) CEO Rod Camm said student access to government funded training through quality private training providers was critical to meeting the future skill needs of Australia’s economy. “Private training has matured over the past 20 years and is the choice of employers and more than 2.2 million, or 57 per cent of Australian students, every year,” Mr Camm said. “Private training delivers strong job placement outcomes and delivers more flexible training options.”….[ READ MORE ]….

    Plan to assist job seekers into trades misses opportunity

    15 June 2016     |   Private training providers have expressed their surprise and concern at yesterday’s Australian Labor Party (ALP) policy announcement to provide pre-apprenticeship training for 10,000 young people and to assist retrenched workers get their trade skills formally recognised. Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET) CEO Rod Camm said that while improving pathways into apprenticeships was an important element in boosting the nation’s trade skills and providing real jobs, ACPET had considerable concerns about what the policy was really trying to do. “Continuing economic uncertainty and government training cuts have reduced the opportunities especially for our young job seekers” he said. “While the policy intent is supported, the ALP has missed an ideal opportunity to drive home the employment outcomes from this program by using private sector training providers. Put simply, private colleges have a proven ability to provide superior employment outcomes for job seekers and the ALP’s decision to only allocate funding to Government-run providers is a serious limitation.”….[ READ MORE ]….

    Student flexibility and choice at risk

    9 June 2016   |    Flexible learning, quality study programs and industry standard training are at risk for more than 2.2 million Australian students studying with private higher education and training providers each year. Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET) Chief Executive Officer Rod Camm said private providers were an essential element of Australia’s higher education and training sector, offering students a wide choice of courses, flexible delivery options and access to industry professionals. “There are countless examples of how our members are meeting demand from Australia’s students and employers, right across the country,” he said….[ READ MORE ]….

    Plan to boost apprenticeships welcomed

    8 June 2016    |    Private training providers support the Australian Labor Party’s policy announcement to boost apprenticeship numbers if it wins the upcoming federal election. Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET) CEO Rod Camm said apprenticeships and traineeships were key elements in providing jobs and skills, particularly for young people. “A combination of subdued economic circumstances and government training cuts have produced decade low levels of commencements which is reflected in the high unemployment levels amongst young job seekers,” he said. “Harnessing the government’s infrastructure program to boost apprenticeships and traineeships is an important step in boosting opportunities for those seeking a trade career.”….[ READ MORE ]….

    Retrograde policy change threatens student choice

    27 May 2016    |    Australia’s 2.2 million private education and training students are being urged to stand up for their right to choice during the Federal Election campaign. The Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET), the national industry association for independent providers of post-compulsory education and training, is mobilising member, employer and student networks to address policy changes that would limit student choice and undermine the viability of a competitive industry. ACPET Chief Executive Officer Rod Camm said private education and training in Australia delivered jobs and growth, and provided nationally accredited and portable qualifications that delivered massive outcomes for the economy.  However, the sector is under threat from reactionary policy changes that would punish both students and good quality private providers. “Policy announcements including an intention to direct the vast majority of vocational training funding to Government-run TAFEs and an arbitrary $8,000 cap on Help loans will strip students of their right to study at their college of choice,” Mr Camm said. “Suggestions that at least 70 per cent of funding will go to a Government-owned provider and that government will choose the courses that will be funded, and at what price, can only lead to another major public policy failure….[ READ MORE ]….

    Greens policy would destroy vocational training in the Illawarra

    24 May 2016    |    Students and industry would be the big losers under a Greens Party policy to lock out all private training providers from vocational education and training. Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET) CEO Rod Camm said the proposal put forward by the Greens would be a disaster taking away students’ right to choose their training provider and their preferred course, whilst unfairly punishing high quality private training providers right across Australia. “This type of policy is exactly what ACPET is urging all parties to avoid this election. Students should be able to choose exactly where and what they want to study,” he said….[ READ MORE ]….

    Thousands of jobs at risk and quality training to suffer under Labor’s training loan cap

    6 May   2016   |     The Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET) has today warned that good quality training providers will be the victims of Labor’s unfair training loan caps, announced in Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s budget reply speech overnight. ACPET CEO Rod Camm has today questioned how such arbitrary change could be fair on students, and warned that a government imposed price of $8000, with no reference to market forces, would punish good quality private training providers and put thousands of jobs in the private training sector at risk….[ READ MORE ]….

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    Posted in ACPET, ALP policies, Budget, Coalition policies, Higher education policy, Regional, TAFE, The Scan, VET, VET FEE-HELP, Vocational education & training | Tagged , , , , ,
  • Universities Australia – Election 2016 – Statements

    Posted at 4:24 pm
    Jun 26th

    UA Logo

    Australia now faces a stark choice: we either make our own investment—or we fall behind those nations that do.

    Equipping ourselves for the dramatic economic transformation ahead is an urgent task. Indeed, our future prosperity depends on it. That’s why we need a new contract with the Australian public—supported by political bipartisanship—that grasps the direct link between our national investment in education, research and innovation, and Australia’s economic fortunes in the years to come.

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    Women in STEM

    26 June 2016      |     Universities Australia welcomes the Coalition’s commitment to lift science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) literacy and encourage more women into these national future-proofing disciplines.

    The Coalition today announced $31.2 million for internships and post-school career advice to help support more women and girls to choose STEM careers.

    Universities Australia Chief Executive Belinda Robinson said helping women to find their path in a STEM career was vital to realising the potential of Australian students.

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    Education enhances employability in a changing economy: new report

    22 June 2016    |     A new Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) report released today confirms the important role that education plays in preparing people for the workforce and ensuring skills for ongoing employment and lifelong learning.

    The ABS update on Qualifications and Work in Australia finds 9.4 million Australians aged 15-64 years had a qualification in vocational or university education in 2015, up from 8.7 million in 2014.

    The data confirms that a university education is good for employability, with more than three in four people with a post-school qualification employed (82 per cent) – compared to 61 per cent of those without a post-school qualification.

    The ABS figures also underscore the need in a rapidly changing economy for higher education to prepare people for career shifts and equip them with broad skills that can be deployed in a wide range of jobs.

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    Pledges to restore university research funding welcome

    18 June 2016    |   Labor’s commitment … to restore university research funding acknowledges the importance of university research to Australia’s future national prosperity.

    The sector’s pre-election policy statement Keep it Clever, made the case that a properly funded university research system was an essential prerequisite for Australia making a successful transition to an economy built on innovation, ideas and ingenuity.

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    Strong tertiary sector the engine room of Australia’s prosperity

    Opinion piece by Chief Executive Belinda Robinson, published in The Australian on 1 June 2016

    Entwined in every successful global economy is a strong university system. This is no accident.

    The work of universities creates wealth for nations because they build human capital and push the boundaries of knowledge that drives innovation and human ­advancement. Smart countries know this.

    In a report released late last year, Deloitte Access Economics pointed out that productivity gains generated by university ­research had delivered economic benefits to Australia worth a third of the growth in average living standards over the past 30 years.

    More recent modelling by ­Cadence Economics found that without the entry of new univer­sity graduates into the Australian economy, the growth rate in jobs for people without a university ­degree would have been zero over the past eight years.

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    Universities are essential to economic transition

    Address to the FUTUREPROOF 2016 conference by Professor Barney Glover Chair, Universities Australia

    16 May 2016    |     I must say we are in a very different place than we were three years ago.

    During the 2013 election campaign, I think it is fair to say that neither side of politics made higher education, nor for that matter research, a particularly prominent issue. Each of them went to that poll with relatively modest detail in their policy platforms.

    And yet, during the last parliamentary term, we witnessed perhaps the greatest divergence for quite some time in the views of the two major parties on their policy objectives for higher education.

    Having withdrawn their plans for the full deregulation of student fees in the recent Budget, the Coalition has now floated a series of policy options for consultation. However, cuts of $2.5 billion remain in the Budget papers from 2018 onwards.

    Labor, meanwhile, is heading to this election with the most detailed higher education policy framework produced by an Opposition in quite a while. Despite the detail, there are still elements of their position that warrant discussion. The sector well remembers that Labor in Government also made sizeable cuts. Their current policy, however, pledges an increase on current funding levels.

    Whatever the election outcome, Universities Australia will test proposed shifts from current policy settings against the major policy statement we launched late last year – Keep It Clever. It called for sustainable and sustained public investment in universities, measures to lift industry-research collaboration, and policies that will enable us to help Australia meet the workforce needs of the future.

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    Universities Australia welcomes Watt Review response

    6 May 2016    |     Universities Australia welcomes the commitment today by the Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham to address all 28 recommendations from the Review of Research Policy and Funding Arrangements, led by Dr Ian Watt AO.

    Universities Australia Chief Executive Belinda Robinson said the implementation of several major recommendations was already underway in a swift but considered manner.

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    Abolition of Office for Learning and Teaching a loss

    4 May 2016    |     The Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) which delivers incentives to improve teaching excellence and innovation has been abolished in the 2016-17 Budget.

    Universities Australia’s Chief Executive Belinda Robinson said the decision to abolish the OLT would dismay many in the sector.

    “The OLT was supported by a small amount of funding but was making a big difference for teachers and students, including projects to improve teaching excellence and retention of students,” Ms Robinson said.

    The scrapping of the OLT delivers Budget savings of $18 million and this is on top of a $16 million cut made in the 2015-16 Budget.

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    Budget cuts to university equity programme deeply disappointing

    Universities Australia has criticised the 2016-17 Federal Budget’s cuts to the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Programme (HEPPP) which assists universities to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds to complete degrees.

    The Budget cuts $152 million from the HEPPP which includes projects such as improving numeracy skills, providing work-integrated learning and mentoring to lift student retention rates.

    Chief Executive Belinda Robinson said that all Australians with the ability to do so should have the opportunity to undertake life-changing higher education.

    “Improving equity in higher education is not only fair, but an essential platform for building the diverse, skilled workforce of the future”, she said.

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    Uni options paper key to resolving policy tug-of-war

    3 May 2016    |     An options paper on alternatives to full fee deregulation, a reduction in the size of funding cuts and a 12 month delay to the introduction of higher education changes has softened the blow to universities braced for substantial funding cuts.

    However cuts worth a combined $180 million to university programs that support disadvantaged students and teaching excellence are fresh hits.

    In a welcome move in tonight’s Budget, the Turnbull Government has delayed the introduction of the proposed 20 per cent cut to 1 January 2018, and dropped the $1.2 billion efficiency dividend on legislated programs.

    In scrapping previous plans to fully deregulate student fees, the Government has also released an options paper on alternative policy changes to secure a financially sustainable higher education system.

     

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    Uni investment is a tie breaker

    Opinion piece by Universities Australia Chief Executive Belinda Robinson originally published in The Australian on 22 April 2016.

    There is a scene in the movie Match Point when the tennis ball quivers for millisecond over the net. It could go either way – to win or lose the game. It’s a metaphor for a turning point in the life of the main character, a tennis pro. And it is an apt image for our time and our place.

    Australia is at a turning point. The economy is in transition and there are a number of balls in the air. Our future could go either way – ahead to a shining future, with knowledge-based high value jobs, start-ups and new industries or stuck in the slow lane.

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    Posted in ALP policies, Coalition policies, Higher education policy, Research, Science, The Scan, universities, Universities Australia, University budgets | Tagged , , , , , , ,
  • TDA Policy Position Papers

    Posted at 4:04 pm
    Jun 26th

    TDA logo June 2016

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    TAFE Directors Australia (TDA – the body representing Australia’s public TAFE institutes) has issued a series of policy position papers that have been developed to steer the direction of policy affecting TAFE and the VET sector. 

    • Policy Paper 1 – TAFE: a national asset for Australia’s economic and social prosperity
    • Policy Paper 2 – Quality is the hallmark of a well-regulated VET system
    • Policy Paper 3 – Rural and remote vocational education and training relies on TAFE
    • Policy Paper 4 – Ending discrimination in Australia’s tertiary education system
    • Policy Paper 5 – Why a national industry policy & innovation and STEM strategy needs quality training
    • Policy Paper 6 – Let’s lift Australia’s national apprenticeships.

    Read the papers in full HERE.

     

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    Posted in TAFE, TAFE Directors Australia, The Scan, VET, VET FEE-HELP, Vocational education & training | Tagged , , , , , , , ,
  • The Scan #179 5 May 2016

    Posted at 10:02 am
    May 5th

    News Box3

    A few cuts, no frills

    Budget 20164 May 2016   |   The government has pushed consideration of proposed university reforms, including a 20% cut in funding, out beyond the election, until 1 January 2018.  While it has ruled out full fee deregulation, it has released an options paper, to guide a consultation process, canvassing a range of alternative fee measures which would still see substantial fee rises.  The 2016 Budget also sees an efficiency dividend of $1.2 billion on legislated dropped but the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program has been cut by $152 million to $553 million over four years.  The Office of Learning and Teaching has been abolished, with the resulting $18 million in savings going to TEQSA and the Quality Indicators in Learning and Teaching website.  The consultation paper presages changes to FEE-HELP, including dropping the repayment threshold from around $54,000 to something in the range of $40, 000 to $45,000.  Over $2.5 billion dollars in unlegislated funding cuts remain on the books….[ MORE ]….

    Rescuing VET FEE-HELP

    4 May 2016   |  The federal government has proposed a set of tougher measures to fix the VET FEE-HELP blow-out in a discussion paper released onVET FEE-HELP pic 29 April.   The minister for vocational education and skills senator Scott Ryan said the paper will pave the way for a full redesign of the scheme. The discussion paper catalogues the scale of malpractice by some providers, such as the targeting of low socio-economic status and vulnerable people with inducements to enroll and misleading potential students about their repayment commitments.  It proposes a series of measures to improve the integrity of the system including minimum eligibility requirements for VET FEE-HELP, reductions in the lifetime student loan limit, a narrower range of eligible courses, a VET FEE-HELP ombudsman, and payments tied to compliance and student progression….[ READ MORE ]….

    International education strategy launched

     

    flags14 May 2016    |   With international education worth nearly $20 billion to the Australian economy in 2015, the government has provided $12 million in the Budget to fund the National Strategy for International Education 2025 released on 30 April.  In three parts, the strategy identifies international educationas one of five “super growth sectors” that will help complete Australia’s transition from a resource-based economy to a modern services and knowledge economy.  The strategy aims to help grow the sector by 50% to 720,000 international students by 2025.  A separate economic study indicates that international education supports over 130,000 jobs across Australian and delivers substantial indirect benefits to other industries such as tourism and retail….[ READ MORE ]….

    Phoenix chief faces forgery allegations

    28 April 2016    |    Ivan Brown, who ran one of Australia’s fastest-growing vocational colleges, Phoenix Institute, is being investigated for allegedly Phoenixforging documents to reap more than $100 million in taxpayer funds.  Federal Police search warrants say they have “reasonable grounds for suspecting” Brown, the made false documents or caused them to be made “with the intention to influence the Commonwealth to accept on-line students as genuinely enrolled and participating in training”.  Meanwhile a report by the failed company’s administrator claims that the education department owes ACN $253 million for people signed up to courses of study.   It also shows that ACN paid its brokers between 15 and 30 % of the value of its courses to the salesmen who recruited students – up to $12,000 per sign up.…[ READ MORE ]

     

    Red Box

    Election 2016

    Click image to go to the Election Page

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    Tax, budgets and equity

    4 May 2016 

    As we draw nearer the election, the findings of a recent ANU opinion poll ought to resonate with the politicians, as ANU vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt observes – particularly those given to characterising the “politics of equity” as the “politics of envy” (that being our observation, not Schmidt’s).  It is unlikey to though: with the political class, only two polls count – Newspoll and the actual poll on 2 July.

    ……..

    The ANU School of Politics & International Relations regularly conducts national telephone opinion polls on issues of political and social significance.  The latest, the 21st in the series, was on the issue of tax and equity.  Should we be worried about governments holding debt? Which areas of spending should have priority, and which can be cut? Should we pay more tax, or less?  Is our tax system generally fair?

    More Australians favour greater spending on social services than favour reducing taxes.  If reducing government debt is the aim, cutting welfare payments is among the least popular options, according to this poll.  Australians want more spending directed to health, domestic violence prevention, education, and disability and aged care. They want international companies operating in Australia to pay more tax here, but overall believe our tax system is moderately fair.

    On education, around 80% thought the government should spend more money on education,  just 2.2% of Australians polled nominated education as “the most important problem” facing Australia today.  It ranked thirteen, way behind the economy and jobs (27.2%), just ahead of law and order (1.8) and somewhat ahead of taxation (1.2%) and the budget (1%), although at the levels of granularity involved, these rankings may not be entirely reliable.

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    Commentary box

    Running, jumping, standing still

    Higher education in policy paralysis

    The Conversation     |    4 May 2016

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    What now? asks Gavin Moodie (RMIT) in The Conversation. While across-the-board full fee deregulation has now been dumped by the Coalition, fee deregulation of so-called “flagship courses”, first mooted in the Review of Base Funding in 2011 (with the significant qualification that such fees be capped at plus 50% above what they would otherwise be), looks a hot prospect for a  re-elected Coalition government  (as does a raising of the cap on other courses by some percentage). That is, of course, still moot: an incoming Labor government would be ostensibly committed to additional public investment in higher education.  Whichever side wins will have its hands full,  And there’s the likely prospect that whatever the colour of the government, it will not have a majority in the Senate.

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    UNIVERSITY STOCK

    This year’s budget set us back to 2014.  In the 2014 budget, the government announced that fees would be deregulated. While this was a toxic political move, it wasn’t toxic enough to be dumped from the 2015 budget, which was another lost year for higher education.  While, this year, the government finally ruled out full fee deregulation, it is still contemplating uncapped fees for some courses in its higher education consultation paper. It has also dropped all the worthwhile proposals from 2014, such as extending the demand-driven system to sub-baccalaureate programs.
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    Salutary lessons from overseas

    High caps and deregulated fees

    5 May 2016

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    As we begin to address again the issues of university funding, the relative student contribution and student loans, it’s salutary to look to overseas experiences.  In the England, the Cameron government didn’t fully deregulate fees, it merely tripled them.  There are now real questions as to whether students are getting deal (“value fro money”).  Meanwhile in the US, home of the $100,000 degree, the affordability of higher education is said to be a “crisis” and is key issue in the forthcoming  presidential election campaign, at least from the Democrat side.    And we would do well to heed the advice of Swinburne University vice-chancellor Linda Kristjanson

    quote marksWe should be wary of significant changes to the funding model which would detract from the egalitarian quality of Australian higher education.

     

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    Government FAIL: Some universities are ‘not good enough’ to charge top tuition fees

    A SECRET document snapped outside Downing Street has revealed the government believes its £9,000 tuition fee cap for students has been a failure.

    Political-press-leaked-snap-662499

    The government file captured by a press photographer has shown many universities cannot justify charging the top-rate fee.

    It also warned the UK “will never achieve” David Cameron’s pledge to double the number of students from poor backgrounds going to top universities.

    Fees tripled from £3,000 to the maximum price of £9,000 less than four years ago, after the Liberal Democrats failed to deliver on their manifesto pledge.

    Thousands of students then took to the streets and rioted over the policy, which ministers claimed would only be a price cap that would apply to the very best institutions.

    But since it was launched in 2012, almost all universities across the country have chosen to charge the top price.

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    Can the next President actually save public universities?

    The crisis of college affordability may not be solvable by the federal government: It has had much less control over tuition than state policies.

    Students walk on the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) campus in Los Angeles, September 18, 2009. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES EDUCATION) - RTR280TN

    The nap pods that popped up recently at the University of California, Berkeley, may be exacerbating a problem they were designed to fix. Intended to help relieve student stress, the egg-like pods cost approximately $100,000 total. A significant student stressor at Cal is rising tuition, and while the pods add up to about $3 per student, paid for in student health fees, the symbolism is galling to students who will graduate with as much debt as the pods cost.

    As the editors of The Daily Cal, the university’s student paper, wrote, students aren’t sleep-deprived because of lack of beds but “because of the overwhelming pressures they face.” More naps do nothing for mounting student fees, and the pods appear to ignore deeper structural reasons for student stress: The average Berkeley student leaves the school more than $17,000 in debt (the national average is $29,000, for public and private colleges).

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    Life & stuff box4

    4 May 2016

    A lecture on quantum physics

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    During Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in April 2016, a journalist jokingly asked the Prime Minister to explain quantum computing. He called their bluff with a spot-on explanation. 

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    See
    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lauds “cutting-edge research” at Perimeter
    Noticeboard Box3

     The VET Store

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    The VET Store is a  service by the VET Development Centre which provides access to a range of information to support VET practitioners in the work they do.

    VET Development Centre

    Click image to find out more!

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    Posted in ACCC, ALP policies, ANU, Budget, Coalition policies, Commonwealth policies, Grattan Institute, Higher education policy, International, International students, IRU, Regional Universities Network, Swinburne University, TAFE, The Scan, universities, Universities Australia, University reform, VET, Vocational education & training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,
  • Redesigning VET FEE-HELP

    Posted at 1:26 pm
    May 4th

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    4 May 2016

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    The federal government has proposed a set of tougher measures to fix the VET FEE-HELP blow-out in a discussion paper released on 29 April.   The minister for vocational education and skills senator Scott Ryan said the paper will pave the way for a full redesign of the scheme.

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    The discussion paper catalogues the scale of malpractice by some providers, such as the targeting of low socio-economic status and vulnerable people with inducements to enroll and misleading potential students about their repayment commitments.

    The paper reveals that a small number of VET FEE-HELP providers dominate the scheme. In 2015, ten providers accounted for more than half of all VET FEE-HELP loans.

    It also reveals that a small number of courses draw a large proportion of VET FEE-HELP funding.

    VET FEE-HELP Figure 7

    The paper  notes it is “not uncommon” to observe significant differences in course prices for students accessing VET FEE-HELP compared to those accessing a state and territory government subsidised program for the same qualification.

    VET FEE-HELP Table 2

    VET FEE-HELP costs reached $2.9 billion in 2015, with private providers accounting for $2.46 billion or 84% of the total.

    VET FEE-HELP table 8

    The discussion paper proposes a series of measures to improve the integrity of the system:

    In releasing the paper, Ryan said:

    The VET FEE-HELP scheme, introduced by Labor, was demand driven, uncapped and had insufficient student protections in place. The original scheme opened the floodgates to shonky training providers and predatory brokers to take advantage of the system.

    Labor’s spokesperson Sharon Bird said the VET FEE-HELP discussion paper offers no new solutions to stop the unprecedented waste of taxpayers’ money occurring in the VET sector.  It recommends many of the amendments which Labor moved to implement in late 2015 and which the government voted down.  She said as a result the rorts will continue until such time as a new Parliament deals with any legislation.

    The paper calls for submissions by 30 June 2016.

    See
    Redesigning VET FEE-HELP Discussion Paper

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    Posted in ALP policies, Budget, Coalition policies, TAFE, The Scan, VET, Vocational education & training | Tagged , , ,
  • A few cuts, no thrills for unis in 2016 Budget

    Posted at 10:43 am
    May 4th

    Subhead1

    4 May 2016

    Budget 2016

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    The government has pushed consideration of proposed university reforms, including a 20% cut in funding, out beyond the election, until 1 January 2018 and it has ruled out full fee deregulation.  It has released an options paper, to guide a consultation process, canvassing a range of alternative fee measures.

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    The 2016 Budget also sees an efficiency dividend of $1.2 billion on legislated dropped but the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program has been cut by $152 million to $553 million over four years.  The Office of Learning and Teaching has been abolished, with the resulting $18 million in savings going to TEQSA and the Quality Indicators in Learning and Teaching website.

    The deferral of the university reforms, pending the outcome of a consultation process, is chimerical, intended to neutralise, as far as possible, university funding and student fee subsidies as an election issue.  As quite clearly set out in the options paper, a re-elected Coalition government can be expected to enthusiastically pursue its agenda of reducing public funding to higher education and shifting a greater proportion to students, merely by means other than those originally proposed by Christopher Pyne.

    As stated in the paper, in finalising legislative reforms the government will need to adjust subsidy and student contribution rates to meet the financial sustainability savings outlined in the Budget.  Over $2.5 billion dollars in unlegislated funding cuts remain stubbornly on the books, despite having failed twice to pass the Senate in this term.  The options presented for the next term, “dependent on other structural savings or expense measures adopted as part of these reforms” (which provides a little wriggle room as to the precise form of reform), are:

    Sounds a lot like the last plan, with the meaning of “small” being in the eye of the beholder.

    In giving universities the “flexibility to innovate”, the paper refers approvingly to the notion of “flagship courses”, as originally proposed in the report of the Review of Base Funding in 2011. Under this scheme, universities would be:

    ….given the freedom to set fees for a small cohort of their students enrolled in identified high quality, innovative courses.  This would deliver the benefits of differentiation, excellence and innovation among universities while giving certainty to all Australians that they could still access fee capped places.

    As to non-flagship courses, while fees would not be fully deregulated, they could be partially deregulated by a substantial lifting of caps: and it would need to be substantial (50% or more?) to allow for the emergence of the innovation and differentiation between universities which purportedly drives this reform agenda (rather than budget issues).

    Still, blessedly perhaps, graduates are certain to have somewhat more time to pay down their student debt.  The consultation paper presages changes to FEE-HELP, including dropping the repayment threshold from around $54,000 to something in the range of $40, 000 to $45,000.  There’s also some likelihood of the introduction of a hefty loan fee.  The paper notes that, currently, HECS-HELP loans have no loan fee, while FEE-HELP undergraduate loans and VET FEE-HELP loans attract a 25% and 20% fee respectively.  While the government has previously proposed to remove the loan fees to create a level playing field for students and providers in all sectors, the paper notes that “charging a loan fee for all loans would provide an efficient mechanism to help defray the costs of running HELP”:

    ….a loan fee of 20% as currently applies to VET FEE-HELP would enable the Government to recover most of the costs associated with debt not expected to be repaid. It would similarly provide for greater equity and reduce the cost pressures for undergraduate FEE-HELP students but with a greater increase in costs for students in Commonwealth supported places.

    As Conor King of the IRU suggests, take a look at Andrew Norton’s (Grattan Institute) proposals for a useful guide to what is possible, including recovering debt from deceased estates.

    The 2014-15 Budget proposed a number of measures to expand opportunity and choice for students, including the extension of Commonwealth support to all undergraduate courses at all registered higher education providers and the uncapping of places in sub-bachelor courses at public universities. While these reforms are still provided for in the Budget, extension to non-university providers is seemingly off the agenda, “noting that growth in enrolments has continued to increase at non-university providers despite the absence of Commonwealth funding” (which won’t matter as much, if at all, if a loan fee is introduced for FEE-HELP and fees hiked).  It’s also looking that uncapping places in sub-bachelor courses is unlikely in the near future.

    The government is appointing an expert panel to advise it on reform options.

    Written submissions can be made until 25 July 2016.

     

    See
    Driving Innovation, Fairness and Excellence in Australian Higher Education
    Uni options paper key to resolving policy tug-of-war – Universities Australia
    Budget provides higher education clarity from the Government – IRU
    RUN welcomes consultation but cut to HEPPP will hurt regions – RUN
    $50 billion infrastructure package but investment in skills ignored – TDA
    Budget 2016: No plan for higher education except to cut funding and make students pay more – NTEU
    Federal election caution puts major reform on the backburner – The Australian

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    Posted in Budget, Coalition policies, Commonwealth policies, Grattan Institute, Higher education policy, Innovative Research Universities, National Tertiary Education Union, Public funding, Regional Universities Network, The Scan, Universities Australia, University budgets | Tagged , , , , , , ,
  • The Scan # 178 12 April 2016

    Posted at 12:03 pm
    Apr 12th

    News Box3

    TAFE does heavy lifting – TDA

    12 April 2016   |    A TAFE Directors Australia (TDA)-commissioned analysis of official data reveals ‘for skills (1)profit’ private training colleges have gained a massive 75% share of the $3 billion Commonwealth VET FEE-HELP funding, while the public TAFE sector continues to do the “heavy lifting”.  The performance of Australia’s 57 TAFE Institutes emerges strongly, dominating all major state and territory VET-funded ‘fields of education’ and trade apprenticeships. While TAFE delivered 63% of enrolments across the majority of fields of education, Commonwealth allocation of student loans to TAFE fell to just 20% in 2014, and the government’s own emergency legislation to halt private college rorts has worsened this reduction in funding for TAFE students….[ READ MORE ]….

    Inquiry into uni admissions

    Birmingham7 April 2016   |   The minister for education and training Simon Birmingham has tasked the Higher Education Standards Panel (HESP) to canvass options to improve information about the accessibility and comparability of course entry pathways and to ensure students are ‘uni ready’.  He said students need a clear understanding of what they need to get into their course of choice and what will be expected of them through their further study, while universities need to be held to account – and that appears presently not to be the case. The review will be guided by “10 key principles” ….[ READ MORE ]….

     

    The HECS bomb

    7 April 2016    |    As the Turnbull government ponders a higher education policy to take to the 2016 HECS debtelection, it’s been given food for thought by a research report revealing explosive growth of 560% in FEE-HELP debt over the next decade – on current policy settings.  Obviously this portends a change to current policy settings. The independent Parliamentary Budget Office report finds that the loans scheme will cost the budget $11.1 billion by 2025-26, up from $1.7 billion currently. This amount covers the scheme’s concessional interest rates and the increasing proportion of loans that will never be repaid.  It projects the total nominal value of student loans program (the cumulative value of the portfolio) will grow from around $60 billion now to $185 billion by 2026. The PBO attributes the uncapping of university places over the period 2010- 2012 and the expansion of loans to vocational students as driving growth in FEE-HELP debt since 2010.  Implementation of the government’s stalled reform package would accelerate the growth of debt…[ READ MORE ]…

    Funding cuts still on the table

    Budget cuts7 April 2016   |    The government remains committed to a higher education funding reform with university students increasingly likely to pay more for their degrees, Education Minister Simon Birmingham has confirmed.   Birmingham told Sky News on 4 April he wanted to “refine and improve” the original plan by former minister Christopher Pyne,  saying “the growth in higher education spending over the last 20 years has essentially gone at double the rate of growth of the economy, so that is not a sustainable financial trajectory”.  He said the original 20% cut had only ever been “deferred” for 12 months….[ READ MORE ]….

     

    Reforms have eroded TAFE system

    5 April 2016    |     A report presented to the Council of Australian Governments on 1 April has found thattafe-image critical community and educational elements of TAFE have been eroded.  The review of the National Partnership Agreement on Skills Reform (NPA) was undertaken by ACIL Allan Consulting last December.   It reveals the extent to which so-called competition and efficiency reforms, which fail to recognise that TAFE is more than “just another provider”, have been pursued at the expense of downgrading TAFE.   It says transformation of the public provider role requires a steady, evolutionary process, otherwise there are strong risks of losing the value invested in the current capacity and capability of public provision. ….[ READ MORE ]…


    Snapshots

     

    Handwriting makes a comeback, outperforming laptops in memory retention

    9 April 2016   |     US studies have found that students who took handwritten notes outperformed those who used a computer or laptop, grasping new ideas more readily and retain­ing information for longer.

    The HECS hoax, and its most remarkable feature

    9 April 2016    |       If you want to make the FEE-HELP system work, cut the threshold, make it attractive to pay upfront, give a discount and start again.

    Deakin’s promise of a university in the bush is in danger of turning to ashes

    9 April 2016     |     It is becoming clear that Warrnambool in south-west Victoria, like many other country areas, the brave promise of the past – that educational opportunities should be available to all, and that country students should not be compelled to move to the city – is in danger of turning to ashes.

    Higher education fees, how did we get to this?

    9 April 2016    |     How much to charge students, when to apply the debt and all manner of detail over how a higher education loans scheme should work has long been fodder for heated political debate.

    Incentives matter: witness our dysfunctional higher education system

    8 April 2016   |   It’s highly possible generous subsidies have underpinned ­bureaucratic bloat within universities and encouraged too many people into university study, with the unfortunate side-effect of diminishing the quality and reputation of degrees.

    Major cuts to education spending loom in May budget following shock student loans blowout

    6 April 2016    |      Major cuts to education spending are set to be a centrepiece of the May budget, as a new bombshell report finds the annual cost of the program used by Australians to attend university will blow out by a staggering 560% in a decade.

    Budget should give universities more flexibility on student contributions

    4 April 2016    |     A greater student contribution makes sense on grounds of equity, good resource allocation and quality of education.

    Impact of 20% Cut to Funding per Government Supported Student

    5 April 2016    |    While the government might think dumping its policy to fully deregulate fees will take the prospect of $100,000 degrees off the table, analysis shows that a policy based on 20% cut to government funding and increasing the cap on student contributions to compensate for that cut puts $90,000 degrees fairly and squarely on that table.

     

    Red Box

    Election 2016

    Click image to go to the Election Page

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    An election can’t come soon enough for Turnbull

    8 April 2016 

    Malcolm Turnbull has struggled to put together a winning week all year, and now the polls have turned against him. The pressure this puts on an election-year budget is excruciating, writes Barrie Cassidy in The Drum.

    ……..

    More troubling now for the Government, however, is that the issues are starting to work against them.

    Take education. The government went flat out this week putting that issue front and centre, an issue that historically favours Labor.

    The minister, Simon Birmingham, is articulating the problem effectively enough. He points out that the budget deficit is $36 billion and against that background, the cost of higher education since 2009 has grown by about 59% – while the economy has grown at just 29%.

     

    But the solutions will be much harder to sell, and they will have to be sold in a budget that is now critical to the Government’s re-election.

    To rein in the ballooning costs of HECS loans, the Government is looking at wiping them out in the vocational training sector; making university entry harder; and clawing back the loans at a faster rate. None of that, however you argue the principle, will be popular.

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    Commentary box

    How generous is Australia’s FEE-HELP scheme?

    fact-check

    11 April 2016

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    With debate growing over burgeoning FEE-HELP debt, education minister Simon Birmingham has asserted that Australia runs one of the most generous student loan schemes in the world.  Overall, this is true, with three key features: the relatively high income threshold before repayments kick in; the zero real interest rate; and relatively low repayment rates.  However, while the income threshold is much lower than in England and New Zealand, for example, FEE-HELP repayments are calculated on a debtor’s entire income, while in other countries repayments are based on income above the threshold. And New Zealand charges no interest at all for NZ domiciles.  It’s also the case that, as generous as FEE-HELP may be, a number of OECD countries charge no fees at all, obviating the need for loans.  This Fact Check is by Ittima Cherstidham of the Grattan Institute.

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    Overall, it is true that many features of Australia’s loan schemes for tuition fees make it more generous than most other countries that charge for higher education. But from a student’s perspective, how generous Australia is depends on exactly which aspect of the loan scheme you’re looking at.

    This FactCheck will examine how Australia compares to other countries when it comes to:

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    Exponential growth of VET-FEE HELP as sector opened to private colleges

    The looting of VET FEE-HELP

    7 April 2016

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    A report presented on ABC Radio National provides an insight into the thinking of the providers who have virtually looted VET FEE-HELP: it was all within the rules, apparently, so that made it all right.  As this extract shows, the greater part of the loot flowed to a handful of providers, all of which were relatively recently established, with no track record of provision, let alone quality provision.  In the space of a couple of years, for example, Ivan Brown,  turned a $500 start-up investment into a stake in a listed company worth $180 million (Australian Careers Network), all built on the back of government training subsidiesThe whole report is worth reading – ‘I’m not a cowboy’: Phoenix Institute investor maintains private college did nothing wrong.

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    Outflows under the VET FEE-HELP scheme have grown exponentially in recent years, particularly after Brown 12012 when the Gillard government struck new national partnership agreements with the states and territories that set ambitious targets for growth in vocational qualifications and tied funding to the opening up of the training industry to private competition.

    When it was opened up in 2009, the scheme lent out $26 million, which grew to $118 million in 2010, $205 million in 2011, $325 million in 2012 and $699 million in 2013. Over the first five years of the scheme inclusive, coinciding roughly with the term of the former Labor government, the VET FEE-HELP loans totalled $1.4 billion.

    Under the Coalition, VET FEE-HELP loans leapt to $1.8 billion in 2014 and a staggering $3 billion in 2015.

     

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    VET FEE-HELP 2015

     

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    12 April 2016

    Tiny houses

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    A tour of Fred and Shannon Schultz’s amazing off the grid tiny house on wheels in Victoria, Australia. Fred spent 3 years designing the house in SketchUp and another year building it, mostly by himself and with little experience.  It’s not for everyone, obviously, but it’s one way to address housing affordability, not to mention sustainability. 

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    See
    Fred’s Tiny Houses
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     The VET Store

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    The VET Store is a  service by the VET Development Centre which provides access to a range of information to support VET practitioners in the work they do.

    VET Development Centre

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    Posted in ABC, ACCC, ASQA, COAG, Coalition policies, Commonwealth policies, Commonwealth-State relations, Education policy, Higher education policy, NCVER, TAFE, TAFE Directors Australia, Tertiary media, The Scan, universities, University reform, VET, Vocational education & training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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