…plop! There goes another duck
Chris Bowen’s replacement as tertiary education minister will have the dubious distinction of being the fifth tertiary education minister in 15months and the sixth with responsiblity for innovation and research.
Belinda Robinson, CEO Universities Australia, says tertiary education seems to be in a permanent state of policy instability with key policies being eroded and key initiatives slipping between the cracks.
Simon Marginson, a professor of higher education at the University of Melbourne, says t doesn’t matter who the minister is because politically “higher education is a dead duck”.
Support for Rudd makes ministry untenable
As a result of the ALP’s leadership spill on 21 March, Chris Bowen, a long time supporter of Kevin Rudd, has resigned from Cabinet. Bowen told a media conference that, having voted for Rudd in the February 2012 leadership ballot and continue to prefer Rudd as Prime Minister, his continuing as a Minister in the Gillard government was untenable. This is a significant loss to the government. Bob Carr has told a media conference in Washington that Gillard has his “unqualified support”.
Prime Minister Gillard told ABC radio that she anticipates there will be a few more people considering their position:
They will do that. I will also consider the view as to what is best for the government over coming months, for the nation over coming months.
Other Rudd supporters in senior positions include Mental Health Minister Mark Butler, Resources Minister Martin Ferguson and Human Services Minister Kim Carr.
The Australian Council of Private Education Providers (ACPET) is becoming increasingly agitated by regulatory measures that seem designed to put the squeeze on smaller private VET providers.
The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) is proposing fee increases for almost 50 regulatory activities, with 15 more than doubled, with registration up 388%, on the basis that such increases are necessary for it to become fully self-funding, as required by government policy. At the same time, the National Skills Standards Council (NSSC) is proposing much more strict VET provider registration requirements in order to protect the economy from a “failure in confidence” in qualifications.
The RUN grouping of six of Australia’s regional universities contributes $2.1 billion in gross domestic product, $1.2 billion in household income and more than 14,000 (full time equivalent) jobs, according to an economic impact study it commissioned on the impact of its members on the Australian economy and human capital in the regions. The Regional Universities Network (RUN) commissioned the study to examine the impact of its members on the Australian economy and human capital in the regions.
Staff at Perth’s Edith Cowan University (ECU) have voted in favour of an ‘in principle’ collective agreement, guaranteeing a 4% per annum wage increase over the next four years. The final details are to be negotiated between the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and ECU management over the next few months, with the first wage increase scheduled for 30 June.
Bachelor degree students are flocking to courses in science-based disciplines and moving away from law, management and commerce, as the uncapping of places available in undergraduate courses takes hold.The latest available figures for student numbers show that from 2009, when the Labor government announced it would end quotas on numbers of students in bachelor degree courses, to 2011, the most growth has been in health disciplines (17%), natural and physical sciences (12%), engineering and related technologies (12%), agriculture, environmental and related studies (12%) and creative arts (11 %).
The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment is to inquire into and report on the role played by TAFEs in education and the economy and will be looking at current funding issues.
With universities paying about $100,000 a year to employ full-time managers dedicated to liaising with ranking agencies and “clever reporting”, rather than a surge in knowledge, said to explain the surprisingly good results of the Excellence in Research for Australia quality audit, dean of science at UNSW Merlin Crossley writes that the numbers used to measure performance in educational institutions create a lot of discussion – and angst – because of their obvious imperfections.
National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy scores in schools don’t measure creativity, Australian Tertiary Admission Rank cut-offs for university courses don’t reflect future potential and using student feedback to rate teaching is regarded as little better than running a popularity contest.
Excellence in Research for Australia quality assessments and journal ranking scores do not respect locally important research, journal citations and impact factors vary wildly between disciplines and world university rankings are backward-looking and disadvantage newer institutions.
Then there are the collected metrics of the controversial MySchool and MyUniversity websites, which gather imperfect measures into tables, apparently compounding error and threatening the whole system.
There seems to be a general anxiety that people will blindly use these flawed but interesting numbers. In contrast, no one seems to worry about numbers in sport or other endeavours. Every game involves scoring and many sports have a ladder of some sort – it’s all good fun.
A compilation of leading items from the weekly education press.
Australia’s leading online higher education provider, Open Universities Australia (OUA), has unveiled its own free online education venture, Open2Study.
OUA describes Open2Study as “a new dimension in online learning, … designed with the online student in mind.“
Paul Wappett, OUA chief executive says Open2Study Open2Study isn’t a me-too MOOC:
… it’s objective is not merely attracting massive enrolments. It’s the next evolution in online learning, centred on student success. Open2Study provides an engaging and compelling education based on a comprehensive pedagogical model that recognises that online learners behave differently, and have different needs from on-campus learners.
Course materials comprise a mixture of six to 10 minute videos, animations, simulations and quizzes, designed using high production values
Launched with 10 subjects, including Financial Planning and Introduction to Nursing there’s a pipeline of a couple of hundred and OUA expects to offer 40 to 50subjects by the end of 2013. Open2Study courses commence on 22 April.
There are all sorts of reasons why you might not build a wind farm in a particular location, such as the visual pollution it createsor that it transects the migratory path of the yellow-bellied parrot and might chop them up.
But, happily, recent research shows that injurious effects to health is not likely to be one of them.
A study by Simon Chapman, professor of public health at Sydney University, concludes that “wind turbine sickness” is far more prevalent in communities where anti-wind farm lobbyists have been active and appears to be a psychological phenomenon caused by the suggestion that turbines make people sick.
Three months ago, on 28 November 2012, the ABC staged a modest kind of public launch in Sydney for a lengthy and wide-ranging online documentary, The Opera House Project, which has been produced to mark the coming fortieth anniversary of the building’s official opening on 20 October 1973. As the date approaches, this remarkable film may be accorded some fanfare; it deserves it. It works on several tracks, and each of those splits and branches at your will, offering some twenty-six hours of history and commentary.
For a remarkable virtual tour of the Opera House see The Ship Song Project:
It started as a three-week project in the winter of 2010 to pay tribute to the Sydney Opera House, the arts epicentre of the nation. After drawing together Australia’s and the region’s best performers, it ended nine months later.
4-5 April, RMIT University Melbourne
The conference,open to all members of NTEU, is built around the key themes of:
- Learning and teaching in a mass higher education system.
- The digital revolution and tertiary learning and teaching.
- Autonomy and authority in higher education courses and curriculum.
Is there something interesting near where you live and/or work? Got an interesting story? Got an event coming up? Tell us about it!
It’s free….no hidden costs… absolutely gratis