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Job axe to fall at UWA

ABC NEWS |     11 December 2015 ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… The University of Western Australia (UWA) will lay off 300 staff as part of sweeping cuts aimed at reducing costs. The university will slash 100 academic positions and 200 professional positions early next year.  Fifty new academic positions will be created to enhance the university's "capability and impact in areas of comparative advantage". …………………………………………………………………………………….......……  UWA Vice Chancellor Professor Paul Johnson said in a statement that 2015 had been a challenging year for the Australian higher education sector: UWA, like many universities, has a budget challenge. As highlighted during the … [Read more...]

Government dumps Lomborg support

ABC News 21 October 2015 ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… The Commonwealth government has withdrawn a $4 million offer to help establish a research centre headed by Danish academic Bjorn Lomborg. …………………………………………………………………………………….......……  Flinders University had been considering establishing the centre, after the proposal was rejected by the University of Western Australia following public outcry. Education Minister Simon Birmingham has told a Senate estimates hearing the proposal was quietly dropped in the week when Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister.  Birmingham said the decision to withdraw the funding was made by former Education Minister Christopher Pyne shortly … [Read more...]

Constructive dissent keeps wheels of knowledge turning

 21 May 2015 ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… Steven Schwartz, in looking at the Lomborg centre controversey,  recounts a story about Albert Einstein during his Princeton days; he was in the habit of posing the same examination questions every year. Confronted by the dean for his apparent laziness, Einstein explained that the questions never changed but the answers frequently did. …………………………………………………………………………………….......…… This story is doubtless apocryphal but it makes a crucial point; science is always unfinished business. As they used to say on The X Files, “The truth is out there”— but we can never be entirely certain that we have found it. “Most institutions demand … [Read more...]

The Scan # 169 15 May 2015

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ GDP spending on higher education set to fall to half OECD average 15 May 2015    |    Spending on higher education as a proportion of GDP will fall from 0.56% in 2015 down to 0.48% in 2018, well below the OECD average of 1%, an analysis of the 2015 Budget figures has determined. According to Vin Massaro, an honorary professorial fellow with the Centre for the Study of Higher Education, higher education spending is slated to drop from $9.3bn in 2015, to $8.9bn in 2016, $9.1bn in 2017 and back to $9.3bn in 2018, representing a drop in GDP every year. … [Read more...]

Why UWA was right to reject the $4m Lomborg bribe

15 May 2015 ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… The spectacularly misnamed Australian Consensus Centre (as High Wired has appropriately called it) has been mired in controversey from start to its (apparent). Not a skerrick of consensus to be found anywhere.  Critics of the decision by the University of Western Australia to walk away from it decry the decision as "soft censorship", a denial of academic freedom, suppression of free speech.  Well, it's none of those things: universities are full of "contrarians" such as Bjorn Lomborg, in every field that you could name, and they're of all persuasions. The objection here is not  about Lomborg's views (although plenty of people inside and … [Read more...]

Bjorn Lomborg: a dark prince

11 May 2015 ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… The decision by the University of Western Australia (UWA) to pull out of the Australian Consensus Centre, and hand back $4 million in government funding, has drawn the ire of the usual suspects. In particular, The Australian has been positively wetting itself.  It says, in its front page news story in its edition of 11 May, that the decision has "drawn criticism from some academics" and, to prove its point, cites a retired former associate professor, who was apparently outraged at it all.  Killer stuff.  It also features two opinion pieces and an editorial: .....so far the decision has only shown that the intellectual and … [Read more...]

UWA’s Lomborg centre: impossible, after all

The Guardian    |     8 May 2015 ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… Pyne and Lomborg say ‘Australia consensus centre’ will go ahead in a new home after WA university hands back $4m in funding. …………………………………………………………………………………….......…… Education minister, Christopher Pyne, has vowed to find another university to host the Bjorn Lomborg “consensus centre” and is seeking legal advice about a decision by the University of Western Australia (UWA) to hand back $4m in federal government funding awarded to establish the centre. UWA handed back the funding and dropped its connection with Lomborg, saying that lack of support among its academics made the centre untenable. Lomborg … [Read more...]

V-C salaries on the up

The Australian   |     10 April 2015 ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… University heads have been pocketing substantial salary increases while demanding the Senate pass government legislation to allow fee deregulation based on the ¬argument their institutions are cash-strapped. ……………………………………………………………………………………………….......…… The biggest increase was for Sandra Harding, head of north Queensland’s James Cook University and chairwoman of peak group Universities Australia. Harding’s salary has increased 65 % in just four years — from $559,000 in 2010 to $927,000 last year, including a $79,000 pay increase last year. The highest paid vice-chancellor in Australia is Australian … [Read more...]

The Scan’s top ten reads – September 2014

1 October 2014 ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… In September The Scan published 67 posts, although we also extracted 39 submissions to the Senate inquiry into the  government's higher education reform legislation.  Scan readers seem to be drawn to a whiff of controversy , with the suspension of a vice-chancellor and the suspension of a listed company's trading (albeit temporarily) topping the most read list. The Senate submissions feature third, which is pretty good for that sort of subject. As usual, the travails of the TAFE sector in the era of skills reform features highly, particularly in Victoria, where it could be a prominent issue at the election due in November. Top reads … [Read more...]

The Scan | #163 | 25 September 2014

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Vic’s ACFE joins TAFE “in crisis” 24 September 2014     |     The travails besetting Victoria’s TAFE sector have spread to its Adult, Community and Further Education (ACFE) sector with the ACFE board 2013-14 annual report showing a $1.1 million loss for the ACFE Board after a $11 million cut in state government funding. ACFE returned a $9.4 million surplus in 2012-13. The sector has had a precipitous drop in government income from its peak in 2011-12 – down 80% – and since 2009-10 – down 40%..... [ MORE ].... UWA sets … [Read more...]