The Scan in 2012

Once was TAFE

29 April 2012

The feeling among TAFE stakeholders is one of despondency, unremitting gloom and doom.  As one authoritative commentator put it to The Scan, TAFE in Victoria is “rooted”, or words to that effect.  Another stakeholder observed that the “mad Victorians”, having stuffed up the international sector, are now doing the same to the domestic market.

We’ll see.  Publicly provided TAFE will survive, for the time being at least, but it is hardly likely to prosper.  You can see a path where many of the TAFEs become residualised, with underutilised assets and need “special assistance” to cover declining revenues.  This runs counter, of course, to the logic of “marketisation” as it has finally emerged in Victoria and so you end up at privatisation.

And you ask the question “why”?  Certainly the disorderly and disruptive process of skills reform in Victoria doesn’t seem to have served any public good: it’s blown the budget and debased the qualifications system.  And it’s degraded what was once such an important public asset and contributor to the public good: Victoria’s public TAFE system.

Heated talks on TAFE as secret papers reveal plans

15 September 2012

Hastily convened talks between Victoria’s TAFE directors and the Education Department have failed to quell anger about a leaked document revealing sweeping changes to the sector.  Plans for mergers, campus closures and steep tuition fee increases were outlined in the document, which summarised confidential transition plans submitted by the institutes.

Vic TAFE Transition Plans – the leaked Cabinet paper

ASQA axes two Victorian RTOs

8 October 2012

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has rejected applications from operators of the Ashmark Institute and the Victorian Institute of Culinary Hospitality to renew their registrations as training providers, saying they are “critically non-compliant” with standards.

UNSW launches a MOOC program

15 October 2012

The University of NSW has become the first university in Australia to have a massive open online course, or MOOC, available free on the internet, ahead of the universities of Melbourne, Western Australia and Queensland, whose MOOC programs are still being developed.

Deakin’s lively future

16 June 2012

Deakin University is set to launch its new strategic plan – LIVE the future: Agenda 2020 – at a series of events at its various campuses and centres on 28 June.   According to the university, the plan

…brings the digital world into the real world of learning and experiences.  [It] provides a framework for a bold and exciting future. It outlines the strategies Deakin will implement in order to achieve its vision for learning, for research and for community enterprise though to the end of this second decade of the twenty-first century.

Melbourne top dog

11 October 2012

Melbourne University’s position as Australia’s leading university, as measured by various league tables, was confirmed with the release of the research-focused National Taiwan University Ranking.   Melbourne ranked 35 in the world, ahead of Sydney at 61 and University of Queensland on 72.  ANU, usually Melbourne’s closest Australian challenger, languishes in this particular ranking coming in at 172 internationally and 6th nationally.

Grants freeze threatens research

10 October 2012

Industry could pull the plug on millions of dollars of promised research funding because of uncertainty over the Commonwealth government’s freeze on discretionary spending in its bid to some how, any how  amass a budget surplus.  Unease over the delays is increasing among industry-linked researchers who have spent years cultivating industry support.

University of Ballarat’s “Menzies Affiliation” – background

9 August 2012

In late 2011, following 18 months of negotiation, a collaborative partnership between UB and six regional TAFE Institutes received Australian Government funding and access to Commonwealth Supported Places.   By accrediting TAFE certificates, diplomas, advanced diplomas, and work experience as the first and second years respectively of three-year UB degrees, the partnership has opened a previously untapped market of 32,000 regional Victorians who now have access to HE opportunities through UB’s partner TAFE Institutes.

Uni Canberra & Holmesglen hook-up

17 October 2012

The University of Canberra (UC) will establish a branch campus in Melbourne from 2013, co-locating with Holmesglen Institute of TAFE.   The partnership is the first of its kind in Australia and, according to the partners, “it provides an innovative model for higher education offering new opportunities for students to attain a degree.

CQU cements its presence in Cairns

23 April 2012

CQ University will open a state-of-the-art centre in Cairns, for more than 350 Far Northern students.  The $500,000 hub will open in July and allow students to form study groups, access e-library and internet resources, sit exams, lodge assignments, participate in live lectures broadcast via high-speed internet, and make academic enquiries.

MCD University of Divinity

28 March 2012

On 1 January 2012, the century old Melbourne College of Divinity (MCD) became Australia’s first “university of specialisation”,  following a rigorous 15 month assessment process and subsequent approval by the Victorian Regulation and Qualifications Authority, with the  title ‘MCD University of Divinity’.

The sounds of silence

16 April 2012 [reposted 6 September 2012]

Easter Monday edition of ABC’s Q&A saw Cardinal George Pell (God corner) and Professor Richard Dawkins (non-God corner) square off  (1  million viewers tuned in so odds are you did see it).  Greg Sheridan, who is obviously well versed in theology and metaphysics as well as foreign affairs,  recounted one scene:

 When Dawkins explained that the universe had come from nothing, but that nothing was really very complex and, in fact, consisted of something, people laughed.  Dawkins was annoyed and, like a humourless school marm, peevishly scolded the audience: “Why is that funny?”

Yes, well, “nothing”certainly can be complex. 

Reprehensible elegy…

26 September 2012

A scholar and teacher of French who wrote a satirical poem to cheer up a sacked colleague upset a few colleagues who considered his poetic reflections defamatory.  He ended up having his own services dispensed with by the University of New England.  After a flurry of letters and meetings, UNE has said goodbye to its mostly unpaid French lecturer Jim Nicholls, saying his poem was “calculated to bring senior officers of the university into disrepute”.

Queensland dual sector in the balance

31 August 2012

It’s unclear whether Queensland will proceed with its first dual-sector university.  Queensland Education and Training Minister John-Paul Langbroek told the Australian Council for Private Education and Training’s national conference that a proposed merger of Central Queensland’s university and TAFE, which has been on the backburner since the March state election, would go ahead.  However the commitment doesn’t appear to be iron-clad, with the minister acknowledging the matter is still to be considered by the Queensland cabinet.

No ducking Robb

Someone wrote last year that if the Gillard government had a duck, it would drown: “belly up, gurgle gurgle, plop! – there goes another duck.” 

According to Simon Marginson, the Gillard Government has run out of ducks, so it is imperative to consider what an Abbott Coalition government portends for universities, research and training.   Coalition finance shadow Andrew Robb will be at the centre of decision making in an Abbott government.

The top 50

16 March 2012

What do Pablo Picasso and David Hazlehurst have in common?

Nothing at all really.

Pablo Picasso is a late painter of Spanish origin who is on The Australian’s list of the 50 most influential people in Australian higher education.

David Hazlehurst is very much alive and well and until late last year the bureaucrat with day to day responsibility for higher education in Australia and he’s not on the list.

That sort of sums up The Australian‘s list of influential people today in higher education in Australia – mostly, the people you would expect are on it but  it’s nevertheless either quirky or silly in places, with some curious inclusions, some curious exclusions and some quite bizarre rankings.