Equity

The Scan in 2015

 26 December 2015

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

On account of other pressing matters in 2015 published editions of The Scan, with a completely refreshed front page heralded to subscribers by an e-newsletter, were down quite a bit – just 21 in 2015 compared to 40 in in 2014. Nevertheless, some 350 items were posted, which is about 8 a week in The Scan’s year, a little down on the 10 items posted a week last year.

Traffic to the Scan website remained strong, down about 20% on last year’s figures. The Scan’s now extensive archive of nearly 3000 posts creates “organic” traffic: over one third of all Scan traffic now flows from search engines and referrals.

Regular readers will have noticed the little ads at the bottom of each page and post. We get paid a teensy weensy amount every time an ad is clicked: over the past three years those ads have contributed $88.02 to Scan coffers.

Most Scan visitors are located in Australia but we do have a small international readership, with visitors from about 100 countries in 2015. This is dominated by visitors from the US (6% of total traffic) who number about double every other country combined, followed by the UK with about 1% of the total.

This year’s top ten reads were heavily skewed towards the “VET crisis” and attempts by authorities (rather belatedly in our view) to stamp out the obvious rorting, particularly in VET FEE-HELP funding, which has been truly scandalous. In fact, the number one post this year on The Scan is also the number one post of all time and by quite a bit. If you enter “rorting” in the search box in the top right hand corner, the archive runs to 5 pages, VET FEE-HELP runs to another 5 pages (obviously with some overlap) and that’s only the start of it. Quite why NSW university offers rated so highly might be explained by the fact that NSW newspapers now provide precious little coverage of the event. The seemingly generous pay arrangements of vice-chancellors certainly attracted reader interest (and good on The Oz for pulling the story together) and academic gongs remains a perennial favourite. However, the weightiest issue of the year in higher education was the late Abbott government’s deregulation package which died ignominiously in the Senate and led to then minister Christopher Pyne’s manic performance as The Fixer in an interview with David Speers on Sky News. 

 

………………………………………………………………………………………….……

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Careers Australia caught up in enrolment scam

Careers Aust3 March 2015     |     One of Australia’s biggest private training providers is being accused of using salesmen who target disadvantaged areas and enrol poor students with fake entrance exams.   Careers Australia is a market leader in vocational education, with 16 campuses across five states and 14,000 students, and is expanding rapidly by engaging door-to-door salespeople to sign up new students to courses funded by the Federal Government.  Last financial year Careers Australia billed taxpayers for almost $110 million in VET FEE-HELP loans. Former sales broker Chris Chambers confirmed that sales brokers were taking the entrance exams for potential students, and claimed he saw it happen 40 to 50 times.  These literacy language and numeracy tests were to gauge the eligibility of the student to actually complete the course and potentially pay off their VET FEE debt.   Chambers alleged that communities with high welfare dependence like Hobart’s Bridgewater, Gagebrook and Herdsmans Cove were deliberately targeted.

read-more-button2

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

NSW university offers 2015UAC

20 January 2015     |     As in Victoria, the traditional January main round of university offers in NSW, through the University Admissions Centre (UAC), is decreasing in prominence in the calendar. Offers through the year and direct offers are becoming increasingly the norm. This year, universities have made 46,507 offers through UAC ‘s main round, down 4,307 (- 9%) on last year. But the total number of offers to date is actually up a little, at 76,339, up 1,542 ( + 2%) from last year’s 74,792. So, main round offers through UAC are now about 62% compared to 68% last year and almost 100% four or five years ago.

read-more-button2

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Vice chancellor’s salary packages on the rise

Rocket increase

15 June 2015    |      Australia’s highest paid vice-chancellor saw his salary package increase by $120,000 last year to reach $1.3 million, an analysis of annual reports by The Australian shows.  Michael Spence, head of the University of Sydney, topped the list of 37 vice-chancellors, followed by Greg Craven from the Australian Catholic University ($1.2m); Glyn Davis, University of Melbourne ($1.08m); and Peter Coaldrake, Queensland University of Technology ($1.06m). In all, seven vice-chancellors had salary packages over $1m, including two who left or retired.  At the other end of the spectrum, the analysis of 2014 annual reports showed Kerry Cox, the recently retired head of Edith Cowan University, to be the country’s lowest paid vice-chancellor on $540,000.  The analysis shows that the average salary was $835,000. Male vice-chancellors earned, on average, $853,000 while their eight female counterparts earned an average of $769,000.

read-more-button2

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hundreds of Vocation qualifications recalled

22 April 2015 | Private training provider Vocation has been forced to recall more than 1,000 of its qualifications, including hundreds in child care and Vocationaged care, after Victorian regulators found the courses were sub-standard. Almost 200 students who completed a Certificate III in Child Care, 250 students who completed a Certificate III in Aged Care, and 383 students with a double qualification of business studies will have to hand back their qualifications and inform their employers. A total of 832 students, who all studied with Vocation in Melbourne between January until June last year, are affected. This latest audit by the Victorian Registration and Qualification Authority (VRQA) follows an investigation last year which found about 6,000 students had studied sub-standard courses. More than 3,500 qualifications were recalled, and Vocation was forced to repay $19.6 million in state government funding.

read-more-button2

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Victorian VET Funding Review announced

Bruce McKenzie15 February 2015    |      The new Victorian Labor government has announced a comprehensive, independent review of the funding of Victoria’s vocational education and training (VET) system, as presaged during the election campaign.   Minister for training and skills Steve Herbert says the VET Funding Review will provide a more sustainable model for public TAFE Institutes and private training providers.  According to Herbert, the former Liberal government left Victoria’s training sector in crisis. Government contributions to public TAFEs fell from $733 million in 2011 to $468 million in 2014, leaving many TAFEs at risk of financial collapse.  At the same time, Herbert says the former government’s constant changes to subsidy rates have caused confusion and made it difficult to make long-term plans for private providers.  These sudden and repeated changes caused financial instability, undermining the ability of both TAFEs and private training providers to support Victoria’s growing industries.

read-more-button2

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Higher education reforms referred back to Senate Committee

12 February 2015   |     Labor, the Greens and four independent senators (Senators Xenophon, Lambie, Muir, Rhiannon and Lazarus) have joined Stephen Parkerforces to establish another inquiry into higher education reform, to report by 17 March. The committee will consider alternatives to deregulation, likely future demand for places and implications on student loans, research infrastructure and regional provision. The inquiry will also look to investigate “the appropriateness and accuracy of government -advertising in support of higher education measures” and “other related matters”.   University of Canberra vice-chancellor Stephen Parker expects the legislation will be rejected for a second time by the Senate and wants to encourage a national discussion on alternatives to deregulation. University of Canberra vice-chancellor Parker, a strident opponent of the government package, says that the government’s failure to review any options to deregulation was both a “process failure”  and “a democratic failure because it wasn’t flagged at the last election and it was even denied at the election.”

read-more-button2

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Academic gongs Australia Day 2015

Order of Australia226 January 2015     |      Six hundred and thirty five Australians  have been recognised with Orders of Australia on Australia Day 2015, while a further 59 military and 130 meritorious awards were announced. Members of the tertiary education sector featured strongly in the honours list, with 81 awards, particularly in the upper categories.  People associated with the tertiary sector received 4 out of the 5 Companion awards (80%), 16 out of 38 Officer awards were to people associated with the tertiary sector (42%), 46 of 156 Member awards (29.5%), for a 33% of the higher awards.  In the most common category of Medal, only 15 of 434 awards were tertiary sector related people (3.4%). Women continue to be under represented with 33% of all awards, mainly in the Medal category.  Only four of the tertiary sector awards were to people in the VET sector.

read-more-button2

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Vic to blitz “dodgy” VET providers

Deloitte2

29 June 2015       |       The Victorian Government is launching a major blitz to crackdown on “dodgy” training providers in order to lift standards in sector.   A review by Deloitte has revealed widespread abuses, including qualifications being issued to students who have no demonstrable skills, inappropriate marketing practices, short course duration, providers claiming government funding for non-existent training delivery and poor oversight of third parties delivering training.  Skills minister Steve Herbert said that since November 2014, the government has had to restore funding eligibility for more than 10,000 students who gained inadequate qualifications, and has found dubious practices in a range of qualification areas.   He said the Government will spend $9 million on auditing, interviewing students, ensuring the paperwork was right and make sure they were getting “high-quality” training.  The priority is to crackdown on providers who are doing short course delivery about which there have been complaints and are suspected of not providing quality training.

read-more-button2

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Birmingham releases “synthesis report” on HE reform

Birmingham28 October 2015    |        The Commonwealth government has released a synthesis report of the past seven reviews of higher education over the past 30 years rather than conducting a further  separate review in the wake of its failed higher education reform package.  Education minister Simon Birmingham told the Australian Financial Review’s Higher Education Summit said that the government is under intense time pressures to come up with a new and revitalised higher education reform package after its the package devised by former education minister Christopher Pyne was rejected by the Senate twice, largely due to intense community opposition over the plan to deregulate university fees.   The background paper summarises the findings of each major review of higher education from the 1988 Dawkins White Paper to the 2014 Kemp-Norton Review of the Demand Driven Funding System.

read-more-button2

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Labor’s TAFE agenda in QueenslandAnnastacia3

With the Labor Party poised to form a minority government in Queensland, its promise to rescue the TAFE sector will now come into sharper Focus.  Queensland VET student numbers fell 38,000 in 2013.During the election campaign, Labor leader and soon to be premier Annastacia Palaszczuk  (who pronounces her surname as “Pallashay”) made a number of commitments to address the vocational educational and training system.

read-more-button2

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Image is everything

6 April 2015

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

News Corp photographer Brad Hunter will join Tony Abbott’s media staff later this month, raising concerns that news photographers will gain less direct access to the prime minister.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………….……

Abbott & kid asleep
The kid couldn’t take it any longer

read-more-button2

HECS debts to rise after Labor cuts a deal on legislation

The Australian    |     3 December 2015

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

The Oz
read-more-button2

How teaching funds research in Australian universities

28 November 2015

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

A report by the Grattan Institute report finds that universities earn up to $3.2 billion more from students than they spend on teaching, and have powerful incentives to spend the extra money on research. International students, who usually generate more revenue per student than domestic students, contribute a substantial proportion of this surplus. The report’s author, Andrew Norton, says the finding is concerning because, while university research matters to Australia, the evidence that it improves teaching is less clear. He observes that direct spending on teaching, by contrast, is far more likely to ensure that universities offer the high-quality courses students want. In this commentary in The Conversation, Norton observes that the priority of research within universities means that teaching does not always get its share of time and money. He proposes that any new funding system must ensure that money intended for teaching is spent on teaching.

………………………………………………………………………………………….……

 

UnisNo-one knows exactly how universities spend their money. But questions are asked about how universities have financed huge growth in the amount of research produced over the past 15 years – and a new report by the Grattan Institute could have the answer.

It finds that, in 2012, universities spent at least $2 billion on research that was meant for teaching. This means that around one dollar in every five was spent on research rather than tuition.

Universities are not doing anything improper in spending money this way.

The current legislation pays universities on student numbers, but is silent on how exactly the money should be used.

But the absence of specific teaching funding makes it hard to ensure that any extra money intended to benefit students is actually spent on students.

So why are universities so focused on funding research? And is there a need to be more transparent about how universities spend their money?

How research is funded in universities

Government research programs finance only around half of university research spending in universities.

Some of the other half comes from non-government sources, including corporate sponsorship and donations.

By examining all revenue sources not specifically for teaching or research, such as investment earnings and profits on commercial operations, we were able to estimate the financial contribution teaching makes to research.

What our report shows is that at least $2bn must have come from teaching, as there were no other sources large enough to account for the nearly $10bn universities spent on research in 2012.

But exactly how much teaching surpluses contribute to research cannot be answered precisely.

Unlike countries such as the UK, Australia does not require universities to report spending on teaching and research.

Time for more transparency?

Universities face powerful internal pressures to spend more money on research.

The academics who say they would like more research time outnumber by more than four to one those who say they would like more teaching time.

An obsession with university leagues tables – which are largely based on research performance – further adds to the pressure to produce more research.

Universities are more likely to move up the league tables if they produce more quality research. This can also make their institution more attractive to students, both domestic and international, which then helps generate income via tuition fees.

Because of these research pressures, there is no guarantee that additional investment in universities aimed at students would be spent on teaching and student services.

The campaign for fee deregulation failed in part because too few people believed that students would benefit.

But public funding has the same issue. The money could be spent on research rather than teaching.

This may not matter if research improves teaching. Universities hope that it does, pointing to the idea of a teaching-research nexus, mutually beneficial links between the two activities.

Unfortunately, empirical studies find that research performance does not reliably predict teaching performance. Some good researchers are good teachers too, but typically they are no better than colleagues with weaker research records. A policy to improve teaching should target teaching directly, not via research.

In England, the government has plans to link each university’s performance on various teaching indicators to their right to increase fees. Whether this is feasible remains to be seen.

Teaching needs its share of money

We can start more modestly, by improving university financial information.

New Education Minister Simon Birmingham hinted at this in a speech in October. This means requiring universities to report on how much they spend on teaching, research and other university functions.

This information would give us more precise estimates of the financial relationship between teaching and research.

It could also be used to monitor how universities spend any future increases in funding, whether from student fees or the government.

This does not rule out financing research on a per student basis, but we need to be clear about what we are funding.

Teaching and research are both vital university activities, but with tensions as well as synergies.

The priority of research within universities means that teaching does not always get its share of time and money.

Any new funding system must ensure that money intended for teaching is spent on teaching.

See
The cash nexus: how teaching funds research in Australian universities

This article by Andrew Norton (Program Director, Higher Education, Grattan Institute)   was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

The Scan # 173 22 July 2015

VET matters

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

News

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Vic international strategy directions 

flags1

21   July 2015    |   The Victorian government has released a discussion paper on international education as part of its $200 million Future Industries Fund. The paper covers all three education sectors (higher education, VET and schools).  It proposes nine strategic directions, including developing more markets to reduce reliance on the two traditionally big markets of China and India.  It also proposes greater international engagement of the schools sector and growing international provision in regional institutions.  It notes that the experience that international students have of living in a particular location influences that place’s attractiveness as an education destination and therefore the need to ensure that international students have a positive experience of their study in Victoria.  Comment on the paper is open until 17 August….[ MORE ]….

Qld boosts training and TAFE funding

qld-tafe21 July 2015     |      The Queensland government has allocated $337.2 million over 4 years for training initiatives in its budget delivered on 15 July. This includes the reintroduction of the reintroduction of the Skilling Queenslanders for Work initiative. Skilling Queenslanders for Work represents an investment of $240 million over four years to support 32,000 Queenslanders back into work and boost the skills of the Queensland workforce.  The budget provides $34.5 million over the next four years to restore TAFE Queensland to as the premier provider of VET in Queensland. Funding will be directed at helping TAFE Queensland deliver foundation courses, increase the number of qualifications available through VET in schools and hire additional teaching and support staff…..[ MORE ]….

Vic VET issues paper releasedSave our TAFE

16 July 2015    |     The Victorian VET Funding Review has released an Issues Paper, ahead of making its final report to the Victorian government, due at the end of August. While it argues that TAFE needs greater support, the Review is operating on the premise that a contestable system will continue and will need to operate within the existing budget. The paper observes that, if properly implemented, contestability has the ability to drive innovation, efficiency and improvement, and empower students and industry to choose their training and provider….[ MORE ]….

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Milestones

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Warren Tapp to head new TAFE group

17 July 2015

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

A new voice for the Australian TAFE sector – TAFE Chairs Australia  –  has been established.

………………………………………………………………………………………….……

TAFE Chairs Australia is made up of chairpersons (or equivalent) of TAFE from Australian States and Territories. The group comes together with a Warren Tappcharter to raise the profile of VET and TAFE, as well as proactively engage on associated national issues.

Speaking at the Victorian TAFE Association State Conference about reform of TAFE in recent years, Warren Tapp, the inaugural chair of the group,   said:

TAFE Chairs have an obligation to actively promote the important contribution TAFEs across Australia make to the national economy and growing productivity.  There has been significant advancement within the VET sector nationally including new governance arrangements for some TAFEs. These emerging arrangements have given rise to the formation of TAFE Chairs Australia.

He said TAFE Chairs bring a commercial and governance focus from outside government and the VET sector as a key contribution to national discussions about VET and TAFE.

read-more-button2

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Comment & analysis

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Improving equity through VET FEE-HELP

21 July 2015

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Two of the key architects of the original HECS, Dr Tim Higgins and Professor Bruce Chapman, have produced a new report that argues for significant reform to the income contingent loan scheme that would extend it to more VET students while making it affordable. 

………………………………………………………………………………………….……

Go8 Equity scales

 They argue that extending income contingent loans to more VET students is required to ensure equity among tertiary students,  but this would require adjustment to the current system otherwise it would not be financially sustainable or equitable. They note that when compared to university graduates, Certificate III and IV completers have low incomes and, for women, low employment outcomes. They propose that,  unless government funding for tertiary education is increased, there is a persuasive case for reducing the income repayment threshold, reducing the repayment rate and imposing a uniform loan surcharge across all tertiary students.

read-more-button2

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Realigning the VET system

21 July 2015

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

With the the Prime Minister and the Premiers and First Ministers  gathering in Canberra for a retreat on reform options for Australia’s fractitious, if not fractured, Federation, all the chatter is round increasing the rate of the GST from 10% to 15%,  either to “compensate” the states/territories for whacking cuts in Commonwealth grants in future years, which has a dark logic to it,  or to make way for income tax cuts, which doesn’t seem to have too much logic to it all.  But there are other proposals on the table.  SA Premier Jay Weatherill, in a speech to the National Press Club, has proposed, among other things, a realignment of Commonwealth and State responsibilities in education.  

………………………………………………………………………………………….……

Jay WeatherillHe proposes that States and Territories be responsible for the education of people from birth to the end of secondary schooling, and the Federal Government dealing with everything beyond – including higher education and vocational education and training (VET).  While the States retain nominal ownership of higher education, the Commonwealth calls the shots throgh its primary funding role and through the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency, which regulates the sector.  The Commonwealth has an important role in VET, particularly through the Australian Skills Quality Agency,  but in funding, the States retain primary responsibility in VET.   Similarly, the Commonwealth has an important role in funding schools education, particularly for equity purposes and as a catalyst for reform, but schools remain the province of the States (although the Commonwealth provides the overwhelming proportion of funding for private schools, which would be an issue).  There is considerable logic for a transfer of VET to the Commonwealth, to create consistency in funding and policy, and it’s an idea that has been around since at least the “New Federalism” of the early nineties and was actually agreed to in 1991, but fell over when Paul Keating knocked off Bob Hawke as Prime Minister.  Perhaps it’s an idea whose time has come, though you’d be right to be cautious of the equity implications of the Commonwealth vacating schools funding, particularly in the absence of some sort of funding settlement around Gonski (a point made by Weatherill).  But let’s at least keep the proposal on the table and see where it might lead.

read-more-button2

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

In defence of good research wherever it is found

21 July 2015

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

In response to commentary deprecating The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey: Selected Findings from Waves 1 to 12 by Roger Wilkins of the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research at The University of Melbourne, Conor King,  the Executive Director of the Innovative Research Universities Group,  provides his perspective on the valuable insight which the Survey presents. 

………………………………………………………………………………………….……

The commentary on The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey: Selected Findings from Waves 1 to 12 by Roger Wilkins of Hilda2the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research at The University of Melbourne has been sidetracked by one plausible statistic, neglecting the full import of the Survey.

The Survey confirms the earning value from higher levels of education, particularly for women.  It shows that, for women, having a higher education degree is important for the likelihood of employment.  That is not so for men who tend to be employed but with lower earnings if not a graduate.

Those outcomes are not necessarily new but since they based on a cohort covering multiple generations they underpin the value from expanding the take up of higher education, a core mission of IRU members.

The new aspect coming from the survey is the hint that school results let alone intelligence are not long term strongly correlated with income. Rather it is the fact of education.

read-more-button2

_________________________________________________________

A snapshot of the Victorian VET sector

Snapshot4
Click image

__________________________________________________________

Life & stuff

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

21 July 2015

The bloody ABC’s done it again

Heads must roll

 

__________________________________________________________

One Hundred Stories

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Monash University’s commemoration of the Great War.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Wall of Commemoration
The One Hundred Stories are a silent presentation. They remember not just the men and women who lost their lives, but also those who returned to Australia, the gassed, the crippled, the insane, all those irreparably damaged by war. The Great War shaped the world as well as the nation. Its memory belongs to us all.

read-more-button2

<

__________________________________________________________

Noticeboard

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

VTA

read-more-button2

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

ACPET Conference

read-more-button2
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
TDA Conf 2015

read-more-button2
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Velg conf

read-more-button2
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Click image to donate
Click image to find out more!

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The VET Store

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

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!

__________________________________________________________

Click to listen
Click to listen

Radio Double Karma on Pandora

Adult contemporary music

The Fray…London Grammar…Leonard Cohen…Dixie Chicks…Peter Gabriel…Of Monsters and Men…Krishna Das…Cold Play…Snow Patrol….Clck hereAretha Franklin

You do need to sign up to listen but it’s free (for the first 40 hours a month)

__________________________________________________________

Is there something interesting near where you live and/or work? Got an interesting story? Got an event coming up? Tell us about it!

subscribe

Realigning the VET system

21 July 2015

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

With the the Prime Minister and the Premiers and First Ministers  gathering in Sydney for a retreat on reform options for Australia’s fractitious, if not fractured, Federation, all the chatter is round increasing the rate of the GST from 10% to 15%,  either to “compensate” the states/territories for whacking cuts in Commonwealth grants in future years, which has a dark logic to it,  or to make way for income tax cuts, which doesn’t seem to have too much logic to it all.  But there are other proposals on the table.  SA Premier Jay Weatherill, in a speech to the National Press Club, has proposed, among other things, a realignment of Commonwealth and State responsibilities in education.  He proposes that States and Territories be responsible for the education of people from birth to the end of secondary schooling, and the Federal Government dealing with everything beyond – including higher education and vocational education and training (VET).  While the States retain nominal ownership of higher education, the Commonwealth calls the shots throgh its primary funding role and through the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency, which regulates the sector.  The Commonwealth has an important role in VET, particularly through the Australian Skills Quality Agency,  but in funding, the States retain primary responsibility in VET.   Similarly, the Commonwealth has an important role in funding schools education, particularly for equity purposes and as a catalyst for reform, but schools remain the province of the States (although the Commonwealth provides the overwhelming proportion of funding for private schools, which would be an issue).  There is considerable logic for a transfer of VET to the Commonwealth, to create consistency in funding and policy, and it’s an idea that has been around since at least the “New Federalism” of the early nineties and was actually agreed to in 1991, but fell over when Paul Keating knocked off Bob Hawke as Prime Minister.  Perhaps it’s an idea whose time has come, though you’d be right to be cautious of the equity implications of the Commonwealth vacating schools funding, particularly in the absence of some sort of funding settlement around Gonski (a point made by Weatherill).  But let’s at least keep the proposal on the table and see where it might lead.

………………………………………………………………………………………….……

Jay WeatherillI believe that reforming the Federation is crucial and that we have the perfect opportunity to start the process at the Prime Minister’s Leaders’ Retreat in a fortnight’s time.

Our Federation isn’t broken, but it is under strain.

The Commonwealth’s decision to unilaterally break an agreement and impose $80 billion of cost shift to the States and Territories is an issue of fundamental importance that must be addressed at the Leaders’ Retreat.

It’s difficult to imagine any vision for an effective Federation that doesn’t involve each level of government keeping their promises to one another. Nevertheless, I’m excited by the opportunity for reform that the Retreat offers our nation.

I’m confident of our ability to bring about change because we’ve done it before – witness the economic reforms of the Hawke-Keating governments in the 1980s and 1990s. 9 Federal and State governments generally worked well together to achieve those results.

And we’re going to need a new attitude and framework for cooperation if we’re to improve the way we provide health, education and other social services to Australians.

It’s time now for Premiers and Chief Ministers to have more of a say.

Given that many of the major reforms requiring Federal decisions have already been made, from here on States and Territories are the next frontiers of reform.

I think the attitude of most Australians is that they expect decent services to be delivered properly by government, but that they’re not too fussed about which level of government does what. And they’re certainly turned off by useless political bickering among the jurisdictions.

Australians want to live in a country where they have access to secure, well-paid jobs, good health care and education, a home to raise a family, and where they receive adequate support as they age.

In light of all I’ve said, it’s time for Australia to consider major – not modest – reform of the Federation.

Our country needs to improve the productivity and effectiveness of our health services to underpin the wellbeing of families and communities. We need to create better education systems so that – ultimately – children can fulfil their potential and be in a position to take advantage of opportunity.

We need to unlock infrastructure investment, as failure in this area constrains our nation’s growth. And we need to make the dream of a place to call home a reality for more Australians.

I’ll be taking a comprehensive set of productivity reforms to the Leaders’ Retreat to help build a more certain and secure future for Australians, and I want to tell you about some of them now.

My first proposal is to reform the education system.

It essentially involves the States and Territories handling the education of people from birth to the end of secondary schooling, and the Federal Government dealing with everything beyond – including higher education and vocational education and training.

Put another way, it would be a new demarcation of responsibilities – the States responsible for the development and education of people, and the Commonwealth responsible for their work and welfare.

Under this split, State governments like mine would be the sole manager of early childhood development, prevention and early intervention services, primary and secondary education.

This would involve the transfer of responsibility for child care from the Commonwealth to the States. And we’d deal with policy, regulation and the delivery of public services.

As for funding arrangements, the current Commonwealth spend on these services would either continue through a single block-funding grant to the States or through some other ongoing funding transfer.

All this should take place in the context of my State’s and the Commonwealth’s continuing commitment to the Gonski funding arrangements.

My suggested change to education would mean better outcomes for children and young people – especially those with learning difficulties – through better investment in the early years. At the moment, State governments engage with children from birth to about age one through antenatal services, health checks and immunisations.

If a child is healthy and developing from age one to four, most of their contact is with Commonwealth-subsidised child care and the occasional visit to the family doctor.

This means that States often “lose sight” of children between one and four, unless it’s through episodic contact with specialist services. As a result, it’s often the case that – by the time they reenter the State preschool and schooling system – learning and other problems have deteriorated or become entrenched.

The long-term costs of addressing the effects of these issues – such as through health – are borne by the States.

Evidence shows that a person’s physical, neurocognitive and social foundations are well established by five years of age.

As a former Minister for Education, I’m acutely aware that those who fall short of key developmental milestones by five years find these gaps very difficult to close.

The late Dr Fraser Mustard – a Canadian expert in early childhood development and a former Adelaide Thinker in Residence – put the imperative in stark financial terms. He said that every dollar government spends supporting the development of children saves between four and eight dollars over the longer term.

Given that the principal focus of the Gonski reforms was the adequate funding of the bottom 20% of students with learning needs, all the evidence suggests this objective will be greatly assisted by starting earlier.

Education reform is profoundly important for the transition from the “old” to the “new” economy because knowledge industries need workers who are creative thinkers.

In my opinion, this is the real productivity agenda for the nation – not a narrow focus on punitive industrial relations measures.

Improving equity through VET FEE-HELP

21 July 2015

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Two of the key architects of the original HECS, Dr Tim Higgins and Professor Bruce Chapman, have produced a new report that argues for Mitchell2significant reform to the income contingent loan scheme that would extend it to more VET students while making it affordable.  They argue that extending income contingent loans to more VET students is required to ensure equity among tertiary students,  but this would require adjustment to the current system otherwise it would not be financially sustainable or equitable. They note that when compared to university graduates, Certificate III and IV completers have low incomes and, for women, low employment outcomes. They propose that,  unless government funding for tertiary education is increased, there is a persuasive case for reducing the income repayment threshold, reducing the repayment rate and imposing a uniform loan surcharge across all tertiary students.  The following summary of the report –  Feasibility and design of a tertiary education entitlement in Australia: Modelling and costing a universal income contingent loans has been prepared by the Mitchell Institute which commissioned and published it.

………………………………………………………………………………………….……

 

The Mitchell Institute commissioned Higgins and Chapman to prepare the report following the release of its issues paper, Financing tertiary education in Australia the reform imperative and rethinking student entitlements, in February 2015 by Mitchell Professorial Fellow Peter Noonan and Mitchell Policy Analyst, Sarah Pilcher.

The February paper proposed the potential expansion of Australia’s successful income contingent loan scheme to all Australian tertiary students from Certificate III upwards as part of a new model for tertiary education funding across the Commonwealth and state governments.

This latest report to the Mitchell Institute presents the outcomes of various financial modelling, conducted by Higgins and Chapman, of the potential costs of applying an income contingent loan scheme to include all tertiary education students.

The Mitchell Institute will draw on the Higgins and Chapman report to finalise its proposal for an integrated tertiary education funding system in Australia.

What is an income contingent loan?

At present, there are a range of different income contingent loans schemes operating in Australia’s higher education and VET sectors. Under such schemes, students are not required to pay the upfront cost of their course. Instead, they are able to take out a loan with the government and repay the loan through the taxation system once they enter the workforce and their incomes reach a certain threshold.

But these loans are not available to all students. In the VET system, those studying for Certificate III and most Certificate IV VET courses, for example, early childhood education, aged care, and hospitality, do not have access to an income contingent loan. These students must pay the cost of their course upfront – a potential barrier as fees for many of these courses are increasing.

Go8 Equity scales

 What does the Higgins and Chapman paper say?

The Higgins and Chapman paper says there are strong public policy arguments for extending the income contingent loan system to include more tertiary students, but that doing so would mean revisiting some of the fundamental parameters of the existing income contingent loan scheme.

The authors re-examine the basic rationale for income contingent loans as a policy intervention, setting out several key reasons for extending and revising the current system.

What is the policy rationale for extending income contingent loans to more tertiary students?

Higgins and Chapman suggest that left to itself, the tertiary education market will not meet the needs of individuals, employers or the economy. They argue extending income contingent loans to more tertiary students is required for the following reasons

1.    To ensure equity among Australian tertiary students.

Current settings treat students differently depending on the sector in which they study, the type of provider organisation at which they study, the level of the qualification, and the state in which they live. This has led to unnecessary complexity and inequity in tertiary education and decreases our stock of human capital

2.   To ensure greater policy coherence and transparency.

The current system may not be creating the right incentives. The existence of upfront fees in some settings, and the variability of those fees, is likely to affect student choice.

Uneven policy settings may curtail, and in some cases, restrict students’ choices, and this is likely to disproportionately affect students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

3.  To ensure the ongoing financial sustainability of the income contingent loan system.

Currently the Commonwealth is paying not only a course subsidy but a loan subsidy (this arises because some debt may not be repaid and because interest charged on the loan is less than the government’s cost of borrowing), and this varies greatly depending on a graduate’s income. Understanding and quantifying these loan subsidies is vital to ensuring the ongoing viability of the scheme.

The income threshold for repayment was originally set with reference to average full and part-time earnings – the rationale being that if a student never earns a greater than average wage, they have not realised the private benefits of their study and therefore do not need to repay their debt. These settings, conceived at a time when tertiary participation rates were much lower, may no longer suit a world of near universal tertiary education and training.

  What are the key findings of the Higgins and Chapman paper?

The Higgins and Chapman report seeks to quantify the largely hidden subsidies involved in income contingent loans through unpaid debt and the difference between the rate at which debt is indexed and the costs to government of borrowing to finance student debt.

The modelling mapped students’ projected incomes by qualification level, finding significant variation in lifetime incomes across VET and higher education qualifications.

Higgins and Chapman found that extending current income contingent loan arrangements to a broader scheme would require adjustments, as doing so under current settings would arguably be neither financially sustainable nor equitable.

The paper finds that extending the current income contingent loan system to a broader range of students would result in:

1.  High loan subsidies for some students and qualifications.

This is particularly the case for Certificate level qualifications and also for female graduates because females experience much lower rates of full time employment. This has a significant effect on lifetime incomes and capacity to repay an income contingent loan.

2.  High variability in the effective subsidy rate between different groups of students.

This variability in loan subsidies means costs are not shared transparently or equitably among the pool of borrowers and the Commonwealth.

Given these conclusions, the paper then presents modelling that changes a number of key variables of the income contingent loan mechanism, including:

  • the repayment rate;
  • the income level at which students commence repayments;
  • the interest rate applied to the loan; and
  • loan fees or surcharges, noting that these currently exist for FEE-HELP and VET FEE-HELP, but not HECSHELP.

Changing these settings can have a significant impact on how much, and how quickly, debt is repaid.

It also highlights the complexity of equitably sharing the costs of income contingent loans between the individual student, the pool of student borrowers and the Commonwealth (or taxpayers).

This involves not only a consideration of the public and private benefits of tertiary study or training, but also the extent to which the policy settings create cross-subsidies from some cohorts of students to others.

The paper also explores a range of broader policy issues including:

  1. Federalstate responsibilities where the Commonwealth operates the income contingent loans scheme but the states/territories fund VET and could transfer costs to students and through them to the Commonwealth.
  2. Setting fee policies and public funding appropriately so that students don’t take on debt for excessive fees that will not be fully or ever be repaid as a consequence of inappropriate provider behaviours.

Women have generally less capacity to repay their income contingent loans than men as a consequence of lower levels of workforce participation. There are also important interactions between the tax system, family benefits and child care costs meaning that repayment rates and the level at which repayments commence have to be carefully considered.

What do Higgins and Chapman conclude?

Higgins and Chapman argue that on balance, if income contingent loans are offered to Certificate III and IV students – but if state/territory and Commonwealth governments are reluctant to increase funding of tertiary education – then the modelling makes a persuasive case for reducing the income repayment threshold, reducing the repayment rate and imposing a uniform loan surcharge across all tertiary students. The authors see these measures as a viable means of ensuring consistency while also ensuring that additional costs of the system are progressively shared across the pool of borrowers.

About the authors 

Tim_Higgins-300x300Dr Timothy Higgins is Senior Lecturer and researcher in Actuarial Studies at the Australian National University. Prior to academia, he worked in the Department of Treasury where he was involved in the design and costing of public policy, including the HECS scheme. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries of Australia and has been a consultant on higher education policy to the Australian government. He has written extensively on the design, application and costing of income contingent loans.

Professor Bruce Chapman is Professor of Economics and Director, Policy Impact at the Crawford School of Public Policy Bruce Chapmanat the Australian National University. He is widely regarded as the architect of HECS, the Australian income contingent loan scheme for higher education. He has extensive experience in public policy, including as a senior economic advisor to Prime Minister Paul Keating, 1994–96, and as a higher education financing consultant to the World Bank and the governments of Thailand, Papua New Guinea, Mexico, Canada, the UK, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Malaysia, Colombia, the US, Chile and China.

 

Who should go to university?

 Everyone, or just enough people to fill skilled jobs?

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 We have more people going to university in Australia than ever before. In 1971 only 2% of the population over 15 years old held a Bachelor’s degree, in 2013 it was 25%. Last year a whopping 1,149,300 people were enrolled in a Bachelor’s degree or above.  However, graduate employment rates are falling. This leads many to ask whether too many people are going to university. Should everyone go to university or just the correct number to be able to fill highly skilled jobs in Australia?  asks Leo Goedegebuure (University of Melbourne), writing in The Conversation.

………………………………………………………………………………………….……

 More education, the more benefits for all

Philosophically, I am all in favour of providing a university experience to as many students as possible. The positive external effects of a highly educated population include reduced crime rates and better health outcomes with associated lower public costs. Equally, it leads to stronger societies and communities, stronger democracies and, although slowly, it helps in reducing socio-economic inequalities.

And we should not forget the formative impact that “going to college” has on individuals, ranging from personal growth to greater job satisfaction once graduated.

While universal higher education is a positive goal in many aspects, not everyone will have the ability necessary to complete a degree. A recent report to the US Senate provided a painful reminder that universal tertiary education is not only about enrolling students, but equally about making sure they graduate and that subsequently they are in a position to repay their loans. Repayment, as the data shows, goes hand in hand with completion and finding a job.

Ensuring their students can complete the degrees they are enrolled in is universities’ first responsibility.

While some may look at graduate employment rates and contend we have an oversupply of graduates, I fundamentally disagree. Not only is the middle- and long-term outlook for university graduates still pretty good, in a knowledge-based economy there is no limit on the level of educational attainment. The higher and the better educated a country, the more competitive it becomes.

Graduates should have broad skills. VelkrO/Flickr, CC BY

This point is illustrated by the recent report of the World Economic Forum. The report is based on a classic economic model in which a sound tertiary education system is a prerequisite for a skilled, well-educated workforce and a vibrant innovation system, which are the two pillars of all advanced economies.

Graduates need to be broadly educated

A well-educated workforce doesn’t mean narrowly trained graduates in highly specialised and professional positions. Sure, we do need those – as anyone undergoing surgery or spending some time in a dentist chair will attest. But for an innovative society that is strongly service-based we need well-educated graduates who are the motor for process and product innovation.

This, in turn, means “T-shaped” graduates who possess in-depth disciplinary knowledge (the vertical bar of the T) but who also combine this with skills and abilities not specific to just one area (the horizontal top bar of the T).

These well-educated people can work in teams and have a capacity for deep listening. They can communicate and are instilled with an entrepreneurial spirit that enables them to create new jobs rather than venturing out to a pre-populated labour market.

This then is the second responsibility that is bestowed on universities. It is not only about completion but completing with the right set of skills and abilities.

This is not to say that nothing is happening. Far from it.

To take some random examples, over the last four years the University of Technology, Sydney almost doubled its enrolments in first-year chemistry from 650 to over 1,000, accompanied by significantly improved pass rates and reduced attrition. Innovation and design labs exploring design thinking are popping up across the country.

But, as a sector, many of our approaches to teaching and learning are still traditional and many are antiquated.

This needs to change if we truly see university education as part of the engine room of a competitive, innovative society in the most dynamic socio-economic region of the world. This is not only about resourcing, it also is about “having skin in the game” as the US Senate report so aptly frames it.


The Conversation is running a series on “What are universities for?” looking at the place of universities in Australia, why they exist, who they serve, and how this is changing over time. Read other articles in the series here.

The ConversationLeo Goedegebuure is Director, LH Martin Institute at University of Melbourne.
Click image to donate
Click image to find out more!

Deregulating university fees "not essential" – new UA chair

Fairfax Media     |   31 May 2015

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 Deregulating university fees is not essential for Australia to have a sustainable and high quality university sector, according to the new chairman of peak body Universities Australia, Barney Glover.

………………………………………………………………………………………….……

Barney GloverGlover, who is the University of Western Sydney vice-chancellor, said the university funding debate must focus on the “compelling case” for increased government investment – not just requiring students to pay more for a degree.

In an interview with Fairfax Media marking his arrival at Universities Australia, he also queried the effectiveness of Labor’s proposal to write off HECS debts for 100,000 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students.

Universities Australia, which represents Australia’s 39 universities, has, in the past, strongly supported the Abbott government’s push to allow universities to set their own undergraduate fees while opposing proposed cuts to course funding. Education minister Christopher Pyne has vowed to reintroduce legislation later this year following two previous Senate defeats.

Glover said the government is unlikely to pass higher education reform in this term. He is already thinking ahead to the next election, where higher education is set to be a key policy battleground.

This is not the time to be backing away from making the case for public investment in our universities – it is time to intensify the argument. The need to stimulate new jobs in science and technology following the winding down of the mining boom means there is a “compelling case” for increased investment in higher education.

Glover said more secure funding for research infrastructure is especially important so world-leading scientific facilities are not constantly at risk of closure.

When asked if fee deregulation is needed for an affordable and high quality university sector, Professor Glover said:

No, of course it isn’t. Deregulation is at one end of the spectrum; at the other end is the system as it is now.  We are going to continue to engage in a debate about what the appropriate balance is.

Several ideas – such as increased caps on fees or decreased Commonwealth subsidies for universities that increase their fees – have been raised and are worthy of discussion, he said.

While welcoming a “mature debate” about whether students can contribute more to their education costs, Glover warned significant fee increases could deter some students from university study.

There are significant concerns in the community about the burdens placed on students.  Families from low socio-economic backgrounds are concerned about debt for their children. For mature-age undergraduate students studying part time there is a serious concern about their level of debt.

Glover said two principles are non-negotiable for Universities Australia: maintaining the integrity of the income-contingent university loans scheme (HECS) and retaining the demand-driven system that allows universities to decide how many students they enrol in each discipline.

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 Education Budget2figures 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. Massaro told The Australian that “we need to have a serious conversation about the sustainability of uncapped enrolments if the per capita funding levels are going to continue to slide and each place is to be funded at the same level irrespective of the institution and its research performance.” While the budget was based on an assumption the government’s reforms would pass the Senate, the Grattan Institute’s Andrew Norton says there would be both positive and negative consequences on forward estimates of the reforms not passing….[ MORE ]….

Former Fosters boss to head new skills body

Pollaers15May 2015   |     Former Fosters and Pacific Brands CEO John Pollaers has been appointed chair of the federal government’s Australian Industry and Skills Committee designed to put employers in charge of choosing which vocational qualifications are funded by government training packages. Assistant Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham said the new body will “put industry at the centre of the system”. Pollaers will head a 12-member body of industry representatives, including one nominated by each state and territory government, and a rotating member from the three main business groups, the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Australian Industry Group. The new committee is part of the government’s new model for training package development which will end the role of the 12 industry skills councils funded by government and replace them with a contestable system. The committee will sit above a new structure of industry reference groups – which will advise on the training qualification needs for each industry sector – backed by skills service organisations to provide administrative support….[ MORE ]….

Skills entitlement to be reviewed 

15 May 2015     |    The National Partnership Agreement on Skills, including the student entitlement to training, is to be reviewed, following the COAG meeting of federal, state and territory skills ministers in Melbourne on 8 May.  Simon Birmingham.  The ministers agreed to a “simpler, more responsive training system” under projects agreed by the meeting, according the Commonwealth skills minister Senator Simon Birmingham. Birmingham said he expects to see this work delivering changes, particularly relating to quality and relevance, in coming months….[ MORE ]…..

Science and innovation prizes

15 May 2015    |         The Victorian government has opened applications for two prestigious science and innovation award programs. The government will offer two Victoria Prizes for Science and Vic Science PrizeInnovation, in physical sciences and life sciences, alongside 12 Victoria Fellowships – six in physical sciences and six in life sciences.  The 2015 Victoria Prizes for Science and Innovation, valued at $50,000 each, are to recognise outstanding leaders in science and their research contributions to the Victorian community.  The Victoria Fellowships, valued at $18,000 each, support researchers in science, engineering and technology, who are in the early stages of their career and would benefit from an international study mission.  Recipients of these awards in 2014 included researchers in nanomedicines for the treatment of cancers and cardiovascular disease, and translational neuroscience in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.  Other research areas included sports engineering, cloud computing, materials science, environmental health, preventative therapies and mental health.  The two Victoria Prize recipients and 12 Victoria Fellows will be announced at an awards ceremony later this year….[ MORE ]……

No consensus on Lomborg centre

10 May 2015   |   Education minister Christopher Pyne has vowed to find another university to UWAhost 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. In a statement to staff, UWA vice-chancellor Paul Johnson said that the planned Australian consensus centre, which would have been linked to Lomborg’s Copenhagen consensus centre, would have done important work, but “unfortunately, that work cannot happen here”….[ MORE ]….

Pyne’s research budget fix

8 May 2015    |   Science research infrastructure that was threatened by the government’s Budget cutscontroversial higher education reforms will receive a $300 million lifeline in next week’s budget – but at the expense of other research funding. Cutting the $1.8 billion a year research block grants is an easier option that doesn’t needing parliamentary approval or targets specific projects, but it will still hurt research. It’s reported that funding for the National Collaborative and Research Infrastructure Strategy will be given a two-year reprieve, with funding until 2017, totalling $300 million. Grattan Institute higher education expert Andrew Norton said the cut can be expected to reduce research. In contrast, he said a better option would be to cut the Commonwealth Grants Scheme that funds teaching and make up for it with a minor increase in student fees that won’t have any impact on participation. However such a move would need parliamentary approval….[ MORE ]….
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Budget 2015 (2)

University sector comment

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

quote marksResearch programs take a hit as universities and students left in policy limbo.

………………………………………………………………………………………….……

ua logo
Click imgage

 

RUN Logo
Click image

 

IRU8495_logo
Click image

 

Group of 8 new
Click image

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

nteu-logo
Click image

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

quote marksDespite more than three quarters of Australians opposing deregulation, and the Senate rejecting their plans for $100,000 degrees twice, the Abbott Government has kept its plans for university deregulation in this year’s budget.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Budget 2015

Click image to open

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

ABC News’ comprehensive summary of the 2015 Budget

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Zombies that make the numbers look good

13 May 2015

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Zombies2The Australian’s editor-at-large Paul Kelly says the 2015 Budget has “one idea above all else right at its heart and that’s about saving the Abbott government.” Quite clearly The Oz’s stable of writers and analysts think it’s very much about positioning for an early election, should the portents seem promising.

………………………………………………………………………………………….……

Too right it’s about positioning for an early election. As Fairfax Media’s Peter Martin observes, “the coalition’s second budget is propped up by “zombie measures” from its first. Announced a year ago but not yet passed in the Senate, they are politically dead but not yet formally abandoned, meaning the income or savings they would have raised can be used to dress up the second lot of budget forecasts regardless of reality.”

read-more-button2
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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 outside universities do object), it’s about how he forms his views and how he chooses to portray them (and, to some extent, it’s about the company he keeps). Tristan Edis, the environment writer for Business Spectator, points to the logical flaws in his argument that there are higher priorities for public expenditure that dealing with climate change. Monash University academic Michael Brown says his conclusions aren’t the outcome of robust academic endeavour.

………………………………………………………………………………………….……

 Lomborg’s false choices

quote marksIf we want advice on how we should best prioritise resources for the greatest good, there are better people to get it from than Bjorn Lomborg. Oh and by the way, they’ll provide this advice without a $4 million price tag.

Lomborg creates a process and set of artificial and arbitrary constraints that drive those involved (including economics Nobel laureates) towards prioritising between a range of things that are all extremely important while ignoring the need to question a far broader array of far less worthwhile and often downright wasteful things.

He is a man who has developed a routine, an act which the media find useful as a contrarian voice to achieve “balanced” reporting. So when a range of scientists and political leaders suggest global warming is a really serious problem, Lomborg jumps in front of the cameras and says something utterly unremarkable and well understood by development economists which seeks to downplay the problem by highlighting another serious problem like, for example, indoor air pollution.

 

read-more-button2

 

climate change 2

Climate inaction, the one point of consensus

quote marksLomborg’s approach lacks the academic rigour we expect from our top universities.

Lomborg’s Consensus Centre at UWA has been controversial, and many have welcomed the announcement that UWA will not be the centre’s host. While some political warriors are claiming this is a defeat for academic freedom, this is unjustified and overlooks Lomborg’s history.

Lomborg consistently misinterprets and makes selective use of scientific studies, to portray an overly optimistic view of climate change and its costs. The Copenhagen Consensus Centre process includes unrealistic assumptions that, by design, lead to arguments against immediate action on climate change. Lomborg’s approach lacks the academic rigour we expect from our top universities. Despite this, Lomborg is an effective lobbyist and popular with some politicians, so he will continue to have a significant media profile, even without the Australian Consensus Centre.

In a time of tight government spending, one has to wonder if federal dollars for Lomborg’s Australian Consensus Centre were intended to fund rigorous academic activity, or provide intellectual cover for the government’s inadequate climate change policies.

read-more-button2

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Oliver on balancing debate

15 May 2015

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

US talk show host John Oliver moderates a mathematically representative climate change debate, with the help of special guest Bill Nye the Science Guy.

………………………………………………………………………………………….……

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Shift happens

Redefining education

14 May 2015

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Digital technology has changed how society relates to knowledge. Deloitte’s Australian Centre for the Edge has investigated how this change in our relationship with knowledge might affect the education sector. Its White Paper, Redefining Education, released on 11 May , explores the future of the education sector and what it means to be ‘educated’.

………………………………………………………………………………………….……

Deloitte 2Digital technology has changed how society relates to knowledge. Deloitte’s Australian Centre for the Edge has investigated how this change in our relationship with knowledge might affect the education sector. Its White Paper, Redefining Education, released on 11 May , explores the future of the education sector and what it means to be ‘educated’.

Lead author of the paper, Pete Williams, said the changes digital technology is driving might redefine how we view education.

Basically we are finding that the focus on what people know is being replaced by an emphasis on their ability to find and share new knowledge and ideas,At the same time, the relentless rise of digital technology means that traditional means of acquiring an education are being disrupted.

The White Paper identifies two emerging trends that highlight why the sector might be about to go through a change in paradigm.

read-more-button2

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Keeping The Conversation going

13 May 2015

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

The Conversation is an independent, not-for-profit media outlet that uses content sourced from the academic and research community. The Budget confirmed that the funding support it has received from the Australian Government since 2011 has ended. The funding The Conversation was seeking over 2 years ($2 million) is equivalent to 2 years funding the government proposes for the Lomborg Consensus Centre. Here’s a message from Andrew Jaspan, The Conversation’s editor, seeking donations.

Click image to donate
Click image to read more

__________________________________________________________

HES banner

register

__________________________________________________________

Life & stuff

14 May 2015

Red Cross Pop Up Op Shop

National Volunteer Week

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

The Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement are:

Red Cross Principles

The RMIT Bookshop on Little La Trobe St Melbourne has provided space for a Red Cross Op Shop at its entrance until the end of the month.

………………………………………………………………………………………….……

 

 

IMG_20150514_102143704[1]
Red Cross volunteer Chris with a customer.

__________________________________________________________

Impact1

Impact for Women was founded in May 2006 by Kathy Kaplan OAM and a group of her friends with the specific goal of making a difference to women and children in crisis – specifically to Victorian women and their children living in crisis accommodation as they flee domestic violence. It has aspirations to go national.

read-more-button2

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

One Hundred Stories

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Monash University’s commemoration of the Great War.

25 April 2015

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Wall of Commemoration
The One Hundred Stories are a silent presentation. They remember not just the men and women who lost their lives, but also those who returned to Australia, the gassed, the crippled, the insane, all those irreparably damaged by war. The Great War shaped the world as well as the nation. Its memory belongs to us all.

read-more-button2

__________________________________________________________

(ADVERTISEMENT)

Curriculum and course development

Business/ Hospitality ————————- Child care

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Curriculum1A dynamic and reputable education and training provider is looking to expand its offerings into higher education, initially at AQF Level 5 (Diploma) and AQF level 6 (Associate Degree) in the fields of Business/Hospitality and Childcare.
The provider is seeking to develop curriculum and course materials for these courses and requires the services of an experienced curriculum writer to assist it in this project.

read-more-button2 .

__________________________________________________________

Click to listen
Click to listen

Radio Double Karma on Pandora

Adult contemporary music

The Fray…London Grammar…Leonard Cohen…Dixie Chicks…Peter Gabriel…Of Monsters and Men…Krishna Das…Cold Play…Snow Patrol….Clck hereAretha Franklin

You do need to sign up to listen but it’s free (for the first 40 hours a month)

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Is there something interesting near where you live and/or work? Got an interesting story? Got an event coming up? Tell us about it!

subscribe

Teaching and learning excellence could be budget loser

Universities Australia    |    11 May 2015

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Universities Australia (UA)  has expressed dismay at media reports  flagging substantial cuts to the Department of Education and Training including through the possible abolition of the Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT) Advisory Committee and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Advisory Council (ATSIHEAC).

………………………………………………………………………………………….……

ua-logo-ua-small

 UA chief Belinda Robinson says the university sector has not been consulted in relation to any proposed changes and will strongly oppose any moves to downgrade the government’s commitment to teaching and learning excellence in higher education, or Indigenous higher education,

The OLT is one of the country’s most respected higher education agencies and, with its predecessor – the Australian Learning and Teaching Council – has propelled Australia to global prominence in teaching excellence.

The ATSIHEAC is due to expire on 30 June 2015. This is the third iteration of the Government’s official advisory body for Indigenous higher education policy and practice, and was specifically charged with formulating an implementation plan for the recommendations from the 2012 Behrendt  Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People . 

UA says the winding down of the ATSIHEAC must not be allowed to result in any diminution of the Government’s commitment to increasing opportunities and the participation of Indigenous people in higher education.

See
Busting the “big government” myth