Fee deregulation

The Scan’s year

Summer edition 2016

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Summer

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Scan in 2015

Top TenThis 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. 

read-more-button2

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Careers Australia caught up in enrolment scam

Careers Aust3 March 2015     |     One of Australia’s biggest private training providers is being accused of using salespeople who target disadvantaged areas and enrol poor students with fake entrance exams.     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.

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.

read-more-button2

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Vice chancellor’s salary packages on the rise

Rocket increase

15 June 2015    |      Australia’s highest paid vice-chancellor, Michael Spence (University of Sydney) saw his salary package increase by $120,000 last year to reach $1.3 million, an analysis of annual reports by The Australian shows.   He was 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.

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.  Government contributions to public TAFEs fell from $733 million in 2011 to $468 million in 2014, leaving many TAFEs at risk of financial collapse.

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, 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.

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.

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
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

To subscribe to The Scan….


……. just hit the button below, give us your details and submit. Then when an edition of The Scan is published, you’ll get an email newsletter.  

Subscribe2

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Zeitgeist 2015

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

General relativity: How Einstein’s theory explains the universe, and more

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

A century ago, in November 1915, physicist Albert Einstein unveiled a theory that would change the world — general relativity.  ABC science reporter Bernie Hobbs explains this mind bending theory – the development of which was driven by experiments that took place mostly in Einstein’s brain (that is, so-called “thought experiments”) .

………………………………………………………………………………………….……

Einstein working at his desk

See
Research shows disorganised people are geniuses.
read-more-button2

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What’s disrupting us

From Forbes Magazine

“The Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion research vehicle is offering a vision of autonomous driving in the future. The luxury saloon with total connectivity gives a preview of how the self-driving car of the future could become a platform for communication and interaction.”

read-more-button2

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Best books1
As selected by the staff of Dymocks

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

Best books2

“An emotionally-charged and often traumatic novel that is sure to shock you. Be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster, the likes of which I have never before experienced from a book. It’s my must-read title of 2015.”

See
10 of the best books from 2015 to add to your summer reading pile

read-more-button2

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Images

From The New York Times

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

“This was the year of the great unravelling, with international orders and borders challenged or broken, with thousands of deaths, vast flows of migrants and terrorist attacks on some of the most cherished symbols of civilization, both Western and Muslim.”

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

Refugees2

 A child standing near police controlling a rush of refugees into Macedonia.

open button

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The year in music

From Spotify’s playlist

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

Spotify

Listen1

See
Pandora’s playlist

_________________________________________________________

At the movies

From Vogue Magazine

“I’ve never seen a Cannes screening more hushed than it was during Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s story about a reluctant female assassin (ravishing Shu Qi) during the Tang Dynasty. Although the story is a bit puzzling and rarefied—Hou plunges us right into 9th-century China—the film is a triumph of pure cinema, staggeringly beautiful in its evocation of a distant time and sensibility. It has the mysterious radiance of a Vermeer.”

Assasin

read-more-button2

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The year in cartoons

Pope

open button

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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__________________________________________________________

Noticeboard

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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!

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Chakra1Chakra

Chakara at 179 Acland St, St Kilda, and 387 Hampton St, Hampton has an extensive range of quality and unusual gift items. You can order online through Chakra’s Facebook page.

Chakra6

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Caroline2

Contact-me-150x150

__________________________________________________________

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!

Contact-me-150x150

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

Redesigning Australia’s tertiary sector

 29 October 2015

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

If there is the collective will, a window of opportunity has opened for a serious discussion about the future architecture of Australian tertiary education and the funding mechanisms that would encourage genuine diversity to flourish, write Richard James and Leo Goedegebuure.

………………………………………………………………………………………….……

Pay hereAfter two lost years the sector desperately needs funding reforms. But how can the debate be placed on a new footing? We believe the answer lies in returning to first principles: what kinds of institutions, and what mix of institutions, would best serve Australia?

Our thinking is simple: let’s develop a farsighted vision for the character of the tertiary education sector as the precursor to developing a restyled funding, per­formance measurement and regulatory framework. This may be an ambitious idea but the logic behind it is compelling.

The Turnbull government’s decision not to pursue Christopher Pyne’s deregulation package is very welcome. There is a risk, however, that any hastily revamped student fees package will fall into the same ruts that beset Pyne.

One reason for the failure of the Pyne package is that the debate largely put the cart before the horse. Somewhat bizarrely, the funding reform was launched without any discussion of the structure of the higher — let alone tertiary — education system.

We believe lip-service has been paid to diversity in higher education. The reality is that a one-size-fits-all funding and regulatory system has made all universities tread roughly similar paths. Given that universities had different starting positions, this logically implies that we see some diversity in institutional trajectories. But this is curtailed by a policy straitjacket. As a simple example we need look no further than the Melbourne Model. This is surely a desirable example of diversification yet it has required the University of Melbourne to be treated as an exception within the national policy framework. This is hardly the flexibility needed to future-proof Australian society.

We know that the 21st century is about continuous and increasingly rapid change and complexity. We also know that our economy primarily is a services economy. This squarely places us into the knowledge economy, requiring a highly skilled and developed workforce that is adaptable, creative and able to operate across disciplines, work in teams, be (inter)nationally engaged, and trained for jobs that do not yet exist. To achieve this, Australia needs universal tertiary education participation driven by a carefully differentiated tertiary sector.

Because our innovation ecosystem is diverse and our future challenges complex, the tertiary system should have the diversity to match, following Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety. This poses serious design issues, but nevertheless is our only way forward.

Consider the University of Tasmania as an example of an institution with a distinctive mission and particular challenges and opportunities. It must use research and innovation to help build new industries for the island. It must also work with educationally disadvantaged communities to help raise the socioeconomic profile and lift school completion and tertiary participation rates. It must work with local industries to lift productivity. And it must install the genes of innovation and entrepreneurship in its students. These complex challenges require a complex set of actions at a variety of levels, ranging from the lower certificates to the (professional) doctorate and across the full research spectrum from blue skies to seriously applied.

Perhaps in a single university and TAFE state system these challenges can be met by single institutions with multiple missions, but it is very easy to see how very different sets of activities and focuses are needed, how these are to be linked with key stakeholders, and how distinctly different incentive schemes need to be built to drive behaviour. It is almost impossible to orchestrate this from a single vantage point with a single framework.

Australia as a nation faces a similar problem, but on an even greater scale. We do not suggest for a moment that the creation of a differentiated sector and complementary funding model will be an intellectually or politically simple task. Clearly it won’t be, but it is absolutely necessary if we are to remain a prosperous and socially cohesive society. This means that the assumptions that are the legacy of John Dawkins’s unified national system have to be confronted.

More explicit institutional differentiation is an unwelcome prospect for many people, for it raises the spectres of vertical stratification, funding inequalities and social polarisation. These are legitimate concerns to be taken into account in the system design process. But these should not be the bottlenecks that deter us from the challenge of building a truly diverse system.

Is there the imagination and courage for such a truly creative feat of policy-shaping? A tough gig for a young minister in Simon Birmingham, perhaps, but equally the kind of challenge a reforming politician ought to be willing to embrace. The frightening alternative for Birmingham is fruitless sifting through the embers of the Pyne package in the hope that something can be recovered.

Richard James is director of the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education and Leo Goedegebuure is director of the LH Martin Institute at the University of Melbourne.

This article was first published in The Australian on October 2015.

Birmingham releases "synthesis report" on HE reform

The Australian     |     28 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.

………………………………………………………………………………………….……

Birmingham

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.

Birmingham said he had decided to reap the wisdom of these previous reviews rather than hold another one as he tries to push reset on the government’s failed higher education reform package.

These reviews show that for almost three decades Australia has been grappling with how to enable more students to access the benefits higher education offers – in terms of employment, earnings, social and cultural opportunities – while ensuring the system remains fair, high quality and affordable for both individuals and taxpayers.

He says he hopes to have a new reform package ready to take to the Senate by mid-next year before the expected date of the next federal election.

Birmingham flagged to the conference that a watered-down version of fee deregulation was still on the agenda, but acknowledged that Labor ran an effective campaign over $100,000 fees.  He also flagged a possible overhaul of the HECS system and expansion of sub-degree places, saying “there is a valid need to stop treating non-degree bachelor and non-university pathways as second class options”.

While he will look closely at extending government subsidies to private colleges because it would encourage diversity, Birmingham said he is very wary after widespread rorting in the vocational sector.

He said quality must be guaranteed and government funding must never be structured in such a way as to attract providers like bees to a honey pot,”adding that he had been “somewhat scarred” by his role in having to “clean up in the poorly regulated vocational education market”.

The synthesis report identifies five overarching themes that had been common to all seven of the previous reviews even though student numbers had more than doubled during that time, now numbering over one million.

Common themes included how to adequately finance teaching and research while maintaining quality, as well as finding the right balance between student and government contributions have been central to all seven reviews.

Each of the reviews has also struggled with how to continue to expand the number of places, especially among under-represented groups, due to the need to produce graduates with the skills needed for new and emerging sectors in the economy. All have also addressed diversity, or the lack of it, between institutions.

 

See
Higher Education in Australia A review of reviews from Dawkins to today

Universities warned to brace for funding cut

The Australian     |     1 July 2015

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

Universities have been warned their funding will be cut by 20% almost immediately, an average of $32 million a university, if the government can get its higher education reform package through the Senate by the end of the year. The legislation,  rejected by the Senate in March, was due to be reintroduced during the budget sittings of Parliament  but has been left to “lie fallow” as education  minister Christopher Pyne presumably cultivates the Senate crossbenchers.  Most informed commentary is that the legislation has little prospects of passing in its present form.   So will the government amend the bill?  Perhaps, but it would be deprived of a double dissolution trigger if government does amend it.  We don’t think a double dissolution is likely – it’s way too complicated and high risk – but holding the legislation back keeps the option open, and Pyne himself  raised the prospect in his negotiations with the crossbenchers in March.

………………………………………………………………………………………….……

SecuritisationThe sector has been thrown into turmoil after the federal Department of Education and Training published cluster funding rates for next year that applied the 20% funding cut. Under the government’s reform package, universities are expected to be able to recoup the lost funding by charging higher, deregulated tuition fees.

Vice-chancellors and peak groups were forced to seek clarification from education minister Christopher Pyne and his department last week as to whether the government intended to apply the 20% cut whether the legislation was passed or not.

“The (department) numbers assume a 20% funding cut,” University of Melbourne vice-chancellor Glyn Davis said. “So the whole sector has been ringing each other up asking what it all means.”

Davis said the sector was particularly concerned about the cut after the government withheld payments for two years under a Rudd government “efficiency dividend” for which legislation was never passed.

Universities expect to have that money finally repaid next month.

A 20% funding cut would see large universities such as Sydney and Melbourne hit a reduction in revenues of about $50 million to $60m, but regional and outer metropolitan universities, which are more dependent on teaching grants, would be particularly hard hit.

Davis said he had no idea why the department had published new rates if it had no intention of imposing them if the legislation were not passed.

“We assume it’s part of the game Mr Pyne is playing with the crossbench to try to win support for his legislation,” Professor Davis said.

Mr Pyne was due to reintroduce the legislation to the Senate in the winter sitting session, but he told radio station 2GB last week it would not be put forward until spring.

I’ve deliberately let the higher education reform debate lie fallow for a while because I wanted to give the crossbenchers and the sector some time to pause and think about how they defeated a reform for universities, students and Australia. We will come back in spring and reintroduce the bill because it is too important to let go.

Conor King, executive director of the Innovative Research Universities group, said the legislation had only a slight chance of passing.

“The legislation is not going to pass and if it were to pass it wouldn’t operate from January 1.   The department is working in the government’s hypo­the­tical world and updated the rates (to include the 20% cut).”

A spokesman for Pyne said publication of the funding rates reflected government policy: “2016 payments will be based on the rates in the act as it stands at the time. The government is discussing the practical aspects of implementation with providers.”

________________________________________________________________________

See

Mistakes were made

Failure of the deregulation package and the way ahead

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

16 April 2015    |    The failure of the government to carry the Senate on its proposed higher education reforms can be put down to the government’s arrogance and heavy-handedness and what would politely be called its disingenuousness. Parts of the package were not without considerable merit – for example, extending public subsidies to the students of non-university higher education providers is a long overdue fairness measure and extending them generally to sub-degree programs could considerably improve retention rates. But overall, the package was seen to be poorly conceived and fundamentally flawed – certainly in respect of total fee deregulation.

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

AUSTRALIA - UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY SYDNEY PROTEST

read-more-button2

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.

High Wired

The Australian      |    21 May 2015

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

The Scan always checks The Australian’s  offbeat but always insightful High Wired for its take on higher education issues.  The edition of 21 May is a particularly informative one. Here are snippets.

………………………………………………………………………………………….……

High wired

Cutting to the chase

Amid all the welcoming noises about education minister Christopher Pyne’s review of the research training sector, HW was relieved to see the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations finding a different narrative. They made the (obvious) point that the review comes as the government is cutting the research training scheme by 10 per cent — or $173 million — with universities to make up the difference by slugging students with fees.

 Chasing to the cut

HW also notes ACOLA has been given until next March — 10 long months — to conduct their review. This is more time than Denise Bradley and team had to review the entire higher education system. Too late to inform next year’s budget and, if there’s not an early election, then into an election.

Real and imagined paranoia

RUN was quick to welcome the review and especially the “opportunity to outline the relevance of their research training to business and regional communities”. A sign of nervousness, perhaps? Is the relevance of RUN research training under question?

 Election drum beating

UA is wisely positioning itself for an early election as VCs this week agreed plans to hammer out a joint “high level” policy position within four months — which neatly synchs with speculation that the PM could plumb for a September poll….Some sort of unified position, independent of either side of politics, is clearly needed now that the “consensus” position on the government’s higher education fee deregulation has fractured.

 Keep it specific

The plenary also agreed to continue the “Keep it Clever” public awareness campaign.

 Office of What?

One would think there might be a backlash brewing over Pyne’s decision to move the Office of Learning and Teaching into a university-based centre while slashing funding by one third – $16 million.

Don’t mention the war:

Elsewhere, responses from the various university groups has been far more muted, with no mention of the cuts.

Girl toys:

CalTech astronomer Shrinivas Kulkarni had a spectacular foot in mouth moment last weekend sparking a social media phenomenon. After saying that many scientists thought of themselves as “boys with toys”, irked female scientists have since been posting pictures of themselves with their own science toys.

read-more-button2

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

The Zombies that make the numbers look good

13 May 2015

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

The 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.

………………………………………………………………………………………….……

ZombiesToo 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.”

This includes the higher  education reform package which has now crashed in the Senate twice but which Christopher Pyne insists he will pursue (he has to argue that, of course, if the government is to continue to book the savings).  Surely, the coalition couldn’t go to a third budget booking up savings that it has been unable to legislate?  Not if they can help it, they won’t.  And there’s another benefit: should the coalition win (not at all unlikely, despite poor polling), it could reasonably claim some sort of “mandate” for the blocked savings measures.

See
A Path To Surplus 

Joe Hockey’s budget path leads somewhere else before it leads to a surplus, and that somewhere else involves cardboard booths and sausage sizzles and little stubby pencils, writes Annabel Crabb.

The Budget in their own words: National Tertiary Education Union

12 May 2015

nteu-logo

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

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..

………………………………………………………………………………………….……

 

These plans include the full deregulation of tuition fees and a 20 per cent cut in funding effective 1 January 2016.

“The government is undermining our public university system by extending public funding to private providers,” explained Jeannie Rea, NTEU National President.

“This is something that staff, students and the public overwhelmingly reject. Yet the government is arrogantly pushing ahead,” said Rea.

Christopher Pyne’s surprise fix has turned out not to be a surprise at all with the NCRIS funded through $150m in cuts to the Sustainable Research Excellence initiative (SRE).

“Over $800m has already been cut from research, and now even more is being ripped away,” said Rea.

“The SRE funds the indirect costs of research and is crucial to maintaining the university research workforce.

“With award-winning Australian researchers already looking overseas for work, it’s not hard to imagine the impact of cuts like these,” said Rea.

Rea explained that funding for the NCRIS was included in last year’s budget, and passed, but was withheld by Minister Pyne in an attempt to force his deregulation bill through the Senate.

“While we welcome NCRIS researchers having their jobs and projects protected for another year, this behaviour shows that we cannot let our guard down when it comes to this government properly funding research.

The budget also confirmed the destruction of the Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT) and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Advisory Council (ATSIHEAC).

“Bodies like ATSIHEAC and the OLT are an important way of contributing expert and independent advice to the government on higher education policy. The OLT provides a grants system that recognises great university teachers.

“This is a pure case of robbing Peter to pay Paul with $5m in funding for AIATSIS coming from HEPP, a program set up to support underprivileged students to go to university. Many of these students include those from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.

“These bodies cost very little to operate. The only conclusion we can draw is that this is about silencing alternative views in the higher education sector, and hiding future cuts from meaningful scrutiny.

“It seems this is part of a broader plan to cut jobs under the guise of structural reform.

Rea said that no one should be fooled by claims that this budget is different to last year’s.

“It’s just more of the same from this government who are focussed on looking after the rich end of town at the expense of poorer people who are working hard to get ahead,” Rea concluded.