Higher education in TAFE

TDA to lobby Senate to pass HE reforms

 Fairfax Media     |      17 August 2014

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Labor and the Greens will be shown as hypocrites if they throw low-income students undertaking higher education at vocational colleges ”into the dustbin” by denying them government support, according to TAFE Directors Australia (TDA).

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Go8 Equity scales

TDA chief Martin Riordan says it would be a ”tragedy” if the Senate blocks the expansion of Commonwealth subsidies to students in sub-bachelor degrees – a budget measure experts say will bring fees down and reduce university drop-out rates.

The Abbott government announced in the May budget that, as part of its sweeping higher education package, it would extend Commonwealth Supported Places to 80,000 students doing diplomas and associate degrees at TAFEs and private colleges. These students, who currently have to pay full fees, would now have their course costs covered partly by the Commonwealth. The measure would cost $820 million over three years.

But the proposal is seemingly at risk  following a rancorous debate about increased university fees and the declared opposition to fee deregulation of Labor, the Greens and most of the cross bench , including the Palmer United Party.  This would probably doom the reform package in the Senate, including the extension of Commonwealth subsidies to non-university higher education programs.

Riordan told Fairfax Media:

There has been a tirade of questions about fairness in the budget but this measure has to be top of the list when it comes to fairness.  It would be hypocritical to throw out a full package and leave TAFE students in the dustbin.

Riordan said concerns about subsidising private colleges – which have been hit by past allegations of profiteering and poor course quality – should be dealt with separately. TAFE leaders will travel to Canberra to lobby key crossbenchers, including the Palmer United Party, on the issue.

Grattan Institute higher education program director Andrew Norton said price competition between higher education providers would encourage TAFEs to pass on subsidies to students via lower fees.

It is also likely to lead to reduced university drop-out rates because students who enter bachelor degrees via diploma courses and other pathway programs are more likely to continue with their studies, he said.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne said the government’s plan was progressive and that it was ”astonishing” Labor and student unions had not backed it. ”Labor is blocking a reform that will bring in more revenue to the higher education sector and create more opportunity for students,” he said.

Labor higher education spokesman Kim Carr said Labor will not support a half-baked measure that is designed to make the government’s $1.9 billion cut to university funding look like a positive measure.”

 

TAFE should position as the "discount HE provider"

The Australian    |   1 August 2014

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NSW TAFEs have been told that they should take advantage of Coalition reforms by reinventing themselves as the “discount airline of higher education” vis-a-vis universities. We see the point but you need to be careful: TAFE ought not be – nor be seen to be – as a cheap, low quality and potentially unsafe alternative.  TigerAir gets a bad press and, from our once only experience, thoroughly deserves it.
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Budget HEIn a report on fees and pricing strategies, consultants SMS Management and Technology told TAFE NSW that federal government proposals — specifically, the deregulation of higher education fees, and the extension of teaching grants to non-universities — would create a unique branding opportunity.

“TAFE NSW may choose to take advantage of deregulation (and) establish a branding and business model as the alternative low-cost provider of higher education services, competing directly with universities,” the report says.

“The experience gathered in delivering partnership pathways could be leveraged to this end.”

TAFEs could brand themselves as “the Jetstar or Kmart of higher education”, the report says.

In a prepared presentation, the consultants said management needed to understand opportunities to make “strategic pricing decisions in response to changes in the market … specifically addressing TAFE branding in relationship to different approaches to fees”.

It could style itself as the “AirAsia of higher education”, the presentation says.

The Scan | 4 July 2014 | #156


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Govt sets VET deregulation agendaMacFarlane

4 July 2014    |    The government has set out its deregulatory intentions for vocational training, signalling a shift away from “gateway control” to “responsive regulation”. Speaking at a skills summit organised by the Australian Council of Private Education and Training and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, industry minister Ian Macfarlane said the government had “revisited” the work of the now abolished National Skills Standards Council (NSCC) and released new draft standards for training providers and regulators. The proposed standards dump what the minister described as” several of the more contentious reforms” proposed by the former NSSC, notably measures that would have strengthened Registered Training Organisation (RTO) entry (“gateway”) standards, including a change from registered training organisation to licensed training organisation. The proposed requirement for all RTOs to have an “Accountable Education Officer” has also been removed.. …..[ MORE ]….

ACPET chief quits

Claire Field4 July 2014 | Claire Field, the respected chief executive of the Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET), has resigned. ACPET said Ms Field is leaving to pursue “new challenges” after four years in the job. Company secretary Larry Davies is now acting CEO pending the appointment of a permanent successor. The suddenness of the departure caught the sector by surprise, but ACPET chairman Martin Cass said it was entirely her decision to leave to pursue other opportunities and there was nothing to read into her departure. He said Ms Field has made a significant contribution to the private education and training sector during her four years as CEO of ACPET. Ms Field has been a strong advocate for ACPET members during a period of substantial change in both the higher education and vocational education and training sectors. She has also been instrumental in strengthening ACPET’s focus on quality and lifting membership standards…..[ MORE ]….

TAFE share of VET crashingdecline (1)

4 Jly 2014   |   Analysis by Leesa Wheelahan of recent VET statistics shows that TAFE’s share of publicly funded in Australia students is now 55.6%.  In Victoria TAFE’s share of publicly funded students has fallen to 37.4%, while in South Australia it has fallen to 52.3%.  Private providers now teach the majority of students in Victoria (50.5%), and they teach 44% of publicly funded students in South Australia.   Wheelahan concludes that TAFE is “fast becoming a residual provider, left with teaching what the private providers don’t want to or can’t teach….It is forcing TAFE to be just like a private provider, with the narrow concerns of a private provider.”…..[ MORE ]….

La Trobe cuts economics

La-Trobe_Logo_x24 July 2014    |    La Trobe University is planning to cut about 69 academic positions in its business, economic and law faculty with economics, accounting, management and marketing the worst hit. Academic staff in economics will be cut by almost two-thirds to just 10 under a proposed restructure circulated to staff ……[ MORE ]….

NMIT  to cut 170 jobsNMIT2 (2)

4 July 2014    |    Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT), one of Victoria’s biggest TAFEs will cut up to 170 teaching and administrative jobs, after reporting a loss of nearly $30 million and a fall in student enrolments by more than 5000 in 2013. NMIT’s interim chief executive Ron Gauci said he had been briefing staff on the changes He said the range of redundancies, between 150 and 170, included positions that had already been cut this year…..[ MORE ]….

 

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Milestones

Deakin V-C reappointed

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Professor Jane den Hollander has been reappointed as Deakin University’s Vice-Chancellor and President for a further five years from 1 July 2014.
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3 July 2014     |     The Chancellor of Deakin University, David Morgan said that Professor den Hollander “has provided inspirational and highly effective leadership to Deakin University at a time of significant change to the tertiary sector.

During her stewardship, Deakin’s reputation and standing in the community has significantly strengthened.  Deakin has been the highest ranked Victorian university each year for overall student learning satisfaction and student numbers have grown 26 per cent to a projected 50,000 by the end of 2014.

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Fed Uni appoints Ballarat leadersam-henson

3 July 2014     |    Sam Henson has been announced as Federation University Australia’s Head of Ballarat Campuses.   Formerly Associate Dean for International and Partnerships, Dr Henson will take up the new position on 1 July.   The position will entail broad oversight of the campuses as well as a role in building deep and lasting partnerships with Ballarat community, government and industry stakeholders.

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Comment & analysis

Higher education outside universities: a better option?

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3 July 2014    |    The likely extension of commonwealth student subsidies to non-university providers portends big changes for the higher education sector.
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Higher education provision outside universities is likely to increase significantly in the future, as a result of the government accepting a recommendation of the review of the demand driven funding system to expand eligibility for government-supported tuition subsidies, should the measure pass the Senate.

In this panel discussion chaired by the Grattan Institute’s Andrew Norton, a member of the review panel, the nature of the non-university higher education sector, the implications for it and its students of receiving Commonwealth tuition subsidies, and the consequences for the broader higher education system are explored. Other panel members are Mary Faraone (Holmesglen Institute), Jeannie Rea (National Tertiary Education Union) and George Brown (Study Group Australasia).

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Civilisation as we don’t know it: teaching-only universities

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Gavin Moodie3 July 2014     |     The Scan has long been a proponent of “teaching only universities” (see One size does not fit all unis). In this piece in The Conversation, Gavin Moodie observes that there is no reason in principle, practice nor historical precedent to champion or oppose teaching only universities. But were the research requirement of universities removed from the higher education threshold standards he doesn’t expect any current Australian university to relinquish its research role. Rightly or wrongly, he writes, research has become so embedded in universities’ ethos and activities since the 1960s that it is central to all universities and to most academics’ conception of themselves as universities and as university academics. Greg Craven, vice-chancellor of Australian Catholic University, argues that teaching only institutions would not be universities as we know them (no, they would not be, which is the point) and would impoverish students’ educational experience (why would being exposed to good or excellent teaching and scholarship impoverish a student??).
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Teaching

With higher education changes meaning universities will soon be looking for ways to cut costs, many have been wondering if universities will give up on research to focus on where the money is – teaching students.

Teaching-only universities have long been contentious in Australia. Various people, interests and arguments promote teaching only universities, while other bodies and arguments support the Australian status quo.

Do universities have to do research?

In Australia, the higher education threshold standards restrict the title of university to institutions which conduct research and offer research masters and doctorates in at least three broad fields of study. The threshold standards are a regulation that may be changed by the government, if it is allowed by both houses of federal parliament.

Australia is unusual in making research a condition of designation as a university. Most institutions accepted as universities worldwide conduct no research, such as many universities in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Requirements differ across the OECD.

Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Massachusetts in the US make research a condition of designation as a university, but England and California do not. All universities in Ontario in Canada conduct research, but British Columbia has a category of teaching-only universities which were formerly community colleges before upgrading as university colleges and then as universities.

Research was established as an institutional role of universities relatively recently. Research has long been a personal activity of scholars, some of whom were located in universities, but it did not emerge as an institutional role until the 19th century.

Even so, a research role for universities was rejected by Cardinal Newman in his famous lectures on The Idea of a University as late as 1853. Research has been an institutional role of universities for only about one-fifth of their history since the establishment of the first European universities in the 11th and 12th centuries.
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TDA Conf

The 2014 TDA National Conference will be held in Sydney at the Sheraton on the Park from 31 August – 2 September. Earlybird and group registration discounts close on 7 July.

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Life & stuff

 Material world

In his book Making the Modern World, Vaclav Smil argues that the most important man-made material is concrete, both in terms of the amount we produce each year and the total mass we’ve laid down. Concrete is the foundation (literally) for the massive expansion of urban areas of the past several decades, which has been a big factor in cutting the rate of extreme poverty in half since 1990. In 1950, the world made roughly as much steel as cement (a key ingredient in concrete); by 2010, steel production had grown by a factor of 8, but cement had gone up by a factor of 25.

This animated GIF shows the dramatic transformation of Shanghai since 1987. Most of what you’re seeing in that picture is concrete, steel, and glass:

Shanghai
An animated combination picture shows the financial district of Pudong in 1987 and in 2013 with the nearly-complete Shanghai Tower, in the financial district of Pudong in Shanghai, on July 31, 2013. (Reuters/Stringer, Carlos Barria)

 

A staggering statistic:

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See
The Bill Gates Book Review: Have you hugged a concrete pillar today?

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No Frills‘No Frills’ is a well-known annual national conference, hosted by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research, where researchers and practitioners in the vocational education and training (VET) sector come together to present, discuss and share information about key issues confronting the sector. The conference also provides professional development opportunities for new and existing researchers.

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