27 September 2013 | In his first interview as education minister, Christopher Pyne says his priorities are to “repair” international education, reduce red tape and review the demand-driven system. Pyne said that international education issues would be tackled “sooner rather than later”, given the economic impact of a 20% to 25% decline in Australia’s biggest non-mining export industry. he nominated reducing universities’ regulatory load as the other high priority, guided by the recommendations of the recent review of university regulation. Pyne said he would not be bound by the former government’s higher education policies, including its targets for attainment and inclusion and that quality would be the prime consideration in the review of the demand-driven system…..[ READ MORE ]….
26 September 2013 | Prime Minister Tony Abbott has moved to calm concerns the Commonwealth Government is planning to scrap the university student amenities fee, saying there are “no plans for change in this area” as the government has a big agenda and higher priorities…..[ READ MORE ]….
26 September 2013 | Education minister Christopher Pyne is trying to hose down concerns he is planning to renege on a promise not to restore limits on university places, but says he has ordered a review because he says evidence suggests “quality is suffering to achieve quantity”. And he says there are concerns that students are not doing the right courses…..[ READ MORE ]….
25 September 2013 | Responsibility for research policy and infrastructure will move to the education portfolio after its fleeting assignment to industry. Education minister Christopher Pyne says this means “vice-chancellors will be able to work with one minister and one department on the crucial interaction between research excellence and teaching quality”……[ READ MORE ]….
25 September 2013 | Holmesglen Institute and private health company Healthscope are proposing to build a new private hospital at Holmesglen’s Moorabbin campus in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs. The project will convert an existing conference centre into a health and education precinct, providing clinical training for Holmesglen’s health science students, as well as health care for local residents……[ READ MORE ]….
25 September 2013 | The Coalition promised stability as one of its “seven pillars” of higher education policy. According to media reports of comments by education minister Christopher Pyne, this was a non-core commitment , if a commitment at all. Pyne’s comments are a direct contradiction of his unequivocal statement that while the Coalition welcomes “debate over the quality and standards in our universities, we have no plans to increase fees or cap places”. …….[ READ MORE]….
24 September 2013 | National Tertiary Education Union members at the University of Melbourne will begin a 24-hour strike from noon Wednesday 25 September, to noon Thursday 26 September while staff at James Cook University reject “monstrous double standards” over 3% pay offer…..[ READ MORE]….
24 September 2013 | Deakin University and the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) have provisionally agreed on terms for a new enterprise agreement. The new agreement will include a 3% annual salary increase, and a $1200 initial increase to all salary bands (pro rata for non full-time staff)….[ READ MORE ]….
The difference between being in government and opposition, Tony Blair once famously said, is that in government a minister wakes up and thinks, “what will I do today”. In opposition, the spokesperson wakes up and thinks, “what will I say today?” New education minister Christopher Pyne possibly began to appreciate this difference when his public musings about “quantity” versus “quality” (i.e. the pros and cons of the demand driven system), which sparked the most public attention of the nascent government’s term (except for deciding not automatically announcing new boat arrivals). It certainly inspired the likes of cartoonist David Rowe (above) and an enormous amount of media commentary and analysis.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has cracked down and directed that ministerial media commentary needs to be “co-ordinated” through his office – and nothing wrong with that either: government policy does need to be subject to an approval process. At the moment, government policy is that the demand driven system will be retained and that fees will not be increased.
Only around one-third of VET graduates are employed in the same occupation as their field of training, according to a report by the Foundation for Young Australians. The report shows a misalignment between the skills many young people have and the jobs that are available to them: firstly, that many young Australians are overqualified for their jobs; and secondly, that those without qualifications are finding it much harder to get a good job
Action, not Titles, will be crucial in new Abbott Ministry – ATN Universities Enjoy Further Success in World Rankings – ATN Forms Historic Asian Partnership – Business on the Agenda for Coalition Government and Universities – Recap of Coalition’s Colombo plan – ATN Achievements
2013 Eureka Awards
The University of Melbourne together with Monash University won this year’s University of New South Wales Eureka Prize for Scientific Research for an accidental discovery that revealed the purpose of ‘mystery’ immune cells in the gut. The study shows how our immune system interacts with the complex bacteria ecology in our gut, and opens new paths for drug discovery that could revolutionise the design of modern vaccines, improve outcomes for people suffering inflammatory bowel disease and infection and deliver new drugs to patients more safely .
As Ross Gittins observed in Fairfax Media (including Pravda on the Yarra, which proved its independence by being one of only two newspapers in the known universe to endorse the return of the Labor government – the other, strangely enough was the Economist), the Abbott government has had a disconcerting starting “to do list”:
…..sack econocrats guilty of having worked with the enemy, pass an edict against climate change and discourage all discussion of it, stop publicising boat arrivals, build more motorways, move to a cut-price national broadband network and take science for granted.
The disbanding of the Climate Commission has excited lots of comment but its sacked members have reconstituted as the Australian Climate Council, and with the support of community funding, and will volunteer their time to interpret climate science from around the globe.
There are other strong, independent and credible sources of advice and information about climate change issues, such as the Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, which was established in 2011 with extensive investment from the Australian Research Council and comprises the University of New South Wales, Monash University, the Australian National University, The University of Melbourne, and the University of Tasmania. It seeks to build on and improve existing understanding of the modeling of regional climates to enable enhanced adaptation to and management of climate change, particularly in the Australian region. We can’t be absolutely sure but we don’t think even Jamie Briggs would label this “ridiculous research”.
On 27 September 2013 the 5th Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will be released. Here, the Centre’s director, Professor Andy Pitman, previews the report, one part of which will address the so-called “warming hiatus”:
This is the argument that warming has stopped, with the further assertion in some quarters that we therefore have nothing to worry about in the future.
It is a fact, based on observations of air temperature, that the rate of global warming measured as surface air temperature has slowed over the past 15 years. The last decade is still the warmest in the past 150 years.
If you measure global heat content then global warming has not slowed. If you measure other indices including sea level rise or ocean temperatures or sea ice cover global warming has not slowed.
However, the warming trend in air temperatures has slowed over the last 15 years. There is a great deal of interest in this “hiatus” in the sense of whether it points to some fundamental error in climate science.
Life & stuff
Plant tomatoes on Grand Final Day, not Cup Day
Ever since anyone can remember, Melbourne Cup Day – the first Tuesday in November – has been the day for gardeners to start planting tomatoes in Melbourne, when warmer overnight temperatures are more reliable. But University of Melbourne “urban horticulturalist” Dr Chris Williams says due to climate change, AFL Grand Final Day, the last Saturday in September, should replace the time-honoured planting signpost in gardening folklore. He says that overnight temperatures through winter into early spring have warmed over the past ten years to make Grand Final Day the new seasonal signpost for tomato planting.
DESIGNING MODERN LEARNING STRATEGIES FOR THE MODERN WORKPLACE
11-13 November 2013 | Australian Technology Park, Sydney