public universities

Prestige matters….

 Grattan Institute      |      13 October 2014

….but courses matter more


Bachelor-degree graduates of Australia’s sandstone and technology universities earn about 6% more over a 40-year career than do graduates of Australia’s other universities, a new Grattan Institute report reveals.  The report –  Mapping Australian higher education, 2014-15 –  also shows that course taken has a bigger effect on income than university attended.


grattan_logoTechnology universities – including RMIT, Curtin University and Queensland University of Technology – are much lower in international university rankings than sandstone universities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. But this does not seem to matter in the Australian labour market.

For graduates with bachelor degrees like commerce or science earning attending a sandstone or technology university is likely to be worth about $200,000 more over their working lives.

However, studying engineering at any university is likely to lead to a higher salary than studying arts at a sandstone university.

Mapping Australian higher education, 2014-15 is the third in an annual Grattan series that puts key facts and analysis about the higher education sector in one report.

It shows that domestic enrolments are growing strongly and in 2014 are likely to exceed a million for the first time. International enrolments are recovering from a downturn and numbered nearly 330,000 in 2013, with China the single largest source of students.

In 2012 the revenues of Australia’s 40 full universities, and about 130 other higher education providers exceeded $26 billion, making higher education a significant industry.

Student debt is also growing: in mid-2013 HELP debtors owed the Commonwealth $30 billion, with $7 billion of that figure likely to be written off as bad debt.

The report shows that overall the higher education sector is in good shape.

 Mapping Australian higher education, 2014-15

The Scan | Edition #161 | 29 August 2014


Pyne introduces reform bill


28 August 2014   |    The government introduced its higher education reform legislation into Parliament – the Higher Education and Research Reform Amendment Bill 2014.  As anticipated, the legislation closely mirrors the announcement on budget night. There is to be fee deregulation with a requirement that 20% of net additional revenue from fee increases be set aside for equity scholarships. Students’ loans through the HELP scheme will be indexed at the 10-year bond rate from 2016 but with no loan fee and no cap on the amount students can borrow. The Commonwealth Grant Scheme rates have the 20% cut applied through the new funding tiers. The Research Training Scheme will receive a 10% cut but with the potential for universities to charge a fee to compensate.   Grandfathering will work as announced on budget night, with a published fee maximum for current students until the end of 2020 or when they finish study, whichever comes first. Sub-bachelor places, such as associate degrees, will be funded at the same rate as bachelor degrees. Student fee subsidies will be extended to non-university providers  such as TAFEs and private colleges , at 70% of the rate offered to universities for similar degrees. Eligibility for non universities to the Commonwealth Grant Scheme will be based on registration with the regulator, the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA), and a signed funding agreement with the Commonwealth…..[ MORE ]……


UA calls for passage of an amended deregulation package

Belinda Robinson
Belinda Robinson

28 August 2014    |    Universities Australia (UA) has called on the Parliament to support the deregulation of Australian universities with changes to the government’s proposals that it says will assure affordability for students and taxpayers. UA chief executive, Belinda Robinson, said that the Parliament has a once in a generation opportunity to shape an Australian higher education system that is sustainable, affordable and equitable in serving the best interests of students and the nation. She said that with budgets under pressure, governments facing a myriad of competing priorities for public funding, and successive governments being disinclined to invest at the level that repeated independent reports have shown to be needed, full deregulation of higher education is needed. “Either the status quo of ongoing inadequate investment, or further cuts without deregulation will condemn Australia’s great university system to inevitable decline, threaten our international reputation and make it increasingly difficult for universities to meet the quality expectations of our students,” said Ms Robinson….[ MORE ]……

Pyne’s well oiled machine 

27 August 2014    |    Education minister Christopher Pyne has warned there is only “one shot in the locker’’ for university reform and Australia’s $15 billion higher welloiled2education sector will follow manufacturing into decline if his deregulation plan fails. He describes his proposed reforms as an integrated “well-oiled machine”.
Pyne insists that the sector broadly supports reform, though there are concerns among vice-chancellors about aspects of the controversial package of measures, particularly his plan to charge interest paid on commonwealth loans at the government bond rate, capped at 6% a year, rather than inflation. Although he is negotiating with senators and has indicated he is prepared to “compromise”, Pyne would not canvass his negotiating position. The legislation to be introduced to Parliament on 28 August will take in all measures unveiled in the budget, despite the criticism of the package. In addition to fee deregulation and interest rate changes, the package includes a 20% cut to university funding, funding of a new commonwealth scholarship scheme (funded from student fees), expansion of the current demand-driven admission system to sub-degrees and expansion of the Commonwealth Grants Scheme to non-university higher education providers….[ MORE ]……

V-C’s argue for a modified reform package

Reform26 August 2014    |    Vice-chancellors have converged on Canberra to lobby education minister Christopher Pyne to push ahead with plans to deregulate tuition fees but with amendments to the whole reform package, including a rethink of proposals to impose sharply higher interest rates on student loans. The vice-chancellors have also reacted strongly to the suggestion that the government might grab savings from university research budgets if it does not get its reforms through the Senate. Glyn Davis, head of Melbourne University, described as “chilling” Pyne’s refusal to rule out cuts to research budgets and said such cuts: would be more devastating than any other one action: devastating to Australia’s reputation internationally, to our scientific workforce, to medical research…..[ MORE ]…..

Govt to target research for savings…???

24 August 2014    |     The federal government will reportedly consider slashing billions of dollars worth of research funding from universities if Parliament blocks its <a href=””>Targetsweeping higher education changes. Education minister Christopher Pyne intends to introduce legislation into the House of Representatives on 28 August to deregulate university fees, cut course funding by an average 20% and increase the interest charged on student loans. While these changes </arequire legislative approval, cuts to research block grants, training schemes and other measures can be passed in appropriations bills which typically sail through Parliament unopposed. The government has identified cuts to research funding as a potential bargaining chip as Senate negotiations deepen over coming months…..[ MORE ]…..


ATN Executive Director

ATN logoWith Vicki Thompson moving on to the Group of Eight, the Australian Technology Network is seeking a new Executive Director.  Applications close 8 September.



Paralysis by analysis

29 August 2014


I was recently introduced to the term “paralysis by analysis”, which put me in mind of the vocational education and training sector. VET must surely be the most officially inquired into, reported and advised on – and “reformed” – activity in Autstralia.  At any time, in recent years at least, there some sort of government initiated inquiry going on in one of the nine jurisdictions (the Commonwealth and eight states and territories).


 analysis paralysis
Commonwealth industry minister Ian Macfarlane recently announced the appointment of a five-member Vocational Education and Training Advisory Board, charged with providing  feedback to the government as it continues reforms to the sector.

He  said, in particular, that  the government is focussed on” ensuring industry has a stronger voice in the VET system”, so that it “is efficient and effective in delivering the job-ready workers that industry needs”.

You have to read the sub-text of that as being industry doesn’t have a strong influence in VET and that it is not efficient and effective in delivering job- ready workers.



Comment & analysis

Getting higher ed reforms fit to fly

25 August 2014


Linda K2 Professor Linda Kristjanson, vice-chancellor, Swinburne University of Technology proposes five key changes to the federal government’s higher education package – including a maximum cap on student fees and moderating proposed changes to student loans interest rates.


One of Swinburne University’s subject strengths is aviation, and so when our researchers see an interesting new aircraft design one of the first things they ask is: will it fly?

That’s the question that confronts anyone considering the higher education reform package that formed part of the recent federal budget.

Will it give Australia a better educated and higher-skilled population? Will it give us higher quality research to prevent disease, create better products and solve pressing social problems? And will it do these things whilst encouraging innovation and providing better value for money? Will the deregulated system work? In other words: will it fly?


Ivory Tower

  28 August 2014


There are many aspects of the US system of higher education which are admirable and which we in Australia should seek to adapt to our own circumstances – such as a liberal arts education (which includes sciences) as a precursor to a professional qualification and community colleges.    And we are.  However, the US system of financing what they call “tuition” is somewhat more problematic: it’s a big mainstream political issue in the US, as shown in a recent documentary which featured at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.  The pre-release publicity for this documentary describes its a its “a must see for every parent and student facing the daunting task of selecting (and eventually paying for) their future education”. It’s a must see, really,  for our legislators in coming to an informed decision about the architecture of the deregulated system currently before the Parliament, so we’ll be sending it on to legislators and the minister. We encourage you to forward it on as well, to colleagues, friends and acquaintances.  This isn’t a film that will be played in cinemas but click the “read more” button for release and access details.




Balancing act by universities can neutralise the effects of funding cuts

 29 August 2014


Fairfax Media  reported on 26 August on “leaked modelling” presented to a “confidential briefing” conducted by the LH Martin Institute that would see elite universities (the Group of Eight)  reap massive benefits from higher education deregulation, while less elite universities, particularly regional universities, would struggle.  Not quite so: the briefing was conducted at a public forum and a description of the modelling is posted on the LH Martin website.  The point that the authors of the modelling sought to make is that the götterdämmerung scenario of sky rocketing fees and crippling student debt doesn’t necessarily follow from the deregulation package (a point also made by soon to be Go8 director Vicki Thornton in an interesting exposition on the vomit theory of political communication).  Of course, the package creates that possibility and, over time, that may happen.  In this article Andrew Faulkner, Lea Patterson and Leo Goedegebuure, who did the LH Martin work, and offer concrete workable options to steep increases in student fees to offset budget cuts and financially sustain universities.



We have recently critiqued the government’s higher education reform package and questioned the logic suggesting steep increases in student fees. While we stand by our view, we agree that we need to offer concrete workable options.

Our alternatives are based on the work we did for a recent workshop on fee deregulation. The objective was to help universities determine the impact of the proposed reforms and what strategies could be explored to not only survive the changes but thrive in a deregulated environment.

Building on our experience of modelling numerous Australian universities, we created three realistic models covering these distinct university types: Group of Eight, metropolitan and regional.

These models are quite detailed, containing a full curriculum and workload profiles at the unit and course level. As with any modelling, these are simplified institutions where changes are smoothly implemented and results are shown without the associated costs of transition. This is the whole purpose of modelling, highlighting the “what if” possibilities and taking them to their logical conclusions. It’s an approach we believe is helpful in today’s complex policy environment.



Sometimes you need to shout to be heard

24 August 2014


With the federal government reportedly prepared to consider slashing billions of dollars worth of research funding from universities if Parliament blocks its sweeping higher education changes, this article, first published in June 2011, remains relevant today. The point was similarly made by former Australian Governor-General the Honourable Quentin Bryce AD CVO (who thankfully seems to have eschewed the title of Dame) in her recent Richard Larkins Oration:

It is time for us to remind ourselves that the most important tool we have are our voices. We must lift them to support our brilliant researchers.


research-rallyRepugnant threats of violence against academics’ research on climate change reminds us that much of what occurs in universities is of a political nature.

What is taught and how it is taught influences social thinking and attitudes; remember the culture war and the depiction of universities being inhabited by Marxist ideologues?

The outcomes of research in both the natural and social worlds profoundly shape the zeitgeist. Think Einstein’s general theory, Keynes’s general theory, Fleming and penicillin, medical research and pharmacology generally . . . and research on climate change.

All these things have political implications of one kind or another because they affect the way we see and inhabit the world.

Generally, you would think the activities of research and teaching makes the world an overall better place; kinder, safer, healthier, wealthier. And, of course they do, setting aside the objection that some of the scientific, social and industrial advances of the past beg the solutions we now seek to present problems.

Why then is the academy and its contributions to human welfare, actual and potential so seemingly undervalued in the polity?


 29 August 2014

Australian Policy Online wins award

Aust Policy

Australian Policy Online has won the ‘’Information’’ category in the 2014 Australian and New Zealand Internet Awards (ANZIA).Australian Policy Online, based at Swinburne University of Technology, is a database and alert service that provides free access to full text research reports, papers, statistics and other resources essential for public policy development and implementation in Australia and New Zealand.




LH Martin logo

Dr Charles Goldman and Fintan Donohue OBE are both keynote speakers at the TDA conference 31 August – 3 September.   The LH Martin Institute, in conjunction with TDA, has engaged both speakers to present symposiums in the week prior to the conference.



TDA Conf

The 2014 TDA National Conference will be held in Sydney at the Sheraton on the Park from 31 August – 2 September. register______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Life & stuff

Fairness and equity must remain guiding principles

  29 August 2014


quote marks

Quentin BryceWe need to carefully think through the ramifications before we deregulate university fees, to ensure that the right balance is struck.The risk we must be wary of with a de-regulatory agenda is that education does not become unaffordable for many Australians, especially those in regional and rural communities, and the rapidly expanding corridors of our metropolitan cities and for indigenous people.

–      Former governor general Quentin Bryce – 2014 Richard Larkins Oration 27 August 2014


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Higher education: a "public good" or "pernicious welfare" ?

20 June 2014


In this op-ed piece originally published in The Australian, Ben Etherington (Univeristy of Western Sydney) takes issue with John Roskam’s proposition that “taxpayer-subsidised higher education is one of the more pernicious forms of welfare“.  Among other things, Roskam queried the relevance of studying the “emergence of poetry in various Caribbean Creoles”,  Etherington’s current project.

Budget 2

“In an era of busy government and constant change, it’s insufficiently recognised how often masterly inactivity can be the best contribution that government can make to a particular sector. A period of relative policy stability in which changes already made can be digested and adjusted to … is probably what our universities most need now.” That sounds reasonable.

As does this: “If we have to change it, we will consult beforehand rather than impose it unilaterally and argue about it afterwards. We understand the value of stability and certainty, even to universities.”

Here’s another great line: “Reasonable public investment in higher education is not dudding poorer people to help richer people: it’s strengthening our human capital in ways that ultimately benefit everyone.”

Like the reassurances given to Ford factory workers about car manufacturing and a “sophisticated economy”, Tony Abbott’s speech to Universities Australia now looks like pure expediency.

There is an unfortunate symmetry here. Like car manufacturing, public universities were a great success of Menzies-era nation-building.

Public universities flourished at that time because liberals, socialists and conservatives all agreed on their value, albeit in line with different world views. Debates between these outlooks did not concern the right of public universities to exist; they were internal to universities, taking the form of intellectual struggles over the value of different modes of inquiry and relative importance of different disciplines.

All held in common the assumption that “universities serve the public good because their mission is to pursue unprofitable truth”; words which I used in the HES a fortnight ago. They were provocative enough to prompt John Roskam, director of the Institute for Public Affairs, to argue that funding universities on the grounds that they serve the public good is “pernicious welfare”. The public good can be determined only by what people are willing to pay for: “it will be the market, in the form of the choices students make, that decides what’s in the public good,” he wrote in The Australian Financial Review.

Why does the public good even figure in his argument? To understand this we need to insert a missing term: “it will be the market in the form of the rationally self-interested choices students make, that decides what’s in the public good”. It is the public good because it is founded on the only rationality you can count on: consumer behaviour.

Roskam is not arguing for an end to public spending on education. Public funds are rightfully spent if distributed through the consumer choices of rational economic agents.

This is a world view that, as we all know, has dominated discussion for many years.What it entails concretely is diverting taxpayer dollars to for-profit institutions that are under no obligation whatsoever to serve the public good.

What is confusing about all this is that none of it squares with Abbott’s conservatism: values which were in plain view in his address to Universities Australia. Particularly, the principle that changing institutions should never be undertaken lightly.

Something has gone awry. Instead of regarding this about-turn as revealing the “real Abbott”, we need to ask how flippant hipster neoliberals, alongside lobbying from private colleges, have managed so quickly to hijack the higher education portfolio.

The 7 pillars of Coalition HE policy

Australia’s university groupings

26 April 2014


Gavin MoodieUseful background on Australia’s various university groups by RMIT adjunct professor Gavin Moodie which first appeared as comments on the article Universities should be able to charge students what they want in The Conversation.


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Australian higher education institutions have formed themselves into groups with similar interests since the conference of directors of central institutes of technology (DOCIT) formed into a group to prepare a submission to the Williams committee of inquiry into education and training (1976). In 1999 DOCIT reformed as the Australian Technology Network (Curtin, QUT, RMIT, UniSA and UTS).

Since then groups of institutions have come and gone. The Group of Eight started meeting informally in 1994 and was incorporated in 1999 to lobby the Commonwealth to further concentrate resources in its member institutions. It comprises the big old mainland capital city universities heavily funded for research: the universities of Adelaide, ANU, Melbourne, Monash, Queensland, Sydney, UNSW and UWA.

Innovative Research Universities was formed in 2003 and now comprises Charles Darwin, Flinders, Griffith, James Cook, La Trobe, Murdoch and Newcastle.

The Regional Universities Network was established in 2011 and comprises CQUniversity, Federation University, UNE, Southern Cross, Southern Queensland and Sunshine Coast.

There is 1 club of universities – Universities Australia which originated as the Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee in Sydney in May 1920.

UAThe AVCC was reasonably cohesive until 1988. There were clear differences between universities and the universities established in the 1960s and 70s (Flinders, Griffith, La Trobe, Macquarie and Murdoch) marked themselves as distinctive and different from their older siblings, deriving their interdisciplinarity and open academic structures from Essex and the better known Sussex universities. Nonetheless, the older universities maintained academic norms which were largely followed by all other universities.

This commonality of interests and norms fragmented after the former colleges of advanced education amalgamated with established universities or became universities in their own right from 1988. While they were all accepted into the AVCC, that was controversial and many still insist that the post-1988 universities should never have been admitted into the club. Conversely, the post 1988s declined to accept all the norms of the pre-1988 universities.

There are now clear differences between groups on several issues. The most salient is research funding. Basically, the Group of Eight (which already wins 75% of competitive research funds) believes that all research funding including non competitive funding should be concentrated in them.

There are similar university interest groups in the UK: the Russell Group are the elites, the University Alliance is a bit like the Australian Technological Network and Million+ comprises many of the post 1992 universities.

US elites formed the Association of American Universities, Canada’s elites have formed themselves into U15, and there are numerous international university clubs.

The Scan

1 March 2014


Job cuts at La Trobe

La-Trobe_Logo_x228 February 2014 | La Trobe University has confirmed it is cutting 350 jobs as part of a restructure. University management told staff at a meeting this afternoon. It is understood the redundancies are compulsory, and will affect the university’s Bundoora campus in Melbourne’s north west as well as its regional Victorian campuses….[ MORE ]….

TEQSA shake upcut red tape

28 February 2014 | The government has introduced a bill to radically restructure the national higher education regulatory agency.The bill provides for a spill of the positions of the five commissioners who run the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency TEQSA. The position of chief commissioner and chief executive, held by Carol Nicoll, will be split in two and Nicoll’s position as chief commissioner terminated 21 days after the law coming into effect. The other 4 commissioner positions will terminate in three months, during which time the positions will be advertised….[ MORE ]….

Big six dominate

QS226 February 2014 | Melbourne was Australia’s best performing university in the QS World University Ranking by Subject being placed first nationally in 12 of the 30 disciplines. Melbourne was particularly strong in education, science, maths and technology subjects, ranking first nationally in eight of the 16 subject areas. Conversely, the Australian National University, dominated in the arts and humanities, ranking first nationally and in the top 20 globally in five of the six subject areas. But the dominance of Melbourne and ANU, along with Sydney, Monash, the University of Queensland and the University of NSW, left little room for other institutions that excel in their fields….[ MORE ]….

Giddy quitsAndy Giddy

26 February 2014 | Just weeks after the launch of NMIT’s joint venture Melbourne Polytechnic at the former Prahran campus of Swinburne, NMIT CEO Andrew (Andy) Giddy has suddenly resigned. There’s speculation that NMIT is in a parlous financial situation due to polytechnic project and declining enrolments. A media statement from NMIT merely confirms that Giddy and NMIT have parted ways….[ MORE ]….

RMIT dumps the TAFE brand

RMIT24 February 2014 | RMIT vice-chancellor Margaret Gardner has announced that RMIT is availing itself of recent changes in Victorian government legislation to dump its standing as an institute of technical and further education – a public TAFE. It will continue to provide vocational education, linked to its aim to be a “a global university of technology and design”….[ MORE ]….

Hall to retire<a href=””>peter-hall-6288497

24 February 2014 | After more than a quarter of a century in parliament as Nationals MLC for Eastern Victoria , Victorian skills and higher education minister Peter Hall is to call it quits and won’t contest the next state election, at the end of November…..[ MORE ]….

Melbourne Polytechnic launched

Melb Poly320 February 2014 | Melbourne Polytechnic, a new educational institution operated by Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT), has opened at the former Prahran campus of Swinburne University in Melbourne. It currently has around 80 programs on offer ranging from vocational certificates, diplomas and advanced diplomas and a growing selection of higher education programs ….[ MORE ]….

Teacher education needs a “lick of paint” – CravenLick of paint

20 February 2014 | Minister for education Christopher Pyne has appointed Australian Catholic University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Greg Craven, to chair an eight-member Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group. Reporting later this year, the group will undertake extensive public and stakeholder consultation focusing on three key areas: pedagogical approaches; subject content; and professional experience ….[ MORE ]….


24 February 2014

Turning back the news when it’s safe to do so


The inimitable Clarke and Dawe on the growing assault on the ABC


Day after day, The Australian leads the assault, with its editorial pen dipped in vitriol and its reporting none too balanced. It doesn’t think much of vice-chancellors and universities either, as shown in this recent editorial (National broadcaster has lost the plot and prestige). Of course The Australian isn’t disinterested: references to “spread to thin” and “multiple platforms, across the vast terrestrial plain and in the digital ether” is code for the ABC should get out of its 24 TV news service, which competes head-on with Sky News, of which The Australian’s parent (News Australia) is a major shareholder.



Join Together for Better Care

1 person in 20 is affected by a rare disease.
Over 6000 different rare diseases affect children and adults.
Most are genetic, chronic and debilitating.
But above all they isolate patients and their families.
International Rare Disease Day is 28 February 2014.
This year Rare Disease Day encourages us to continue finding ways to work together to provide the different kinds of care that people living with a rare disease need.


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Commonwealth plots uni takeover

  Australian Financial Review     |   16 December 2013

The Commonwealth government is planning to end the historical role of state governments in the establishment and governance of universities.


Uni Syd picEducation minister ­Christopher Pyne is in talks with the NSW government about the Commonwealth assuming control over the governance of the state’s 10 universities, which would be the first stage of a national takeover.

Currently, all universities except the Australian National University were ­established as state institutions, although the Whitlam government took over direct funding in 1974 and the Commonwealth  has had an increasing regulatory role, particularly since the establishment of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency in 2012.

Under Pyne’s  plan, the “foundation” laws governing each NSW ­university would be taken over by the Commonwealth Parliament and replace state acts.

Pyne regards the division of responsibility as an anachronism, as have most of his predecessors over the past 20 years.  A NSW government spokesman confirmed the state is receptive to the idea if it reduced duplication and red tape for universities, although he described the talks with the Commonwealth government as “preliminary” .

The change would end the NSW ­government’s role as guarantor for ­university debt and the need for universities to seek NSW government approval for borrowing.

University of NSW vice-chancellor Fred Hilmer said he welcomes the Pyne plan because universities spend too much time and money on compliance and  he  would welcome coming under one government.

University of Sydney vice-chancellor Michael Spence said he would like a discussion about the proposal. He said if the move went ahead his university would want to continue its “positive and productive relationship” with the state of NSW regardless of any legislative arrangements.

The Abbott government is also poised to relieve NSW of the burden of $2 billion of unfunded obligations for superannuation schemes operated by NSW universities. The federal government will take responsibility for 80% of the unfunded obligations of the defined-benefit schemes.

Constitutional law expert George Williams said with the co-operation of the states, the Commonwealth could assume full responsibility for universities.

However, if a state government objected, things could prove very ­difficult, he said.

A state government could, for example, de-corporatise its universities, which would take them out of the remit of the federal Parliament altogether, because whatever power the Commonwealth government has over ­universities comes from the Corporations Act.

Williams said there was some precedent, with Queensland ­de-corporatising its local government bodies to prevent then prime minister John Howard imposing industrial relations requirements.

TEQSA loosens grips of states
The Australian 27 April 2011
In employing the constitutional sledgehammer that is the corporations power to establish TEQSA, the commonwealth is poised to crush the residual role of the states in higher education, leaving them as “dead parrots”.

The Scan in October 2013 : Most read items

1 November 2013

LeesaWhy TAFE matters

25 October 2013  |  The insightful Leesa Wheelahan will soon be decamping the LH Martin Institute to take up the at the University of Toronto.  Here she reflects on the challenges facing the TAFE sector as a result of “VET reform”, which she suggests can only result in a greatly diminished role for TAFE, at great community and social cost….[ READ MORE ]…. 

Hockey rules out privatisation of HECS

18 October 2013     |    Treasurer Joe Hockey has  hosed down speculation that the government plans to “privatise” student debt, followingSecuritisation claims that the right to recoup loans worth about $23 billion may be “sold off” to the private sector. But education minister Christopher Pyne has since “hosed it up”….. [ READ MORE ]….

Pyne2Pyne promises easier work rights for international students

30 September 2013    |    The Abbott government will look at liberalising immigration rules, including offering easier permanent residency, to encourage more international students to come to Australia in an effort to boost Australia’s $14 billion a year.…. [READ MORE ]….

Why a minimum ATAR would improve efficiency and equityMichael Gallagher

18 October 2013    |    Mike Gallagher (executive director , Group of Eight universities), makes the case for a “re-calibration” of the demand driven system, by the imposition of a minimum ATAR for university entry.   He argues that the G08’s proposal for a minimum ATAR of 60 (now apparently in public abeyance) was never an argument for  reintroducing caps but would actually improve both equity and efficiency in the higher education system.…. [READ MORE]….

marianne-loureyNice work, if you can get it

2 October 2013    |      A former Victorian energy bureaucrat has won her company a $1 million taxpayer-funded contract to oversee TAFE reforms despite her having no experience in the education sector and without having to go through a competitive tender process. The Ombudsman has now initiated an inquiry.[READ MORE]….

Employers losing faith in training systemTAFE quals

31 July 2013    |     A  Victorian government-commissioned survey has found that employers are losing faith in the quality of training qualifications, adding more ammunition to ongoing criticism of the state’s open market for training subsidies that has led to a proliferation of private providers.[READ MORE]….

cut red tapeTEQSA’s plan to cut redtape

4 October 2013    |    The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) has announced details of a “reform agenda” drawing on the  Review of Higher Education Regulation  as well its own work to cut ‘red tape’; speed up regulatory decisions; strengthen risk-based regulation; acknowledge strong higher education track records; and maintain a “robust” approach…..[READ MORE]….

Australian unis suffer reputational damagethe_wur_launch_banner_2013

4 October 2013    |     Australia’s leading universities have generally gone backwards in the Times Higher Education rankings, which has been attributed to funding cuts announced by the previous government.  The University of Melbourne remains the highest ranked Australian university but fell six places from 28 to 34 while  Australian National University dropped 11 places from 37 to 48. …..[ READ MORE ]….

John DewarThe La Trobe model?

24 October 2013   |    La Trobe University vice-chancellor John Dewar has flagged a possible radical streamlining of the university’s structure in which the current five faculties would be collapsed into two super faculties.  One would house all the professional degrees, with the other combining the humanities, arts and sciences in a liberal arts faculty….[READ MORE]….

TEQSA commissioner “retired”Eric Mayne

17 October 2013    |    Education minister Christopher Pyne has not renewed the contract of lawyer Eric Mayne, one of the five commissioners who run the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, which expired on 2 October 2. The next expiry on the commission, for Dorte Kristoffersen’s contract, is not until September next year. Chief commissioner Carol Nicoll has a contract that runs to October 2016.[READ MORE]…


Holmesglen & Healthscope partner for new private hospital

 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]

The cone of silence descends

27 September 2013

The incomparable David Rowe makes a point in the Australian Financial Review
The incomparable David Rowe makes a point in the Australian Financial Review

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),  sparked the most public attention of the nascent government’s term (except for deciding not automatically announcing new boat arrivals).  People think that what he says may reflect what he’s going to do.

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 there’s  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.  Even a newly minted minister can’t unilaterally rewrite the policy, particularly when the leader (now prime minister) has articulated “seven pillars” which seemingly rule these changes out.

As The Scan  archives on caps and fees show, both these issues have been the subject of contention for some time.  There’s a great divide in the university community, with the more established universities in favour of caps  and greater fee deregulation.  And then there’s the “other” universities which favour neither.

We cover all sides but, as a general rule, The Scan is with the “others”  – and  that’s not the way the tide seems to be  flowing.

It was certainly a garbled set of messages: Pyner says he’s in favour of “quality” over “quantity” and he’s reviewing the demand driven system.  But that doesn’t mean reimposing caps or a “minimum ATAR” to qualify for university entry or fiddling with fees – at least that’s what the Prime Minister has told him it doesn’t mean – for now, at least.

The Abbott government is to establish a “commission of audit’ of the Commonwealth budget, which is to report by the end of 2013, so as to inform the 2014 budget.

So we expect that’s where the action is – May 2014.

And what will the action be?

The government probably won’t formally re-impose caps – but it will come up with something to “maintain standards”.   While Christopher Pyne eschews “targets”, a minimum ATAR of 60 for year 12 students sort of matches the 40% attainment target  (although in his public musings, Pyne has ruled out resorting to minimum university entry scores).

And they will quite possibly do some variation of  what the UK’s Conservative / Liberal government did : double or triple fees,  and cut or remove altogether the government subsidy  for degrees like arts, business – indeed, anything outside the STEM courses….?

In a recent editorial, the Australian Financial Review captured the sentiment:

…Christopher Pyne is right to question whether Labor’s equity push is sustainable.  But simply going back to the Howard government’s cap on enrolments is not the right answer.

Rather than crude quotas on the number of Australians allowed into universities, he needs liberate the price universities can charge for their services.  That would send a better signal to universities about what courses to supply while better revealing what courses students value.

LH Martin Institute Insights September 2013



Innovation Darwinism

by Doron Ben-Meir

CEO of Commercialisation Australia Doron Ben-Meir on factors that drive innovation.

University professional staff: enhancing student outcomes

by Carroll Graham

UTS’ Carroll Graham on the key factors team leaders or managers can foster to achieve positive student outcomes.

Can we better link education and work through ‘vocations’ and ‘human capabilities’?

by Dr Nick Fredman

Our Research Fellow Nick Fredman reviews the three-year Vocations project, which is wrapping up at the end of this year.

2014 postgraduate programs for tertiary education leaders and professionals, awarded by The University of Melbourne

Master of Tertiary Education Management

Apply by January 2014. Need more info? Take part in an upcoming online info session or go to our website.

Our two-year, part time Masters program is tailored to the needs of academic and professional leaders in tertiary education institutions. Students gain expert perspectives on tertiary education systems and practical skills for leading and managing successfully in the tertiary education context. Open to Australian and international students with five years relevant work experience and an undergraduate degree.

Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Education Management

Apply by January 2014. Need more info? Take part in an upcoming online info session or go to our website.

A one-year, part time program for current and aspiring managers* in tertiary education institutions. Similar to the Masters, students gain expert perspectives on tertiary education systems and skills for managing successfully in the tertiary education context. Open to Australian and international students with two years relevant work experience and an undergraduate degree.

* Aspiring managers must have completed our Emerging Leaders and Managers Program to be eligible for this program.

Graduate Certificate in Quality Assurance

Apply by January 2014. Need more info? Take part in an upcoming online info session or go to our website.

A one-year, fully online program for quality assurance practitioners in tertiary education or staff of educational institutions that are establishing or improving their internal quality assurance systems. Consists of a comprehensive academic program addressing the evolving demands of quality assurance in the sector. Open to Australian and international students with at least two years relevant work experience and an undergraduate degree.

Upcoming forum, conference and public seminar

Managing Research and Innovation for Social and Economic Development

Register today! 30-31 October 2013, Canberra.

Where to for research and innovation under the new government in Australia? And will the role of tertiary education change? Speakers include Chief Scientist of Australia Prof. Ian Chubb and Chair of Universities Australia, Prof. Sandra Harding.

National Student Engagement Forum: Creating an Engaged Student Experience

21 October 2013, Melbourne; 23 October 2013, Sydney; 25 October 2013, Brisbane.

One-day forum on effective institutional practices for engaging students, including through the use of support partnerships and technology. Speakers include NUS President Jade Tyrrell and Director of the US National Survey of Student Engagement Prof. Alexander McCormick.

VET in Germany

23 October 2013, Melbourne and via webinar

This free seminar by Prof. Sandra Bohlinger from Osnabrueck University, Germany will discuss the core ideas and traditions of Germany’s VET system and how it has arisen to challenges, including demographic shifts and the recent global financial crisis.

Upcoming professional development programs

Emerging Leaders and Managers Program (eLAMP)

Start and finish anytime within a 12-month period; available as a self-paced program for individuals (ATEM members only) or for guided cohorts.

Program designed for new and aspiring managers in tertiary education and delivered through online modules and face-to-face workshops. Also provides a pathway into our Graduate Certificate programs above.

Study Mission to review apprenticeships in Germany and UK

11-21 November 2013. Register by 15 October 2013.

This provider and industry study mission will focus on critical issues affecting the Australian TVET system. It is jointly hosted by the LH Martin Institute and TAFE Directors Australia (TDA) and will visit Hamburg, Bremen and Bonn in Germany and London, Nottingham and Birmingham in the UK.

LH Martin Institute and community news

Dr Gavin Lind wins LH Martin Institute Award for Excellence in Leadership

Dr Gavin Lind from Minerals Council of Australia won the award for his innovative and strong leadership over a sustained period, which included working under political scrutiny and with a wide variety of stakeholders. The award was presented as part of the 2013 ATEM/Campus Review Best Practice Awards in Tertiary Education Management held on 16 September in Hobart.

Congratulations to our TEMC 2013 prize giveaway winners

Thank you to all who dropped by our stand at TEMC 2013 in Hobart. We were thrilled to see many old faces and say hello to new ones. Thank you also to those who participated in our prize giveaway. The winners were:

  • Jennie Connor from University of South Australia, who won a free module in our 2014 Tertiary Education Leadership program;
  • Manita Stokes from Deakin University, who won a free short course of her choice in 2014;
  • Ilse Hindle from The University of Auckland, Mark Medosh from Queensland University of Technology, and Sarah Gatenby-Clark from University of Tasmania who each won a copy of the 2013 book ‘Job Satisfaction around the Academic World’.

Brazilian ministerial delegation visits the LH Martin Institute

Representatives from the Brazillian Ministry of Education’s SERES unit met with LH Martin Institute representatives earlier this month to discuss higher education quality assurance.

OECD reports on research and innovation released

Two reports focusing on research and innovation have been released by the OECD. Both involved the work of LH Martin Institute staff and have been produced under the OECD’s Innovation, Higher Education and Research for Development (IHERD) banner. They will be used, among others, as a base for a workshop with participants from 10 different French speaking countries from West and Central Africa.

Dates for your diary

1 October 2013: Emerging Leaders and Managers Program (eLAMP)  workshop, Melbourne. *For current eLAMP participants only*

16 October 2013: Information sessions for prospective GCQA students, online.

18 October 2013: Information sessions for prospective MTEM/GCTEM students, online.

21 October 2013: National Student Engagement Forum: Creating an Engaged Student Experience, Melbourne.

23 October 2013: National Student Engagement Forum: Creating an Engaged Student Experience, Sydney.

23 October 2013: Free seminar: VET in Germany, Melbourne and via webinar.

25 October 2013: National Student Engagement Forum: Creating an Engaged Student Experience, Brisbane.

30-31 October 2013: Conference: Managing Research and Innovation for Social and Economic Development, Canberra.

11-21 November 2013: Study Mission to review apprenticeships in Germany and United Kingdom.

20 November 2013: Information sessions for prospective GCQA students, online.

22 November 2013: Information sessions for prospective MTEM/GCTEM students, online.

4 December 2013: Information sessions for prospective GCQA students, online.

6 December 2013: Information sessions for prospective MTEM/GCTEM students, online.

January 2014: Applications deadline for our Masters and Graduate Certificate programs.

Ongoing (register and start anytime): Emerging Leaders and Managers Program, online.

Around the world…

Astrophysicist Amaya Moro-Martín’s open letter to the Spanish prime minister asks for her dignity back as a researcher, The Guardian, 28 August.

The happiest universities to work for in the US are…not those that pay the most, Huffington Post, 29 August.

Anders Breivik, the Norwegian man responsible for the death of 77 and wounding of 232 people in a 2011 attack in Oslo, has been admitted to study political science modules at the University of Oslo. The University’s Rector explained the decision to grant Breivik access to the program, The Guardian, 13 September.

Two of mainland China’s largest universities, Peking and Tsinghua, will start offering free online courses in partnership with EdX, South China Morning Post, 19 September.

The Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University, currently available to students from the Commonwealth, the United States and Germany, could soon expand to students from China, Russia, Brazil and elsewhere thanks to a $120-million donation from a Canadian businessman, The Globe and Mail, 19 September.

Merger of Malaysia’s Education and Higher Education ministries will see ‘one education master plan‘ for the country with particular attention paid to public university autonomy, The Malaysian Insider, 20 September.

Engineering is the preferred undergraduate degree of higher education students in the Middle East according to a recent survey, Gulf News, 25 September.

LH Martin Institute in the media

Research Fellow Dr Nick Fredman wrote about effectiveness of mid-level qualifications in ‘Where the middle road leads‘, Campus Review, 16 September.

Comments and contributions

Please send your comments and suggestions for this newsletter to Marisa Simanjuntak Saeter.

Banner image

The banner image in this edition is of former ASX Chief Investment Analyst Prof. Zoltan Matolcsy teaching in our recent Budgeting & Financial Management for Tertiary Education Managers workshop in Melbourne.

A collage of Coalition policies

8 September 2013

This wasn’t an election in which education was a key issue and tertiary education hardly figured at all.  Here’s a collage of Scan articles over the past year or so touching on the Coalition’s approach to tertiary education, which provide a sort of compass to the horizon.

The 7 pillars of Coalition HE policy

28 February 2013Seven pillars2

  1. Stability.
  2. Protect the academic standing of universities.
  3. Expand the international higher education market.
  4. The New  Colombo Plan.
  5. Ensure research work is world class, effectively delivered and well-targeted.
  6. Reduce the regulatory and compliance burden.
  7. Assist universities to take advantage of the growth in online learning.

Abbott’s vision: be happy with what you’ve got

28 February 2013

Tony AbbottLate last year, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott wrote to university vice-chancellors to let them know that

Governments shouldn’t promise one thing and then do another.  The Coalition will not over-promise and under-deliver.

That’s a commitment that a Coalition government will have little trouble meeting.  In his keynote address to the UA Conference,  Abbott virtually told his audience that “there will be no new higher education spending under a government I lead.”

Coalition to target “ridiculous research”Ridiculous

6 September 2013

A Coalition proposal to take $103 million from “ridiculous” projects in the humanities and redirect the money to medical research, has raised the ire of the research community.

Robb bags “wasteful research”

9 November 2012

We should be focusing on research that produces innovation, that will help drive growth and productivity and genuine medical and scientific advances. We should be backing our strengths says Andrew Robb.

Red tape 2Cut research red tape and break the “nexus” : Pyne

30 April 2013

A future  Coalition government could cull the number of researchers assessed for grant money by whittling down the thousands of applicants early in the process in bid cut red tape, according to Christopher Pyne.

Coalition to protect and streamline medical researchresearch4

25 August 2013

The Coalition says it  will protect the future funding of health and medical research in Australia and simplify and streamline the medical research grant making process.  The Coalition commits to protecting existing NHMRC funding over the forward estimates and enhance medical research through a number of other measures to bolster the health and medical sector by drawing upon some key recommendations of the Strategic Review of Health and Medical Research (the McKeon Review).

Opposition push to lift O/S student numbers

22 August 2013

flags1An Abbott government would make it easier for foreign students to obtain post-study work rights in Australia as part of a Coalition push to repair the lucrative education export industry.  Opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne says the Coalition ”cannot promise to reverse the $2.8 billion of cuts to higher education”.  However he vowed to increase revenue to universities within 100 days of being elected by ”rebuilding” the international education market, which he said had shrunk under Labor from $19.8 billion in 2008 to $14.5 billion today (although the decline has been concentrated in the VET sector).

The New Colombo Plan

30 August 2013

The Coalition has announced details of its New Colombo Plan to foster closer ties between Australia and the region and develop Colombo Planstronger people-to-people links. The original Colombo Plan saw some 40,000 students from Asia come to Australia from the 1950s to the mid-1980s. The New Colombo Plan will be different the original, in adding an outward-bound component to the original one-way street.   Once operative it will provide financial support for up to 300 young Australians studying in the region every year.

Libs to introduce apprentice loans schemeTrades

25 August 2013

The Coalition has promised to establish Trade Support Loans from 1 July  next year to provide apprentices with interest free loans of up to $20,000 over four years.  The loans will be capped at a total of $20,000 and will be repaid at the same thresholds as loans for university students.  The policy is slated to cost $85 million to the federal budget four years.


Nationals plan for tertiary education in regional AustraliaNationals

2 September 2013

Initiatives proposed by the Nationals  ”to encourage and support universities to deliver services in regional communities” include the establishment of a new medical school at CSU and additional income support for regional students.  In vocational education and training, the Nationals propose funding traineeships in the agricultural sector

The thing about feesAussie dollars

7 February 2013

The Opposition has ruled out fiddling with both fees and caps.  We expect that this position on fees and caps will persist until some time in the afternoon of Sunday 15 September, when the Treasury briefs the incoming Prime Minister, particularly if the briefing is coming from the Blue Book  (David Cameron made soothing noises about fees, too- and promptly trebled them).