Qld skills reform

The Scan’s year

Summer edition 2016

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Summer

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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Vic to blitz “dodgy” VET providers

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Zeitgeist 2015

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

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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”) .

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Einstein working at his desk

See
Research shows disorganised people are geniuses.
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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.”

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Best books1
As selected by the staff of Dymocks

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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

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Images

From The New York Times

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“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.”

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Refugees2

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

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The year in music

From Spotify’s playlist

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Spotify

Listen1

See
Pandora’s playlist

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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

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The year in cartoons

Pope

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Image is everything

6 April 2015

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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.

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Abbott & kid asleep

The kid couldn’t take it any longer.

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Noticeboard

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The VET Store

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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
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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.

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Caroline2

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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)

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The Scan # 173 22 July 2015

VET matters

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News

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Vic international strategy directions 

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

Qld boosts training and TAFE funding

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

Vic VET issues paper releasedSave our TAFE

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

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Milestones

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Warren Tapp to head new TAFE group

17 July 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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Comment & analysis

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Improving equity through VET FEE-HELP

21 July 2015

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

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Go8 Equity scales

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

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Realigning the VET system

21 July 2015

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

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

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In defence of good research wherever it is found

21 July 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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A snapshot of the Victorian VET sector

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Life & stuff

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21 July 2015

The bloody ABC’s done it again

Heads must roll

 

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One Hundred Stories

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Monash University’s commemoration of the Great War.

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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.

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VTA

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ACPET Conference

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TDA Conf 2015

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Velg conf

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The VET Store

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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!

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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)

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

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Queensland budget – skills and training

22 July 2015

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The Queensland government has allocated $337.2 million over 4 years for training initiatives in its budget delivered on 15 July. 

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Skilling Queenslanders for Work

Working Queensland is the reintroduction of the Skilling Queenslanders for Work initiative. Skilling Queenslanders for Work represents an investment of $240 million over four years to support 32,000 Queenslanders back into work and boost the skills of the Queensland workforce. Participants will be provided tailored support, literacy and numeracy skills, job preparation skills, work placement training opportunities and subsidised work placements. The program is supported by a state-wide regional network, working closely and forming partnerships with community organisations and local employers to determine local skills and entry-level industry and labour needs. The government says the program will pay for itself, generating nearly eight dollars in return to the community for every dollar invested.

Rescuing TAFE

The budget provides $34.5 million over the next four years to restore TAFE Queensland to as the premier provider of VET in Queensland. Funding Qld TAFEwill be directed at helping TAFE Queensland deliver foundation courses, increase the number of qualifications available through VET in schools and hire additional teaching and support staff. The government will also establish an independent Training Ombudsman to investigate complaints made by students and apprentices.

Qld Tafe1

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See
Queensland Budget Highlights
Queensland Budget Papers

 

TDA Newsletter 13 July 2015

TDA Logo snipped

Training gets a lift on MySkills website

The MySkills website which provides a national directory or training organisations and courses has been updated with information for vocational educational and training (VET) students.

The update includes:

  • courses linked to skills in demand in each state and territory
  • student satisfaction and employment outcomes for the 230 most popular courses
  • a VET FEE-HELP loan calculator
  • identification of sanctioned training providers
  • a modernised, tablet-optimised homepage design

The Assistant Minister for Education and Training Senator Simon Birmingham sais the new features would allow students to search and compare VET courses and training providers.

“With more than 4,500 training providers delivering more than 65,000 courses across Australia, MySkillsprovides a one-stop-shop for students on the valuable careers pathways that VET training opens up,” Senator Birmingham said.

See MySkills.


Time for donors and graduates to give to TAFE 

It is time for TAFEs to strongly assert their need for significant support from philanthropists and graduates, in much the same way as universities solicit and use funds to benefit students and the community, according to Malcolm White, Acting CEO of TDA.

In an opinion piece in today’s Sydney Morning Herald, Mr White says that unlike universities and schools, there is not a strong tradition whereby TAFE graduates acknowledge publically, in voice or financial support, the institutions that were pivotal to their success.

“Yet the evidence of personal student success in vocational education is as strong as in higher education,” he says.

“Money donated to universities is applied to scholarships, infrastructure, research and support of academic excellence.  It comes from former students and the public through donations and bequests, from corporations and private or public ancillary foundations.

“No TAFE institute in Australia receives even a fraction of this level of philanthropic support, and this needs to change.

“Governments provide funding for many of TAFE’s services and infrastructure, yet the need exceeds the funding.

“The need for alumni, the public, industry, employers and philanthropic trusts to support TAFE is just as great as for universities, and the value delivered will be just as high.”

See the op-ed in Sydney Morning Herald.


Earlybird registration for TDA national conference in Hobart closes this Thursday 16 July

TDA members registering before 16 July can save $418 on a full registration including the Welcome Reception at MONA and the “Taste of Tasmania’ Conference Dinner. Non-members will save $110 by registering before midnight AEST on Thursday 16 July.

To register now visit www.tda.edu.au and click on the conference banner.

Hotel Bookings are also selling fast!

Due to a very large conference on immediately before the TDA Conference, hotel rooms are extremely limited on Wednesday 9 September. Early bookings are ESSENTIAL if you wish to stay at the Hotel Grand Chancellor or one of the surrounding hotels such as the Woolstore Apartments and Zero Davey.

If you wish to arrive a day early on Tuesday 8 September, limited rooms are available at a very small number of hotels and these will sell out soon. Hotel bookings can be made when registering for the conference.


TDA’s international manager back from UNESCO

TDA welcomes back International Manager, Jessica Davis, from her secondment to UNESCO-UNEVOC’s International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training in Bonn, Germany.

Jess was the lucky recipient of a 2015 Australian Government Endeavour Executive Fellowship, which supported her to undertake this professional development experience.

During her secondment, Jess worked on a range of projects and activities to support TDA’s role as a UNEVOC Cluster Coordinating Centre in the Asia and Pacific Region.

Jess’ program focussed on generating greater engagement with UNEVOC Centres in the Pacific Islands cluster through targeted research in the areas of Green Skills and through exploring possibilities for capacity development programmes in the region.

Jess had the opportunity to meet with representatives from German UNEVOC Centres, including BIBB and GIZ, and also travelled to Paris to meet with TVET specialists from UNESCO headquarters.

TDA members are welcome to contact Jess to discuss opportunities to work with the UNEVOC network, particularly in the Pacific region.

Jessica Davis, at far left, with an Egyptian TVET delegation and UNEVOC head office staff.


Consultation open on international education legislation

The federal government has released exposure drafts of the Bills that will streamline international education.

The Education Services for Overseas Students Amendment (Streamlining Regulation) Bill 2015, and the Education Services for Overseas Students (Registration Charges) Amendment (Streamlining Regulation) Bill 2015 are available for consultation.

The proposed improvements to the ESOS framework include:

  • reducing complexity by streamlining quality assurance processes
  • reducing reporting requirements

The Minister for Education and Training, Christopher Pyne said the proposals in the Bills simplify and streamline the regulation of international education and follow extensive consultations with stakeholders.

The closing date for submissions is Friday 7 August.

See more.


Queensland budget to boost training funding

The Queensland government will inject $750 million into the VET sector in this week’s state budget.

Foreshadowing the package, the government announced measures including:

  • $243 million for apprenticeships and traineeships under User Choice
  • $231.6 million for the Certificate 3 Guarantee
  • $60 million for the Higher Level Skills program for more advanced training in priority areas, including construction, business, hospitality, retail, aged care, security and transport and distribution
  • $160 million to support the “rebuilding” the TAFE system.

South Australian Premier says VET should be handed to the Commonwealth

The South Australian government has proposed handing responsibility for VET to the Commonwealth under a wide-ranging reform proposal for federal-state relations.

Speaking at the National Press Club, Premier Jay Weatherill outlined a plan to hand all work-related training to the Commonwealth.

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

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



Diary Dates

Victorian TAFE Association
2015 State Conference – Leading Transformational Change

DATE: 16-17 July 2015
LOCATION: RACV Club, Melbourne
DETAILS: Click here for more information.

2015 ACODE Learning Technologies Leadership Institute
DATE: 17-21 August 2015
LOCATION: Mantra at Mooloolaba, Sunshine Coast, Queensland
DETAILS: More information

TAFE Managers Association 2015
DATE: 21 August 2015
LOCATION: Luna Park, Sydney
DETAILS: More information coming soon.

VET Development Centre
Teaching and Learning Conference

DATE: 3-4 September 2015
LOCATION: RACV Torquay Resort, Victoria
DETAILS: More information.

TDA National Conference
DATE: 9-11 September 2015
LOCATION: Hotel Grand Chancellor, Hobart
DETAILS: More information.

National VET Conference
Velg Training

DATE: 17-18 September 2015
LOCATION: Adelaide Convention Centre
DETAILS: More information.

Australian International Education Conference 2015
International education: global, responsible, sustainable

DATE: 6 – 9 October 2015
LOCATION: Adelaide Convention Centre
DETAILS: More information.

2015 Australasian Genomic Technologies Association (AGTA) Conference
DATE: 11 – 14 October 2015
LOCATION: Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, NSW.
DETAILS: More information.

2015 AUSTAFE National Conference
Bringing TAFE and VET to the Nation’s Capital

DATE: 28 – 30 October 2015
LOCATION: Canberra
DETAILS: Contact National President Jerome.DeRose@cit.edu.au

 

Qld govt turns back TAFE asset sell off

28 May 2015

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 The Queensland government has introduced a Bill to repeal the former government’s plan to sell TAFE assets and lease them out to third parties, as the first step in its $34 million Rescuing TAFE package.

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qld-tafeThe minister for training and skills Yvette D’Ath introduced the Bill on 21 May to repeal the Queensland Training Assets Management Authority Act 2014.

“QTAMA was created by those opposite to enable the sell-off of Queensland’s training assets to the highest bidder and removing access of TAFE to its own premises, its own equipment and leasing it out directly to the competitors of TAFE,” the Minister said.  “Once these assets are sold, once there are longterm leases in place, there is no getting them back. This means that any future growth by TAFE Queensland would be restricted by a lack of facilities.”

“We opposed this act when it was introduced last year, and we made it very clear that we would repeal it as soon as the opportunity arose,” Ms D’Ath said.

See
Qld Parliament passes laws for access to TAFE assets

Labor's TAFE agenda in Queensland

12 February 2015

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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.

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During the election campaign, Labor leader and soon to be premier Annastacia Palaszczuk  (who Annastacia3pronounces her surname as “Pallashay”) made a number of commitments to address the vocational educational and training system, including:

  • $34 million over three years to create up to 100 TAFE teaching and support positions, fund new training schemes in emerging industries, invest in student support services and subsidise foundation skills course for disadvantaged learners.
  • $240 million over four years to fund industry and community-based organisations to deliver training schemes to 32,000 people.
  • Ensure 10% of workers on major projects are apprentices and trainees and extend the requirement to government-owned corporations.

The Scan 13 February 2015

Edition # 166

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Higher ed reforms referred back to Committee

12 February 2015 | Labor, the Greens and four independent senators (Senators Xenophon, Interest ratesLambie, Muir, Rhiannon and Lazarus) have joined forces 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”. The University of Canberra is to hold a forum on 13 February to discuss alternatives to fee deregulation, to which key senators have been invited….[ MORE ]…..

Labor’s TAFE agenda in Queensland

12 February 2015 | With the Labor Party poised to form a minority government in Queensland, Annastacia3its 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, including:
• $34 million over three years to create up to 100 TAFE teaching and support positions, fund new training schemes in emerging industries, invest in student support services and subsidise foundation skills course for disadvantaged learners.
• $240 million over four years to fund industry and community-based organisations to deliver training schemes to 32,000 people.
• Ensure 10% of workers on major projects are apprentices and trainees and extend the requirement to government-owned corporations.

Victorian VET Funding Review announced

Bruce McKenzie110 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. An interim report will be delivered by May with the final report completed later this year….[ MORE ]…..

Deakin and Bendigo Bank hook up

10 February 2015 | Deakin University, with its large presence in regional Victoria, has Deakin & Bendigoannounced a partnership with Australia’s only regionally based bank, Bendigo Bank. The heads of the two institutions signed a Memorandum of Understanding in late January, committing both to explore ways to build brighter futures for students and Victorian and NSW regional communities. Deakin Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander and Bendigo’s Managing Director Mike Hirst launched the initiative by announcing 40 students would be granted scholarships for three years of study. Other initiatives being explored include the creation of a university Community Bank ; a scholarship fund of up to $1.3 million dollars and joint research prospects, and digital engagement/innovation opportunities, including mobile payment, crowd funding and communication initiatives with Bendigo Bank Telco….[ MORE ]…..

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Milestones

12 February 2015

Ian Young to step down

Vice-chancellor of the Australian National University and current chair of the Group of Eight PROF IAN YOUNG PRESS CLUBuniversities, Professor Ian Young, will step down from the position when his current term expires next year and return to research and teaching. Professor Young has remained research active throughout his time in senior executive roles, with his interests focussed on the understanding of marine environmental extremes, which he describes as a particularly important area in a time of significant climate change. As chairman of the Group of Eight, Professor Young has been a vocal proponent of fee deregulation.

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Comment & analysis

12 February 2015

How to break the higher education impasse

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The fragile consensus within Universities Australia around support for the government’s fee deregulation package has begun to fracture (it was always chimerical), with Victoria University vice-chancellor Peter Dawkins proposing a “third way” between a high degree of regulation and unfettered regulation that combines managed deregulation with a stronger equity package and oversight. Canberra’s Stephen Parker has opposed the package from the get-go, with a number of other vice-chancellors having expressed reservations, including Swinburne vice-chancellor Linda Kristjanson (Swinburne), Jane den Hollander (Deakin) and most recently University of Technology, Sydney, vice-chancellor Attila Brungs. While the government early in the year indicated that passage of the deregulation package would be “front and centre” of its agenda with the resumption of Parliament, after the recent prime ministerial wobble, the government is likely to be more amenable to substantial amendments, including managed deregulation (essentially a fee cap), in order to demonstrate its new found commitment to caring and sharing. Certainly managed deregulation would seem to resonate with independent senator Nick Xenophon’s thinking (who one suspects will be pivotal to brokering some sort of settlement). The question will be what’s dumped from the package, which currently includes extension of subsidies to sub-degree courses and higher education courses at non-university providers.

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Fees pay-here

Higher education reform in Australia has entered a delicate phase. The current impasse must be broken, but any move to do so too quickly carries the risk of an outcome that serves neither students nor universities. Most feared in the sector is the worst of both worlds, a scenario of funding cuts without any fee increases.

The best outcome is not to move to unfettered deregulation, which without safeguards would seriously risk disadvantaging many students. Nor is it a return to a highly regulated system. Instead we should pursue a sensible “third way” that combines managed deregulation with a stronger equity package and oversight.

In a world of tight government budgets and an expanding tertiary sector, the case for higher contributions from students, supported by income-contingent loans, has been convincingly argued. What is important is that, in the process, students get an enhanced education and good returns on their investment.

Unfortunately the form of deregulation proposed in the government’s initial package carried very significant risks. These included:

  • over-pricing and excessive debts
  • greater opportunities for already high-achieving students and inferior opportunities for those who need more support
  • greater opportunities for students from high socioeconomic backgrounds and weaker opportunities for those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds
  • insufficient amounts of extra revenue going into improving teaching and learning and the student experience
  • some waste of public funds due to poor attention to effective transition to the new market system
  • higher education benefiting but vocational education being damaged.

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12 February 2015

The sorry state of the market

invisible_hand_of_the_market1-300x199With the recent Productivity Commission Report on Government Services showing VET enrolments declining in 2013 by more than 60,000 (3.9 %) – admittedly after some years of growth – a report by Workplace Research Centre at the University of Sydney – commissioned by the Australian Education Union – shows that large private training college chains have been generating extraordinary profit margins on the back of their recent access to public subsidies.

The report says the profit margins leveraged from public subsidies at three listed training companies — Vocation, Australian Careers Network and Ashley Institute of Training — averaged 35% in 2013. Victorian government funding of for-profit colleges had jumped from $137m in 2008 to $799m in 2013. Victorian government subsidi¬es bankrolled $606m in private college profits between 2011 and 2013.

Lead author Serena Yu said governments had opened up the training market to improve the accessibility, quality, affordability, respons¬iveness and transparency of delivery. “I can say emphatically that none of those have happened,” said Ms Yu.

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Vacancy for Research Officer at AEU

AEU logo

A temporary position of research officer is available at the Federal Office of the Australian Education Union for the period ending 30 November 2015. An attractive salary and superannuation package applies.

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Life & stuff

12 February 2015

Countless aeons

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As 2015 seriously kicks into gear, with Australia’s first government leadership challenge already out of the way, it’s useful to reflect on our place in the scheme of things. Vast as it is, our universe is finite – it has a beginning and an end in time and space. But as celebrity astrophysics professor Brian Cox has observed, there’s nothing to say that there’s the possibility – perhaps even the probability – of there being an infinite number of universes beyond our own.

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Setting priorities for the Victorian government in school education and post secondary training

johncain-podiumA seminar organized by the John Cain Foundation
5.30 to 7.00 pm, Tuesday 24 February 2015
Terrace Lounge, Ground Floor, Melbourne School of Government University of Melbourne Walter Boas Building (entrance opposite Wilson Hall)

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TAFE: the essential ingredient

8  September 2014

TAFE and other govt

Non Tafe Students by state

Click images to enlarge

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In late April 2012, the Victorian Coalition government, building on the skills reform initiative of its Labor predecessor, unleashed its own radical model of vocational education and training (VET) market reforms.  Basically, these reforms opened up the public funding of VET to virtually all comers and removed any dedicated funding to sustain the public character of TAFE (the public VET provider network).  Most commentators predicted that these reforms would undermine the TAFE sector and, with it, the whole VET system.  After the passage of a couple of years, those commentators can say, on the available evidence, “we told you so”.

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Now, I’m relatively agnostic as to the efficacy – or otherwise – of a market orientation in VET provision: in policy terms, it doesn’t matter what institution is delivering a qualification – public or private, TAFE or university, domiciled in a particular jurisdiction or some other – so long as it represents value in terms of both cost and quality.

So I don’t come from the perspective of denigrating training provision by private registered training organisations (RTOs) nor seek to insulate TAFE from competition from RTOs:  RTOs can and do add useful diversity, innovation and choice to the overall system.

It follows that governments should be equally agnostic but that appears not always to be the case.

TAFE, as the public provider network, underpins the whole VET system (which is widely acknowledged by industry) and contributes to the public good in numerous tangible and intangible ways that private RTOs do not, to which some governments appear largely or entirely  blind.

Present moves to contestability of public VET funding do present fundamental challenges for the public TAFE sector which need to recognised and addressed in appropriate ways.  In Victoria, which is most advanced of the jurisdictions along the path of contestability and with its radical outlier model, the TAFE system is wobbling mightily, with declining overall enrolments, mounting financial losses and incipient signs of market failure.

One TAFE leader has expressed doubts that TAFE can survive in Victoria.

Publicly provided TAFE will survive, for the time being at least, but it in greatly diminished form.  We can see already that many of the TAFEs have become “residualised”, with underutilised assets and need special assistance to cover declining revenues.  This runs counter, of course, to the logic of “marketisation” and it runs counter to Australia’s economic and social interests.

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In the past, TAFEs have been instruments of public policy, in a way that private RTOs have not been and, I would suggest, never will be. TAFEs have also been described as “bulwarks against market failure.

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TAFE's decline by the figures

8 September 2014

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These graphs are extracted from the presentation by Rod Camm, currently managing director of NCVER and soon to be ceo of the Australian Council of Private Education and Training , to the ACPET national conference.

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Non Tafe Students by state

TAFE and other govt

The Scan’s top ten reads – August 2014

1 September 2014

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In August, The Scan published 73 posts.  Despite the increasing clamour around the government’s proposed higher education reforms, which appear doomed to fail in the Senate in their current form, it was the travails of the Victorian TAFE sector which attracted most reader interest – and by a considerable margin. For the first time ever a post in the Life & stuff category made the top ten (Team Australia – says something!).  And we seem to have made a post in July which has attracted not a single view: we’ll repost it next week – it’s timeless advice.

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An inconvenient truth

Auditor-general warns on stability of Vic TAFE
5 August 2014     |      Against all the evidence, the Victorian government insists that, despite a few local difficulties, Victoria’s TAFE system is in fine fettle.  The Victorian minister recently told a conference  the apparent troubles besetting TAFE are the invention of a “misinformed media”.  But according to the the State’s auditor-general, the troubles are very real:  TAFEs are facing a “significant decline” in financial stability due, in part, to State Government funding cuts…..[ READ MORE ]….

Net surplus/deficit by TAFE and changes in funding sources from 2012 to 2013.
Net surplus/deficit by TAFE and changes in funding sources from 2012 to 2013.

New VET panel chair attracts attention for all the wrong reasons

John Hart
John Hart

20 August 2014    |    Commonwealth industry minister Ian Macfarlane  has announced the appointment of a five-member  Vocational Education and Training Advisory Board, charged in particular with ensuring that will provide feedback to the Government as it continues reforms to the sector. The chair of the panel heads Restaurant and Catering Australia, whose RTO was initially refused re-registration last year. Macfarlane said the Australian 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”.  The sub-text of that is that industry doesn’t have a strong influence in VET and that it is not efficient and effective in delivering job- ready workers (see Paralysis by analysis). …..[ READ MORE ]…..

Vic TAFE: risk factors deteriorate

5 August 2014   |    Overall the financial sustainability risk assessment for the Victorian TAFE sector deteriorated considerably  in 2013, according to the Victorian Auditor-General, as shown by these extracts from the report, Technical and Further Education Institutes: Results of the 2013 Audits.  Figure 5A shows that the number of TAFEs with a high financial sustainability risk increased from none in 2012 to six in 2013….[ READ MORE ]…..

Politics 101: why Pyne has failed to sell his education ‘reforms’

mortar board17 August  2014     |    Jamie Miller writes that “the long sorry saga” of Christopher Pyne’s handling of the government’s proposed higher education reforms “serves as an ideal case study of how not to go about building support for a controversial reform program”. It also demonstrates a dispiriting tendency on the part of this government to resort, not so much to “spin“,  but to out and out deception (that’s our takeout, not Miller’s)….[READ  MORE ]….

Govt likely to modify HECS repayment proposal

Photo: Andrew Taylor1 August  2014      |      The federal government is expected to ditch one of its most controversial budget measures – the plan to apply real interest rates to student debts – following advice from the architect of the HECS repayment scheme that it is unfair to poor graduates.  Modelling by education economist Bruce Chapman and Timothy Higgins has found poor graduates could pay 30% more for a degree than their high-income counterparts if the government indexes student debts at the government bond rate rather than inflation. Women who take time off work to have children would be among the hardest hit. ….[ READ MORE ]….

Qld slashes subsidies for VET courses

Budget cuts6 August 2014    |  The Queensland government has drastically slashed the range of vocational qualifications it supports.  Some 170 of the state’s certificate IV, diploma and advanced ­diploma courses no longer attract teaching subsidies, in areas from the arts, retail and business to health, community services and public safety.  The government has also removed funding for more than 30 lower-level qualifications, from pest management and conservation earthworks to shearing, firefighting and concreting. The deleted list includes about 20 courses that train people for Queensland’s four economic “pillars” of tourism, agriculture…..[ READ MORE ]….

Team Australia

7  August 2014    |    GetUp’s quick, clever and topical take on Team Australia : train passengers in  Perth rescuing a fellow passenger who had slipped into the crack between the train and the platform on 6 August.

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Team Australia

TAFE should position as the “discount HE provider”

Budget HE1 August 2014    |   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.  In 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…..[ READ MORE ]….

The higher education reform billEducation Budget2

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 revenue be set aside for equity scholarships. This 20% is from additional revenue raised after taking into account what was lost in the funding cuts. 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 the 10% cut but with the potential for universities to charge a fee to compensate…..[ READ MORE ]….

Australia’s universities

Academy

13  August 2014      |    The Scan has added new pages about Australia’s universities, including profiles and funding….[ READ MORE ]….