Research

50 Future Fellowships announced

17 December 2015

Future Fellowships

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The Australian Research Council has announced grants of $38.6 million to support 50 Future Fellows at 17 universities.  The Future Fellowship scheme provides four-year fellowships to outstanding Australian mid-career researchers. The aim of Future Fellowships is to attract and retain the best and brightest mid-career researchers in Australia rather than head off overseas to advance their careers.  Details of the approved projects are HERE.

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Future Fellowships 2015 funding outcomes—Snapshot by State and Organisation
Administering Organisation Total number of projects Total ARC funding
Australian Capital Territory 5 $3,751,315
The Australian National University 5 $3,751,315
New South Wales 13 $10,385,527
Macquarie University 5 $3,683,068
The University of New South Wales 1 $903,625
The University of Newcastle 1 $690,352
The University of Sydney 3 $2,477,935
University of Wollongong 3 $2,630,547
Queensland 9 $7,129,434
Griffith University 3 $2,144,131
Queensland University of Technology 1 $812,460
The University of Queensland 5 $4,172,843
South Australia 2 $1,724,012
The Flinders University of South Australia 1 $919,052
The University of Adelaide 1 $804,960
Tasmania 1 $660,751
University of Tasmania 1 $660,751
Victoria 18 $13,390,272
La Trobe University 2 $1,518,207
Monash University 8 $6,065,659
Swinburne University of Technology 2 $1,364,704
The University of Melbourne 6 $4,441,702
Western Australia 2 $1,606,689
The University of Western Australia 2 $1,606,689
Total 50 $38,648,000

 

 

The Scan #175 11 December 2015

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News

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VET FEE-HELP skewering system

 

Calculator11 December 2015      |       Explosive growth in the VET FEE-HELP scheme has masked massive direct public disinvestment in vocational education and training. While a report by NCVER shows a notional growth of 1.7% in 2014 over 2013 (plus $141.0 million, from $8512.4 million to $8653.4 million), it’s all in VET-FEE Help payments: actual direct expenditure by governments, including the Commonwealth declined markedly VET FEE-HELP.  VET funding through state and territory governments fell almost $320m, while fee-for-service ¬revenue — largely contributed by businesses — fell more than $130m. Federal government funding through channels other than VET FEE-HELP fell almost $500m.  Financial information 2014 shows that VET FEE-HELP is supplanting traditional forms of VET financing, as state governments and businesses withdraw hundreds of millions of dollars from the sector. Government spending fell $416m last year, even though Canberra shovelled an extra $1.06 billion into VET FEE-HELP….[ READ MORE ]…..

Innovating an “ideas boom”

Innovation

7 December 2015      |       Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull unveiled his much-anticipated Innovation Statement, saying he wanted to drive an “ideas boom”. The statement allocates almost $1.1 billion over the next four years to promote business-based research, development and innovation.

A key focus of the plan revolves around strengthening ties between the business community, universities and scientific institutions.
A $200 million innovation fund will co-invest in businesses that develop technology from the CSIRO and Australian universities. CSIRO will also get an extra $20 million to help commercialise research outcomes.
The mechanisms for funding university research are being simplified, with more focus on industry collaboration and less on publishing articles in academic journals. The six block grant schemes will be collapsed into two, with equal rating for research excellence and income from industry. The government will add $127 million in funding for university research over the next four years.
The previously endangered National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme will receive $1.5 billion over 10 years for projects such as ocean monitoring, advanced manufacturing and medical research.
There will also be $800 million over the decade for two major scientific projects: the Australian Synchrotron in Melbourne (which uses light beams a million times brighter than the sun to generate discoveries) and the Square Kilometre Array (the largest radio telescope ever constructed).
The government will spend $84 million “inspiring” Australians in digital literacy and science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). This includes new money to upgrade teachers’ digital skills, educational apps and $13 million to boost the participation of girls and women in STEM….[ READ MORE ]…..

Research quality soars

5 December 2015     |     The inaugural State of Australian University Research 2015–16: Volume 1 ERA research2National Report comprehensively details the quality of Australian university research benchmarked against world standards.  It identifies the excellence in research across a broad range of universities and the outstanding performances in areas of specialisation. Overall the quality of Australian university research continues to improve. The report confirms Australia’s university research performance is amongst the best in the world. In 2015, 89% of the assessed research areas in Australian universities is rated as world class, up from 68% in 2010….[ READ MORE ]…..

Phoenix crashes…and burns

Phoenix

5 Decemebr 2015    |      Melbourne’s Phoenix Institute has shut down its “real world division” (that is, its face-to-face, classroom rather than online delivery) as a result of a federal government crackdown which has seen VET FEE-HELP funding to the entire sector frozen and legal action initiated by the ACCC. Some 260 transpersonal counselling and art therapy students are affected by the closure.  Phoenix is one of a large number of colleges to have grown exponentially through its sale of online diplomas around Australia, using government money under the VET FEE-HELP scheme.It started the year claiming $200,000 per month from government to pay for courses, but by September, it was applying for a variation, claiming an annual payment of $300 million – or $25 million per month – a 125-fold increase….[ READ MORE ]….

Crackdown looming 

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4 December 2015    |    New rules to better protect students in the vocational education and training sector will come into effect from 1 January 2016 with the passage of the Higher Education Amendment (VET FEE-HELP Reform) Bill 2015 on 3 December. The changes a requirement providers assess the student’s capacity to undertake the course for which they are enrolling.  Ahead of the introduction of a new funding model in 2017, the total loan limit for existing VET FEE-HELP providers will be frozen at  2015 levels. There will also be tougher entry requirements for registered training organisations seeking to become a VET FEE-HELP provider….. [ READ MORE ]…..

Vocation collapses entirely

Vocation snip30 Novemebr 2015    |    Less than a week after going into voluntary administration education and training services company Vocation has been closed down, leaving 150 of its 180 employees without a job and more than 10,000 students in limbo.  In a statement on Monday 30 November 2015, administrators Ferrier Hodgson advised that as a result of further customer contract terminations, the lack of available liquidity to fund operations and the lack of ongoing support from key stakeholders, the voluntary administrators of Vocation Ltd have had no alternative but to cease the majority of the company’s operations effective from 30 November 2015...[ READ MORE ]….

ACCC hits up Phoenix for $106 m

26 November 2015    |  The Australian Competition and Consumer

Carpetbagger
Loot in the bag…?

Commission (ACCC) has accused leading VET provider Phoenix Institute of false, misleading and unconscionable conduct and is seeking recovery of $106 million in Commonwealth funding through VET-FEE HELP.   The ACCC claims Phoenix tricked disadvantaged people into signing up for multiple courses and incurring large debts to the Commonwealth.  The alleged victims included those with intellectual disabilities, and people on Aboriginal communities. Sales people authorised by Phoenix signed them up to multiple online diploma courses which cost $18,000 each, even though some did not have access to the internet or computer skills.  The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA)  has also announced that it proposes cancelling Phoenix Institute’s registration as a training organisation, meaning it will then be ineligible for further government funding ….[ READ MORE ]….

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UA News

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Go8 Nov

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NCVER Insight November 2015

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Milestones

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Murdoch names new vice-chancellor

3 December 2015

……………………………………………………………………………………………………… Internationally experienced university leader and academic, Professor Eeva Leinonen has been selected as Murdoch University’s next vice-chancellor, which has been shaken for more than a year by power struggles and a probe by the West Australian Corruption and Crime Commission..

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Eeva

Professor Leinonen is currently a deputy vice-chancellor at the University of Wollongong, a role she has held since 2012. Prior to this she was Vice Principal (Education) at King’s College London.

She has an academic background in linguistics and psychology and has extensive experience in higher education in the United Kingdom, Europe and internationally, including 19 years at the University of Hertfordshire, where she served as Deputy Vice Chancellor and Dean of Health and Human Sciences.

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Comment & analysis

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Venting about VET 

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25 November 2015     |    An RTO operator, who wishes to remain anonymous (fair enough),  laments that the reputable “sprats”, such as herself, are being caught up in the net intended to catch the “sharks” in the VET ocean.

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Governments in Australia extol the virtues of small business – for their contributions to employment and innovation, for example – but in the training industry “small” is starting to be an impossible feat.  It’s getting to the point that an RTO can only survive if it has an extremely large scope and doesn’t specialise, as that gives it the flexibility to game the system to survive constant funding and regulatory changes.

…what we have seen in recent times is the proliferation of “sharks” in the VET ocean – alpha predators, who are big mean and nasty.  Governments are casting a net – not before time, either – to at least rein them in.  But the VET “sprats” – smaller reputable providers – are emerging as “collateral damage”, caught in the net intended to capture the sharks and subject to an ever increasing burden of regulation which, in context, is unnecessary.  By and large, the sprats aren’t the problem authorities are trying to net.

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Once was TAFE

8 December 2015

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There’s been a growing chorus of outrage over the looting of VET FEE-HELP by a handful of VET providers, coupled with disbelief that the government and regulatory agencies could have had such lax safeguards as to allow this to happen. It was all perfectly predictable. On 29 April 2012, The Scan published Once was TAFE, a commentary on the then Victorian government’s introduction of so-called “competitive neutrality” in the public funding of VET. It’s a piece that has stood the test of time. It does beggar belief that having been witness to the chaos that was occurring in the Victorian system courtesy of open access to funding and manifestly inadequate regulatory procedures, the Commonwealth could basically repeat the mistakes of Victoria in extending access to VET FEE-HELP – and then let it run unchecked for a couple of years. 

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The past couple of years have been like Christmas time for carpetbaggers in the Victorian VET sector. The “skills reform” initiated by the former Labor government opened up public funding of vocational educational and training provision to all comers.  And as to the field of dreams, the private RTOs have flocked.   At the end of September 2011, 721 providers were delivering government subsidised enrolments in Victoria, almost 80 more than at the same time in 2010 and 160 more than in 2008. The share of government subsidised enrolments by private providers increased from 14% in 2008 to 36% at the end of September 2011 and is now in excess of 50%.

These are sudden and dramatic shifts, which have resulted in the apparent destabilisation of a number of the public TAFE institutes.  In 2011, the combined surpluses of the 14 standalone TAFEs in Victoria, which fund really important things like infrastructure and facilities, halved, from$192m to $98m.  Analysis by sector specialist Gavin Moodie reveals that if you discount one-off capital items, the underlying operating results are pretty bleak, with only 4 of the 14 standalone TAFEs operating in the black.

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9 December 2015

Beggaring belief

Fairfax Media reports on the $1 million cost to taxpayers of completed Human Resource Management Diplomas at the so-called Australian Institute of Professional Education (AIPE) – Aussie dollars$111 million paid out in VET FEE-HELP in 2014 for just 117 completions.  Meanwhile The Oz reports that the Australian Competition an Consumer Commission is taking a third provider – Empower Institute – to court over allegations of “misleading or deceptive and unconscionable conduct” when marketing its courses to remote communities across the country (it will follow Unique International and Phoenix College to the Federal Court dock) – it enrolled 14,000 in 2014 for just 5 completions, which would work out at over $10 million for each completion !!!  

And while  VET FEE-HELP was being looted, what was ASQA, the sector regulator, doing?  Not a lot it seems: it got around to launching an investigation into AIPE in November 2015 – that’s right, last month. 

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Anatomy of a scandal

How did the Australian VET system get here?

8 December 2015

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Jim Davidson, a former senior official of both the Victorian and Commonwealth governments and now a Senior Honorary Fellow of the LH JimMartin Institute, dissects the  crisis now enveloping the VET sector. As as he asks: How  could this have happened?  Good question. He says future policy responses by government need to deal with the root causes of the current growth in VET FEE-HELP and not further exacerbate the issues caused by the current policy settings.  And he proposes that an immediate measure should be  a moratorium on VET FEE-HELP loans for online course delivery and establish an enquiry to formulate appropriate requirements and costings for online delivery of nationally accredited qualifications including a benchmark completion rate.  It’s a bit of a no-brainer: ALL the providers under investigation and/or being prosecuted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission have one thing in common: online delivery.

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8 December 2015

ACPET dismayed, too

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Rod Camm2ACPET’s Rod Camm expresses dismay over the raft of changes in relation to VET FEE-HELP legislated last week  -and fair enough, too, because the blameless will be collateral damage in cracking down on the utterly blameworthy rorters.  But Camm also poses the question that has occurred to most VET sector participants and observers: how could this have been allowed to happen?  He answers the question thus: 

Without….checks and balances this could only mean Government has been approving this phenomenal growth, in a relatively small number of public and private providers, blind.

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Print

Of course the last week was, and the week coming, will be dominated by discussion about the Higher Education Support Amendment (VET FEE-HELP Reform) Bill 2015.

As you would all be aware, the Government introduced the changes with no forewarning or consultation.

On hearing of the changes, I flew to Canberra to meet with Ministers, the Opposition and Senators in an attempt to rectify the problems, particularly the Freezing of VFH accounts at 2015 levels. Unfortunately, the Bill was passed that day, less than 24 hours after it was introduced.

Many members have expressed their concerns and it is important that you continue to do so. What disappointed me was that I, along with other representatives from the sector are appointed to a VFH Reform Working Group. To be on this group we were required to sign detailed confidentiality agreements. The Group only met a week ago where we discussed a range of reforms. Unfortunately there was not a word of the changes the government was about to introduce. Not sure I will attend this group again.

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The importance of universities to Australia’s prosperity

28 November 2015

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 Universities Australia commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to analyse the contribution that universities make to Australia’s economic and social prosperity. This work was undertaken to inform the development of Universities Australia’s Keep it Clever—Policy Statement 2016.  The report seeks to present a comprehensive and coherent framework of benefits generated by universities. This includes examination of the conceptual role of universities in Australian society and how they contribute to the success of the nation, as well as a more detailed analysis of the benefits directly attributable to universities. The scope of the analysis does not include a detailed examination of the economic activity generated by university operations, but rather examines the contribution made to the productive capacity of the economy through universities’ teaching and learning, research discovery and adoption, and community service activities.

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As institutions, universities embody social, economic and intellectual resources which combine to generate benefits on a local, national and global scale. They equip students with the knowledge and skills that allow them to make greater contributions to society; they generate and disseminate knowledge which enhances productivity and improves living standards; and they provide a myriad of broader community benefits.

This report canvasses and examines the various ways in which universities contribute to our economic and social prosperity and how, given the economic imperatives confronting Australia, the sector’s role is likely to evolve and grow over time.

 Universities’ operations make significant contributions to Australia’s economic output

Australia’s university sector directly employs over 120,000 staff and supports the delivery of education to over one million students. The operations of the university sector generate significant contributions to Australia’s economic output and national income.

    • The sector contributed around $25 billion to the Australian economy both directly and indirectly in 2013, accounting for over 1.5% of Australia’s GDP and 160,000 fulltime equivalent (FTE) jobs.
    • In 2014–15, education related exports accounted for 5.7% of Australia’s total exports, representing the largest service export and the third largest export category overall. Higher education is the single biggest contributor to this, representing around two-thirds of the total value.

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How teaching funds research in Australian universities

28 November 2015

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A report by the Grattan Institute report finds that universities earn up to $3.2 billion more from students than they spend on teaching, and have powerful incentives to spend the extra money on research. International students, who usually generate more revenue per student than domestic students, contribute a substantial proportion of this surplus. The report’s author, Andrew Norton, says the finding is concerning because, while university research matters to Australia, the evidence that it improves teaching is less clear. He observes that direct spending on teaching, by contrast, is far more likely to ensure that universities offer the high-quality courses students want. In this commentary in The Conversation, Norton observes that the priority of research within universities means that teaching does not always get its share of time and money. He proposes that any new funding system must ensure that money intended for teaching is spent on teaching.

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UnisNo-one knows exactly how universities spend their money. But questions are asked about how universities have financed huge growth in the amount of research produced over the past 15 years – and a new report by the Grattan Institute could have the answer.

It finds that, in 2012, universities spent at least $2 billion on research that was meant for teaching. This means that around one dollar in every five was spent on research rather than tuition.

Universities are not doing anything improper in spending money this way.

The current legislation pays universities on student numbers, but is silent on how exactly the money should be used.

But the absence of specific teaching funding makes it hard to ensure that any extra money intended to benefit students is actually spent on students.

So why are universities so focused on funding research? And is there a need to be more transparent about how universities spend their money?

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Life & stuff

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A  candle in memory of David

8 December 2015

Candle
On 9 December 2006,17 year old David Iredale and three mates went for a hike in the Blue Mountains as part of their Duke Of Edinburgh Award program.  They planned it pretty carefully and they had detailed maps and stuff. But it all went terribly wrong: the maps indicated a fresh water source along the route, which wasn’t there. It was hot -mid-30s centrigrade- and they’d run out of water. Somehow, David became separated from his mates – my recollection is that as the strongest of the hiking party, he struck out ahead of the others to seek assistance. He became severely dehydrated and rang emergency services on his mobile phone. It was very poor reception but he tried to get across to the operators the dire circumstances of his plight. He made a number of calls, to no avail. Various operators kept asking for his street address. He kept telling them he was on a big rock near a walking trail in the Blue Mountains. But they kept demanding his street address. He asked for a helicopter to be sent.  He was told off for being abusive. In the event, nobody did anything. David’s body was recovered some days later. Each year at this time, I reflect on this terrible episode and remind myself to be not indifferent to the plight of others.  I tell my kids, if you get into any sort of real trouble, you ring me and/or your mother FIRST; we might argue later, but we’ll address the trouble first.

And I light a candle in memory of David.

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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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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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Australian university research quality soars

Universities Australia    |    4 December 2015

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The inaugural State of Australian University Research 2015–16: Volume 1 ERA National Report comprehensively details the quality of Australian university research benchmarked against world standards.  It identifies the excellence in research across a broad range of universities and the outstanding performances in areas of specialisation. Overall the quality of Australian university research continues to improve.

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Wellcome Images/The Conversation

The report confirms Australia’s university research performance is amongst the best in the world.

In 2015, 89% of the assessed research areas in Australian universities is rated as world class, up from 68% in 2010.

The number of research fields deemed “national research strengths” for Australia also doubled – up from 20 in 2012 to 43 this year.

To qualify for that status, 10 or more institutions must be producing “above world standard” research, with four or more of them contributing work rated “well-above” world-standard.

Universities Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson says:

This latest data reveals the full depth and strength of the research done by our universities. It also confirms the very high quality of the research from our universities – a national imperative to drive economic transformation.  The results … can make the nation proud of the contribution that our universities make to the global research effort, in delivering the big research breakthroughs and producing the solutions that companies and the wider community are seeking.


Key points

  • 89% of university research areas assessed were rated as “at or above world standard”;
  • Australia has 43 areas of national strength in diverse areas of research – including health and medical, science, engineering, history and culture research; and,
  • The number of patents has grown by 20% and the number of research “outputs” has risen by 5% since 2012.

 

 

 

 

Innovating an “Ideas Boom”

7 December 2015

Innovation

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull unveiled his much-anticipated Innovation Statement, saying he wanted to drive an “ideas boom”.  The statement allocates almost $1.1 billion over the next four years to promote business-based research, development and innovation.

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Key measures
  • A key focus of the plan revolves around strengthening ties between the business community, universities and scientific institutions.
  • A $200 million innovation fund will co-invest in businesses that develop technology from the CSIRO and Australian universities. CSIRO will also get an extra $20 million to help commercialise research outcomes.
  • The mechanisms for funding university research are being simplified, with more focus on industry collaboration and less on publishing articles in academic journals. The six block grant schemes will be collapsed into two, with equal rating for research excellence and income from industry. The government will add $127 million in funding for university research over the next four years.
  • The previously endangered National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme will receive $1.5 billion over 10 years for projects such as ocean monitoring, advanced manufacturing and medical research.
  • There will also be $800 million over the decade for two major scientific projects: the Australian Synchrotron in Melbourne (which uses light beams a million times brighter than the sun to generate discoveries) and the Square Kilometre Array (the largest radio telescope ever constructed).
  • The government will spend $84 million “inspiring” Australians in digital literacy and science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).  This includes new money to upgrade teachers’ digital skills, educational apps and $13 million to boost the participation of girls and women in STEM.

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Fact Sheets

ADVANCING QUANTUM COMPUTING TECHNOLOGY IN AUSTRALIA

How teaching funds research in Australian universities

28 November 2015

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A report by the Grattan Institute report finds that universities earn up to $3.2 billion more from students than they spend on teaching, and have powerful incentives to spend the extra money on research. International students, who usually generate more revenue per student than domestic students, contribute a substantial proportion of this surplus. The report’s author, Andrew Norton, says the finding is concerning because, while university research matters to Australia, the evidence that it improves teaching is less clear. He observes that direct spending on teaching, by contrast, is far more likely to ensure that universities offer the high-quality courses students want. In this commentary in The Conversation, Norton observes that the priority of research within universities means that teaching does not always get its share of time and money. He proposes that any new funding system must ensure that money intended for teaching is spent on teaching.

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UnisNo-one knows exactly how universities spend their money. But questions are asked about how universities have financed huge growth in the amount of research produced over the past 15 years – and a new report by the Grattan Institute could have the answer.

It finds that, in 2012, universities spent at least $2 billion on research that was meant for teaching. This means that around one dollar in every five was spent on research rather than tuition.

Universities are not doing anything improper in spending money this way.

The current legislation pays universities on student numbers, but is silent on how exactly the money should be used.

But the absence of specific teaching funding makes it hard to ensure that any extra money intended to benefit students is actually spent on students.

So why are universities so focused on funding research? And is there a need to be more transparent about how universities spend their money?

How research is funded in universities

Government research programs finance only around half of university research spending in universities.

Some of the other half comes from non-government sources, including corporate sponsorship and donations.

By examining all revenue sources not specifically for teaching or research, such as investment earnings and profits on commercial operations, we were able to estimate the financial contribution teaching makes to research.

What our report shows is that at least $2bn must have come from teaching, as there were no other sources large enough to account for the nearly $10bn universities spent on research in 2012.

But exactly how much teaching surpluses contribute to research cannot be answered precisely.

Unlike countries such as the UK, Australia does not require universities to report spending on teaching and research.

Time for more transparency?

Universities face powerful internal pressures to spend more money on research.

The academics who say they would like more research time outnumber by more than four to one those who say they would like more teaching time.

An obsession with university leagues tables – which are largely based on research performance – further adds to the pressure to produce more research.

Universities are more likely to move up the league tables if they produce more quality research. This can also make their institution more attractive to students, both domestic and international, which then helps generate income via tuition fees.

Because of these research pressures, there is no guarantee that additional investment in universities aimed at students would be spent on teaching and student services.

The campaign for fee deregulation failed in part because too few people believed that students would benefit.

But public funding has the same issue. The money could be spent on research rather than teaching.

This may not matter if research improves teaching. Universities hope that it does, pointing to the idea of a teaching-research nexus, mutually beneficial links between the two activities.

Unfortunately, empirical studies find that research performance does not reliably predict teaching performance. Some good researchers are good teachers too, but typically they are no better than colleagues with weaker research records. A policy to improve teaching should target teaching directly, not via research.

In England, the government has plans to link each university’s performance on various teaching indicators to their right to increase fees. Whether this is feasible remains to be seen.

Teaching needs its share of money

We can start more modestly, by improving university financial information.

New Education Minister Simon Birmingham hinted at this in a speech in October. This means requiring universities to report on how much they spend on teaching, research and other university functions.

This information would give us more precise estimates of the financial relationship between teaching and research.

It could also be used to monitor how universities spend any future increases in funding, whether from student fees or the government.

This does not rule out financing research on a per student basis, but we need to be clear about what we are funding.

Teaching and research are both vital university activities, but with tensions as well as synergies.

The priority of research within universities means that teaching does not always get its share of time and money.

Any new funding system must ensure that money intended for teaching is spent on teaching.

See
The cash nexus: how teaching funds research in Australian universities

This article by Andrew Norton (Program Director, Higher Education, Grattan Institute)   was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

In vino sanitas*

Huffington Post  

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Research conducted by the University of Alberta in Canada has found that health benefits in resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, are similar to those we get from exercise.

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According to lead researcher, Jason Dyck, these findings will particularly help those who are unable to exercise. Resveratrol was seen to improve physical performance, heart function and muscle strength in the same way as they’re improved after a gym session. According to Dyck:

… resveratrol could help patient populations who want to exercise but are physically incapable. Resveratrol could mimic exercise for them or improve the benefits of the modest amount of exercise that they can do.

Discussion over the health benefits of red wine have been well documented. Studies have revealed that those who drink a glass of red wine a day are less likely to develop dementia or cancer, that it’s good for your heart, anti-ageing and can regulate blood sugar.

And now there’s research backing that fact that it boosts heart rate? This is literally the best thing ever.
Though, let’s be straight here – this is all in moderation, it only applies to red wine and the university’s study was carried out on rats, not humans.

Other ways to increase your intake of resveratrol include eating blueberries, peanut butter, red grapes and dark chocolate.

Remember, a balanced diet is everything.

* “In vino veritas, in aqua sanitas” = “In wine there is truth, in water there is health.

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Are vocational streams the key to producing a more adaptable workforce?

NCVER1 Vocational streams could offer a framework for creating better connections between qualifications and jobs than the traditional approach based on specific skill sets for narrowly defined occupations.Show more…

NCVER’s research prospectus is full steam ahead

Through the introduction of the new research prospectus, NCVER is investing in a range of applied research issues that governments and key employer and training provider stakeholders identify as being of highest priority to them.

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Recognising the prior learning of adult apprentices: a match made in heaven or a rocky relationship?

Apprenticeships are changing, with more people over the age of 25 now undertaking them, and the amount of recognition of prior learning is also increasing. But are adult apprentices taking advantage of these earlier completion options?

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What factors drive the costs and benefits of apprenticeships and what is the impact of government incentive changes on the apprenticeship system?

A joint research partnership between the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) in Germany and NCVER is exploring two key issues impacting on the apprenticeship system in both Germany and Australia.

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The outcomes of education and training: what the research is telling us 2011-14

After five years of VET research, what more do we know about the sector?

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Employers’ views of work integrated learning

Work-integrated learning is a means of increasing students’ experience with the world of work, but what does it mean for employers involved?

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Who is delivering foundation skills?

The need for individuals to build and develop their foundation skills is becoming increasingly important with a general move to greater knowledge-based work. A recent NCVER survey looked at the workforce delivering foundation skills training.

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Older workers: opportunities and challenges

As the workforce ages, the challenge for the VET sector, industry and employers will be to acknowledge the skill base that the older worker brings and to invest in this group further.

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Regulating and quality assuring VET: some international developments

What can Australia learn from our overseas counterparts to ensure quality in the Australian VET system?

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Big opportunities from new reporting requirements: National VET Research Conference wrap up

Youth, pathways and skills – hot topics at the 24th National VET Research Conference.

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NCVER data update

Find out more about the latest data releases on apprenticeships and traineeships, government-funded students and courses, the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth, student outcomes, and forthcoming publications.

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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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Noticeboard

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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
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Go8 Newsletter June 2015

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Keeping public priorities in public universities

The Conversation     |      28 May 2015

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  The main purposes of Australian public universities — teaching, research and community engagement — are well established in law and practice. But differences of opinion exist on priorities, interpretation and accountability. A key tension is between academics as the strongest advocates of knowledge for its own sake, and government, students and the general public seeking practical uses for knowledge, writes Andrew Norton.

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For academics, passion for a field of study, opportunity to develop new knowledge, and autonomy in working life are among the most frequent reasons given for pursuing an academic career. These aspirations create resistance to universities pursuing practical objectives set by others.

Academics are much more likely to apply for research grants where new knowledge is the primary outcome than grants aimed at promoting collaboration with industry. Academics criticise universities for becoming more “instrumental”.

The importance to academics of pursuing new knowledge has made teaching a second priority after research. Only 30% of academics say they prefer teaching or lean towards teaching in a teaching and research job. Another survey found that 67% of academics wanted more research time, but only 15% wanted more teaching work.

Although few people seriously dispute that knowledge for its own sake is important, there are broader expectations of public universities. What makes them “public” institutions is their establishment by government to meet a range of needs associated with advanced knowledge.

Few academics prioritise teaching over research
from www.shutterstock.com

They are not private organisations free to just follow their own intellectual and other interests. In exchange for meeting a range of goals, universities receive substantial public financial support.

These goals are set out in each public university’s founding legislation. All university acts mention teaching, often with the express statement that it should meet the community’s needs.

Similarly, research clauses in university legislation usually refer to applied research or other needs in addition to the pure pursuit of knowledge. Direct community engagement provisions are less frequent, but some universities have statutory obligations to participate in public discourse. Access and equity considerations are also mentioned in university acts.

These largely state-legislated university missions are reinforced by federal law, which now makes teaching, research and some community engagement mandatory for institutions calling themselves universities.

Government views on university priorities are broadly aligned with public opinion. Survey evidence suggests that the public wants greatest emphasis on higher education’s practical uses to them, while acknowledging the importance of pure research.

Public opinion on university priorities
Based on Universities Australia 2010 survey data supplied to the Grattan Institute

Recent policy work on improving commercial returns on research continues a long series of efforts to increase the broader national benefit from university research. The quasi-market created by removing most controls on numbers of bachelor-degree students is intended, in part, to get universities to focus more on meeting skills needs and improving the student experience.

A policy of undergraduate fee deregulation, however, was not obviously aligned with the public’s focus on undergraduate education. The universities did not make a persuasive case that fee deregulation would benefit students, and the public was unconvinced. In reality, it is likely that much of the additional revenue from fee deregulation would have been spent on research.

Academics sometimes complain about higher education becoming a “private” good, but I don’t think that is the best characterisation of policy over the last 25 years. Although there is more private money than before, universities have become better aligned with public purposes, as identified through both public opinion and public policy. This has been achieved with a mix of direct regulation, financial incentives and market forces.

These policy changes recognise that academics and universities, left to manage themselves without outside pressure, will not necessarily pursue broad community interests. Academia failed to develop a professional culture around teaching. It generally did not determine appropriate quality standards, require teaching qualifications, or monitor performance.

Unsurprisingly, when the government funded the first national surveys of student satisfaction in the early 1990s, the results were very poor. They have since improved significantly.

With universities now able to respond to student demand, course enrolments in areas of skills need such as health have soared. But more students than ever before are also studying less vocational disciplines. Since 2008, domestic bachelor science enrolments are up 35% and humanities are up 18%.

In absolute terms universities now do much more pure research than before, reflecting significant increases in research spending. But the trend has been towards applied research making up a larger share of the total.

Research spending by type
Based on Australian Bureau of Statistics

Pure research and non-vocational disciplines primarily oriented to knowledge for its own sake remain important university functions, and this will continue to be so. But public universities should be and are about more than these activities.

Changes over the last 25 years have helped give students and applied research a higher priority than they would otherwise have received. Policy has helped keep the “public” in public university.


The Conversation is running a series on “What are universities for?” looking at the place of universities in Australia, why they exist, who they serve, and how this is changing over time. Read other articles in the series here.

The Conversation

Andrew Norton is Program Director, Higher Education at Grattan Institute.  This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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