Research funding

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.

sprat
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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.

skills (1)

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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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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
Click image to find out more!

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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

9 surprising Australian innovations that changed the world

5 December 2015

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This post on Science Alert by Fiona McDonald, celebrating Australian innovation, was sponsored by Universities Australia as part of its Keep it Clever campaign.  The campaign website includes an online petition.

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By now, most Australians know that our university researchers were behind the invention of the bionic ear, but more often than not, the world tends to focus more on our venomous snakes and spiders and overly muscular kangaroos than anything coming out of our labs.

But the reality is that Australia puts out 3.9% of the world’s research, with only 0.3% of the world’s population, and a lot of that research has been translated into inventions and products that you use everyday… like penicillin and Wi-Fi.

Unfortunately, without adequate funding, these types of world-changing ideas can’t continue to be developed on our home soil into the future, and we could be at risk of losing our best researchers to overseas institutions.

With a new(ish) Prime Minister who’s all-guns-blazing on innovation, it’s time to remind the government why we need to support Australian research by signing the Keep it Clever petition, which is being run by Australia’s peak university body, Universities Australia.

You can read their policy statement on the importance of funding Australian university research here, and read the list of Australian inventions below to see what’s at stake:

  1. Seatbelts

It seems normal to wear seatbelts these days, but only 50 years ago hardly any cars had them, and next to no one wore them. It was research by Monash University scientists back in 1964 that led to the world’s first laws that seatbelt anchorages be installed in all new cars. Think of all the lives that have been saved since.

  1. Medical application of penicillin

Australian researcher Howard Florey worked with a team in the UK to purify penicillin from a special strain of mould, and later showed it could fight bacterial infection in humans. The antibiotic changed modern medicine forever.

  1. Disease diagnosing nano-patches

This is still a relatively new invention, but these nano-patches have the potential to change the way we diagnose disease in the future. Developed by researchers at the University of Queensland, these patches are covered in tiny microscopic needles that can quickly and painlessly detect disease-carrying proteins in the blood, without the need for a blood test.

  1. Wi-Fi

This story is pretty well-known these days, but Australian researcher John O’Sullivan and his team were originally looking for black holes when he realised the potential of the radio waves they were detecting. In 1992, he worked with the CSIRO to develop Wi-Fi technology.

  1. Bionic ear

One of our best-known exports is the Cochlear implant, which was created by Graeme Clark, a researcher at the University of Melbourne at the time. The device has helped more than 250,000 people with profound hearing loss to hear again.

  1. Spray-on skin

Spray-on skin has saved the lives of tens of thousands of burns victims around the world, and was invented by Fiona Wood from the University of Western Australia. The invention works by taking a small patch of a patient’s skin, then growing it in the lab so that it can be sprayed back on as a protective barrier over wounds.

  1. Ultrasound scanner

Every expectant mum will be more than familiar with the ultrasound scanner. But what people might not know is that the initial discovery that ultrasounds could bounce off soft tissue was made by the CSIRO, and in 1976 it was commercialised by Australian company Ausonics.

  1. Electronic pacemaker

The first pacemaker was made impulsively back in 1926 at Sydney’s Crown Street Women’s Hospital to help save a newborn patient suffering from heart problems. The device used to stimulate the baby’s heartbeat with electric pulses and was created by medical doctor Mark Lidwill, but he was so concerned about the ethical implications of his invention that he refused recognition and patents, despite his invention saving hundreds of thousands of lives around the world.

  1. Gardasil and Cervarix vaccines

Most women under the age of 30 have received one of these vaccines to protect them from the human papillomavirus (HPV), which has been shown to greatly increase the risk of cervical cancer. The vaccines were developed by Ian Frazer from the University of Queensland and have been shown to reduce the virus infection rate by more than 90%.

 

See

 

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.

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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Executive Summary

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.

A thriving university sector is synonymous with a prosperous economy

The role that universities play in contributing to the socio-economic prosperity of nations transcends the contribution of their operations to GDP and employment, as significant as these contributions are in their own right.

International evidence demonstrates that strong university sectors are associated with stronger economies and higher standards of living. Countries with higher levels of higher education attainment and higher levels of investment in higher education research and development are consistently shown to have higher levels of per capita income.

The empirical analysis conducted to inform this report reinforces the widely held view that Australian universities generate and embed skills and knowledge in society through their teaching and learning, research discovery and adoption, and community service activities. Moreover, it demonstrates that this activity is a direct and significant driver of growth in incomes, output and employment across the Australian economy. The resulting socio-economic benefits accrue both to those directly engaging in university-led activities and to society at large. In some cases, and in research especially, it is broader society that is by far the greatest beneficiary.

University education increases the nation’s productive capacity and, with it, the nation’s living standards

It is well established that university graduates achieve higher labour force outcomes than those with lower order qualifications—employment rates are higher, average hours worked are higher and, most significantly, lifetime earnings are higher. Although part of this is due to a student’s innate ability, a large part of this is due to formal education, including from Australian universities.

  • The value that university education adds to the productive capacity of the nation is estimated at $140 billion in GDP in 2014.
    • That is, Australia’s GDP is 8.5% higher because of the impact that a university education has had on the productivity of the 28% of the workforce with a university qualification.
  • At least $24 billion of these benefits are estimated to accrue in annual earnings premiums to students themselves each year.
  • The broader societal benefits—that is, the positive spillovers associated with the contribution of university graduates to the workforce—are evidently significant. For example, as just one indicator of the positive spillovers from university education, the wage of those without a tertiary qualification has been estimated to be 1.6–1.9% higher as a result of a 1 percentage point increase in the number of workers with a university higher education degree.
  • Beyond the benefits generated from incrementally higher labour force outcomes, a university education has been empirically demonstrated to be positively associated with improved health outcomes, quality of life and a range of other social indicators.
    • Recent international analysis has shown the monetary value of these benefits may be equivalent in magnitude to the more readily observable impacts such as labour force outcomes.

University research drives innovation, productivity and, ultimately, economic growth

University research is the causeway between the world of pure and unapplied knowledge and the world of real economic impacts. University research contributes to technological progress through improved productivity, innovation and entrepreneurialism, and the generation of knowledge spillovers and spin-off technologies and companies.

Indeed, it has been estimated that the existing stock of all knowledge generated by university research is estimated to account for almost $160 billion in 2014, equivalent to approximately 10% of Australian GDP.

In further recognition of the vital role that university research plays in driving economic growth and prosperity, investment in university research has grown, in real terms, by $9 billion over the past 30 years, at an average growth rate of 6% a year.

  • As this investment has increased, so too have the benefits to society. Indeed, increasing investments in university research over the past 30 years are estimated to have added almost $10 billion to GDP each year (in 2014 dollars) over this same period, primarily through gains to national productivity.
    • The benefits of this improved productivity are equivalent to almost a third of the average living standards growth experienced over this 30 year period in Australia.
    • The majority of these benefits accrue to the public, as universities predominately draw upon grant funding to support their research and activity and, on the whole, the mode of dissemination of research discovery is open and public.
  • These estimated effects are large, and there are some empirical limitations that should be borne in mind in their interpretation. Nonetheless, the effect sizes are consistent with results from other studies, both in Australia and overseas, and point to significant positive spillovers from university research expenditure.

Universities are also major contributors to society through their community service activities

By drawing on university resources embodied in staff, students and facilities, universities share knowledge, expertise and amenities to enrich communities on a local, national and even international level.

While it is not possible to quantify the scale of benefits generated by community service activities, through a number of representative university case studies, it is apparent that there are many and varied ways that Australian universities contribute through community service. These additional activities can include:

  • contributing to regional governance and planning;
  • community capacity building;
  • providing cultural facilities and programs;
  • hosting community forums, events and festivals;
  •  opening up university facilities to the community; and
  • student-led community initiatives.

As the global economy changes, the role and contribution of the university sector will expand and evolve

As has been evident throughout history, the global economy is always changing. The nature of the changes taking place over the coming decades is particularly profound. When coupled with other macro trends—such as the disruptive impacts of technology—the changes suggest both a big opportunity for the Australian university sector and a critical imperative in supporting continued growth in the nation’s living standards.

The demand for international education is burgeoning and the associated economic opportunity confronting Australia is a sizeable one

The middle class of emerging Asia is burgeoning. In less than two decades’ time, some two thirds of the world’s middle class will reside in the Asia Pacific region and demand for services such as education will grow rapidly. Deloitte Access Economics projects international education to be among the fastest growing sectors of the global economy over the next two decades.

This, coupled with the Australia’s competitive strengths in education and training, saw international education identified as among the five most significant sectoral drivers of the next wave of Australia’s economic growth and prosperity in the Deloitte Access Economics (2014a) report Building the Lucky Country #3, Positioning for prosperity? Catching the next wave.

Already Australia’s largest service export, the scope for international education providers like universities to grow the nation’s incomes through the provision of education to a new wave of international students is vast.

The Australian economy’s demand for university graduates is increasing and so too is the calibre of education they require in the 21st century knowledge economy

Australian universities will play an important role in meeting future skill demands, and ensuring a strong and growing stock of intellectual capital is made available for an increasingly high-skilled labour force. Indeed, on current trends, the demand for higher education qualifications will increase by 34% by the year 2025, equivalent to 2.1 million more university qualifications compared to current levels.

In net terms, this means that Australia will require an additional 3.8 million university qualifications by 2025, which will result in an increase in the proportion of the working age population with a higher education qualification from 23% in 2015 to over 26% in 2025. The top five industries projected to need the largest increases in skilled graduates over the next 10 years include education and training, health care and social assistance; professional, scientific and technical services; public administration and safety; and financial and insurance services. Each of these industries will require additional workers with over 100,000 new university qualifications over the period 2015—2025, representing a growth in demand for university qualifications of 30% or more.

Throughout history, Australia’s prevailing industrial economic context has been inexorably linked to the considerable and expanding contribution and impact that universities have made to the economy and broader society.

As digital technology changes the way we communicate and interact, and computerisation alters the skills required of workers, the Australian economy of the future will not just require workers with traditional ‘higher skills’, rather we will require a workforce of creative, innovative and highly adaptable knowledge-workers.

By virtue of their unique position in society, Australia’s universities can support this pluralism of intellectual and human capital that will be demanded over the coming decades.

Indeed, digitalisation and computerisation, as well as other forms of scientific and technological progress, often originate from the research undertaken within universities. Via the nexus of teaching and research, universities are uniquely positioned to define the skills and attributes of Australia’s future workforce.

Universities will play an essential role in responding to the changing skills demand of the knowledge economy, but will also help to shape and define the industry and jobs of the future, acting as a gateway for Australia’s future prosperity.

The continued growth of living standards in Australia will rely almost exclusively on higher levels of productivity and the university sector stands to be at the forefront of this challenge.

It is widely acknowledged that Australia faces a significant challenge over the coming decades if it is to maintain growth in national income and living standards as commodity prices fall and the sizeable returns from the decade long mining boom recede. This challenge is compounded by Australia’s ageing population, which will see rates of workforce participation decline as more Australian workers enter retirement. With both participation and the terms of trade acting as a drag on the nation’s living standards, it will fall almost exclusively to productivity growth to propel national incomes higher.

The university sector, and the skilled workforce it produces, has a major role to play in addressing the productivity imperative Australia confronts. Indeed, recent estimates suggest that one-third of Australia’s historical labour productivity growth may be attributable to the accumulation of university higher education.

Successfully evolving to provide not only the graduates that the changing Australian economy needs, but the skills and intellectual resources that the future knowledge economy requires, will see the university sector continue to be among the most significant drivers of growth in living standards over the decades ahead.

The results from this study suggest that a permanent 10% increase in the tertiary education attainment rate in Australia would increase labour productivity in Australia by 1.5–2.0 percentage points, representing around half of the required rate of productivity growth required to maintain our growth in living standards over the coming decade.

University research too will play an important role in supporting growth in multi-factor productivity (MFP)1 over the coming decades. Indeed, recent published estimates show that a 10% increase in the stock of publicly supported higher education research can increase Australia’s MFP by 3.6 percentage points over the long-term.

Deloitte chart

Concluding observations

Australia’s university sector has evolved considerably over the past 165 years since the first university was founded in 1850. Throughout this period universities have strived to meet the skills demands of an emergent economy and champion progress in terms of technology, culture and society.

Over the coming decades creative and innovative embodied human capital will become central to the strength of the Australian economy, while at the same time, university research will continue to be an indispensable driver of technological progress. Should Australian universities realise this enormous potential, and adapt to meet the demands of the future knowledge economy, the value of their economic contribution to society can only be expected to grow.

Keeping it clever

28 November 2015

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A national productivity windfall generated by university research has delivered economic benefits to Australia worth a third of the growth in average living standards over the past 30 years. These productivity gains have been worth an estimated $10 billion each year over those three decades.

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Keep it cleverThe new modelling and analysis is one of the key findings of the full Deloitte Access Economics latest report, The importance of universities to Australia’s prosperity.

The $10 billion productivity boost is in addition to the $25 billion that universities contribute to the Australian economy (directly and indirectly) and $12 billion from international education annually.

The report also finds that the Australian economy’s demand for university graduates is increasing, as is the calibre of education they require in the 21st century knowledge economy.

It projects that demand for university qualifications will grow by 34% in the decade to 2025, with an additional 342,000 graduates a year needed to fuel the knowledge economy.

Universities Australia Chief Executive Belinda Robinson says the report’s compelling findings are further proof of the vital role that our universities play in driving economic growth and prosperity.

Not only does this report outline the enormous contribution of our universities today, it argues that the importance of our universities will soar in the Australia of tomorrow. Over the coming decades, it will be the skills and smarts of our people that will be central to the strength of the Australian economy.

She says that, to realise the enormous potential of our universities, Australia must ensure that it properly invests in education and research now.

With our competitors investing heavily in the knowledge economy, we must make our own game-changing investment, or we will fall behind those that do.

The report helped to inform Universities Australia’s pre-election blueprint, Keep it Clever.

Birmingham releases "synthesis report" on HE reform

The Australian     |     28 October 2015

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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.

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Birmingham

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.

The background paper summarises the findings of each major review of higher education from the 1988 Dawkins White Paper to the 2014 Kemp-Norton Review of the Demand Driven Funding System.

Birmingham said he had decided to reap the wisdom of these previous reviews rather than hold another one as he tries to push reset on the government’s failed higher education reform package.

These reviews show that for almost three decades Australia has been grappling with how to enable more students to access the benefits higher education offers – in terms of employment, earnings, social and cultural opportunities – while ensuring the system remains fair, high quality and affordable for both individuals and taxpayers.

He says he hopes to have a new reform package ready to take to the Senate by mid-next year before the expected date of the next federal election.

Birmingham flagged to the conference that a watered-down version of fee deregulation was still on the agenda, but acknowledged that Labor ran an effective campaign over $100,000 fees.  He also flagged a possible overhaul of the HECS system and expansion of sub-degree places, saying “there is a valid need to stop treating non-degree bachelor and non-university pathways as second class options”.

While he will look closely at extending government subsidies to private colleges because it would encourage diversity, Birmingham said he is very wary after widespread rorting in the vocational sector.

He said quality must be guaranteed and government funding must never be structured in such a way as to attract providers like bees to a honey pot,”adding that he had been “somewhat scarred” by his role in having to “clean up in the poorly regulated vocational education market”.

The synthesis report identifies five overarching themes that had been common to all seven of the previous reviews even though student numbers had more than doubled during that time, now numbering over one million.

Common themes included how to adequately finance teaching and research while maintaining quality, as well as finding the right balance between student and government contributions have been central to all seven reviews.

Each of the reviews has also struggled with how to continue to expand the number of places, especially among under-represented groups, due to the need to produce graduates with the skills needed for new and emerging sectors in the economy. All have also addressed diversity, or the lack of it, between institutions.

 

See
Higher Education in Australia A review of reviews from Dawkins to today

The Scan # 170 29 May 2015

Research snip

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News

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Victorian  unis “financially strong”

audit29 May 2015    |   The Victorian Auditor General has reported that Victoria’s eight universities are in a strong financial position but he was critical of lax procedures governing travel expenditure. The eight universities, and their subsidiaries, generated a combined surplus of $537.1 million for the year ending 31 December 2014. This includes, however, audit adjustments upwards of $259 million arising from qualifications concerning the treatment of certain income by Deakin University, the University of Melbourne and the Australian National Academy of Music. The auditor says that the surplus, when combined with the universities’ generally good liquidity position, means that the sector is in a healthy financial position and is a low financial sustainability risk in the short term. He reports that, over the long term, there are emerging risks the university sector should monitor. He reports that, while universities have policies and procedures in place for travel and accommodation expenditure, they are not comprehensive, and compliance with these policies and procedures is poor. Consequently, universities cannot demonstrate public money is spent prudently and to the benefit of the university….[ MORE ]…..

SA government “de-marketises” VET funding

28 May 2015     |    The South Australian government has stepped back from “open market” VET funding to reintroduce a virtual monopoly for TAFETAFE SA SA. Under its new WorkReady program, which will replace Skills for All in July, TAFE SA will provide 90% of new training places in 2015 -16.  Under the reforms approximately 81,000 training places will be subsidised in 2015-16. Of these places, 51,000 will be new and 30,000 will comprise students already undertaking courses. TAFE SA will provide 46,000 of the 51,000 new places. Of the 30,000 continuing places, about 16,000 will be delivered by private providers. The number of subsidised courses has also been cut from more than 900 to about 700.   ACPET has called on the federal government to withdraw $65 million in federal training funds to the state over the decision to “effectively ignore private training providers”. Federal training minister Simon Birmingham says he’s concerned about the new policy  and he’ll be having discussions with the state minister about whether or not that federal funding can continue to be available….[ MORE ]….

Qld govt turns back TAFE asset sell off

Qld TAFE28 May 2015 | 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. The 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.”…[ MORE ]…..

VET numbers continue to dropVET

27 May 2015     |     The number of publicly funded vocational education students has dropped for the second year running, just as open markets have been rolled out across the country to encourage more training. Preliminary 2014 data shows the number of students fell 3.5%  last year, on the back of a 3.6%  fall in 2013. Australia trained 65,000 fewer publicly funded vocational students last year, with the open market pioneer states of South Australia and Victoria each losing more than 30,000 students. Victoria, which opened its training system to full private competition from 2009, surrendered 5% of its students last year. South Australia, which launched a fully contestable training scheme in 2012, lost a huge 22% of its students last year….[ MORE ]….

National science and research priorities announced

research226 May 2015    |      The Commonwealth Government has announced new national Science and Research Priorities and corresponding Practical Research Challenges, designed “to increase investment in areas of immediate and critical importance to Australia and its place in the world.” The nine cross-disciplinary priorities are food, soil and water, transport, cybersecurity, energy, resources, advanced manufacturing, environmental change and health. Universities Australia (UA) has commended the Federal Government’s setting of these priorities, noting the critical role of science and research in solving national challenges and improving the productivity and prosperity of Australia. UA expressed the hopes that the priorities will lead to increased public investment in science and research, with targeted funding to address these critical areas….[ MORE ]….

Australia’s university system efficient but underfunded – UA

universitas 21

21 May 2015     |     The latest Universitas 21 Report ranks Australia as one of the top countries for the efficiency of its higher education system despite disturbingly low levels of public investment compared with other countries, says Universites Australia.  Overall Australia’s ranking declined from 8th position in 2013 to 9th position in 2014 and now to 10th position (out of 50 countries) in 2015.On the measure of resources invested in higher education, Australia is ranked at 18th position and 44th for government expenditure. Yet Australia’s higher education system is ranked 7th for output which measures student participation rates and research performance.  UA’s  comments were echoed by the National Tertiary Education Union which  congratulated university staff for doing “remarkably well despite very low levels of public investment”….[ MORE ]…..

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Milestones

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New CEO at Melbourne Polytechnic

 20 May 2015

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Rob Wood has been appointed the Chief Executive Officer of Melbourne Polytechnic (formerly NMIT).

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Rob WoodMr Wood  comes to this role from his previous position of Acting Deputy Secretary, Higher Education and Skills Group, in the Victorian government.

Mr Wood joined the Victorian Department of Education and Training in August 2014 as the Executive Director, TAFE and Tertiary Education Support and Oversight Division, leading support to and oversight of Victoria’s TAFEs and university relationships.

He had to come to Australia with substantial experience in public administration in Canada.

Mr Wood was the Acting Deputy Secretary, Higher Education and Skills Group during a critical time of transition to the new Government. He has led the Group’s rapid response to the Government’s ambitious suite of election commitments, including establishment of the TAFE Rescue Fund, Back to Work Fund and the Review of Quality Assurance in Victoria’s VET System.

He will commence at Melbourne Polytechnic on Monday 8 June.

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Comment  & analysis

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   29 May 2015

Keeping public priorities in public universities

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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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Academics want to conduct blue sky research, but that’s not why people pay to go to university
Academics want to conduct blue sky research, but that’s not why people pay to go to university. AAP/Julian Smith

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.

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Australia dumbs down?

29 May 2015

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  Australia is betting on plumbers and coffee-shop owners over scientists and researchers to drive the nation’s next wave of economic growth, writes Michael Heath in BloombergBusiness.

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Coffee

The country that brought you refrigerators, black-box flight recorders, bionic ears and Wi-Fi will cut its research budget by 7 percent over the next 12 months, and another 10% in the following three years. At the same time it’s offering tax cuts and write-offs in this year’s budget for small firms to buy equipment like espresso machines and lawnmowers as the centerpiece of a plan to build a “stronger and more prosperous Australia.”

The government is reducing spending in the face of budget shortfalls after a 30% drop in commodity prices in 12 months and an end to the country’s mining investment boom. Helping small businesses to pick up some of the slack has lifted consumer confidence to its highest in 16 months and boosted shares of retailers like Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd. and JB Hi-Fi Ltd.

“Having this reliance on the bottom end of the economy, like small businesses, is a short-term fix,” said Andrew Hughes, a lecturer at the College of Business and Economics at Australian National University. “Cutting back on research is insanity.”

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21 May 2015

The VET Store

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The VET Store is a new 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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ACPET Forum2
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Life & stuff

21 May 2015

A glimpse into the first 21 days of a bee’s life

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We’ve heard that bees are disappearing. But what is making bee colonies so vulnerable?

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Photographer Anand Varma raised bees in his backyard and teamed up with the bee lab at UC Davis to film and get a up close view of the first three weeks of a bee’s life in unprecedented detail. This project, for National Geographic, gives a lyrical glimpse into a bee hive — and reveals one of the biggest threats to its health, a mite that preys on baby bees in the first 21 days of life.  With his incredible footage, set to music from Magik*Magik Orchestra, Varma shows the problem  in this Ted talk … and what’s being done to solve it. There’s also a condensed 60 second clip.

See
Honey bees

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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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Curriculum and course development

Business/ Hospitality ————————- Child care

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Curriculum1A dynamic and reputable education and training provider is looking to expand its offerings into higher education, initially at AQF Level 5 (Diploma) and AQF level 6 (Associate Degree) in the fields of Business/Hospitality and Childcare.
The provider is seeking to develop curriculum and course materials for these courses and requires the services of an experienced curriculum writer to assist it in this project.

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Australia dumbs down?

29 May 2015

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  Australia is betting on plumbers and coffee-shop owners over scientists and researchers to drive the nation’s next wave of economic growth, writes Michael Heath in BloombergBusiness.

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Coffee

The country that brought you refrigerators, black-box flight recorders, bionic ears and Wi-Fi will cut its research budget by 7 percent over the next 12 months, and another 10% in the following three years. At the same time it’s offering tax cuts and write-offs in this year’s budget for small firms to buy equipment like espresso machines and lawnmowers as the centerpiece of a plan to build a “stronger and more prosperous Australia.”

The government is reducing spending in the face of budget shortfalls after a 30% drop in commodity prices in 12 months and an end to the country’s mining investment boom. Helping small businesses to pick up some of the slack has lifted consumer confidence to its highest in 16 months and boosted shares of retailers like Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd. and JB Hi-Fi Ltd.

“Having this reliance on the bottom end of the economy, like small businesses, is a short-term fix,” said Andrew Hughes, a lecturer at the College of Business and Economics at Australian National University. “Cutting back on research is insanity.”

Counting on Calculators

Every country in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development bar Australia has a plan to grow its scientific enterprise to help transition into technology, innovation and development, Chief Scientist Ian Chubb said.

“For 20 years, we have presided over declining levels of participation in science and mathematics” while the country assured itself that students will be fine with calculators, Chubb wrote this month in an article on his website. “I think about the sort of jobs a child in school today might want to do in 10, 20, 50 years. And I wonder, which of those jobs will not require an understanding of science?”

Australian school students underperform in science and mathematics tests compared with every other high-income economy in Asia apart from New Zealand, according to a report issued this month by the 34-nation OECD.

“We’re already losing our power in the brains market because we’re up against China, India, Japan and South Korea who spend so much more on research and development,” Hughes said. “We need to think long-term.”

Global Innovation

Industry and Science Minister Ian Macfarlane in March said the country ranked 81st out of 143 in a global innovation efficiency measure, putting it “close to average in turning ideas to our advantage.” The government is spending about A$9 billion ($7 billion) a year on science in what is “a conservative financial environment,” he said.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Tuesday the government had nine new science and research priorities and would work with universities and industry to identify projects.

“We have finite resources and need to be strategic in how we invest,” he said in a statement.

Researcher Danielle Edwards turned down a A$385,000 research grant in Australia because she saw little prospect of further employment in her native country.

“Australia has become a world-leader already in many scientific fields due to tremendous talent,” said Edwards, 37, an evolutionary biologist in California. “It is losing that talent through a lack of investment. Many of my friends have either left science or the country.”

The government needs to reverse job cuts to its national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, and provide better investment in science to help future productivity, she said.

Black Box, Wi-Fi

From the time James Harrison built the world’s first practical, commercial refrigerator in 1854, to the invention in the 1990s of Wi-Fi by John O’Sullivan’s radio-astronomy team at the CSIRO, Australia has a history of turning inventions into commercial successes.

Yet the nation now ranks in the bottom seven countries based on government spending on research and development as a proportion of gross domestic product, according to the latest OECD scoreboard.

Australia isn’t alone in trying to bolster lower-skilled careers as economies look to shore up manufacturing and fill an increasing number of service-oriented jobs. Both Singapore and South Korea have urged students to consider skipping university.

Singapore, though, committed to increasing its R&D spending 20 percent for 2011-2015 over the previous five years, while South Korea spent the second-highest proportion of gross domestic product on research among OECD countries in 2013, behind Israel.

Manufacturing Shutdown

Australia’s boost for baristas is partly a result of successive governments’ failure during the decade-long mining boom to prevent a hollowing out the manufacturing sector as the currency strengthened and investment flowed to the mines. General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. plan to quit manufacturing in the country within two years, while Alcoa Inc. last year closed an aluminum smelter and two mills.

Belinda Robinson, chief executive of Universities Australia, said the research cuts announced this month by Treasurer Joe Hockey in the budget will make matters worse.

“Against the backdrop of low commodity prices and the downturn in traditional industries, a prudent approach to stimulating economic renewal is to invest in, not cut, wealth-generating activities like higher education, research and innovation,” she said.